Thursday, January 31, 2008

Adoption Day 2008

K & O ~ January 31, 2008 ~ At Home in the Playroom (excited about the balloons and bears they found at the end of their beds when they woke up this morning):



HAPPY ADOPTION DAY KYLE & OWEN!!!
3 years ago today
we became a family forever.
Forever and ever and ever
The beginning.
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K & O ~ January 31, 2005 ~ Hotel Montana ~ Port au Prince Haiti (our first day together, the boys had only been with us/out of the orphanage for a few hours):

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

MorMor Is Here for Six Sleeps!

My mom arrived yesterday, and we are so glad to have her here! She'll be here for "six sleeps!" (although, I think Owen spoke for all of us when he said, "But I want her to stay for twenty sleeps?!!!!"). We haven't had the luxurious privilege of having her here, all to ourselves, for a good long stretch like this since last March. We are so psyched.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rock Climbing!!!

Today was K & O's first big-time climbing adventure! We took them to an Indoor Rock Climbing Center. The place is serious-- over 7,000 square feet of indoor rock climbing surface. The boys free-climbed a lot, but the highlight was that they each got to have five "rope climbs" (as K & O called it) -- belayed by a very cool rock climber on the staff of the center. K & O were by far the youngest people in the place, but they definitely held their own on the walls!!! Kyle, in particular, was absolutely amazing... the staff guy called him a "natural rock climber," and even Braydon and I were pretty stunned/impressed with what we witnessed our 3 year old do. Owen was totally into it too, he was just --as usual-- not quite as fearless as Kyle. Both of them loved it and can't wait to go back for more. Their favorite part was belaying down with the ropes/harnesses! [as always, click on any photo to enlarge]

Our cool staff guy outfits the boys with their gear.
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They start free-climbing without being fastened in.
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First "rope climb" - Owen belays down.
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Owen loves indoor rock climbing!
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Kyle loves indoor rock climbing!
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O & K take a break (much to our surprise, they initiated this), to watch the "grown ups doing rope climbs" for a while... They get inspired...
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...Immediately after watching the adult climbers, K & O insist on more "rope climbs" for themselves. On his first try, Kyle makes it all the way up the wall to touch the ceiling. This was seriously impressive...
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...and Kyle was justly delighted with himself (as were his mama, his brother, and his climbing coach)!
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Owen climbs high too, not quite touching the ceiling, but high nonetheless!
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Way into climbing!!!

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Livesays

You know Braydon and I are huge fans/addicts of the Livesays blog. For those of you who aren't also fans/addicts, the Livesays youngest baby daughter is sick in a Haitian hospital right now. I can't stop thinking about them. If you pray, please pray for them today. If you don't pray, please send out some good wishes and positive thoughts for their family.

TGIF - again

Papi comes home today. We're all very much looking forward to that. Kyle has been up since 5:30 am (highly unusual. I can't even remember the last time he was up before 6:55 when sleeping in our own house). I know it is because he's so excited for Papi's return. Still, it means I've been up since 5:30 too; and I'm exhausted from this week of going it alone. Last Friday my post was "TGIF"... well, TGIF again. ;0

Thursday, January 24, 2008

We Have the Best Nanny Ever!!!



My day today has been jammed with back-to-back meetings. Mid-way through the afternoon I received two text/photo messages on my cell phone from Alex. She's apparently out and about with the boys, somewhere (I have no idea where and I like it that way -- she's thoroughly responsible and comes up with spontaneous outing ideas far better than any ideas I'd have if I were to make some sort of rigid itinerary for her to keep with them). Obviously, from the two pictures she sent from her cell phone (the two above), they're having fun! It is one of the best feelings in the world to know that while I'm working away my boys are not only well cared for, but having an absolute BLAST. If anyone knows of a "Best Nanny" contest, please let me know about it. I want to enter Alex. She would win it!

Oh Sweetness Beyond Sweetness

This morning Kyle woke up first and came to cuddle with me in bed. He had his 'Honey Bunny' with him, of course (regular readers know that 'Honey Bunny' is Kyle's beloved lovey/attachment object, and 'Lovey Lion' is Owen's). As Kyle and I were lying there together, all snuggly and silent, he was sucking his thumb and holding his Honey Bunny between his two hands. In his groggy early morning voice he said, "Mommy, was Honey Bunny and Lovey Lion in the lady's belly too with me and Owen?"

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Quotes of the Day re: Baby Sister

"I just can't wait to give Baby Sister a bath. In the sink. She is too little to go in the tub. And, she might try to eat our bath toys. So she'll go in the sink. I'll do it! I think I'll love it!" --Owen


"Mommy, when my baby is borned you will do this: You will bring her to my school, you will bring her into my classroom, and I will show her to all the children. That is what you will do. O.k.?!" --Kyle

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

By hope

I dropped the boys off at Heather's office at 3:30 and drove to the airport. Boarded a commuter jet - what land is this where we have jet airplanes for commuting - and hopped to Cincinnati. The sunset at 26,000 feet was gorgeous, the man next to me moved to another seat and we both had more room. The clouds spread out like a blanket covering, warming, protecting the earth; shrouding it. Pockets of lights below, patterns of cities and highways, a police car, traffic, a baseball diamond. Another city, people going home. There were two small kids traveling with their mother in front of me. My family is getting ready for bed right now.

When I landed I called home to catch the boys before they went to bed - but missed them. Grabbed a Quizno's sub for dinner. A long time ago I saw a travelling salesman driving in front of me, he had shirts hanging on a bar that went across the back of his car. They filled the car from side to side. His wardrobe on the road, his home away from home; his car. Where does he eat every night? I carry my bag, sit down and plug in my phone to charge it.

The woman across the isle from me on the next regional jet worked on her laptop, spreadsheets and powerpoint decks. Patterns of keys clicking; a splash of red and blue. Another person working. Landed in Greenville to dense fog. It covers everything in a hazy mist. The plane ducked out of it and the lights of cars and buildings emerged.

