Dolesh Family

Dolesh Family

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Getting Good at Bad Parenting

Parenting....has anyone figured it out?  There are millions of books that talk about how to be a good parent, but where are they?  Katy and I still haven't found the perfect one for us.  We must be looking in the wrong places or maybe our library didn't account for our personalities.

Maybe it is the activities we choose, such as taking our kids out in public.  Who knew that going to the grocery store was such a hard thing to do?  Consider this common occurence for us at the grocery store, plus or minus the millions of items in the grocery store: It is cold out so we go to the grocery store to get out of the house and get some activity to burn off some energy.  (Context - no riding in the cart)  It all goes well until we get into the store.  "No Merritt, we have to pay for those things. Please don't pull the wrapper off.  Oh, you already did.  OK, can you put it back on the shelf?  (OK, let's see if we can hide this behind some other candy bars...after all, you didn't eat it yet...or maybe you did.  Why is there chocolate on your face?  I could go tell someone, but at this point the effort to get both kids up to the front with my basket of groceries....its not worth it).  No Merritt....I know it seems fun to knock all those cans of soup off the shelf and drop apples on the floor, but we need to pick those up.  Ah, where is the condensed milk?  I work with computers, when will someone put a "Control F" in each aisle? No Merritt, not the bulk section!  No, please don't stick your hands in there!  No I was serious!  Ah, yes that is my kid.  Yes, I know she is not supposed to put her hand there. Yes I have her under my control.  No, she is not lost.  Yes, I'm trying.  Stimson, can you come back here?  Yes, we are about ready to leave.  You have to go to the bathroom?  Can you hold it, we are on the complete other side of the store from the bathroom.  OK, let's put our stuff down right here and run to the bathroom quick.  OK, come on Merritt.  Yes, Merritt, we need to go this way....Stimson has to go to the bathroom.  OK, are you about done Stimson?  No Merritt, don't touch that!  We are in a bathroom!  Can you just wait?  OK, we have to go find our stuff now.  Here it is.  Ready to go?  Oh no, Katy just texted me.  We need something else on the other side of the store.  No Merritt, please don't pull the price tags off the shelves!  C'mon, we need to go now.  We need to get home to eat.  Please don't scream and lay on the floor!  OK, we are leaving without you then.  You can lay on the floor if you want.  Yes, she is my child.  I see her, yes we are not leaving her really." ....Breathe.....

OK, let's go back to the house and stay inside where people don't see how messed up our parenting is.  It is then that I flash back to the days when I was just barely married.  You know...the days when you are the best husband and marriage is so easy...oh yeah, taht was because we were still on your honeymoon.  Shortly after that period is when you become the best parent.  My wife and I were thinking about having kids.  It was at that point that we were the best parents ever.  We should have written a book then.  It was so easy - we could look at other parents and talk about how our kids would never do that.  We could provide advice.  Our kid wwill never cry when he trips....our kid won't talk that way....our kid will not throw a fit in the middle of a store....our kid will say please and thank you.....our kid will eat all of his food and be grateful for my 50+ hours of work each week.....our kid will nap....It was all so easy because we were the perfect parents and best of all we had the time because we DIDN'T HAVE KIDS!

Things got messed up once we had kids.  However, it wasn't right away.  The first year with Stimson, our kid was perfect.  He didn't talk back.  He smiled.  He ate everything in front of him and more.  Then he turned 2.  And if that wasn't enough, we had another kid who also turned 2 and will be 2 for several more months.  That same girl also decided napping wasn't for her at the age of 2.  Because of that, we have learned that we should not go out in public from about 3p-6p....the time that we count down the minutes before bedtime for our napless girl.  As we have written.... we are awaiting a 3rd child.  We can romanticize how we will be the perfect parents for this girl from the Congo.  The reality is that we have a whole new set of challenges that will accompany that.  It's now that we have realized our parenting skills would have thrived had we not decided to have kids.  If we had thrived at parenting, we could be spending our nights sitting around the table eating ALL of our food and then post videos and pictures on social networking sites so everyone could "Like" our parenting.  We could begin writing our first book.

We are still learning how to be good parents.....we get glimpses all the time. Don't judge us if you meet us in the middle of an aisle at the grocery store.  Just know we are trying.  Back to learning how to be a good parent as we prepare to add a third to the chaos.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas in the First World

Merry Christmas!

We have enjoyed writing sporadically in this thing we call a blog to document our thoughts about adoption - primarily to create an electronic journal of sorts that we can share mostly with ourselves and with immediate family.  Our hearts have been tugged in many different directions this year and that is what we make time to write about here. This edition will be a little longer than a blog should be (so I hear) as it will be our version of a Christmas letter. With that said, here we go.  If you stop reading here and check out the pictures below, enjoy.  If you read on further, take these thoughts as simply that.....thoughts about random topics....thoughts about issues that have begged our attention this past year.

This year has been a busy year for us. Sounds like a sentence from the Christmas letter template.  I notice that same sentence in all the letters I have read thus far.  This is not a knock on you, if you just wrote that.  Just was a hectic year that has only since slowed down a bit the last couple of weeks. Katy continues to amaze me as she seemingly has 3 full-time jobs - full-time mom, self-employed accountant, and always toying with the idea of making muffins and cookies full time with one of her friends.

Our oldest son Stimson is about to turn 6.  He started Kindergarten this year and loves it.  I guess if he hated it, I probably wouldn't tell you.  He fits the description of a first child - responsible, caring, and nurturing. Fortunately, he has also filled the role of parent with Merritt when the front line support (Katy and I) get overpowered (which is often).  He is often more effective with Merritt than us.

Our daughter Merritt is 2 now and she loves anything Stimson does.  She is the spunky side of the family.  Since she enjoys following Stimson around and copying everything he does, we are hoping he will be able to raise her well.  We certainly have no control over her these days.  If you live in Bozeman and shop some of the same places we do, I'm sure you have seen her sprawled out on the floor (not sleeping)....more of the 'all-out fit' variety with absolutely no room for negotiation.  If you had a pet pig and took him to a store and that pet got a little out of control, consider what it would be like carrying that pet back to your car. This is what we are familiar with when we take Merritt out in public. While it is usually embarrassing, we have mellowed a bit as parents and frequently take pictures of the fits, despite the looks of horror from onlookers. We have yet to find any of the onlookers who are willing to partner with us in this parenting gig.  Let's just say we are not worried about her making a plan for her life...she usually knows exactly what she wants and does it. She does have control over me when she tilts her head and say "Hug and Kiss Dada".

We have kept busy as a family with the typical things that have characterized us for a few years now - marathons, biking around town, hiking, camping, backpacking, walking, generally being outdoors, and skipping naps.

We also moved forward on trying to adopt a child within the last 18 months.  I won't explain that decision here.  You will have to skim through our blogs to catch that story.  Yes, adopting sounds noble and you can clap for us if you want.  In all honesty though, we are excited, worried, frustrated, sad, overwhelmed, and frankly uncertain about our adoption adventures. It has been a long road already.  Why not stop at the 2.2 kids that we have you ask, if you include Kippa (in the picture with Merritt), since our family fits the profile of the average American family? Our hearts have wrestled with many of what has been frequently referred to as "First World" problems.

"First World" problems?  What do you mean?  Let's consider some of these problems in a typical day for many of us, (embellished a bit and meant to prove a point....not necessarily characteristic of us)....Problems, problems, problems - I was thinking about this recently when I had to fly for work. When I fly on Delta, my ticket always says Zone 3.  Just once, I want to fly Zone 1 and get on first and get off first.  Is it really that nice to get on and sit an extra 15 minutes only to find that you want to stand up and get off? Problems.  Sometimes we find out that our plane is delayed and we have to wait an extra hour to fly to some tropical place.  It gets worse when we finally sit down on the plane and the person in front of us reclines their seat in an already crowded airplane.  On this same trip, I sat next to someone who was obviously irritated at that same thing and proceeded to "accidentally" fidget by punching and kicking the seat in front of her to prove a point.  Problems. Going to a place like Costco.  Its like parking at a football game where people say they are number one but use their longest finger to show it.....only because someone took their spot in the front.  They park in the back and end up walking 40 extra feet.  We get inside the store and purchase what is probably enough food for a full year for many people (for us it always seems to run out in a week).  The lines are frustratingly long....why don't they hire more people so we don't have to wait so long.  Problems.    Thank goodness for smart phones where we can post all of our urgent problems on Twitter and Facebook, while driving or while interacting with friends and family....because it would be a problem to have to wait.  "First World" problems....if you have kids, you may have heard this phrase "This is the worst day of my life".

