Saturday, February 28, 2009

Meera Grace 9 Months Old

Meera Grace is 9 months old today. The photo above is pure Meera. All happy, all the time. She has got to be the world's most ridiculously easy baby. She still sleeps unbelievably well-- 2-3 hour nap each morning, 1 hour in the afternoon, in bed around 6:30pm and awake around 6:30am. For the past few months she had been getting up 2-3 times per night to eat (a quick feed and then back to sleep), but over the course of this past month we've seen this starting to change. Every once in a while now she's waking for only one bottle. And the other night she slept from 6:30pm-3:45am, the longest stretch she's ever slept. She wakes up happy. Even in the night, she just fusses barely a bit, to let us know to go in. In the morning she'll lay in her crib talking to herself for 30-45 minutes before she'll even begin to fuss for us. Putting her to sleep is about as polar opposite as you can get from our previous baby-sleep experience (ah hem, K & O); we change her diaper, feed her a bottle, read her a book, close her curtains, lay her in her bed, kiss her, say we love her, and walk out. That is that. Sometimes she'll coo and chit-chat a bit, sometimes silence, but either way she's sound asleep usually within 5 minutes. It is unreal. And this is just one example of how much of an ANGEL BABY Miss Meera is. I wish I could complain of something about her (it only seems realistic that there should be something to complain of), but truly, she's pretty much angelic about everything. She just is one cool cat, always up for anything, always going with the flow, always mellow and happy. She has three big tricks now: 1) clapping, 2) pointing with her right pointer finger, and 3) waving hello and goodbye. Over the course of this month she gradually gave up nursing... to the point that now she's barely nursing at all (maybe once a day on average), and she's loving her bottles. Her current favorite foods are frozen cut up pieces whole-grain bagels, Earth's Best brand baby food spinach and potatoes, and of course her all-time favorite: "baby rice and beans" (baby rice mixed with pureed green beans). She'll try anything and we've started experimenting with all sorts of things: pieces of pasta, chunks of fruit, steamed carrots. She'll dabble in it all. She's got six teeth (2 on bottom, 4 on top). Her favorite thing in the world is still her brothers. She laughs, squirms, and kicks her legs like a mad woman just at the mere sight of them. Owen, especially, is her best bud. She thinks he is absolutely hysterical. Her favorite time of day is 12:40pm because that is when she leaves (with either Margie or Mama) to go pick up her brothers at school. The school pick-up is, for sure, the highlight of her day. And I don't think there's ever been anything quite as heart-warming to me as seeing the threesome reunite after a few hours apart each school day. Seriously. It is CUTE. She loves the stroller, loves the backpack, loves the bath, loves the car, loves the kitty. From as far as I can tell, there isn't much this girl doesn't love. She really loves being tickled. And she loves loves loves all her little baby toys. Favorite hobbies are: 1) grabbing on, playing with, and chewing on the brim of Papi's baseball hat whenever he's wearing one, and 2) grabbing on, playing with, and chewing on Mommy's bracelets whenever she's wearing one. We're such suckers for this girl that we're even known to wear hats just for her (B), and take off jewelry and let her have it to gnaw on (H)... (what can I say? the girl likes bling!!! you're not going to see me standing in her way). She still doesn't roll over (!!!!!!! LOL!!!), and shows zero interest in doing so (?!!), but she sits, stands holding on to things, and is trying to crawl (although she's still got a long way to go with that!). This month the pink Bumbo seat has been retired; Little Miss gave it up and let us know it (screeching and screaming if we tried to sit her in it). It feels like all the real baby-baby stuff is slowly starting to disappear as our little one approaches the 12 month mark. God help me when we celebrate her first birthday. I can barely stand the thought of it. We say everyday that we wish our little chunky monkey chub of love would stay just like this forever and ever and ever. Oh why can't it be so?! Happy 9 months to our sweet Meera Grace!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Another from the "Stuff-You-Probably-Shouldn't-Let-Your-Four-Year-Olds-Do" File

Our deck is high, the deck rail is even higher, with a many-foot-drop off the side that would surely seriously injure someone if he or she were to fall from it. When I told him to get down he said, pleadingly, "But Mom, I'm a red headed woodpecker!!!"

Haitian Bracelets

A family friend (a good friend of MorMor and MorFar's) recently travelled to Haiti on a medical mission trip. While he was there he got these bracelets for Kyle and Owen, and then sent them to us upon returning home. They each have two bracelets -- the first say their names, and the second say "Site Soley" (Cite Soleil, in Creole; the place where K & O were born). We were so delighted to get these bracelets in the mail, and the boys wanted to wear them right away. This has got to be one of the nicest things that anyone has ever done for our boys. A very special gift.


