Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Family photos!

Two weeks ago we finally got around to having some professional photos taken of us as a family.  I love how they turned out.  Click here to see a few of them!  We'll post more later as they come in.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

You go girl!

Candice is getting the word out!  I know some may not agree with me but I've been a firm believer that unless you make your plight known, no one can help you.  Squeaky wheel and all. 

Candice is doing her best to bring her daughter home.  Here is a tv interview that she just did trying to get the news out that what is being done to these families and children is outrageous.  Let's hope someone who has some power to change things will see this to bring these families home.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Still stuck in Nepal

My friend Candice has been in Nepal since August 5.  This is an article in the Chicago Tribune about her plight.  We are all hoping for a speedy resolution to the investigation so she and A can come home.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

A week with Nana

Len had to work in St. Louis last week so my mom flew up to keep Kate and me company.  Len left for the airport in true prom-night fashion...
We spent the week mostly just relaxing and visiting. We went to the lake and the park.
 Nana got lots of love and smiles!
 We went to Wiggleworms.  Kate loves the stuffed toys and the bubbles.
 This is the peek-a-boo monkey--she is enthralled by him.
She learned to shake the maraca this week instead of chewing it.
 Well, mostly.  There were still some breaks in the music that allowed for chewing.
 This was taken right before she screamed.  The doggy wasn't her favorite.
I am really going to miss having my mom here.  She made my life so much easier while she was here from feeding Kate to chopping mangoes into tiny pieces for Kate's dinner.  She would get up early every morning with Kate to get her dressed and changed.  And she took charge of an afternoon nap so I could sneak off to a yoga class.

Today we all went to Oktoberfest in Lakeview before we had to put mom on a plane back to FL.  The weather took a decidedly chilly turn today so Kate got to finally wear the cute hat that her cousin Martine knitted for her.  We completed the look with some fancy legwarmers--very Flashdance.
 Kate enjoyed a lunch of avocado and carrots and mangoes for dessert.  We had beer and brats!
 Kate loves to rub noses with Nana!

Bye Nana!  And thank you for the finger puppet!  We already very, very much miss you.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sitting up and crawling

This week has been a week of milestones.  Kate is eating flaked salmon and bits of mango.  She is crawling in earnest now and has learned to sit up by herself.  Len has been in St. Louis all week for work so my mom has been here to help ride herd.  Enjoy the two videos of Kate for now and I'll post some of Kate and Nana later this weekend!

Here she is sitting up.  I wasn't fast enough to catch her getting into the propped up on one arm position from laying down but I got the last half of the sit:

And here she is crawling across the room to sit in my lap (is there anything more endearing??):

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Video from Nepal

The situation in Nepal is becoming dire.  The US government has stated that none of the procedures for adopting a Nepali child has changed since our government decided to shut down adoptions last month.  They are insisting that everyone who received a referral will be processed as the prior families were processed.  HOWEVER.  None of the previous families had their paperwork sent to Delhi for further investigation.  So far, none of the families who are currently caught in the closure have received a Visa to travel and at least 4 have had their files sent to Delhi for "further investigation".  If Delhi refuses to approve the paperwork, the burden of proof will then fall to the PAPs to prove that the child they have now legally adopted is in fact an orphan.  How are they supposed to do that?  By finding the parents who abandoned the child.  Yeah.  So how hard would that be to do?  You have a child who is at least a year old or more, a third world country where you don't speak the language and where it is socially unacceptable to abandon a child.  When is the US going to stop insisting that all countries follow the rules we think are optimal?

And that goes for insisting on Democracy in countries that don't want it...but I digress...

Click on this link to see a video
of the families currently caught in the Nepali closure. They have all legally adopted their children in the eyes of both countries, have taken custody of their children, but have no way to return home with them. They have been living in Nepal for over a month now. My friend Candice and her daughter A., are in the video at the 1.39 minute mark.

