Adventuring as a transracial family

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Last week, we took our first family vacation, to the Mexican Caribbean, Riviera Maya. It was a chance to escape the craziness of the city during inauguration as well as hit a tropical beach during one of the Mid-Atlantic’s coldest months of the year. (As it turned out, the coldest week of the month was the previous one, which we were very much in town for, but whatever, we still got a week of hot sun and sand, which is way better than what we left.)

We had an early morning flight out of Dulles, so we  woke the kids quite a bit before Teddy usually gets up (he was so excited, he was fully awake immediately) and called an Uber. Since we brought Teddy and Lydia home, the airport has made us a tiny bit nervous. We always wonder if anyone will think we’re trafficking or kidnapping our kids. We have passports for them, but those can be forged, and we never travel with our adoption decrees. Presumably all airport officials are trained to spot the signs of a trafficked child, and our non-trafficked kids obviously won’t show any red flags, but Mike always likes to give the person checking our IDs and boarding passes a little extra assurance that our dark-skinned children belong with white-skinned us.

Me, to security officer (SO) checking our IDs: “Good morning!”
*SO takes IDs and boarding passes and scans each ID as he matches it with our faces*
SO, looking at Teddy: “What’s your name, son?”
(I used to have to follow up with, “Tell him your name, bud”, but he responds on his own now. We’re still working on volume.)
Teddy, barely audibly: “Teddy.”
Lydia: “Teddy!”
Mike: “That’s right, that’s Teddy. And what’s my name?”
Lydia: “Daddy!”
*SO smiles, finishes verifying IDs, and wishes us a pleasant journey.

And through that simple interaction with Lydia–which appears completely organic– Mike has shown the officer that Lydia unequivocally–and enthusiastically– identifies him as her father. It plays out a little differently on each occasion, but Mike does this every time we go to the airport. It’s probably completely unnecessary, but it certainly does no harm.

After an uneventful flight (complete with the cinnamon cookies Teddy was so excited about as soon as we told him we were flying Delta) and a longer-than-expected wait for our shuttle to the resort, we arrived at our week in paradise. We stayed at the all-inclusive resort, Dreams Puerta Aventura. I heartily recommend it. I’ve always been skeptical of all-inclusives, convinced there must be a catch. But nope, we didn’t spend a dime while we were there (except for our half-day expedition to Tulum, a Mayan ruin). The service was amazing and the place was astonishingly clean. I kept expecting to find a thin layer of sand down the corridors, but they were always spotless.

We spent the next six days alternating between the pool and the beach. I have a confession: I am not overly concerned about my children getting sunburned; I do not slather them with sunscreen. Don’t get me wrong: I know black skin burns. But I don’t layer *myself* with SPF, and I know they are even less vulnerable to UV rays than I am. Like most kids, Teddy wears a swim shirt with his trunks, so I had him rub sunscreen on his face and feet, and sometimes his legs, in the morning–and that’s it. For the day. Now, in my defense, we would go back to our room around noon to change for lunch, and then we’d chill in the room for Lydia’s naptime and wouldn’t return to the beach or pool until late afternoon, when those UV rays weren’t nearly as penetrating. And we returned home with no burns among the four of us. But I probably could’ve been a little more protective of my kids’ beautiful brown skin.

Before we left, I determined to try again to braid Lydia’s hair properly, not in thick braids that I had to take out at bedtime, but in thin braids that would last the week, and would look tidy during days spent in the water. And in the sand. Turns out eight months makes a big difference in a toddler’s ability to sit still; a video was sufficient to keep her attention for the 25 minutes it took me to weave her locks into a couple dozen braids. (Helps that I’ve improved, too; I can plait her hair much more quickly now.) My plan worked beautifully. Her hair stood up to frequent splashing…and strangers’ ruffling… I imagine her hair in all its wild glory might’ve drawn the same amount of affection from the resort workers, but no doubt the braids made her head especially magnetic. They just couldn’t resist fingering those tight twists!

