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Monthly Photos: One Month

28 Jan

We took this photo way back on January 10 when our little bird turned one month old, but there’s a fair amount of Photoshop involved here so it took us this long to finish the edit. Please pardon our tardiness. We’ll try to be more prompt with the two month photo.

You can see a larger version of the photo here.

The goal is to take a picture of the Bird each month on the same chair with the same stuffed Casey toy and then put it on this chalkboard background with some type of fun facts about his development that month for the first year. It’s pretty easy right now when he’ll do just about anything we want … but I think it will be a challenge as he becomes more mobile. Wish us luck.

Did you document your baby’s first year? Remember those monthly onesies I made for Jaimie?

Joyful and Triumphant

8 Jan

When I last left off in our story, we were trying to get some sleep in the early morning hours of December 12. Later that day I would meet our son, but there were miles to go before that could happen. Literally miles. We live in Virginia and our son was born in California.

It’s hard to describe the emotions I felt that morning. I was definitely excited and happy, but also scared and nervous.

One of the reasons my stomach was in knots is that I would be doing all of this without Don by my side. I’m the emotional one and Don is always my rock. I rely on his strength and I was scared to be facing this giant life change alone.

We’d been told countless times that your match would come when you least expect it. That was not quite true for us as I never stopped expecting it. But I can say that our little man burst into our lives when we were least prepared for it. And that’s one of the reasons I was travelling alone. Don taught a university class last fall and the final exam was scheduled on the same day our son was to be discharged from the hospital. Of course the finals were in-person presentations – not a test for which he could request a proctor to administer. He had to be there. On top of that, we had 65 people coming to our house on the 14th for our annual holiday party. We had purchased about half the food already and all of the beverages.  We couldn’t cancel the party without a reason and we couldn’t tell people why we needed to cancel yet.

After a brief discussion it was decided that I would go to California on Wednesday and Don would come on Thursday. That’s how it came to pass that I was sitting nervously by myself at an airport at 5 a.m. on December 12.

I should also mention that since we booked these tickets at 9 p.m. or so the evening before, there were no seats on direct flights. We both ended up on flights that went from DC to Boston and from Boston to Oakland. You wouldn’t think this would be a big deal, but it ended up impacting the flight time considerably. I naively thought that Boston to Oakland would be roughly the same flight as DC to Oakland, but it’s much longer. DC to Oakland is about 5 hours, but from Boston is takes 6 hours and 45 minutes.

I had enough time in Boston to get a latte and call Cole, the birth mom specialist, for any overnight updates. There had been one. Initially, the birth mother said she did not want any contact with us, but after Cole told her how excited we were and how we were booking tickets to travel 12 hours later, she decided to meet us. I was very happy for a chance to meet her and thank her.

When I hung up the phone, a woman sitting next to me said she couldn’t help but overhearing that I was on my way to California to adopt a baby. Her niece had just adopted, too – AND that baby was born on the same day as our son. She was incredibly sweet and showed me a picture of the new family. Seven hours later, when I was standing in line for my rental car, the same woman approached me. She told me again how excited she was for us and gave us a children’s book called “San Francisco Baby”. I was so moved by her kind gesture.

The flight from Boston was incredibly long. I watched a lot of HGTV and Food Network and tried to read “What to Expect the First Year.”

Finally – finally – we landed in Oakland. (I was in the same state as my son!)

Our dear friend Suzanne met me at the airport and we picked up the rental car with the infant seat installed. (I needed an infant seat!)

It’s about two hours from Oakland to Modesto. Boy, that seven-hour plane ride had NOTHING on the two hours I was in the car. I was so glad Suzanne was with me and she did her best to keep up the conversation so I wouldn’t freak out, but I’m afraid I wasn’t the best company. I seriously thought my heart would explode right inside my chest.

As we approached Modesto, we turned on the GPS. Somehow we missed a turn and ended up at the wrong hospital. A few minutes and one course correction later, we pulled up in front of Doctor’s Medical Center. My son was in that building. (My son!)

I was ready to meet him.

Catch up on our story:

1. Spoiler Alert

2. It Happened One Night

Spoiler Alert: Call Me Mommy

31 Dec

If you have not heard the news by now, there’s no point in dragging it out.

Don and I are the proud, excited, exhausted and overwhelmed parents of a tiny and perfect boy. Our little bird arrived on December 10, but we didn’t know about him for about 36 hours. When  we did find out about him, we had a to jump on a plane and travel clear across the country to meet him.

The minute he was placed in my arms, I melted. I mean, look at this face. Who wouldn’t melt?

Seriously. This was my first look at him. I took the picture about 4 minutes after I first held him. I was still holding him when I took it. He’s so beautiful. And calm. And peaceful. Totally, 100 percent in love.

The next three weeks were a whirlwind for all three of us (and I’ll tell you all about it in future posts), but we’re happy and healthy and home.

Thank you for your love and support. Stay tuned to hear the story of how we filled our nest.