This brings me back to adoption.  What has tugged at our hearts the past couple of years is bigger than the First World problems.  What has tugged at our hearts are real problems.  Pain, hunger, abuse, disease, alone, sex trafficking and many other injustices of our world. Those are problems....

This leads me to the last part of our family.  This year, we stumbled into a girl from the Congo whose mom died when she was 6 months old.  Problems. Her dad was too destitute to take care of her so he left her on the streets or on the front step of an orphanage. Too destitute to "leave" her?  Problems.  While we did not meet this person face to face, we read about her in our comfortable, warm, and rich country.  She is roughly 3-4 years old. She lacks the normalcy many of us have.  She survives on a fraction of food that we eat a day.  She doesn't know what it means to have parents.  She doesn't have the rooms full of toys that kids in our country have to play with.  She doesn't go to gymnastics, dance class, ski lessons, and ballet.  She doesn't go to the park and play.  She is stuck in an orphanage, waiting to be loved.  She has a frightening past that is unknown to most.  She doesn't know what it feels like to be hugged, loved, put to bed, comforted when she is scared, or held to feel safe.  She doesn't share that excitement Christmas morning when there are multiple presents under the tree for her.  Problems. That girl, we found out, is likely our daughter.  (More on that later) This is why the first world problems of our country tug at our heart.

I didn't promise this to be your average Christmas letter.  Yes we are busy and yes our kids are cute (in the eyes of the parents).  Our family and adoption continue to make life complicated. This is just a little of what is going on with us. Wherever you are, we hope you are doing well and enjoy the holiday season.

Merry Christmas from our family!

Monday, October 14, 2013

to infinity and beyond...

i think i used to enjoy flying.  as a young child, it used to be exciting.  as an adult, it used to be relaxing.  now flying with kids and in the age of airport security is something akin to torture.  it feels like tsa security personnel and airline ticket agents and the airport parking experience bring out the very worst in me.  i have no tolerance for stupidity, no patience for lines, no allowance for senseless rules, and no permissiveness for rudeness (do i really need to have my bag measured again by a non-personality?).  and this is before we even get to our aircraft.  en route to our gate in never-never land, there are thousands of tsa agents fixated on carefully and accurately ensuring my son's shoes do not contain a firearm and my daughter's smoothie is not a green spinach explosive device.  it takes hours to get through security after putting each item through: shoe number one, shoe number two, coat, laptop, liquids, gels, suitcase number one, suitcase number two, blankie number one, blankie number two, kippa (merritt with many tears while i am desperately explaining why kippa is going into a mysterious tunnel and taking my shoes off at the same time and telling stimson why we have to walk through the security gate one at a time), and on and on.  is this really necessary?  do we actually live in a modern, civilized, and intelligent county?  my bags had to be checked for size restrictions no less that five times in the long and perilous journey to gate D1001.  we finally find our gate to discover not only has there been a gate change to D34, but also a sliiiiiiiiiiiiight time delay setting us back a few hours.  no big deal, except for the fact that i need to keep track of two young kids, two backpacks, two suitcases, and kippa, and make it all fun and entertaining at the same time.  we wander around lugging everything with us and eventually (finally!) head back to D34.  the uber-rich elite board first so every other common-folk passenger can walk past their smugness one by one.  next it is those requiring special assistance.  since we qualify for special assistance, my big question...  should we board first?  or last?  get organized right away or put off the fact that we will be cramped into a couple of small seats for hours with no end in sight?  i go with sooner rather than later just so we can be sure to get a piece of the overhead bins.  i realize items may tend to shift in landing and takeoff, but being the adventurous type that i am, i decide it is worth the risk.  we get buckled and settled in,and then the real question surfaces: how long can i stretch out lunch on this unending flight?  and who is going to be the lucky contestant that gets to sit next to us?  we ended up getting a very large person (perfect), an impatient passenger, and a nauseous person.  great.  all of those are outstanding when you get to sit next to two very busy kids.  stimson talked loud the whole flight because he had head phones on.  (funny to me, but apparently not as funny to impatient passenger)(i should also add stimson talks a LOT).  merritt pretended she was a puppy and wiggled and kicked and jumped THE ENTIRE FLIGHT.  not exaggerating.  somehow we made it to minneapolis and i promise we did not unbuckle our seat belts until the plane was completely stopped at the gate and the captain had turned off the fasten seat belts sign.  (that is not to say we actually had them buckled in the first place though...)  flying feels like an exercise in following and contorting to stupid rules and i have no tolerance or time for silly, insulting, pointless rules.

minnesota was fun and way too fast...

and all too soon we were on our way back to bozeman.  on the way back, late at night and for a brief time, both my children were sleeping on my lap.  it went from a very difficult experience to a dream come true.  peaceful.  thinking again about how to fit in a third child and what that will look like and when and how and why.  no answers.  suddenly the lights come on and the captain turns on the fasten seat belt sign again.  whew.  so glad someone is looking out for me.  but not the steward ("person taking care of us for the evening")  he says i have to have my son sit up.  !  i had assumed everyone knew the ultimate moral code in the universe is NEVER WAKE A SLEEPING BABY!  apparently he felt that sitting up in his seat 30 minutes prior to landing was more important than my baby being able to sleep.  i growled and told him i would take care of it.  many hours later we finally landed.  found a ride home and on the way got pulled over by a cop.  the cop came up to our car, saw our sleeping children and proceeded to whisper, yes he whispered! that our tail light was out and said have a good night.  a complete reversal of every person i encountered in our airline experience.  i love montana.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Report Card

we are two and a half weeks into school and our new routine.  it doesn't seem very "routine" yet, but it is going well overall.  all of the other cute and calm and on-time moms look at me strangely in the mornings when we all swarm the school with our precious kindergartners. (some more precious than others)  and i can tell they know: they know that i am not perfect.  they know i don't use a hair dryer.  they know that i lost my patience that morning.  they know my kitchen is a mess.  they know stimson did not have a gluten-free breakfast.  they know i don't have dinner made yet.  they know we didn't follow every bike safety rule. what they don't know is that my son eats a spinach salad every day for lunch.  (of his own volition) them: 7, me: 1.

stimson was nervous for about one day, until he realized his two best friends were in his class: the twin girls across the alley.  he settled right in and seems to be enjoying it.  i still don't know what he does all day, but whatever it is, he comes home happy.

merritt is liking her school too.  (two days a week) she seems proud that she has a "school" to go to since stimson goes to one.  stimson told me to tell her teachers that her name is "sweet pea" because she doesn't know her real name is merritt.  sweet pea turned two on sunday and she got a doll that has become her second best friend (next to stimson).  she named her kippa and they do everything together, even though kippa is usually upside-down, hanging by her toe.  

and now back to our regularly-scheduled adoption blog.  we have updated our home study to say that we are open to adopting a child in the age range of a new baby through five years of age.  so... it will be possible that we adopt an older child.  of course this little change is a long, paperwork-filled process.  As such, kippa will remain the youngest in our family for now.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

a tale of two families

family #1- 
this family has a mom and a dad and two beautiful children.  the mom stays at home to take care of her precious children.  she treasures her time at home with her children and considers the days and weeks go by too fast.  on most days, she rises before dawn to go on a run and greet the sun as it begins to rise.  she comes back full of energy and ideas for the coming day.  she plans out each day to be full of play time and fun activities that are educational and developmental.  her children eat healthy and get lots of physical activity during the day.  the mom adores her children and she has great love for them.  her children are energetic and well-behaved.  when the dad is done working each day, he comes home and kisses and hugs everyone.  he plays with the children while the mom makes dinner.  they eat together and the kids go to bed a short time later.  the mom and the dad have a quiet evening to clean up the house and get ready for the next day.  after the kids are sleeping, the mom often reflects on the day and how much she loves her family.  this family is planning on adopting a child from the congo.  the parents are very excited to welcome another child into their family and they are anxiously awaiting a referral.

