Hanging with the Pros

Neener. Neener. 

Recently I was invited to hang out with an elite group of women. Honestly, I didn't know whether to scoop them all into my arms and hug them for their compassion and examples, or bow down and pay my respects. I was in a group of professional mothers. Did you not know there is such a thing?

The host for an afternoon of giggles, food and a little hot tubbin': the one and only Corey. Some of you non-adoption people, or heck even Ethiopian adoption folks might not know her because her kids who were adopted hail from Haiti, but you should know her; she is a rockstar.

She has seen the face of RAD. You know, the "scary" crap. Wait, no, there are no quotation marks. Reactive Attachment Disorders are scary. It's scary what happens to kids when they are hurt so badly their brain chemistry and ability to have relationships, accept love and personal responsibility; accept the possibility that they have worth, and live with themselves are obliterated into black holes that suck up and kill every ounce of love poured into them.

Corey has inspired me for years. She even moved her blog and I followed. And then she moved close to me, about an hour away it turns out. And starstruck, giddy me had the immense pleasure of meeting her. Man, I love when blog friends become Real Life friends.

She parents with grace, honesty, kindness, love, and she empowers her fellow mothers of kids from hard places to do the same. She not only advocates for the RADish kids in her life, but for mothers who fight the same fight for their kiddos day in, day out.

also, she has a gorgeous honest-to-gosh coal burning fireplace in her living room

Everything I said about Corey applies to the other women who were there. All adoptive mothers with kids from Haiti, Uganda, domestic, some who are foster parents, some who do respite for kids with RAD and PTSD, some with HIV+/RAD kids. And those are only some of the acronyms. These moms have seen it all. Here are a few snippets from conversations:

"Well, we decided not to do respite for the girl who was killing cats because we were afraid for our pets."

"The problem is he doesn't want to be in school, he tries to do so many bad things that we will take him out of school, but he doesn't want to be home either. His problem is he doesn't want to exist."

"Don't worry about that spill. Was it pee? Or cocaine? See, we are fine then."

Heavy stuff. Sometimes funny, but all heavy.

These Mamas, who despite everything and in perhaps because of everything they experience were friendly, warm, and surprisingly sane. They descended upon me, held my babies, shared their love, and welcomed me into their circle of support.

I came away a stronger advocate for HIV+ adoption. I came away inspired further do one day do respite care for families and their kids who need a break from each other. Admittedly, I came away exhausted for them. And I came away with this:

I might not be parenting a child showing RAD behaviors, but I am parenting a starting-to-get-large, not-the-norm brood. And every single one of those women can understand that. They don't blink an eye. The Normal Ship has sailed. And was sunk offshore.

Tsega gives a "I am tired why is my mother not taking me home" snuggle of confusion to
C baby. Or maybe he just liked her aura.  Look at me, all not freaking out. I even took a picture.

Thanks for the fun day, Corey dear. Thank you ALL the girls who were there and shared your lives and love with little ol' me. Can't wait until next time.


A message from the tiny one

Brady's OT/PT was showing some techniques to help him practice using his core, and I grabbed my camera so I would remember how she was propping him up.  Because once she is gone all the vital information turns to mush.

All of a sudden, she let go.

He hasn't really done it since, but he has a new bounce in his step, as it were. He knows he has muscles. He is loving discovering his body. He is learning!

Your friendly Scooping it Up reminder for the day:  keep your camera out of its case at all times. Let it wander with you. Today let it live in the kitchen, tomorrow on top of the piano or TV stand. You never know what moments you might actually capture because it was handy. Sure, it means you might get food or barf on it, or a kid might touch it. Believe me, it's worth the risk.

Little tidbits *update and response to the comments!

My youngest baby is sleeping peacefully right now at 9am. How nice it would have been if we both could have enjoyed the peace in the 10pm-4am time slot.

The hardest thing about four little kids, besides getting out of the house:  it doesn't matter who was up at night, most of them are up by 7:30, begging for food. As if they didn't just eat 14 hours ago!

After over a year of trying, three different contractors, stonewalling from some jerks people doing their job there is a chance our town building department will effectively remove the two by four from its heinie and allow us to finish our attic. The fourth floor: where all our dreams come true. Kiddie Lair, babysitter/grandma/guest room, (my sewing room should none of those people be here), and an office for Hubs. Hubs who has tried for six months working from our kitchen table. It hasn't been working out so well.