They also couldn’t resist picking her up. Evidently this is a cultural thing in both black and Latino communities. I had to stifle my urge to grab Lydia back whenever a friendly resort employee would swing her up and fawn over her. Lydia wasn’t bothered in the least, so it would’ve been weird if I’d shown my discomfort. She would just smile, clearly enjoying the attention.

During our week in the sun, in between building sand volcanoes and ordering drinks at the swim-up pool bar, we also fielded questions about our family. Turns out we’re conspicuous in other countries, too. One woman made the oddest comment. After telling me how much she loved watching my kids play, she asked if they were biological siblings. I said they were not, and at that moment, they came right by us, acting particularly affectionate. She said, “They play so well together; they don’t act like siblings.” And before I could assure her that they’d been siblings their whole lives and most definitely acted the part, she continued, as if to reassure me, “But that’ll probably come in the next year.” All I could do was shake my head.

Another woman, whose tranquil morning snooze in a hammock we disrupted when Lydia and Mike claimed the remaining two hammocks and enjoyed pushes from Teddy–by no means a quiet process–asked me where the kids were from. I was momentarily distracted by something Teddy said, and when I turned back to respond, I opted to intentionally misunderstand her and declared that we were from DC. To her credit, she didn’t clarify her question, and we were able to have a nice chat. And when Teddy tired of his hammock-swinging duties a few minutes later, she was able to return to swaying blissfully with the only soundtrack to her thoughts the white noise of the waves.

We also had many conversations that did not make us feel conspicuous. We met one mom of three as she was attempting to capture candid shots of her two boys with a professional camera. She was a photographer by trade and shared that she made a photo album for her kids for every family vacation.

As someone whose only memory of my family’s trip to *Disneyland* when I was six is being bundled into the car super early to drive there, I loved the idea. It was my first project upon our return. We had such a great week, and I want Teddy to remember not just the early-morning wake-up call, but also making sand-volcanoes, conquering his fear of putting his face in the water, and splashing around in the bubbles during the “foam party” our last afternoon. Another “first” for our unique family, it was an adventure I’ll cherish forever.

Choosing a name

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Nearly three years ago, when we’d been on the waitlist for about five months to adopt for the second time—this time specifically a girl—Mike and I went on a study tour to Israel with a group from our church, led by the Center for Holy Land Studies. (If you have the slightest interest in visiting the Holy Lands, look them up this organization; it’s phenomenal.) We had an incredible time, and gained so much insight about stories from the Bible we’d grown up hearing. Somehow, standing on the turf where it all went down makes it come alive. Even when all that’s left is dirt and wildflowers.

But we came away from that trip with more than just a journal full of notes from all the lectures/sermons; we also went home knowing what we’d name our daughter.

Throughout the trip, we heard about a Miss Lydia, who had founded a school for the blind in Jerusalem. We wouldn’t meet her until we reached the city at the end of our week, but her name came up frequently because several on our trip knew what amazing work she was doing and were excited to hear her share about it.

Our trip began in Beershiva, where we learned about God calling Abraham out of Ur. Those first couple days, we spent meandering the ruins of Old Testament stories. Then we hit New Testament sites like Caesarea and Capernaum and heard first about Jesus’ ministry and then about Paul, including how he traveled to Europe, preaching, and how a Gentile woman named Lydia was his first European convert.

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

Later in the New Testament, Paul mentions Lydia again, lauding her for her hospitality.

Then, mid-way through the week, we stopped at the church of the annunciation, where the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her she was going to have a baby. Our guide pointed to all the pictures of the Holy Family painted in the arcade enclosing the church, noting that each was gifted from a different country, and in each, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus looked like the citizens of the donor country. He continued with a lecture about the first Christmas morning (and how many of the details I learned as a child from flannel graph boards in Sunday school are a result of bad translations :/), and then freed us to visit the shrine to the annunciation inside the church at our leisure. As we were milling around the courtyard, Mike said casually, “Have you given any thought to what we’d name our daughter?”

I hadn’t, really, but since he asked, and with my mind primed thinking about Miss Lydia and Lydia the first European convert, I realized I quite liked that name. “What do you think of the name Lydia?” I asked. Mike’s jaw dropped and he gasped, “You’re kidding me.”