These were taken about a month ago, when we had a bit of snow on the ground. The boys got such a kick out of pulling Meera around in the sled. Meera liked it too.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Photo of the Day: 7 in the bed

For 2 or 3 weeks now K & O have been wanting to sleep together every night. It is fine with us, as long as they behave at bedtime, which they have been. Big Elmo was recently re-discovered (Kyle found him one day, deep in the back of Owen's closet) and we're having some sort of Big Elmo revival around here (his popularity seems to wax and wane but right now he's big on the scene)... to the point that he's even a bedfellow from time to time! This is big, since the beloved Honey Bunnys and Lovey Lions are normally the only (and the always) sleeping companions of K & O. Owen's bed is pretty crowded when all 7 of them are sleeping together: (from left to right in photo above) Kyle, Honey Bunny, Honey Bunny's twin brother, Big Elmo, Lovey Lion, Lovey Lion's twin brother, Owen. Sidenote about this photo: K & O are such deep sleepers that when I snuck into Owen's room, turned on the light, and took this photo with full flash, neither of them even stirred.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"A life recorded is twice precious, first the experience itself and then the memory of it full and sweet when we read it again later." -Unknown

Top Ten: Things We Deliberately Don't Blog About

Top Ten Things We Deliberately Don't Blog About:

  1. Intimate, very personal, or potentially truly embarrassing things. There are lots of reasons why we keep our blog on the surface of real life. We don't share stuff that feels too intensely close-to-the-heart or stuff that seems inappropriate to share. There's a lot we hold back for just us. We're always aware that our kids might read this blog someday and we want to uphold some decent boundaries of privacy. If you think we go deep here on the J-M blog, well then just imagine how deep it all really is! (this blog barely scrapes the surface)
  2. Private information about K & O's adoptions & early lives. There is a lot we don't share. Basically our rule of thumb is: if we haven't told them yet, we don't tell anyone else. We share, and will continue to share, information with K & O as they become old enough to handle it. And then we take our cues from them-- if they seem to want it to be private, it is private; if they're comfortable to share it, we selectively share it. We work hard to not create a sense of 'secrecy' around this stuff (and we try hard to not imply or equate secrecy with shame), while still keeping it a respectful secret. There is lots they don't know yet. Time will tell how they feel as the years unfold. Thus, time will tell how much becomes public and how much remains private.
  3. H & B's Relationship. We feel pretty strongly that we have built quite a great intense relationship. We also feel very strongly that our relationship is always in progress. There is lots we could share about the in's and out's of it, including (for example) basic logistics about ways we've figured out to make our heterosexual relationship as egalitarian as possible. I often think about how much this stuff might be especially helpful to lots of the 20-somethings-in-grad-school who are out there reading this blog (sidenote: turns out there are lots of readers who would fall under that category), but we feel like it is just too intimate for this blog. In all aspects -- big explosive blow out fights, and our big ongoing love affair, and all the tiny mundane parts of it that fall in between -- it just feels too intimate and 'unbloggy.' We believe in the motto, "Sweat the small stuff" (i.e., we fight hard and hash things out all the time, on a daily basis), and we believe in living each day to the fullest (and stopping to smell the roses each and every day)... all as part of our daily commitment to continually strengthening our relationship. But we don't explicitly blog about any of it. See #1 above.
  4. Problematic Relationships or Relationship 'Issues.' Yes, we're just like everyone else, there are people on this earth with whom we have had, and do have, rocky relationships. We don't blog about it. For multiple reasons we just gloss over that, but one of the biggest reasons is that some of them read the blog and we obviously don't want to be purposefully hurtful.
  5. Mommy Wars. We try to stay out of that fray and avoid the entire subject altogether. Because the drama is just so infuriating and stress-producing. Every once in a while we slip up, like last week (ugh and ugh), but we generally try hard to not engage in it.
  6. Braydon's company. Because, well, we don't want to appear to be unabashedly plugging it.
  7. Heather's book. Because, well, we don't want to appear to be unabashedly plugging it.
  8. Work. Neither of us write about our work at all. There is always a ton going on, and it would often be truly great blog material, but we keep work entirely "off limits" because we're always aware that anyone could read this blog at any time (and from time to time we randomly find out that someone from work is reading our blog... which is a reality check!).
  9. Lots of details about what we've done. We just have too much to say to get bogged down in keeping a record of everything we do. There are lots and lots of outings, get-togethers, playdates, parties, errands, events, etc. that just don't make the cut to get onto the blog. And there's lots about our day-to-day life that just never gets airtime here. It basically just comes down to the fact that we don't want to (and can't) spend all day blogging!
  10. Lots of details about what we're going to do. As a general rule we don't post about future plans. We're always aware that somebody reading could -- for example -- figure out that we're away on vacation, figure out where we live, and come rob us. We try to not be paranoid about this kind of thing, but it is always in our minds. So we keep the blog focused on the past/present tense and avoid exposing future plans.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Top Ten: Reasons We Blog

