Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Not the baby picture you were expecting

I don't know why it's taken me so long to come out of the closet about this (I have some ideas, which I'll get into shortly), but I have a bit of a secret I've been keeping. It seems that somehow, while we weren't looking, this implanted itself in my uterus:

Turns out what I thought was salmonella poisoning back in September was actually a bug of a different sort, and I'm now four months pregnant. I've known basically since October, but it has taken some time to wrap my head around it all enough to feel ready to share.

Part of my hesitation, I'm sure, was the fact that I had a rough first trimester emotionally, physically, mentally—I was beyond exhausted, nauseous all the time, and cranky enough that I'm still sort of surprised anyone I know in real life is still speaking with me.

But the bigger reason is that I've been concerned about all the pregnancy-after-adoption issues. My main worry, I suppose, is that this will somehow make Sidamo feel like he's second-best. We've already gotten a disconcerting number of, "How nice that you'll finally have one of your own!" comments, and those just cut to the core. And if we're getting them now, when the "one of our own," is only five inches long and is safely hidden within inches of tissue, what will it be like when they're sharing a double stroller?

I know lots of families think about these issues before they even adopt, and plenty of happy families have been formed exactly this way, but it just hadn't really entered our thought process until the doctor called to congratulate me (on what I thought was salmonella, mind you). It's taken a few months to work through it all, but I think we're getting there. I guess no one ever knows exactly how things will go—especially when kids are involved—so we'll just prepare as best we can and handle issues as they come up.

One thing I do know: Sidamo is going to be a fantastic big brother. He's fun, funny, caring, and so wonderful with babies. He seems to really enjoy being around them, he's very gentle, and he doesn't get jealous when I hold or care for them (lots of newborns in our circle of friends). He's exactly what I'd look for in an older brother if I could pick one.

Now if someone could just tell me how to combine the sleep deprivation newborns bring and the non-stop energy of a toddler (while maintaining some measure of sanity), I'll feel like we're really prepared.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

January is going to be SO boring

Between Sidamo's birthday, the trip to New York meeting lots of friends and relatives for the first time, and now Christmas, I think Sidamo has opened at least one gift a day for the past 15 days. He still has a few under the tree, but he'll be through his stash by New Year's, and then what? I'll tell you: 11 months of BORING.

I need to do a full-blown New York post, because the trip was wonderful. We had such a good time with friends and family, and Sidamo was a complete charmer. Wish I could say the same of the airline industry—just as a quick sneak preview, on the way there our flight was so delayed and circled so long that we ran out of fuel and diverted to Allentown, PA. We ended up being on the plane for something like seven hours, which is a REALLY long time with a 2-year-old if you've only prepped for a flight half that long. The flight back was also delayed, but that was only a minor inconvenience compared to the seemingly endless vomit Sidamo supplied (in projectile-fashion) before the flight even took off, covering himself, me, our seats, his blankets, and our carry-on luggage. Lesson learned: Every kid has a yogurt limit, and Sidamo's, apparently, is somewhere around 20 ounces. Oops!

But onto happier times. Sidamo's first Christmas with us was wonderful. We spent Christmas Eve at Lisa, Chris, and Scarlett's house with Greg's dad and Grandma. Today the whole fam came over here, but I just realized we didn't take any pictures after they arrived. Too busy gorging ourselves on yummy food and taking part in the festivities, I guess.

Me, Scarlett, Sidamo, Greg, and Great-Grandma B on Christmas Eve

The kids with Great-Grandma, having lots of fun with the Aqua Doodle—HUGE hit with all three

Christmas Eve sledding, sans snow. We could have taken them for some real sledding today since we got something like 6 inches today but, well, real snow is cold. Sorry kids!

Christmas morning—the dogs are every bit as excited about Christmas as Sidamo. Here he's helping them open their gifts of stuffed animals. Happy, happy day.

Jammie time fun!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Happy birthday, baby!

Can you believe he's 2 already? Seems like just months ago he was, well, 19 months.

What a wonderful five months it's been. The amount Sidamo has grown in every way—physically, emotionally, cognitively, and in terms of trust and confidence—is truly astounding.

Today we honor and give thanks to Sidamo's first family, who brought him into the world and loved and nurtured him so well for the first part of his life. We know they're thinking of him today, too, and we hope that—cosmically, somehow—they can feel how much we love and appreciate them.

