Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I'm surprising even myself with how low-key I am feeling as we enter the 2-week-countdown-'till-due-date. I have moments of frantic stress, but generally I'm experiencing this period in our lives with surprising calm. I'm much more even-keeled than I'd have expected to be at this point. I'm much more laid back and relaxed about all that is on the horizon than I ever would have imagined I'd be. Part of it is that I feel the need to be as rock-solid as possible for K & O. There is so much going on in their little minds as they sense the approach of Baby Sister's arrival. Their anticipation is so thick you could cut it with a knife. They have been wanting a baby sibling for as long as they can remember. They have talked about it openly and asked for it explicitly since the time they started talking-- literally. And now, it is upon them. And they know it. Great expectations. And yet an intense sense of the unknown. It is a lot for two big little boys.
For the past 2-3 weeks or so we've been watching their emotions manifest in many different ways. They are much more cuddly and need a lot more physical attention (hugs, snuggles, cuddles) than usual. They talk about Baby Sister constantly (it is clearly at the surface of their minds). They get frustrated more easily and lash out more quickly. And they act up more than they normally do. At the same time, they are cool as cucumbers. When gifts arrive for Baby Sister (which they regularly do), K & O take it in stride and have never once expressed (in any way) any sort of jealousy or envy. When people focus their attention on me/my pregnancy and how I'm feeling, etc. (which they regularly do), K & O just go with the flow and have never once demanded the focus to shift to them. When they see me putting their old books and toys in the baby's room they act 100% unphased. As we've been 'nesting' like crazy and re-arranging our entire house, K & O have never once batted an eye. And yet their anxiety pops up in fits and starts-- the anticipation is palpable.
A couple of weeks ago we visited friends who have baby 8-month-old twins. Kyle and Owen were not themselves during the visit. They were acting up a lot, not listening, and were very revved up. During the visit they were not allowed to do much with the babies (the babies' parents were -- as to be expected -- very protective, and there were a lot of limits placed on how K & O could interact with the babies). The visit did not go as K & O had hoped (they had hoped to be able to hold the babies, touch the babies, maybe even feed the babies, etc.). In the car afterward we had a big conversation de-briefing about the visit. In an unbelievably articulate way, both K & O (initiated by K) explained their feelings-- They told us that they were feeling "mad" and "angry" and "frustrated" because they wanted their "own baby to be born" and they were "upset" that "Baby Sister was not coming out yet." This totally threw Braydon and I for a loop. We were shocked, actually. We had been upset by their behavior during the visit. We had been thinking they were tired or bored or maybe even jealous of all the attention the babies were getting. But we really had not put 2 & 2 together to realize that for K & O it was all about Baby Sister (of course, in retrospect it is obvious, but at the time it was not obvious to us at all-- it had never even occurred to us actually). We four had a big long talk about all of this in the car. This was one of a few similar experiences during which K & O have expressly articulated their own sense of anticipation, excitement, and frustration over this whole waiting-for-baby process.
This afternoon I picked the boys up from school. They played on the playground with their friends for awhile and all was o.k. But upon arriving home they were at each other and fighting non-stop. Bickering. Grabbing. Shoving. Snide comments. Bad behavior. I had to send Owen to his room at one point for purposefully slamming the door in Kyle's face (and accidentally jamming Kyle's fingers in the door). While he was up in his room I said to Kyle (who was by no means solely an innocent victim in all that had been going down), "Kyle, why do you think Owen is acting up so much today?" And here is what happened next~~
Kyle: I think because he's frustrated.
Heather: Oh?
K: That's why he's acting up. Because he's so frustrated. He's frustrated because Baby Sister is not coming out. That's why he's acting up.
H: Oh. Frustrated.
K: He's getting frustrated it isn't coming before our birthday. It's taking too long for her to come.
H: Oh. Are you frustrated too?
K: Yes. Because I want her to come. Before our birthday, not after. I want her to come Friday. Not waiting and waiting and waiting for her to come. Not waiting and waiting and waiting for her to get borned.
H: Do you think that's why you are acting up so much today too Kyle? Is that why?
K: Yes, I think so. I think so. I'm getting so tired of waiting for her to get borned.
Nothing about Baby Sister had been mentioned all afternoon. I had been thinking they were just having an 'off' day, or that they were unsettled because Braydon has been working such long hours the past couple of days (they have hardly seen him since Monday). So Kyle's explanation caught me off guard. A couple of minutes later I went upstairs to get Owen. Alone with him in his room I asked him, "Owen, why are you acting up so much today?"
O: Because I'm frustrated.
H: Oh?
O: I already told you that. I'm frustrated.
H: Kyle said that he thinks you're frustrated because Baby Sister isn't born yet. Is that right?
O: Yes, that's what I already told you.
H: Oh.
O: I am feeling so frustrated that she's not getting born yet. I want my baby to come out. I want my baby to come out in zero sleeps. My baby needs to come out of that belly. Why it is taking so long? Why?
H: Because she's just not ready yet. It will be after your birthday. A few days after your birthday.
O: I want it before my birthday now. I want to have the birthday so we can get that baby borned out.
H: It will be soon.
O: Not soon enough.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Two Against One (AKA 'Always Easier to be Mad at Mommy Than at Each Other')

