Life as MommyMo

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Cheese Alert

I know it's kind of cheesy, but the whole time we were waiting/trying to have kids, and especially when we were matched with Sam and waiting for him to come home, I kept imagining how great it would be to see my son with my dog, Frankie. (Yes, I have two dogs, but in my mind, Frankie was destined to be a boy's best friend.)

I'll admit that perhaps I've been a bit more than suggestive of the notion that Sam and Franklin are *supposed* to be pals. Sam's big boy room is decorated in Pottery Barn Kids "My Best Friend" pattern which is, as you might imagine, dog-themed. There's an awesome watercolor of Frankie hanging on the wall. I constantly try to get pictures of the two of them together.

Alas, Sam and Frankie don't have much more than an occasional passing interest in one another. Sam's not terribly fascinated by any creature that can't talk back to him or rewind Bob the Builder at the appropriate moment. Franklin, whose main pasttime is sleeping, is none too comfortable in range of a two-year-old who's wont to tug on his tail and then wail when the dog darts off. Their most common shared experience is that of Sam shrieking for Frankie to "get away, doggie. That's MY food," when the pup gets too close to a snack Sam's enjoying. (For the record, this has happened once too often, actually. The dogs have been banned from the house when Sam's eating anything. Anyone who knows Rob and I from our pre-child days would probably gasp at the notion that we'll even consider canine banishment.)

The story has a new chapter today, and I'm a very proud mommy for it.

Frankie has become a teeny bit braver about nuzzling me when Sam's nearby lately. He's either decided Sam is predictable enough to take the risk or is just so attention starved that he no longer cares what he has to do to have his ears scratched. With Sam on my lap, Frankie came up for a pet today. Sam asked, giggling, what Franklin was doing when he lifted a paw to my knee to get my attention. When I replied that Frankie was "saying he loves us," Sam told me that he loved Frankie, too.

Then... He got down, went and got his blankie, petted Frankie's back ever-so-gently until the dog laid down (understanding that the situation wasn't dangerous) and then wrapped Frankie up. He told me that he was tucking Frankie in for a nap and then proceeded to lay his own head down on Frankie and told me to "Shhh. Frankie's sleeping now."

Sam loves Frankie. Frankie loves Sam. Maybe my not-so-subtle efforts to force the friendship weren't in vain?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

He'll hate me someday

Does every parent find taking pictures of their children doing weird things fun? Why is it that I feel most compelled to grab the camera when Sam's doing something that he'll surely find embarrassing once he's a teenager?

Case in point: Sam's overly eager participation in the enjoyment of his cousin Linsey's birthday gift. We gave her a set of six totally frilly, sparkly and dainty Disney Princess dress-up slippers. The credit goes to Uncle Robby who spied them quite a while ago and knew she'd love them. Not to take credit away from him for being perceptive, but one of the more noticeable things about our sweet niece is that she loves to wear very dressy shoes. She was at our house not long ago in a regular play clothes outfit, completed with a pair of glittery pink Mary Janes that had been part of her Halloween princess costume.

Anyway, you get the point. Linsey is a completely normal five-year-old who takes immense joy in flaunting her girliness. (One of the qualities that really makes me want a girl some day... I somehow doubt Sam will find tea parties with Mommy very fun, though trust me -- I will try.)

Sam, as much as he may appear to be all boy (anyone who has spent more than five minutes with him knows his love of trains, tractors, airplanes, helicopters, trucks, cars, construction equipment, etc...) is actually a bit of a closet diva. Similar to those moments when he asks if he can "please wear lipstick, too, Mommy," he could not wait to get his hands on a pair of Linsey's cute girl shoes.

Once he slid his little feet into a purple pair of Jasmine heels, he looked around, grabbed her aqua satin purse and happily trotted off to enjoy the satisfying click-clack of his new footwear on the hardwood floor.

I enjoyed the moment, yes... But I also nearly knocked Linsey out myself trying to get to the camera. I immediately mentally filed the moment (along with the image of him wearing a soapsuds mohawk in the bathtub) in the I-can't-wait-to-show-this-to-your-prom-date-please-don't-hate-me-for-laughing category.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

One Little Word

Along the lines of the "you're my best friend" cuteness, I had to "write" this down. As is usually the case, I'm sure the phase won't last long.

So, the quick story:

I got home very late last night from Orlando. Sam didn't know I was home when he woke up (VERY EARLY!) this morning. I walked into his room, causing squeals of delight. It was loud and ear-piercing, but I couldn't have been happier to hear it after having been gone since Monday morning.

I went to sit down in the chair in his room, and he came running over to me. He asked me to hold him and snuggled down, patting my face.

Then he looked up at me and declared, "Mommy, we're a family."

He's said it a few other times, but I still well up each time. Saying it to me today, after we'd been separated for a few days, made it seem like he was really thinking about why he was so glad to see me. I'm pretty sure there's not such a complex thought pattern involved, but it's the sweetest thing to hear nonetheless.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Our new toy

I'm sure it's my cold and/or the death rattle in my chest that's preventing any sort of significant, intelligent thought between my ears, but seriously... I'm about to go to bed after finally getting packed for my next business trip and the only thing I can think is that I can't believe our new camera has been sitting in the house for four days and we have only taken about five pictures on it.

A little context: we fretted over spending gift money on a camera when the one we have works just fine, we just don't like it very much. We finally did it on Thanksgiving morning, then stalked the FedEx Tracker widget on our desktop as if the man in orange and blue would be arriving with the winning PowerBall ticket or something. We knew the camera would make it to our doorstep on Thursday afternoon. I flew down the steps when the Budget truck arrived (no joke, FedEx has so many packages to deliver that they've run out of trucks, or so the nice temp driver told me when he handed over the long-awaited box) and then just placed the large cardboard box on the dining room table.

Seeing as it was actually Rob's birthday money that paid for the camera, he insisted I wait for him to even LOOK at the camera. Anyone who understands the depth of my new digisrap addiction knows that the presence of a new camera has taken on greater significance than it might have a few weeks ago...

So, I waited. I actually ran downstairs between conference calls once he was home just to watch the packing tape come off of the box. How sad is that? Rob then annoyingly read off each item on the user's guide as he pulled accessories out of the box "just to be sure it's all there." Painstaking, I tell you.

I've seen it. It's very pretty. It feels nice in my hand. I haven't figured out the auto flash yet. I've commented on about 14 things we SHOULD/COULD take cool pictures of, but alas, the fog of snockiness kept me horizontal more than vertical this weekend, so no new photos.

Speaking of vertical, off to bed now that this little diatribe is off my chest. I have to be up at 4 to catch my flight.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Let's hope...

...that Santa Claus is smarter than the "crib fairy."

Sam moved to his big boy bed a few weeks ago... The transition wasn't too difficult for any of us, but as soon as he walked into his room the first night that the crib was gone, he kept asking, "Where my crib go? Who took it?"

Being the quick thinkers we are, we replied that the crib fairy came and took his crib. We made a big deal about how he was officially a big boy now.

He seemed proud and satisfied with our answer...until we left for school this morning.

As it turns out, that silly crib fairy didn't go far with the crib. We'd "heard" that it broke during disassembly. Apparently she has no use for broken cribs and only took it as far as our curb.

As we left the house today, Sam just stopped and stared at the pile of trash. "What's that?" (he asked knowingly.)

"That's just the trash. QUICK!! Let's see if we can find a really big trash truck that makes cool loud noises!!" I replied, while mentally noting to have a word with the crib fairy after work today.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

To lighten the mood

I've been deficient about blogging again lately. While it's true that my new obsession with digital scrapbooking is taking its toll on my blogging time, the real reason why I haven't posted anything here is that I honestly haven't felt much like writing. I'm happy to play with pictures of Sam for now... Writing makes me think of the other little boy in Korea that I can't get out of my head. Being denied the opportunity to look at his file has really been bothering me. I was trying to get in a better frame of mind about it when I talked to another adoptive mom this weekend who is a) collecting items for kids who are never adopted and age out of orphanages and b) has adopted two boys who are just six weeks apart. I got all fired up again that this little boy is sitting in a home...

