Sunday, January 31, 2010


January 31, 2005-January 31, 2010 = 5 Years Together!

Hotel Montana
Port au Prince Airport, about to leave for Miami
Kyle, after a few weeks home
Owen, after a few weeks home

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Stacey Plans a Haiti Fundraiser!

Our great friend Stacey has organized a Haiti Earthquake Relief Fundraiser. All proceeds to benefit Heartline. This is such a great idea and could be replicated in every city and town!--- Just imagine!!!

Read about it here (and go if you're from the area!!!):

P.S. What a joy a good friend is. Thanks Stacey. I love you Stacey.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Haitian Through and Through

 Kyle, first week together, in our room at the Hotel Montana, Port au Prince, Haiti

We began our adoption process in January 2004. All we knew was that we were ready to start a family and we had a lot to give. We were open to anything and knew from the beginning that race, gender, or place-of-origin did not matter to us. We did some research, but very quickly decided on Haiti. We felt, all along, that Haiti chose us (not the other way around). The primary reason we went with Haiti was because, simply, in our opinion, Haiti had the most need. It was straight-forward for us and felt like an obvious choice. At the same time as we began the adoption process we also began the process of learning all that we could about Haiti. During our year-long wait (now 1 year seems impossibly short for Haitian adoption, but at the time it felt like an eternity), we spent a lot of our time learning about Haiti. We read a ton, talked to everyone who knew anything, and scoured the internet. At the time, most of the people we encountered in our day-to-day lives didn't even know where in the world Haiti was located. It was not on the radar for the vast majority of people, nor would it have been for us if we hadn't been adopting from there.

We knew that it was going to be up to us to instill in our children a sense of connection to their place of birth. We knew that it was entirely our responsibility to raise them with an intrinsic understanding of their Haitian roots. We knew that it was on us, and us alone, to foster their pride in, and compassion for, Haiti. We took this on with little hesitation, and made it our own. By the time they came home, we, as Kyle and Owen's parents, were pretty well-read, aware, and able to hit the ground running. Our boys were eight months old but we talked to them, daily, about Haiti. I don't think one day has gone by since then that we haven't talked about Haiti.
We've fostered in Kyle and Owen a deep and true love for Haiti. That is something of which we are extremely proud (I think it is right up there as one of top few things of which we are most proud in our parenting so far). But it is complicated. Very, very complicated. In so many, many ways. Haiti is a place they don't consciously remember, an island they left at a young age, a world far removed from their day-to-day lives that they can't possibly fully understand -- but it is their place, it is their land, it is their roots -- and they know it, and they feel it. I guess I did not completely comprehend the extent to which this was true until these past few days. Haiti is in their minds, in their hearts, and in their souls. In the most profound, inexplicable ways. I have heard things from my boys in the past few days that I would not have anticipated or predicted. Phrases, and ways of saying things, that have stopped me and given me chills. Ways of talking about their homeland (I write that word consciously) that make me want to cry-- in more ways than one. Yes, they were adopted to white American parents. But Kyle and Owen are Haitian through and through ~~ in ways that I wasn't fully aware of two weeks ago.
On Saturday we were eating lunch in a restaurant that had televisions all over the place broadcasting sports. In the middle of lunch Owen, Braydon, and Meera headed to the bathroom and during those few minutes that they were gone from the table an advertisement came onto the television fund-raising for Haiti earthquake relief. A few images were shown on the ad. It was unavoidable, and Kyle saw it. In between bites of macaroni and cheese he said to me, very mournfully, "Mommy, that is our land." I said, "Yes, it is. It is all of our land" (motioning around the table, to say, 'it is all of our family's land -- we are all in this family connected to Haiti' -- trying to help him feel that he's not alone in this). He corrected me, "No, that's my land. I was born there. It is my land. It is me and Owen's land." "Yes, you're right. It is your land," I said, trying to let it be what it was. A minute or two of silence and then I said, "How does it make you feel when you see pictures like that?" He said, "Sad. It makes me sad. Because it is my people. I wish it happened here instead. I wish we had an earthquake instead of them."

Things I've heard my boys say in the past few days, that I never saw coming:
"Our houses fell down."
"Our people are hurt."
"Our land got shaked."

Earthquakes are at the forefront of their minds. It comes out in their play. Climbing high in a tree, they shake the branches on purpose, as hard as they can, and I listen as they play it through together: "We're in a huge earthquake! It is shaking! Everything is falling!" In the house they pretend that they are rescuing people from the rubble: "Quick! Someone is stuck in here and we have to get them out before they die!! Hurry! Get them some water!" In the sandbox today they were mixing buckets of rainwater with sand saying out loud to each other, "We're going to make the houses with floors and strong, no dirt-floor-houses, no houses that could fall in earthquakes."