Braydon had to leave early this morning for a meeting, so I drove the boys to school. From the minute we got into the car they were at each other-- Owen grabbed Kyle's hat, K grabbed O's hat, O threw K's hat, K threw O's hat, O tugged on K's hood, K slapped O on the shoulder, O shoved K, etc.... lots of fussing and carrying on. About three minutes into the drive I had had enough. "Boys! Cut it out! CUT! IT! OUT! That's ENOUGH!" Silence for about 60 seconds. Then:

K: Mommy?
H: Yes Kyle?
K: Mommy, I'm getting mad at you.
O: Me too!
K: Mommy, I think Owen is feeling angry. Angry at you Mommy. And I'm getting mad at you too.
H: O.k. You can be mad at me.
K: Actually, I'm getting mad at Owen. Yes. I'm getting mad at Owen.
O: I'm having a bad day. Mommy, did you hear me? I said, 'I'm having a bad day.'
H: Oh. Owen, why are you having a bad day?
O: I am having a bad day. Because you are saying mean things to me Mommy. You are saying very mean things to me and to Kyle.
H: Like what? What mean things am I saying?
O: You said 'that's enough!' That was very mean. That's why I'm mad at you Mommy. That's why. And that's why I'm having a bad day. That's why.
H: O.k.
K: I'm mad at Owen. I'm super mad at Owen.
O: Kyle, why are you mad at me? Why Kyle?
K: Because you broke my hood Owen! You broke my hood and you threw my hat!
O: Oh.
K: That's why!
O: Oh. Kyle, I have an idea-- let's be mad at Mommy.
K: O.k.
O: We're mad at Mommy. Right Kyle?
K: Yes, that's right!
O: That's exactly right! We're mad at Mommy!
K: Yes! She needs to go to her room!
O: Yes, and she needs to have a big huge time out!
K: Yes! She is poopie Mommy!
O: Yes! Poopie Mommy!
K: Owen, let's talk about POOP!
K: Poop and poop and poop!
O: Pooooooooop!!!!!!
[hysterical laughter, followed by happy banter for the rest of the drive to school]

Monday, April 28, 2008

Compare and Contrast

If you haven't adopted children from a place like Haiti, then you might not understand the depths of what goes on in the hearts and minds of adoptive parents like us. In which case, you have no right to criticize us for our feelings and thoughts (i.e., to all of you who seem to get off on leaving hurtful anonymous comments on our blog: please don't leave any nasty comments to this post-- I'm just going to delete them anyway so it is just a waste of your time). Having said that... Braydon and I have minds that go-go-go non-stop ALL. THE. TIME. We can't help it, it is just the way we are. One whole category of thoughts that we can't halt is a running stream of consciousness of compare-and-contrast regarding our boys. We try to stay educated on what is happening in Haiti. We try to always be mindful of our boys' roots. Especially now, as they are so young, it is important that we do that because they can't do that for themselves yet. And so we do. There are thoughts -- many of them -- that we don't share on this blog and that we rarely share with anyone but each other. Mostly though, we just try to remember. The photo at the top of this post was taken by Troy Livesay (link to the Livesay Haiti Blog by clicking here). Troy took the photo recently in Port au Prince. Not that it even matters (all things considered), but the photo was taken in a part of Port au Prince that is not even the "worst" part. K & O were born in the "worst" part -- Cite Soleil. The photo below it is of K & O playing in our front yard on Wednesday evening. Click the photos to enlarge them. We try not to get up on our soap box... but for anyone who is considering adopting from Haiti -- please always know that you can contact us for support and encouragement at any time. Compare and Contrast. ~HBJ