We celebrated Sidamo's birthday yesterday with a lovely little family party. We had Grandma ("Guagua"), Grandpa ("Gapa"), Pappy ("Happy"), Dianne ("Dan"), the Great-Grandmothers (he can't even try to pronounce that one), Aunt Lisa ("Eesa"), and Scarlett ("Car") over for pizza and firetruck cake—the perfect feast for a 2-year-old.

A firetruck I can eat? Are you messing with me?

Okay, enough admiring—slice that bad boy up!

Sugar rush and presents? Can someone please explain why every day isn't like this?

There's nothing as promising as the new world of a new book.

Oh, was this police cruiser for Sidamo? He won't mind if I unwrap it, will he?

Toddler on patrol. Do you feel safer?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Who says I can't share?

Apparently Sidamo read my blog post from the other day, because today he was sharing like it's going out of style. I praised him mightily for handing one of his Legos to Max and then went back to washing dishes. Next time I turned around, he had loaded Max down with every one of his blocks and looked duly proud.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Memories of Ethiopia

Before meeting Sidamo in July, we spent a week traveling around Ethiopia and getting to know the country a little bit. We felt it was important to experience some of Sidamo's culture so we could have and pass on some appreciation for it. We both expected to like Ethiopia, but I don't think either of us had any idea we'd fall in love with the country the way we did.

We hope to take another trip to Ethiopia when Sidamo is between 8 and 10 to show him what an beautiful and proud country he comes from. In the meantime, we have our pictures.

Me and Greg above one of Lalibela's most beautiful rock-hewn churches, Bieta Giorgis.

Friendly hitchhiker outside a restaurant in Lalibela

Greg trying to break a centuries-old, one-legged stool (yes, it's designed to have only one leg)

Greg and me in the mossy trenches/passageways between churches

King Fasiladas' castle compound in Gonder


Double ditto

Tree roots that have intertwined with the stonework at King Fasiladas' baths

Some sweet farmer boys we met between Bahir Dar and Blue Nile Falls

The Portuguese bridge on the walk up to Blue Nile Falls

Another view

On the walk up to the falls (anticlimactic, I know, but I'm not including a picture of the falls themselves—they've been greatly diminished since the majority of their flow has been diverted to a hydroelectric plant. We enjoyed the journey more than the destination.)

A boy offering flowers for birr at an overlook of the town of Bahir Dar

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

It's nice to share

Sidamo used to be the best sharer, but under our influence he has somehow lost that skill. Maybe it's because he's not around other kids as much as he was in the care center, maybe it's because he now understands the principle of ownership, maybe it's because he's almost 2, or maybe it's because we're just a terrible influence on our little boy. Regardless, the "No! No! No! My! My!" every time another child so much as looks at one of his toys is getting a little irksome.

So, more experienced parents, what to do?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Best dogs EVER

Heather's comment on the "best month ever" post inspired me to wax poetic about my other babies for a change. Daisy and Saffron are (apologies to other dog-owners) the greatest dogs in the world. They're both Great Danes. We got Daisy from the pound in October of 2001, when she was 3. Saffron came six months later, at the age of 2.5, from Rocky Mountain Great Dane Rescue.

All About Daisy

Soon after buying my first house (Greg and I were dating at the time, but not living together), my thoughts turned toward getting a dog. Truth be told, I was signing the offer papers and all I could think about was the dog that would someday romp in the backyard. I thought I'd wait a few months at least to get settled, but, well, that didn't happen. Advice for anyone hoping to wait a few months before getting a dog: Stay off the local pound's web site.

I was at work one day, browsing the dogs listed on the Denver Dumb Friends League web site, as I had been doing every day since moving into the new house. I was set on a giant breed, having had and adored a mastiff in the past, but they rarely become available at animal shelters. When I saw Daisy's (then named Baby) photo, I had to catch my breath. She was absolutely breathtaking, and she looked so scared and confused against the stark white cinderblock walls of the kennel. She had a funny pink bow around her neck (Daisy is not a bow girl). It was almost lunch time, and I worked close to the DDFL, so I drove over as quickly as I could.