All this time we've been so conscious of their Haitian roots. All this time we've been working to build a foundation of pride in our Haitian-American sons. But never, never, could we have imagined the way life would all play out. And so, everything has changed, and yet nothing has changed. And they are Haitian through and through.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Wear It Loud and Proud!



Helping the Livesay Family // Helping Haiti


Please keep this family in your heart -- so that they can be lifted up -- during these immensely difficult days.

first television report on the kids:

If you feel in you a desire to tangibly help this family, there are three ways you can do it:
  1. make a tax deductible donation for the Livesay children via World Wide Village. Make sure you state that it is for "The Livesay Children" in the 'notes' section. 
  2. give them a gift card to Target -- these gift cards can be given online -- use this email address to send to oldest sister Britt: 
  3. use PayPal to send money directly --  send it to this PayPal account:, and make sure that you clearly state that the money is for the Livesay children.


If you haven't yet given, please give. If you've given, please give more.


photo: Owen and Kyle, home, age 10 months

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Thick of It

a 6.1 "aftershock" this morning in Haiti. we, from a distance, cannot, should not, and will not, lose sight of this.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Monday, January 18, 2010

In the Wake of the Earthquake

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
"Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary."
~~Martin Luther King, Jr.

When the boys crawled into bed with us early on Wednesday morning we told them about the earthquake. Braydon and I had been up practically the whole night, watching the television in disbelief. "There was a big earthquake in Haiti last night," I said. And then, gently, snuggled together, all four of us twisted up tight under the covers, "and lots of people died." Owen's first response came quick: "Is my birthmother o.k.?" It should go without saying how profound it is that this is what he first said. Generally speaking, in the raising of our children, we go by a rule of thumb passed on to me by my own mother: we answer their questions as honestly as possible, and we answer only what is specifically being asked (as hard as that is to do sometimes). "We don't know," I said, in answer to his question. And then, all cozied up in our big bed, he looked at me with his dark brown eyes and asked what I knew he wanted to know: "Did my birthmother die?" "I don't know," I said. "Do you have her phone number? Can you call her?" asked Owen. "No, baby, I can't call her, I don't have her phone number, and I really don't even know if she has a phone." "Why?" he asked, "Why doesn't she have a phone?" "I don't know for sure if she has a phone or not, but last we knew she didn't have a phone." He's five years old. He doesn't fully understand what it means that he was born in Cite Soleil to a beautiful woman in dire, desperate, destitute poverty. Nor should he understand. I wish he never had to understand. Lying in bed it all seemed surreal. We moved on to a whole series of questions and answers about earthquakes and what happens when buildings collapse. We turned on the t.v. for a few minutes, there in our bedroom, so that the boys could see the early footage of Port au Prince. And then Kyle and Owen were off to their typical kindergarten day. Margie arrived to take care of Meera. And Braydon and I were off to work. Later, after school and work and everything else, 24 hours after the initial earthquake hit, we watched a few minutes more of CNN. As we put the boys to bed that night we prayed for the people of Haiti, as we do every night. And we added extra prayers. Kyle prayed that the people could find food and water. Owen prayed that his birthmother was o.k. Braydon and I tucked them in and then ran downstairs as fast as we could to turn CNN back on. We watched for a bit before I announced to Braydon that we could no longer let our boys see any more of it. The news reports were starting to get more serious, the footage more raw, dead bodies everywhere, destruction of places so dear to us, mass graves, the whole city in shambles. They can't see this. Definitely not. Not now, not at age five.

Every night since 5:00 pm Tuesday, Braydon and I run to watch CNN as soon as we get the three kids in bed. We check Facebook and Twitter incessantly. We give money and try to send support in loving emails and notes and we pray and send out wishes and hopes. We see people we know being interviewed in news reports and featured in articles. We see famous news reporters filmed at Bresma in Port au Prince, the orphanage where Kyle and Owen were first brought as newborns, before they were moved to the orphanage where they'd spend their first eight months of life. We see images of places where we've been that look nothing like they did when we were there. We try to answer the boys' questions while at the same time buffering them from the magnitude of it. We're living a strange fuzzy warped existence right now. Constantly distracted by a deep anxiety seemingly coming from nowhere identifiable. The feelings of our waiting (the year that we waited, during the adoption, for Kyle and Owen) --feelings that we thought we had left way behind-- have bubbled right back up to the surface in a big way. The anxiety, frustration, sense of alienation, isolation -- the feeling that nobody really 'gets it' -- the sense of horrific injustice to the Nth degree -- the scope of it all -- the compulsion to act up against an overwhelmingly complicated structure of inequity -- life hanging in the balance -- innocent lives in shambles -- babies without formula -- children without food -- people without water -- thousands upon thousands without proper shelter from blaring sun and raging hurricanes -- how can this be happening? -- how can the whole world go on as if this doesn't exist?--------  It is all right there, at the surface again, reminding us that we never actually worked through it in the first place... because it is not something one can actually work through.