Re-Cap of the Past Few Days

  • After my parents left on Wednesday we were back to our usual fending-for-ourselves in the dual-career-couple-with-young-children craze that we call our life. We try not to complain because we embrace the challenge... but... it is not easy-- this set-up that we've got going on. Anyone trying to juggle the dual-career+family thing knows exactly what I'm talking about. But throw in the no-family-anywhere-close-by thing and it just makes it even more insane. The world is not set up for people like us. The vast majority of our social structure operates in opposition to us (sorry, sometimes I can't help but to slip the sociology in). So the fact that we usually feel like we are swimming up stream is no surprise. Anyway... with the boys out of school for April Break, and me with my last week of the semester, and Braydon with his usual 2-full-time-careers-at-once (don't forget folks, he's got a huge corporate career and an independent business that he's trying to get off the ground), plus add in that I'm 9 months pregnant and our boys are -- um, shall we say, active -- well, it was just plain a heck of a week. Alex is a lifesaver of a nanny. She keeps us afloat. But it was just a heck of a week. I was out for work functions/dinners/events 3 out of the 5 days last week (and it would have been 4 out of 5 if I hadn't insisted on cancelling one of the nights in order to get some rest). Thank God my parents were here Fri-Wed or we would have been in very bad shape.
  • Friday afternoon the boys spent a couple of hours on campus with one of my black students that they adore. She took them to a cookout with a bunch of other black students. They liked going to the cookout, eating hot dogs, etc... but most importantly K & O got to hang out with some very cool college students -- or so we hear. Apparently there was some "very good" music "playing loudly" at this cookout and the "big guys" were hooting and hollering with the tunes because Kyle has been imitating it off-and-on ever since. So cute-- but truly impossible to describe here in words how he's been doing it. Owen was proud to report that one of the guys had: "beautiful dreadlocks just like me and Kyle!" and that the dreadlocks were "the same but different - the same dreadlocks but longer!" These times are very good for the boys. The key seems to be for Braydon and I to give them these chances to hang out with black folks without us around. When Braydon and I are added into the mix the entire dynamic changes. Those times are good too. But there is something very special, and I think very important, about K & O getting to be surrounded by black communities without B & I present. At this age they are definitely starting to connect themselves to being a part of a group of people -- black people -- that Braydon and I will never be able to be fully a part of. It requires us letting go, but I feel really strongly that our letting go in this sense is actually our way of embracing our boys tighter. It is a strange and ironic aspect of our cross-racial parenting.
  • Saturday Alex babysat all day so that Braydon and I could attend our one-day-intensive Lamaze class. We got a lot out of the class and we are so glad we did it. Despite having both already read many many books (including the classic Lamaze book cover to cover), we learned more from that one class than from all of the books combined.
  • Sunday was a Family Day to try to re-bond and re-connect after an over-the-top week. We did our favorite day trip: New Hope. And did all of our favorite things there: fed the ducks, ate lunch on the porch at the Logan Inn, luxuriated in our favorite French Bakery (the boys chose a "chocolate cup" -- an entirely edible cup made of chocolate and filled with chocolate mousse), took a beautiful spring ride on the New Hope - Ivyland train (major highlight for K & O), and shopped for Baby Sister at our favorite New Hope baby boutique. It was a near perfect day for us despite the fact that the weather was overcast and unseasonably cool.
  • Today the boys went back to school. When Kyle stumbled into our bedroom this morning after having just woken up he said, "Today is a school day?" And I said, "Yes." And he said, "Yiiipppppeeeeeee!!!!!" and threw his hands up into the air. All I could think was, 'Please dear Lord let him still feel that way about school ten years from now!'
  • Updates: Owen's belly button is totally healed and looks great-- he is beyond thrilled with his "innie." Kyle is sleeping with no pull up and is making it through the nights dry with only rare accidents-- he is so proud of himself. Braydon and I could not be more delighted that as long as all continues to go well we will only be continuing to buy Pampers for 2 instead of 3 (diapers for Baby Sister and night-time-Pull-Ups for only Owen).
  • Speaking of Baby Sister... the boys are getting very excited for her arrival. She's probably mentioned at least 20 times per day. The latest is that they want to know "how many more sleeps until she is born?" I wish we could answer that question conclusively for them-- it is very hard for them to understand why we can't give them a number. We continue to get more and more set for her arrival. The to-do list is getting shorter and shorter (still long, but much shorter!). Due date = 2.5 weeks from now. Wowsers.
  • Everything is now in high-gear for the boys' 4th b-day party. The party is this Sunday, even though their actual b-day is May 8. Big happenings here in preparation for all of their friends to come for the big bash. K & O are very specific about it all -- my job is simply to make all of their dreamy party details a reality. It is fun fun fun.
  • K & O are in an intensely twinny-twinny-same-same-match-to-match phase. They want everything identical. They conspire together at all times to ensure that everything is as "match-to-match" as possible. They want to wear exactly the same outfits. They want the same exact food to eat at every meal or snack. They want to play the same thing as each other all day long. They want their b-day cakes to be identical. It drives me nuts and I try to get them to choose different things and express their own preferences. Problem is that their preference is "the same!!!" always. They conference in together before they answer my questions-- i.e., "What do you want to drink? Milk or Juice?", then the two of them huddle face to face and discuss the question as if it were a U.N. conference on major world issues, then they pop up out of their huddle and announce their decision in unison. Bizarre twinny stuff folks. Just bizarre. The same-exact-birthday-cake thing really has me spinning but Braydon keeps me grounded and reminds me, "It is their birthday, if they want the same cakes, then they can have the same cakes." He's right. But really, it is just weird to watch twins like these sometimes.
  • The other night Kyle explained to us that "God paints" people the colors that they are. I.e., God "painted" K & O brown and "painted" Braydon and I white. He went on to explain that, basically, God can re-paint people to "switch their color skin." I.e., "if Alex wants to be brown then God can paint her brown." Interesting, interesting stuff. Especially given that we have been very explicit (especially lately, with Baby Sister's impending arrival) about the reality that people's skin color is determined by their biological parents' skin color. We have tried to figure out where he got this 'God painting' idea. Turns out he has come up with this entirely on his own. He's not quite on track with accuracy. But the boy is a little theologian -- you heard it here first.
  • Ever since MorFar was here Owen is obsessed with baseball. He plays for hours in the yard hitting the baseball by himself. He throws the ball up in the air with one hand while holding the baseball bat in the other hand, then swings at it. At least half the time he hits huge hits this way. When he's doing this out in the yard he looks like a 12 year old, not a 3 year old. He says he wants to "hit the ball so hard just like Manny Ramirez." He's got a long way to go to make it to the Red Sox. But the boy is a little athlete -- you heard it here first.
  • The lilacs are now blooming. There is nothing like the smell of lilacs.