Top Ten Reasons We Blog:
  1. To keep friends and family posted on K, O, and M's goings on's and our life (this was the original intention of the blog; we thought just our mothers would read it and maybe our sisters). I started the blog because it took a lot less time to write a blog post and upload a few pictures than it took to email (and attach photos) numerous people on a regular basis. As much as many readers seem to think this must be a huge time sink for us, it actually takes up a lot less time than it used to take me to try to keep people semi-updated on our crazy lives.
  2. To create an historical document/journal/scrapbook of this wild ride (we quickly realized how awesome it would be for our kids to read these sort of details about their childhoods someday far in the future... we would love to know some of this stuff about our lives-- and would love to see these sorts of photos of daily life; we have absolutely no idea if K, O, or M will ever care to read even one post, but we're posting in large part for them nonetheless). Our life seems to be the opposite-of-mundane; it is never ever boring and there is always some funny story to tell; we wanted a way to get that down somehow so that we'd remember it (and the blog format seemed to work for us since we're both working at computers so much).
  3. To be out there in the blogosphere -- loud and proud -- doing what we can to support other adoptive/inter-racial families and dual-career families in their journeys (slowly we began to realize what our blog means to some of our readers; we get these really, really powerful emails and comments sometimes --pretty regularly actually-- that make us think, 'wow this thing is really important to some people out there'... and that has now become a motivator to keep on keepin' on with it).
  4. To journal. This is for H only, really. I wrote in a journal daily from the time I was 15 years old (and met Deb Beaupre, who turned me on to the power and importance of journaling) until I met Braydon at age 21. I swear that journaling was my saving grace during those tough and turbulent years of my life. I gave it up when I met my soulmate because I suddenly didn't feel the need to keep a journal anymore. But I did miss it. This blog has renewed my love of journaling. This is a completely different form than my previous journals, and it contains completely different kinds of content, but it feels very similar in some ways. Journaling is very therapeutic and cathartic for me. It helps to maintain my mental health. This blog is a nice release/exhale/deep breath for me.
  5. To explore a creative outlet. Braydon and I are both very creative people and our current lives leave very little room for many aspects of our creativity. This blog has helped to give us a little space to be a little creative. It doesn't nearly satisfy us creatively, but it is a little 'band aid' in this temporary period of our lives known as '30-somethings-with-big-careers-and-young-children'... the blog helps us to expel a little tiny tidbit of our creative energy.
  6. To end our days on a high note. We usually blog at night. We don't spend a ton of time doing it (you'd be surprised how quickly most of these posts are written), but it has become a really wonderful, reflective, positive way to end the day. For me (H), this is especially true. So much so that on nights that I don't blog, I actually miss it.
  7. To share generously.
  8. To give freely.
  9. To spread the love.
  10. To express the joy.

Snowy Ride!

(to get the full effect, click on photos to enlarge)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Celebration of African Cultures 2009

Yesterday we went to the Penn Museum's 20th Annual Celebration of African Cultures. This was our second time going to this. The first time was when the boys were 2, (click here ) -- that, by the way, was what inspired K & O's obsession with African drumming (click here). The first time we went as our 'big event' for Black History Month 2007. It ended up being so awesome that we swore to ourselves that it would become an annual tradition for our family. We were sad to miss it last year, though, because we were in Florida. This year I made sure it was on our calendar far, far in advance. It lived up to all of our grand memories of it. Wow. Seriously, it was awesome.

At the Harambee Drum Ensemble and Harambee Choral Ensemble the boys were absolutely mesmerized by the drumming and star-struck by the drummers (some of whom were kids only a few years older than K & O). The drumming was so loud you could feel it pounding through your body. Now, that is the kind of thing that my boys live for! The place was so crowded that I ended up sitting on the floor with Kyle and Owen. Best seats in the house. Braydon and I had wondered how Meera would do with it all (thick crowds, big noise, lots of commotion; we also had her in a 'real stroller' for the first time [i.e., not our jogging stroller that she goes in for walks], and skipping her afternoon nap). Right away we saw our answer: she loved it (the stroller and the Celebration of African Cultures), and she did great the entire day. It was awesome.