There is a line at the National rental car; I bypass it to go straight to the garage. The attendant: Yes Sir, No Sir; his neatly combed hair cut in a typical southerner's style, his moustache short; Leave Me Alone Sir. But I don't blame him, it's 9 PM on a Tuesday, he's married, clearly a father; doesn't want to be there any more than I do.

The tall skinny long-needle topped pine slipped by as I drove behind a semi down the highway. I catch H on the phone before she cleans up and goes to bed. It begins to really hit me now. The glow of enormous Southern strip malls lighted the sky and the haze around so I could have driven with the headlights off. I pass a Honda dealer, a BMW dealer and a Jaguar dealer. I pass an Olive Garden and a Boston Market. What land is this that has these things?

I check in at the Embassy Suites, a nice young lady greets me "Good evening, do you have a reservation?" One of my staff was looking for me earlier, but there is no way I am going to talk to them now. There are a number of tables in the hotel bar with people congregated around them. They are all looking around to see who else is around. I wonder if they see each other - they clearly see me as I walk by. I see a man sit down among them with his laptop and a powerpoint presentation running. My room is on the 9th floor.

***

On the mirror in our bedroom at home, Heather has tucked in a card with a MLK quote: "Everything that is done in the world is done by hope." I believe this to be true. I believe this to be true for everyone, for everything they want, for everything they do. For everyone. I believe that hope connects us together in ways that we often ignore, or at least forget to notice.

I have not been gone 12 hours, but the realization of hope and appreciation is acute. Our future baby girl, our now baby boys, my wife, our house, our careers. It is all done by hope.

Thank you Heather for hanging in there and supporting me so much in all I do with work. It is done by hope.

And love.

Another Work Trip & Grace Hall

Well, Braydon/"Papi" has left again for another "work trip" to "talk to the man" and "have many, many meetings." This time he's gone from this afternoon all the way until Friday. This is only 3 nights, but it feels daunting. The idea of holding down the fort (the twin-three-year-olds+all-household-everything+my-job-during-the-2nd-week-of-the-semester+boys'-school-drop-off-and-pick-up+being-pregnant 'fort') for that long feels like a lot. I know, I know, many people have it a lot worse than me. My dad used to travel a lot when my sister and I were little, leaving my mom alone with us in rural snowy New Hampshire for days at a time. I don't know how she did it. And now I think about families like my friends the Double Lucky family, who have young twins and two careers, one of which requires extensive international travel. Honestly, I cannot imagine how Cindy and Ed stay sane with the travel situation. I highly respect them for it. Not to mention single-parent-families. Seriously. Now they are truly the unsung heroes out there, really. I feel ridiculous complaining when I think of stuff like that. Nonetheless, here I am. It is just not easy to hold down the J-M fort alone.

Anyhoo... A little snippet from today (mainly for Braydon cuz I know you'll just love to hear this B...)

So, this afternoon Braydon picked up the boys from school so he could spend some time with them before he left for his trip. At 3:30 he dropped them off with me at my office on campus on his way to the airport. The boys love coming to my office. And I love having them come. I have a big jar filled with lollipops in my office. Originally (long before K & O were on the scene) the lollipops were for students who were in my office for meetings with me. Students still love to get a lollipop from my office, but K & O are definitely the biggest fans now. They bound up the stairs of Price Hall and run to my office. They spring into my arms then go straight for the lollipop jar. Today was no exception. Have I mentioned ;) they are very routine-oriented kids. So this is their "Mommy's Office" routine: after they get their lollipops unwrapped and into their mouths they walk through the hallways of Price looking for faculty offices with open doors. Any open door they find they walk right in and chat with whichever professor is in there. My colleagues genuinely seem to love this little ritual (K & O don't come often enough to make it a nuisance). K & O shake the professors hands (even ones they know well), chit chat with them, explore their offices, and check out their computers/books/nik-naks. Then they move on to the next open-door-office. Their favorite person to visit is our department coordinator, Erica, who greets them with big hugs. They love her. Any students who happen to be around Price are just a bonus. K & O will high-five with them, jump into their arms, act crazy with them, and generally just brighten the mood of the entire Lehigh University Sociology and Anthropology Department. They run around making everyone laugh for a little while, and it is a breath of fresh air (two breaths of fresh air), to say the least. The next part of our ritual is to go next door to Grace Hall. I blogged about Grace Hall another time in this post. The boys need to go there every time they visit my office on campus. On the first floor of Grace Hall there are beautiful hardwood-floor basketball courts. Today was awesome for K & O because we just so happened to walk into Grace Hall in the midst of... none other than... men's intramural basketball!!! There were about 30-40 students in there. Some were playing pick up b-ball, some were just shooting hoops, and some seemed to just sort of be there hanging out. K & O watched, wide eyed, for about 5 minutes. Then slowly they started inching their way into the midst of things. From what I could tell the guys were all cool with it, so I let it happen. Slowly but surely, K & O got themselves out onto the courts and into the action. Soon enough they each had a basketball and were running around with the "big, big guys!!!" K & O were dribbling the ball and trying to shoot it. The "big, big guys" were very impressed and very taken with the 'two little guys.' Next thing I know K & O are being held up high, all the way to the hoop rims, to throw the balls in. The "big, big guys" were gathering around them, and for small spurts of time they'd all be actually playing together. It was quite a sight: all these cool, tall, male college students running around with two tiny guys in the midst of it. I sat on the first row of the bleachers and just watched with a huge smile on my face the entire time. From time to time K & O would look over to me and smile so wide that I swear it was ear-to-ear. At one point, when Owen had been held up high and actually got the ball into the hoop, he shouted over to me, "Mommy, you need to say 'Yay Owen!'!!!" It was all very, very cute. We stayed for over 30 minutes. Then I felt that it was probably time to let the "big, big guys" play by themselves. The only way I got K & O out of there was by bribing them with elevator rides. Grace Hall has an elevator, and I let them ride up and down in it, pushing all the buttons themselves, several times before we left to head home. Driving home I was thinking about how Braydon would have gotten such a kick out of seeing the whole Grace Hall basketball scene unfold. And I was thinking about how in moments like those it really does seem like my precious boys have somehow come out of the darkness of their beginnings to lead such very charmed lives. At least for now. And my hope and my goal is to keep it that way for them for as long as humanly possible (preferably, forever).

Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK Day

Happy MLK Day from the Johnson-McCormick Family Blog.
It is because of guys like that, that we can have families like ours.
***

The Hypothetical Game




A Hypothetical Question For You:
O.k., so, hypothetically, you've got twin three year old boys who are definitely "boys' boys" (i.e., they love a good truck, they make motor noises all day long, they're loud and rowdy and obnoxious most of the time, they run --not walk-- everywhere, they can hit balls [with golf clubs, baseball bats, rackets of any kind, or just plain use their hands/feet/heads/butts] for hours on end, they are big fans of extreme sports, they can't help themselves from peeing all over the bathroom or dropping food all over the floor, they could not care less about any of the items of clothing on their bodies at any given time, they detest any form of shopping, and there's nothing they enjoy more than 'playing airplanes'). In other words, they are stereotypical boys in many ways. But, hypothetically speaking, these boys of yours also love their baby dolls, their tea set, their Fisher Price Kitchen, and their dollhouses too. They say their dolls are boys, but they still insist that they wear their pink doll clothes outfits instead of any other color ones, all the time. Imagine that hypothetically, the neighbors find it "odd" (they've told you so right to your face) that they regularly see your boys pushing their doll strollers around the driveway one minute then riding their trucks around the driveway the next minute. Even some close friends have confided in you that they're not exactly "comfortable" with the gender bending that they see going on in your household. More than one person has outright asked you the question: "Do you think you're taking this too far?" But, hypothetically, you feel confident in what you're doing. Hypothetically, you're a Sociologist, and you've read a lot of the literature on this stuff, and you know how important it is for boys to be on board too if any progress is going to be made regarding gender relations in the future. You remind yourself how *MESSED UP* it is that in 2008 little girls are generally encouraged to play with trucks and play sports and wear overalls, but that little boys are generally discouraged from playing with dolls and having their own kitchen sets and wearing dresses. You remind yourself of your values, of your beliefs about egalitarianism, of your devotion to raising your children to be anti-sexist. But still, hypothetically, you can't help but notice that not many folks are raising their sons like you are (and you're even part of a Waldorf school community where there is a hugely disproportionate number of self-identified "Liberal" families amongst the population). O.k., so now, hypothetically... you're with your two sons in a craft store one day to buy supplies for one of their school projects. Hypothetically, you are walking down one of the aisles and your boys start jumping up and down when they spot a rack of pink tutus. Hypothetically, these children of yours have rarely asked you for anything in a store (you can probably count on one hand the total number of things they have ever asked for -- ever -- in their entire lives), but they are now pointing to the tutus asking "That!!! Please!!! Can we please have THAT?????" You've actually played through this hypothetical moment in your mind's eye before, so it is now very strange that this is actually (hypothetically) happening in real life. Years ago, long before you ever had kids of your own, you and your husband used to talk about stuff like this -- you'd play "The Hypothetical Game" -- asking questions of each other and discussing your answers for hours ("What if your daughter wanted to get a large tattoo at age 12, would you let her???"/"What if your kid really wanted to go away to boarding school starting in 7th grade, would you support that???"/"What if your son wanted a pink tutu, would you get him one???"). Hypothetically, you can remember the actual discussion about the pink tutu. You can remember your husband being adamant that boys should most definitely be able to run around in pink tutus. You can remember that you yourself had played devil's advocate -- talking about socialization and risk of ostracization and the very real consequences of bucking the sexist system. But now, hypothetically, you are in the moment. You're in the middle of the store. Your sons are looking up at you awaiting your answer. You look at the price tags. The pink tutus are on clearance. $3.99 each. Your boys ask again, excitedly and anxiously, "Please mommy?! So please?! Please can we have these????!?!!" So... what do you do?
P.S. The three photos above show you what my answer to the question is/was. ;) ~HBJ

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Questions


This pregnancy is bringing up lots of questions for the boys. We knew it would. Owen's questions are mostly focused on Baby Sister... "How did she get in there?" "How will she get out of there?" "Will you pee on her when she's getting born?" "Will it hurt her when she is getting born?" "How big will she be when she is born?" "What color will she be?" (note: he told us tonight at dinner: "I think she will be brown!") Etc. These questions are hard to answer-- as they surely are for any family experiencing a pregnancy with a young child already in the home. But Kyle's questions are 100 times harder to answer. Kyle's questions are mostly focused on his own (and Owen's, since they are not separate in Ky Ky's mind) experiences pre-birth, during birth, and after birth... "Was it dark in the special lady's belly, was it so scary for me and Owen?" "Were we born in a hospital?" "Who caught me when I got born, did a doctor catch me and Owen?" "Why wasn't I in your belly, why wasn't Owen in your belly, why were we in another lady's belly?" (he still rarely refers to his birthmother as "birthmother" and still consistently refers to her as "another lady" or "the special lady") "Can I please see a picture from when I was born?" "Who took care of me when I was born?" "I needed you to take care of me, why didn't you take care of me when I was born?" "Did you come to get me right away when I was born?" Etc. Kyle is a tough cookie. And his curiosity is intense. When we were planning to adopt and were in the process of adopting (and even right up until a few weeks ago), I knew it would be challenging to talk about all of these questions that would be raised for K & O. I have been thinking of these questions and brainstorming my answers for over four years now. But nothing, just nothing, can prepare you for what it is like when those huge brown eyes are peering straight into yours and those gorgeous little faces are seeking your answers. It is no longer intellectual when it is real-- when the questions are coming from your own precious children. It feels massive. So massive that I can't even explain it. It is surprising to me how often tears spring to my eyes immediately when I hear the questions. I thought I'd be o.k. with it all, and I am at peace with it, but I'm not o.k. with it. At least not emotionally. And oh Kyle. His questions just cut to the heart of it all. As is always his way. Tonight, as I was tucking him into bed he lifted his head off his pillow and in the darkness, with his eyes looking face-forward straight into mine, his mouth so close to my face that I could feel his warm sweet breath he whispered, "Mommy, where were you when I was born?"