Friday was a long-planned dentist appointment for the boys. A regular check-up and cleaning. I picked the boys up from school early and they were in great spirits as we drove there. They love the dentist. Suddenly, out of the blue, in a totally normal matter-of-fact tone, Kyle, from the back seat, says, to no one in particular: "We're from Haiti, so that means we're poor." I practically drove off the road, stunned. 'Stay calm, don't over-react, steer straight,' I think to myself. "Why do you say that Kyle?" I ask, as even-keeled and up-beat as possible in my intonation. "Where did you hear that? Who said that?" "Nobody," he said. "Who said that at school?" I ask, pointedly, sure that it must have come from somewhere. "Nobody," he said, "I just thought that in my own mind." I pressed a bit more until I came to believe him-- he had come up with this on his own, piecing things together, inevitably, despite our best efforts. I pulled off and put the car in 'park' on the side of the road. I turned around to face him and his brother. The two of them so precious, so gorgeous, so beaming with life, there in the backseat. "You were born in Haiti, but we are NOT poor," I say firmly, "we are the opposite of poor." "Who is poor Mommy?" Kyle asks, genuinely wanting to know, his huge eyes peering straight into mine. "There are lots of poor people," I say, trying to think fast. "There are poor people here in the United States, and there are poor people in Haiti. Some people are poor. And some people are not." We talked about it a bit before I pulled back onto the road. Driving to the dentist we talked about a homeless man we met while we were in Washington D.C. for Thanksgiving, and about how we had given him money to buy breakfast one morning. The boys talked about wanting to bring food to Haiti -- to "give them food, like we gave Anthony [the homeless man] food." "Mommy, imagine if I was a pilot and I could just fly right to Haiti on a big airplane filled with food!" "What if I could take a huge boat and bring it full of water for everyone in Haiti?!!" "What if I was so strong I could hold up all the houses and even in an earthquake it wouldn't shake?!!!" Yes, what if. Just imagine.

We arrive at the dentist office. We enter the gorgeous, hyper-clean, modern waiting area. A huge flat-screen t.v. on the wall is set to CNN. Horrific images flood the screen-- crumbled buildings, bodies in the street, children's faces peering out of rubble. Dust and smoke and devastation. Immediately I ask at the front desk, as calmly as possible, for them to change the channel. They know Kyle and Owen, are aware that they are Haitian, understood the unspoken, and changed the channel quickly. Nickelodeon. Some crazy neon smiley bouncy "kids show" unlike anything the boys had ever witnessed (they don't see much t.v.). They were enthralled in the gloss of it. I was just glad it wasn't CNN. We watched until we were called in for the check-ups. Perfect teeth. No cavities. And big news, loose teeth for both boys! "Wiggle those baby teeth everyday!" the dentist orders the boys, "So that your big teeth can grow in!" They wiggled diligently all the way home. I let them watch 'Curious George,' and I made them their favorite dinner that night. Creamy pesto pasta. Trying to feed them love. Trying to make myself feel good. It always feels so good to watch them eat so much so eagerly. "Thank you Mama!!!" they squeal, as they devour their dinner.

Soon after I'm tucking them into bed. I turn off the lights and go to kiss them. Owen looks up at me with tears in his eyes. "I'm sad Mama," he says, "I'm really sad because someone I know died." I'm taken aback. We have purposely kept the earthquake on the sidelines this day, trying to protect them from it as the news becomes more intense. "Really?" I ask, skeptical, thinking that he's just trying to delay bedtime. But the watery eyes tell my gut that there is something to this. "Yes," he says, "someone I know died in the earthquake in Haiti, and I'm so sad about it." "Sweetie," I say to him, "all of the people that we know in Haiti are alive." "No," he says, "this is someone you don't know. This is someone I knew when I was a baby in Haiti. You don't know her because you weren't there." "Oh?," I say, "who is it?" "It is Jonie--" he says, pronouncing this name, a name unfamiliar to me, not the name of anyone we've ever known, with a slight accent -- I must admit, a slight French/Creole accent. He continues, "--her name is Jonie." I get slight chills and sit down on the side of his bed. In the glow of the nightlight I watch his face closely. He is completely serious. "I don't know anyone named Jonie in Haiti," I say, "we didn't meet anyone named Jonie when we were in Haiti." "Did you see someone wearing flip flops?" he asks. "Yes," I say. "Brown flip flops?" he asks. "Probably," I say. "Well Jonie wears brown flip flops and I knew her when I was a baby and she died in the earthquake and I'm so sad about it." I have no explanation or understanding or way to know exactly what is going on here. But I hug him and tell him how sorry I am that he is sad. I try to comfort him as best I can. "I hate earthquakes," he says. "Me too," I say.

