Saturday, December 27, 2014

Joseph's First Christmas, Abigail's Fourth

Joseph has become addicted to candy this month, with an abundance of red and green M&Ms as well as chocolates set out in dishes, dozens of cookies from everyone we know, and daily Hershey's kisses in his countdown calendar.  In fact, his belly is like a bowl full of jelly.  (Okay, maybe that was already true, but even more so now; I lovingly call him "marshmallow" because he is so squishy and sweet.)

Baba showed Abigail where Santa was in
Western Europe.  
On Christmas Eve, I was working in the kitchen with my dad to make some soup and salad, Larry was at church with my mother, and the kids were trying to keep themselves busy.  Joseph saw that there was a wrapped gift under the tree and, being new to the existence of gifts, assumed (correctly) that is was for him.  It was long and thin and he picked it up and unwrapped an end and started to beat his sister with it when she tried to take it from him and put it back under the tree.  I decided to allow him to open it because it was a new light saber like Abigail's and the two of them could occupy each other while Dad and I finished making dinner.  He opened it, let out a squeal, and began jumping up and down cheering and yelling with excitement.  It was super cute.  (And, for the record, he and Abigail did in fact play together with their light sabers until after dinner time that night.)

On Christmas morning, Abigail wanted to plow through all of her presents in 30 seconds and then help Joseph with his.  We had to remind her to slow down and give her brother some space.  She received the remote controlled car she wanted from Santa, a Mensa endorsed game of building, spatial skills, team work and communication from Larry and me, as well as a Razor scooter, and Old Maid (which she has been playing non-stop with her grandparents for 2 days).  Joseph received a firetruck from Santa, a bulldozer from Larry and me, as well as a pattern puzzle.  Both kids also received a few things from their 3 grandparents and 6 aunts/uncles.  

Joe cool
Joseph has figured out how to use the word "MINE!!!" and he does so with great gusto 100 times per day.  It cracks me up every time, especially when he uses it on something non-desirable that he touched last or on something that isn't his but to which he is trying to stake claim.  

Abigail was old enough to watch my family play White Elephant Gift Exchange.  She helped by determining whose turn it was and bringing them the gift they wanted.  But she got pretty upset when I decided to "steal" from Grandma Judy.  She yelled at me "IT ISN'T NICE TO STEAL!!"  We all had to explain the rules to her to convince her that I was not being mean, but this is the way grown ups play sometimes.  She got into it before the 2 gift exchanges were finished.

With the mild weather, we were able to enjoy time outside as well as a fire on the deck with my whole family.  It was very relaxing and wonderful to enjoy some wine, chocolates, pies, chocolate pies, and great company around a fire while my parents played with the kids in the yard.

Joseph got into the stealing action
during our White Elephant game.
He stole this wine glass holder for his juice.

Best family pic we could muster!
Joseph is really going to need a 12 step
program to break this "M's" addiction.
My two sweet kiddos
 Look at Abigail's face
as Baba and Mama kissed!!  She
cracks us up!!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Sunday Snapshots

Joseph delighted at his daily candy
from our advent calendar

I should disclose that the
kids have been wearing these
Santa hats all month long!!

Abigail's time with Santa; She asked for a remote
controlled car after we promised to buy her a violin (her first choice)
once she learns to read music.

Joseph watching Santa from a distance.
We didn't force it to obtain a crying,
unhappy, escape artist photo.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Happy 2nd Birthday

Dear Joseph,
You are 2 and I have been working with you all month to say your age.  You hold up 5 fingers and say "oooot" when I ask.  You had 3 birthday "parties", all of them very low-key.  We learned from your sister's 2nd birthday party that less is more in this situation.  

One was the weekend after Thanksgiving because your Grandma Judy and your Yinski were visiting.  We ate chocolate mini-cupcakes.  You blew out the 2 candles all by yourself on the first try.  You didn't know how to open presents, so Abigail helped you with the first one, a book of trucks that makes truck sounds.  Abigail was green with envy.  Then you got the hang of things and opened a box of 4 chunky trucks and happily drove them around the table, making truck noises.  You lovingly let Abigail play with them too because she was dying to and you love her so much!