Friday, January 18, 2008

TGIF



This week was rough. Between the "sick" days for K & O, and the start of the semester for me, and Braydon's usual over-the-top workload... it was just a long week. Because of a whole lot of events and deadlines and important lunch and dinner meetings, Thurs-Fri were incredibly long work days for me. Driving home from work this evening, at 5:30pm, I realized that in the past 48 hours I had spent exactly 2 hours with my boys. I go through lots of emotions during days like these. It is not so much guilt that I feel (at least at this point), it is just a sort of sickening pit in my stomach. I wish there was a way to have a serious, ambitious career and never have to put in the long days... but there just plain isn't. Careers like this just simply don't have 'usual hours' and there is no way around that. Luckily for me (and my conscience) my boys take it all in stride. This morning I outright asked them, "Are you mad at mommy for working so late last night?" (I had taught an early evening graduate seminar and afterward had to attend a dinner party on campus). Owen spoke up right away, totally genuinely and forthrightly: "No mommy, we're not mad." I turned to Kyle, "Ky Ky, how do you feel about it?" He looked me right in the eyes, "I'm not mad mommy!" Then they both came over to hug me. They are cheery and happy kids. I think they are sincere -- I honestly think that they are comfortable the way things are. I can't even explain how grateful I am for that. It is not easy, this dual-career-family/professor-mom gig. But it isn't impossible either. And I feel indebted to all those women who came before me paving the way. If it is this hard now, I can't even imagine what it was like 30 years ago -- let alone 60 years ago. Families like ours have those women (and those people in their lives who supported them) to thank. And in reality, the way I look at it, all's well that ends well. That's true on the most micro --and the most macro-- levels. Tonight we ended the week on a high note. We all stood around the stove as K & O made their favorite dinner: "Bunny Macaroni" (Annie's Macaroni and Cheese). As they ate their mac-n-cheese, baby carrots, and cherry tomatoes the four of us sat at the table for almost an hour and talked together like four best friends. It felt like we were re-grouping. And it felt good. Even at the end of a rough week K & O are no worse for wear. They are happy, gracious, thriving boys full of energy and zest for life. That, to me, is just amazing. Nonetheless... I think all four of us feel the same way: TGIF. Have a great weekend y'all.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A No Post Day

On the days when I don't post you can just assume it is because my day is waaay too busy/hectic and I am waaaaaay too stressed/frazzled and our life is waaaaaay too chaotic/crazed to do it. Given that all of our days are hectic, frazzled, and crazed, you can just imagine what my non-posting days are like. Yeah, go ahead, just use your imagination. Your wildest imagination. Today was one of those days.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Photos of the Day: Doctors




Sick???

Monday night Kyle was seeming under the weather. We took his temperature and sure enough he was running a slight fever. He slept through the night fine, but was lethargic and repeatedly saying, "I'm sick" when he woke up Tuesday morning. He was running a fever. No way he was going to school. Owen was a crumbled crying mess the instant we suggested that he go to school without his brother. Then Kyle caught wind of it and he was a wreck over that prospect too. The two of them begged us -- BEGGED US (with tears streaming down Owen's cheeks and Kyle rubbing Owen's back) -- to please let Owen stay home too. Braydon and I 'conferenced' out of their earshot; "Some day they're going to have to separate. But do we force it now? At age three? When one of them is sick?" We caved quickly. "O.k., you're both staying home, for a quiet Sick Day at home." Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, Kyle was not sick enough to really be sick (i.e., he sure wasn't acting sick). And Owen... well, Owen was never even remotely sick to begin with. A "quiet Sick Day at home"??? Yeah, right. It was a normal day at home (anything but quiet). Nonetheless, Sick Days -- for any one (or more) of the four of us -- send our barely-manageable life into a tailspin. If you are a dual-career couple with young children and complicated childcare arrangements and no extended family living anywhere even remotely near you, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're not, then all you need to do is ask someone like that and they'll tell you: Sick Days send the whole house of cards tumbling to the ground. I feel like a juggler with all of my balls in the air. On Sick Days it feels like all the balls just drop, no matter how hard I try to keep them up. And then add that this is the first week of the Spring Semester for a Professor-Mom-Family... and that Professor-Mom is actually pregnant... and... well, the whole thing is just a mess. Kyle was bouncing off the walls when he woke up this morning, saying, "I'm all better! I'm not sick!" and very excited to go to school. No fever. We sent them both off and breathed a sigh of relief that we got off easy (just one Sick Day). But then at 10:00 a.m., the dreaded. School called to say Kyle was sick and we needed to come get him. Of course Owen insisted on coming home too. And we weren't going to put up a fight in the middle of the Acorn Room. So home they came. They played and played and played all day. Again, nothing quiet about this "Sick Day." They chased each other around the house screaming and tackling and wrestling, they played airplanes, they played dress up. We left them unsupervised in Kyle's room for a few minutes and found that they had somehow gotten Kyle's bedroom window open (like, fully open to the outside), and were spitting out the window watching their spit drop to the ground two floors below (talk about seriously dangerous; it scares the geebers out of us to think of how easily they could have fallen out of that window). At one point they jumped on the guest room beds for a full hour straight (remember that video Braydon did of them bed-jumping at the end of this past summer? Well, it was just like that). At lunchtime they ate their lunches that I had packed for them for school today. See photo above. Do either of these two look sick to you??? Hopefully we'll get back on track tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Blog Award