If you know of anyone at the government level that can help with International Adoptions, please feel free to forward the link on and fill them in on the details. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

And there it is

We've been working towards this moment for a while now.  Naps have been interrupted by one Little Miss up on her hands and knees, crying because she's still tired, but not tired enough to stop practicing.  Now maybe?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

8 month checkup

Kate had her 8 month checkup at the doctor today.  All is well!  Here are her new stats(with her 6 month stats in parenthesis):

Weight: 17 lbs, 6 oz (16 lbs, 14 oz)
Height: 27" (25.5")
Head circumference: 42cm (41cm)

She also got another shot today--this one for Hib.  She didn't take this one as well as the last one and let out quite a scream followed by incredibly pathetic sobbing.  Fortunately, she is easily distracted by shiny objects.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Love Letter, Month 8

Dear Kate,

You are eight months old today and the seasons are changing. It is nearly Fall here and I find myself asking again

How can I slow down time?!

Never before have I realized just how quickly our lives move and how very much I wish it would move at the once-glacial waiting-for-you-to-get-here pace of the past few years. You are like a sweet dessert that I want to sit and savor, rolling around your deliciousness in my mouth for that very last morsel of goodness. But you, my darling daughter, are all

Let me get moving! There is too much to see, too much to do, no time for all this cuddling and smooching!
You are still quite perturbed that you cannot move as independently as you would like.  No formal crawling just yet.  Your version of crawling consists of tummy spins and army scootches with a few downward-dog butt-wavings thrown in for good measure.  I am surprised at how far you can manage to move yourself and your toys.  I put you down in your normal spot on the living room rug so I could grab some clothes out of the dryer to fold.  I was gone for maybe 1 minute.  When I returned I couldn’t find you anywhere.  Do you know how my heart stopped beating in the time it took me to discover that you had parked yourself and your 3 toys under the chair?  I only found you because you let out a squeal when you saw my feet go past.
However, just being able to sit up without any support (and a bastion of pillows around you in case you fall over like a tree) has increased your happiness immeasurably.  Sitting up and people-watching while chewing on your favorite toy—Sophie the giraffe—is a daily activity now.   When we were newly married your father and I used to sit in the mall for hours and just watch people for entertainment when we had no money and a lot of time.  I’m so glad you share this fondness for people-watching with us.
You are constantly reaching for things and grabbing whatever I have out of my hands. You inspect objects like a scientist, end over end, and then you try to put things into your mouth from every angle. First the top of the thing goes into your mouth, then the bottom, and then the sides. One new object can entertain you for almost a half-hour, but if you've already seen something YOU CANNOT BE BOTHERED WITH IT. You've already seen that bunny! You've already played with that rattle! And this tupperware container? You saw it TWICE yesterday. You get this really frustrated look on your face that says,

GOD, PEOPLE! CAN'T YOU BE MORE ORIGINAL? How big is this world that you brought me into, and these are the only toys that you bring me?
Your first tooth made it appearance last week.  Your bottom left tooth poked through and caused you not as much consternation as I would have thought for as sharp as it feels.  Just last night I noticed that your bottom right tooth had also poked through.  You tend to them by rubbing the back of your hand/fingers across your gums or, better yet, chewing the be-Jesus out of Sophie or my big toe, whichever is closest.
You're now eating three meals a day in addition to the nursing/bottles we feed you, Oh Royal One. You love avocado and green beans and fish and corn and peas but you will still have nothing to do with fruit or cereal.  Because of that your mama serves you "Puree of Apple with Avocado and Fish Mash".  Seems as long as objectionable foods are coated with avocado, you'll pretty much eat anything.  This weekend when we went out for brunch you had your first taste of french toast which you found quite satisfying.  You reached for my Bloody Mary a few times but even though it had a lot of veggies in it and the vodka might have helped your gums, the looks from other diners deterred me.