Photos from New Hope I

Photos from New Hope II

Braydon & Owen; Heather & Kyle

Appreciative Kyle

We're an appreciative family. We look around and see the world for what it is and are generally thankful for what we have. Not that we don't work to make things better, or see the ills needing to be fixed, or work hard for our futures, because we do. But we appreciate the luck we have, the opportunities we've been able to maximize upon and the people in our lives.

That said, Kyle and Owen seem to be particularly appreciative. We've mentioned before that they just are, and always have been. They don't want much, they almost never ask for anything material, and they love what they have. For example, when we were in New Hope , and we did a little shopping for baby sister, there were stuffed animals all around and they never asked for any of them. The only thing they ever ask for are experiences, like riding the train.

Anyone who has been around them will attest that they are some of the most polite boys and almost always say please and thank you. Mostly that is our doing - we work hard to make sure they say their please's and thank you's.

But sometimes it just comes so unexpectedly, so genuinely, so amazingly so joyfully.

When I was putting Kyle to bed and I was done "talking about the day" I said to him: "Kyle, do you have any questions for me?" Now, he doesn't seem to know what a question is - he thinks it's some kind of statement.
Lying there in his single bed, about half the length of it, two honey bunnies, one sheep, a stuffed fish and his pillow, wearing his frog covered PJs and having just read his favorite Marching Band book, He got a huge grin- I could see his white teeth in the dark:
"It was a great day. I loved to ride the train. Thank you Papi for the train. I love you." and gave me a big kiss on the cheek.