On the bright side, I will say that I am in a holiday mood this year like never before. Our little family of three just feels so much more settled this year. We had an awesome Thanksgiving weekend. Lots of time with family, which is always the best way to spend a holiday, and plenty of time to get the house decorated to make it really feel like Christmas is coming.

Sam definitely KNOWS that the house has to be all lit up for Santa to find it. When he sees a plane in the sky, not only does he say "Hi, Big Jake," as usual, he wonders aloud if Santa and Rudolph are up there, too!

Tonight, we finished the lighting of the outside of the house. I said I was going to lighten the mood, and my thought was to share this one-liner from my husband that I'm certain will become legendary in our house: I hate when he climbs ladders. Especially the big ones. I just don't feel like my little hands holding the bottom is any help at all when it comes to the possiblity of him falling from two stories up.

When I asked him why he felt it necessary to always find a reason to be up near or on he roof, he replied quite matter-of-factly, "Big ladders make me feel like a man."

He is SOOOOO going to wish he hadn't uttered those words!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

105-30 and B70

When we first "found" Sam, it was via a small picture in a blue frame labeled B70 on our agency's web site. We read the brief bit of information that was available to the general public and eventually ended up requesting his file and being matched with him. There are obviously more details to that story, but the moral is that we were meant to be together. There's no explanation short of a miracle that a child whose face we stared at on the Internet for months, who was born in another country and living with another family, is now the gleeful toddler that runs our lives.

Because we were so blessed with that experience, we have felt called to pursue our next adoption through the waiting child process. Given the circumstances of our family, we think a slightly older infant or toddler -- that perhaps would not be readily matched with the pool of prospective parents seeking as young a baby as possible -- is a good fit for us.

To that end, and because Sam has adjusted so nicely, we've slowly started to dip our toes back into the proverbial adoption pool. As with anyone's decision to deliberately add to their family, it's not a decision to be taken lightly. That's why we're going slowly. We know what lies ahead, and that amount of paperwork and the loooooong wait, is not for the faint of heart.

Now that we're braced for the years ahead (which is how long this will take!) we finally made the decision this weekend to request the file of a sweet faced little boy that we have "watched" online for nearly a year. This little guy, perhaps because he actually looks like he could be Sam's brother, tugged at our hearts from the first time we saw him. We know now not to ignore that pull, since that's how we we lucky enough to be matched with Sam.

Little 105-30 has been a single photograph and a case number to us for a long time, but when we talk about "that little boy online," we both know who we're referring to. He hasn't needed a name for us to keep him in our prayers, but this weekend, we learned his name.

It seemed like the final nudge we needed that someone on our agency's message board brought his name up in a discussion thread. My attention obviously perked up. To make a long story short, we ended up getting some additional details about him from someone who had seen his file but had to decline his case. She was incredibly encouraging to us, and he sounded like he was doing very well.

I steeled myself Monday morning and made the call to the U.S. agency handling his case. I waited all day for the social worker to call me back, not quite sure what that conversation would mean.

As much as I trust the advice of professionals, I was a bit taken aback to learn that we are not even eligible to review his file. I understand intellectually that a qualified adoption expert says two children just seven weeks apart in age are not necessarily an ideal fit. Particularly since one has slight delays in his development and one does not.

I won't belabor the details, but I ended my day yesterday saying that at least we had closure. I trust that God has a hand in making sure that adorable child will find his true family like we found Sam. It prompted us to decide what our next steps will be.


So much for being at peace.

I went to drop Sam off this morning and saw that the box of items we are collecting for other orphans who will "age out" and have to find their way in the world on their own, never having had a family, was still fairly empty. I got in my car after noticing this to hear Steven Curtis Chapman's "All I Want for Christmas (Is a Family)" at random on my iPod.

That's when the next stage of grief -- the anger -- hit me. I know in the end that I have to trust the way this has worked out, but I can't help but feel mad and sad that some other human has the power to say that having no family at all is better for this boy than being with us would be.

I will keep praying for him in the very same way that I know more than 80 families prayed for Sam after picking up the phone to ask about him over two years ago. Some of them surely felt the same dismay at the outcome that I do in this case.

It's back to Plan A for us now. We'll put in our initial application for a sibling for Sam after the first of the year. I know that we'll eventually have our second perfect-for-us child home with us. I will hope in the meantime that this boy somehow feels that families like ours keep him in our thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

I've been cheating on my blog.

With Photoshop.

I started this blog saying that I needed to somehow do something to keep up with memory keeping for Sam. I specifically noted that I was incapable of the crafty things that better moms than I do in order to catalog the lives of their children.

Well, it's a whole new day. For the sake of my family, I'm not sure it's a good thing, but I have conquered Photoshop Elements.

Maybe conquer is too strong a word. We've become acquainted. And I have spent any free moment I have since this weekend playing around with various layouts. (Look at me throwing lingo around already.)

I'm having such a good time doing it, but I should really try to keep up the blogging thing, too. This is actually faster and not nearly as costly. Maybe I'll finally be able to do away with the blogger template and make a pretty blog of my very own!

I have some catching up to do...

First, Halloween was last week. Sam HATED the thought of being a monkey, but literally followed the rule of monkey-see-monkey-do at daycare. Once everyone else was in their holiday get-ups, he followed suit and went out for the parade.

He didn't like it:
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

All was well when he got to go trick-or-treating and realized that we were serious when we told him people give you candy if you dress like a monkey. We were waiting for him to realize that you get candy no matter what costume you wear, but that never happened. Thank goodness, because he kept telling anyone who would listen that he was going to be Woody. He'd follow it up with "Reach for the sky!'

In other news, I'm a deficient blogger because I've been neck-deep in getting the word out that my adventures in Santa Claus, otherwise known as the taping of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, are about to hit the airwaves. We shall see if I became an offical WNA (will not air, in hip TV lingo, as I learned.)

It seems cool that this is airing the same week that my dear husband hits the fabulous, wonderful, marvelous 10-years-cancer-free milestone. He turns a year older this week, too, but in this case, that is a very good thing.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My little BFF

The words "best friend" have always seemed like a loaded phrase to me. Those two little words can be exclusionary and even damaging to fragile friendships when you're really young. They can also mean a lot to you when you make that first friend who you feel like you can share anything with.

My first best friend -- at least that I can remember -- was a cute little girl from Mill Creek Elementary School in Lenexa, Kansas. We lived just a couple of blocks apart and spent most of our free time together. We played lots of games, hung out at the pool, did our homework together, and even exchanged those necklaces that, at that age, totally meant you belonged. She had "Be/Fri." I had "st/ends."

I've actually thought about my first best friend quite a bit in the last couple of years. I wrote a "What About Me" book for school in seventh grade. My "Future Me" chapter predicted that she and I would still be BFF and living together in San Francisco. The eerie part of the story is that I also figured I'd have adopted a child named Sam from Korea. Go figure.

Anyway, as you get older, I'm not so sure you really concentrate on the "best friends" label anymore. I actually do have someone I consider to be my best bud. Despite the fact that we rarely get quality time together, he's known me longer than just about anyone and, together, endured a loss that forever changed both his life and mine.

To take my friend Joe's advice, though, I should say that there's no doubt that my husband is my best friend. I'm lucky to be able to say that and I know it. I've gotten in trouble with Joe for not necessarily referring to Rob that way, but it's the truth.

While I never want to take for granted that Rob is the best friend I'll ever have, I just might have to move on and let that title go to someone else...

When we left dinner tonight, Sam asked me to ride in the back seat with him. I climbed in and just sat next to him for the quick ride home. He sat quietly most of the way. Just before reaching our neighborhood, though, he reached over and touched my arm.

I said, "What's up, Sammy?"

He replied, "Mommy... You my best friend."

I swear, I nearly burst into tears. I think I only managed to hold back the crying because I was also simultaneously shocked that he knew those words.

He went on to clarify that he has "two best friends... Mommy and Daddy both my best friends."

I don't think I've ever been happier.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Say cheese

As I dropped Sam off at daycare this morning, I had to laugh at how spiffy all of the kids looked. As today is "Picture Day," not a single child was wearing the usual who-cares-if-it-gets-dirty playclothes. They were all decked out in their Sunday finest for the occasion. I swear I noted a bit of a swagger in Sam's step...It's like he knows he's in his fancy pants.