You are becoming quite adept at feeding yourself melty-O’s.  My favorite thing when you are eating, though, is your I'm Having Food! dance.  Your legs bounce and your arms wave the entire time you are gumming your food and if I dance with you, you will sometimes snort with laughter so hard that mashed peas and carrots come shooting out of your mouth, covering everything within a 10 foot radius.  I usually try to do this while standing behind your daddy when he is feeding you.
The biggest news yet is your ability to sleep THROUGH THE NIGHT.  Yes, that deserved all caps because we’re not talking a measly 7 or 8 hours here.  We’re talking 7pm-6am.  11 glorious hours of sleep all in one fantastic chunk.  I had almost forgotten what it was like to go to sleep and wake up 8 hours later.  Yet, as one hand giveth, another taketh away.  Your morning nap seems to have taken a bullet.  We are now referring to that former Morning Nap Time as Play quietly in your crib with your mobile on while Mama retires to the bathroom with her US Weekly Time.
You are initiating two games with me now, but in more novel ways than I had thought of, my Very Smart Girl.  The first is playing Copycat.  You dance your head from side to side then wait to see if I have caught on and do it back.  We do this back and forth until you are bored or approximately 60 seconds, whichever comes first, and then you start with a new Copycat game.  This time you make a clucking sound with your tongue.  I do the same back to you.  You then add an extra cluck to see if I am smart enough to figure out that you have changed the number of clucks.  When I indicate that I have indeed not been outwitted by an 8 month old you seem pleased that at least you were not born to an idiot.
The second game you initiated was peek-a-boo, but with the mirror.  I was holding you up to your mirror in your nursery when you tilted your head out of the frame and then back again.  When I caught on I said “PEEKABOO!” when your face appeared back in the mirror which brought about a delightful shriek of laughter and repeated throwing about of your head in and out of the frame.  This game has morphed into throwing your head back to look at yourself upside-down.  You are fascinated at how everything looks from this vantage point and will topple over with a gleeful smile as often as you can.
You are such fun at this age.  Just  a few days ago I was sitting on the couch with my laptop and you were playing on the floor at my feet.  You couldn’t see my face behind the screen so you craned your neck so far forward that you face-planted and landed facing away from me.  I, being the dutiful, watchful mother that I am, stopped my facebooking to be sure you were ok.  You grunted a bit and were about to start up with indignant cries until you turned and noticed that I was looking at you.  And then something that I think all mothers live to see, happened…your whole face went from one of exasperation to sheer rapture and you beamed the most beautiful smile at me as if to say,

Well, finally! I thought I was going to have to get my own Facebook page to get some attention around here!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Memories of 9/11

Hi everyone--Len here to tell an important story...our memories of 9/11.

We lived in the Washington, DC metro area then, so the attack wasn't just something we experienced via TV; it was in our backyard.

I was working in downtown DC at that time, and I remember seeing reports of the first New York plane as I walked into a staff meeting.  By the time the meeting ended, chaos had broken out. The second tower had been hit, as had the Pentagon. But CNN reported that the White House, the Washington Monument and the State Department had all been bombed too. My office was about 3-4 blocks away from each of those locations.

Our executives were running through the halls saying we should leave immediately and that they would secure the building behind us. Ironically, this is the point at which I had a "worst boss ever moment," one that I hope will never be surpassed. My boss at the time actually said to me, "before you leave, we need to discuss the script for the video project that you're working on."

I disliked this man intensely before, but I was sure I'd mis-heard him.  Um...no...he wanted to sit down and talk while Washington burned around us, at least according to CNN.  I replied, "Walter, I'm leaving now. I'm going to meet my wife at her office, and then we're going home. We can talk about the video when the office reopens." And I walked away, thankful that I'd had two good interviews in the previous few weeks and hopeful that I wouldn't have to deal with Walter much longer. As it turned out, I received a formal offer in the mail that same week, and I had the pleasure of giving Walter my 2 weeks notice the following Monday.

By the time I left Walter, I had received two messages--my sister and Lisa, both wanting to know if I was okay. I returned those calls quickly and hit the DC streets to walk the mile and a quarter to Lisa's office. She had the car after all.