Ah. Blog Awards. Not sure what they really mean, exactly, but you gotta love 'em anyway. Especially when they're from someone who you really like. And I really, really like this blogger. One of my absolute favorite 'blogger friends,' Trish from Twinchatter, has awarded me a Blogging with a Purpose award! Sorta like Trish, I'm not sure what my actual purpose in blogging ever was or is. But I like it that some people out there might think I have a purpose?!!! If truth be told, I feel like this blog of ours serves mainly me: it has become such a therapeutic thing for me to be able to write here everyday. And I feel like I'm at least doing something in terms of preserving some snapshots of memories for my boys (and now future girl too). And the fringe benefit of it has turned out to be that I've made some actual real friends out there via the blogosphere. Friends who I seriously count as real friends (as hard as that may be for you non-bloggers to believe). So, it feels like the 'purpose' is all about me, me, me. But if our blog seems to serve other purposes as well (for folks who read it), then that is just the icing on the cake! :)
The guidelines for this award are:
1. Award 5 others who have not received the award
2. The awarded blogs must serve some purpose
3. Link back to original entry
4. Must post award banner on site and link it to Novak's site.
***
O.k., so in the spirit of 'purposes' that are all about me, me, me... ;) I'm going to give this award to five blogs/bloggers who have specifically and personally served to help/inspire/uplift/motivate/educate/invigorate me, me, me. Each of these bloggers has done something specific and personal (most often 'off-blog') to help move me along forward in this crazy world we're living in. They, like Trish, are some of my 'blogger friends' -- people who I've never actually 'met' (in person), but who have been real friends to me nonetheless. I'm pretty sure that if I were to meet them in real life that they, like Trish, would be friends I could sit with for hours chatting and laughing and crying. I read each of their blogs. And I learn from them. I hereby give the Blogging with a Purpose award to the following blogs (in nothing but alphabetical order):

This Post Has No Title IV

Bek's comment on my last post reminded me of something I had apparently blocked out that happened on Sunday afternoon (the day before what happened on Monday afternoon... believe me, I could have this whole blog be devoted to stories like these, but I don't necessarily want all these details to be remembered, and more importantly-- I don't want anyone to get the idea that we allow this stuff to take up any significant bulk of space in our life. We choose to focus on the positive for lots of really important reasons. So this little 'series' of stories is just that-- a little series-- and I refuse to let these things bog us, or our blog, down. Having said that, I'm on a roll here... so here goes with another little story from the day before yesterday).

We were at Lowe's to buy birdseed and light bulbs and a couple of other things. Our trips to Lowe's with the boys always involve their required stop in the lawnmower(summer)/snowblower(winter) section. It just so happens that Lowe's was in the midst of their seasonal products turnover so K & O hit the jackpot-- lawnmowers and snowblowers AND a bunch of big strong male Lowe's employees driving those lift-machine-things back-and-forth from the stockroom to the lawnmower/snowblower area to bring out deck furniture and grills and other heavy stuff like that! K & O were in Lowe's Heaven. They were both "riding" together on one riding lawnmower, sharing the seat, watching the action. From time to time the lift-machine-things would be away in the stockroom for a few minutes in a row and K & O would jump off their lawnmower to look down the aisle for it to come back. As soon as they'd see it they'd run like crazy to jump back onto their lawnmower-seat-safety-zone to watch the guys unload the heavy stuff. Braydon and I were about 3 feet from the lawnmower. We knew they were loving this, and we were in no rush, so we were letting them play it out. I was exhausted (remember, I'm 5 months pregnant!), so I was sitting down on a pile of wood (there was nowhere else to sit!) right next to the lawnmower. Braydon was standing right next to me. We were watching the boys, we were smiling that cheesy-parental-smiley-smile in our joy in watching their joy, and from time to time we were laughing at them (like when they'd make their super loud crazy engine sounds pretending to "START THE MOTOR!!!"). Strangely enough for a Sunday afternoon, we had virtually the entire store to ourselves. Nobody was around but us four. And the Lowe's worker guys were all getting a big kick out of playing lift-machine-thing-driver-Superstars to K & O. Suddenly, out of nowhere a white woman appears. She's clearly a customer. She's been shopping in some nearby aisle but is now walking toward us with a very concerned look on her face. I notice her right away. I can see she's looking at the boys, then she's looking right at me (we're making eye contact). She looks at the boys, then at me again. She does this a couple more times as she's walking toward us. She walks right up to Owen and says, "Little boy, are you lost?" He looks up at her confused. She says it again, "Little boy, are you lost???" He doesn't respond. He has a dazed look on his face. He turns to look up at me. I speak up as quickly as I can, looking over his head to the lady, "He's with us!" She looks at me (for about the fifth time) and says, "I thought he was lost." "No," I said, "he's our's, he's with us." What I wish she had said was, "Oh, I am so sorry!!!" If she had I would have said, "No problem." But instead she said, "Oh, I just saw him here and was worried he might be lost!" She turned and walked away and I let her walk off with the awkward silence.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Today in the Grocery Store

It seems that ever since I started going to the grocery store with K & O (which was, basically, very soon after they came home from Haiti), there is always a story to tell about each and every trip we make. For some reason it is in the grocery store that we have our most interesting (read between the lines) experiences. Today was no exception. Today, in addition to all the normal mundane stuff that occurs when you bring two three year old boys to the grocery store with you, not just one but two interesting things happened!

Setting the scene-- Huge grocery store. The boys were in the kind of cart where in between the actual food bin part of the cart and the part that you push, there is a small bench that fits two kids. K & O are sitting squeezed together and with me pushing the cart their heads were just below my head. These stories are true stories.