I had two thoughts fighting for space in my head as I got him ready for the big day.

The first? I really need to get better about the whole portrait thing. No matter how much I've tried to remain committed to keeping up with the compilation of kiddie memories on this blog, it's just not the same as having real photographs. I mean really, what kid's "lifebook" (I really despise that term for some reason) is complete without a few of the requisitely awkward JC Penney Portrait Studio shots? We've been embarrassingly lax in that department. As usual, we had great intentions, but it always seemed silly to spend money on those typical "say cheese" pictures when I know for a fact Sam will make the process difficult. He loves to take my cell phone, point it at his own face, and smile pretty, but a real camera? Not so much.

The second thought was perhaps more nostalgic. Mind you I didn't say it was all hearts and roses nostalgic... Flashbacks from my own school picture days don't exactly make me recall that my poor mother got much out of the deal, either. It didn't help that I was my own brand of tomboy and simply refused to dress up much. (An aside... I recall a certain fashion show I somehow ended up in. The other girls were all girly and twirly in dresses and ruffles. I wore a terrycloth shorts jumpsuit. I kid you not. It was turquoise if that makes it any "dressier.")

No, the school pictures I recall were the type of thing that have reared their ugly heads on things like my birthday cake when I turned 25. Let me describe: Dorothy Hammil haircut, big fake teeth because I'd fallen on the cement and needed a temporary bridge, green polyester one-piece outfits with little mushrooms appliqued on the knees. Thankfully not all of those things were in the same picture, but it's clear that, year after year, the school picture was not something that was worthy of magazines. Probably not even frames, but I could be exaggerating there.

I am sure my dear son will look back on the painstakingly chosen olive green sweater with nice navy blue pants that he's wearing today and think that his hair looks dorky or something equally frightening. But, just like I'm sure my mom did, we'll gaze at the pictures, certain he was the cutest kid in the universe at that exact moment in time.

Still... I vow to try my best not to do the mushroom on the knee thing to him. My guess is that's one that was probably never completely fashionable.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ho Ho Home Makeover

Have I mentioned lately that there's no rest for the weary?! Perhaps someone was trying to soften the you're-going-on-the-road-again assignment by sending me not to some bustling metropolis, but to Santa Claus, Indiana. Seriously, I just returned from a quiet little village named after St. Nick himself. Our temporary address was Christmas Blvd. and my hotel (Santa's Lodge) room faced Holiday Village, down the road from the famed Holiday World. And so as not to leave Santa's cohorts out, I can't forget dear old Frosty, a giant melting snowman in the middle of a mini golf course that was on the grounds of our little resort.

I shouldn't make fun, actually... The people we met in dear old Santa Claus were incredibly nice.

In reality, we stayed in Santa Claus because it was the closest lodging to our true destination, St. Meinrad, home of an inspirational Relayer whose house was being built by the nice people at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Anyone who has ever Relayed can understand what an adventure it was to hold five consecutive Relays...with just a week's notice. A very cool group of people, several of whom hadn't even met by the time everyone arrived in the the quite hamlet of St. Meinrad, managed to pull it off. It was awesome to see a town of about 800 grow to more than 4,000 when we executed a made-for-TV Relay For Life Opening Ceremony and Ceremony of Hope. I was very proud to have been a part of something that will showcase all that Relay is to the millions of faithful volunteers that keep the event going in thousands of communities each year. I also hope it launches us into the next phase of the "Power of Purple."

Having been to many Relays over the years, and having the privilege of meeting Relayers from across the country on a regular basis, it's not often that I hear a completely fresh way of describing what it is we do.

The words of Paul DiMeo, EMHE designer extraordinaire, really caught my attention last Saturday night. He said to the crowd that he couldn't figure out why we don't call Relay a "race." In his words, "Why isn't it a race to get to a cure as fast as we can?...Now I see it...At the end of a race, a single person is too tired to keep going...A Relay is about a team of people that can pick up where another left off so that the effort can continue...That is how we will find a cure." He makes pretty things... He talks pretty, too!!

A post about my adventure in Indiana wouldn't be complete without mentioning how much fun it was to be a part of this "Groundhog Day Relay" with the other people who worked on the marathon event the whole time. I made a new "BFF" in a trailer of all places. I laughed more than I have in a long time with the income development staff of the Great Lakes Division. I shared my guardian angels with new friends. I tried my hardest to recruit a producer from the show to defect to the ACS camp. I became known as the girl who wants to own her own pole driver (seriously, banner hanging has never been so much fun!) And I might have gotten over my aversion to hugging...maybe.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Building hope makes you tired

I just got back from Celebration on the Hill 2006. I'd been part of the New Jersey/Eastern Division ACS contingent back in 2002. It was the experience of a lifetime, but made me feel VERY tired! (As it turns out, I had reason to be tired from an undetected pregnancy, but I was certain it was all Celebration's fault.)

Well, silly me, I had NO IDEA what tired felt like back then. As part of the national Operations Team for this year's event, I can truly say I know what it feels like to be tired. I'm actually spending my few hours of down-time trying to coin a new term for what my muscles, bones, feet, legs, shoulders, neck, etc. are expressing. The closest I've come to describing it is "weary," but that feels like a wimpy word for the utter exhaustion I'm experiencing.

Enough complaining. I try to keep perspective by realizing that what I'm feeling is nothing compared to what someone in treatment is feeling, and some of those very people were at the same event in DC this week, sending the same message to Congress. That's what it's all about.

For the record, we visited EVERY SINGLE Member of Congress in a single day. That's unprecedented. More than 310 of them signed our Cancer Promise. Let's hope those Members remember who put them in office and follow through with unprecendented action when it's their turn to vote on the budget.

My little part of this incredible endeavor was coordinating the communications efforts. We had an insane amount of coverage. I can't wait to see the clips and pictures. Wednesday certainly was a testment to how lucky I am to have the job I do. Being bone tired is a small price to pay for really feeling like you made a difference.

Celebration was an event of incredible magnitude, but on a personal note, having my mom, Rob and Sam there with me was probably the best part of it all. Poor Sam and Rob were both sick, so they headed home pretty early, but it was amazing to stand next to my mom during the largest luminaria ceremony ever. The Capitol Reflecting Pool glowed with the light of 16,000+ candles and a very cool guy named Sean made sure the word "HOPE" was spelled out on the steps behind the pool. It was quite a moment when the "green shirts" were headed back for an after party and we noticed a small group had changed the word to CURE... clearly some dedicated Relayers. Not many were there to see the transformation, but it had great significance to those of us who live Relay For Life.

This typing is wearing me out and I hear Sam playing in his room. Time to get off of the computer and soak up more snuggles.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Is this reverse child rearing?

When you build your family through adoption, there are some things you just know aren't part of the deal. We didn't get to experience Sam's birth, see him roll over for the first time or hear his very first word.

We did, however, see his first steps on his own, heard his first English word, and give him his first taste of ice cream -- a milestone as important as any other in my book.

Another thing we did not have as much of as some other parents were sleepless nights. I'm not complaining about that. We had a few days of jet leg, then settled into a routine that generally includes about 11 hours of uninterrupted slumber a night. Sure, he has the occasional restless night because of teething or illness, but I have off nights now and again, too.

I've apparently counted this particular blessing a bit early, as it seems.

For the past two nights, the little bugger has played in his crib for the usual 45 minutes, then, rather than peacefully drifting off, he begins to scream his bloody head off.

I'm not talking about the whiny, I-miss-my-mommy kind of crying. I'm talking red-in-the-face, hiccuping, lose-part-of-your-hearing-if-you-get-too-close wails.


Those five hours are apparently all it takes to exhaust him. He's then passed out, only to attempt to run a marathon in his sleep. Against my left kidney.

Yes, we've learned that on some nights, only dragging the child into our bed gets anyone any rest at all. I'm sure some experts will criticize me for caving, but after five hours, suffice it to say my patience has about worn off.