Remember, there were supposedly three burning buildings within blocks of my location, so I expected serious craziness on the streets. The Metro wasn't running, buses weren't doing pick ups and people were milling about everywhere, unable to get cell phone service.  Taxis weren't stopping for anyone either, except the one cabbie who picked up a guy with a broken leg and crutches, who was hobbling down the sidewalk.  In the midst of all this, the one thing I expected to see was completely absent: no smoke visible anywhere.  If all these buildings were burning, where was the smoke?

I walked towards Lisa, and for nearly the entire trip, there was no smoke, so I started to think that the news reports were bogus, or at least based on really bad information. But then I reached a spot on K Street, right at the edge of Georgetown, where there is a break in the buildings, and I could see down the Potomac River to the Pentagon, which was in flames. The photo at the beginning of this post is of the Pentagon a couple days after the attack.

Then I walked the final few blocks to Lisa's office in time to see the towers fall. Her bosses tried to insist that everyone stay in the office...to their credit, it wasn't so they could keep working; it was so they could stay safe. We refused, got in our car and went home, where we sat in front of the TV until about 1:30 the next morning--watching the same reports over and over again, because there really was no new news to report.

Lisa's side of the story (still told by Len):

I was at work and at my desk until I heard a bunch of people in the conference room saying things like "Oh my god!" I walked in to see coverage of the planes hitting the World Trade Center towers.

One of the guys in my office was just about to head out to National Airport for a morning flight, and he wondered if he should. We, of course, all said "go ahead...flights should be fine." This was before the second plane hit and before the Pentagon attack.

Then, another co-worker came in with coffee from the place up the Georgetown hill from us. He could see the entire Pentagon area from the hill and said that it had been hit too.  Not too long after that, the second plane hit in New York, and we decided that our office mate probably shouldn't go to the airport.

Then we started hearing reports about all the DC sites being bombed, and I realized that Len was just a few blocks away from them. I called but had to leave a message, since he was in a meeting and didn't know what had happened.

After Len finally reached me by phone, I just sat in the conference room with everyone else watching the horror unfold live.  It seemed to take forever, but Len finally made it to my office. Once I knew he was safe, we started to figure out how we'd get home, and for some reason, getting home became more urgent to us after the towers fell. The roads were supposedly jammed up, and with Metro not running, there were thousands of people walking home too.

But we decided to just jump in our car, try to get home and see what would happen.

There really wasn't much car traffic on the roads, so our normal 45 minute commute took us just 20 minutes. And that even included a quick stop along the way to offer a friend who was part of the throngs of walkers a ride home.

Once home, we just sat in front of the TV until we were so exhausted, all we could do was crawl upstairs and collapse into bed. Since we're both stress eaters, we're certain that we ate something during our 14 hours in front of the tube, but neither of us remembers eating. We did a lot of staring in disbelief at the TV, and that's about all we remember.

We watched a documentary tonight on the History Channel about 9/11, which is what prompted this stroll down Painful Memory Lane. But the thing that astonished us most is realizing that our dear Kate will never have an emotional attachment to an event that has defined our time, changed the way we live, and revealed an enemy that most of us never considered that we had.

We hope and pray that the defining event of her time isn't anywhere near as horrible as ours.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Comcast saga continues

So if you read this post from a few days ago, you will know that we were not having a good experience with our Comcast cable service last weekend.  Apparently though, what Comcast does excel at are search engines trolling the internet for anyone posting about them (see the comments section from that same post).  In addition to the comment on our blog we also have received emails and phone calls to both our home phone and cell phones "following up to be sure your service is working properly."

