Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Referral-versary the second time around

I know I have been a very delinquent blogger lately (uh...since Sept 2010 good grief!) and I do have a lot to fill you in on (big move, big milestones, etc) but I can't let today go by without a bit of fanfare. Today is our referral-versary.

Two years ago today, June 8, 2009, we saw this picture in our inbox

One year ago today, June 8, 2010...

Today, June 8, 2011

They are so big now-26 months old. They talk, sing, run, question, argue, climb, hug, laugh all the time. Independent and snugly at the same time. They are each other's best friend and still the greatest joys we have ever known. The more we learn about them, the more they learn about EVERYTHING...honestly, I have no words.

Right now, as I type this, I can hear Baby Girl on the monitor singing herself to sleep. Her own original mash up of Queen's Bicycle Race, an old camp song I used to sing to her at night, and Rainbow Connection. It goes something like this:  "Bicycle! Bicycle! I want a Bicycle today while blossoms on vines and I eat your strawberries. cause Rainbows are visions, only visions with nothing on other side"  Baby Boy, of course, has been asleep since the moment we laid him down so he misses out on her concert.  He spent the afternoon climbing up onto the top of our sofa and then jumping off into a pile of pillows. "Baby Boy jump! Again! Again!"

I had no idea when I saw that first photo what my life would be like with them in it, and now, two years later I can't begin to imagine what it would be like without them.

Baby Girl, Baby Boy - you are our hearts... xoxo

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Nanny Comes to Hollywood

Last month we had visitors...and not just any visitors but FAMILY! My parents, aka Granddaddy and Mama T, my grandmother, who I call Nanny but the twins call Grand-Nan, and my Aunt Sue.  
My parents come to visit us at least once a year but this was the first time Grand-Nan and Aunt Sue had come out.  In fact, it turns out it was a life-long dream of Grand-Nan's to come to Los Angeles.  A dream she NEVER MENTIONED! Yeah...sorta a shame she kept that to herself all these years. I mean, we could have made that dream come true a long time ago! And often! Oh well, better late than never I suppose and so in September my 91 year old grandmother came to Hollywood for the first time

Sadly, I didn't think to take blog-worthy photos so I've had to do some creative cropping in order to give you a sample of their visit.

Naturally, we had to show Grand-Nan the Hollywood Sign.

And Santa Monica Beach

There was some sort of trapeze group meeting at the beach that day so Grand-Nan and Aunt Sue got an eye-full of that craziness.   

We also spent an afternoon wandering around Beverly Hills and Rodeo Drive. Here is Grand-Nan pondering Prada's Fall collection.   

But mainly we just stayed home and played with The Twins. They LOVED all the attention and hugs. Finally, they had a house full of people who would play peek-a-boo and "where's my nose?" with them!

Baby Girl sharing secrets with her Granddaddy
Baby Boy studying the life aquatic with his Mama T
Aunt Sue learning the rules of the water table, "What happens at water table STAYS at water table."   

Over all it was an amazing (and too brief!) visit. One that I never thought would happen. The twins are truly blessed to be loved by so many people.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

For the record: 18 months

The latest change in our house. 4 tooth brushes in the bathroom. And yes, that is a Heros of the Torah collectible juice glass.

The Wonder Twins turned 18 months this weekend. 18 months. That means they are now a year and a half old, and according to books, this means they are no longer babies. Sigh. HOW did that happen?

In an effort at keeping track of the milestones that are flying by, I will now attempt to list the highlights:

  • They know 23 words, of which my favorites to hear them say are: Sissy (Baby boy's name for his sister),  bubbles, nana (banana), bye-bye (which is said in a slow southern drawl), toes, and of course, Mama & DaDa.
  • They know 11 American Sign Language signs including: please, thank you, book, help, bath, and fish. Granted, thank you & blowing kisses are pretty much the same, as is milk and star. It's all in the context.
  • They can tell you what each of the following says: lion, cow, chicken, sheep, elephant, truck (broom broom), 3 singing pigs (La La, La) and a ghost (boo).
  • They know all the movements to "The Wheels on the Bus," "Farmer Brown," and "Skidamarink"
  • Their current favorite joke is to fake cough until one of us says in a silly voice, "oh my...are you ok!?" This cracks them both up. 
  • Baby Girl has 6 teeth. Baby Boy has 5. But they seem to be teething 24/7 so more should be on the way soon. 
  • They never, ever stop moving. They walk, run, roll, dance, and pretend to fall (yes, they have mastered the pratfall). They wave, blow kisses, kick and throw balls (or trucks, or magna-doodles). They can climb stairs and the ladders for slides and think nothing of trying to step off a 2 foot high ledge. And yet, they will not step off the 5 inch high deck in our back yard without holding onto us. That's kinda weird.
  • When they aren't moving their other favorite thing to do is read. They can both sit for half an hour at a time just flipping through books on their own. Sometimes they babble the storyline out loud, sometimes they just skip to their favorite pages and 'read' that part ("all the hippos go berserk!" Recently they want to sit in our laps and 'read' to us.  Books are the #1 go-to toy for us.
  • They have moved past their fear of the baby doll and now fight over who gets to rock her and put her down for "nigh-nigh."
  • They know how to put away their toys. Baby Boy loves to clean up. All I have to do is sing the first 2 words of that darn "clean up" song and he is rushing to put books on the shelves. If there are no books to put away, he has been known to knock some down just so he can put them back. Baby Girl on the other hand... not so into cleaning. You hand her a book to put away and she will walk to the opposite corner and start reading. Baby Boy responds well to applause and high fives. Baby Girl might need money...
  • They can sorta, kinda use their forks and spoons. Ok, not really. But that's my fault. I have a hard time letting them get crazy and messy. So they don't get a lot of practice with utensils. I'm trying to be better about it...
  • They love straws. They will drink pretty much anything if you let them use a straw. And straws usually mean there is a lid. They like the straw, I like the limited mess potential. Win-win!
  • Baby Boy loves his trucks. He loves to make the broom-broom noise as he drives them along the window ledge. Which may or may not have something to do with his latest obsession: the broom. The boy loves to sweep. He also loves to drum and sing. He has one tune but three different sets of lyrics (dada, dadi and noni) and will sing on command.
  • Baby Girl loves to swing. We go to the park and all she does is stand by the swing set, signing 'please' over and over again. It's pretty cute and never fails to make some other parent instantly take their child out so Baby Girl can have a turn. Baby Girl is the Jim Carrey of toddlers--she can contort her face into all sorts of crazy looks. Anything to make her brother laugh.  She also loves to climb--slides, the sofas, beds, hills... she is Jim Carrey the goat. 
  • They genuinely seem to like each other. "Sissy" is the first word out of Baby Boy's mouth when he wakes up. And Baby Girl follows him around like he's a god. Sometimes they just look at each other and start laughing hysterically. I know boy/girl fraternal twins aren't supposed to have that mystical "twin thing" but I do think my kids can read each others mind sometimes.
  • They aren't all sunshine and good manners... oh no. We've hit the beginning of the Terrible Two's I think. If they don't want to hold your hand they will let their whole body go limp so you are suddenly dragging dead weight. If they don't want what's on their plate they throw it. Diaper changing time has become an Olympic wrestling match with both of them. Baby Girl can burst into ear-splitting, tearful screams in .2 seconds. Baby Boy spends his days screeching "eh?!" Yes, he knows 23 words and 11 signs but he would prefer to screech "eh!?" all day long.  They hit and pinch. And as of yesterday, bite. And they are now able to look you straight in the eye while doing something you specifically told them not to do. You take something from them and they will go find something bigger (and louder) and repeat the action. They laugh at timeouts and after wards fight over who gets to sit in the Time Out spot. And they use the fact that there are two of them to their advantage. One distracts with sweet kisses while the other climbs up on the table and grabs the forbidden iPod. I'm not kidding.
  • They have just learned how to have tea parties and spend a lot of time now asking "tea? tea? tea?" 
  • They like a lot of people but they only do their special, "Yay! You are are!" dances for mama, dada, and Ella, their nanny. Nothing in the world is sweeter than their happy-to-see-you dances.
    Notice I don't say anything about their sleeping and eating habits. I'm not jinxing is going to happen here. There you have it. Two pretty normal, totally extraordinary 18 month olds.  Oh, screw the books. They are still my babies.

    That was then.
    This is now. Baby Girl with her Quilty.
    Baby Boy with his Ellie and his collection of pacifiers (hey-if he can find one in the middle of the night then I don't have to!).

    Wednesday, September 15, 2010

    Celebrating Enkutatash...3 is the magic number

    We've been lucky enough to live in the neighborhood known as Little Ethiopia for 3.5 years now.

    The first year we attended the Ethiopian New Year Street Festival held a few blocks from our house we had just gone on the wait list. I cried every time I saw a sweet Ethiopian (looking) child. Yes, that crazy white woman was me.

    The second year we attended the Ethiopian New Year Street Festival the twins had been home with us for barely 3 weeks. I was sooooo excited to take them to the parade (there is an elephant!) and to see the dancers and, lets be honest, to show them off.  They cried the whole 15 mins we were there. The noise and the crowds were just too much.

    The third year was the charm.  The twins loved their outfits. They loved the music. They loved the food. And the people loved them.

    Happy 2003! xoxo-Kat
    Baby Girl dancing in the crowd  

    back at home begging for sambusas 

    And just in case you thought they were bored of the Crazy way.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    One year LAversary

    One year ago today, Aug 25, 2009, the Twins cleared customs and took their first breaths of LA's sweet smoggy air.  We were home.

