Saturday, December 27, 2008

Kwanzaa 1 (Unity)

We like honoring Judah's African heritage, we like the 7 principals, and we love celebrating his Ethiopian heritage/culture. So, we took Kwanzaa as another opportunity to do so. I watched The Black Candle for the first time (any time I get the chance to listen to Maya, I must), Judah got a great book about Kwanzaa from Auntie Nicole, and we went out to eat Ethiopian food with a great group of family and friends. We had fun. Kwanzaa has been officially added to our winter holiday festivities. So many ideas for next year! The holidays keep coming...New Year's, then Ethiopian Christmas on January 7th...I love winter!

Judah loves to share injera. Gursha.

Judah loves to eat injera.

Judah loves his family and friends.

More Christmas!

Christmas Morning

We had a wonderful Christmas morning. Jude LOVES presents and squeals with absolute delight when he is given one, during the opening process and obviously when he spies the goods. It's such joy to watch. We have videos also, but as I've previously mentioned, my tech department is slow (although writing this should speed it up a bit).
A friend told me while we were in Ethiopia, "I love Judah because he gets happier than anyone and more angry than anyone." Well 10+ months later, I still wholeheartedly agree with that. I'm like him in that way. My parents said when I was little I laughed so hard that I would turn red and choke. I was also the biter.
Yes, we are very much alike. Although most may disagree, I think it's a gift.
My sister has been in town the last week. She lives in Thailand. So, I've been busy/happy.

Here are Nicole and Andy AND Scarlett (if you look carefully in the middle). Scarlett has slept with them every night. She is not loyal.

Here's Jude opening his stocking. He was thrilled with his Christmas trucks.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Now I know what all the hoopla is about. Today I turn the big 33.
Our fam is busy doing last minute prep work for Christmas.
But I will use these developments as enticing tidbits to bring you back:
1. I have Judah laughing videos. His laugh is still spectacular. Tommy is our tech department. He has to do some magic to get the videos from the video camera to my computer. All complaints for the delay should be directly sent to him. I won't learn how. It's where I draw the line. Everyone needs limits.
2. We have a little itsy bitsy type of surprise in January. But, if all goes well with the surprise (which it very well may not), it may lead up to bigger surprises. I'm not telling ANYONE early. So don't try to call and/or write. It's top secret stuff. Yup, it's my birthday. I'll be a tease if I want to. Today I'm sassy. Old and sassy.

Merry Christmas Friends! 2 months ago I posted a picture of the five of us circa 1993. This is a picture of us a couple of days ago, 15 years later. I was going to do a side-by-side comparative presentation, but then I realized it is my birthday...and I value friendship. Although, I do genuinely believe we are much hotter now :) Yes, you didn't misread. I did just call us "hot"...It's MY birthday. Old and sassy...

Hope everyone's Christmas is full of light, magic and snuggles to spare!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Feelin' Gifty?

I love my Toms. You should love your Toms too. And this coffee is my favorite. Absolute favorite.
Here's the hard sell:
You should have Toms and Gobena Coffee in your life. NOW.
Here's the bonus:
For every pair of Toms sold, a pair will be given to a person in Ethiopia. Yes, Ethiopia.
Gobena Coffee is delicious, organic, fair-trade, and 100% of the profits go back to help children without families in Ethiopia. You read correctly. ONE-HUNDRED PERCENT. Yes, that is good.

Gobena Coffee
TOMS Shoes

*If you would like more fabulous gift ideas, peruse the adoption blogs. Many of these brilliant and organized bloggers have put together lists that are so fabulous you should call them your personal shoppers. Since I lack brilliance and organization, I just put up two favorites. Happy shopping!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I need Africa...

I love America. I do. But, we have been so lost in so many ways (e.g. quenchless consumerism). I like this reminder. We need Africa. We need to value Africa and all we can learn.

Thank you Joc :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Last few weeks...

We had a blast spending the weekend with family in San Diego. Judah loves Sea World.

Below is a picture from San Diego of our niece Saoirse and nephew Darrigan.

My favorite conversation of the day:

Darrigan: Auntie, according to the map the Manatees are right here.
Me: Darrigan, what is a Manatee? (Really, since when do 3-year-olds know about maps and Manatees? I needed more information).
Darrigan: Well, Auntie, a Manatee is a sea animal that's kind of like (he pauses, looks up and brushes his hair out of his face in thought)...a walrus.
Me: Yes, Darrigan. I think you are right.

Hanging out at home.

Here Judah is just starting to blow me kisses. His eyes really do sparkle when he's giving good sugar.