Which is nice on the face of it.  Until we received this email. in response to Len's letter extolling the virtues of the only person who helped us, Casey and outlining the troubles we had the previous full day.  Tell me what your initial reaction to this is: 

Dear Mr. Len ________,
Thank you for contacting our Executive Offices regarding your Comcast related service issues. We appreciate your candid feedback and always invite the opportunity to improve our customer service experience.
On behalf of Comcast and the Executive Care Office, I would like to apologize for any inconvenience and/or frustration we may have caused while working to resolve your issue. It is never our intention to make the resolution process difficult.
Our records indicate your DVR issue was resolved on September 7, 2010, with our customer care department. While we can never pay for your time, we do stand behind our service and feel that this correspondence acknowledges your patience with our efforts.
You are a valued customer and your opinion matters. We look forward to providing you a quality, reliable service and a positive customer service experience. If you have any other issue or concerns, please call our service department at (866) 594-1234.
Maurice ____________
Executive Response Specialist
Executive Customer Relations
Comcast Cable, Inc

Sounds nice on the face of it huh?  Not to two English majors it doesn't.  Read Len's response:


Thanks for your note.

I have to say, though, that I'm pretty disappointed in your response...for three main reasons:
  1. There is no question that you caused me inconvenience and frustration. I spent several hours on my holiday trying to resolve something that took a competent customer service rep 5 minutes to diagnose and fix the next day. Please just take responsibility for that instead of offering up the Legal Department-approved CYA statement that you "may have caused" these things. You DID cause them. Just own up to it, apologize, make it right, and move on.
  2. It is also quite insulting to read that you "can never pay for my time." You most certainly can--like with a credit for my missed day of TV service because of mistakes your people made. The cost of one day of service isn't much, but the gesture in these cases is more important than the size of it.
  3. Nice work on negating what little apology there was in your note by saying "We stand behind our service." What that tells me is that YOU are the one suffering the inconvenience of having to address pedestrian concerns like mine.  That you believe your people and the level of service they provide are just fine and that we customers should just stop whining and deal with it. I talked to five different Comcast people on Labor Day, all of whom proved just the opposite to me.  If your customer service were actually good enough for you to stand behind it with absolute confidence, there wouldn't be a Facebook page dedicated to bad Comcast stories, nor would there be a need for people like Mark Casem to troll the internet on the company's behalf looking for negative postings.
Like most people, I expect that the service I pay for work as it's supposed to. And when it doesn't, I expect that the people who are on the front lines for Comcast, who are your face to your customers, know what to do and do it quickly and efficiently. Those don't seem like particularly unreasonable expectations. Unfortunately, the only Comcast person I've run into like that is Casey, the guy who fixed my daylong drama in five short minutes.

Len ________

You think Len is still upset over the wasted Labor day spent in front of a tv that said "No Signal" and a form letter that doesn't even make an attempt at an apology? 

Um. Yeah. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Our little inchworm

Kate can move quite fast when she puts her mind to it.  She has, in the past 2 days, perfected the inchworm crawl.  She moves the fastest when she is going after something we are reading...although she did stop her forward progress when I told her it was a Kiplinger's magazine instead of Mama's US Weekly.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Long weekend at home

It's so nice when we get a three-day weekend.  Time seems to go by at a more leisurely pace and we all seem happier when Len is home.  Of course I can say this now because instead of washing and folding laundry (Len is currently doing that) I am blogging and Kate is napping.

As soon as I typed those last three words, guess who woke up?  She really has an uncanny ability to know when I am talking about her...see you back here in a few.

Ok (she woke up happy in need of a snack), as I was saying, long weekends are nice, especially in a city like Chicago when there are lots of free things to do and good food to be found.

Friday afternoon was too cold for the pool so we camped out in the park instead.
Saturday I spent the day luxuriously shopping and having lunch BY MYSELF before coming home to meet for an early dinner with Len, Kate and Karen at our favorite Indian restaurant, Udupi Palace. 