Our experience at the Women’s Sekere Ensemble was probably a Top 20 K & O Moment of all time. First of all, these three women know how to make some amazing (like, pulsing through your body amazing) music. Secondly, K & O know how to make three women feel amazing. When the boys were little they had a board book that they loved (it was their absolute favorite for a stretch of many months) called Shake Shake Shake. It was about the shekere, an African gourd instrument. I don't know if it was because these women were playing shekeres or what, but K & O went crazy for it (Meera loved it too, but the boys were waaaaaaaaaaaay into it). At first they were standing on the side watching. Right away the feet were tapping. Then the hips started hippin' and that morphed pretty quickly into some moving and shaking. Kyle couldn't contain himself any longer and before we knew it he was dancing in the middle, putting on quite a show for everyone there. Pretty soon Owen was in the center too -- and these two boys danced like crazy for the rest of the performance. Braydon kept asking me, "Is this alright? Should we be letting them do this?" I kept watching the crowd, and especially the three women of the Women’s Sekere Ensemble, for cues. The crowd seemed to be loving it-- nothing but smiles as they watched K & O. But the women of the ensemble were the make-it-or-break-it for me-- and they were over the moon with K & O's joy-of-their-music. The looks on their faces were priceless. The ladies were watching the boys dance to their rythms, and the ladies' faces were truly lit up, their eyes literally sparkling. I could see what a thing it was for them and I just didn't have it in me to try to stop the boys from it. After the show the three women actually managed to find us somehow in the crowd. They wanted to know the boys' names and before we knew it the five of them (the three ladies, K, and O) were carrying on like they had known each other their whole lives. The women had lots of wonderful things to say about our boys. For me, this kind of affirmation is enough to last me a long time (like, many months probably). They were just absolutely delighted with K & O. After talking awhile we ended up walking to the next performance with them. As we walked through the winding halls of the museum Ky Ky was holding the hand of one of the ladies and Owen was chatting away walking side-by-side with another one of the ladies. Braydon and I trailed behind with Meera in the stroller. I seriously don't know who got more out of this time spent during and after the show by the Women’s Sekere Ensemble -- Kyle and Owen, Heather and Braydon, or the three ladies of the Women’s Sekere Ensemble. It was awesome.

But the highlight of the whole day was the grand finale performance by the Universal African Dance and Drum Ensemble. This group is unbelievable. It is a high energy heart pounding show of drumming, dancing, singing, and even stilt-walking, by people ranging in age from about 2 (seriously) to about 92 (seriously). It was awesome.

As soon as we got out onto the street Owen jumped up in the air and shouted, "THAT WAS SO FUN!" We walked to the parking garage and got into the car. Driving home all I could think was, 'Is this normal?' Is it normal for four year olds to love stuff like this so much? Is it normal for 8 month olds to seem to genuinely enjoy this? There is no way for me to gauge how exceptional or unexceptional it all is. It is all we know, so, in that sense, it is 'normal' for us. All I really know is that to me, on days like that, it feels like we're hitting on all cylinders -- and it reminds me that normalcy is very much overrated.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Quote of the Day

Friday, 10:50 p.m.

Just now Braydon and I were finishing up a movie on DVD when we heard Owen upstairs in bed coughing very hard. He had been coughing on and off for the past 30 minutes or so. I went up to check on him and he was wide awake, sitting up, complaining of a "hard owie cough." I got Braydon, who gave Owen cough medicine, and then we carried him back to bed. I laid down next to him until he fell back asleep. As I began to get up to leave the room, Owen stirred a bit, appearing to halfway wake up. He looked right at me and said, in a pleading way, "Mommy, oh Mommy, I wish I could waterski."

School Vacation Week

This week has been a school vacation week for K & O. In the past, school vacations have been dreaded (I mean, DREADED) by Braydon and I because of the huge wrench they throw (I mean, HUGE WRENCH THEY THROW) into our life. In the past, we have always felt like we're just barely holding on by a thread. Anything that throws us out of whack (like, for example, a kid getting sick, or a school vacation week) has pushed us over the edge. But things have changed around here. Oh glory be! how things have changed around here!!! Again, again, again... just one word: MARGIE! She's got us covered. School vacation week has been a breeze. Kids (and parents) being sick has been a breeze. It has been a bit wacky around here. But, it has been a breeze. The boys have had a blast playing at home together (especially because of being in separate classrooms this year, their playing at home together all day long is a nice treat for them). Meera has been able to keep her routine. Braydon and I haven't had to skip out on work. Everything has remained -- more or less -- even keeled (well, as even keeled as it ever is). I feel like we've finally achieved, for the very first time, what a school vacation week is supposed to be like: everybody slightly more relaxed, the kids staying up a bit later than usual, routine suspended a bit, and a few more chances to get bored (and thus, more creative) than usual. I've gotta say, it has been great. TGFM. (Thank God For Margie). It has been a good (albeit a bit wild and crazy) week here. The photos below show just a bit of some of the slightly wackier moments. TGIF.