If you look closely, you can see Elfie, our
Elf, making his grand entrance down the light
strand over the fireplace.

The second "party" was Friday the 5th after school.  Your Baba and I wanted you to have a chance to ride your new Ziggle bike that evening, even if it was through the kitchen and in the garage since it has been cold and rainy and will continue to be so all weekend.  Your sister gave you Bumblebee Transformer which she picked out, and then promptly took it and claimed it as her own the second you were busy with the Ziggle.  In daycare Friday, Ms. Madeline apparently showered you with more attention than usual and a birthday crown (that you wore all weekend!).  By the time you got home, any time someone said "Happy Birthday!" or started to sing "Happy Birthday" to you, you put your hands in the air and did spirit fingers and cheered wildly.
Your Baba posted the below picture to his Facebook, with the message "Happy 2nd birthday Joseph!  Sorry we missed your first one.  We will never miss another one!  Just to be clear, that is freshly spilled milk on your pants.  We are not irresponsible parents."

Friday night, we had family movie night with popcorn and Abigail's choice: The Grinch with Jim Carrey.  You loved the scenes without the Grinch, but when he was on screen, you would half cover your eyes and face and peek through your fingers and hold onto me so tightly.  You wanted to be brave.

Your third "party" was with your Uncles Jim & Dean and Aunts Steph & Kim on Saturday morning.  We had an elegant brunch: asparagus strata, pineapple cheddar grits and mimosas.  However, you and Abigail enjoyed pancakes, bacon, vanilla cupcakes and virgin mimosas, which is to say you drank orange juice.  You received a giant purple ball so you no longer have to fight over your sister's, a giant toy bag that doubles as a tent, a giant bag of Hershey kisses, and bananas.  Perfect gifts for a new 2 year old.  You wanted to eat the entire bag of kisses at once, since you understand that when you open gifts that they are, in fact, yours.  You own so very little in this world that you become very possessive of those things that you know are yours and you knew those 20 ounces of chocolate are meant just for you!

I am so glad you are in our family.  You have grown up so much in the past 7 months since we met.  
I love you so much, Little Man.
Love, Mama

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sunday Snapshots

Saturday morning the kids made
Ninja-bread cookies in honor of Abigail's
green belt test the night before.

Messy but having a blast.

Abigail is showing off her chopsticks skills with
Light Saber chopsticks.

We took the kids to the Air and Space Museum for
the first time.  (Yes, I know I know.  We live so
close to DC that the kids didn't finish a 48
minute Christmas DVD in the car and we
really should make the trip more, blah blah blah,
but I really do hate DC but I would if DC
were NYC)  Anyhow, both kids LOVED
the Zero.  It was the fav plane of the day.

Joseph now stands for a pic for a microsecond
before running to see the image on the
camera screen and pointing to himself
and shrieking.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday Snapshot(s)

It has been a while since I have done one of these blog entries. Enjoy the pics.

A student of mine had our family over for
an Asian feast this week.  Her mother
had gifts for the kids to keep them occupied
while we were there.  Abigail LOVES her
new Princess Castle Tent.

Joseph (and new-found love, Stuffy "Murphy") enjoyed
making Christmas decorations for an hour this afternoon.

Kids LOVE glue.

Working on Joseph's chopstick skills.  These are skills he
probably would have had if he were an almost 2 year old
living with a family in China.

Leaf raking this weekend and Joseph really enjoyed himself.

This is just the sort of situation for a Cozy Coupe

Siblings modeling their Moose Hats while we raked.

Lar and I laugh all of the time that we are
raising an old Chinese Man.  Joseph has so
many "old" habits.  Here he is, tired of
playing, he grabbed a wicker chair from the
house, dragged it to the yard, and watched
us finish the leaves while also waving
at cars driving by.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Joseph's First Halloween

Abigail wanted to be Darth Vader for Halloween ever since we watched the original trilogy with her this past summer. A former AP Computer Science student of mine knitted Abigail a Yoda costume when she was a baby, so we had the perfect outfit sitting around for Joseph to complement his big sister.