family #2-
this family also has a mom and a dad and two kids.  the mom stays at home to take care of the kids and she also tries to work at home.  she is often tired and exhausted from trying (and failing) to balance work and kids and cooking and cleaning and phone calls and emails and lunches and toys and dust and friends and checking accounts.  she gets up early to plod jog, but it is never early enough to get back and get everything done.  sometimes the sun is rising while she is running but it shines right in her eyes and makes it harder to see where she is going.  the time she spends with her kids goes fast, but some days not fast enough.  this mom feels like she is inferior to all the super moms that can maintain manicures and conduct craft time and braid their daughters' hair and cook a multi-step dinner requiring lots of pots.  this mom has very little crafting abilities (and by that i mean none).  occasionally, she will fold a piece of paper in half to make a card.  on super-crafty days (and by that i mean one time), the folded piece of paper got a sticker.  most days she feels like she is running around desperately trying to get something (anything!) done and do entertaining things with the kids all the while keeping on top of work meetings and tasks and phone calls and emails and deadlines.  many days she feels like she is cracking into millions of pieces.  when five-something finally rolls around and the dad shows up, she starts unloading on him or just plain crying and hands off the kids.  she begins to stare at the messy countertop waiting for dinner to assemble and cook itself, wanting/hoping and eventually discarding the idea of going to pick up some food in non-washable disposable containers.  somehow dinner comes together, usually with the kitchen looking like it got attacked by monkeys.  the kids go to bed and the chaos continues- endless dishes, dust, and deadlines.  it is a race to get everything picked up so she can begin to work and get as much done in the evening as quickly as possible.  before enough work is done, it is time to make lunches and set stuff out for the next morning.  the mom then plans how she can multi-task as many things as possible the next day so as to get stuff done while entertaining the kids at the same time.  most of the time it ends up being a list of everything that did not get done during the day and once again has been pushed off to the next day.  she goes to bed exhausted.  she decides when to set her alarm so she can run again and have strength and energy to try and juggle it all again.  after everyone is sleeping, the mom often reflects on what she wishes she had done differently- playing more with her son, having more patience with her daughter, not being in a hurry the whole day, and ignoring her never-ending, always-present list of work and things to do.  this family is also trying to adopt a child from the congo.  they are in the referral phase, but when people ask about their progress in the adoption process, they reply they are in the "discouraged" phase where it seems like nothing is happening. 

this is the same family.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


there is so much circling around in my head, but i don't have the appropriate words or mental capacity to get them in writing.  my mood ( attitude?) changes from second to second.  no big news here, is looming.  i have two weeks left with stimson until he starts school.  i am sad, excited, sentimental, tired, hopeful, and anxious.  wondering, fretting, dreaming, questioning, and anticipating.  it feels like such a big step.  it seems so different this year because  he is going out in the big world.  he is starting his academic career.  he is going to be exposed to snacks that comes in boxes, cartoon characters, and mean kids.  and i know the day is coming where i will not be his best friend anymore.  merritt will miss having stimson around, although i am hopeful there will be less squawking during the day.  i can't say i will miss the frequent antagonizing, but i will miss many other things.  i will miss my helper, my salad eater, my chore buddy, my translator, my story reader, and my question man.  (today: mom... do ants make any noise at all?)

it is difficult and wonderful watching stimson grow up.  some things seem like they came so suddenly.  he goes in public bathrooms by himself, he is asking when he can drive, he wants to pay for things himself,
he takes care of merritt, he uses superlatives to describe everything, he can go on an airplane by himself.  still waiting on other things: not crying like he is on the verge of death every time he gets a scrape, tall enough to wash dishes, watching his sister so we can leave the house and moving on from curious george (for the life of me, i cannot understand why the man with the yellow hat is constantly leaving).

but there is a part of me that cannot wait for school to start.  my patience ran out mid-july.  my ambition ran out shortly after, and my sleep deprivation is hitting record highs.  i am tired.  i am tired of trying wishing i could get stuff done during the day.  and then doing that stuff in the evenings instead.  i am ready to have more time to work, time to breathe, time to think. i am hopeful this will happen some day.  even if it is decades from now.  i need groceries, but i need to clean the fridge before i fill it up.  and i need to make a grocery list.  i need to think about what to make before i can make a grocery list.   i need to look through recipes before i know what to make.  and i want to invite someone over to eat but i need to look at recipes so i can think about what to make so i can make a list and clean my fridge and go to the grocery store.  all of this takes minutes and i have only seconds.

in all the hectic-ness of summer, there have been many enjoyable moments.  this week i took the kids huckleberry hunting.  we headed up a trail with merritt leading the way.  at one year old, she is a fierce little hiker.  (for about ten minutes)  we searched for huckleberries and merritt kept asking about the orange berries.  it is hard to explain to a one-year old why some berries are delicious and some are destructive.  we made little progress on the trail or in our huckleberry buckets. but there were lots of rocks and sticks along the way.  normally we have a pretty lofty agenda when we are hiking concerning how far and how long we will be hiking.  but i didn't have any plan for miles today.  we climbed rocks, poked sticks in the dirt and balanced on logs.  it was nothing at all as far and hiking and huckleberries are concerned, but it was wonderful and memorable in all other respects.  we turned around at no particular place at all and headed back to the car with no rushing at all, which was really nice and really weird. (have you seen the article from the huffington post about the mom who decided to quit hurrying?  is she going to come back to earth anytime soon???)  five paces minutes from the start of the trail we found one beautiful huckleberry.  success!

there was a river near the start of the hike and we played in the water there for a long time.  peaceful.  i couldn't exactly say why this hike was so enjoyable for all of us.  and then i realized why: my phone had no reception and i had left it in the car and there were no people around to look at.  it is so funny and frustrating to me how distracting those two things are.  i don't even realize it until they are absent.  when we are back in the real world it is almost impossible to just focus on your kids and not be concerned with other people coming and going all around us.  i have tried and tried.  but it is just not happening.  there were very few people on the trail and i didn't know them anyway.  oh such freedom.

on our way back, my phone came back to life.  beep, beep, ring, beep, blood pressure escalating.  trying to balance work and play and kids and meals and house and yard and garden and friends and husbands and birthday presents and dirt is just too much sometimes.  my phone is a huge time-saver and the bane of my existence.  goodbye huckleberry and river and hello emails and texts.  here we go. two more weeks...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

heads i win, tails you lose

summer is flying by...and i know this because brad just told me football practice starts this weekend.  this is big news.  it means the official start of college football season is single-digit weeks away.  our tv has been off for months and in four weeks it will be glowing with ultra-important football news.  brad is really passionate about football.  i tried am trying will try to get excited about football.  i want brad to enjoy football but i hate the time and money wasted on a game that brings wealth to jerks, injuries to players and heartache to my husband.  i want to have it my way.

i want lettuce from my garden but i don't want to wash it.  i want to hike with stimson but i don't want to tell a story.  i want merritt to grow up but not get older. i want to get my work done but i don't want any problems.  i want cooler days but i don't want summer to be over.  i want to camp but i want to eat vegetables.  i want to sit down and read a book but i want to have my house organized for the next day.  i want to cook but i don't want to clean up.  i want to have a glass of wine but i want to have a good run in the morning.  i want to adopt a baby but i want it to happen now and at the right age and i want it to be easy and i want to have no problems and i want it to be free.  i want the other side of the coin.  oh how easy to wish for tails when you get heads.

on the adoption front- NOTHING is happening. except for the passage of time.  (which is something i guess) it almost feels like it did when we were wanting/hoping/trying to get pregnant and it wasn't happening.  we were trying to plan our lives around an event that we dreamed about but had no basis in reality.  somehow you have to make daily decisions- big and small, even though our lives could change at any moment.  should i take this new job?  should we plan a vacation?  should we spend money on travel?  do we need a car that can fit three car seats?  do we need bunk beds?  should we be getting vaccinations?  should we be talking and planning about things that we have no idea about?  should we even be thinking about the future?  should i get rid of our old baby clothes?  how much to keep?  3 month size?  6 month?  girl? boy?

our kids are getting bigger and we are getting older and we have no news to report about new babies.
but we do have other big news:  stimson climbed his first mountain last week.

and merritt sat in the bus seat by herself!

