Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Denver, as you know if you've been conscious at any point this week, is playing host to the Democratic National Convention. We, like every other Democrat in the state, tried to get tickets to Barack Obama's acceptance speech at Mile High Stadium on Thursday, but we were wait-listed. Bummer, but we still wanted to take part in the action somehow. We would have loved to have volunteered so we could actually be in the Convention Center at some point this week, but that's hard to do with an energetic toddler and a 24-hour-a-day nurser. So instead we packed up the kids and headed downtown on Sunday to check out the scene. It was wonderful to see so many people—and so much enthusiasm—in downtown Denver, which is normally a rather sleepy town.

We saw some very small protests against the two-party system, one person carrying an anti-war sign (it's the DNC; I think we're all on the same page there), and two anti-Obama people. The first was a man marching up and down the 16th Street Mall with a sign reading, "NOBAMA! No experience, no something, no something else" (that was slightly paraphrased). The other one, and I so, so, so wish I had taken a picture of this, was a monstrous vehicle—a black F950 with tires that must have been at least 6 feet tall—that idled noisily in front of us as we sat on a patio and enjoyed a lovely meal. Scribbled all over it in white paint were very eloquent arguments against Obama, such as, "Obama can't save your souls, only God can! Vote McCain!" and other equally persuasive gems. I just shook my head, but Greg pointed out the divine justice: The driver of that car burned about $50 in fuel in the time it took for the light to turn green. If only he had realized what a parody of himself he was.

We didn't witness any of the pro-Hillary, I'll-vote-for-McCain-before-Barack fanatics the media so loves to aggrandize. Even Hillary supporters seemed energized, excited, and determined to see a Dem in the White House come winter. Oh, and not crazy. I'm sure there are a few people who have gone off the deep end and decided to switch parties because their candidate didn't win, but I'm convinced they're few and far between (read this Salon article, which makes that argument much more thoroughly and hilariously).

Anyway, back to our sightseeing. At Union Station, historic trains were on display, which made for a very happy Sidamo.

The MSNBC on-site set. Crazy that they can throw together such an elaborate operation for just one week's use.

In case you were wondering, yes, this horse has a penis.

Swat team, I guess?

Nora was rapt.

At the restaurant patio after our nice stroll.

This is how Nora spent the meal.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Today, behind a slow moving car in the mall parking lot, Greg and I hear Sidamo from the backseat:

"Oh my god, just GO!"

Yeah, Mommy has some road rage issues.

Friday, August 22, 2008

11 11

So she's not quite as huge as I thought–Nora weighed in yesterday at a willowy 11 pounds, 11 ounces and measured 23 inches (but I prefer to call it 1 foot 11 inches). Thanks for heeding my slow-down requests, baby.

The more significant part of the visit was the vaccines. Ugh. I agonized over what to do regarding vaccines, because I'm intrinsically skeptical of across-the-board medical interventions—specifically those that entail injecting toxins into the sweet little fat rolls of my 11 pound, 11 ounce baby. I had decided to only vaccinate against the most frightening diseases (and the ones she's most likely to encounter) at this visit, but when I got there I discovered that all the vaccines are bundled these days. One shot, the PediaRix, combines some ungodly number of vaccines (Hep B, polio, diptheria, tetanus, pertussis … am I missing any?), and while I didn't want to vaccinate her for all those things yesterday, I was attracted to the idea of minimizing the number of shots she'll have to receive. So I said yes. Then there were two others, Hib and Prevnar, which I had intended to consent to because they prevent different types of meningitis. In the end, Nora ended up getting all the standard 2-month vaccines except the oral vaccine for rotavirus. Watching her get those shots was awful, as you can imagine. But even worse is the second-guessing and paranoia I've been experiencing since leaving the doctor's office.

Just on a basic level, it's terrifying to know that this junk has been injected into the thus-far unadulterated body of my sweet little girl. But to make matters worse, I've received two emails in the past 24 hours about the autism-vaccination link. Of course that was one of the things I considered when deciding about the vaccines, but now I'm wondering if I considered it seriously enough.

The reason I ultimately decided to vaccinate, even against some of the stuff that doesn't occur much in the States, is that after being in Ethiopia, I've seen that these diseases are not just theoretical. They're real, they're prevalent, and they're devastating. We plan to go back to Ethiopia at some point in the next several years, so we'd want her vaccinated before then. In the meantime, our community of friends includes a lot of international adoptees who come from countries with different medical landscapes than ours in the U.S., so it's not unthinkable that Nora will come in contact with some of the diseases that aren't common here.

Still, I can't help but wonder if I made the wrong choice for my little girl—one that may harm instead of protect her. For the past 24 hours, I've been watching her like a mama hawk, checking to make sure she's still breathing every time she goes more than a minute without making noise, talking to her incessantly to see if she's still making eye contact, evaluating every movement to determine if it's a precursor to a seizure. So far so good, but still I worry.