---

Story 1

About mid-way through the trip, at the end of one of the middle aisles, I was concentrating on trying to search an upper shelf for a specific thing on my list. I was lost in the task, not really focused on anything except trying to find this thing as quick as possible. My concentration is broken when I hear, "Hey!" Then again, "Hey?!" I look up. About halfway down the aisle is a well dressed middle aged white woman, standing with no cart or basket or anything in her hands. There are several people in between us, but she's looking directly at me saying loudly, "Hey?!!" -- apparently trying to get my attention. She's got everybody else's attention in the aisle, including K & O's. I look at her (my head just above K & O's) with a startled look of 'Are you talking to me?' on my face. She says (loud enough for me to hear, with half a long aisle and several other shoppers separating us), "Are those your kids?" I totally hear her, but do what I always do in these situations... I act like I can't hear her in order to buy myself some time to think quick (remember, in addition to the audience of other shoppers, my most important audience -- K & O -- are right there just inches away from my mouth). She belts it out louder, "Are THOSE your kids?" I nod as proudly and confidently as I can given that I'm totally nervous about what is about to unfold. She starts walking toward me very quickly and aggressively, weaving in and out of people (who are all staring at me and her) as she approaches. I conscientiously lean my body and head in tight with K & O's. As she gets within a few steps of me she suddenly stops. Looks me right in the eye. Point blank says, "Are they YOUR CHILDREN????" I say, "Yes." She says, "I thought I was hearing them call you 'mom'? Are they your kids?" I say, "Yes, they are my kids." She says, "Like, you had them???" I do what I always do in such moments (I'm pretty sure I know exactly what she's asking but I want her to be the one to feel like an idiot, not me, and definitely not K & O), I ask with a look of sincere confusion on my face, "What do you mean?" She says, "YOU had THEM?" I said, "I did not give birth to them, if that's what you mean. I adopted them, they are my kids, they were adopted." She looks at me in total shock. "Oh," she says, "I couldn't figure it out. I kept hearing them call you 'mom' and I just couldn't figure it out." I stand there silently. K & O are looking straight at her. Everyone around us now starts to pretend to be shopping in the aisle again. She says, "I know about bi-racial kids, but I've never seen kids that dark come out of a person as white as you." I smiled as sweet-fake as I possibly could and said, "Oh." She says, "I mean, they are really dark. What do they call that? Pigment? They have very dark pigment. And you're so white. I couldn't figure out how they were your kids." I looked at her and said, "They are my kids." And that was that. We kept on moving (and when I got home and was unpacking the bags I realized that I had forgotten the item I had been looking for when that whole interaction began).

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Story 2

Totally other kind of 'story'... So, we're toward the end of the trip. The boys have been behaving very well, all things considered. I've been very focused on getting out as quickly as possible so I haven't really been watching too closely what they're doing since they're not seeming to cause any problems. We're in the bread and dairy aisle, the widest aisle. It is crowded with people and carts. I sort of anchor our cart toward the middle of the aisle and from there I start quickly gathering each item we need and then placing it in the cart. I'm going back and forth, back and forth. I start to notice some people snickering, some people openly laughing out loud, some people giving each other looks of disgust. I get nervous it is something regarding my boys. A random shopper walks by me and says, "They're twins?" I say, "Yes." He says flatly, "Wow." Another random shopper nearby says cheerily, "I had three boys who almost sent me to the insane asylum, but I'd take three boys of different ages over two twin boys any day!!!" I laugh. She says, "I'm not kidding!" From the cheese section I bend around another customer to try to peer down the aisle to check on K & O. They are sitting on the cart bench, with their bodies turned so that they are face to face. At first I think they are cutely kissing. But no. To my horror I can clearly see that they have their mouths wide open and they are french kissing. People are staring. Some people have even stopped dead in their tracks to stare. I run over to them and start pushing the cart forward. "Guys! Please! No tongues!!!" That gets a big rise out of them. They start laughing and doing it more. As I move as quickly as possible through the rest of the dairy aisle I periodically look down to see them giggling, french kissing, and licking each other all over their faces. "Guys! Guys! Please!!" I say. "What mommy? We like it!!!" they say in unison. "Who wants a cookie?!!!!!!" I say as I frantically break open a package of fig newtons from our cart.

Patricia Visits!

We spent the weekend with our friend Patricia, who came to visit us from Boston. Patricia is an old friend from our Boston graduate school days. She and I were in the same PhD program years back. We've had some good times studying Schutz, The Frankfurt School, etc. for our comprehensive exams together (??!!?!). We've had some good times going through the PhD-hoops-plus-20-something-angst together (??!!?!). Those are bonding times!!! But in all seriousness, she got real close to Braydon too, and together with a ton of Boston friends we've all had some really good times together -- many of them over dinner in various Boston apartments or over drinks in various Boston bars (margaritas and queso dip at The Border Cafe immediately come to mind)! We were with each other when we were really growing up. But now we see her rarely. However, she's one of the best kinds of old friends -- you start right back up where you left off (depsite not having seen each other for ages), and things are relaxed as can be. Owen and Kyle love her, and all five of us had a good time together for a weekend of doing nothing but everything. A highlight was going to Cosi for lunch and then having s'mores for dessert... with K & O as the "Cheffers" (some kind of twisted twinspeak verbal combo of "cooker" and "chef"). Patricia also got to see plenty of baseball action and Diego videos! ;0 She took a bunch of cute photos-- many of the photos on this post were taken by her. Last night while I was getting Owen ready for bed he said, "Mommy, I'm so sad." I said, "Why are you sad?" He said, "Because Patricia left us." So sad to have her go, but so fun to have had her here!!! Thank you for coming Patricia!!!!!!