They were an adorable duo, to be sure.  The evening was cool, probably low 50s or high 40s, and we started a bit late since it was also the weekend of the fall time change.  We left the house at 6:30 Old Time/ 5:30 New Time.  After about 10 houses, Abigail was tired and grouchy and begging to go home to drink hot milk and sleep (kindergarten is so exhausting for her and she has been doing 11 hours of sleep per night all fall). Since we had only done 2 cul-de-sac loops right behind our house, she was 1 house away from our home and all of the bribing and cajoling in the world could not convince her to continue on down the street in the other direction.  Larry took our exhausted Darth Vader home while I continued with Joseph, figuring that without his favorite big sister around, we'd be following them home within a house or two.  

Nope.  :)

Joseph's strength flowed from the Force that night.  Not only did he walk an extra mile (measured on the streets- not counting the distances from the street up and back down everyone's driveways), he would not let me carry him, his light saber, or his bucket!  Even as the bucket grew heavier, Joseph proved that size matters not as he grunted and lugged his bucket up hills, across yards, and up onto stoops.  On the last 3/10 of a mile, he dragged the bucket along the street, scraping along the way, but keeping it totally within his control.  Sometimes on difficult terrain, he would jam his light saber into his bucket and take my hand in his until the ground was less steep or he got a 2nd, 5th, or 11th wind.  

We never explained it to him, but he seemed to intuitively know to avoid the dark houses, lest the dark side forever dominate his destiny.  But if I would try to walk him past a lit up house, he would protest by peeling away from me, up through the yard and rap on the door with his light saber.  

One house had a fire pit on the driveway and an older couple sitting behind it.  Joseph lugged his bucket up to the fire pit, jammed his light saber into his bucket, set the bucket down on the driveway, and went up to the fire, kneeled down a little while first rubbing his hands together and then holding them out to the fire.  He repeated "hot" about forty times, charming the pants off of the couple, who were confused that Joseph rebuffed their attempts to give him candy and only wanted a warm spot to fight off some of the chill for a few minutes.

Another couple had a giant blow-up pumpkin on their yard.  All Joseph wanted to do was flirt with that pumpkin.  Forget the candy at that house!  Did you see the size of that pumpkin?!?  Truly wonderful the mind of a child is.

Joseph charmed pretty much everyone he saw, often times getting double or triple doses of candy once he grinned his cute Yoda grin at them and waved and finished with his famous "blow a kiss" technique.  

But the most fun was at the end of the last cul-de-sac I was going to take him.  End of the line; we were about to turn around and head home.  Joseph lugged his bucket (grunting the whole time) up a very steep yard, greeted a 120 pound shaggy dog named Chase, and arrived at the porch where a woman of probably her mid-50s sat.  She fished in her bucket for some M&Ms, asked how old he was, and smiled as Joseph petted Chase. Then Joseph put his light saber in the bucket (your weapons, you will not need them), and the bucket on the step next to her, and walked around a bush, bending and searching, running back again, looking for something.  The lady asked what he was doing, and I replied that I thought he was looking for the source of her music, which was playing softly out of a cell phone next to her.  She held it up for Joseph just as "Thriller" started playing.  At that, Joseph gave the woman a full 5 minute dance show.  Then he danced to 2 more songs.  She *Loved* it.  We talked about how this is his first Halloween, she asked about Chinese adoption, commented that it is so exciting that we'll soon have his first birthday and first Christmas together, and said how lucky we were to be able to adopt him.  (Finally, a stranger who didn't think he was the sole lucky one!)  All told, we were there for about 15 minutes and the lady said Joseph was the highlight of her week. Then we hit Old Time 8:10/ New Time 7:10 and I decided it was time to head home. I allowed Joseph to go rap his light saber on the lady's neighbor's door.  He got a treat, and then Chase came running across the yards to see him again.  The next thing I knew (I was down on the sidewalk at the bottom of the hill), Joseph was in full sprint, bucket and all, across the top of the yards and up onto the lady's porch again as I heard a delighted, drawn-out "Joe-seph's Back!!" exclamation! 
There's candy in this bucket!
All those people gave me candy!