I also defy anyone pure enough in their parenting technique to avoid the occasional night of co-sleeping to tell me they can also put the finishing touches on an event for 10,000+ people (and, by the way, make sure lots of media covers it) with no more than two hours of sleep, interrupted by a couple of size sixes in your ribs.

Perhaps I'm being defensive, but I'm telling you, it can't be done.

For now, my sweet boy seems to have crashed for the night on his own. We'll see how long it lasts. TGIF has taken on a whole new meaning this week.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Sam: a teacher's study

So Sam's new teacher, the delightful Ms. Mary, had a whole day filled with the joy of 18 new toddlers needing her attention today. Poor woman.

I am happy to report that she and Sam both appear to have enjoyed their first day in each other's company. That's no small feat given the fact that my child was a form of the beast that is a teething toddler over the weekend.

The word after Day 1 as a Hummingbird?

Sam had "a really great day."

"Wow. He sure talks a lot."

"He REALLY likes trucks, doesn't he?"

"The kid can eat!" (Actually, a bit curious to me. He's done more throwing of his food at home than real eating. Note to Mommy: pack the nutritious food that he really needs to ingest for lunch. Maybe he'll eat that stuff for Ms. Mary.)

And, yeah. "He really does talk a lot."

I'm a happy mommy tonight. He was excited to tell me about his day when he came home. He ate a real dinner. He took a bath, read books and was out like a light before 8 p.m. A happy boy! Just the way I like it.

Without a backward glance

It's back to the routine today... It's been years since the Tuesday after Labor Day has been a "back to school" day for me. I'm used to Rob grousing about returning to work, but this day hasn't been about kids and backpacks and packed lunches for me in a long time.

Last year, this day was about trauma and tears and guilt. Sam wailed when we took him to daycare for the first time. He continued to wail for many days after that (at least while I was listening or watching. I quickly learned that it was all a show. As soon as I got around the corner, the stinker was already playing with trucks!)

I just got home from dropping Sam off for his first year in Ms. Mary's room -- a.k.a. Where The Big Kids Play. (There are obviously bigger kids at the school, but as a graduated Sparrow, Sam views the Hummingbird room as Truck Mecca.)

We weren't too worried that the drop-off would be tearful, but we made sure to both be there and prepare him as best we could. Turns out our effort either paid off or wasn't even necessary. Sam got so excited when he walked into the school, saw two girls he used to play with last year, and remembered how many toys await him in the Breakfast Room that he didn't give us a second thought when we got to the end of the hallway.

It's so cute to witness his independent streak serve him well. (It's not nearly as cute when that same streak means throwing food because what was given to him wasn't what he planned on eating at that very moment.) Amidst all the other crying kids, Sam quietly revisited his favorite truck in the corner of the room, and sat right down with a bowl of Fruity Cheerios before saying bye-bye.

What a big boy he's getting to be.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ma-ma-mole-y no more

We've always thought it was hilarious that one of Sam's favorite foods is guacamole. Ever since he first tasted it last year, he's begged me to make "ma-ma-mole-y" for him. I do admit, there's not much I can cook, but I do make a tasty batch of the green stuff.

Anyway, I was making it tonight at our friends' house. Sam saw me cutting avocados and said, "Mommy? Making gwabamoley for me?" We were amused at the new "translation" but alas, when the bowl finally made it to the table, he would have no part of it. I told him, " But, Sam, you LOVE guacamole."

His reply? "No, Mommy. I do not."

Oh, well... He really IS only eating beige food now, I guess!

I realized when re-reading my very first few blog entries how much Sam has changed overall. And I've only been doing this since January! I blogged about how impressed I was that he used the word "pocket." Now he speaks in long sentences and virtual strangers comment on how well they can understand him and the crazy words he uses.

Now, if only his food repertoire were as diverse as his vocabulary...

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I get paid for this?!

In keeping with my life's apparent theme: Never A Dull Moment, I have spent the past few days dealing with an interesting type of crisis. I don't want to add to the Google index on the topic (nor do I need any extra spam brought on by the inclusion of certain key phrases), so I'll explain without using the actual words. Anyone who works with me will easily be able to recognize the issue.

A group of people at a clothing-optional vacation destination have joined our cause. Seeing as it's our goal to eliminate the nasty disease we fight every day, we welcome their support. It seems, ahem, as though some others see their efforts on our behalf as misguided and perhaps damaging to our reputation.

The crisis? In my world, that means helping people answer the phone calls and emails that usually go something like this: "Have you heard about this?" "Thought you'd want to know about this" and "What do I say about this?"

First, yes, I have heard. At this point, I've heard a NUMBER of times. So many, in fact, that I've had plenty of opportunity to think about how I feel about it as an individual. I agree with my organization. This is not about our personal values. While I wouldn't choose to sign up for that team, I am grateful that people from all walks of life give of their time and energy to make sure other families don't suffer.

Ours did. We were truly lucky in the outcome (and, arguably, even in the course of treatment) but it was not something anyone in their right mind would choose to face.

I've spent the last week or so helping to proof dozens of stories that will make up a monument to those who have fought the same fight. Too many of them didn't make it. For that reason alone, I say more power to anyone who is trying to do their part to end this disease.

Oh, and if the issue itself weren't keeping me busy enough, I also have just 19 days, 0 hours, 14 minutes, and 47 seconds to prepare for another rather large event that I've been working on for over a year now.

But who's counting?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

You get good material on the road...

Of the past 28 hours, I spent 4 of them waiting in airports to board planes, about 2.5 of them actually flying, another hour waiting for my half empty suitcase (containing the requisite toothpaste and hair gel), and about 8 hours in a car with my coworker and blogging buddy Leslie. All of this to visit a Relay at the very tippity-top of a mountain, accessed only by a road that is curvy enough to film BMW commericals on. More on that later...

First, I have to note that you know you've officially become a blogger when something strange happens and the conversation is not about how weird the event was, but what good fodder it will make for your blog.

I never figured Leslie and I would be at a loss for words while traveling together, but just in case the tourism board of the great state of North Carolina was concerned, they peppered the landscape with all kinds of sights that left me repeating, "Well, there's something you'd never see in New Jersey." Most notable were probably the huge water tower supposedly shaped like a peach that looked more like a sunburned rear end to me and some restaurant that had a 10-foot tall set of wooden flatware marking the entrance. My guess is they want to be prepared in case The Abominable Snowman ever makes his way down the mountain for a tasty meal. A not-very-distant third was a "dairy bar" festooned with ice cream cone-shaped lights clearly not intended for outdoor use, yet precariously dangling from the makeshift roof of said dairy bar. I shudder to think of the sparks that probably fly if it rains.

Our destination, the Mountaintop Relay For Life, was worth the crazy ride... Let's just say that the road up the mountain was curvy enough that we were asked in advance if we ever get carsick... and that maybe we should pick up some ginger Altoids just in case. Turns out it wasn't a bad suggestion. We braved the road with nothing more than Diet Pepsi and wound up losing our appetites for the rest of the evening.

I came down to North Carolina to see a Relay that earns top per capita honors in its population bucket every year. Now, coming from a sort of middle-of-the-road Relay area, when I heard this Relay in this little town raises over $200,000 each year, I was expecting a HUGE event. I wasn't surprised to see traffic at the one light in town as we approached the site. Turns out that traffic was because of construction. It also turns out that we sat in it while waiting to go down the wrong road. Apparently pink flamingoes aren't the beacons the event organizers had hoped they'd be.

I digress.

We turned into the event parking lot to find an event that would probably fit into the little park in my neighborhood. In other words, not very big. However, I quickly learned that this "quietly wealthy" (as I was told)community had raised $221,00 already, and Opening Ceremonies hadn't even begun. Only $58,000 was from corporate sponsors. While that's impressive, it was more impressive to me that the funds raised were coming from things like an auction in which a coconut cream pie fetched $250 and a mountain music festival that raised $17,000+. It's stories such as those that make me remember why I fell in love with Relay to begin with. I am also reminded that I have a very cool job!

As much fun as my whirlwind tour of North Carolina was, my favorite sight was still coming home to see Sam and Rob right past Security at the airport. Sam screamed and started bouncing up and down in his stroller. I hope someday he knows how much those little squeals mean to me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Terrible Twos...