Thursday, January 10, 2008

Concerns About Baby Sister

Right now, K & O seem to have two --and only two-- major concerns about Baby Sister. But they are serious, grave concerns. They are:
1) That I will "pee pee on her when she is getting born"
2) That I will "let her come out before she is ready to get born"

Yesterday, in the bathroom of the grocery store, both of these concerns were at monumental levels. The three of us (K, O, H) were in a single stall together. K & O peed, then it was my turn. As is the usual routine, I sat there peeing as K & O both stood, less then a foot away, all serious looks on their faces, observing me pee (their fascination that "girls pee sitting down" continues in full force). Suddenly, Kyle got a look of utter panic on his face: "DON'T LET BABY SISTER COME OUT MOMMY!!! SHE'S NOT READY TO GET BORN YET! SHE'S TOO LITTLE! DON'T LET HER OUT!!!!!!!!!" Then Owen was struck with panic too: "DON'T PEE ON HER! MOMMY, DO NOT PEE PEE ON HER!!!!!!!" I said, "I won't guys, I won't pee on her, and I won't let her come out, don't worry." But by now the panic was intense. They continued: "Don't pee on her! Don't let her out! MOMMY!!! Be CAREFUL!!!!!!!" I was saying, "Don't worry guys! Don't worry! I'm the mommy, it is my job to take care of her, don't worry!" Their voices became increasingly raised to the point that both of them were so loud that they surely couldn't hear anything I was saying to try to calm them down. Their attitude can only be described as an entirely-concerned-big-brothers... and totally 100% protective--- to the Nth degree. In that moment, neither of them could have cared less about me. It was all about Baby Sister. I can only imagine what the other ladies outside our stall (using/waiting for the restroom) were thinking!!*@!?!!! And I can only imagine what poor 'Baby Sister' will be going through when she's, oh, about 14, and they're, oh, about 18?!!!!!!!!*!@!?!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Post For Braydono

"Papi" is away for "two sleeps" on a "work trip" where he is "talking to the man" but "soon he'll come back" and then he will "absolutely" and "definitely" be ready to "play airplanes" and "be the control tower" (all K & O speak; all quotes from today). Braydono-- here are some photos I took for you this afternoon/evening because I know you, therefore, I know you'll be checking your laptop in your hotel room tonight. ;)
P.S. Mark this date in history-- the boys were better than they've ever been in the grocery store this afternoon, it was actually a pleasure to go food shopping with them today!! Who would have ever thunk it?!?!!!!!

B-- here are O & K in our bathtub;
they spent over an hour in our tub and then shower.

***

After bath snack (while I got their supper ready), watching the "new" Diego video you got from NetFlix.
Note: their "snack" was an entire 12 oz (1 full pound!) package of strawberries and an entire 4.4 oz package of blueberries (they ate the entire two packages) and that was after they shared a banana and before they ate their entire dinners. ?!
FYI: The "Otter" video is a huge, huge hit.
And the fact I let them watch a video on a "school day" was a huge, huge hit too! ;)
***

Can't help but throw this one in too--
They wanted me to be the Control Tower. I tried. But they told me that they "like the way Papi does it"!!! LOL!!!
I'm sure you're just really missing the planes/masking tape runway... right?! ;0

Even though it is only "two sleeps" we miss you!

Two Interesting Things From Last Night

Owen's Belly Button--
Click here for previous post about Owen's Umbilical Hernia. Never has he ever once said or done anything to indicate that he has any self-consciousness whatsoever about it... until last night. At the dinner table last night, truly out of nowhere, completely out of the blue, Owen says (with seriousness and a tone of real sadness), "Mommy, why I don't have an 'innie' belly button? Why I have an 'outie'? I don't want a big outie, I want to have an innie." My mind started racing the second I heard 'innie' because I knew what he was going to be getting at before he even finished his first sentence. The default answer that immediately shot through my head was to tell him "Because that's how God made you! And you're perfect just the way you are!" or some rubbish like that. But, 1) it is a lie-- that is not how "God" made him-- it is the result of human hands, a poorly tied umbilical at birth, a pretty extreme umbilical hernia, and early starvation so that the hernia could not and will not ever be able to totally heal... and 2) to tell him he's 'perfect just the way he is' would sort of be problematic when, sometime relatively soon, we take him for an operation to correct his umbilical hernia and give him an 'innie'... I tried to think quick. I said: "Owen, you don't want the outie belly button?" He said, "No, I don't want it, I want to have an innie just like Kyle and just like you and just like Papi." I said, "O.k.! Guess what? We're going to go to a special doctor at a hospital who will fix your belly button and make it an innie!" He seemed satisfied with that. Now I've got it on my to-do list for today to start the process to set that up. The surgeon we saw about it when the boys first came home said that he wanted to do the surgery at age four. Braydon and I had already been talking about trying to get the operation set up early, hopefully for this winter, so that we can have it out of the way before the baby is due. Now Owen's given me a push to make it happen. But I find it just so interesting that now suddenly Owen has noticed it and is self-conscious of it. Something must have happened at school yesterday or something, but I have no idea what.

Sibling Love--
[Quick note about Baby Sister's name-- we're not making the name public so on the blog we're writing 'Baby Sister' even when K or O actually say 'Baby ___'. They call her by her name almost 100% of the time.] Last night right before bed, the boys were on Braydon's lap in Kyle's room, just like every night, and Braydon had just finished reading them books. I walked over, just like every night, to say prayers with them. Before I sat down --with my belly just at their face level-- I pulled my shirt up so that K & O could kiss the belly and say 'night night' to Baby Sister (they've been doing this since we told them there is a baby in there). They kiss the belly and whisper things (that Braydon and I usually can't make out) to Baby Sister. They were doing this whole routine last night when out of the blue Kyle says very clearly: "Night Nights. I love you Baby Sister." Then Owen said it too: "I love you Baby Sister." We have never prompted them to say 'I love you' to the baby; we've never even insinuated that they should feel 'love' for this abstract soon-to-be member of our family; and we've never talked about feeling love ourselves for the baby. It was totally sweet and cute, but also totally surprising to hear it. Braydon and I were totally taken aback by it. I find it so fascinating that siblings can start to develop a true bond and an organic love for each other even before they meet and/or even before one is born. There is no doubt that K & O feel love for their Baby Sister, despite the fact that she's still so abstract to them and they've never known another sibling but each other/their twin. And the other part that is so amazing is the miracle of adoption--- the fact that Baby Sister won't be a biological sibling to them, but this has absolutely no significance whatsoever (at least not now) for K & O.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