It took some carrying on my part (and kicking and noisy protest on Joseph's part) to get him back to the street and on our way again.  I tried to walk home on the same side of the street that we went out on, but somehow Joseph figured out that if he ran across the street in front of a car (well, as fast as a 30-inch Jedi master can run while dragging a bucket), there was a whole line of new houses he hadn't been to yet! So we hit all of those on the way back.  (On many long journeys have I gone.)

Another thing that amused me about the night was that it wasn't until we were at Chase's house that Joseph even noticed that his bucket was full of CANDY!!  He hadn't even noticed what people were giving him all evening until Chase's owner gave him "M's" as he calls them.

It was hands-down the best night I think I have ever had as a parent since the night that we took 2 year old Abigail to Palmetto Islands County Park for Christmas lights and Santa. 

A have "M's"!!!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Abigail Update, for her 5th Birthday

I frequently laugh at the irony that, before I had kids, I had so much free time to blog, scrap book, edit photos and make beautiful photo albums, paint, do crafts, etc.  Now that I actually have little people to be the subjects of my hobbies, I have no time to do them.  

Abigail's birthday has come and gone.  She turned 5.  In the meantime, fall came and went for our little 4-year-old and I never could find a chance to give her the update she deserves.  

Abigail kicking white belt butt!
Tae Kwon Do:
Abigail love-love-loves TKD.  When we walk through a grocery store, she practices her forms up and down the aisles.  When she is waiting for us to make her a snack or get her a drink in the kitchen, she does her 1-step-sparring moves for her shadows being made on the wall from the soft fall sun coming in the south windows.  I know she is a little kid and not perfect, but she certainly is pretty graceful and confident when she practices her moves.  I have said for years, I love watching that kid move; she is athletic and lythe and just beautiful to observe.  In July, she tested for her yellow belt and there were only 3 kids in that rank test.  Abigail and 2 older boys.  For the sparring portion of the test, the Master made Abigail spar both boys at the same time and it was adorable and awesome to watch:  she would move toward one and then to the other and back again.  Back and forth, back and forth, she had so much confidence and just blew us away.  
The boards used for older people
are in Abigail's right hand, the boards
used for little kids are in her left.
In preparing for her green stripe test 2 months later, she broke the older kid/ adult sized board with her kick.  Master even mentioned this feat at the belt test, saying that "this little girl" had broken the thick board in practice. Abigail is really enjoying the smaller, more focused and disciplined class she has been in since she graduated out of the white class.

Ah, I remember this night.
I wish they went to bed this
easily EVERY night!
Big Sister:
After Joseph was sick in July and then had surgery, Abigail has really grown into her role as the Big Sister.  She has a 6th sense about what he needs and also about what Larry and I need.  It isn't uncommon for her to notice we are at our wit's end with him hanging onto our legs screaming because we can get dinner ready fast enough or something and she expertly distracts him and plays with him.  She is amazing.  We are not making her into a pseudo-parent or babysitter for Joseph (we know people who have done that it is isn't fair to the older kids to deprive them of childhood by making them responsible for younger siblings: Abigail still needs and deserves her own attention, to be a little kid).  But it sure is nice when she gives us a 5 or 10 minute sanity break.  She also really and truly loves him.  In the morning, it is hugs all around. She recently said that Joseph will be her first boyfriend. (Interesting note, however, is that Joseph has started getting jealous of Abigail!  If we hold her in our lap he will fly into a jealous fury.)

First Day of Kindergarten
Starting Kindergarten:
Abigail is 9 weeks into kindergarten without even a mention on this blog!  After her first day, we asked how it was.  She said "Great.  We had grapes."  But when she found out that she had to go back, she was surprised in a bad way.  She thought kindergarten was a one-and-done kinda' thing.  We have a 1st day of school pic, but there is apparently a reason that there are no "2nd day of school" pics.  It breaks our hearts when she says that she doesn't like learning, which she says on some days, but we enjoy hearing her stories about the "hard but fun" math that they do.

Star Wars:
Since we watched Star Wars episodes 4, 5, and 6, with Abigail this summer, she has been into all things Star Wars and wanted to be Darth Vader for Halloween.