Two nights prior, we’d stayed at a kibbutz on Lake Galilee. We’d been given free time to spend reading the Bible and praying, and Mike had made himself comfortable in a hammock on the beach. While reading, he’d sensed the Lord telling him that our daughter would be named Lydia. He’d written it down in his journal, but hadn’t told me about it right away.

Standing in the courtyard of the church, we both got chills. We wouldn’t meet our daughter for another year, but from that moment, her name was never in question.

Also, our Lydia looks fabulous in purple.

The happiest moments

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About six years ago, we decided to pursue adoption as the way we’d grow our family. Once we made that decision, we had to accept that our kids wouldn’t look anything like us. As they grew from infancy to childhood, we would never turn to each other and exclaim how they had Mike’s eyes or my chin. Friends would never say, “He looks just like you!” We came to be at peace with that and were reassured by other adoptive parents that our kids would adopt our mannerisms, which can be just as satisfying to see as similar features. And we’ve seen some of that already. Mike has a horrible habit of starting a sentence and then not completing it because his mind has already moved on. Teddy does the same thing. I use “so” as a filler to start sentences. Teddy does, as well. It is rather adorable to hear him say, “So….I’ll put my own shoes on.”

But what we didn’t expect, and what has provided some of our happiest moments as adoptive parents, is discovering how much our kids’ interests and personalities mirror our own.

Teddy is blessed with a natural athleticism and love of baseball. We introduced him to the sport at an early age. And like Mike, he LOVES IT. He’s been throwing and catching since before he could walk. He swings an aluminum bat like he’s in the Little League World Series. He can’t stand still for 15 minutes, but put him in section 137, Row T, Seat 1 at Nats Park and he’ll sit for 3 hours with only the occasional request for a Coke and a bathroom break. It brings Mike so much joy to have a rapt audience in Teddy as he provides commentary throughout a game.

He also loves words–almost as much as I do. He insists on spelling out as many words as he can think of at his writing desk. From about age 3, every trip down the street involved him asking what storefront windows and street signs said. He takes great joy in pronouncing words he’s never read before and asking for definitions of words he hears, but doesn’t understand. And, while I’m not really sure how to define “caustic” in five-year-old terms, it brings a smile to  my face that he wants to know.

Another way he mirrors me is how literal he is. I’ll admonish him for something, and we’ll get into a 10 minute argument because he doesn’t accept my description of what he did. This is a personality trait that would be super endearing… if I didn’t share it (as was pointed out to me a few months ago: I couldn’t appreciate a story Mike was telling because I got stuck on a detail he had wrong). Instead, we butt heads over this…a lot. But if I choose to think about it as something Teddy “got from me”, it makes me smile. And I find it easier to see the positive side–Teddy will make a fantastic lawyer some day.

Lydia has a natural gift for gab — just like her daddy. She’s been jabbering practically since we brought her home and at 19 months, she’s stringing words into intelligible sentences already. (Tonight at dinner, she randomly stood up and declared, pretty clearly, “I’m happy and I know it, clap my hands!”) She’s got opinions. Lots of ‘em. And she’s not afraid to share them. Mike also has opinions and isn’t afraid to share them. So he encourages her to tell him about the injustice of wearing a bib while eating dinner, or how unfair it is that he insists on holding her hand while crossing the street. Right now they’re working on the confidence to express one’s opinion. They’ll work on the validity of the argument later.

Like me, she seems to be a morning person. I often take her with me on pre-dawn runs because the boys are still asleep and, well, see the previous paragraph. Also like me, she wants to go to bed when she’s tired…unlike her night owl father and brother. While they yawn and insist they’re not tired, she’ll reach for her crib and eagerly snuggle under her blanket, stick her thumb in her mouth and roll to her side, falling asleep in minutes. We girls do not understand evening second winds. 

Mike and I will never hear anyone exclaim how our kids are the spitting image of us, but we see reflections of ourselves in them all the time. And that makes us so happy. 