One Overheard & One Photo

Yesterday Kyle was walking around the playroom carrying the poor cat around and holding the poor thing waaaaaaay toooooo tight. Our beloved 13-year-old cat Cooper has become pathetically tolerant of K & O's antics. He can usually escape when he really wants to so I more-or-less stay out of it. However, this time I was really starting to get concerned when --from the kitchen where I was-- I heard Cooper yelp out a desperate sounding sound unlike any sound I've ever heard before. I shouted in to Kyle, "O.k., Kyle, that's enough, put Cooper down now." He ignored me. "Kyle! Put Cooper down!" Totally blatantly ignoring me. "KYLE! PUT THE CAT DOWN RIGHT NOW!" And then. This: Kyle, semi-sheepishly and semi-attitudinally (some people would call this passive-aggressively), still holding the cat, calls back (just loud enough so I can hear it) -- "I'm not listening to you Mommy." Then dead silence in the house. Owen was in the playroom but ran fast as lightening to come see my reaction in the kitchen. He peered around the kitchen counter with a look of sheer anticipatory curiosity on his face. "GO TO YOUR ROOM NOW!" I yelled to Kyle (halfway for the sheer disobedience of Kyle, halfway for the wide-eyed audience of Owen). Kyle dropped the cat quick as a wink and ran up the stairs to his room. Owen, still peering around the counter, now with a look of deep satisfaction on his face, says, "Kyle's in big trouble! Big time out!" Then, all dramatically angelic and sticky sweet (as if he's concerned about Kyle) Owen says, "Why mommy?" With the most stern look of 'I'm not buying it' I could muster on my face, I flatly said, "You know why Owen." Then he jumps out from behind the counter and says, all confident and serious, "Oh! Yes! I do know why! Because he talked back to Mommy!" "Yes, that's right," I said. Three minutes later I told Kyle he could come back down. He did the obligatory apology: "Mommy, I'm sorry I talked back to you." Then I did the obligatory, "O.k., don't do that again, o.k., big hug." And literally within about 5 seconds both boys were happily playing with airplanes as if nothing had happened. They were on the floor, just on the other side of the kitchen counter, definitely within easy earshot of me but --from a 3-year-old's perspective-- light year's away from me since they couldn't actually see me with the counter between us. And this is what I hear:
Owen: Kyle, why you worried about Mommy?
Kyle: I'm not worried.
O: Oh.
K: I'm not worried, Owen, I'm mad.
O: Oh! You're mad?!
K: I'm mad at Mommy. I'm super mad Owen.
O: Oh!
K: Mommy is not nice. Mommy is NOT NICE. Mommy is not nice. Right Owen?
O: Oh, right. That's right Kyle.
K: Mommy said hurtful words.
O: Oh. Why she say hurtful words?
K: She said, 'GO TO YOUR ROOM!' That's hurtful words to me.
O: Oh. That is not nice saying hurtful words. But I'm not mad Kyle. I'm not.
K: Oh.
O: O.k. Kyle?
K: Oh, o.k.! O.k.!
O: Oh look Kyle, there's Cooper!!! Come on! We need to catch him!!!!!!!!!!
K: Yes!!!!!!!!!!!! Run fast Owen! Run fast!!!!!!!!!!

* * *

And, speaking of my darling little angel boys... A couple of days ago, this happened. The boys were playing, doing whatever, and suddenly it got way too quiet. When that happens it makes Braydon and I very nervous. I called out, "Guys? Kyle and Owen? Where are you? What are you doing?" Silence. "Guys?!?!" Silence. "Kyle and Owen!?!!!" Kyle, from the playroom, says, "We're in here. Doing a project. With tape." Then Owen appears in the kitchen, looking up at me like this:

Baby Sister's Name

Since I've received so many inquiries about it (!!!), I thought I should be sure to make it perfectly clear: Baby Sister's name is not going to be June! ;)

Monday, January 07, 2008

Back to School

The River Valley Waldorf School's Winter Break is over, and today is the boys' first day back to school. Owen was ambivalent about going back to school, but Kyle was very excited about it. They were both, however, very excited to wear their "I'm going to be a Big Brother" shirts to school today. These are now their favorite clothing items of choice. They'd wear them 24x7 if they could. Kyle, especially, just couldn't wait to get dressed this morning. From the time he woke up until Braydon drove off with them 10 minutes ago, Kyle kept saying to me, "Mommy, I can't wait to go to school!" We couldn't tell how much of his excitement was about school vs. how much of his excitement was about the shirt. About 1/2 hour before the boys had to head out Kyle started saying "I don't want to wear my coat today." He's never done this before. It is supposed to be in the 50s today, but still... he has to wear his coat. I kept saying, "Well, you have to wear it." He'd say, "But why??? I don't want to wear my coat. Please no coat?" Finally it dawned on me... I said, "Ky Ky, do you want no coat because you want to walk through the whole school to your classroom so that everyone can see your shirt?!" Huge grin on his face, he shouted "YES! YES! Please? So please?!" Braydon agreed that he would carry Kyle's coat for him so that Kyle could walk into school loud-and-proud with his big-announcement-shirt. From then on Kyle was dancing all around the house singing "I love school, I love baby sister, I love school, I love baby sister, I can't wait for school, I can't wait for baby sister, baby sister is coming after my birthday." At one point he interrupted this song and dance to say, "Hey, I have an idea! When it is my birthday, I can share my birthday presents with my baby sister!!!" This, for Kyle, who is the ultimate-lover-of-birthday-and-supreme-lover-of-presents, was kind of huge. Braydon and I looked at each other in total shock. "No, sweetie," I said, "when it is your birthday your presents are going to be just for you." He lit up with delight, "O.k.!" He said. "I have an even better idea! How about Baby Sister can have her own birthday??!!!!" I said, "Yes! She'll have her own birthday!" Then he continued on with the very animated song and dance until it was time to go. Owen, of course, jumped right on the no-coat-boat with his brother and wanted nothing to do with wearing anything that might cover up his special shirt. I can only imagine the stories Braydon will be telling when he gets back from dropping them off!