They ask about buildings falling. Did it hurt when they died? How can we be sure that our house won't crumble in an earthquake? How can we be sure that hotels in which we might stay in the future won't fall down? Why can't we bring food to the people? Why can't we stop them from starving? Is our birthmother o.k.?

Kyle and Owen know that a lot of people died in Cite Soleil, where they were born. They know that a lot of people died in Port au Prince, where their orphanage was. They know that the Hotel Montana, where we stayed for our first week together as a family, was completely demolished. They know that Rock and Patrick, the orphanage directors who saved their lives when they were infants and made it possible for us to be a family, both survived. They know that the children at their orphanage all survived. They know that the Livesays survived. Kyle and Owen know that the need in Haiti is great, and that it has been great their whole lives long and longer.

I know that Haiti was in crisis before this. So, how can we wrap our minds around the state of things now? I'm mourning the loss of a dream--- a dream I had of bringing the boys back to the Hotel Montana sometime soon. We had thought, 'Maybe even this spring, if the boys seem ready enough for it.' The idea was that we'd go there for our first trip back to Haiti. It is (was) a beautiful hotel - an oasis in Port au Prince. We wanted to bring them back there, just for a couple of nights, when they were still very young, so that later in life -- as they learned more about Haiti -- their first actively memorable yet slightly subconscious association with their birthplace would be as positive as possible. I wanted that foundation to build upon. I know we can still find beauty in Haiti. I know we will find beauty. But I am so mournful that we will not be able to revisit the place where we first became a family. Where we gave our babies their first baths. Where we read them their first books. Where we soothed their deep diaper rashes until they weren't bloody, and fed their distended bellies good formula until they couldn't drink anymore, and held them all night long becoming their Mommy and Papi. That place is gone now. It will never be back for us to visit. When will we be able to bring Kyle and Owen to Haiti again? How will this ever be made right?

I rocked Meera to sleep tonight. She's just finished a 10-day round of antibiotics for double ear infections. The prescription cost $95; it is the most powerful antibiotic available. We were happy to pay it. Our insurance covered most of it. She's better-- I can tell-- not tugging at her ears, sleeping well at night, and back to her healthy appetite. I can't help but think it, silently in Meera's bedroom: 'Oh my God, what if I couldn't get her what she needed? What if I had no access to antibiotics? What if I couldn't keep her from dying a senseless death? What if I couldn't mother her the way I need to mother her?'  What if? Just imagine. As I held her bundled up in my arms, the humidifier in her room buzzing, my mind wandered. I remember holding Kyle that way when he was 19 months old just like Meera is now. I remember holding Owen that way too. Their hair felt so different than Meera's does, rubbing up against my chin. Their skin felt so different too, pressed against my neck. But they smelled just like her, as I rocked them to sleep. Clean diapers. Warm milk. The fabric softener we use in our laundry. The feelings flood me. I remember so much. It all comes back too quickly and it overtakes me. Bringing them home, helping them get healthy, teaching them to love-- that was all daunting, and the most challenging thing I've ever done with my life. But that was the easy part. The hard part is still before us. Their birth country was, and is now more than ever, in desperate crisis. Unwarranted death. Incomprehensible suffering. Injustice like I've never seen nor heard of. Their homeland, their roots, their people, our people. It is mind-numbing. I can't finish my soup at lunch. I feel sick to my stomach after eating dinner. It is hard to sleep. We put them to bed and kiss them goodnight and thank God they are here with us and plead with anyone who will listen to do something to help Haiti. We put on CNN and we see Port au Prince. How come we never saw Port au Prince on CNN before the earthquake? How come aid wasn't pouring in before the earthquake? How come relief wasn't "on the way" last Monday?