Since posting that notice about World Water Week donation matching program for FOVC in the previous post, exactly two out of two hundred and five visitors to this blog have clicked on it and gone to their donation page. Those blog readers were in Switzerland and Virginia. Thank you to those who clicked. Because even if he/she are the only people who help build a well for some people we love, it was totally worth posting. More kids can go to school because they aren't hauling water all day because of you. ** ten hours later, the number is higher now. I think at last count I saw sixteen clicks. You rock.

We are experiencing a Spring Fail in our neck o' the woods. We were smitten with more snow last night. And more today. I will miss LA to my New England-Induced dying day.

I drove through a MacSchmonalds drive through for the first time in my life yesterday. I ordered apple slices for the kids and a large cup of ice. The total bill was $1.14.  My daughter confessed she'd been there with some family members in the past few months and had tried a chicken nugget. She admitted, "It wasn't very good." I nodded and gave a thumbs up.

I have been abstaining from American Idol for a few seasons now and I feel like I've almost recovered from all the seasons where the person I thought had the best voice lost the fourteen-year-old popularity contest. I know, I am such a snob about singers. As I am some kind of authority, right?  But I was told by a few sources I might want to tune back in. Last night I saw this, and was enamoured. (Bear with the first two minutes of into, its worth it. But if you must, skip until 1:50 in.) Because he is so good, and I like him so much, I know I shouldn't watch because I curse all good singers on this show. Maybe if I don't watch he will stand a chance.

After Samantha watched this with me, she only had one thought: That man with long hair has funny lips.
Yes, he does Samantha. But you have to hear him sing the last few moments of Dream On...

My Patron Saint Mother is coming to visit soon. I told her I'd give her $100 if she potty trains Cookie Monster, who is approaching age three. Three kids in diapers got old about five months ago. She said "We are gonna need that money for all the bribes." My sis said when I told her, "Heck, I promised her $200 if she would potty train mine. You're gonna need to up the ante."

And coming full circle, Brady the sleeping punk has decided that he can roll over. From back to tummy. He does this in his sleep. Which is fine until he wakes up every 45 minutes in a freaking PANIC about being on his tummy. He can't roll back, he can't relax, and he has been up three nights in a row, oh, every hour crying a cry that sounds a lot like he's saying Why did you leave me on my tummy like this? Don't you know I can't push myself up, and that it's confusing? You are a terrible mother, come fix me!

I don't know what to do. I don't know how to convince him to a) stay on his back b) not be upset that he has rolled to his tummy  or c) roll the heck back.  If anyone has a solution to this I am all ears. If you have a suggestion that works I will give you a prize. Seriously. I am desperate.

** I've edited some blatant grammar errors in this hastily written post, for your reassurance that I am not completely brain dead.  Sadly, I am sure there are more. I truly detest misspelling and bad grammar and this blog is chock full of both. It's embarrassing. Dear heaven, I just saw another mistake. On the sidebar. How do you guys not call me out on this? I don't have time to fix this, as it's late and I have about an hour of dishes to do.

Yes, friends, this is the crux of the update.  It is 1am. Brady just had a rolling over cry session. From henceforward known as ROCS. I carefully read your comments and most of you were in agreement: wedge him in with a baby wedge or blankets.  Since I didn't have a chance to purchase anything, I had him packed in like a sardine with blankets rolled up next to him. That clearly failed. Sorry Corey. You lose.

Claudia, you crazy girl you, if you are up over there in Wilthopsthamesingtonshire UK, instead of caring for your children or working, please draw me a diagram of exactly how to use your suggested "duct tape" to secure him in, and I will try it.  Just don't tell our social worker.


Water water everywhere and for some, not a drop to drink

We {heart} FOVC. They are indeed friends to vulnerable children and families. They help our family be friends to these vulnerable children. You can be too.  


good hands

When we received our referral of Tsega, I comforted myself in a ritualistic way almost every hour on the hour Orphanges in Ethiopia are different than, oh say, Eastern Europe. He's loved. He will be ok. He's in good hands. In technical terms, this is called Talking Out of One's Nether Region.

No orphanage is a good place to be.