That's not why we do it, but wow does that make it all worth it.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Sporadic Blogging

So much going on here, and it was a heck of a week last week (even more insane than our usual), and I'm exhausted a lot (given that I'm lugging around a full term baby in my belly!)... so our blogging has become a bit sporadic as of late. This is no indication that we have a lack of material to blog about! LOL! Tomorrow we'll post a real post, but right now we're going to watch 24 and try to get to bed early. Hang in there with us during this not-posting-every-day-phase!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

3 Weeks

Braydon took this photo this morning at about 8:00 a.m. You can see that Owen is still in his pj's, looking for worms. ;-0 Three weeks from today is my due date. Over the past few days we've made a lot of progress in preparing for Baby Sister's arrival. We've got a car seat! We've got some diapers! And the room is starting to really shape up. My mom washed all of the baby clothes, bedding, burp clothes, blankets, etc. when she was here. And she ironed the hundred-or-so dresses that are now just waiting to be worn (hundred might be a slight exaggeration, but it is not an exaggeration to say that she could wear a pretty little dress every single day for her first month and never wear the same thing twice... thanks to everyone who gave us each and every one of those sweet little summer dresses!). There is still a lot to do, but I feel like if she was born tomorrow we'd be absolutely fine, at least as far as the nest goes-- this is a big big relief to me. Work is insane right now with the end of the semester, trying to wrap up some big projects, and all. Not to mention the dynamic duo of my little twintastics (who are also starting to get ansty about wanting "their baby" to "come out" already!!!). It is taking a lot out of me to try to keep up the pace when I'm this preggo. I'm starting to run out of steam, but I'm still chugging along. The baby has officially 'dropped' (I think it happened on Sunday; I noticed a big change in how I look/feel during the day that day). The doctor confirmed her 'descent' at my appointment Monday and after examining me was sure to note that he's "pretty sure that she'll be fit through" --- !!!?!! --- pretty sure?!!? He smiled confidently and reassuringly when he said it, so I'm taking that as a positive. ;0 Anyhoo~~ 3 weeks and counting. I'm hoping to get through the boys' birthday and then I'll be happy to have her come anytime. I'm getting anxious about labor/delivery, but also getting very excited to see what our new little one will look like!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Steel gossamer

In this world, among the various types of people, there are those who consume and those who create. That's not to say that people who consume do not create, nor that people who create do not consume. It's to say that people come at the world from the perspective of consumption or the perspective of creation. And you can't have it both ways.

People who foundationally understand the world through the lens of consumption are those who believe that the work they do is intended for generating a reward they can gather as a result of their labor. And at the end of successful work, they believe they deserve the fruits they have gathered.

People who foundationally understand the world through the lens of creation are those who believe that the results of the work they do is intended to be consumed by others. At the end of successful work, others receive the fruits of their labor.

There are few people in the second category. And honestly, I am not sure I am one of them, although I think I might be, I want to be and I try.

But what I have noticed is that the people who fall into that second category, and I mean really fall into that second category, like at the bottom of an enormous pit, fall into that second category - are really rare.

The work these people do ranges widely - artists who create for the pure human connection their work; aid or missionary workers in Haiti, or Africa, or even modern ghettos in New York; social workers, crisis hotline staff, shelter workers, - people who give unglamorously of themselves for the betterment of others. It can also be someone who reaches out to a friend and suggests they meet another person whom they would like. Then step out of the middle and let it be. It could be a cup of coffee bought by a stranger. It does not have to be a big thing to be a big thing.

Of course, all those things can be done by someone who is really a consumer. The creation is not just in the act, but in the attitude and how it informs every decision, every action, every reaction that someone does. And that attitude directly affects the recipient of the creation.

If it's done out of a desire for reward, then it has one meaning. One that requires something back from the recipient. If it's done out of creation, it requires nothing in return. For people in the consuming category, it's about them. For people in the creation category, it's about you.

People who are true creators, in addition to the work they do, create a web around them. A web of people who tie into them and give back into the web. A web that feels so fragile, so tenuous, but when push comes to shove, is stronger than any contrived hierarchical web created to give power.

If you are lucky enough to have become entangled in such a web, don't let go. If you are so lucky a person has created such a web around you, be thankful and appreciative. If you are so lucky that you have an opportunity to give back to this web, do it without hesitation.

In addition to my wife Heather, I personally really only know a few other people who are genuine creators.