Monday, July 8, 2013


i didn't have it today.  not a complete catastrophe-of-a-day, but definitely not winning best-mom-of-the-day today.  (not getting runner-up either)  stimson has to know every single detail about every little thing concerning anything.  and i just didn't feel like answering today.  why can't i just answer the pointless questions?  what are we having for breakfast tomorrow?  why is that digger digging that grass up?  why do we need to pick weeds?  why are they irritating frustrating annoying grueling to answer?  why i don't have all the patience i need?  and why why why is there so much to do????   and when when when will i be able to get enough sleep to have patience to answer questions about cheetahs and jaguars and how they are different and how we can tell them apart and where they live and which one this is a picture of and why is it not the other one and when will it be the other one and which do i like better and would i be scared to see one and which one would be scarier and why am i not scared of the other one if i am more scared of the first one and and and...

we just got back from camping and there is so much to do around the house.  and like i mentioned before stimson has no "hurrying" skills.  i was frantically trying to get some things done and he asked me to play with him.  ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  i worked on a puzzle with him and then told him he could play with merritt while i finished dabbled in a few things.  then i felt guilty.  why can't i just play trains with him for ten minutes? first- maybe tomorrow, second- i don't know how to play trains, third- i have too much whizzing around in my head.  but suddenly stimson was chasing merritt, bouncing on the bed, laughing and giggling.  i paused.  oh how i love that sound.  some of my guilt was gone.  i think i need to just say no, i can't do that right now, and let him make up his own games.  they were having so much fun and it wasn't even orchestrated by me.  hooray!!!

and this made me think of how stimson is really so good with merritt. i think all parents say that about their children's relationships with each other.  (but i think stimson is the best and i am entitled to my own opinions about my own son and you can't argue with me because this is my own writing)  he understands her and speaks her language so well.  we have been calling merritt 'sweet pea' and stimson does the same.  but he knows she can't say that quite clearly so he has shortened it to pee-pee which has been very helpful as you can imagine.  we have been calling stimson 'timmy' thinking that would be easier for merritt to say and easier for other kids to understand as well.  (everyone always thinks stimson says his name is simpson and we all think bart as soon as anyone says simpson)  but merritt and stimson have shortened up timmy to be titty.  (apparently m's are harder when they are combined with other sounds)  so this is all super helpful and cute, except when we are in public.  we were all at costco yesterday and brad had (or was supposed to have) the kids while i ran through the store to grab our usual cart full of bulk groceries that will somehow only be enough for one week for our family of four .  i was trying to check out with most of the rest of the population and hoping i wouldn't see anyone i knew so i could just run out and be done.  but i spotted (meaning they spotted me) some friends near the checkout as i was working on getting to the front of the line.  i talked to them for a bit but saw brad out of the corner of my eye (moms have lots of corners in their eye) and he ran up to me and desperately frantically asked "where are titty and peepee?"

i'll just let that sit there a minute.

i am honestly not sure what my friends thought he was talking about and i just said see you later and walked out.  classy.

here was our lunch in glacier two days ago.  no to-do list up here.  no cheetahs or jaguars either.

Monday, July 1, 2013

June Cookies and Comments

1. My five year-old has no quiet volume setting nor a fast speed setting.  No matter how hard I try.
(solution: never get in a situation where we have to hurry or be quiet) (reality: maybe 20 years from now)
2. A 15 hour road trip is about 14 hours too long with young kids.
3. A 15 hour road trip actually takes about 30 hours to complete.
4. Stimson aspires to be a perfectionist.
5. Merritt aspires to thwart Stimson's aspirations.
6. I try every day but the house is only getting messier.
7. My "anti-aging" cream can't keep up with my "aging".
8. Merritt's agenda lately is to dismantle the grocery store. (and for some reason the employees don't think it is that cute)
9. My summer reading list has no checkmarks yet.
10. Sitting is the new smoking.

It is hot here.  We have been making these "cookies". No oven required.
They have five ingredients, no cooking, no dairy or wheat or sugar, and we all like them.
original recipe here

Walnut Cookies
2 c walnuts
1 c coconut, shredded, unsweetened
1/4 raw honey
2 pinches sea salt
1 t vanilla

Blend all in a food processor about one minute until smooth.  Smash into little balls and put on parchment paper.  Flatten and keep in the freezer until ready to eat.  They get soft fast.

Monday, June 24, 2013


summer solstice + full moon + scary dreams = NO sleep for mom and dad 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Mom? Mom? Mom?

It is difficult to believe that some of the things that happen today I may not remember someday.  I always think I will remember all (and i mean all) of the questions that stimson asks me.  (we're talking millions)  i enjoy the questions.  most of the time.  and by that i mean i really enjoy seeing how his brain works.  but sometimes i would just like to take one breath before there is another question.  just a breath.  and sometimes i wonder why he doesn't have to breathe as much as i do.  unfortunately stimson isn't able to multitask.  (either because of his age or his gender.  or maybe both.)  so whenever (constantly) he is asking a question, he stops whatever he is doing to ask a very "important" question.  of course that makes it quite difficult to actually leave the house and go anywhere because there are so many questions to answer that it is usually time to come back home before we even get out of the house.

we went on a short bike ride today and the questions were steady.  i had to write some of them down so i could remember twenty years from now what was buzzing in his head.  each and every time stimson asks a question, he says mom first.  even if i am two inches away. even if no one else is around.  even if it was just the two of us in a small room on a remote island in the middle of the ocean.  each one is always prefaced with "mom".  mom?  yes? mom? yes?  mom? mom? mom?

s: mom? yes?  what do you like better- a crow or a gopher?
s: mom?  can you break a piece of cotton?  even with a propeller?
s: mom?  why are birds scared of people?
s: mom?  isn't it sad to see a squished gopher?
      m: yes- and gross.
s: well i think it is just sad.  and why don't they wait until the cars stop to cross the road?
s: mom? what do you like better worms or birds?
     m: well, i think i like them both.
s: you can't like them both, birds eat worms so you can either like one or the other.
i like the logic of that one.  we just recently had some blood drawn and blood pressure taken (within view of stimson).  he had thousands of questions.  and it was hard to explain why and what was going on.  i was trying very hard but i was pretty sure my blood pressure was sky rocketing while i answered all the questions related to that.  (and the purpose of the exam was to prove how healthy we are so our life insurance rates are so low that they will pay us to insure us)  having a heart attack at that moment would not have been exactly beneficial.

and will i remember all the super fun grocery store visits?  i would be mortified if i found out that someone knew how many times we go to the grocery store each week.  but i have a good excuse: every single time we go i have a list and every time we go i get approximately 63% of the items on my list.  the rest of the time is spent trying to go potty with merritt, answering stimson's questions (hard to read a list at the same time), putting all of merritt's groceries back that she rips off the shelves (constantly), explaining to the cashier that i don't want all of the energy bars; they just happen to be in our cart, trying to go potty again, forgetting my wallet in the car, forgetting my list in the car, trying potty again, playing with the water fountain, getting three produce bags for three carrots, with a separate twisty tie for each of those carrots, trying potty again.  and finally going potty!!!  and or course while we are in there someone is next to us also going potty.  merritt hears their potty going and she cheers for them.  yay!!!  ok your turn merritt.  concentrate.  and for some reason every time merritt goes or tries to go potty we have to take almost all of her clothes off.  it is quite endearing (and by that i mean frustrating) to undress every time we "try" to go potty.  costco is the absolute worst.  we are always in the fruit section when she says potty!  potty! potty!  the fruit section is approximately two zip codes away from the bathroom.  then we finally get there and have to go through everything- cheering for everyone else in the bathroom, taking all her clothes off, then telling her not to touch anything but or course she touches everything, then washing hands and trying to run out of the room before she touches more things.  every grocery store trip takes twenty-three  times longer than if i were alone.  but i love it! and by that i mean some of the time.  however, on the rare occasion that i go to the store alone (as in by myself, with no one else in or out of the cart or car. as in never), it does feel like a vacation of sorts.