I really do believe the nannies at Toukoul, his orphanage, are loving people, and care about the kids. But those good hands were so, so few. Judging by his diaper rash, he wasn't tended to often. Judging by his size and lethargy he wasn't fed enough. Judging by the flat side of his head, which the afro covers nicely, he didn't have anyone noticing the little wonderful things that parents notice their babies doing, like sleeping a certain way, or holding or giving enough tummy time.

I think Ethiopian adoptive families get a little high and mighty about how well our kids were cared for and what it was hopefully means about their ability to attach, but let's face it: there is no place for snobbery in International Adoption. Our kids' early years are filled with deprivation, trauma, loss and some of the other Ugliest of Experiences humans face.

I told myself he was fine because I had to to not go crazy. During those waiting months and waiting weeks post referral, as I put Cookie to bed in a soft crib with clean pajamas and read books to Samantha and fed them nutritious plentiful food and watched them dance in shoes that fit I told myself he is fine, because the alternative would have rendered me dysfunctional.

I told myself I felt terrible for taking him away. I love Ethiopia fervently, and I honestly wish he could be with his first family in a glowy fantasy gojo, hut, on a thriving busy farm with loving neighbors and extended family with a clean well and chickens running around and children everywhere going to school, smiling, laughing singing. But when we got there, we weren't taking him from my Glowy Fantasy Ethiopian family farm. The orphanage was jammed pack with kids who all wanted some attention and love. It was raining. The heavens poured down on a hundred cloth diapers hopelessly out to dry in the courtyard. No wonder his diapers weren't being changed that often. The stupid things couldn't dry.

His baby bottom was blistered, pussy oozing sores. He'd had non-stop illnesses since he'd been born. All the kids at the orphanage were sick. Every. Single. One. Many had skin conditions that were visble, all had a scary cough. Some were desperate for smiles, attention, a piece of candy, a hug, parents. Some avoided eye contact. Shy. Traumatized. Alone.

Tsega wasn't abused, as far as we know. But was he neglected? How could he not be? He was one of sixty or more babies. I have two babies and I don't think I give them enough tummy time, holding time, playing time. I probably could stand to change their diapers more. How would I cope with the sheer numbers those nannies deal with? You cut your losses. You do what you can. You do your best. And it, in no way, will ever be good enough.

I wrote earlier about the day we took custody of Tsega. How no one came running after him, to kiss him good bye. There was no indication that someone had a special bond with him, would miss him. He wasn't terrified of the Crying White Woman. No, in fact, when I asked the on-site nurse, Tigist who had absolutely no relevant information about our child, I was taking notes in a little notepad I'd brought for this prupose. Tigist held him. He went rigid and fussed until I took him back. He relaxed instantly.

He had no smiles, no coos, no reaching out for anyone Ethiopian after we took custody. He had had it, I suppose.

A few weeks after he came home I brought him to church for the first time. We are friends with a Nigerian family and when he caught sight of the mother, the look on his face melted in slow motion to sheer horror. He started wailing. At the time, Hubs suggested kindly when I relayed the interaction that I was emotional and overreacting to the moment, but I maintain that the child thought I was taking him back. And I was nervous that he had developed some kind of fear of brown-skinned folks. I thought oh crap. he's scared of black people. he associates them with fear, neglect. he's learned the white folks will give him security. crap crap crap.

I am relieved to say he is no longer fearful of people of color, though I should emphasize, it was only women he was ever afraid of. Women that may or may not have loosely resembled orphanage nannies. When our Nigerian babysitter comes over, he plays and smiles. When we hang out with other Habesha folks he's as happy as a clam. In the store yesterday we ran into a Kenyan mom and her kiddos and he was relaxed.

In effort to wrap up my blathering: I feel sad every day Tsega isn't with his first family.
But I am happy every single day he is not in that orphanage. Because it was a "good orphanage." And it was the saddest place I've ever been.

To families waiting for their referral or waiting for court or embassy dates: I hope you get your little ones safe in your arms as soon as humanly possible, so your child can finally be in your ready, waiting, wringing-with-worry, plentiful, good hands.


PSA: You can buy happiness

Sure, it boasts a hefty $6.00+ price tag, and the joy is painfully shortlived and followed by raging guilt, but whew boy, those few moments are nirvana.

This bottle of happiness is 32 ounces. I don't know how many calories it holds, nor does anyone who drinks this care. You can see by the level of chocolate that I was chugging it in an exercise of self-medication on the way home from the grocery store. Don't judge me; I am proud I didn't finish it off at all once.