Janet and Don just left after visiting for 5 sleeps. It's not just that Janet washed every single piece of baby clothes, cooked for all of us, cleaned and loved the boys. It's not just that Don gutted our front garden and redid the entire thing, or did a major overhaul on the sandbox, or built the new Adirondacks, or loved the boys. It's not that when from the moment they arrive to the moment they leave energy and fuel is poured into our lives.

It's not just that they did those things. It's that when they did them, they did them for us. They gave to that web, they gave not for them, but for us. They entangled us in their steel gossamer web. And they are like that all day, every day.

And for that we are all thankful.

Snapshots I

Snapshots of the past few days with MorMor and MorFar
They arrive!
(Kyle insisted that he and Owen dress in all their Red Sox gear in anticipation of MorFar's arrival. This was entirely Ky Ky's idea. MorFar, of course, was quite impressed with their get-ups)
Saturday Lunch
Crazy as it may seem... this is a pretty typical meal for us when MorMor and MorFar are here...
Philadelphia Zoo
(MorMor and MorFar took K & O to the zoo on Monday)

Snapshots II

This apparently started as watering the new plants with MorMor...

Hugs Goodbye
So Sad Bye Bye (click on this photo to enlarge)

Sprinkler Fest with Zoe

I finally dowloaded all the photos from our camera from the past few days. Here are some more cute shots of Saturday's Sprinkler Fest with Zoe! :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Pennsylvania Primary Day


Monday, April 21, 2008

Thank You! Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who donated to the Baby Shower Formula Drive in honor of Baby Sister and our family!! (click here) We are so thankful to know that formula will be a little bit more plentiful in the orphanage where Kyle and Owen lived for the first eight months of their babyhood. We can't help but think of it daily: the contrasts and the comparisons... what an incredible blessing for Baby Sister to be born into a life of plenty... the formula donations in her/our honor is the perfect way to help us give thanks for all of our bounty. Thank you to all ~~ and especially to Corey for all she did to facilitate this on our behalf! Thank you! Thank you! We are so very humbled and so very grateful.

Multigenerational Nesting Amidst Lots and Lots of Fun

My parents arrived Friday afternoon for "five sleeps!" K & O are on school break this week, so the main agenda is for my parents to be primary childcare for Mon, Tues, Wed. But there is lots of other stuff going on here too... i.e., heavy duty NESTING. This weekend my parents went to work on our house/yard/baby-prep... my Dad has spear-headed an effort to completely re-landscape our front gardens (and to make it as care-free as possible for the summer so that I don't have to weed like crazy with a newborn); my Mom has spear-headed an effort to launder all of the baby's clothes and linens (which, as it truns out is TONS and TONS of laundry, sorting, folding, hanging, ironing -- note: nobody should buy us one more item of clothing for this girl!!!!!!). And that is just the tip of the iceburg. In between wheelbarrow loads of debris, kitchen-floor-mopping, sandbox-fixing, meal-cooking, chainsawing, child-caring, tree-pruning, baby-room-organizing, garage-cleaning, and all-around-general-nesting-on-the-part-of-parents-and-grandparents... we've also done a lot of playing. This weekend was in the 80s and gorgeous here. We went to Annabelle's birthday party on Saturday mid-day, and then later in the afternoon the Petsch crew came over for --among other things-- running in the sprinkler (click here). The boys have played a lot of baseball with MorFar. And been loved on by my parents more than you could possibly imagine. They are basically just in HEAVEN. And yesterday afternoon/evening my parents watched K & O so that Braydon and I could make the big Babies R Us trip. I'm feeling like things are really coming together for Baby Sister now. Which feels like a big relief for me. It is a crazy time here. But it is all good. [The awesome photo above is from Saturday afternoon, courtesy of Lori and Shelli :) Thanks guys! O is Thing 1, K is Thing 2]

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cracking Each Other Up, Crazy Happy, & Do They Know?