    Loved ones were on hand to greet the newest Angelenos.

    Flash forward one year: 

    We celebrated our LAversary by visiting a LA landmark, the Santa Monica Pier. This is our friend Pippa. 16 yrs ago (this month!) when I first moved to California I lived w/ her grandparents. Seems full circle somehow that she'd celebrate this California Moment with us.

    Baby Boy fulfilling his duties as LA Ambassador and greeting the tourists.

    One year. I still can't believe it. 

    xoxo, Kat

    Monday, August 16, 2010

    When 2 became 4

    Haven't been the best blogger lately, which is a shame because I still have a lot to say, share, record, over-analyze. But alas while the will is there, the energy is not. Twins...what can I say. But today is a pretty monumental milestone for our little family and I just can't let it go by without a bit of nostalgic re-living. And so, inspired by Julie (once again) and since I never got around to doing it a year ago, here is our story.

    Day One: When We First Met.

    Barely two weeks lapsed between the moment we passed court and the moment we hopped on a plane to Addis via Dubai. All those months of waiting and then suddenly-BAM! 14 days to getitalldown! Thankfully I had wonderful friends who sat me down and said, "buy this, pack this, do this." Without them I'd still be in Target deciding on a bottle brush.

    We really wanted someone with us for this journey. Someone we loved. Someone we trusted enough to share this moment with us. Someone who would enjoy and appreciate all this trip would be. But mainly we wanted someone who had experience with babies (since we didn't have any!) and who could take good photos. And who could leave their own family for a week. That narrowed our choices down to my sister-in-law (mom of two boys, great photographer) and my BFF (mom of my godchildren, great photographer). My SIL couldn't get out of work sadly but my BFF jumped at the chance to go with us. Having her in Addis was a cherry on an already overflowing sundae. You know how sometimes when you are at your most joy-filled you catch yourself looking around to see if anyone else has noticed? Sometimes you just need someone else to witness the happiness to make it feel real. They are the pinch on the arm that you aren't dreaming. Our totem if you've seen Inception. That was Lori for us on this trip.

    We became a band of three at the Dubai airport. Spent the night at the airport hotel (note I did not say "slept at the airport hotel" because there was no sleeping for me that night.) Got up at the crack of dawn the next day and headed back to the airport to catch our last flight as people-with-no-children.

    The flight to Addis was surreal. Ok, so what hadn't been surreal since the referral phone call...but still, suddenly we were flying over our children's birth country. I had no idea what part we were flying over but perhaps we were over their village. Perhaps someone who knew them was looking up at our plane. Crazy Crazy Crazy.

    And then suddenly, we were ALMOST THERE and things felt even more unreal if that is possible.

    We cleared customs quickly and were met by Travis, the Gladney rep, and Solomon, our driver. Solomon had been our neighbors' driver a few months earlier so I had specifically requested him because I knew he had a van and there would be six of us including him. Ok, let's think about this: 4 adults and two INFANTS. Infants in arms. We did not need a van. A car would have been just fine. But a car wouldn't have given us Solomon. And meeting Solomon was one of the greatest gifts of our trip. Family is the closest word I can use to describe this incredible man. He is family. More on him later.

    Now I have to backtrack a bit. When Mary, our Gladney case worker, called us the day before we traveled she mentioned the babies would be brought to us as soon as we arrived. Wait a minute. What!?!? I instantly said, "oh no. that's not necessary. We can wait till the next morning." To me that was a perfectly normal, wise, adult choice but I have come to realize I am the only one who sees it that way. Mary asked several times if I was sure, and I insisted I was very sure. It was not a decision The Esq happily agreed with but nevertheless he let me talk him into it.

    So flash forward two weeks and there we are, in the parking lot of the airport in Addis, with Travis and Solomon and Lori. Travis says to me, "so... you don't want to meet the twins today?" The other families who had just arrived to pick up their children all visibly shuddered at that. Nope, I said. Tomorrow morning please. In my mind it just seemed crazy, not to mention unsafe to simply hand over infants to people who had been traveling for over 48 hours, had NO experience with babies and who most likely still had Ambien in their system. Surely it was wiser to bring them to us the next morning after we had slept, showered, had coffee. We were exhausted. We smelled. Also, I was very aware that this was our last time as just us. This was the last time we would ever have as just me and The Esq, The Esq and me. It wasn't that I didn't want things to change--I was overjoyed to become a foursome, but I just wanted to savor my last bit as a couple. I had been planning for 2 weeks to meet the twins on the 17th and for right or wrong that was what I needed. I needed my last night to sleep and dream about the rest of our lives. I needed one more night of anticipation and excitement.