...are a very real thing!

Not to be naive and think that *my* kid would never act that way, but Sam's such a sweetheart most of the time that I was mildly hopeful that he wouldn't hit that terribly defiant and sometimes obnoxious phase in earnest.

He has.

Case in point: after a nice little snuggle session early this morning, Sam proceeded to very deliberately hit both Rob and I before we could wrestle him into a timeout. We literally had to stand with our backs to him, arms locked, to keep him in place. The good news is that rather than giggle the whole time -- which is typical -- he screamed like he was actually being punished. Imagine that.

I am trying to take solace in the fact that more experienced moms tell me that it's etiher age 2 or 3 that is bad. Maybe he'll be more consistently charming next year?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Fate at the Farmer's Market

Well, if I ever doubted that some things are just meant to be, I think I finally decided this morning to put the notion to rest.

I've actually experienced quite a few things in my life that were simply not accidents: I know that's how I met Andrew. I know that's how Sam came to be our son. I know I was laid off from a yucky job just as the American Cancer Society needed someone in my area (which was also a time when Rob didn't want to acknowledge his cancer experience, but I was feeling a need to find a tangible way to show my gratitiude, but I digress...)

This morning, we ran into Jodi and Eric at the Collingswood Farmer's Market. We don't go there frequently, but had only been there about 5 minutes before we ran right into them. Jodi and Eric are the parents of the adorable Cesi, their sweet daughter born in China.

We first met them when we went to Music Together class last summer. We hadn't had Sam long, but wanted to foster his immediately obvious love of music. As soon as we sat down in class, there they were, and we just clicked right away. They'd been home from China only a couple of months when we met.

Well, we didn't see them again for a while, but asked the teacher (who goes to our church) if she'd seen them, only hear they'd asked about us, too. When you think about all of the people you meet, just the fact that we remembered and asked about each other was interesting enough.

About six weeks ago, we walked into the Moorestown Mall -- where we NEVER go -- and said to each other that we should really look them up. Several minutes later, just chatting over salads, they walked up to us. They were out on a "date," yet hadn't been in that mall for five years. We exchanged numbers and decided to get together soon. Rob and I went on vacation soon after and kicked ourselves for not having called them first.

Today, we made plans while we were together just so we wouldn't let the time pass before we actually met up again. Eric joked that waiting to meet at the mall, while a strange coincidence, is sure not to happen again within the next five years.

The moral of my story is that I just know we were meant to know these people. It's also yet another example of how the miracle of adoption really does bring people together. Our now-very-good-friends, a.k.a. Ethan's parents, were just here the other day, and we met them online of all places.

Hmmm. I just had a thought. Maybe it's Sam and Cesi who were meant to be together?! I'll have to remember that thought when they're out of college...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My life as affected by the news

It just dawned on me how very much my life has changed in the past just-over-a-year. First, I'm working while my husband and son at are Gymboree. I wasn't quite sure what Gymboree even was at this time last year.

More significantly, though, is the fact that the latest news of a terrorism plot has real ramifications in my very own life. I'm sitting here stunned by the fact that I can no longer carry my bags onto the MANY planes that I travel on each month. I can't check bags, because checking bags would mean no hair product. No hair product means a slightly deranged look. Slighty deranged and serious business meetings aren't typically a good combination.

Now... of course I understand that the state of my "do" is unbelievably insignificant in the grand scheme of things. After all, very disturbed people are spending their free time plotting to blow up aircraft, thereby killing large numbers of people at once. Thank heavens for the people who devote their lives to making sure this kind of thing is prevented.

It's just so strange to sit here and think how much terrorism has affected my daily life. In some ways, they really are getting what they want: we're all terrified and affected in various ways.

I vow not to get annoyed at long security lines (which is a big commitment) since I know that they'll mean I get back safely to my family. That is worth the wait.

Monday, August 07, 2006

I was tagged...

I have been tagged by Leslie, so here are my answers...

5 things in my freezer: Waffles, Ice Packs, more ice cream than I should admit, peas, coffee we brought back from our vacation

5 things in my closet: lots of Relay Gear, several sizes of clothing, a bridesmaid dress, Rob's ties, the shoes I wore for my wedding

5 things in my car: transponder for my iPod, several Thomas trains, a car seat, my cell phone charger and an EZPass

5 things in my purse: my iPod, wallet, inhalers, business cards I've collected and a Weight Watchers Point slider

5 things in my wallet: license, US Airways Dividend Miles card, Marriott Rewards card, business cards to give away, Canadian coins

People I tag to do this list:
I'm supposed to tag someone with a blog, but Leslie is my only blogging friend and she tagged me.... Uh oh! I'm breaking the chain.

It's so good to be home

I spent about five days in Los Angeles last week for the Relay Strategic Conference. It was a great meeting, I accomplished a lot, met some fabulous volunteers, yet of course, I just wanted to see Sam and Rob. Goes with the territory of being a traveling mommy, I suppose. The trips that are longer than a few days are harder than the quick ones...(duh, mommy!)

It didn't help that Rob told me he was "fighting" with Sam several of the days. Uh. Ok. Fighting with a toddler. I know it was just his stress talking. Sam was teething and being a grouch, which translates to not one, but two, short fuses.

Anyway, I arrived back home yesterday (via my very first first class updgrade I might add... very nice way to travel!) to a little boy that was just thrilled to see me. It was sooooo nice. The best 30 min. I've had in a while were during the ride home from the airport when Sam did nothing but hug and kiss my arm and "sniff" me, which is a big bonding thing for him. We giggled the whole time and he's been a lap baby ever since. I love that.

Today is our eighth anniversary, too. I told Rob that all I want to do is celebrate somehow as a family. We had tears in our eyes this morning when after a quick good-morning-happy-anniversary hug and kiss, Sam whined that it was "My turn! Hug me!" That's what it's all about. We never would have guessed eight years ago what a normal day like today would look like, but we couldn't have asked for me. God is so good to us!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Adventures in transcontinental travel

Well, we're home! And we're all still one big happy family...

Sam was one fantastic traveler, I am proud to report. I was actually musing on our return flight that it's nice to know I am raising a seasoned traveler considering how much time I spend airborne myself.

Seriously, he slept a good portion of both nearly-six-hour flights, then played and watched Thomas DVDs fairly happily the rest of the time. I don't think he was any more restless as we started to get close to home than many of the adults on our flights. He was also the "Welcome to Philadelphia" entertainment when we landed at home. He is not old enough to realize that planes, trucks, trains, helicopters, etc. are not all paying personal visits to him from his favorite Noggin or Sprout shows. He screamed that the "Troublesome Trucks" and "Big Jake" were outside our plane when we landed. He yelled hello and waved excitedly for a full 10 minutes or so. Once we convinced him that we could get off the plane to get another look, he waited in our row of seats and served as a deputy flight attendant, waving and saying "Buh-bye" to everyone we was deplaning before us.

I wish I'd had a video camera handy, too, to capture the moment when he decided that the little aerodynamic tip to each wing on the aircraft was actually Eeyore perched out there, following us to "See-Adam," his name for Seattle.

Our time in Canada was a lot of fun, but quite hot. So much for escaping the 100-degree New Jersey heat. We did lots of the touristy stuff that Victoria has to offer that you just don't do as a childless couple. I think one of the highlights was visiting Butterfly World. We got some great pictures and one Sam decided not to be terrified of the butterflies, he had a blast chasing them around and splashing in the puddles of the simulated rainforest.

I think that this is one of the vacations that will forever live in my memory. I originally thought it would be all about our first family vacation, which it was, but it was also about spending really quality time with Rob's aunt, who's just really wonderful to be around. Given her age and how rarely we're able to make it out to Victoria, I was conscious the whole time we were with her how special it was to spend that time with her. She took the week off from work to be with us, and we did everything from playing solitaire side-by-side while the boys napped to feeding seals at Oak Bay Marina to hosting a family BBQ at her house. I certainly hope that we'll be out there again while she still feels up to touring with a toddler, but I'm really glad to have lived in the moment while we were there. I just wished we lived closer to her so that we had more time together. She got such a kick out of Sam and he was totally bonded to her by the time we left. I saw the joy in her face when he'd run up to give her random hugs and said "I love you, Auntie Barbara" as we had to say goodbye.