but not the kind of vacation that is memorable.  whereas most every other grocery store visit makes some kind of "special" memory (even if it isn't the kind of memory i want etched in my mind). in twenty years when i shop by myself all the time, i imagine i will miss making a memory every time i go to the grocery store.  it is hard to imagine that though.  at the very least i know i will look back at this and think how boring it is to go potty by myself.  or maybe i will still be cheering for the lady next to me.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

true love

do you ever just sit there and feel like you have so much to do but you can't figure out what is most urgent at that exact moment in time?  i had a moment like that tonight.  it lasted about half a second and then i heard a crash in the other room.  i paused for another half a second to listen for the cry.  nothing.  next second, i turned around and decided: dishes.  headed to the dishes, my phone rang.  i answered the phone; because i can talk on the phone and do dishes. while on the phone i walked in the other room to see what had crashed.  nothing bad.  i was about to head back to the dishes and i noticed merritt had a wee little potty accident.  and by that i mean there was poop all over her leg and the carpet.  ugh. phone call over.  (did she do that before or after i answered the phone?  somehow my kids have a marvelous ability to do something disastrous as soon as i get that phone anywhere close to my head)

a few weeks ago i had put merritt down for a nap.  she usually talks for a while before falling asleep.  today she talked for a looooooooooong time.  it went on for an hour and it was getting close to the time where we would have to get up to get stimson from school.  so i went upstairs ready to hug and tell merritt how much i had missed her in the last hour.  before i even got to the crib, i could smell bad stuff.  really bad.  then i got closer and i saw it: everywhere.  same substance referred to earlier.  somehow she had taken her diaper off and had it smeared everywhere.  legs, arms, blankets, sheets, hands, feet, hair, face, and worst of all, THE blankie.  start laundry, triple bath, open the windows, clean, clean, clean.

have i mentioned how much i love being a mom?

i was wondering if my mom ever had to do that with me.  and probably the more relevant question, does she even remember if she ever had to do that?  because i am going to remember this.  i also remember a friend telling me a similar story a couple of years ago and thinking i would NEVER EVER let that happen to my kid.  gross.

i did not take a picture of this incident.  and i probably didn't handle it the way a patient, understanding, and gentle mom would have.  so thankful for generous forgiveness from my children.  i am hoping we can get a great start to a new day tomorrow, and that all diaper contents remain in the diaper until disposed of properly.  surely that will help me be patient, understanding, and gentle.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


i don't have anything pressing or urgent to write right now.  except that i am so thankful for my kids and my husband and our health and our house and rain and food and naps and parks and grills and bikes and the community food co-op.  i could also make a brief list of things i am NOT thankful for (child tantrums, weeds, runny noses, weeds, potty accidents, weeds), but i won't do that now.  feeling very grateful.

but snacks.  snacks are one of those things that quickly jump from my thankful category to the frustrating (with much overlap) category.   i have often witnessed how a simple and seemingly innocent afternoon snack destroys any remote possibility that a food from the elusive and problematic vegetable category could make it into a child's mouth stomach at dinnertime.  i was not going to be one of those moms that let snacks ruin my child's appetite for cauliflower.  from the beginning, i had been determined to keep snacks limited to major holidays and odd-numbered years.  alas, i have failed. compromised. reconsidered.  it started out small.  it began with some carrots for merritt after her nap because she was too picky to eat the lunch that i had given her earlier.  then she wanted something else and was increasingly "agitated" (picture rolling around on the floor or dirt) until she got more.  so fruit followed carrots.  but then stimson was jealous and felt "slighted".  so then it was two snack cups- one for merritt with leftover lunch that wasn't good enough at lunchtime, and the other with fruit or vegetables for stimson who had eaten too much at lunch already.

this is such a slippery slope though.  and as anyone with a five-year old can testify to, if you do something once, that is the way it needs to be done from now on or for eternity, whatever is longest.  our snacks got bigger and more regular and absolutely necessary.  i used to give merritt snacks on the way to pick stimson up from school.  then stimson would want his after i got him, but then merritt would see his and want more.  so then i had to wait until we got to school to give it to both of them, but stimson didn't want merritt's leftover avocado-bean mushdish so i had to disguise and separate the snacks.  but then merritt caught on that stimson ate his snack with his hands and it was crunchy.  you can't eat avocado-bean mush with your hands and it is definitely not crunchy.  so she was less than happy (picture more rolling). i had to figure out something they could both eat.  so now they eat the same things at the same time from the same size cup.  we started out eating it on the bus on our way home from school. then it was on the way to the bus. then it was in the parking lot at school before we even started our trip home.  but now it has become such a necessary part of life that I can't even make it out of the school before we start eating our snacks.  i wish i could say stimson is excited to see me after school and that merritt is excited to see stimson, but really all the anticipation and excitement is to see what is in the two little cups that accompany me everywhere i go.

all of this is frustrating and endearing.  both.  (that wonderful satisfaction that comes with giving your kids what they want).  now that snacks have become a life or death situation, i still have a problem with my own eating habits.  i get hungry during the day.  and i try to throw a quick fistful of something into my mouth before anyone under the age of six notices.  but it doesn't always work. i can quietly and stealthily sneak into the pantry without even turning the light on and somehow they know i am in there.  one second later, there they are, using their best manners to beg for a bit of whatever i am chewing.  whatever.  they know if i am eating it in the corner, in the dark, by myself, it must be good.  you would think i am describing a secret drinking problem but no, this is really all about pistachios and dried mangoes.  what would they do if they knew what i really eat after they go to bed each night.  those beautiful and holy 18-and-over "snacks": ice cream, cookies, and chocolate.  and those beauties i eat out in the open with the lights on.  no brown bag required.  and for that, i am thankful.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


i'm not entirely sure why i/we are writing a blog.  oh yes, it is to update everyone on our adoption progress and status. but... real life is still going on, and not much adoption news to report.  busy, fun, hectic, exciting life.  so i am guessing we will keep writing about everyday life for now and we will be able to look back and see what was going on before and after we went through the process.  (an online diary?) (a record of events?) (a status report?) but i don't want anyone that does read this (and people have told us they do!) (why??) to think we want everyone to know all about us or that we are prideful or arrogant or desperate or crazy or perfect.  i hope, hope, hope it doesn't come across that way.  i'm writing for me because i have always wanted to write more stuff down. and i want to remember the little things and big things.  and because my parents live 1000 miles away.  and because i want to write a book someday.  and because i never remember the funny and cute things that my kids did last week.  and because i am so thankful for our friends that want to stay in touch with us (that is a serious one).  and i am writing to see what my husband says.  and a warning: i have long-wanted to write a cooking blog so i may back-door my way to a cooking blog yet.  i love feeding my family and friends good food and i like sharing food with anyone and everyone that will eat it. (and everyone needs to eat, including kids- whether they are young or old, picky or not picky, merritt or stimson, obedient or disobedient, adopted or biological, girl or boy, good sleepers or bad sleepers, public-schooled or private-schooled, well-dressed or just dressed, active or sedentary, standing or rolling around on the floor, listening or not listening) (can you tell what we have been thinking about lately???) (and how about the use of parentheses in this blog post!!)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Who is that?

We sit and we wait...and wait...we forget that we completed our home study a few months ago....we forget that we are adopting.  Friends and family ask for updates on our adoption.  Adoption.....oh yeah.  I forgot.  Umm, well things were moving fast until now.  We received a letter a few weeks ago indicating everything was approved by Immigration.  All that means is our forms were sent on to our agency to begin the process to find a match.  We wonder if our child has even been born....if it will still be a year or longer before we will hear anything.  Or maybe our child is born...and they will be 3 years old by the time we can bring them home.  Meanwhile, we have biological children at home that are growing up.  They are entertaining and interactive.  I'm just getting used to balancing Stimson's questions and his stories, biking, and analytic mind with Merritt's independent, daring, 'supervision-required' lifestyle.  I am a guy....and it is hard for me to multi-task....listening to Stimson's complex and detailed questions while rescuing our daughter who has managed to climb up anything she can find.  Now adding a third?  And what age will that child be when that time comes? Will they also ask the same questions or will they be daring or what will their personality be??