Turning 5:
Abigail got her Darth Vader costume, a kit to make your own mummy, a wooden version of connect 4 and a yellow toy car from Lar, me, and Joseph.  Her aunts and uncles bought her several Star Wars action figures, a Star Wars wall decoration, storm trooper pjs.  All of her grandparents gave her some money, a fishing rod, and a Star Wars pillow.  She had a few friends over from school for a play-date sort of party.  Reflecting on 4, Abigail said her favorite parts were riding a horse, starting karate, and going to China.  This made me realize that it is true what I hear about kids:  they want experiences, not stuff.
Our big 5 year old!
Abigail and her bestie, making spiders
for her birthday/ Halloween.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Yes, you sweet, silly boy! We are keeping you and we love you and you are important too!

We brought Joseph home in May.  My parents were at our house, waiting for us, ready to help us for the first 9-10 days of our transition.  They were the first extended family members whom he met, just 90 minutes after he got off of the plane in Washington DC.  He has been to their old farm house 2 times, for 5-day visits during the summer.  

During his first few hours at the farmhouse, only 18 months old, he wandered into the dining room where my parents have a wall of photographs.  It's a visual family tree, with Dad's family branching to the left, Mom's to the right, and my brothers and I coming down the center, with several more pictures of Abigail, their only grandchild until Joseph entered the family, near the bottom.  Joseph looked and squawked and yelled and pointed at the pictures, to those he recognized, I suppose.  His sister, recent pictures of aunts and uncles and me and his Baba.  And he looked all over the wall, running back and forth the length of the room.  Pointing and yelling and squawking more.  He did this a few times each day for that first visit.  

Then, five weeks later, he did this same thing for his second visit.  I suggested to my parents that he was protesting that he didn't have a picture on the wall.  I took a cute one, ordered an 8"x10" for them online and made them promise to hang it up once it arrived by mail (in a bright orange envelope!).  

Fast forward to Friday night.  We arrived at my parents at about 9 pm.  Joseph was awake because he had an (unfortunately long) nap in the car for a few hours.  After he hugged my parents in the kitchen, he was running through the dining room to the play room full of toys when he stopped and searched the picture wall.  He saw his new, big photo and right away, he began pointing and yelling excitedly at it. He led people by the finger into the room and showed them the picture, yelling happy sounds, excitedly saying words that we didn't understand.  He was so proud.  He made the wall.  He knew he was important like his sister and that This was Permanent and he beamed with joy.  All weekend, he would periodically run into the dining room and check the wall, pointing and smiling radiantly at his photo, so full of pride and happiness that we thought he might explode!  

It was pretty amazing that at 22 months, this is something he decided all on his own was super important and meaningful to him.  

Dear sweet Joseph, how deep do your little thoughts go?  Please start talking so that we know.

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Lonely Adoption Problem, aka: Vampire Child (Cute By Day, Sucks Life out of Parents at Night)

Some adopted kids (but not all) come home to their forever families with issues.  Some have sensory issues or problems with textures.  Some have hoarding problems or other issues with food: eating too much or not enough.  Still others have issues with strangers or feeling distrustful of one gender or another.  Yet others have issues with forming loving bonds and attachment to their new family.  All of these can mostly, if not entirely, be battles that the parents and child can fight together during the long patience of daytime.  If they are lucky, the parents may even be able to enlist the help of other soldiers like immediate family members, grandparents, doctors, or therapists, to help fight the battles.

However, this is not true for parents with children who are battling the demons of sleep issues.  When your child has a sleep issue, you don't have the luxury of summoning up patience and love while you are at your best, but instead, you have to find the compassion and serenity (often multiple times) in the dead of night.  When people vaguely say "let me know if there is anything I can do to help" you can't say "come on over tomorrow about 4 am because that is when my child is going to wake up inconsolable and screaming, and you can deal with it while I get to sleep through it."  No, these are battles that are intimately fought solo, with only Erebus to keep you company.

The way that sleep problems manifest in the night might vary, from quiet, sleepy whimpers that only need a soft touch and comforting whisper to guide the child back into sleep to full blown meltdowns, characterized by quick, deafening, staccato screams and wild, stiff movements, sure indications that his amygdalae were working overtime again, and your poor little kiddo now has so much cortisol coursing through his veins that it will be impossible for either one of you to go back to sleep; get ready for the sunrise because you are now Up For The Day.  