Now that (I hope) I have the hang of the picture posting thing, I'll include a few other great pics from our first official Becker family vacation. These are the photos that I always daydreamed of having while trying to have kids, and now they're real!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

And we're off...

First, I have no business whatsoever writing this post right now. I have the typical oh-no-I-have-more-work-to-do-than-can-ever-get-done-before-leaving-for-vacation dilemma going on today. Couple that with the fact that my laptop needs some serious surgery and is being shipped off to Corporate IT in the last FedEx collection of the day, meaning by 4 p.m., and you get my drift. Ahem. I should be working right now, not blogging about my first ever true Becker family vacation.

But, a very sweet coworker that I only know by phone and email right now has just informed me that she has a blog. Ever one to be distracted by more interesting things than the drafting of fundraising talking points, I jumped right over to Blogger to "see" her and her adorable kids. She has a post in there somewhere indicating that a fellow blogger keeps on her case so that her blog stays updated. I have no such person, but feeling the vicarious pressure, decided I should post. Heading off for our first trip as a family of three is a milestone that should be noted anyway.

I'm approaching this trip with a healthy mix excitement at all of the fun stuff we're sure to do in Victoria and fear that Sam will be the toddler from you-know-where as soon as we board a nonstop, transcontinental flight.

I also have vague memories of what the poor little guy, as well as his exhausted new parents, experienced last year when his time zones were shuffled. I can only imagine what sleeping in a strange house that lags three hours behind his own body clock will mean.

Assuming that we can weather the actual flight and all get at least some rest, I'm sure we'll have a blast doing all of the cool vacation stuff that you don't do (at least we didn't) until you have kids. We've been to British Columbia several times over the past 15 years, but this time, we'll be sure to hit places like the butterfly sanctuary and the tidepools.

I'll be sure to get back on the whole picture posting thing when we return.

Until then, we're off!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The musings of a two-year-old

Someone on the Holt adoption boards started a really cool thread about what you love about your kids at certain ages. I read it on a Saturday morning, so had more time than usual to ponder the subject. I couldn't believe how long a list I came up with of the recent things Sam does. Clearly I'm biased, but the kid has personality, that's for sure.

In keeping with what my original intent for this blog was anyway -- figuring out a way to capture such moments for posterity given that I'm deficient in the scrapbooking gene -- here goes...

Air guitar/air drums/air piano/Rock On! Not that we use our child as a puppet, but it is quite amusing what you can ask him to do on command. Ask him to play air guitar, and he does. He will also play air drums and air piano. You can end this little game by saying "Rock on!" and he does a two-year-old version of squirmy dancing and head banging.

Tunnels/brides If we come anywhere near a tunnel or bridge (and driving under highway signs count as bridges) Sam yells "Tunnel! (or Bidge, no "r") and holds up his arms and yells "WEEEEEEEEEE!" No idea where this came from, but passersby probably think we are all crazy since Rob and I now do it with him.

THOMAS Sam is obsessed. I don't see the charm, personally, but he's all about Thomas and his many train friends. He sleeps with the toys, asks for Thomas on TV nonstop and hums the theme song to himself.

"I LOVE MY DADDY/MOMMY!!!" Sam must be more comfortable with expressing his feelings lately, because he'll proclaim to anyone within a 5 block radius (the kid has some serious lungs) that he loves his mommy or daddy. Very cute, but odd that he thinks this phrase should be YELLED!

Faster Faster! Sam now tries to sing every song he knows as fast as he can. It's so funny. He can sing the Bob the Builder theme song in triple time.

All right? Ok? Poor Sam has had his fair share of germs over the past year. When he coughs or sneezes a lot, we ask "Are you alright? Are you ok?" Sam now asks us if we cough or sneeze -- or make any noise that could be construed as such -- "Awright, Mommy?" "Ok, Mommy?" He drops everything to make sure you're doing just fine.

"Night Night, Guys" Sort of like the Waltons, toddler style. When we put Sam down for a nap or for the night, he now yells as soon as we leave the room. He used to yell because he was upset. Now he screams, "Night Night, Guys!" and then addresses us each individually. He continues this little exchange, with us often responding from downstairs, for about 5 full minutes.

Doin'?? About 100 times a day, Sam asks us what we're doing. It comes out as, "Doin' Mommy?"

Massachusetts, Alabama! I travel a lot. Sam is learning his state names as I go to new places. He loves to say Massachusetts, Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.

RELAY!! I know it's a cult, but the kid recognizes the logo!!

I find Sam amusing, can you tell?!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Forever and Ever, Amen

I love that Randy Travis song... I had it going through my head a lot the last few days. It's not exactly pertinent to our situation, but all I've been able to think about is how very moving it is to finally know that Sam is ours forever.

We finalized his adoption on May 26th, just two days after he turned two. It felt so perfect to have his first birthday at home with us coincide with his finalization. In our hearts, he's been ours for a very long time, but it's hard to describe how emotional it was to hear a judge declare it so.

It's weird. The proceedings in court were formal and quick. I'd expected more for some reason. I was excited to have all of Sam's cousins there with us because I'd always heard they all get to go up on the judge's bench and spend more time "exploring" the court. In reality, it was a sort of wham-bam few minutes, but the end result was the same. Sam's officially Sam Becker "with all of the rights and obligations that are afforded a child by birth." Beautiful words. I actually had tears in my eyes while answering all of the boring questions about how financially capable we are of caring for him.

As an aside, Sam was in the emergency room this week. They had to xray his chest and didn't want me in the room for fear I could be pregnant and not know it. I actually got the giggles at how insistent the nurse was. Anyway...

Here's a pic of the big day. It still gives me chills to look at it.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

10 years

10 years is a long time without someone you love. I have been meaning to post for almost a week now, but haven't been able to make myself do it. How do you write just a few sentences to capture what you're feeling after you've been without someone for so long?

Andrew, Sam's namesake, died 10 years ago on May 18. I still miss him every single day. I have never taken off the CURE bracelet that I first put on the day of his memorial service. I often think how proud he'd be that I wear jewelry every day because of him.

I've done a lot of thinking lately about how I think of and refer to Andrew. In college, I always thought of him as my best friend. He was older than I was (though I'm now older than he was when he died, which is nearly unfathomable to me), the person I told just about everything to, and probably the one person other than my mom and husband that I've seriously considered the most advice from.

Now that I'm just about the age he was when he died, it makes me rethink the nature of our relationship to some degree. John has filled the role that Andrew did, but the age difference isn't as obvious now, which makes real friendship a bit truer. When I really focus on Andrew, I realize that he was the big brother I never had. It would always be hard to lose a friend, no doubt, but losing him really was like losing family member. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about him, wonder what he'd be like if he were still here, and wish to the point of tears that he didn't have to die the way he did and when he did.

We'll have a lot to teach Sam as he grows up. It's our job to teach him all of the normal "stuff" that parents teach their kids, but it's also our job to try to help him connect as best he can with his birth culture and understand his adoptive status. It's also my job to make him know that we named him for a great man that helped to make his mommy who she is today. I think Andrew would be proud of both of us.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

It's time... take my blog into the 21st century with photos. We won't discuss that I have been tasked at work with making blogs a reality for some 3 million volunteers. I guess it's time I experimented with more than just words. Have to look like I know what I'm doing!

No better subject to start with than the world's cutest kid.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Defending my "honor"

It's become an ongoing debate in our house as to who taught our dear son to say, "Hey, baldie!" Since my lovely husband is a bit challenged in the top-of-the-head-coverage department, he's been very quick to blame me for this latest of Samisms.


I remember the exact moment when Sam first uttered, "Hey, baldie!" He said it with only a moderate amount of glee the first time. Then, he heard me laugh hysterically. So, now, he squeals the words with great delight.

But, back to my version of the event... Sam was in the tub. I heard him say it. I laughed. He, enjoying the positive response to his performance, said it again and again and again. That's when we called Daddy in to hear the new words.