 

The questions are the hardest part

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Before our kids came home to us, the wait was hard, and in a few years, we’ll have hard race and identity issues to deal with, but right now, in my day-to-day parenting, the hardest adoption-related part is the questions. Ever since we brought Teddy home five years ago, I’ve fielded queries from strangers. Mostly the same two — is he yours and where is he from — and then a third — are they siblings — when Lydia came home, and at times other random ones. I’m quite comfortable responding to anything Teddy is curious about, but somehow I stumble frequently when confronted with queries from people on the bus, at the playground, and in passing. I’ll have an answer prepared for an anticipated question, and then someone frames it slightly differently…and suddenly I’m at a loss. Or I get a brand new question, and on the spot, I have to decide how I want to answer while respecting Teddy’s and Lydia’s stories, portraying adoption openly and honestly and without shame, and being gracious. It’s a lot to think about in the moment.

I experienced a new dimension of this struggle at the playground a couple weeks ago. Most questions come from adults, but kids are curious, too, and now that Teddy is elementary school age, his peers are asking questions. (Teddy is asking new questions, too, for that matter.) I was sitting with Lydia on the merry-go-round (the things parents do for love of child :/), and a girl of about 8 or 9 years asked if Lydia was my daughter. Not uncommon, but the conversation continued and eventually she asked a question I declined to answer. We learned in adoption training that the details of our kids’ stories are theirs to know and share as they choose. And I’d already decided that the piece of Lydia’s story this girl was asking about was for Lydia to share if she wanted to.

No matter who asks a question, I’m always uncomfortable opting not to answer. I fear coming across as rude, and the conversation usually takes an awkward turn. (In this case, it just sort of stopped, and the girl eventually went away.) I especially don’t like keeping an answer from a child. I don’t want to quash their curiosity! And I really don’t want to create a negative memory around adoption for them. But I think it’s important for other children to glean from our experience that they, too, are allowed to decline to answer a personal question. Our stories are our own, and we are the best stewards of them.

I’ve thought a lot about why I bristle so much whenever I’m asked questions in general, and I think part of my reticence comes simply from being an introvert. (Mike has no issue with questions.) Small talk is not my forte. I’m happy to exchange pleasantries about the weather with people I don’t know, but not share about my kids’ personal stories. And when people express curiosity about only their connection to me, birthplace or relationship, I feel like our family is a specimen under dissection, and once the research has been completed, we’re no longer of interest.

The best approach I’ve ever experienced was by another adoptive mom. We were watching our littlest ones on the playground, and she commented, “I don’t know if you’re a family through adoption, but…” and proceeded to share her own story. First of all, I appreciated “family through adoption” because it doesn’t single out the kids and make them seem part of a transaction. We’re all in this together. Second, the conversation did not hinge on whether I shared our story. She was sharing her own connection to adoption first, and if I wanted to reciprocate, great. If not, it wouldn’t be awkward.

But not everyone will interact in a way I’m comfortable with. I know I’m supposed to be an ambassador for adoption, but it’s frustrating sometimes, and I think I just have to accept that and pray for grace.

 

 

Black Hair Struggles

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Before Teddy was a year old, many people (strangers) approached us to caution us against cutting his hair. We learned it was a cultural practice to leave a black boy’s hair wild until his first birthday. We dutifully saved his first trimming of the locks for shortly after his turned 1, Mike faithfully shaves Teddy’s head every few weeks, and no one has said a word about his hair since.

Lydia is one-and-a-half now, and we’re struggling with hair again. We’ve talked to many friends who’ve all confirmed there’s no set cultural timing for cutting a black girl’s hair. Styling it, however, is a different story.