*Dislaimer for this ad: I first spotted this and tasted it at Russo's in Watertown. It was only later I found out some friends actually own this company and created the recipe for the chocolate. I am a little out of touch, apparently. I was not given anything (read: no free Cocoa Metro Chocolate Drink of Salvation) to share this information. I am kinda glad, because really, my butt does not need too much of this stuff.

Find out if you are lucky enough to partake of this divine treat in your area here:

Oh, and you're welcome.


Nine Months In

Nine months ago Brady was born. I had been in the hospital on bedrest for five agonizingly long days. I had battled ever draining amniotic fluid, battled infection, trying to grow that baby brain and those longs for as many hours as possible. He was only 28 weeks, but I wanted him out. I was desperate to care for Tsega, who had only been home for seven days. We hadn't even unpacked from our trip to Ethiopia. These two boys, coming to our family is such a dramatic fashion; it seems they are in competition.

Little did I understand how hard it is for a baby's brain and lungs to develop outside my body. As it turns out, what normally takes about 40 weeks to accomplish inside a mother can take more like 60 plus weeks outside. Medicine and science have nothing on God and the miraculous human body.

Dear Brady, I am so sorry I wanted you out. If it helps at all, I had nothing to do with it. My body couldn't be your home anymore; my body was a little less than miraculous. Because of it, you went through so much in your first few months of life. I shudder when I think about the pain you were in all the time. Being intubated, blown IVs, failed PICC lines, too much stimulation, and having C-PAP. You are brave.

Tsega, we are endlessly awed by you and proud of you. You amaze us. You are strong. You are a smart little sucker. Yesterday you kept pulling on my leg saying "ka ka ka ka." Eventually, you went in the pantry, and found the box of crackers you were trying to ask me for. Sorry I am slow. I didn't realize you are speaking now.  You also this week discovered you know how to whistle. You practice it. It's hysterical.

I am so glad you boys love each other. I am so glad you are gentle to each other. I know that gentle thing will all change: because when Cookie Monster enters the room, you both go completely nuts and the wrestling and shrieking begins. It often only ends when someone is bleeding. I can't wait until you can join in the mayhem, Brady. Three brothers in two years. Whew.

Tsega, nine months home. Brady, nine months on this planet. Two crazy stories, all tangled and intertwined. I no longer feel like we are clawing for air. I no longer feel like we are drowning. We are hitting the This is the New Normal phase. Man, it feels good.

Nine months in.


a poem: hope through the pane

The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day he created Spring.  ~Bern Williams

a little boy,
runny nose, sad coughing
gazed out the window, hoping, waiting.

feline, not friend, nor enemy, comiserator
joined him in his longing

outside, another little boy embodied reality: sunny, but cold.
dead grass
the earth,
the wind not yet ready for
the frolicking trapped in his feet.

but the girl,
oh the girl,
with bare legs, feet and arms,
face to the chilly wind and the promise of the sun,
she embodied eternal optimism.

and the little boy inside,
wept his confined fate

hoped through the pane


Busy body

Adventures in baby barfing have kept me blog silent but hopping the past few days. We had the real projectile-can't-keep-anything-down-should-we-go-to-the-ER kind of barfing. Brady is fine now, keeping down his food, and we never ended up needing an IV, though it was a close call.  Nursing kids back to their normal, bouncing, smiling selves is always a trial by fire in parenting.  And we are lucky: no one else caught whatever was raging through his body.

Also busy with cooking. Of the Ethiopian variety. I've tentatively decided that once a week shall be Ethiopian night. Not sure what night yet. I am honing my techniques, learning enonomy of movement in the kitchen which is needed when cooking Habesha. Because it ain't Habesha unless you have three or four or five dishes.

Chop all the needed veggies first. Every dish needs it's own chopped up onion. Must keep them separate.
Sort into piles and bowls, this for the misir wot, this for the alecha, this for the gommen, this for the potato cabbagey dish that I can't remember the Amharic word for. 
Get four pots heating, but start the alecha first, those peas take longer than lentils and vegetables to soften.