Thanksgiving fun up in Arnold, CA. We stayed in one of my very favorite tiny gold rush towns called Murphy's. I don't want to brag, but we stayed in a hotel that a president once stayed in. President Grant that is. Also Black Bart and Mark Twain...and it hasn't changed a bit. We felt cool. Yup, doesn't take much.

Disney days during Christmas time are always a good thing.

Tonight we put up decorations and the Christmas tree. Notice Jude's brand new, hand made, super cute winter booties (our sweet neighbor just gave them to him)!

This last picture is all about me congratulating myself on completing a small project. It's not unheard of.
My new Christmas napkin rings. The pictures are of places that are close to our hearts (Mammoth, Bora Bora, Nagano, Addis Ababa, Paris, Hermosillo). I like them :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

When she walked in...

I was completely unprepared. I was thinking thoughts like, "Am I holding the bottle at the right angle?" and "He's so close to my body. I wonder if he notices my smell? Of course he notices my smell. Can I figure out a way to smell more familiar to him? Hmmph, I don't see anything nearby that could change my smell"...these were my thoughts. Yes, they were in regard to Jude, but totally and completely self-centered thoughts. The first hours I spent with him I was in a constant swirl of thought, unable to slow my brain to reason, yet at the same time, feeling such warmth and love, as the nurturing, nesting mama mode kicked in. I knew I felt pain for him. My greatest joy, becoming his mom, was the result of so much pain. So much loss on his part.
But, there was one moment, one moment when I understood a glimpse. I never wrote about this, because it was too much. Too powerful of an experience for words. Too raw. Now, almost a year later I feel like I can begin to touch it and hopefully, next summer, I can hope to try to make a small touch of it right. Although just a faint touch.
I'm glad I had witnesses. Without them, I fear I would have transformed it into a dream.
The upstairs of the Thomas Center, the care center where Jude lived for 5+ months, is where we spent a good part of our days. Learning how to take care of our precious little babes. Tommy had gone to the Embassy to turn in visa paperwork. Our travel companions were the types of people you instantly feel comfortable with. Our conversation was friendly, relaxed and real. In retrospect we were all probably doing the same dance of swirling and trying to nurture.
I was with Tesfahun when she walked in. I remember her face vividly. She was older. It's difficult for me to even guess her age. Her face was respectfully wrinkled. Especially around the eyes. Her eyes were very dark and made of water. She had one woman on each side of her. The three of them walked in purposely.
I didn't know to whom or where she was headed. I was a little taken aback when she approached me. As talkative as I am, I can initially be quite shy.
She spoke to me in English. I know that she had carefully chosen her words. She reached out to him and said, "Tesfesh"... He lit up when he saw her. His little body relaxed. Comfort. Peace. Most definitely love.
She looked at me, directly in the eyes. Holding my gaze with such intensity, I knew I couldn't glance away for a moment. It was a moment she had planned. It was her moment.
She stated calmly with much intent,
"I love him.
He is special.
He is a special baby.
He is happy."
Then the tears started as she repeated,
"I. Love. Him. I. Love. Him."
When she said his name, "Tesfesh" you could feel the love. You know when someone truly loves another, you can hear it in their voice. Especially when they say the person's name. Her "Tesfesh" was one of the most beautifully spoken words I had ever heard.
All I could whimper was "Thank you. Thank you for loving him."
She said each word earnestly. Each phrase was repeated for emphasis.
She handed me back our baby. She had brought support for this. Her support grabbed each of her arms as she broke and helped her to physically leave. The love she had for him is imprinted on his soul and will never leave. It will be passed down to his children. I heard her weeping. I felt her weeping. When I regained my ability to focus my eyes, I saw a roomful of tears. It was too much. It's still too much. I wish I could share with words her love. But, mothers know it.
She was not his by birth, but she is indisputably one of Tesfahun's mothers. He was her hope. As he is mine.

Happy to be home...

Our last few weekends were spent in San Jose/Santa Cruz, Austin, San Diego/Sea World and Murphy's/Arnold (northern CA). After our 7 hour drive yesterday, we are staying HOME for a few weeks. You can't make me go anywhere. Nope. Can't do it.
Good news? Playdates sound like A LOT of fun? Wanna come play?
I'll post pictures of some of our adventures after littles goes to sleep.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happy 16 months Judah!