Sunday we decided to head downtown for lunch at the Park Grille at Millennium Park.
Afterwards we took our first picture with Kate at the Bean.
The Chicago Jazz Festival was in Grant Park so we ambled over to lay on the grass, eat dessert and listen to a jazz quartet before heading home for the day.
Today it was still a bit chilly but as it was the last day the pool would be open we decided to brave it and see if we could at least get a swim in to tire Kate out for the afternoon (she defaulted on her morning nap...grrr).  We headed over and just as I was about to start taking a few pictures of Len in the pool with Kate, the lifeguard came over and said I couldn't take any pictures on park property.  As I asked for and received a sullen answer to my query about why I couldn't take pictures,  I managed to take a few pictures

tell me what to do...
After they could take the cold water no longer (I only lasted 3 minutes in the pool), we dried off and played on the swings for a bit.  Check out Kate's cleavage...
The only dark blemish to the weekend involves Comcast.  We really, truly despise this company but they have a lock on the city of Chicago so there are no alternatives for cable tv.  Our HD service suddenly stopped working last week.  They sent us a new box which you would think would be plug-in ready.  One would think.  We thought.  Seems not.  Len has spent the past 5 hours (off and on) with Comcast trying to get it activated.  In the meantime he has been sent to the front desk, billing, various recorded messages that never led to a live person, a few "technicians" who must be the slackers who had to work on a holiday, etc, blah de blah.  Still no service.  Oh, and he's now talking to someone in MD who says he has no idea how to help us, please call the Chicago office.  Nice.  You can bet that as soon as there is another viable alternative for cable, internet and landline, we will be switching service providers.

Otherwise, it's pumpkin ravioli with sage brown butter sauce for dinner (thanks Tammi for the idea!).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wo Ai Ni Mommy

I just finished watching this movie online at PBS and...hoo boy.  Very emotional documentary.  It is the story of an 8 year old Chinese girl (Faith) who is adopted into a white Jewish family from Jersey.  To say that the transition was bumpy and hard to watch would be an understatement.  But it did give me a better view into what kinds of things to do/not do when we cross that bridge. 

I had a hard time watching Faith's face as she was trying to process all the changes she was about to undergo.  Imagine going from a foster family in one culture to another country and culture completely different  from the one you've always known.  New language, new sounds, new smells, new people, new food.  That's a lot to ask of anyone let alone a child.

There is a really thoughtful analysis here and here from someone who has two adopted daughters from China.  It is good to read this if you plan to watch the documentary as it does help ease some of the initial outrage you may feel towards the mother for some of the scenes with Faith.

In the end I believe the adoption was a good one and I was very impressed by the kinds of help this family sought to help Faith's transition and attachment.  The discussion at the end concerning race vs. culture is one that I think all inter-racial adoptive families need to have.  There is a huge difference between the two and taking your child to an ethnic restaurant and an annual cultural fair will not really solve the problem of race, especially in a country like ours where race is still such a hot button issue.  (I discussed this a bit in this post quite a while ago.)  When Faith asks her parents why they would adopt a Chinese child they seemed flummoxed.  She did not understand why someone of one ethnicity would adopt someone so fundamentally different.  When the father answered that he always liked Bruce Lee, Chinese food and judo I was really hoping he was joking...

In any case, I hope you have the time to watch the video.  It is 90 minutes that is well worth your time if you are adopting trans-racially or are a friend or family member of someone who is.

Friday, September 3, 2010

50 seconds

But tell me this doesn't sound like A LOT LONGER.  Kate usually has her dinner before Len comes home.  When he gets home he spends about 30 minutes playing with her and then starts the bedtime routine of bath, lotion, jammies and books. 

What you are hearing is Len putting her jammies on her.  Who knew that could cause such anguish?

It doesn't help at all that it sounds like she's saying MAMAMAMAMAMA

Thursday, September 2, 2010

B.I.B. 3

You may remember from the very first post on this blog that we had referred to our future babies as BIBs or Babies in a Box.  We gave the stats of our babies here.  Never in a million years did we imagine that not only would we still not have either of our babies from all that paperwork, time and money but that we would have a THIRD baby in a box.


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