“135 over 85,” said the nurse, as she removed the blood pressure cuff from my arm. I looked at her in surprise. I was 32 weeks into a perfectly planned, perfectly healthy pregnancy. I was 32 weeks into a pregnancy with perfect blood pressures of 115/70. That’s higher than normal, I thought to myself. Read More →
we are so happy to have you.
Love, Mama, Dada, and Nati
Yesterday we celebrated our first Halloween. Growing up we didn’t do it. The most obvious reason is probably that we lived in the middle of the bush in Kenya. But even when we were in the States, we didn’t, I think because of concerns about pagan holidays or something like that. I’ve since learned that Christmas and Easter also used to be pagan holidays, so I’m over it. Nevertheless, we always bought a giant bucket of candy for the “trick-or-treaters”. And there were never any trick-or-treaters because we lived at the end of a mile long lane, so we got to eat all the candy ourselves.
To be honest, I hadn’t really thought I would celebrate Halloween with my kids either until a few weeks ago when Nati said, “Halloween is when you dress up in costumes and go trick-or-treating and people give you candy!” Well, I wish Yohannes wouldn’t have told him that, I thought.
A few days later while I was away, Nati said the same thing to Yohannes and the babysitter. Yohannes said, “I kind of wish Esther hadn’t told him that.” The babysitter said, “Me too.”
It turns out Caillou was the culprit. He always is. So yesterday we went to the store, bought a bunch of candy for the trick-or-treaters, and a tiger hat for Nati. I thought the tiger hat would be enough, but he kept asking where his costume was, so we improvised. The tiger toga isn’t my best work, but it was the best I could do in 15 minutes.My plan was to just sit on the porch and pass out candy, but our porch light was broken. Since no one would come to a house without a porch light, I thought I’d just take Nati trick-or-treating around to our neighbors. But only one neighbor was doing it, so we ended up walking a few blocks, and that’s how we inadvertently celebrated our first real Halloween. Nati would say, “Trick or treat!” and try to give people the candy in his bucket. Lily was just along for the ride.
It was kind of fun to see all the people in the community out and about and interacting with each other. Afterwards we came inside, ate candy and carved a pumpkin. Actually, the kids watched a movie while I carved a pumpkin. Not a bad day.
Nati is potty trained. We’ve been working on it for over a year, but never fully committed. That is, I never fully committed. I didn’t want the hassle of an accident in the middle of the grocery store or church. Nati’s been ready for a while, but every time we left the house or at bedtime, I diapered him up…and also any other time either of us didn’t want the hassle of the potty. I decided it was time to rip off the bandaid, and on his third birthday I insisted that he wear underwear all day. He had zero accidents. I was high on this success so we decided to try underwear to bed. He was dry in the morning. We are going on 72 hours diaper-free and accident-free. I am so happy I could cry. (Actually I did get a little misty-eyed as he voluntarily pooped in the potty yesterday. Motherhood makes you do weird stuff.)
The following conversation took place while he was sitting on the potty shortly after I took this picture.
Nati: “Is that a picture of me pooping?”
Nati: “Thank you! It’s beautiful!” (Sees my deodorant.) “Where’s my shaver?”
Me: “You don’t have one, but when you get big, you can shave your face like Dada.”
Nati: “Oh. Do you shave your face like me and Dada?”
Nati: “Look, big-boy-diapers! I don’t need a diaper right now. Do you need a diaper?”
Nati: (Looks at his wrist.) *gasp* “Do I have a watch? I don’t know what times it is!”
Me: “You don’t have a–”
Nati: “Shhhhh! I think I hear a car on the road.”
*pause while airplane drones in the background*
Nati: “Okay you can talk now.”
(This conversation has been shortened to fit the allotted space. Other funny things were said.)
Thankfully, turning three has in no way diminished his hurricane superpower. This took less than 60 seconds:
Meanwhile, little miss Lily has been growing by leaps and bounds. She says Mama and Dada*. (*This has yet to be verified by a third party.) She tries to say Nati, but it comes out more like “Aaaa-Eeee.” She is also cruising around holding on to furniture, and occasionally lets go for a second and stands on her own.
Accordingly, she is also sporting her first fat lip.
Onward, ho, to the land of just one in diapers!
1. We went to see an alpaca farm last weekend with Jason. CUTE!!!!! I want one! $3,000? Nevermind.
2. Carved an AWESOME jackal lantern! Adorable Kitten + Adorable Puppy = Best Mom Ever. Picture below.
3. Someone stole my jackal lantern before I took a picture. They left the lid.
4. Lily is sporting 2 more teeth for a grand total of 4.
5. We spent a day in Philly after Yohannes’s citizenship interview. We saw Independence Hall and some museum mummies, and gave a piece of our mind to the mean lady in the subway elevator who pushed Nati. (Okay, so Betty and I just tried to disappear into the wall while some other, more experienced family members told her off.)
6. Four of the family headed home today, so we are down from 11 in the house to just 7. The visit went by so fast.
7. Quickie trip to the ER this afternoon for Nati. The doctor prescribed Neosporin. Never before has a single prescription made an emergency visit seem quite so superfluous. (Yes, I did just use superfluous in a sentence. Thanks for noticing.)