I have no idea where Sam came up with, "Hey, baldie." I figured he picked it up somewhere else and remembered it. Rob has tortured me for weeks that I taught Sam to say it. This came to be a particular point of contention when he said it on a public street as a bald man walked by.

As it turns out, Rob is now admitting that perhaps he himself first taught Sam this pseudo-insult. He's being a bit sheepish about recalling the details, knowing I'll be all over him in retaliation for weeks of admonishment, but I think we now know the real story.

Daddy did it.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

No more rocking?

I seem to be posting a lot about the baby stuff Sam is giving up. I think the latest might be rocking him to sleep. It makes me so sad to think that he no longer needs a good dose of mommy time before going to bed. We used to have a whole nighttime ritual, but now he just wants to lay down with his Thomas the Tank Engine book. I shouldn't complain, I suppose, since he's going to bed with no fuss at all. I just miss the snuggle time! I think this is my first dose of gee-they-grow-up-so-fast. It might possibly be the only thing that's made me envious of the time people get with a bio child that you just don't have when you adopt. I wouldn't trade Sam, or the time we've had already, for the world, but I wish he would stay a little guy just a little bit longer!

My soon-to-be big guy did seem little, however, when we celebrated his first Easter today. I found him sitting in the middle of our yard in his fancy Easter outfit where he'd found an egg filled with chocolate. It only took me looking away for a second before he was eating a chocolate bunny with brown drool running down his face, totally clueless at the mess he was making.

We also had our first seder as a family this week. Sam is not a fan of matzo-crusted chicken fingers. He also doesn't quite have the patience for grown-ups to read the Haggadah, particuarly the Hebrew parts. He finally grunted until we let him down. I took him in the lobby, where he was soon joined by his young cousins. I might have been frustrated at his not wanting to "behave" like all of the other kids, but the sight of him chasing his 2 1/2 and 4 year old cousins reminded me of exactly why I couldn't wait to have kids. I used to daydream about the days when my kid would be the one screeching in the lobby of The Mansion during a seder.

I suppose I could do without the screeching, but since it's from my kid, and he's screeching because he's happy, I'm a happy mommy.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Caca is really gone...

It just dawned on me. The days of Sam asking for "caca" a version of the Korean word for cookie or snack, are officially over. Someone on my agency's message board posted about the silly words their kids use, and one of them was "caca." I had to stop and think, then realized that he hasn't said that word at all, in ages.

I guess I should be glad that he no longer asks us for food that sounds like excrement while in public, but it's also a sign of how much he's grown up in just nine months. He's really not a baby anymore!

I guess this is an apropos milestone since a friend just suggested today that he may be ready for his big boy bed.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Back and Forth

I posted earlier that Sam was starting to talk to me when I call home while away for work. He's actually having real "conversations" with me now! He listens to what I say, then responds. It's so cute. It also makes me happy to know that he knows it's me on the phone. It's our routine to talk at about 6:30 a.m.... regardless of the time zone I'm in, I might add. This week when I asked him how he was doing, he replied, "Fine. Thank you!"

His memory and vocabulary continue to amaze me, too. I'll admit that I have no gauge and, of course, regard him as the world's most intelligent child, but it's still fun to be caught off guard by some word that he knows. I was holding him last night when he was crying. I asked him what he wanted and he replied, "Your room." Sure enough, I took him in our room, and he quieted right down. This morning, as we walked by his door, he pointed and said, "My room." I secretly think that he knows his mommy is an editor at heart and is trying to win me over with his impressive grammatical skill.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

What's in a name?

I just watched RENT, the movie. I've seen the play several times, but had forgotten how much the story affects me. In one scene, Collins wets Angel's lips with a sponge when he's parched. I remember so many of us doing that for Andrew. It makes me miss him all over again and realize how proud I was to be his friend and how glad I am that my son carries his name. I hope we do a good job of honoring him and making sure Sam knows all about him.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Just testing...

We just woke up with Sam in our bed. He's been getting sick again after a 6 week reprieve. He just wanted to be near us as he slept, so we caved. (First night without a dog in the bed and we add a kid!)

I'm so glad we did. He did the CUTEST THING EVER when he woke up. We've been feeling his forehead off and on to see if he has a fever. The very first thing he did when he woke up this morning was to feel each of our foreheads, kiss us, and say "Ok!" Like I've-checked-you-out-and-you're-just-fine-now-let's-play.

These are absolutely the best moments to remember. Right after the cuteness, though, it was back to reality. Leaky diaper in Mommy and Daddy's bed....

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Can you hear me now?

I travel for my job. Lately, it's been more than I'd like to admit. I love my job, but it sure would be nice to be able to be in two places at once.

As far as handling lots of travel and a new kid at home, we deal with what we refer to as "our normal." I won't get on a soapbox about it, but I firmly believe that what works for one family may very well not work for another. I also won't lie and say I don't feel pressure from quite a few places/people when it comes to our less-than-conventional schedule, but our normal is working for us. As I've mentioned before, I live on a quest to be a great mommy to Sam. I can honestly say that being happy with my job makes me a better parent.

But, back to the travel. When I first started this new position, we had not really found our family groove yet. Sam's schedule was erratic, at best, and leaving Rob home to figure it out alone literally made me sick to my stomach every time I walked out the door. I had faith, though, that we'd get through it. The hardest part about being gone back then was the assumption that Sam didn't really notice it and didn't know that it was my voice on the phone when I called. He was, however, really excited to see me at the airport when I came home. I will never forget the first time I came home from Dallas. I was so afraid that our attachment would be affected. But, he took one look at me, grabbed me around the neck and just squeezed. He had a huge grin on his face the whole time and just kept patting my back. It didn't hurt that he was holding a sign that said "Mommy... Welcome Home!"

As time went on, Sam seemed to be fairly unaffected by our routine (or lack thereof), but for a brief time, we were concerned that acting out at school could be related to my absence. Luckily, that, too, has passed. His charming love-to-bite-and-push phase seems to be over.

In an odd way, the turning point was something that I was sure was a harbinger of doom. About four weeks ago, I was on my way out the door. Sam took one look at my suitcase and started to cry. There was no denying that he connected that red bag with my leaving. BUT, a beautiful thing happened just after that. When I call home now, he recognizes my voice. He used to say "hi" into the phone -- which I absolutely ate up -- but I knew deep down that he'd say the same thing if Big Bird called.

Now when I call home, he say's "Hi, Mommy! I love you, Mommy. I miss you!" He gets excited to hear my voice and talk to me. In his own little way, he tries to tell me about his day. It's generallly babble, but I know he thinks he's telling me a story.

Reports from the homefront indicate that he's more settled, even when I'm gone. I am now truly confident that "our normal" is a very real thing. Even better is that I know this is all proof of a very solid attachment... an accomplishment to be proud of in the adoption process. He's my son, and he knows I ALWAYS come back.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

What will he think?

In my mind, this was always one of those mommy moments that I absolutely couldn't wait for: the first time my kid sees snow. When frustrated and convinced that we might never have children, a beautiful snowfall shared with my baby is one of the most frequent visions that would pop into my head. I would always end up so sad, thinking the day of looking out onto our white backyard with a baby in my arms might never come.

Well, it's finally here! Now, I do realize that we had a bit of the white stuff back in December, but it came overnight and wasn't enough to play in. What we have today -- a genuine Nor'Easter with the potential for 8 - 14 inches -- that's my idea of snow! Today Sam walked over to the windows a few times and looked out at the snowfall with a perplexed look on his face. I have a feeling tomorrow will be a lot of fun. Now that the temperature has dropped, we should get some decent accumulation. I can't wait to go outside together and throw snow around in the air.

Every other "mommy moment" that I've waited for and seen come to fruition so far has lived up to its potential. I expect no less of Sam's first snow.

In other news, Sam got a "big boy" haircut today. He's been needing a trim for quite some time. When we finally got him into the chair, we went for broke and cut it all off. He looks so much older! I have a feeling the "she's so beautiful" comments might finally be behind us. Seriously, I dress the kid in camo, and people still think he's a she. I think back to all of my liberal sociology classes in college and cringe that it bothers me so much that he's mistaken for a girl... Just another entry in the long list of things that I swore I'd never do or think when I "grew up!"