I love the dance of dinner time in a house with children.  I love moving about, swiftly chopping, stirring, listening to babies playing blocks, trains, dollhouse.
Wipe tears. Kiss an owie.
Fill a sippy cup. Add some cardamom. Needs more tomato.
Rinse the spoon. Put away the toaster, sweep under the table.
Check, Stir again, Add more water. Clean off the high chair.
A kiddo wants to see, to help, to pour with me. Don't touch, that's hot. Go ahead, you're doing great.

I love when it works. I love the energy, the smells, the sounds. It's crazy, but I never thought I'd be at my happiest barefoot, in the kitchen, occasionally wiping snot with an apron. Sometimes it doesn't work. I waited too long to start, the naps all failed, everyone is screaming including me. When it all comes together, it is bliss.  I forsee dinner time being some of our happiest times together. I hope.

Also been busy with books lately.  Reading is one of those things that comes and goes in spurts for me, mostly because I am bad about reading a slow pace. I want to cram it all in like the cookie I devour hiding in the pantry so my kids can't see  finish in a day or two and that is just not realistic on a regular basis.

I've added some new titles to the Books You Want to Read page up at the top of the blog. The kids and I have found some new fun reads we wanted to share. I've also been terrible at sleeping due to some wonderful books over the past few months and wanted to share.

First, Wild Swans by Jung Chang.

This book is not short but it was like entering a new world for me. As I devoured the 700 or so pages, I realized how little I'd been taught about China as a youth, probably because no one knew what was going on over there.  I was enlightened, horrified, and deeply moved by this account of the last hundred years in China through the experiences and eyes of three generations of women, all of whom are incredible humans.

On the Outskirts of Normal, by Debra Monroe

I am in the middle of this one right now. Enjoying it very much. A memoir of a single white mother and her adventures in adoption, parenting, attachment, dating, life, conquering one's past relatinships and family traumas and forging a new way to love. She's a wonderful writer and has a great story to tell. She has several books about other topics and I will definitely keep her on my radar.

The everlasting Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

I am embarrassed it took me thirty years to get to this gem. It certainly doesn't need my recommendation but I will give my honest opinion: A.MAZE.ING. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't bear to stop reading even while eating; seriously, my poor copy is decorated with remnants of hastily eaten meals. I have never read a book where the main character is so completely unlikeable in every way and yet I was entranced. If you haven't read it, put it on your list.

Blindness, by Jose Saramago

I read the above novel six months ago and it still haunts me. I haven't seen the movie. I don't intend to do so. The book is completely absorbing and really upsetting. I love when I am in a depressed mood and I realize it's because I can't shake a book. It speaks to the power of the story and makes it easier to get rid of said bad mood.

A Girl Named Zippy, by Haven Kimmel

For a much lighter read, this book is a laugh outloud memoir. So funny I re-read passages for a second giggle. Fantastic.

Hold On to Your Kids, by Gorden Neufeld

I started this, got distracted but liked it. Hubs is reading this now, and I saw him underlining passages. He claims it's a game changer. A good teacher. A reminder to be intentional in parenting (my words, not his). I have always flirted with the idea of home school. I know, I am just that brand of crazy. Hubs has never been on that train, but he did say this about 40 pages in: it is opened up to him considering the idea of waiting on school for the oldest. I can't wait to delve back into it and find out what it said that made him admit that. Even if you don't agree with all its tenets, it inspires discussion about how we do what we do with our kids, and that is always a good thing.

But fair is fair, I've shown you mine, you have to show me yours. What is favorite book lately?

*as always any purchases made through Amazon links give a miniscule commission. (So small it won't cover a hot chocolate from Starbucks. Which is what I want on this cold, ugly day.)



This week is only half way over but for those of you don't eat, sleep and breathe Ethiopia, there is a lot of maybe good, maybe not-so-good things happening for Ethiopian adoption right now. All you VietNam and Guatemala folks are going what, you think you're special? we went through this already. children being coerced from families and sold to unknowing adoptive parents. ugly money changing ugly hands. adoptive families in denial. petitions. children who actually do need families stuck in limbo, languishing in institutionalized care because of the crap from the illegitimate cases. Powers that be taking measures that might not actually help the situation at all.

I have been reading and participating in Facebook conversations that go fifty, seventy, eighty comments long, debating the ins and outs of the situation. I have been enlightened, heart broken, changed my mind three hundred times about what I agree with. I've run the gambit of emotion about the issues.