Braydon and I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work today. We can buy milk and eggs and yogurt and organic all-natural cookies. We are so grateful for that. In the checkout line there is a small poster asking for money for Haitian Earthquake Relief. On the poster is a photo of a Haitian girl, wearing only tattered rags for clothes, her hair a mess, her huge brown eyes staring into the photographer's camera. Now she's staring at us. Her eyes look just like Owen's always have. Her hair looks just like Kyle's did when he first came home. She looks Haitian. Just like my sons. Gorgeous at the core, beautiful at the root, resilient in the soul. You can see it all over her face. The photo draws me in. I am distracted for a minute. That is my boy. No, it is a girl on a poster. And then I remember we have to bag the groceries. And get home to our kids.


"I have a dream that one day... the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood." --Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Help Haiti T-Shirts

A friend of a friend is selling these t-shirts to raise money for Haiti Earthquake Relief. You'll see photos here of the bambinos wearing these as soon as we receive them in the mail!  Please buy some today!

Desperate Need to Expedite Haitian Adoptions

URGENT NEED ---- PLEASE DO WHATEVER YOU CAN TO HELP EXPEDITE HAITIAN ADOPTIONS. There are many families in the U.S. who had already begun the adoption process of Haitian orphans. The situation was desperate to begin with, and now, after the earthquake, more than ever.

Here is something you can do, in less than five minutes, to help:
Please email your state senator to allow adoptive families who had already begun the process and been matched with a child/children to bring their Haitian children home immediately. Go to this site (click here or copy and paste the full link below), scroll to your state. You'll see links to your Senator. Go to their web page to urge them to help expedite Haitian adoptions.

link =

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Earthquake - Please Give & Spread the Word

Over the past 24 hours we have received many emails, phone calls, blog and Facebook comments, etc. from people all over the world who have thought of our family as they hear the devastating news about the earthquake in Haiti. We feel humbled that we have come to mind for so many. We are trying to wrap our minds around the situation in Haiti. We are trying to talk about it with Kyle and Owen. We are trying to understand what this all means for the people of Haiti, for the people we know working so selflessly there, and for those of us around the world with connections to a beloved -- and yet impossibly complicated -- place. There are no words for all that Haiti is and isn't. It is mind-numbing. And tonight, it is more mind-numbing than ever to try to grasp how this earthquake will impact such an already --in so many ways-- truly devastated place. Please~~ please~~ please~~ if the thought has entered your mind at all, please don't hesitate, please don't wait, please ACT NOW by giving, financially, whatever you can, to help Haiti. Many have asked us where to give. Over the course of the day today Braydon and I have thought about this, and talked about this, and done a bit of our own research on this, and we ask that you please consider giving whatever you can to an organization we trust, and to which we have chosen to donate for earthquake relief, Heartline. We know for sure that your money will go fully and wholly straight where it is needed. So, please, do two things:
1) Please CLICK HERE NOW and give, whatever you can.
2) Please link to this post, email this, Facebook this, blog this, Twitter this, and tell everyone you know about this to SPREAD THE WORD.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Major Earthquake Hits Haiti

 Please pray; if you don't pray, please send out positive vibes for a suffering country and its people.
And, if you can, please act, however you can.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Big Plans

It is no secret that for a few years now I've had grand plans for my sons to be married to two particularly adorable girls in Alaska. Kyle and Owen know nothing about my marriage plans for them, but they have heard me talking about how cute I think these girls are, how great I think their family is, and how much I wish I lived closer to their mother (because I think I'd be really good friends with her if we could be 'real friends' beyond the blogosphere). I blogged about my grand plans for my boys' marriages once -- you can see it here. Well, it seems that already my boys have other plans of their own. Kyle and Owen have recently been talking about who they are going to marry. Owen has his heart set on a girl in his class. They appear to be madly in love with each other (I should be clear: in the cutest, most innocent way). They've had a couple of playdates with each other. Today, Owen was at her house for a playdate after school -- they made popovers for a snack and drank milk together while eating them fresh from the oven. According to Owen, the playdate was just swell. Kyle has his heart set on a girl from his own class. Today, while Owen was at his own house, Kyle's friend came over to our house for a playdate. They were so incredibly cute together. They told me that they plan to get married; that they will live in New York City; and that I can visit them anytime I want. They also told me that they plan to travel to China frequently and eat dumplings "all the time." They asked me to take a picture of them "since they're going to have a wedding," and the photo above was the result. They then proceeded to play about 10 games in a row of highly competitive Candy Land (I never would have imagined that two five year old kids could be soooo competitive about Candy Land). Anyway, I was having flash forwards to 10 or 20 years from now... and all I could think was, "If he chooses someone then that I like as much as I like his choice now we'll be all set." For some reason, with K & O, I can't help but always be wondering about what will come of their lives in the future. It is hard for me to not let my mind wander there when it comes to K & O. I'm just so curious about how it will all play out. I'm not rushing it, believe me!, I'm just simply curious. For now, we're happy with playdates and popovers and Candy Land and hopes and dreams.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Health Report