For the parent of kids with sleep issues, knowing that when you lie down for the night, intending to power off and recharge like the device plugged in beside your bed, but aware that you never really get to do so, you never actually get into a deep and restful slumber.  Instead, you are still on alert, never quite shut down, never quite recharging.  

The problem is compounded when your child with sleep problems also doesn't seem to need more than 9 hours of sleep daily, and is still needing and taking a short daytime nap and therefore only getting a little more than 8 hours of rest during the night.  This means that parents who are already stressed-out and sleep deprived have zero time to enjoy a book, have a hobby, watch a movie, catch up on a TV show, or talk about life and decompress over a glass of wine in the evening but instead must send themselves off to bed minutes after the child falls asleep; it is the only way to minimize the zombie effects of spending part of the night awake to comfort a child followed by a 4 - something - o'clock wake up call that is gauran-damn-teed to happen in 8 hours.  

Imagine waking with your child 8 times between 8 pm and 4 am, and then a full-blown meltdown happens.  There the two of you are, at a time when only people catching an early flight and night shift nurses are awake.  Your child, in fight-or-flight mode, short punctuated screams emanating from his little body, not wanting comfort or anything you can provide, and you, roused once again from sleep, at first groggy and then your own amygdalae kick into action.  Your spouse trades places with you so that you can go back to sleep.  But you can't because your child already put you on high-alert and even though you are sleep deprived, you can't help but do the sleep math in your head, "Even if I fall asleep right now, I'll still only have x hours of sleep before I need to slog off to work..."  You even crawl in bed next to your daughter, hoping that her soft rhythmic snoring and warm bed will pull you into their orbit, inviting you back to sleep, but instead, you sob (albeit silently) into a pillow next to her, (simultaneously envious of the 10-11 hours of sleep she is getting and relieved that one of your children is sleeping soundly) because you are exhausted and because no one but your spouse can understand just how exhausted this is and because you cannot see an end to this madness and it is such an emotionally debilitating and lonely job. 

*I want to add that my husband, Father of the Year and Husband of the Year, does the Lion's share of the nightly care taking of our son.  That doesn't mean he is the only one effected by this.  We all are. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Sunday Snapshot: 5 months home

5 months ago this guy joined our family!
The 3 poses:
1. Joseph, dance for me
2. Joseph, give me your BIGGEST smile
3. Joseph, do a dance and your BIGGEST smile at the same time!
He was wearing these same pants the day we met him, but at that time, they fell right off of him as he was 14 pounds lighter and were long enough to be past the end of his toes as he was many inches shorter!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Letter to Joseph, Son and Brother

Dear Joseph,
Pretty soon, we'll be marking off 5 months that you will have been in our family.  You spent 504 days in an orphanage, and eventually, on September 22nd of next year, you will have finally been in a family longer than you were in an orphanage.  Little by little, day by day, we get to even that score while day by day you amaze us with your resilience.  

Joseph, for 504 days you may not have known that you were supposed to be well fed and held and played with and cuddled and tickled and entertained and loved, but you have caught on to these ideas quickly!  You have completely bought into this whole family thing and you completely and rightfully expect that your Baba and I, along with your sister, are here to meet your wants and needs.  You want to be held?  You got it.  You want a drink?  You know who to ask.  You want someone to push you for 45 minutes in the swing?  Sure.  You are ready at 4 o'clock in the morning to get up and start playing for the day?  Well, your Baba handles that solo, but he does so every day for you!  You make us exhausted, but you so completely trust us that we always try to meet your expectations.  We don't want to let you down. You didn't ask to be adopted and flown half way around the world, but you seem to like it anyhow.  
You like Juice Boxes so much
I love to call you Buster.  That is
a reference to a TV show that is
really before your time.

Jos, you are such a happy little boy.  You are also stubborn and energetic and you have really big ideas.  In fact, your ideas are so enormous, that you can hardly contain them within your little body.  They come out in screams and bursts of squeals, giggles and sometimes tantrums.  They manifest physically as you run, fall, climb, and twirl from place to place.  You had 2 giant bruises on your face this week, the results of some of your big ideas.  Nothing is too big to climb.  No speed is too fast, and if you crash, so be it because your family will pick you up and hug you and kiss your tears until, 20 seconds later, you wiggle and squirm to get away and back to adventure.  