A few months ago, at the beginning of the summer, we were riding the bus to church one Sunday morning, Mike playing rock paper scissors with Teddy, Lydia enjoying the passing scenery from my lap, when Mike wondered out loud whether it was time to do something about Lydia’s hair. We knew it was coming: black females’ hair is a serious matter. I was well aware that I’d have to learn to braid it/twist it/clip it/whatever…at some point. But I was intimidated by black hair and thought, surely not yet. We have time, I said confidently. It’s not nearly long enough. After church, as we were getting off the bus to walk back home, a woman handed me a slip of paper and gestured toward Lydia. “I do hair,” she said, as the door closed behind us. I looked at the paper and on it was written the name of a salon in NE DC that claimed to have served the likes of Diana Ross. “I guess I was wrong,” I laughed as I showed Mike the paper. “Evidently, it is time to do something about Lydia’s hair!”

We made plans to visit the salon the next weekend, just to explore options, but posting about the note on Facebook elicited offers from friends to braid Lydia’s hair. So two weeks later, a friend came over, and, armed with nothing more than experienced fingers and conditioner we’d purchased (on recommendation) expressly for this purpose, proceeded to twist Lydia’s hair into a couple dozen braids. The whole process took two hours. And while Lydia periodically expressed objections to the extended tugging and being restrained for so long, at about the hour and three quarter mark, she hit her wall, squirming, crying, jerking her head away whenever our friend attempted the last few sections of hair. I tried different positions, but Lydia was having none of it. I suggested I could finish it later, but our friend was determined. She did not want to leave this project undone. So after giving Lydia a few minutes break, she discreetly wove her fingers through the last few conditioned strands and finished plaiting. It was done. And it looked amazing. And our friend said it would last two weeks.

I sort of expected to be lauded on our next outing, given how awesome Lydia’s hair looked. And we did–by white people. Our white friends oohh’ed and aww’ed over Lydia’s beautiful braids. But black people, from whom we were really seeking approval, said nary a word. Because you don’t get kudos for meeting expectations. We were so proud of ourselves for taking this step, but it was what we were supposed to do. We should’ve just been happy to avoid unsolicited advice during those two weeks.

Two weeks passed, and as predicted by our friend, Lydia’s braids began to fray. Unfortunately, my toddler was even less excited about having her kinky curls set free than she was about having those locks tied up to begin with. If I so much as brandished the comb, she put up a fight, screaming, squirming, whatever she had to do to keep that piece of plastic as far from her hair as possible. It took two hours over two days to return her hair to its wild glory. And after that effort, I was not in a hurry to rebraid. Lydia has a little section of hair at the front of her scalp a bit separated from the rest that lends itself to being clasped in a barrette, so for a while, I went that route. I snapped that one clump into a brightly colored plastic flower and called it good. And my black friends approved. So I thought that would suffice, until Lydia was older and more likely to endure the tugging torture of braids.

However, I still got comments. Lydia’s hair was pretty wild outside of that one Pebbles-like poof. And women on the bus and at pickup at Teddy’s school frequently commented and offered their services. I oscillated the whole summer. One day, I would assure myself that the one accessory was ok for now since my black friends gave it the thumbs-up; another day, I would see a child Lydia’s age or younger with perfect cornrows and decide I really should make more of an effort. Black caregivers assured me that Lydia would “get used to it”. But I wasn’t keen to subject her to something she fought so vehemently. A couple friends were still willing to try; I was just hesitant to make plans and then have the session devolve into screaming. And the practical aspect: she was strong enough to squirm out of my grasp. Forcing the issue would entail three people: one person to hold her down, another to hold her head, and a third to work her hair. This mama’s heart could not handle that kind of ordeal.

About midway through the summer, after receiving several comments in one week and chatting with a Chick fil-A employee who shared that she didn’t use a comb, she just used her fingers, I finally determined to give it another try. And a miracle happened. I sat Lydia on my lap in front of a cartoon one Sunday morning armed, as my friend before, with only my fingers and conditioner, and she sat still for 45 minutes. I was able to braid most of her hair. And with her brother entertaining her, I finished the last couple sections on the bus ride to church. Unfortunately, I’m not nearly as talented as my friend, and the braids were not nearly as tight or tidy. They began fraying after only a week. But taking them out took only an hour, this time. My confidence soared. Maybe this was something I could do after all.