Please MAKE IT STOP! Seriously. Stop time already.
This is such an exciting time. Every single day he has new accomplishments that his mommy knows are miraculous. Today, for instance, he said "Scarlett" (our Whippet) SO clearly (/dardIt/) I thought I might fall over with pride. TWO step directions, NO PROBLEM. Oh, and he said, "Dada shoe" while lugging the huge shoe to give to his Daddy.
I know.
I can hardly take it too.
It's good stuff.
I'm a speech-language pathologist, this is the stuff I LIVE for.
Well, that, and how he insisted on giving EVERY person at daycare a kiss before he left today. It WAS his birthday and he felt special. That's pretty good stuff too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Siblings? No Siblings? What do you think?

I've talked with people who think that siblings are a must. I've also talked with only children who think they had it REALLY good and never wanted siblings.
We are currently one nauseatingly happy family. I know it's a question that only WE can answer, but we are having a tough time with it.
I love our family. As is. We still feel super mobile. I'm not worried AT ALL about traveling with our Jude, etc. He's EASY (not that EASY is an important attribute, but hard IS, well, HARD). But, I never want him to feel lonely.
Obviously, there is room in our hearts for many more. No matter what we decide, we will be thrilled and it will be perfect for us. We are not making any decisions in the near future. But, I still want input. Are people REALLY better off/happier with siblings? I'm not sure (this is by no means a diss on MY lovely siblings).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Leave it to me...

I've mentioned that I have an obsessive lil' noggin, right? Yup, it's true. So, leave it to me to turn a perfectly perfect night into a complete disaster because I obsessed myself into thinking that something perfectly perfect, perhaps, was not. I like to research things. I enjoy reading. I'm also a bit of a perfectionist in compartmentalized areas. Here's the problem: I got myself on an "attachment" phase. Yes, we are now SUPER attachers. We are basically either testing the attachment (adhering to all codes of ethics) or working on attachment building exercises. Last night's experiment went slightly awry, so I'll share.
Background info:
My son is a flirt. He likes socialization. A LOT. Jude prefers me when he hurts himself, is hungry, wants something, or to give kisses and hugs. But, if he's not needing me, and someone else he feels comfortable with is around, he'll let me know. He thinks nothing of telling me to back off.
So, I read. I think it's because I work full-time. It must be because he thinks he's "on his own" and needs to be friendly with everyone. I feel guilt and I get teary and panicky. If I didn't obsess, I'd honestly be in heaven. He loves me (and it's not just a one-sided "I love him so much I think he MUST love me back" love). What we've got is real and it's passionate.
BUT, I read and worry. Too much. Too obsessively. I want to be a better mom. I want to be perfect (which is obviously ridiculous).
SO, I try to convince Tommy last night (it took a very long time) that it's WRONG, VERY WRONG, that our baby sleeps through the night. WHAT IF, seriously, WHAT IF, JUDE doesn't think we are available to him during the night (thus, seriously compromising our attachment being secure). So, I decide, quite passionately that we (a) need to start stalking our child during the night, so that if he happens to wake he sees us, (b) need to co-sleep if the stalking happens to wake him up.
Oh, I have a lot more cerebral attachment crap going on, this is just what can be accomplished while our child is unconscious. Mind you, I do not have a meek child. Jude speaks his mind and even knows how to play me. I even know his baby style, ever so slightly manipulative "mama" that's for requesting bottles and when daddy's changing his diaper vs. the super sweet "mama" when he wants to give me sugar. I also know the demanding "mama" when I haven't met his needs quickly enough (he's still training me).
We went to bed. At 2:00 AM I hear Jude cough (I hope it's not due to the smoke, poor SoCal). No, it's not a terrible cough. It sounds shallow, harmless and not continuous. Regardless, we are on attachment mode, so I wake Tommy to create a plan. Our child is uncomfortable. It is NOW the perfect time to let Judah know we are there for him. Whenever he wants.
Tommy finally guesses, "should I wake him?"
I reply, "if you want." (read: if you want to be a good ATTACHED parent...although, it was never discussed that JUDE'S MOM, the one with the issues, wake her poor child. Remember: this is a 2:00 AM plan).
The GOOD parent goes in. He gently rubs Jude's back. Jude wakes, smiles and puts his hands up. Tommy takes him to our bed. Jude thinks it's morning. He laughs and plays. Then, since it's the middle of the night, he gets annoyed. Jude asks for his bottle. We've created a baby with edge. He's screaming the demanding "mama"...He's crazy tired. It took hours to put him back to bed.
Point: If YOU are thinking about waking your sleeping baby, DON'T. Babies apparently need their sleep. Tip: Just hang out with them while they are awake. Your husband and child will like you much better.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

America. Land of Hope

I'm so happy for America. No matter what your political beliefs are, you have to FEEL it.