Through observation, you also have figured out how everything works here.  You know where your shoes are kept, when to put them on, and even have a good idea of how to accomplish that.  You know where the leash is and have an idea of how to walk the dog.  You understand what trash is and where we keep the garbage can and you even squeeze your little hand behind the childproofed cabinet door to throw away your unwanted wrappers or old juice boxes.  You know where food is kept and you figured out how to navigate and climb the fridge to get to the juice boxes.  You know where to put your dirty clothes after a bath and where your dirty diapers go after being changed.  You seem to take comfort in the daily routines of our life, however boring they may be, they are ours for now.  

Part hug-fest, part wrestle-mania, you and
your sister are best friends.  It is our hope for
you both that you will stay close as you grow up.
Happiness is
a Stinky Blankie.
This letter would be incomplete without mentioning how very much your sister loves you.  She refers to you as "my baby" like when, the other day, you made off with a block from her classroom and she returned it to her teacher saying "Sorry, but my baby took this" and when she is 8 or 9 she plans to marry you. She is proud of you, proud to be a big sister, and wants the world for you.  She wants to make sure you get your fair share.  She wants you to be happy, comfortable, healthy. Until you start talking, she will be your voice (and maybe after that too!).   She says "Joseph wants crackers" or "Joseph and I want to ride our bikes."  Last Saturday you were sick with fever and vomiting.  After playing at a park (babies do not slow down when they are sick), you fell asleep in the car and Baba carried you into the house and laid you down on the floor.  Abigail, in a very touching display said "My little brother Joseph would feel better if he had Blankie" and she put her Blankie on top of you.  This is the very Blankie she swore she would never share with you.  The Blankie that would be the first non-living thing we would save from our house if it were on fire.  The Blankie you try unsuccessfully to steal from her in the mornings when you watch Curious George together.  Pure love.  

Joseph, you are a sweet, loving little boy.  I can easily imagine you growing into a kind and silly man like your Baba.  Stay sweet and loving, Jos.  


PS:  If you want to sleep through the night until 5 or 6, no one will mind!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sunday Snapshot(s) Kiddie Hiking

He ran or walked for most of 2 hours!

It was the most beautiful fall day today!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Full Disclosure: Why I am a Terrible Mother

I love my kids.
Seriously, I mama-bear-love them and would seriously maim anyone who would be so stupid as to hurt them. Or tell them that Santa is not real.  (I seriously pity the child who breaks that news to Abigail.  He'll be in a body cast.)

But I am a Terrible Mother.  I am just being honest.  Larry always kisses me and hugs me and says "I love being a parent with you on my team" but I really do suck.  Here's why:

  1. I am an introvert.  Having 2 tiny people want to be around me 24/7 doesn't work well with my personality.  (Yes, I claim all 24 hours since one of them always wants to sleep with me and will even sneak into bed next to me after I have fallen asleep.)  Related issue: I do not enjoy being a jungle gym and I sometimes wish that my 1 year old and 4 year old understood "personal space."
  2. While Lar and I are both on summer break, we are putting the kids into daycare for 2 days per week.  We say it is to help them stay on a schedule.  To keep Joseph socialized.  So Abigail can see her friends.  But really, I would be willing to go into debt putting them in for 5 days per week just to have all that glorious time to myself.
  3. Speaking of daycare, I am a MUCH better mother on days when the kids are in daycare.  It seems like I have a finite amount of patience and awesomeness and love (gulp!!) to share and on the days that they are in daycare for 8 hours and come home, all of that Wonderful Mom-ness is condensed into about 6 hours.  On days that they are home All. Day. Long.  all of my Wonderful Mom-ness has to be stretched thin to last All. Day. Long.
    I can't make more of it and the kids want to use it up by 7:43 AM.
  4. Often, I find myself more interested in taking great pictures, editing pictures, sharing videos, blogging, and scrapbooking about how great my kids are and what fun things we have done and how much I love them instead of actually spending more mind-numbing time with them as they dump all of the blocks, cars, trains, train tracks, and play food onto the floor for the 12 millionth time this week.
  5. I would rather run alone.  Yes, we have a double jogging stroller.  Yes, Larry likes to run too.
    But I would rather it be a solo venture.  (See #1)
  6. And speaking of exercise, if I run alone, then that means Larry has had the kids for ~40 minutes.  So I feel guilty taking a shower and making him watch the kids even longer.  As a result, I am forced to decide what to do with my precious free time and loathe being forced to decide between such luxuries as exercise, showering, shaving, using the computer, and eating something I don't want to share with anyone.
  7. That brings me to drink-sharing.  If I have a drink, my kids think that by extension it is their drink too.  But I have decided I am done with that; a full-scale drink-sharing embargo is now in effect.  I used to share, but no more.  I have had my fill of back-wash and mysterious floaties, not to mention the HFMD incident and how much Joseph is a festering toxic germ factory. I will gladly get them their own drink, but that never appeals to them as much as mine does.
  8. I don't hear Joseph when he cries at night.  Larry will say to me in the morning, "Joseph cried 6 times last night" and I will not be aware of a single one of them as I slept right through the whole thing.  Six times.
  9. All the inspirational, bloggy, preachy mommy people make memes and write about enjoying every minute with the kids while they are little and claim that things like laundry and dusting can wait.  I don't entirely agree with this.  I am just not going to live in a dirty house and my kids are going to wear clean clothes.
    When Abigail wants to be held and cover me with kisses or wants to be tucked in for the 3rd sweet time at night because she just wants another few moments with me, I sigh sadly thinking that before I know it, she will want nothing to do with me, especially not cuddly moments and kisses.  When Joseph gives a full-out belly laugh in a way that only babies can, I think "I want to bottle that sound and keep it forever."
    I do enjoy these moments, but that isn't the stuff of which days are made.
    In the every-day moments of daily living, I would usually rather be the parent scrubbing the bathroom or doing the laundry than the parent pushing 2 kids on the backyard swing while it is 90 degrees outside or squeezing back tears of boredom and listlessness while sitting on the floor next to the play kitchen set, waiting for the kids to make me a 42nd "dinner" in under as many minutes while I can only think about all of the real work I could be getting done, instead of sitting there.
    But the inspirational, bloggy, preachy mommy people don't acknowledge that real parenting is boring.  They would make you feel guilty for thinking "this is SO boring" while you are spotting your 1 year old climbing up the toddler slide for the umpteenth time today.
    But in reality, these are some of the things I did this summer because I found them more fulfilling and less mind-numbing than babysitting my own kids:  dusting, toilet scrubbing, laundry, mopping, waxing the car, closet cleaning, weeding, cleaning all the fan blades, and washing our 19 windows (inside and out). 

Given the crazy nature of my life, this entry was made in pieces all summer, just to find time for it.
Anyone can feel free to read this entry and commiserate or silently judge me.  However, any unsolicited attempts at advice-giving will not be well received or tolerated and I may seriously hurt you.

{Please don't take my kids from me.}

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tales from PA (part 3- going to a petting zoo)

My mom doesn't work Mondays and my dad took the day off so that we could all take the kids to a zoo.  I love zoos.  I have been to many zoos in my life and I love taking the kids to different zoos.  My favorite moment of this trip was when the male lion was feeling discontent about everyone watching him and he charged the viewing glass while letting out a thunderous roar, getting nose-to-nose behind the glass with Joseph.  Joseph held his ground though: he just roared his little roar right back!  I wish I had it on video!

Joseph getting up close and personal with a camel
when he really wanted to meet the zebra

Joseph was a little unsure about petting a joey!!

Joseph was also unsure about
this giant wooden tortoise statue.  

As usual, Abigail's favorite animal
was the giraffes.

Abigail even got to bottle feed
a baby giraffe!!
Joseph's favorite animals were
any of the primates.  He couldn't get enough
of them.  

Joseph REALLY liked the primates.
See- he is communicating with this one.

Abigail enjoyed petting the kangaroo
but the wallabys were softer.  
When not looking at primates,
Joseph passed the time by
looking at the person who was carrying him!