K & O have always been really good at making each other laugh. Almost always with inside jokes that seem very twinny (i.e., nobody seems to really 'get it' except for the two of them). Even as little babies they'd regularly crack each other up. I remember when they were about 13-14 months old they had a "da!" phase where they would shout "da!" at each other with every variation of intonation that you could possibly imagine -- just cracking each other up like it was the funniest thing in the whole wide world. They'd often do it in the grocery store as I was rolling them in the cart. People in the isles wouldn't be able to help themselves from stopping to watch them... and people couldn't help but crack up themselves when they'd see it. Regularly I'd get asked, "What are they saying to each other? What is so funny?" And all I could say, was, "I have no idea! Who the heck knows?! But obviously they think that whatever it is is absolutely hysterical!?!!" But lately they've taken their art form to a whole new level. They are cracking each other up -- BIG TIME! They laugh so incredibly hard at/with each other that we worry one of them will choke. But it is very hard to not crack up yourself when you're in their presence and they're on a roll. These seriously intense laughing spells are happening at least a couple of times a day, sometimes many times each day. This particular twinny laugh session (photos below) took place after dinner the other night when the two of them were eating ice cream for dessert. Braydon and I were sitting at the table with them, but they were in their own little world... and whatever it was that they thought was so funny was very, very funny! These guys are so crazy happy so much of the time. It is hard to imagine that this is normal... even despite the fact that they are 3 year old twin boys. How can any two people be that crazy happy that much of the time???!

Recently I was chatting with a mom of one of K & O's friends from school. School was out and we were watching our kids play on the playground before heading home. Out of nowhere she said, "I want to ask you something, but please just tell me if you don't want to answer because I'd totally understand." I said, "O.k.?" And she said, "Do you think they know?" I was caught off guard and I wasn't exactly sure I knew what she was asking. She clarified, "Do you think that Kyle and Owen know-- like, they know hardship and pain and they know how lucky they are-- and maybe that is why they are so happy and full of life all the time? I mean, I just don't think it is normal-- for kids this age to be like that. There is something different about them. It is like they must know or something." This is not the first time that someone has asked me something like this. Many people have, actually. But I was surprised to hear it from this mom because she doesn't know much of K & O's life story. I said, "Honestly, I don't know. Braydon and I do wonder about that. We wonder if somehow that is all deep inside them at some level and that's why they are this way. But we really don't know. There is no way to know." She then asked me if it bothers me for her to call them "lucky." She explained that another adoptive family she knows has a big problem with it when people describe their child as 'lucky.' I know that many adoptive families do feel this way. When people refer to their kids as "lucky" they make short retorts back like, "no, we're the lucky ones!" etc. Braydon and I have talked about this at length in regards to our boys. I understand why it bothers people to refer to their adopted children as "lucky" (the reasons are many and I empathize with all of them). But in our specific case, it really doesn't bother me. First of all-- on so many levels, K & O are just not at all lucky. Lucky to have been born in one of the worst most violent and desperately impoverished slums on the planet?? I think not. Lucky to have been abandoned at birth with absolutely nothing?? No. Lucky to have been forced to survive in a very tough Haitian orphanage for their first eight months of life? No. Lucky to have then, at age 8 months, had everything they had ever known (bad as may have been, it was still their life and the only life they knew) ripped away from them as they were brought to an entirely new world where nothing resembled anything from their prior life whatsoever? No. But are they lucky to be twins who at least had each other? Lucky to have been abandoned early enough that they were able to get at least some sustenance in the orphanage? Lucky to have been adopted by Braydon and I? Lucky to have been two out of 1.5 million orphans in Haiti who 'got out'? Lucky to have been two out of only approximately 200 Haitian orphans adopted into the U.S.A. in the year 2005 (many of the other 200 having been adopted by their extended family members who had somehow managed to immigrate to the U.S. in years prior)? Lucky to have been given a new life with opportunities and life-chances that exceed anything imaginable in their birthplace of origin... that exceed anything imaginable by all of the other hundreds of thousands of orphans still struggling to survive in Haiti? I think so. What are the chances? 2 out of 1.5 million. The chances of winning any number of lotteries are higher. Is it luck? I guess that is one way to describe it. Destiny? Perhaps. God's will? I'm sure many people look at it that way. Coincidence? I suppose that's possible. I don't know what it is. I only know that K & O have never looked back. I know that they are the two happiest, most engaged-in-life, most full-of-life people I've ever known. Is that because they know??? I am not sure. I just know that I know. And it makes me feel like the proudest most grateful mother in the whole world. Words cannot describe how crazy happy it makes me to know that they are so crazy happy.

[top 5 photos are K looking/laughing at O; bottom 5 photos are O looking/laughing at K]