    By the time we got to Ayat Guesthouse (which is where almost all of our LA adoptive friends have stayed, another lovely little link in our chain of friendships) it was the middle of the afternoon, August 16, 2009. Travis came over to drop off a take-out menu folder, a cell phone and a schedule for the week. As he left, he breezily mentioned that he probably wouldn't have time to bring the twins to us until late Monday afternoon. Over 24 hours away.

    The Esquire looked at me. "Tomorrow afternoon." Lori politely excused herself to go ponder the daily power outage. I saw the look in his eyes but I held firm. This was too big to let myself get talked into something I didn't want. No. No. Tomorrow is fine. Yes, I would rather it be first thing in the morning. Yes, that was what I had assumed when I made this plan. Yes, 24 hours from now does suck but I already had it on the blog's sidebar "Meet Twins Aug 17th!" Today is the 16th. No. I have to do it this way. I need our night. I need one last night before we start this adventure. No.

    I went upstairs to unpack. I opened the windows for some air and then I heard it. Babies. Lots of them. Laughing. Cooing. Crying. Caregivers with sing-song voices loving them. The Ayat House backs up to some of Gladney's baby houses. From Lori's bedroom window you could see the little bitty baby laundry hanging on the line. One of those houses was OUR babies' baby house. I froze. Was that my son's cry? Wait, is that my daughter laughing? I wish I could claim that I'm being dramatic for effect but this is really how it happened. My heart seized up. Screw the blog's sidebar.

    Travis seemed a bit put out when I called him to say we had changed our minds, that we wanted the babies NOW, but he was a good sport. Later he said our sudden decision had thrown the care givers into a panic because THEY also thought they had One More Night. One more night to cuddle our twins.

    Thirty minutes after I called Travis, Lori yelled from the garden, "They're here, they're here!" What did The Esq and I do in that half hour? Washed our faces. Found the cameras. Sat on the bed rocking.

    We met them in the driveway. Travis was holding Baby Boy and Christie, a volunteer, was holding Baby Girl. And then we were holding them.

    We were Holding. Our. Children.

    They were wearing the little outfits we had sent in our care package and were so much smaller than I had imagined. They both looked us right in the eyes, with strong, direct, curious, and perhaps slightly befuddled gazes and never cried once. The Esq just kept laughing. I just kept saying, Oh my. Oh my. Oh. MY.

    After about 15 minutes Travis and Christy departed. They left us with the babies and a piece of notebook paper listing their feeding schedule. That was it. Two babies and a piece of notebook paper. Again I say, crazy crazy, crazy.

    I like to believe that both babies felt right at home with us from the first moment. They certainly seemed content and calm. Other than a few glances around to make sure the other was close by, they just snuggled down into our arms and let us examine their little faces, fingers and toes.

    We just kept laughing. I mean, it was nuts...suddenly, with very little fanfare in the actual moment, suddenly we had babies! Humans that belonged to us, with us. We had spent almost two years working towards this moment; I couldn't help thinking even then that there should somehow be fanfare. Fireworks. Dancing. Jugglers. A theme song at the very least.

    After an hour or so, Lori did her job as Experienced Mom and mentioned the babies probably were hungry and it was their bedtime. Oh. Right. We have to DO something with these guys other then play with their little bendy ears. So we made our first ever bottles and fed them.

    And we changed our first ever diapers and put them to bed. Baby Girl was fussy when we tried to rock her but fell right asleep as soon as we laid her down. Baby Boy was fussy until we rocked him to sleep. From the get-go she fell asleep easier on her own and Baby Boy needed a tiny bit more cuddling. They are still that way.

    Ayat has one crib which worked perfectly for us. The twins fit together like little puzzle pieces and went soundly to sleep.

    After an hour or so of decompressing we went to bed...if I remember correctly without bothering to have dinner. Solomon came back to check on us and we were all passed out. Which was good because according to the VIPoNP (Very Important Piece of Notebook Paper) we had to feed them again in three hours!

    And that was what happened on our first day as a family of four. It was funny and exhausting and sans fanfare or theme music but nevertheless miraculous in every way. These two incredible beings were handed to us and finally we were able to physically confirm what we already knew in our hearts, that we four belonged together.

    What a day. What a glorious day.


    ps-for the record it turns out that lots of agencies make you wait until the day after you arrive in country to meet your children so I'm not the only one out there thinking this makes sense. But I have to admit I am soooo glad we met our kids on Aug 16th. I can't imagine having one less day with them. Once again, dammit, The Esquire was right.

    Tuesday, June 8, 2010

    One year ago today...

    One year ago in an email from our case worker ...

    One hour ago in our local park ...

    On June 8, 2009 we got The Call. You can read about it here and here if you want (I just reread them and am pretty much a basket-case right now).

    I've said it before but I'll say it again...what a difference a year makes. I'd write more, but I've got to wipe away these damn happy tears and get back outside to see what else our Wonder Twins have discovered...and most likely put in their mouths. :-)

    Life is good.

    xoxo, Kat