Truthfully, I've worried about Jude. I've spent a lot of time worrying about him. He is so perfect, so sensitive, so open. Of course I worry about any struggles he will face, as he'll face many. But, one struggle that I have held fearfully, is about race. I worry that he'll find aspects of being raised in a multicultural family difficult (although, coming from a multicultural family, I think the positives will well outweigh the difficulties). I worry about the day when someone will break his heart with a racist comment. I worry that he won't know what to say, and that he'll be angry later for his silence...and that he'll secretly cry himself to sleep because of it (this fear I have shamefully experienced). That, before he's old enough to logically process the hurtful ideas as "crazy", he'll question them...or worse, himself. Even just for a moment. Fearful that I won't do an adequate job preparing him. Therefore, I might even hurt him. I tear writing that.
This change changes those fears dramatically.
The US has spoken. The world has spoken. I can now look Jude in the eye and rest assured that the perfect color of his beautiful chocolate skin will never hold him back. From anything.
And my Jude has things to do.

Too much to say...

too teary to say it! I'll try again later.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


I have such strong feelings about 8. I'll be blunt. I think it's WRONG. I've debated it. I've tried opening my mind to the "other" side. I've tried. I have. But, I've found it impossible. My core belief is that it is WRONG to discriminate. Every cell of my being cannot understand why someone would want to. I'm not posting this because I want to debate. I've heard the other side. Repeatedly. I don't understand. I can't. It's not my "agenda" (a word I've heard quite a few times in the great 8 debate) to argue the NO ON 8 side. I'm sharing my emotions because it's something I'm struggling with personally.
In 2000, I was at dinner with some of my oldest friends. It was the day Prop 22 passed, banning same-sex marriages . When one friend simultaneously mocked the idea of same-sex marriage and openly supported Prop 22 passing, I felt a strong mix of sadness and anger reach all the way to my toes. When I voiced my opinion, I was told "you don't understand."
Later, when I found out that a family member voted for it, I felt the same combination of rage and hurt. It was one of those hard days that changed me. I know I'm not alone. The same day a close friend and I cried (neither of us being reputable crying floozies) because we were so disappointed. It was a day when I had to accept that some people I love and trust would choose to openly discriminate. I could not articulate my feelings. Over 8 years later, I still find it difficult.
I drive down the street and cringe at every "YES on 8" sign I see. I've shared that I'm a dreamer. I want the world to be beautiful. I cannot happily accept that people would WANT to discriminate. I think about discrimination in the not-so-distant past. I think about how my parents' marriage and MY marriage would have once been illegal in some states (Anti-miscegenation laws did not allow whites to marry non-whites). It makes me want to throw up. Seriously. I hope I'm not as disappointed in humanity this Tuesday.
I KNOW I have lots of facts and ideas to learn. I'm the first to admit this. But, I truly hope that tolerance of discrimination is not among them. It's one thing I think is good to "not understand".

Disney Day

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I love the idea of getting our children together and celebrating our fabulous families! Mark your calendars and get ready for two very special events this summer.

June Fun: Blog Reunion 09 in Tulsa!

August Fun: Blog Union 09 in Chicago!

On a different note, I have a bunch of half written posts that I'm planning on publishing soon. Just a warning, some of them are political in nature. I just can't help myself.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Soul Sisters

Yesterday one of my girlfriends sent me this silly picture, circa 1993. The special part is that we are all still great friends today. FIFTEEN years later, I still think about them and their sparkling children every day. I hope Jude has friends like mine. They are a special group.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pumpkin Patch Fun!

Running to the patch with Daddy...

Here Jude walked right up to a BIG kid (a 2 year old) and cheerfully yelled a very important unintelligible utterance. I love his friend making skills and confidence.

Planning his next move...
Deciding what these pumpkins are for...
Pleased with his moves ... and rightly congratulating himself.
Looking around to make sure there are witnesses...
Yes, he decided that pumpkins are very good things. Mommy (who is a great fan of the pumpkin) is very proud and happy with his decision.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Because I still do what Lori says...

Tagged...7 weird things about me...