I know this is just one of many difficult decisions I'll make on my kids' behalf in their lifetimes, so I'd better find a more stress-free way of dealing with them. Any tips?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

2 months

Again I beg you to slow down, Baby Sister. In the past month you've begun smiling, cooing, and drooling like a St. Bernard. We love you to bits and pieces, but we'll love you even more if you decide to stay tiny just a little bit longer—not just because it's cute, but also because our arms are getting tired.

Tomorrow is the big two-month appointment. I'll post the results of the weigh-in. My guess is somewhere near 12.5 pounds. Any other wagers?

Starting to fill out the car seat.

Hey, at least she's still smaller than Daisy (but then, so am I).

I love the look on her face in this photo: "Maybe you could put that camera down and give me a hand here?"

That's almost a smile.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Someday you'll be a man

No wanting for blog topics with all the gems Sidamo is coming out with lately. This one took place in the bathroom.

Sidamo, as I was taking a seat: No, Mommy, stand up!
Me: I sit down to pee.
S: When you're older and grown you'll stand up?
Me: No, I'm a woman. Women sit to pee.
S: Daddy stand up to pee?
Me: Yes, Daddy's a man.
S: When you're older and grown you'll be a man?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Love in the ocean

The song "Peace Like a River" was just playing in the kitchen, and Sidamo came running in after hearing the first line, stood in front of the radio and had the following conversation with it.

Song: I've got peace like a river.
Sidamo: No, I have peace like a river!
Song: I've got love like an ocean.
Sidamo (increasingly frustrated): No, I get love in the ocean!
Song: I've got joy like a fountain.
Sidamo: I was in a fountain last week!
Song: I've got peace like a river.
Sidamo: I like the river! I go fishing!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Just beachy

What a lovely week. Turns out Fire Island is just as much fun for this generation as it was for mine. Sidamo and Nora loved their visit with their cousins, and Greg and I had a wonderful time with the whole family.

Sidamo really enjoyed the water, with Daddy's company and reassurance. Nora enjoyed the water under no conditions. We started off at the bay side of the island, which has calmer water and a more kid-friendly appeal.

Nora and Mommy getting used to the sand and sun.

Is that bathing suit adorable? Thanks, Dennis and Mary Ellin!

First Dip Series

So she's a land-lubber, for now at least. As you can tell from my burka, we're not exactly a sunbathing breed.

Daddy and Sidamo at the bay.

(left to right) My uncle, Bernard; me and Nora; Meaghan and George; Greg and Sidamo. Don't those clouds look painted in?

The water's not so bad when you're held a few feet above it.

What a brave boy—they're only in about two feet of water, but he clung to his dad like they were in the middle of the ocean.

Catherine and George were perfect hosts, allowing all sorts of toy-stealing from Sidamo and fussy crying from Nora. George decided that music might help quell Nora's cries, and he serenaded her quite beautifully with the ABCs. Catherine has a magic touch—every time she holds the baby, Nora melts into peacefulness.

Andrew and George playing tennis-racquet guitar.

My cousin Patrick, the only Republican I'll allow to hold my daughter. (Just kidding—Bernard and Pat can hold her too.) To be fair, Patrick self-identifies as a Libertarian, but as he says, the general public can't tell the difference between between a Republican and a Libertarian, just as he can't tell the difference between a Democrat and a Communist.)

Sidamo and George, pirates of the Mid-Atlantic.

At the ocean, where, after some hesitation, Sidamo discovered his real love of water. He thought the waves were pretty fantastic (still in Daddy's arms, of course). He also loved making sand castles, though, in his characteristic noncompliance, he refused to used wet sand, insisting that dry sand works much better.

The Sand and Water Series

Nora spent most of her time bundled and in someone's arms (in this case, my aunt Pat).

As I said, a lovely, lovely week. If it weren't for the nightmare of air travel, we'd do it more often. But oh, the nightmare. Our flight out was supposed to be at 8 last night, so we took the ferry to the van to the train to the other train to the airport, only to learn our flight was delayed three and a half hours due to weather. We crammed ourselves into the sardine-tight JetBlue terminal, where there literally wasn't a seat—I had to sit on the floor to nurse Nora—and settled in to wait for the now 11:20 departure. In the entire four-plus hours we sat there, not a single flight left or landed, and lots of flights were being canceled. We didn't hear any updates on our flight, so at about 10:30 I checked online from my phone to see whether we were further delayed and learned that the flight had been canceled. Apparently that's not the kind of thing you need to announce to all the people sitting and waiting for the flight. Anyway, we then waited in a 45-minute line for a cab, got to my sister's apartment in the city at around midnight (luckily she happened to be there and not in Fire Island), and had to get up again at 5 a.m. to catch our rescheduled flight.