On Monday, while going to pick up Kyle and Owen from school, Meera fell and smashed her face badly. We were standing in the school parking lot, just about to get into the car to go home. I was chatting with another mom and the boys were playing chase with one of their friends. Meera was trying to join in the chase game too -- sort of toddling around after the big boys like she tends to do. The boys' friend brushed by her, by accident, which caused Meera to lose her balance and she slammed down, face first. She was right near me but I couldn't block her fall in time. She screamed hard for a few minutes, and then was fine. The boys got in big trouble for playing chase in the parking lot and for not looking out better for their little sister. They felt terrible. I felt terrible. The whole thing was a mess. We got home and Owen made Meera a bottle right away. Kyle got the hydrogen peroxide and I cleaned out all the cuts. It was a big drama. A drama which seemed to traumatize all of us except Meera. The photo above was taken right after we got home. She woke up the next morning with the left side of her face very swollen, and a black-and-blue left eye. She takes it all in stride. It is healing nicely and doesn't seem to bother her. But it sure does bother the rest of us. On top of it, our poor baby is on another round of antibiotics-- her third in the past month-- for bilateral ear infections that just won't seem to quit (and causing all sort of other problems like hard-time-sleeping/up too much in the night and hard-time-eating/she's lost over 2 pounds in the past 4 weeks... that's almost 10% of her body weight). We'll go back to our pediatrician in a few days to see if this antibiotic is working. If not, we will have to see the ENT specialist. Which wouldn't be the worst thing in the world--- the ENT doctor/surgeon we have is amazing, and did really well by us when Kyle was Meera's age and had to have ear tubes put in and his adenoids taken out. I'd hate to have to see Meera go into surgery, but if she does have to, then it is this ENT who I want doing it. So, if it will be, it will be. In the meantime we're not worrying too much about it. And Meera is about as easy as it gets for a sick baby. Her worst days are probably like most babies' best days. We're not complaining.

In other news, Owen had his appointment with the orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday. The doctor says that his collar bone is healing well and seems to be fusing nicely, etc. It looks like we're in the clear with no need for surgery, re-setting, etc. We will go back in three weeks for a follow-up to check on it. For now, he's favoring it a lot still, and we're trying to keep him from doing anything crazy. He's very good about knowing his limits. But his limits are way above and beyond what anyone would imagine of a kid with a broken collar bone. Trying to keep Owen from being active is like trying to keep a fish from swimming.

Lastly, Mama has a bad cold. And Kyle and Braydon are healthy as can be. So, we've got two standing out of five. Not all that bad. ;)

after-school-snack Friday. as you can see, they are all just fine!

Friday, January 08, 2010

And that closes the door...

...on the holidays of 2009.
And now regular blogging can resume.

What We Did Over Winter Break

The boys had two weeks off from school for Winter Break. I took those two weeks off too, and Braydon took all but two days of it off. This was the first time, ever, that we've taken so much time off-- and we LOVED IT!!!!!!!   We were away (in NH and CT) for all but four of those days. But those four days were spent entirely at home, just the five of us, making the most of our down-time. In a few photos I can document pretty much all that we did. Because we did the same few things over and over and over. Here goes~~

1. We enjoyed our Christmas presents (photo above, the boys with a book that Margie gave them).
2. We watched football. We watched it being played on tv, and we watched it being played in our house. Braydon and I have absolutely zero interest in football. But K & O are obsessed with it. Obsessed. Kyle especially. And MorMor and MorFar's Christmas presents to them (the full football gear) has taken the obsession to a whole new level. Due to Owen's broken collar bone, they haven't been wearing the shoulder pads, etc. (the shoulder pads put pressure on Owen's shoulder and it hurts)... but they spent a great deal of time over Winter Break with the helmets and gloves on. Yes, it is surely crazy to let them throw the football around in the house. But, whatever. We do what we do.

3. Kyle is currently also obsessed with knights and armor. He gets obsessed with things. Like, totally locked-in, fixated on things. And he pulls Owen into it and then they are both sort of locked-in. Kyle asked and asked and asked repeatedly constantly incessantly for me to help them make swords, shields, and armor. Our first day at home over the break, we made it all (out of cardboard and tin foil). They couldn't have been happier. They then played for hours and hours and hours with the stuff over the days we were at home.
 3. Candy Land. Another Christmas present from Margie. (she gave them a ridiculous amount of very nice presents!!!!!!!!) I think that over the four days we were home over the break we played Candy Land at least 700 times. No joke.