And I will say at the risk of alienating myself from other adoption friends, I am not signing the petition by the Joint Council of Adoption WhosyWhatsits. Not because I want adoptions to slow down by 90%. But because they are asking agencies that are apart of the Joints to ask their families to send in their, and I quote "positive, successful stories and pictures."

Did you catch that?

Positive. They only want to include in their petition glowy, happy, What Is Everyone So Worked Up Over? Stories.

What about the families that discovered their children were coerced and paid for, separated needlessly from their birth families? What about their stories? Why won't the Joints take those stories? Because the group of agencies want to stay in business, keep their doors open?

I am honestly praying my agency doesn't send a letter requesting me to sign the petition, send in our cute photos and join the craze. I like what it says about them that they haven't asked. Please Dove, don't ask. Please rise above. Because I don't think it will help. And I don't think all the Rainbows Unicorns Happy Ethical placements have any freaking thing to do with the scary, bad, yucky, not OK Unethical placements. And that is what these changes are about.

I hope. There are other things the folks in Ethiopia might be trying to make happen politically that have little to do with the kids and more to do with money and crap. Katy says all of this far more clearly and eloquently than I do. Please, if you don't know how you feel about all of this, go ahead. Learn from her questions and theories. She hasn't steered me wrong yet.

I don't exactly support the measures being taken, but I don't not support them either. I hate that there will be children that perish, and sit with their brains and souls not developing, being sick. Surviving instead of thriving in families. But I also am kinda glad the lid has blown off of this brewing pot of crap that has been building for years.

All in, I have nothing worthwhile to say, except that I am drained. I feel like I live with one part of my body in Ethiopia. Sometimes it's a toe, a foot, this week I feel like half my body is there. It is visceral, and it is exhausting. I don't cry very often, and this week I've cried several times.

Partly because I have stayed up until 3 and 4 am reading, fretting and pondering and I've discovered that fretting while tired is a bad combination. And because there is absolutely nothing I can do except pray for my friends that have their referrals and are waiting to bring their little ones home (and I am praying, Oona and Erik) and pray that good changes are made so that adoptions continue in ET with more scrutiny by the courts.

Oh, and there is one more thing I can do. Pay up to Ethiopian Orphan Relief. You all did great work in commenting and Hubs and I owe $150 little dollars to these good people. I am proud to be associated with them. They are legit. They are my heroes.  Hoping this takes the edge off. If you need some self-medication about all of this, like me, go over to their website and well, do what feels good.


Four Days

Remember how a few bloggers commited to recording their year by taking a picture every day and then posting all 365 shots? I didn't do that. I knew I would be in trouble. I tend to go in spurts with the picture taking. A few days on, a few days off. I've been having a dry spell and decided for four days I would document the little moments and things going on around our house that I want to remember.

It was a highly diverting exercise to witness an interaction and alternatively sneak to fetch the camera or scream "wait, don't move!" and run like crazy before I missed a moment. For those you in a dry spell (my sister Allie), leave the camera out for a few days and have some fun documenting the little things. Share with me! After all, it's only fair.

Enjoy the little glimpses of things as they are right now.

help me heaven, Tsega learned to push the chairs and climb on them. besides regular falling, i have caught him with my butcher knives, playing with the stove, and grabbing open jars. i've never had a climber. i am wholly unprepared.

it's been over a year, and i've never documented how Cookie Monster walks around on his tip toes. and when i say tip toes, i mean, he could rock en pointe.

Hubs went to BYU, and has a man crush on Jimmer Ferdette of Cougar Basketball fame.

Sis in the back of the van, while pump before going into the grocery store. i cannot wait until the bang cutting incident grows out. and yeah, i can pump and take pictures at the same time. sad. i also can blog while i pump. like right now. also sad.

the freak out by Tsega when Hubs gets home from work is lovely. he runs like crazy, attacks his legs and is swooped up into a wild frenzy of zerberts on the belly and giggles.

Brady heard me telling about his not being so great at reaching. he's been practicing like crazy.

Cookie loves helping Liz fold laundry. While not exactly helpful, it's sure sweet.

speaking of Liz, the kids "helped" our lovely babysitter friend get dolled up for a dance the other night. she was beautiful.

we've decided these two friends should just move in. raise your hand if you think communal living would be easier and more fun...

