Tuesday, August 31, 2010


At my sister's apartment, Nora laid eyes on her newest, truest love: Petey. Petey has been in our family since my oldest sister was born—so for somewhere just over 29 years (you're welcome, Meg). When Meg had kids, our dad returned Petey to his first, rightful owner. (Note: Not Nora)

Nora discovered Petey while we were staying in Meg's apartment at the end of our trip, and she was pretty sure they were destined to be together.

Don't mess with destiny, Ma.

Either he's coming home with me, or I'm staying here. Don't make me choose.

Pleeeeeease, Mama?

Monday, August 30, 2010

First day of school

Nora is off at her very first day of daycare/preschool.

 I'm off to stock up on Kleenex.

Here she is having her umpteenth bowl of Cheerios (she's addicted).

And here's how the scene unfolded when her brother insisted on sending her off to school with a hug.

In case you can't tell, that's a hit, not a hug.

Finally, she gives in.

Is it really possible that my little girl is big enough for preschool? And a backpack? This is the very same backpack Sidamo wore on his first day of school. He seemed like such a big kid then, but Nora still very much feels like a baby—to me, at least. 

Funny, I just reread that post about Sidamo's first day of school and his singing of the alphabet song. Nora also sang the alphabet song this morning when we got to her new school (it's her hand-washing ritual), in her sweet little sing-songy voice. I'm going to try to hold onto that memory, because it was just so sweet and adorable. But reading about Sidamo singing the ABCs on his first day of school, which was when he was a few months older than Nora is no, reminds me that really she's not any more babyish than Sidamo was at her age. In fact, she's probably less so. I guess I'm just trying to hold on to the fleeting moments of babyhood with Nora since she's, well, the baby of the family, and once she's officially a preschooler, I'm officially not the mom of a baby anymore. And that's just not territory I'm ready to leave. 

(Note: Now would be a good time to remind me of the sleep deprivation I suffered during the early days/months/years before I start remembering it all as sunshine and roses.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

He dressed himself

Here's what happens when Sidamo wakes up before we do.

Yes, those are Lightning McQueen underpants on top of his jammies.

But I think my favorite thing is that he put on his sneakers, too. To play with an Etch-a-Sketch. At 6 a.m.

God, I love this kid.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Friday, August 27, 2010

Real, live baby doll

Nora's big cousin Catherine and her friends were thrilled to have their very own moving, talking baby doll to play with during our visit.

At first, Nora was game.

Enjoying her time with the big girls, I think.

It didn't take long, though, before Nora decided she's an independent girl. When she saw the big girls coming toward her, she'd run in the other direction screaming, "No carry me! My mommy carry me!"

I don't think the big girls held it against her.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Things I learned today

  • All the advance prep and on-time airport arrivals in the world can't get you on a flight if the airline is understaffed and the staff on hand gets a kick out of saying no. (I'm not going to mention the airline in question, but I will tell you that its name starts with an F.)
  • Not everyone takes pity on small children whimpering, "But Mommy, you said I could go on an airplane today," or "I really, really, really want to see my cousins! I miss them so much."
  • The name of the airline ends with -rontier. But that's all I'm telling. No more hints.
  • A long-overdue haircut and mani/pedi can make a bad day better.
  • Just because you can still do a cartwheel doesn't mean you should.
  • El Salvadorian food is delicious. 
  • El Salvadorian food is even more delicious when the tab for a decadent dinner for four (plus leftovers) comes to $17.75.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


While the cousins were visiting, we went to the fantastic old amusement park that I've talked about before. It has a 100-year-old roller coaster, which (cover your eyes, Caity), Xavier thoroughly enjoyed. Seriously. It's scary. I've told the story of how I was once driving by the park and saw workers tossing pieces of white lumber back over the fence beneath the roller coaster, which, I should point out, is constructed of white lumber. Also, there was the time my friend Mark and I got summoned to the office for taking pictures of the rides, and I really, seriously, thought they were going to smash Mark's camera until we insisted we were just taking pictures of the signs and not of the rides themselves. Instead they made Mark sign a statement saying he'd delete all the photos and never ever ever ever share them with anyone. Most especially not people with any amusement park regulating agencies.

But it's also FUN! And CHEAP! Yay!

So it's noteworthy that the children all survived their adventure, but also significant is the fact that Greg and I survived it. As we were leaving to go to the park, our 5-year-old next-door neighbor (who is probably more accurately described as Sidamo's roommate for all the time they spend together) was hysterical at the thought of missing out on all the fun. Easily swayed by little boy tears (and probably a little delirious from exhaustion), we decided to bring him along.

Which, if you're counting, means we went to a deathtrap of an amusement park with FIVE children. And we returned with FIVE children. Including TWENTY limbs. Miraculous.