This is where I have been since Sunday. Feel free to envy me.
Just kidding. I am home. Alone. With two children. Yohannes, on the other hand, really is on that ship along with his parents and two of his sisters, a friend, my uncle and aunt, and my uncle’s in-laws. So it does seem odd that I’m not there and I feel it’s important for morale (mine) if I at least pretend to be there. The short story is that the tickets were through Yohannes’s work, no children were allowed, and I thought the kids were too little to go a whole week without me, so I opted to stay home. My introvert self was in need of a little re-charging after so long with a full house, so it’s not all bad.
In the mean time, we have done the following exciting things instead of going on a cruise:
Go Through Withdrawal: I spent last week participating in a 40 hour, mentally stimulating Immigration Training with real, live adults. So the transition back to temporarily-single-parent/stay-at-home-mom was a little jarring.
Sleep in: While it’s not as restful when you’re co-sleeping with two fussy kids, there’s still something to be said for staying in bed till 9:00am.
Watch Planet of the Apes (me) and Caillou (Nati): Worth it for that aha! moment a few minutes in when I realized that this is a political allegory and not just weird science fiction that dorks (Jason) watch. Planet of the Apes, that is. There’s so little to be said in defense of Caillou.
Get First Teeth (Lily): An aha! moment of a different sort when I nursed her and she bit me. Also, I felt a little silly after having just told the doctor that morning in a solemn tone that, “I’m a little worried because she’s been having unexplained fever’s all week, and I know she’s not teething.” The two bottom front ones are just barely through.
That’s all the excitement I can think of for now.
Nati: “Mama, are you happy or grumpy?”
Me: “I’m happy.”
Nati: “Are you happy?”
Nati: “Are you happy?”
Nati: “Are you happy?
Me: “Nati, yes I am happy!”
Nati: “Are you grumpy now?”
Over Labor Day weekend we went to the Kipona Art Fest in Harrisburg. Actually, we only found the kids section. We drove past the actual “Art” section on our way home, but never actually saw any art. Nati didn’t mind. Especially because Auntie Poupie was visiting from Atlanta and he is in love. How can you help but love someone who holds your hand…
…and takes you to get a balloon…
…and helps you play the duck game…
…where you win an obnoxious horn that mommy disassembles to remove the squeaker.
Daddy got points for going down the giant slide with Nati…twice.
Lily also got her share of Auntie Poupie Love.
Also, how cute is she in the outfit from Akoi and Tata?
Nati Quote of the Day: “Mommy, I want the ‘Ta da da da PBS Kids dot ord’ so I can watch Caillou!”
On Wednesday, Yohannes’s parents (Meseret and Worku to the world, Tata and Akoi to Nati and Lily) arrived from Ethiopia. We’ve been over to visit them twice since Nati was born, but this is the first time they have visited us since shortly after our wedding and their first time to see Lily.
It was love at first sight on both ends.
Lily has warmed up to them faster that I have ever seen. She is usually a little timid about being held by new people. Nati, on the other hand, has seen them on Skype and in pictures, and was very excited for them to visit.
It’s going to be a wonderful visit.
This is what Lily looks like just after Daddy leaves for work:
It came on suddenly in the past week or two. But now every time he walks away from her, she bursts in to tears, and every time he gets home, she reaches for him to pick her up. I’m sure it does his heart good. Also, it lets me have free hands for part of the evening.
When Nati was a baby, I heard and read all kinds of advice that referenced “fussing.” Particularly, I was looking for advice on how in the world do I get this child to sleep before I lose my mind? You see, Nati did not sleep on his own. He needed to be nursed to sleep for each and every nap and bed time, and then frequently throughout the night. And even once he was asleep, any attempts to detach him from my body resulted in waking up and starting the whole process over.
I think it is a part of being human to want an occasional millisecond of time to oneself. So in desperation, I sought advice on sleep training. I researched several methods, each of which had been labeled both Biblical truth and heresy by different groups of zealots. But each and every method involved some level of allowing your child to “fuss.”
What is this fussing you speak of? I tried several of the methods, but during the stage when Nati was supposed to be “fussing,” he was instead screaming hysterically. He did this for a full three hours one time before I couldn’t bear it anymore. Some people might think I didn’t wait long enough, but three hours of my child screaming hysterically was more than enough for me. So I gave up on sleep training, and to this day, Nati needs me to cuddle him each night until he falls asleep.
And then there is Lily. When she falls asleep while nursing, she does this marvelous thing: she unlatches and rolls away from me. It’s kind of like being in jail and having the doors suddenly pop open. Truly exhilarating. (Not that nursing is like jail, but freedom is like freedom.) And on the occasions where she is tired and I don’t pick her up right away, she fusses. Fussing, for those of you who are not familiar, is kind of like crying-lite. Or gentle whining. So this is what all those sleep trainers thought my child would do. She does it for a few minutes, and then she falls asleep. It is nothing short of miraculous. I think when God made her, he was feeling concerned about my ability to maintain my sanity.