We were all as cranky as you might imagine, and Sidamo had some belly issues to boot. Those resulted in our flight being somewhat delayed when Sidamo had to make a bathroom trip right as we were supposed to be pulling away from the gate. Later on he vomited all over the bathroom floor. Still later, as we were landing, he decided he had to poop at a time that we absolutely could not leave our seats, so he broke down in tears screaming, "I have to go caca! I have to go caca!" The folks in the neighboring seats looked (rightfully) terrified. Of course, when we landed and offered to take Sidamo to the toilet, he looked at us like we were crazy and said, "I don't have to go caca."

We're all home safe, though, and after some sleep we're feeling much better. Sidamo and I had a fantastic conversation at bed time:

Me: You're such a good boy Sidamo. I love you.
Sidamo: Daddy's a big boy.
Me: Yes, Daddy's a big boy. He's a man.
Sidamo: Daddy's a good man.
Me: Yep, he's a good man.
Sidamo: And Mommy's a good Deirdre.

I couldn't agree more, kiddo.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The F train, or something like it

We're off to New York tomorrow for our first vacation as a family of four. We're not visiting the city, unfortunately (though we'd love to see all our NYC friends), but will instead be taking the train to the ferry to Fire Island. Sidamo insists we'll be taking the F train to Coney Island, because that's the way it goes in Chicken and Cat, a favorite book (thanks, Matt & Sonia!). We're sort of dreading the travel, but once we make it to our destination it should be nothing but fun and relaxation. We'll stay with my sister and her family, in close walking distance from my aunt and uncle who have summered in FI since before I was born. I have so many fond memories of visiting them there during my childhood and I'm excited to share it with my kids.

This was another funfilled week. On Thursday we took a trip to the "farm" with Grandma and Scarlett. Scarlett is a born animal lover—she rode the horse until she was practically dragged off, all the while screaming something that sounded a lot like, "Ride 'em, cowboy!" She would have done the same to the goats if they had let her. Sidamo, on the other hand, clung nervously to me and talked incessantly about the horse's (quite notable) penis. It went something like this:

S: Horse have a penis?
Me: Yes, the horse has a penis.
S: Like boys and men?
Me: Yes, he's a boy horse.
S: Horse go peepee on the potty?
Me: No, he goes peepee on the ground.
S: With his penis?
Me: Yes.
S: Horse wag his tail?
Me, relieved that we're finally off the private-parts discussion: Yes.
S: And his penis?

Oh lordy. The woman whose horses we were observing thought Sidamo might be interested in brushing the horse since he was quite vocal about his opposition to riding it, but it turns out contact in any form was a no-go. Here's some video of Sidamo reflecting on his brushing decision while watching his more adventurous cousin.

Nora interlude—not much to report here, other than ever-increasing cuteness.

Sleeping with one eye open. Smart.

Post bath, wearing the most ridonkulously adorable piece of baby attire ever—a plush (as in stuffed-animal plush) bathrobe. Thanks Suzanne, Amanda, et. al.!

At some point this week Greg taught Sidamo what a wedgie is. Life in this house will never be the same. The lesson came at bedtime when Sidamo was getting his jammies on. Now every night at bedtime he pulls up his own pants as high as they'll go and says, "Take a picture?"

Monday I had the tremendous pleasure of meeting Cathy, a blog friend who adopted her youngest child from Ethiopia a couple months before we adopted Sidamo. Cathy, her daughter Lily, and her son Zinabu took a nice long drive to meet me, Sidamo, and Nora at the play area of our local mall. The kids had a blast, and Cathy and I had a great time chatting. She's a much wonderful and seasoned mother, and I was inspired by seeing her stellar parenting in action. I also took heart in hearing that it didn't feel totally natural for her at first—sometimes I feel like I'm just missing some mothering magic and I'll never be a great mom, so it's good to hear that it's not something that's necessarily always there, and in fact it can develop and improve over time.

Zinabu is hamming it up for the camera. Sidamo is taking notes. Lily is far too cool for these silly boys.

Tuesday I went to visit Alex and Tiffany in their beautiful new home to meet their beautiful new daughter, Tegan, who is going on three weeks old. She made my little munchkin look like a behemoth. In fact, when I walked in with Nora in her carseat, Tiffany said, "Oh my god, you have a 9-month-old!" Tegan is petite and beautiful, and I can't believe Nora was like that just a few weeks ago. I won't get all nostalgic again, but man, it's still hard to believe how fast they grow. Alex and Tiffany are natural mamas; Tegan's a lucky girl!

Alex is holding Nora, Tiffany is holding Tegan.

Tuesday evening our wonderful friends Dayn and Michelle came by with dinner for us. They're on the cusp of parenthood too (if dinner with Sidamo didn't scare them off). They just finished up their home study and are waiting for news on their domestic adoption. We can't wait to see them welcome a child into their family—they're some of the sweetest and funniest people we know, and they'll make wonderful parents.

Whew. That was an action-packed week. I imagine next week's post will be shorter—just lots of pictures of sand, water, and tasty meals with family. Fun times.