As we await the adoption process to run its course, I often think back to various points in this journey where we have been nudged forward towards adoption.  In this moment, I think back to when Stimson was celebrating his 2 1/2 year old birthday.  We do celebrate and make a bigger deal out of his 1/2 birthday since his birthday is on Christmas Eve.  (Maybe that is because my birthday is around that same time and I still think back to the combo gifts I got at that time of the year when I was younger and the parties that were difficult to have with friends since they were home on Christmas break.) It is also much nicer to celebrate in the summer with his friends, as the kids can play outside.  We invited several of his friends....and some of mom and dad's friends, including a family that had recently adopted from Ethiopia.  At that point in our life, we had seriously considered adoption but were not at a place where we were ready to take the financial and emotional plunge.  Back to the birthday....those friends of mom and dad showed up with their white biological child and their adopted Ethiopian child.  Living in a very white community, Stimson had very little exposure to other races.  This Ethiopian child (very cute) walked in and Stimson's 2 1/2 year old mouth dropped.  He said "Who is that?  I'm not playing with him.".  At that point, Katy and I both looked at each other and said "We are adopting.".

Adoption for us is more than doing something that sounds cool or noble.  It is not something that we are doing so we can unload some cash....after all we are still picking up pennies to get closer to our goal.  Adoption is about rescuing a child, loving a child without love, feeding a child that doesn't have food, teaching ourselves and our kids that life is not just about us...doing for one what we wish we could do for a world of less fortunate children.  It is about having a multi-cultural family and having that be ok and normal.  We have a lot of unknowns related to our multi-cultural family and we expect to be answering that question ourselves - "Who is that?"

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

to be honest...

i'm really scared.  of snakes. and of adopting.  i am scared of all the unknowns, all the risk, all the money, all the time, and all kinds of inconsequential and silly things.  i'm so scared it will be different, it will feel different, i will parent different, i will be different.  i'm scared of getting too old while we are waiting for this to happen and that i won't be able to keep up with all the juggling and activity that is required for being a mom.  i'm really scared i won't naturally love a new child in the same way i love my biological children.  i'm scared it will take a lot of work and effort to make myself love a new and mysterious strange little child.  i'm scared to travel.  i'm scared i am annoying whoever is reading this because i keep repeating the word scared.  i am scared of the congo.  i am scared they won't have lettuce there and i really like lettuce.  i'm scared my lettuce won't make it through customs and i will have to smuggle it into the country when we go.  i'm scared they will have snakes there.

and what if i can't do the baby thing again?  i would not be sad to be done potty training anyone for the rest of my life  or to be done feeding them mysterious, mushy things with one hand and feeding myself with the other.  i kind of like being able to dump a bunch of food on a plate- deconstructed (stimson) or dissected (merritt) or wrapped in a tortilla (brad) or dumped on some lettuce (me) and knowing we are all eating relatively the same thing at the same time, put into our own mouths by our own hands.  i'm not sure i want to go back to the helplessly fed mystery puree.  i am ok with high chairs though, at least the ones with buckles and straps and belts and padlocks.  i kind of wish we could use those until age 10.

we are in a waiting and wondering and hoping stage.  and looking for high chairs with better straps.  and avoiding snakes.  and stocking up on lettuce.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

we're back!

sometimes you feel recharged after a vacation (or so i have been told), and other times you feel like discharging yourself from all there is to do when you get home.  it is nice to be home but we all have vacation hangovers- the kids are in entitled and spoiled mode (might be the fault of certain relatives); the parents are in tired mode (might be the fault of certain relatives).  but we did it.  we made it across the border to canada and back into the usa thanks to our magic documents.  we even ran a marathon while we were there.  vancouver was really beautiful, but it felt like a foreign country. or at least a very big city.  there were very high heels and very big purses.  i had flip flops and a backpack.  i couldn't compete with the style standards but i don't think my toes would have fit in any other shoes except flip-flops anyway after running 26 miles.  and somehow a purse doesn't seem appropriate for maps, water bottle, extra kid clothes, another water bottle, snacks, another water bottle, shovels, buckets, and one more water bottle.  there were parks, mountains, an ocean, river, island, beaches, and lots of great weather.

we are home and back to running in four different directions.  school, day care, work and the home office.  we stopped at the grocery store on the way home from school as we do pretty much every day of the week.  merritt was in crazy chaos mode, stimson was in loud mode, so merritt went deeper into crazy chaos mode and stimson got even louder.  i contemplated going back on vacation (alone).  it is really hard to get merritt to go any appropriate direction lately.  she is really into rocks and between our house and school there are millions of rocks.  i think she picked up every one of them today.  it was an exhausting and challenging afternoon just getting from school back to home.  i had to make sure the teachers could see how i was a patient mom, i had to let merritt look at every single rock, i had to answer all of stimson's questions, i had to have dinner ready to eat when we walked in the door because i had a work meeting scheduled that got cancelled approximately one minute before it was supposed to happen.  urg.  but i am so glad to be home wearing my flip-flops and toting my backpack.  i am so glad i got to make dinner in my own house, i got to pick up my kids and answer questions and look at rocks and sleep in my own bed.  the kids are both sleeping now and the crazy loud chaos earlier today is just a happy memory.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

hold tight

it feels like there has been so much death and destruction this week.  sometimes i am so scared of what might happen in the future.  if i just sit here and hold you tight, nothing will happen, right?  or if i make you wear a helmet twenty four hours a day we will be safe, right?  oh how i love my children.  everything.  i love the way you both have no idea that we know three people that died this week from stroke complications. and then the whole boston marathon drama.  (not to mention that we are planning on running a marathon in two weeks.)  (it is in canada though and fortunately canada has no enemies)  i love the way they grab my legs every evening at 5p and ask for apples; the way they make each other laugh; the way they love feeding the ducks in our pond; the way they love being chased; the way they laugh; the way they always try to delay bedtime; the way Stimson loves ketchup; they way Merritt hates ketchup; the way Stimson tries to stick his toothbrush to his forehead; and the way Merritt makes a mess and Stimson cleans it up.  Can we fit one more in the middle of these?  it is so hard to imagine, but i think it can happen.
(i think we need a bigger car though...)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

plus one decision

I have been meaning to write this for a long time.  My season...and yet I'm not the one that has been doing taxes.  That would be my wife who nearly four days removed is still working through the tax hangover.

Many have asked how we arrived at the decision to adopt.  To answer that question, we would have to go back to the pre-kid days....those days when sleep was easy to come by, eating meals slow was a common occurrence, road trips in the car involved naps and deep conversations with my wife, and sleeping-in was not  6:30a.  Like all couples, we had the conversation about kids - when, how many, what characteristics we hoped they would inherit from our genes, how perfect and obedient they would be, and how we would easily be better parents than those around us.  At that time, we tossed around the idea that we would like to adopt someday.  Honestly, I think it sounded like a noble idea that we would realistically never pursue.

Fast forward a few years....we were ready to have kids and be the best parents we could.  We assumed having kids was a matter of waiting 9 months.  After many months of trying to have kids, having doctors help us try to have kids, trying to smile when people would ask us when we were going to have kids, and reading an article in the paper everyday of another child being killed, abused, or left to fend for themselves....we were ready to give up.  In fact, we did give up only to find out the month we gave up, Katy was pregnant with Stimson.  It took us a couple of months to find out that we were pregnant.  I was out of town and Katy had that feeling that a woman only gets - a feeling that something is not normal.  About 5 pregnancy tests later and a doctor's appointment to validate the craziness, we were humbled to find out that we were going to have a biological child. Stimson came along and has blessed us ever since.