1. I used to subscribe to People. I knew I needed to quit. So I finally did.
Ok, I'm kind of lying. Although I quit subscribing to People, I still scan and occasionally peruse ... sometimes, when I'm just not satisfied and feel like I need an additional resource, I will go to I'm never proud. This is one of my darkest secrets. Now that the secret is out, I will stop trying to figure out how to erase my history. People, I just can't quit you. Although I swear I haven't voted on anyone's best hair color for months. That's progress, right?
2. I love pumpkin pie more than any one else on earth. Seriously. Just try to find me a competitor.
3. I love to sit around with good friends and/or family and drink wine and be silly. If you don't like to do this, I don't understand anything about you and I'm rightly suspicious.
4. I have been planning on exercising tomorrow for the past year or so. Right now I'm sick (seriously - fever, cold, cough, the whole shabang - it's a sad story). The only thing I like about being sick is that it takes away the guilt I feel for not exercising. You must be healthy to exercise, people!
5. I bit my nails for a very, very long time. I did a good job too. No halfway bitten look here. I stopped. Now I actually CUT my nails (to stop from accidentally injuring my child - I'm not the most coordinated of people). I feel pride with each snip.
6. I can't watch cartoons. I can have the best intentions for dedicated viewing, but 3 minutes in, I realize I haven't paid any attention. Tommy likes cartoons. This irritates him.
7. The same is for books on tape. Can't do it. LOVE to read. I tried to listen to a book on tape every single day for months during my commute to work. It was like Groundhog's Day. Couldn't do it. 3 minutes in I realized I hadn't paid attention yet. My theory is that I'm extremely visual (I realize this theory doesn't work for cartoons). Maybe that's why I tuned out High School. All of it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Someone cute is 15 months old!

and as we all know, Jude LOVES to accessorize. NO ONE would dare take those "cool" sunglasses off of him.

As you can see, Judah loves to show me important things. I know I see the world differently than I did a year ago. I'm so lucky I have him to help me learn and grow. He's a very good and patient teacher. ..and I have a lot to learn.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


This video was so very difficult to watch.

Judah is from the Oromia region in Ethiopia.

A powerful post:

Please take time to read through it, as she said it better than I ever could.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

One Year

A year is such an interesting quantity of time to me, a quantity that I can never completely wrap my head around. Or maybe that's the concept of time in general. Regardless, thinking about one revolution around the sun together makes me emotionally charged.

I remember so vividly my thoughts and feelings a year ago. I would like to tell you only about the part of me that felt so full of love that I thought I might burst. I know I felt that. Too full of love. But, the inability to really act on it was difficult. A feeling of helplessness. I had to keep telling myself, that all of the positive energy (love) I put out (as energy cannot be created nor destroyed) mattered. That somehow my scrumptious angel would feel the love. That somehow it would matter. That was tough.

When I first saw Jude's picture, I did love him. But, it was a panicky love, one that persisted for the next four months. One where I felt like I needed to instantly fly over to him and hold him. A panicky love where I feared that at any moment he could be taken away. That he wasn't ours yet, but he was. He was ours as much as we were his. He had my heart and obsessive brain from the moment we started the process. We were born and raised and loved and taught for no other reason than to be Judah's parents. This is really the only thing I know.

I can't believe it's been 8 months since I first held him. I also can't believe it's been ONLY 8 months. One year ago is when I became a mom. I think about his birth mom often. You know how your brain can't think about certain inevitable things TOO much? Well, that's how it is for me regarding Jude's birth mom. The pain she must have felt a year ago- the pain she feels today. The joy and privilege of becoming his parents is matched with the pain and loss she experienced. I know that so much of his sparkling personality is because of her. I now feel that same helpless love for her. I hope she feels it, I hope it matters. I wish she could just see him for a minute, know that he was ok. Know that he was warm and chunky and loved more that he can take. Know how brilliant and perfect we think he is.

We are planning on going back to Africa next summer. Although Judah won't be able to see his birth mom, I want him to see Ethiopia. I want him to be proud of his beautiful country. I'm still trying to figure out our itinerary, but I'm thrilled about the possibilities.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, I'm working on a montage of him over the past year. Wow, has he changed!

Jude is now basically running. He is very proud of himself and this accomplishment. Judah has recently upped his love expression quotient. He now walks over and hugs people he loves no less than 425099 times a day. His facial expression when he is about to go in for the hug is serious and romantic. During the hug he has a big smile. The hugs feel so good they actually hurt. Our little dude is so good it's hard to take.
He is now wearing either 18 month or 2T clothing. Jude is stretching out. I'm not sure I'm a fan of the big stretch out. He still has a nice round tummy and thigh rolls, so I'm not too upset.

He still only has his two bottom teeth. The top ones are barely-visible-sand-grain-sized-morsels. I even love them.

Tommy says "I just love him so much!" at least 2958473 times a day. It's funny, I think we are both shocked at just how much the heart is capable of loving.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Day with Cousins...

My beautiful niece Saoirse

My boys- my nephew Darrigan and Jude
and moments ago we got the coolest shirt in the mail- THANK YOU Auntie Heather!