Brady's eyes were blue just a few weeks ago. i think they might be changing.

another helper and his aftermath...

and finally, my favorite of the past four days. love love love my girl and her Daddy.

This Phototherapy has been instrumental in helping me get through the past few days of announcements about adoptions grinding down to a very slow trickle in Ethiopia. It makes me sad. I hope it is for the good of the families and children of Ethiopia. I think it may hurt as much as it helps, but I don't know that for certain. We really really really want to adopt again. We wanted it to be from Ethiopia. It's just painful to take in.

On a happier note, there are two days left to comment on this post and force me and Hubs to to donate to Ethiopia Orphan Relief.  It's a good cause! And you don't even have to open your wallet!



It happened in slow motion. One of those this could be in a movie moments.  We had just left a store and I was about to load them one by one into the car. Cookie and Samantha on the sidewalk by the cart, Brady in my arms, Tsega buckled into the cart.  Brady was to go in first, as it was cold and windy and he is the youngest so he pulled the I Need Shelter Now card. Tsega was smiling at the wind so I knew he could wait a moment.  That child doesn't appear to feel the cold, nor does his big sissy.  That crazy skinny wet noodle wears tank tops and shorts all winter long. Drives me nuts.

I went to open the door to get Brady inside and I don't know why, but I turned back to look at the cart, and it was rolling, rolling, at a frightening velocity down the sidewalk, Tsega inside.

I couldn't get there in time, and even if I could I was holding Brady and had only one arm. Not strong enough to stop the cart from catapulting over the edge onto the parking lot pavement.

I remember screaming as the cart pitched wildly forward, flipping, wheels up high up in the air, handlebars and baby Tsega's head sickeningly, unalterably down.

I felt nauseated in lightening quick realization that he was going to be hurt. Maybe badly. In those hour-long-seconds while I waited for his skull to smack the asphalt and cart to fall on top of him I already was calculating how I would handle it if I heard his neck snap, or what extra clothes I had in the car to staunch the bleeding. This was a bad fall. I was routing the fastest way to the hospital and trying to figure out what to do with the other kids while I was in the ER. All this while rushing to meet the cart in futile attempt to change its course.

I watched his sweet head connect with the pavement and I reached him just as he hit. I awkwardly slunk down, still holding Brady as I hadn't had time to open the door and throw him in his car seat. And as Tsega began to cry I realized I never heard the smack! There was no sound. His head made first contact and there had been no sound. With an awkward one-handed maneuver I untangled Tsega from his seat belt and pulled him out from under the cart.

Sitting on the ground, Cookie and Samantha frozen in place, watching, not knowing what to do, trying to protect Brady from the wind in my right arm, grasping the panicked, weeping Tsega in my left I quickly realized he wasn't bleeding. There was no cut. There was no sign of the colossal fall I'd just seen. He was completely unscathed.  In moments he was smiling. He never developed a bump, or goose egg.

Today I watched my baby experience an accident that should have harmed him. I saw his head hit the hard, cold ground in a manner that should have drawn blood, required stitches, maybe caused a concussion, and possibly worse. But I keep coming back to it: there was no sound. He had no injury.

In the car, all the babies buckled in, I sat in the driver's seat, hands on wheel, breathing deeply, slightly confused, analyzing what I saw.

But really, I have no doubts. I wasn't wrong, my eyes weren't playing tricks on me. I wasn't in shock. And what happened wasn't luck.  My son was protected.

I asked Cookie to say a prayer thanking God for helping Tsega. He folded his still-chubby-not-yet-big-boy fingers and said Dear Heavily Fadder, thank you keep Tsega safe at da store. Amen.

I shed a tear or three. Wiped them. Turned the key in the ignition. Put the car into drive and went home. With four completely whole children.



long overdue, self-indulgent update on the preemie

Get ready for some abnormally gorgeous baby pictures.  I know I am a tad biased, but this boy takes the cake. Yes?

My tiny one is not so very tiny anymore. Brady is over eight months old and rocking almost 15 lbs of juicy belly, thighs and booty. The boy even sports wrist and finger fat, which is unbelievebly cute. His 3-6 mos clothes are too snug. Miracles.