Two to three years later, we were ready to have a second child.  After experiencing the frustration of not being able to get pregnant again, Katy and I discussed how much longer we would continue to try.  We were not willing to go through everything we did with our first attempt to get pregnant.  We were also at a crossroads in our life...what should we do to give back to the world?  were we doing what we wanted to do?  was life about working, making money, and having stuff?  or was there something we could do to make sure we didn't continue on the treadmill of the American dream?  Around that same time, we heard a message from a speaker challenging us to do our part to make a difference in the world.  Living in America, it is easy to get lost and comfortable in the security and wealth of our country.  We like our comforts and frankly, we like us.  Coming home from hearing that speaker, Katy and I were already on the same page without talking.  We were ready to one.  That challenge was enough to push us over the edge to do for one what we wish we could do for a whole world.

We went all in, pursuing an adoption from Ethiopia.  In fact, we applied to an adoption agency and dropped a bunch of money to start the process.  Only one problem a week into this new process....Katy had one question for me.  What would we do if we found out she was pregnant.  "Well, I think we would figure it out and we would probably have another child", I said matter of factly.  Katy's response - "I'm pregnant."  We processed many emotions - humbled, happy, frustrated that we were having our own child while another child was stuck in an orphanage somewhere without parents.  Along came Merritt and a minimum of 6 months of waiting to re-start the adoption process.  We challenged the process, begging adoption agencies to grant us an exception....that we could continue to adopt without waiting 6 months.

After many sleepless nights the first 10 months of Merritt's life, we thought about nothing except trying to make it through that day.  We had many days of wondering if it was possible to function on an average of 4-5 hours of sleep a day for 10 months...whether it was even healthy for Merritt to sleep 30 minutes a day at the age of 6 months?  Adoption....became the furthest thing in our mind

This past year, we were ready to start the process again.  Now, we are continuing on our path of adoption.  We are excited to have a multi-cultural family.  We are anxious to rescue a child that will likely have no parents.  We are ready to share our love with another one.

Monday, April 8, 2013


first haircut! clearly she is quite thrilled.
hair stylist: "do you want to keep part of the hair"
no thanks. second child. not necessary.

do you have those weird milestones that help mark out your progress?  i.e. we will be leaving on our trip before the milk expires.  i'll be there in two sleeps. i just have one more mile. ten more miles. fifteen more miles. (training for a marathon right now) one more bite and then you can have some apple.  one more week and tax season will be over! one more book and then it is time for bed. one more hour and then i can go to bed!!

i wonder about which milestones or memories will come and go before we go to the congo.  maybe merritt will be sleeping through the night by then (unlikely).  maybe stimson will be in school.  maybe i will be working at a different job.  maybe i won't be working.  maybe merritt will eat ketchup.  maybe merritt will eat vegetables.  maybe ketchup will help merritt eat vegetables.  maybe stimson will be driving.  maybe we will won't eat sugar.  maybe we will won't eat wheat.  maybe we will won't eat dairy.  maybe merritt will be able to reason, just a little bit (hopefully).  maybe our neighbors will get a hot tub.  maybe we will get a new car.  maybe our neighbors will get a new car.  maybe our house will be cleaner. maybe our house will be worth more than it is now.  maybe we'll be richer.  maybe we'll be poorer.  maybe it's all relative.  and most importantly, maybe, just maybe, skinny jeans will finally be out of style!

Thursday, April 4, 2013


so i honestly wonder what it is going to be like to have a kid that we did not make and carry and birth and feed every second of the kid's life.  i know that is natural to question but i do wonder how that will feel once we have all "adjusted" to being our family of four plus one.  (hopefully it will feel like a family of 5)  of course it will but still...  we (the two kids and i) walked down the block the other day to meet a new neighbor and say hi.  we did that and then we were going to go to the park down the street.  but, as it so often happens, we (thing 1 and thing 2 and i) got distracted by rocks. (fortunately they were both distracted by these rocks)  there was nothing special about the location or the type of these rocks.  it was just a pile of rocks near some new construction.  i started to tell them we should get going to the park.  but then i stopped myself.  i wanted to get them to the park so they could play but they were doing just fine playing with rocks.  so i sat down to watch and be the recipient of rock rain and rock soup and rock treasures.  i have been working so much lately and it was so nice to just sit there and watch and participate instead of rushing to go on to the next thing.  most likely i was just tired and i tend to be more emotional (we all do i'm sure) when i am tired, but i also tend to be more reflective when we have these little breaks from busyness.  it was so welcome and nice to just watch them.  but then i started to wonder if i will feel exactly the same watching an adopted kid play with plain old boring rocks as i do with my biological kids.  they were dumping rocks into my hands and my heart was exploding. will my heart explode when our adopted kid wants to be chased by us, when they want to hold our hand, when they dump rocks into a pile?  logically i know it will feel the same, or at least it will eventually feel the same and i will get the same heart strings tugged on by crooked smiles and silly questions.  but how long before it will feel like that?  and will i have to force it?  tell myself that it is the same?  i'm sure i won't, but i still know that my biological children are wonderful and beautiful and frustrating and discouraging.  they can break my heart and make my heart in the span of two seconds.  when our neighbor kids plays with rocks it doesn't seem quite as adorable or endearing- my kids are perfect to me (well, you know what i mean).  i guess i know deep down that my heart is just going to get bigger and i will love watching all three equally marvelous children make rock soup and rock rain.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

good mom

i dropped merritt off at daycare this morning as i have done for the past three months.  she didn't cry.  she didn't start playing. she didn't wave. she didn't protest.  she has done all of those other days, but today she just stared at me.  i closed the door and started to leave and she kept staring through the window.  what is she thinking???? betrayal:  how could you leave me? confusion: why do i keep coming to this place? tolerance: i hate it here but i know you will come back in a few hours. disgust: i will be coming home in a few hours and i will be bringing home more germs with me, different than the ones I brought home on Monday.

i have so much work to do but some days i wonder if i should be working.  mom guilt is thick and heavy and it sticks to everything.  syrup.  this afternoon i stopped doing all the things that need to be done to play with my kids, but it never feels like enough- for me or for them.  and there is always so much other stuff to do.  and why do we have to eat every single day?  three times a day!!! there is always another meal to start working on.  should we stay at the park longer? of course; it is so nice out.  but then dinner will be late and the rest of the evening will disintegrate. i get annoyed at all "those" mom who can make dinner at eight in the morning.  there is something wrong about chopping onions while you are still drinking coffee.  but while we are playing at the park i was wishing i had something already cooking in the oven.  constant decisions and choices, and i always make the wrong one.  there is so much guilt and regret and should/could/would haves in hindsight.

i'm working on going to bed and getting up the next day with no regrets of what should have been done or could have been done differently the day before.  but how do you do that when you work from  home and your work is sitting there, undone and lying there just around the corner, calling my name in the darkness.  kaaaaaaaattttttttteeeeeeeeeeee, come get me.  you know this person is frustrated that their taxes aren't done yet. kaaaateeeeeeeeeeee, how could you be so selfish as to sleep when you haven't finished this yet?

working at home (and trying to act professional), i feel like i need to be on call 24 hours a day.  of course, i also feel like i need to be mom 24 hours a day.  being an accountant i know that equals 48 hours in one day. which doesn't work out so well on a daily basis.  i try to have boundaries and definition as to when it is work time and when it is mom time, but it is so blurred.  that's probably a discussion for another day...
three more weeks until april 15th!

Thursday, March 21, 2013


The adoption process continues to move forward slowly.  A couple of days ago, we were able to check 'fingerprinting' off the list of tasks that move us one step closer to adopting.  We drove 3 hours in between my meetings and Katy's tax returns.  Why not...Katy's mom is in town and 3 hours without kids demanding food (app-le, app-le, app-le from a certain daughter of ours), a toy, or screaming simply because she has been in her car seat more than 5 minutes (Merritt) is very peaceful.  Not to mention, Katy figured out a way to do taxes in the about fun times.  Katy is now considering doing taxes in the garage with her taxes spread out on the dashboard.  It is very quiet in the car.  The whole process of fingerprinting took us about 10 minutes.  Five of those minutes were spent going through security (picture airport security) to make sure we....well, I'm not sure what the security check was for??  Another minute to use the restroom in our 10 minute pit stop.  Two minutes to fill out a form with two government employees watching us, mostly because they didn't have anything else to do and 1 minute each for us to both get fingerprinted.  We both left wondering if it would be possible for one person to do all of those tasks...probably another topic of discussion that each of you can ponder yourself regarding some government jobs.  Regardless, we finished the task and now get to wait until we have official approval for step closer to being on a waiting list for our referral (child).