Yes, that's who I am today. Sam's mommy... someone who worries about traditional gender roles more than I ought and has more than my fair share of country music on my iPod. A lot can change in 10 years.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

No more caca??

I think Sam may be sneaking onto the computer when we're not watching and reading my blog. Seriously. Just as soon as I posted that Sam's only remaining Korean word is "caca," he stopped saying it! I'm sad in a weird way. I know one word doesn't keep him connected to his birth culture, but it seems like such a shift that he's only speaking English now. For the record, he switched from "caca" to "cacoo" and then pretty much realized he knows how to actually say "cookie." So, "cookie" it is.

Rather than bemoan the loss of a not-so-appealing-in-the-first-place word, I should be rejoicing at the amazing developments we witness on an almost daily basis.

He has started singing with us when we sing to him. He's doing a great job of counting. He can identify an amazing number of picture when we ask him to point them out. He's learning his colors. But our biggest development of the week???

HE EATS CHICKEN!! It sounds so silly to get excited about that, but my little peanut really does need to learn the virtues of protein if he's going to get over the 25th percentile for weight. He's constantly asking for chicken now, so the kid has eaten quite a few nuggets in the last week. Baby steps, I say. We'll go with the healthier stuff when he makes eating like a real person a habit.

Friday, February 03, 2006

He's getting so big...

I hear this almost every time someone sees Sam. After even hearing it from Uncle Bubba this week (while visiting Sam's newest buddy, baby Shane!) I decided it was time for another capture-the-moment post.

Sam came home saying a very few Korean words. The only one he still says is "caca." Sounds very cute or slighty gross, depending on your perspective. It actually just translates to "cookie" in Korean. Sam quickly learned that he could get any kind of snack out of Mommy and Daddy if he shouts "MORE CACA!" Much to my parental delight but closeted dismay, he's started to use the actual words for various food items.

Just yesterday morning, the darling child wanted Cheerios and actually said "more cereal, please!" When I asked him what he'd just said, he clarified for his dumb mom and said "CHEER-EE-OHS."

On that note, now that he can say three syllable words, he's decided that he must distinctively pronounce each syllable. Due to what must be a growth spurt (or at least that's what I tell myself so as not to appear too whiny when woken up at 3:30 a.m.), Sam has been waking up at ridiculous hours, screaming his little head off. When we get to his crib, he says in a very demanding tone of voice "HUN-GER-EEE" I get it, kid. You want food.

At much more civilized times of day, Sam has been honing his skills as a politician. The latest conversation with Miss Nicole (his AM daycare teacher) let us in on his time-out escapades. Typically, when put on time out, Sam just laughs at whoever places him in the dreaded bucket seat at school. Nicole tells us that he seems virtually immune to that form of punishment. Well... It appears that it finally got through to the little bugger this week. He was laughing at Miss Nicole when first put in the time-out seat. He got upset the second time. The third time, he decided to focus on finding a way to still play whilst in isolation.

This is what Nicole heard: "Brayden! Jackie! Joshua! Nic! Jason!..." She turned around to find that Sam had gathered "his people" around him and was leading the pack from his elevated perch. This is not unlike the story in which Sam cleaned off the bottom shelf of the classroom bookshelf, climbed in, and had four other toddlers alongside him within seconds.

There are days when I wish I could install a camera on the kid's head so that I could see some of this stuff for myself!

Sunday, January 15, 2006

We Share Everything...

...especially germs. And lots of them.

This week was a total whirlwind. Samd seemed to get a *new* cold last weekend. He was stuffy Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday, I thought I was finally rid of a nasty 3-week cold, only to spike a fever for some reason. No worries. Three Advil and I was fine. EXCEPT, just two hours later, Rob has an even higher fever and ends up in bed... even with my family over for dinner.

We all wake up on Monday seemingly feeling better. Rob and Sam go off to school. I head to the airport for a meeting in Phoenix. I land, check messages and hear that Rob's fever is back and he's going home. He said he'd pick up Sam, let him nap at home, then have him checked by the ped for good measure.

Well, since the cell phone towers were down on the west coast, I was unable to check in on my boys. I arrive in my hotel room to a ringing phone. My sister said, "Don't be scared, but Sam is in the hospital!!" Ok. Like I wasn't going to panic.

Turns out he had a febrile seizure while at the doctor's office. His breathing was still bad 90 min. later, so off to the ER. They spent a few hours there and went home when they couldn't find an infection.

Meanwhile, I took my first redeye... Once home, I insist we go back to the ped. Rob had a doc appt. first, and we find out he has strep. Mystery apparently solved. Even though most young kids don't get strep, Sam did. Along with an ear infection and croup to boot. I took care of my boys for another day, only to get strep myself.

A few days on antibiotics (if I had the energy I'd write up Rob's rant over getting Penicillin to my Z-pack), we all seemed better. WRONG. I now have the mother of all colds. Rob and Sam are just fine, yelling at the football games on TV while I struggle for just one good breath.

Wet kisses are too good to turn down. Bites from Sam's spoon and drinks from his cup... not so much. Enough with the sharing!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Where to start?

If I mean for this to be a virtual memory book of our days, I probably need to actually post nearly daily. At least one would think. Perhaps what I'm discovering about myself and my lack of ability to be a good "memory mommy" is that I'm so busy doing things in the moment that I don't slow down to remember all the cute, funny and cool things that Sam does. So I'll just jump in. At some point, I'll go back and try to recall the stuff from before this date that I don't want to forget, either. (Deb told us to start writing things down and taking video. We should have listened more closely! There's a lot that Sam's already stopped doing...)

I saw my friend Tara yesterday. She has a daughter just a few months older than Sam. She told me that once they start talking, they have a virtual language explosion between the ages of 18 and 24 months. Yeah, I can see that.

Sam, just this week, came out with a whole bunch of words that we had no idea he knew. I'm sure he picks them up at school, but it shows what I get for having an ego and thinking that he learns all he knows from Mommy and Daddy! Not true. His words of the week: pocket, Vera (as in Miss Vera, a fave teacher at daycare), pancake and digger.

He also picked up my cell phone, put it to his ear and said, "Hello, Nonni. You comin'?" I was overcome by the cuteness.

A not-so-cute, though surely laughable-in-the-future moment: I was wearing layers this morning. I take off the top layer and inadvertently flash my unassuming son. He just smiles and says, "Mommy! Boobie!" Where did he learn THAT one???!!!

Monday, January 02, 2006

My first post

It's a new year. Most people are making resolutions right about now. Mine is small and grandiose at the same time. I want to be the best mommy ever.

2005 closed a long chapter in our lives. After losing several pregnancies, one of which nearly ended my own life, we finally brought our son home on June 14. Samuel Andrew HyunTae arrived at the Philadelphia airport at 8:39 p.m. to the cheers of many friends and family. He was just over 12 months old and the cutest baby we'd ever laid eyes on. After more than 16 hours on a plane in the arms of a virtual stranger, Sam was handed over to us to begin life with his forever family.

That day is well documented. Our family and friends took lots of pictures and video. We had professional photographers in tow. We even crafted (well, Rob did anyway) our own DVD of Sam's "Gotcha Day."

My iPhoto library has 1620 images in it. I'd say at least 1500 of them are Sam-related. I got Photoshop Elements for Christmas in the vain hope that I'll actually do something with all those pictures.

Now, mind you, I come from a family of crafty/artsy people who have pages upon pages of adorable scrapbook entries chronicling the lives of their children. You think I'd be inspired to do the same. I am. I just never seem to get it done (not unlike the cross-stitching or knitting habits I've tried to pick up over the years.)

That brings me to this, my first post in my first blog. We'll see where it goes, but I'm resolving to capture the amazing moments in our new life with Sam this way. 2006 is about being honest with myself. That means I'll probably never turn into the kind of mommy who makes beautiful scrapbook pages. I still think I have the world's cutest kid, but I needed a more Karen-friendly place to catalog his escapades... And who knows? Maybe I'll master Photoshop yet.