Sunday, January 24, 2010

Parenting score card

I'm pretty sure every parent has the struggles of wondering if they are good enough for their child. I certainly do. I had lunch with super mom and her kids last week and started the mad comparison game of "why can't I roll more like her?" Super mom (certainly not the title she would give herself, but the one that she totally deserves) has three kids. I have one, but feel like I have three. Super mom remembered to bring 88 snacks in her purse. I forgot all of mine. Super mom's kids politely interacted with both me and my child. My child....ummmmm... Super mom let her kids listen to musical greeting cards while we walked around Target. I just wanted Y to sit in the cart and keep her hands to herself.

You know what I've learned in my six weeks as a parent? I'm super task oriented when it comes to my interactions with Y and I really need to chill the heck out and PLAY more. I'm great at making sure she is only putting healthy food down her mouth (broccoli cake anyone? rather lovely, actually) and that she is always clean and smells great. But I don't usually make games out of putting her shoes on and just sit on the floor and play with her. I really need to do that more. (This may have been some sort of New Years Resolution of mine...)

Cognitively, I know that she connects best when time is directly devoted to her. Not to the food she eats or the clean clothing that she wears. But to her. Oh, the balancing act. Wow. That's the challenge.

On the score card of parenting, I think I need to work harder to increase my score. And I gotta say that the little one is pure (ok, 96.4%) delight right now making things lots happier for all of us. Lots of progress over here.

In other news, I'm back to work and the sky seems to be falling at my office. Not sure how much longer the office will exist, but I will remain for awhile if only to help bring home the (veggie) bacon.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beauty from Ashes

In January 2001 I was a college Junior right here in the great city of Chicago. I attended Bible college and certainly spent more time socializing and exploring this fascinating city then studying the Bible. I paid for college with a part time gig at Banana Republic and by being a Resident Assistant to a dorm floor. In my job as an RA (remember: Bible college), I spent my time encouraging people to follow the strict dress code, go to chapel, not kiss those of the opposite gender (or same for that matter) and absolutely no dancing!!! The RA cohort would have weekly meetings to discuss pressing RA things (like, really important things that you would most likely not understand). I have fond memories of the relationships that I made during that time and thoroughly enjoyed that phase of my life. As I type this, it genuinely feels like a different lifetime ago. And it many ways it was. I have gained nine years, some pounds and a lot more life experiences.

Since 2001 I've graduated college, lived in Ethiopia x2, gotten married, gotten a job, several apartments, one MSW degree, ran some races, traveled to Ethiopia (x5), Ivory Coast, Romania, Germany, Hungary, Austria, Mexico, Canada (x infinity), been to countless weddings and a few funerals and adopted a child.

Today I'm thinking back to those RA meeting in 01. I'm remembering how our Resident Director and his wife hosted a game night for the RA's and announcing to us that they were adopting from Haiti. They showed us pictures, the rooms that they had created for their children and talked excitedly about building their family through adoption. I was happy for them. I lost track of them over the years and in the meantime did all of those other things like get married. But I would occasionally think of them and was shocked to get back in touch with them several years ago (thanks, Facebook) only to find out that their adoptions were still not finalized. (The children have been living with them for many years now as the family serves as missionaries in Haiti).

You know what happened today? Today the children were finally given visas to enter the US and the adoptions will be finalized! NINE YEARS LATER!!!! And I thought that we had some painful days of waiting.

The tragedy in Haiti is unspeakable and has brought devastation to so many both in Haiti and around the world. This news brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart and I was reminded that beauty can be born of tragedy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Oh, maternity leave. Please don't go!!

Today marks the beginning of my second full week home (w/o N), or my last week of FMLA. In this situation, I am choosing to go with the sippie-cup half empty approach: this is my last week at home! One week from today I return to the workforce. I so don't want to go.

Wanna know what we did today? Met friends for lunch, went to Target in the middle of the day, rode the escalators a million times (because NO ONE shops at Target midweek) and then came home. Y is sleeping and I just looked up all of the books I want to check out from the library, and decided to make this for dinner. Not what I will be doing a week from today!

Y is finally in a decent rhythm and I feel like I've got my SAHM groove on...

I'm not exactly complaining, just's different right? N's mother comes for a three week visit starting on Friday, thus prolonging our need to begin the whole childcare routine. I return to work with a reduced work schedule (30 hours) and different job responsibilities. Both are great for this new Momma, but escalator riding is far more fun! Really six weeks? Are you finished already? Time flies when you travel across the world, become a family, travel back, get sick, have jet lag, celebrate three holidays and get head lice!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Week in review

Y has her first play date!!! ( I actually hate that word and need a new term.....anyone???
Whata week.


N returned to work

Two trips to social security; one unsuccessful and one victorious

One Dr's visit

One ER visit (not Y, thankfully....N had a strange freak accident at work, but is fine now!)

Lice (minor, really)

33 loads of laundry


Some tantrums
Y's beloved Aunt Johnna has left the building (final semester of law school!!!)

First tacos

First play date (did you know that it takes three adults to make two kids happy? it does!)

Injera b'wat every single day of the week

Gena celebration with two other adoptive families (you think we had time for a picture?? no way!)
The ups and downs continue, but I gotta say that this was a pretty good week! I never could have handled this week two weeks ago, if that makes sense.....but now with more sleep and less sickness under my belt, I felt pretty good to go!
Headed to yoga today. Aaagh. First time in awhile......

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

One month together!

Hair time is a special time....oh, and we learned the Amharic word for "lice."

More special hair time. Moments before the tragic finger burn of 2009....
It has been one busy month!

Somehow this is our first family photo.....(in Chicago)

Wow! I initially had intentions of doing a "decade in review" post, and then when that fell by the wayside the second option was a "2009 in photos." Perhaps luckily for you, sleep just keeps on winning and here you have what remains: our first month together. And what a month it was.

I'm not gonna lie. Parenting ain't easy. Perhaps I was shocked that I was so shocked by the adjustment. This month has been full of ups and downs. Our first few weeks together were uber hard. Really. I am SOO thankful that N was able to have so much time off or I may not be writing this right now. Since he is a teacher, he already was scheduled to have the two week holiday break. Our travel dates could not have been more perfect as he was able to have two FMLA weeks off as well. Y LOVES her Babba....a lot! Having N around so much made the initial transition so much smoother!

The first few weeks were full of sleep loss, temper tantrums, travel, sickness, unpredictability and confusion all around. I think we wondered how we were going to be able to do it, and Y wondered what happened to life as she knew it.

The last two have involved introductions, family fun, sledding, more sleep, less tantrums, mild sickness and more stability. In some ways, the improvements Y has made have been miraculous. With a few boundaries and tons of attention, she is really adjusting rapidly.

Y is a gift to our family. She really is. She makes us laugh every single day and her courage is amazing. She loves to eat, play with dolls that have hair, slide really fast down big hills, read books, serve pretend coffee and go to visit people. She truly misses her friends from her orphanages and asks about them (and to pray for them) daily. Her desire to see them again, and her lack of real understanding about where they are now, is sometimes heart breaking. We have certainly seen her mourn in her own ways.

And I think I have mourned more as well. As we have learned more and more about her past, I am constantly reminded of how that will impact her future. It isn't all hard, but it isn't all easy either. Adoption just isn't. But that is ok. Our first month together is only the beginning. We have so many months and so many more ups and downs.