The next item on our list - applying for grants.  That would be a task that falls on me.....or maybe I could blog and put off applying for grants.  After all, I have been delinquent in maintaining our blog.  Heck, my wife posted 3 long blogs...and that is while I'm fulfilling my new domestic role of cleaning the house, doing dishes, washing clothes, etc...while she does taxes.  Or is she doing taxes?  Either way, it is probably time for me to blog more so my wife can focus on taxes and make time for eating and sleeping.  It is March Madness...what better to do during halftime of the madness than to blog.    

Adding a child from the Congo to our family still seems like a long way way.  The process still seems slow, but when I consider how long we have been thinking about making this happen, the recent events of submitting our dossier and now waiting to get on the waiting list makes it seem like we are on the brink.  I plan to tell more about the process we went through to get to the point of deciding to adopt.  That will come soon...but for now I better make sure my basketball bracket is still intact and I should start the grant process.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

second chances

last week i brought stimson to the dentist.  it went well, his teeth were fine. blah blah blah.  but the dentist did ask him if he brushed his teeth at night and in the morning.  stimson, being the literal five-year old that he is (otherwise known as honest) said no.  my response would have been sometimes he brushes his teeth in the morning.  like most other people on the planet, mornings are usually pretty hectic trying to get out the door and there isn't a lot of time for non-essential tasks.  i am pretty picky about my own teeth and am literally (honestly?) terrified of the things that might go wrong inside my mouth.  i think i would rather pull off my fingernails watch a basketball game than have a root canal.  but stimson is five and has all his innocent, sparkling, white baby teeth.  bottom line- if we are really honest about this, he is going to get a second chance at keeping his teeth perfect.  my goal and intention is to brush morning and night every day, religiously, regularly, and routinely especially after the practice teeth are gone and the real set comes in.

but not stimson.  the next morning he got up, made his bed, and went straight into the bathroom to brush his teeth.  all before i even saw him that morning.  he didn't come downstairs boasting of his accomplishments either.  he just did it, matter-of-factly.  the dentist told him to brush his teeth; so that is what he did.  stimson listens and respects authority and doesn't question what those authorities tell him to do. obviously, this should have made me proud of him, and i was... but i immediately thought of merritt. she has never and will never operate like that.  if a dentist (or a parent or a doctor or her own mom) told her she should brush her teeth morning and night, she would not only not do it, she would probably stop altogether.  now, i realize she is only one and a half, but i can tell this about her already.  if i say go, merritt stops.  if i say right, merritt goes left.  she eats from her hand, not from my spoon.  i say you'll like it, she says yuck. stimson eagerly ate plain, pureed spinach.  merritt needs to have hers hidden in a smoothie and a bow tied around the glass.

so all of this has got me thinking that most likely our adopted child will fall into the middle of these two personalities, which is probably so far from reality and rather naive.  of course, the child could be similar to merritt or stimson in some ways.  however, since i have just two kids right now, i have just two categories.  in all actuality, this new-to-us child will be a third category that is yet undefined and unknown and it will be fun and exciting and challenging to find out.  i just hope they want to brush their teeth a lot and they like smoothies.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


As an update to Katy's last post, we are now scheduled to get fingerprinted!  We are one step closer to getting on a list to await our referral.  I am happy, but this is not where I go deep and share any more feelings than that.  Stay will happen.  I hope to share more soon about our path to adoption.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


waiting... to get a fingerprinting appointment at an "immigration-approved" office.  that would be helena, montana.  after our fingerprints prove that we are who we say we are then we can officially get on a waiting list for a child.  so more waiting.  meanwhile, working on taxes as fast as i can.  tax time is busy but kids are busier.  i sit my sweet (i can say that because we are related) merritt on the potty and turn around so she can concentrate on the task at hand.  she is distracted very quickly and easily so i try to give her some privacy and quiet.  no luck- i hear her lifting the toilet handle up and down, up and down.  i look in at her and she has completely turned around and has one foot in the toilet.  great.  it must be naptime, right? please?

i am trying to finish a tax return right now but i am having a hard time concentrating.  both kids were up a lot last night- bad dreams, teething, more bad dreams, more teeth, missing mom, wanting to play, etc. surely having a third child will make nights like that nonexistent.  undoubtedly.

merritt has figured out how to throw fits and tantrums quite well already.  (that's my girl!) when stimson did that at a young age i was devastated and embarrassed and wondered how i could already be failing so miserably as a parent.  when merritt rolled around on the floor at the grocery store crying and throwing a fit i took a picture.  must be a second child.

stimson is excited about getting a new brother or sister.  naturally, he is hoping for a brother.  i think he is most excited about the prospect of getting a bunk bed.  there will be more changes for him than just his sleeping arrangements, but at least he has the right perspective.

ok back to taxes and waiting for fingerprinting appointments...
i will try to get brad to write at some point.  he likes to publicly talk about his feelings.  as do all men.

p.s. a few people have told us they actually read this! hello sarah, becca, robyn, becky, and of course, my mom.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


sometimes i wish i had time to write.  i write in my head (talk to myself?) all the time. constantly.  but if i were to sit at my computer to write i would get a kid or two in my lap and they would be "helping" a great deal. merritt is so busy these days.  all kids are busy i guess but merritt is busy with chaos.  stimson is orderly and obedient; agreeable and amenable.  merritt is stubborn, willful, and a lover of chaos.  she goes the opposite of where we need to go and does the opposite of what we need to do.  

in other news: we finally got all our dossier documents together.  we mailed them last week.  i had spent that morning running around town gathering the final documents, making copies, running to fedex, grabbing coffee to stay awake on the drive to the post office, tossing toys to the back seat (merritt hates riding in the car).  i finally pulled up to the post office with my over-tired and over-hungry 17-month old.  i was frantically trying to get organized and saw that my groceries had tipped over.  and of course my lunch that included bright red beets and alfalfa sprouts had spilled all over the grocery bag and floor.  i frantically tried to throw all my official documents and copies together in an envelope (sans beets and sprouts and salad dressing) so we could run into the post office and quickly mail it and head home.  my heart sank as we walked in.  nothing tragic, papers still in hand, weather fine, remembered address and envelope.  no, it was much worse than that... there were at least 20 people standing in line.  waiting.  and those 20 people did not have a 1 1/2 year old.  i felt like asking to go to the front since i was mailing worthy and important documents and had a small baby that was practically crying.  i didn't.  maybe next time. wouldn't that be gutsy? 

so in we trudge. (i trudge, merritt explores)  i still have all my papers in a messy pile but now i realize i have plenty of time to get them organized.  i begin my task while merritt begins dismantling the post office waiting area.  first the cards go on the floor one by one. i put one paper in my pile, pick up three cards, one more in, pick up five more cards.  then she moves on to the change of address documents.  out they come and on to the floor.  not even one by one this time.  they are all over.  i quit working on my dossier and desperately search the crowd for a distraction.  it comes in right behind us in the form of a four-year old girl.  would you like to play with my daughter?  Please? Please?  i will pay you so much money if you can occupy her for five minutes.  well none of that was spoken out loud but merritt did pay a little attention to this girl.  long enough for her mom to ask me if we were adopting from the looks of our papers.  i said yes and she said they were too.  (really?)  she said where from?  i said congo. she said, us too.  (REALLY?)  they were much further along in their adoption process and were just about to go pick up their child from the congo.  exciting!  we had a little time to ask a few questions and i felt much calmer.  stuffed everything in, sealed it, mailed it and the postman took it from my arms and said, "next".  it was such a strange feeling to me to think i had just done something that would probably change our lives forever and he just handed me my receipt and said, "next".