However, Lydia’s cooperation remained hit or miss. I could not count on her to sit still long enough for me to braid and unbraid her curls weekly or even biweekly. And then, after chatting with another adoptive mom who simply gathered her black daughter’s hair into small poofs with elastics, I had an idea. Young black girls’ braids are almost always decorated with barrettes and beads. Maybe the braids weren’t necessary. Maybe I could just clip all the sections of Lydia’s hair into barrettes. Her hair, while long enough to warrant styling of some sort, wasn’t so long it would look odd simply accessorized. One morning, I conditioned her hair as usual, partitioned it into a dozen (somewhat untidy) sections, and clipped each into a barrette. It was beautiful, and it took five minutes. Lydia struggled a little, but she enjoyed playing with the barrettes. And once more I went out and received compliments from my white friends and nary a comment from any black people. This time I was thrilled about that silence.

Barrettes without twists is my plan for now. I’m getting better at coordinating the colors with her outfit and sectioning her hair more cleanly. But whenever I see another young child whose head is embossed with braids, I ask the adult present how they do it make a mental note of their answer, because the next time I attempt the impossible, I’ll need the help of my village.

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Essential baby things

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We celebrated Lydia’s first birthday at the beginning of the month with a picnic on the Mall during the cherry blossom kite festival. We’ve enjoyed the festival since we moved to DC (although some years the rain kept us from staying long) and this year I was thrilled to see that it could coincide with Lydia’s birthday party. She LOVED the kites … and her birthday treats (we caught her more than once grabbing the strawberry shortcake cookies, but hey, it was her day). She also loved wandering around, pointing at flying animals and shapes, dogs lazing on picnic blankets, and her brother and his friends. And as Mike and I took turns tagging along after her, I was struck by how she’s not a baby anymore. She’s most assuredly a toddler.

So the last couple weeks, I’ve been clearing out baby equipment that we no longer need, the Ergo last week, the baby bullet, bundleme, and jumperoo this week. As one does when one is spring cleaning, I got reflective and thought back to the items we considered indispensable.  And since I know several people who are pregnant or recently had babies, I figured I’d share.

Ergo. I loved this baby carrier; Mike did not. But I think Mike was averse to baby carriers in general, not specifically this one. Because this one has great support. I tried a couple others, and none compared. We had the original version, not the 360, and I could wear each baby for hours at a time.

Footed pjs that zip. This is kind of a trivial one, but it is so much easier to zip pjs than button or snap them, especially in the middle of the night. I understand there are health reasons why snaps and buttons are practical, but absent those, zippers are the way to go.

Velcro miracle blanket. Another item that makes life in the wee hours of the morning a tad easier, this blanket offers a foolproof way to swaddle. You wrap it around your baby the same way every time and it’s secure. Little arms and legs can’t escape.

Noise machine. We are not brand loyal; in fact, we don’t love the one we’re using right now. (The weather sounds are not identifiable; they remind me more of static than rain or wind; however, the classical music is lovely.) And when we’re away from home, the noise app on our phones does the job. But music and nature sounds help both our kids get to sleep and stay asleep.

Playtex advanced ventaire bottles. We first tried Dr. Brown’s (a set was part of our buying spree the weekend after we got “the call” about Teddy), but we didn’t like the feel. So these were our second try, and we never looked back. We even saved them for Lydia, and when she finished with them (at the end of March), we gave them to a friend. We liked their angle and the gasket technology to prevent air from entering.

Dishwasher basket. And if you go with those bottles, you must have this basket. It makes cleaning said bottles a breeze. Otherwise, ensuring all those little parts are sanitized is such a hassle.

Jeep backpack diaper bag. We used a regular over-the-shoulder diaper bag for Teddy, but as someone that travels predominantly by bus and metro (including walking a lot), I hated it. It was so unwieldy. When we brought Lydia home, I searched online for a backpack option, and this is the one I decided on…and fell in love with. It’s fantastic. It has pockets for everything, and fits a ton. It’s perfect during the summer, when I’m carting around necessities for both kids. My only complaint is that the top crescent zipper sticks a lot, so I’m often unable to open that pocket one-handed. Small price to pay for an otherwise super convenient bag, though.