He is starting to find his big boy cry, which is very different than the mewling kitten cry he's had for so long.  I remember that by the time he came home at 4.5 months of age, I hadn't yet heard him cry at all.  I didn't know if that was due to respitory issues, being weak and not having strength to cry, or simply posessing an easy going personality.  I now believe that it was all of them.  He really is the most calm baby I've ever known.

Most pictures of him feature his tongue.

His eating issues are still here.  And that sweet, lovely tongue is certainly a part of the problem.  Though he is getting stronger, he has weaker-than-average muscle tone in his cheeks and tongue. It is hard for him to bring it inside his mouth, so it gets a lot of air time.  He becomes tired when eating because his sucking is not efficient, though as I will say with almost everything in this update, it definitely is better than it used to be. Progress is very, very very slow.  Sometimes his tongue is everywhere and disorganized can't decide how to sit nicely on the bottom of his mouth and curl around my or the bottle nipple and just eat. We still use his g-tube. I am thankful every day we have it, and so is he. On days when he's hungry, and just can't quite get enough, when I bust out the feeding paraphernelia, he wiggles and smiles with delight. He knows food his coming.  It's not ideal, but it's a relief to have it.  My one worry is how easily he is placated when he should be hungry. 

He doesn't always cry due to hunger, and if he does, if I pick him up, he stops.  He doesn't have a lot of fight in him for this and that is always a little nagging hmm in the back of my mind.  I have to give him enough food without him always asking for it.  It's weird to watch a clock rather than cues to feed a baby. I hope this too, improves with time.

We still see his surgeon who placed his g-tube because I have been feeling wussy about replacing them myself.  The next visit he's making me do it so I will be able to do it at home from now on. (As Brady grows he needs bigger sizes.) We also see a GI specialist, Occupational Therapist, a Nutritionist and the pediatrician, who has been calling for a week trying to get me to come in for his RSV vaccine. I am not a fan of doctor's visits anymore. The boys at Newton Wellesley valet say "hi" like we are old friends when they see me. They sometimes let me go without paying. I take them up on it.

His corrected age is five months, and this week I breathed a sigh of relief when his therapist from Early Intervention agreed with our observations that he has not started closing that gap between his corrected age and his actual age. It is nice to hear the truth.  People always say oh he is doing great, he looks so good. Yes, but there is magic in being validated by someone who works with babies like Brady all the time and knows what the heck she is talking about.

He is actually quite behind his corrected age.  He has his own pace, but we all want him to reach his potential, whatever that is. He might reach a point where he has no developmental delays, physically or mentally. But he might not.  The jury is still out. We are ok with this.  We are just calmly withholding any expectations for him, while simultaneously always helping him reach for the next milestones.

We are working on tummy time arm and neck strength. We are working on reaching. He just started really batting at things in front of him, and in the last two weeks managed to grip small toys and bring them to his face. He misses his mouth a lot, but even today I saw him hit his eye, then his cheek, than his nose, and finally find his mouth. Seeing him practice over and over makes my heart swell. I know other moms with special needs kids will understand how I excited I was when he did this the other day: He was on his tummy, propped up on his elbows, and he started wiggling his legs. He'd never done that before. It was a totally new movement. It was thrilling!

The next big goals for him will be rolling, pushing with straight arms while on tummy, getting good at grabbing and holding, and ultimately sitting. We hope he can do these things by his first birthday. He has never been a leaps and bounds kind of kid, but that doesn't mean some won't come.

Brady is undeniably sweet.  He is easy to have around. He is a good napper. (I don't want to talk about some bad 12am-4am habits. So we will leave it at  "good napper.") He loves sucking his thumb which I love because I love children with appropriate self-soothing tools.

He is starting to smile when he locks eyes with someone he knows. He is starting to get excited when he sees his family.  I attribute all of his progress to watching his older siblings. The most loving of whom is his "twin."  Tsega bestows upon him the kindest, gentlest kisses I've ever seen. He pats him, rubs him, comes by to say hello. He never forgets about Brady in his rampages through the house. They share toys, blankies, drool, and a special friendship. They are seven months apart, and seeing the love between these two is ridiculously gratifying.

We love Brady. We love his soft cheeks and his gentle soul.  We can't believe he actually weasled his way into our unsuspecting family.  He is, in every possible sense a miracle.  Eight months has flown by. I always wanted a baby who stayed a baby longer. Thank you, God, for stretching this out for me. I promise, I am treasuring every moment.