As I was getting in line to ask to meet Baby, another couple walked up and I let them go ahead of me. When they got to the front of the line and asked to meet her, my heart sank. It sank even further when I heard the woman of the couple talking about how much she hated big dogs, and how if the man brought her home, she'd never be in the same room as it. And it hit the bottom as I heard the man talk about how tough he'd look with a 130-pound dog, and how no one would even think about breaking into their house. How could these people care for the fragile looking girl I saw in the picture?

Unfortunately, it's a first-come, first-served scenario at DDFL, so I just had to wait half an hour until the couple finished visiting to see whether they decided to adopt Baby. Luckily for me (and, dare I say, for Daisy), they decided to think about it for a day. I met with her in a cold and sterile room, and Daisy was terrified. At first she wouldn't come near me, but then I pulled out some treats—still the way to her heart. We spent about 10 minutes together, and I decided that even though I had had no intentions of getting a dog that day, she was going home with me. Of course, I still had to go back to work, but I filled out all the paperwork and the people at the DDFL agreed to keep her until the end of the day.

I still remember the feeling of walking out of that place with a strange dog who came close to equaling my weight, and coaxing her into my little VW Jetta. We got home, and Greg came over to meet her. For the first few weeks, though, she had a trauma bond only with me, and she'd (literally) try to hide behind me whenever another person came around. It was pretty comical—the elephant hiding behind the tree. With time, though, she came out of her shell around others and is now the most outgoing cuddle-hog you'll ever meet.

Through the years she'd had some issues, ranging from dog-aggression to a butt-tumor that required her to wear adult-sized diapers with a tail cut-out, but none of it has made us love her any less intensely. She's such a loving and funny dog who is made all the more charming by her pushiness and sense of entitlement.

Salute to Saffron

After adopting Daisy, we became involved in the Great Dane rescue. At first we thought we would need to remain a one-dog household, because Daisy displayed some aggression toward other dogs. But after one failed fostering attempt (Wesley), we fostered a sweet and submissive female dog named Samantha. She and Daisy got along famously, and suddenly the door opened for us to add another dog to the family (of course, we didn't really realize that until Samantha had found another home and I was devastated).

I was at a rescue event at another volunteer's house, and she was fostering Saffron. I still remember the intense eye-contact she made when we first met, and I felt an incredibly strong connection to her. I went home and worked on convincing Greg that we should get another dog—not the easiest task, since Greg feels I'm a little too eager to acquire new dependents. But that weekend, Saffron's foster mom brought her over for a visit, and the rest is history.

Saffron is really and truly the most kind-hearted creature you'll ever meet. In the almost-six years we've had her, I don't think I've ever seen her tail stop wagging. She's 8 years old now—ancient for a Great Dane—and she still acts like a puppy (when she's awake, anyway. Saffy sleeps somewhere near 23 hours a day). She's very sensitive and delicate, but unbelievably loving and affectionate. She can absolutely melt you with her eyes, especially combined with her full-body wag.

Saffron too has had some health issues, most notably the bloat that almost killed her a few years ago. It's just part of having a giant breed, though: They're expensive to care for, they scare you to death with their medical emergencies, but they touch your soul in a way that no other dog can. They're almost like humans, but without all the baggage.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Best month EVER

Welcome, December. Sidamo doesn't know this yet, but he has a big month in store. His birthday is next week, then we're off for a trip to NYC to see the family, and after that, of course, is Christmas. He knows there's something going on, though—there is now a tree in his living room, and that, if nothing else, signals a special occasion.

Things are going great with the little man. He continues to pick up language and use it a lot. Like, non-stop. Today Greg and I were cracking up as Sidamo walked around the house busying himself with all sorts of things, like moving car A to where car B was, and vice versa, all the while rattling off all his words at lightning speed and saying each one like a question. Like this: "Mama? Dada? Daisy? Saffy? Go C-U? Baby? Snowman? Tree? Car? Car? Car? Car? Car?" I wish I could capture it on video, but it's the type of thing that stops when observed.

Here are some photos from today:

These trees are just my size!

Dada and the little man.

Okay, why don't you try to get a good picture of a 2-year-old, two dogs, and a lighted tree.

And a couple from Thanksgiving last week. We sure had a lot to be thankful for this year.

Can someone get this kid a modeling contract?

Scarlett and Sidamo with their Great-Grandmas.