Brooklyn bamboo hooded baby towel. We received hooded towels as gifts when we brought Teddy home, but not when we brought Lydia home, so I purchased a three-pack of terry cloth towels. And quickly discovered again that you get what you pay for. They’re so thin, they don’t provide much warmth once they’ve absorbed the bath water. So back online I went in search of a plusher towel. This one had great reviews, and we concur. It’s thick and warm and long, so it’ll last a while. And I will probably order more for baby shower gifts.

Travel bath lily. I never liked the baby wash cloths or the animal mitts for washing. I never felt like I could get a good grip with them. But a mini bath lily, you can grasp without it scrunching up in your hand. And they suds up delightfully. Teddy, 4 1/2, can use it himself now to wash up. We did have to teach both children not to pull the fabric with their teeth, though.

LED nightlights. These are the best. They cast a soft glow, but it’s strong enough to see what you’re doing.

Formula dispenser. This is perfect for on-the-go. Pops into the diaper bag and pours out easily. We’ve made a bottle everywhere: in the car, on the bus, on the metro, in the middle of the sidewalk. The only tricky part is remembering how much formula you put in each compartment, if you’re switching from 4 oz to 6 oz.

Snack caterpillar. This particular one is much nicer than the one we have, but it works the same. Also, I’m seeing now that it’s called a “snack-a-pillar” — and we thought we were so clever with our nickname. It fits a decent amount of three kinds of snacks. Anything works, but dry foods maintain their texture/temperature best. We take this everywhere.

Noni cuddles bibs. Amazon suggested these to me as I was searching for a bib. And I decided to try them because they were listed as $15 — marked down from $40! Currently, they’re $14, so even cheaper. I have no idea if they actually retail elsewhere for $40 (I don’t know how Amazon works that way), but I figured for $15 for two, it couldn’t hurt to try. And I’m so glad I did. We love these bibs. They’re silicon and they clean so easily. The best part is there are no seams to catch crumbs or grow mold, which happened too often with the bibs we used with Teddy. My only complaint is that they could be wider, to offer more coverage.

Mesh for the crib. I was inspired to search for this because Lydia kept getting her legs stuck between the crib slats and waking up crying. This mesh took care of that. And it’s breathable, so no worrying about suffocation.

 

 

Adoption and preschool

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Last summer, before Teddy started full-time preschool, the teacher whose classroom he was assigned to made home visits. He (he! Teddy got one of the few male early education teacher in the district!) graciously carved time out of his schedule to meet with each of his future students’ families and brought along his aide. We were thrilled at the opportunity to chat and hear about his vision for the year…and what would compel someone to voluntarily hang out with 4-year-olds all day. I had lots of questions, but one thing we wanted to talk about was that Teddy was adopted. We’re an adoptive family.

It’s pretty obvious, since our kids are black and we’re white, but we had no idea how it would play out at school. I even wrote a blog post about it for another site. Would Teddy get peppered with questions about why his skin was dark and ours was light? Why he looked nothing like us? Would we? We were prepared for it, but we hadn’t really discussed with Teddy how to respond.

The teacher was unfazed. He didn’t anticipate it being a problem, but Teddy would be his first adopted student, so he didn’t really know what to expect.

We’re now three-quarters of the way through the school year, and all our concerns appear to be unfounded. I have no idea whether my other blog post was necessary, whether the other kids in Teddy’s class went home that first day and wondered aloud at the dinner table about our family and Teddy’s skin color. But Teddy has not reported being interrogated or singled out.

In a class of four white students and 16 black students, Teddy has befriended three of the four white children and a couple of the black children. Which means nothing except that children don’t care about color.

In an interesting twist, one day at pickup, Teddy pointed out to a black friend that his sister Lydia had dark skin like himself and the friend. The friend kind of cocked his head, as if to say, who cares? But evidently it was something Teddy had thought about.

I know Teddy will get questions as he continues in his school career, because I get them all the time from older children. But it seems we have some time before that happens.