Our one faux pas was arriving with an almost-dead camera battery, but it's probably for the best that neither of us was focused on taking pictures, leaving us both able to focus on counting children—and children's limbs.

Here are the couple of pics we did get, though, on a decidedly more innocuous ride.

Clearly the sunscreen issue remains unresolved. 

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Sidamo finished up at his preschool last week, and it's been sad for all of us (especially him). We really grew to love the teachers and other students, and Sidamo grew tremendously while there. When we first started taking him, he was terribly shy and wanted me to stay with him all day. By the end of his year-plus there, I narrowly averted a broken nose more than once as the door to preschool slammed behind him. He turned into one of the leaders in his class, and it was just such a beautiful thing to see.

This week we have him enrolled in an Ethiopian culture camp that has been … fine. Sidamo has gone back to his old habit of clinging to me in the morning and begging me not to leave, but then telling me after camp that he had a good time and wants to go back. (For the record, when he begs me not to leave—especially at a camp that's all about getting in touch with his adopted side—I don't. Today I stayed for two hours until he felt comfortable staying by himself.)

Next week (the week before Sidamo's new school starts) we go to visit my sister in NY and stay with her and her family at their beach house. We've been looking forward to it for months. Meaghan offered to sign Sidamo up for camp with Catherine and George, and initially I thought it sounded like a great idea. But then last night Greg and I were talking about the fact that this might be too many transitions for Sidamo in a row—ending his old school, going to a week-long culture camp, going to his cousins' camp, and then immediately coming back and jumping into a brand-new school.

So while driving to camp this morning I called Meg and told her what I was thinking. Sidamo was in the backseat and was uncharacteristically quiet as I described my worries about how he might feel going to camp, what insecurities it might stir, and how I wanted him to feel empowered to make his own choice about it—no pressure from anyone. We agreed to just take it day by day and let Sidamo decide what he's comfortable with.

When I hung up the phone, I looked back at my sad-seeming boy and said, "You probably heard me talking about you and all the changes you've been going through."

"Uh huh," he sighed, as he stared out the window.

"I was just telling Aunt Meg that I want you to be able to enjoy your vacation and do whatever you want to do. If you want to go to camp with George, you can. If you want to stay with Mommy and Daddy and Nora, that's great too."

"Uh huh," he said, still not looking up toward me.

"So what are you thinking about that? Do you have any questions?"

"Well, I have one question."

"What is it?" I asked, ready to field whatever he had for me—and feeling immensely proud of fostering such open dialogue.

"Why are squirrels diseased?"

Ready to field almost any question, I guess. Still immensely proud, though.

Born in the wrong century

Is she not perfectly suited for 19th century frontier living?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Our niece Zoe and nephew Xavier came for a 5-day visit last week, and we had a blast. It was so much fun to have them on our turf, all by themselves, for a spell. Their mom, my sister, moved away from our home state of New Jersey a few years ago, which means that when we take our trips "back home," I don't get to see Caity and the kids. It's been a while since we've been able to really reconnect with Zoe and Xavier, so I decided to remedy that by bringing them out here.

First things first: They're both tall. Xavier, 12, is already an inch taller than me, and Zoe, 10, is not far behind. Not cool. My kids have agreed to never outgrow me, and for that I thank them. They're also both very smart, very sassy, and very funny. I'm still giggling from this exchange:

Me: I'll be right back. I have to go to the bathroom.

Zoe: You go to the bathroom a lot.

Xavier: Old ladies always go to the bathroom a lot.

Me: Hey! I'm not even that old!

Xavier: Yeah, I bet the word "ye" doesn't think it's old either.

It was a week of all sorts of zingers, but my ego is slowly recovering. Sidamo and Nora had so much fun with their cousins and luckily are still too young to pick up on any of the making-fun-of-mommy behaviors.

We did all sorts of fun things (the zoo, the nature/science museum, horseback riding—pics below, an amusement park, etc.) but their favorite thing was visiting our friends with eight children and a Wii. Their least favorite things: eating vegetables and walking places instead of driving.

Zoe loves horses, so we took a trip up to Karolyn's house to ride Beau. He was, as always, a great sport. Zoe was a natural. She and Nora will have lots to bond over in a few years.

Sidamo's angry about something. Xavier is trying to cheer him up.

Seems to have worked.

We were sad to see the cousins go at the end of their visit, but we're hoping to get to visit them sometime soon. I do wish we lived closer to my now-scattered family so the cousins could grow up involved in each other's lives. Sometimes the world is just a little too big.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Squirrel eggs and life lessons

Sidamo: Look, mommy! I found a squirrel egg in the grass!

Me: That's a mushroom.

Sidamo: No, I'm sure it's a squirrel egg.

Me: Squirrels don't lay eggs.

Sidamo: Then how do they get baby squirrels?

Me: Same way people get baby people.

Sidamo: By adopting them?