And Happy New Year to you. It was tough year in so many ways, but for our family it ended on a sweet note. I hope your family will also receive joy and happiness in the year ahead.

Donate Your Age

19 Nov

There’s less than one month left until my 38th birthday. I just loved the Random Act of Kindness project I staged for my birthday last year so I decided to put forth a similar challenge this year.

As a reminder, last year I did 14 random acts of happiness during the first 14 days of December and I asked all my Facebook friends to consider doing just one nice thing for a stranger. Then on the 15th, my birthday, I asked everyone to post a message on my Facebook wall telling me what random act of kindness they committed. I was hoping that between my 14 and whatever my friends did I would achieve 37 random acts of kindness.

In the end, more than 50 acts of kindness were committed for my birthday. I was pretty excited about the whole thing and it was a great way to get into the holiday spirit.

I wanted to do something like that again, but thought it would be fun to come up with a new idea to get people to help their communities or the world.

Enter, the Donate Your Age project.

This year, for my birthday I’m asking my friends to donate whatever age they are right now to a charity of their choice. On my birthday, please post on my wall or on the Sweet Little Nest Facebook page telling me what organization received your donation and why it’s important to you.

NOTE – I realize that giving of your money might be more of challenge than, say, sending a Christmas card to a soldier or taping a bag of quarters to a soda machine. Feel free to be creative in your donation amount. For example, you could add up your digits.

Let’s say you are 38.

3 + 8 = 11.

1 + 1 = 2.

Just make a $2 donation if that’s what you can manage. I don’t need anyone to tell me how much they donated, but I do want to know who got your contribution and why it matters.

Start thinking about how you want to make your donation, but please don’t tell me until my birthday. My birthday is a Saturday this year. After I place wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery (something I did for the first time during my Random Acts project last year), I’m looking forward to curling up on the couch and learning more about your favorite charities.

If you have trouble deciding how to distribute your donation, here are some of my favorite charities:

  • American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life (Team Jeremy) - my friend Lynda lost her husband to cancer this fall and she’s walking for both of them in the 2013 event.
  • Lost Dog and Cat Animal Rescue Foundation – our boy Casey was cared for by these amazing volunteers and they helped us save Casey’s life when we found out he had parvo four days after bringing him home.
  • Rockaway Disaster Relief Fund – this fund was set up through my office to help the communities on the Rockaway Peninsula rebuild after the devastating Super Storm Sandy in October (the area has a special connection to the candy industry).
  • Habitat for Humanity - hurrah for sweat equity!
  • Gilchrist Hospice Care (Formerly Hospice of Baltimore) – these angels took care of both of my grandparents in their final hours.
  • Freedom to Marry - because, as Don and I said on the occasion of our own wedding, if the two of us are allowed to marry, everyone should be.

Thanks so much for considering participating in my Donate Your Age birthday project. I’m hoping that I can raise at least $600 for various charities this year. What do you think? Can we do it?

Then, and Now

2 May

Three years ago today:

May 2, 2009: We were married



May 2, 2012: A different kind of contract

My Birthday Project

1 Dec

If We All Do One Random Act of Kindness by heathbrandon


The arrival of December means that 1. It’s almost Christmas (!), 2. It’s almost my birthday (!) and 3. The year is coming to a close.


I don’t want to  diminish the year as a whole. Some amazing things happened for my friends and family this year. Some got married. Some had babies (or are still growing them). Some found great new jobs. Some bought their first homes. Some got out from under unpleasantness in its various forms.

But, if I’m honest, it was a tough year for me for lots of small reasons. We hired an architect who didn’t work out and we lost some money on the deal. There was our remodeling project which went on and on. My dad had a big health scare (he’s fine now!). I got strep throat and shingles and a flare up of my chronic eye condition. We had rain and rain and more rain and our roof leaked a lot. My heart is heavy for my friend Jeremy who has a destructive cancer and is fighting for every day he gets to spend with his wife and young son. Other people I love have lost or are losing people they love to progressive illnesses.

However, at least once a week Don or I look at the other person and says, “We’re so lucky.” Even in a year when it’s been easy to point out all the bad stuff, the good stuff is still there. That feeling has intensified for me even more now that we’ve gotten through our home study.

So, it’s in that spirit that my birthday project was born.

Well, first I was inspired by this woman who committed 38 random acts of kindness for her 38th birthday.

Using her birthday project as a template, I developed my own birthday project. For the first two weeks of December, I am going to do at least one unexpected, unrequested kindness for someone else every day. I recruited my Facebook friends to help and asked that in the same period they each do just one nice thing for someone else. Then instead of sending me well wishes or birthday cards they can share with me their story of committing a random act of kindness for someone on December 15, my birthday.

If you’d also like to help and we’re not friends on Facebook, simply leave a message in the comments below telling me all about your random act of kindness. It will make my birthday the happiest day. Really it will.

UPDATE 12/2: The Facebook note with the daily updates is public so you should be able to see it even if we’re not (yet) friends.

UPDATE 12/4: I have photographic proof of some of my projects.