4. Meera discovered the beauty of having her brothers (Owen, in particular, is her brother of choice for this) push her around in the toy doll stroller. This stroller was used for this exact same thing four years ago when K & O would spend hours upon hours pushing each other around in it. Crazily pushing each other around in it (like, one running like a madman, pushing the other in the stroller, and slamming him into the wall/counter/door/cabinet/whatever). Now Meera has discovered that they'll do the same for her. And this is now all that she wants Owen to do. 24x7. She pulls the doll stroller to him, and says, "Peees! pees! pees!" looking up at him. She does this until he gives in to her (which doesn't take long-- Owen is a sucker for Meera), and  then Owen pushes her around, maniacally, in it for hours. With Kyle running around along with them. With Meera screaming happy squeals and the three of them causing quite a ruckus. This goes on multiple times a day, for long stretches of time. I am totally completely shocked that this pathetic little Toys-R-Us cheapo doll stroller is still holding up.

5. The Leapsters. The "video games." The boys have been loving the Leapsters since they earned them a few weeks ago. But this Winter Break was really the first time they had a chance to just hang out, playing with them whenever they felt like it. Kyle is practically fully reading and spelling now, and Owen is doing pretty complex addition and subtraction -- all the direct result of the Leapsters. Seriously, I am very impressed with the educational quality of these things. And it takes a lot to impress me that way.
6. Meera has been power-napping every day. 3-4 hours daily. She's making up for lost sleep (all those nights she was up all night long while we were traveling), and she's also still battling the double-ear-infections (whole other subject, but I think we might be on the way toward ear tubes for our girl). Anyway, over the Winter Break, when she wasn't sleeping or sitting in the doll stroller, she was eating... with bunny and monkey. She is so stinkin' cute we can hardly stand it. All four of us are gaga over her. It is pathetic. Can you imagine the poor soul who is brought home for her first date???? Heaven help them. For now, the loves in her life are --thankfully-- just bunny and monkey. Here she is, having lunch with them one day:

7. Speaking of eating... The boys have been eating up a storm. I guess another growing spurt or something (who am I kidding? they seem to be in a constant state of growing-spurtness). Some stats from recent days-- 1 large loaf of banana bread that I made one afternoon was gone --all but one slice-- the next morning; one day Owen ate 5 pieces of cinnamon-raisin wheat toast with butter in one sitting; Kyle ate 3 large bananas in a row (in less than 10 minutes) one day; 1 gallon of OJ, gone, in less than 48 hours; 1 package of Cracker Barrel sharp cheddar cheese in 1 episode of Curious George; they now eat the "family size" package of ravioli between the two of them, I now have to make 3 (not just 2) boxes of Annie's mac-n-cheese for them, and we go through a ridiculous amount of fresh fruit each day. You should see the grocery bill. Like I've said many, many times... I cannot imagine what it is going to be like when they are 16. Seriously. Here they are having an afternoon "snack" (one of probably 2-3 "snacks" they had over the course of that particular afternoon) of bagels with cream cheese (note, these are very dense "fully loaded" whole wheat bagels from our local bagel shop-- they are loaded with seeds of all sorts, cranberries, raisins, nuts, etc. and I am full when I eat one for breakfast in the morning), apple juice, and grapes. These boys can eat.

 And that's what we did for our Winter Break.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The 18-Month-Old Christmas

 Meera, age 18 months, having a bottle while we pack up at the hotel before heading out to the Portland Symphony Orchestra, December 20, 2009

Since Kyle, Owen, and Meera were all born in May it is hard to not always be thinking of the contrasts and similarities between the experiences of things during the cycles of life. Braydon and I think and talk about this all the time. From the time Meera was born we've been doing the compares and contrasts, and we're completely fascinated by the similarities and differences. There are obvious differences -- like the mega-humongous-difference between raising twins vs. raising a singleton; raising boys vs. raising a girl; raising off-the-charts-spirited children vs. raising off-the-charts-angel child; adopted children vs. biological children; ETC. The similarities are not so obvious, but they are most definitely there -- like the fact that all three of our children are extrovert social butterflies who love being out-and-about; that all three of our children seem unusually (strangely?!) happy pretty much all the time; that all three of them are physically big and tall for their age; etc. The fact that they were all born in May means that they were all just turning one in the springtime; were swimming like little maniacs in our pool the summer they were one; were the exact same age for their first time trick-or-treating; were all 18-months-old for their first non-infant Christmas. The fact that they were all born in May also means that Meera's been able to wear the boys' hand-me-downs throughout her babyhood -- which just makes the compare and contrast come to mind more often because we see her wearing things this winter and they are the things the boys wore "the winter they were her age" (etc.). I think because of the same age cycle between them, the memories seem to come more easily to the surfaces of our minds. This Christmas we thought about it a lot. Getting Meera in and out of all her snow gear was a major job (like it is with any toddler), and we couldn't help but think, "Remember when we were getting TWO in and out of all that snow gear?!?!!" (now THAT was a job!). Dealing with one baby while traveling is a task, but we remember the craziness of traveling with twin toddlers and we sigh with relief that we got a singleton this time around! Meera's delight in Christmas this year reminded us of the boys' delight in the Christmas when they were her age. The year the boys were Meera's age they loved the bouncy Santa dangling from MorMor and MorFar's ceiling over the dining table. And Meera loved that too this year. They used to love to take ornaments off the tree and toddle all around the house with them. Meera did that this year too. The boys were off-the-walls, crazily-active, bouncing-baby-boys when they were Meera's age. Meera is calm and laid back and happy to just quietly toodle around doing her own thing. The boys were so hard to contain. Meera is so easy. The boys took forever to get to sleep at night, but then would be out 'till morning. Meera goes right down, but is up all night when we're not at home. Each Christmas is special, of course. But there is something really magical and momentous about that 18-month-old Christmas --- the first Christmas that they are really consciously aware; the first Christmas that they have an inkling that something really special is happening; the first Christmas that you can really see them taking it all in. That 18-month-old-Christmas is a once-in-a-lifetime for a parent to enjoy. We don't take it for granted. And we feel so lucky to have been able to get three of them.
Braydon, Kyle, Owen, Heather on a sleigh ride through the woods, Christmas 2005.

On the way home - Christmas with G'amma

Last year after Christmas, we headed down to Philly, where my sister was living to visit with her and my mom for the day and had a very nice time.   Now that my sister is in DC, we decided it was best to stop by my mom's great new place in MA on the way home.

We got there in the morning after having missed a big winter storm the day before and had a chance to go for a nice walk down past the pond to the playground and get out of the car for while.  My sister was up from DC and our Aunt Diana swung by for the visit and had a chance to meet and experience the entire family.

After some crazy, yummy gourmet pizzas from a place nearby and some homemade cookies, we got down the business of opening Christmas gifts. The boys enjoyed bringing out the Connectagons and books, while Sabrina told Kyle stories. Meera toodled around looking at the pictures and Sabrina's sculptures while getting picked up and cuddled by my mom. Everyone got some good affection.

The visit was just a couple hours, but we fit in a lot of good chatting, playing and enjoying each other.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Hand-Me-Downs: Christmas Sweaters


Happy New Year!


It was a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR'S CELEBRATION for the J-Ms this year! We made the quick 2.5 hour road trip to Connecticut to spend New Year's Eve with the Slavins (see post from August by clicking here). Something about having been college roommates seems to make time spent as families now that much sweeter. I don't know why, exactly, but it is just really really really special. And fun!!!!!!!!!!!!! I especially love to see our kids play together! Imogen and K & O get along together (and fight too!) like 3-little-wild-peas-in-a-pod. And Audrey and Meera are really just too cute (even when they fight!) as "the babies" twosome. I love it that our kids fight and play together-- more like healthy cousins or siblings than as friends who hardly ever see each other. To me, that is really great and I take it to mean that we're in it with these kids for the long haul. I have high hopes that our kids will know each other well their whole lives. There is no family on the planet that we'd rather spend New Year's with. We plan on making it a tradition. Highlights included seeing, and spending time in, the Slavin's new house (they relocated to CT from CA this summer); sledding on their perfect front-yard sledding hill (what K & O wouldn't give to have this hill in their own front yard!!!); hot chocolate and marshmallows; the Keurig coffee (ahhhhhh!!!!); indoctrinating the children to New Year's Eve party trinkets and noisemakers; lots-o-margs (of course!!!); an amazing sweet-potato-black-bean-burrito dinner; the kids curled up on the couch with their loveys watching Tinkerbell; champagne and bbq chips; chocolate fondue at midnight; super-duper french toast and Canadian bacon on New Year's Morning; and... the biggest highlight of all... The New Year's Day SHOW (this was a show, in five acts, put on by the five kiddos ~~ and what a show it was!... they are already planning for the 2011 New Year's Day SHOW); many laughs and lots of good time. Meera was fast asleep within 5 minutes of pulling out of the Slavin's driveway, and K & O were in bed asleep by 6:30 p.m. that night. Four days later, we're all still recovering. But it was OH-SO-WORTH-EVERY-SECOND-OF-IT!!!!!!!! :)