Monthly Photos: Three Months

19 Mar

The Bird is three months old as of March 10. While he doesn’t see the pediatrician again until next month, we put him on the postage scale to get his weight this month.

You can see the larger version of this image here.

Little man is closing in on 14 lbs which means he’s nearly doubled his post-birth weight (he was 7 lbs, 7 oz at birth, but 7 lbs even when we took him home).  He giggles and chats a lot, but he still loves to sleep.

Today is the last day of my maternity leave, and Don starts his paternity leave tomorrow. Good luck, Daddy!

Quite a Year

18 Mar

One year ago, Casey came home to live with us. Here is the story of his adoption.

On St. Patrick’s Day in 2012, Don and I were headed over to visit with our friends and their brand new baby. Things were not running on schedule (as is so often the case with tiny newborns) and they sent us a text asking for an additional 30 minutes. However, we had already left the house because we needed to stop by Target on the way. I had been stalking dogs through Petfinder for a long time, so we decided to pop over to PetSmart to see if any of the dogs on our short list were at the adoption event.

We were a bit early and none of the adult dogs had arrived yet. The puppies were there, though, being carried by volunteers or hanging out in the puppy play pen. One little terrier caught my eye immediately.

Getting a puppy was not in our plans. Don tried his best to point out other dogs to me once they arrived, but I just couldn’t stop thinking about the little guy. Don was pretty crazy about him, too.

We spoke to the volunteer who was fostering him. She told us he was nearly fully house trained already and a really awesome dog. I let him lick my arm and buried my face in his fur so we could test my allergies, then we left and headed to our friends’ house.

Several hours later I had a only a small reaction so it seemed like we might have found our dog.


The next day we drove about 15 miles to a different PetSmart. Casey was scheduled to be there. We didn’t see him right away and panicked. Had he been adopted? We waited for his foster mom. Had coffee. Paced nervously. Finally, they arrived. We aced our interview and then Casey was ours. He weighed 8 lbs and was full of love.  Don held him all the way home.

Our family had grown to three. Little did we know that by the end of the year we would be four.

Making Progress in the Nursery

18 Mar

So … remember back  in December when Don and I became parents with 12 hours notice? Yeah, it’s kind-of hard to forget. Anyway, we didn’t have much of nursery to speak of then. We had a room that had been painted yellow with a nice light fixture. Oh – and I stenciled some walls. But that was pretty much the extent of it.

Fast forward three months and I’d say the nursery is about 90 percent done.

Here’s a rough outline of work needed in the room:

  • Get a crib
  • Copy this look for a shelf / changing table
  • Decide if more stencil is needed on additional walls
  • Make custom roman blinds
  • Sew some pillow covers
  • Buy a rug
  • Get some containers for blankets, toys and dirty clothes
  • Make some custom art
  • Figure out the best way to use the walk-in closet as baby storage and a linen closet
  • Remove baseboards around bed in order to make the trundle bed flush against the wall (and in order to be able to close the closet door)
  • Find a storage unit for under the crib since this one is no longer available

And here’s a look at where we are:

  • Get a crib
  • Copy this look for a shelf / changing table
  • Decide if more stencil is needed on additional walls (The answer was, “yes.”)
  • Make custom roman blinds  (Still need to add black-out lining)
  • Sew some pillow covers
  • Buy a rug
  • Get some containers for blankets, toys and dirty clothes
  • Make some custom art (We ended up with one typography print mounted on wood, one piece of paper art mounted on canvas, a tissue paper pom pom piece, a scrapbook paper baby bunting / flag banner and a couple of smaller items)
  • Figure out the best way to use the walk-in closet as baby storage and a linen closet
  • Remove baseboards around bed in order to make the trundle bed flush against the wall (and in order to be able to close the closet door)
  • Find a storage unit for under the crib since this one is no longer available

In this picture you can see a whole bunch of projects:

Three of our large custom art projects are visible in this picture (the typography print, the paper on canvas piece, the pom poms), one of our mini projects (a tin air freshener), a large yellow and gray clothes basket and my homemade air freshener. You can also see a huge basket of baby clothes that need to be laundered.

I will write up tutorials for these projects in more detail, but here’s a quick one for now.

Homemade Air Freshener 

I saw this great idea on Pinterest. While I was thinking about a container, I noticed that Don was sprinkling coffee grounds in the diaper pail in the The Bird’s room. Coffee grounds are a natural odor neutralizer. Great idea, Don.

You Will Need:

  • Coffee grounds, dried well (as not to promote mold)
  • Small tin container
  • Small piece of breathable fabric like tullle
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Glue or double sides tape


My container had a plastic insert for the lid so I popped it out. If yours has an all metal lid, you will need a rubber band and a ribbon.

Cut your scrapbook paper into a strip that will fit around your tin. Attach to tin with double-sided tape or glue.

Fill your tin with coffee grounds.

Place small piece of fabric over the top of the tin. If your lid was all metal, secure the fabric in place with a rubber band and top with a ribbon. If you had a lid with a plastic insert, put the lid without the plastic on top of the fabric.

That’s it. Give the tin a shake when the air is a little stale. Refill with fresh grounds from time to time.

Monthly Photos: Two Months

14 Feb

Our little bird was two months old on February 10. He’s an absolute delight. He’s pretty happy all the time now that we have more or less figured out the right formula for him. He takes after his mother with his champagne tastes; his preferred formula is pre-mixed Alimentum, the most expensive formula possible (of course).

You can see a larger version of the photo here.

I am still on maternity leave for another 5 weeks (almost). We have settled into our little routine. On Mondays we go to the Under One story hour at the library. On Tuesdays we have Mom and Baby Yoga. Sometime we rush from yoga to a new mom’s group at the hospital in the next town. Every other Wednesday we go to a new mom’s group at the hospital right down the street. On Thursdays and Fridays we try to have lunch with friends.

Don gets home from work around 7 p.m. – just as the Bird is finishing up his cranky hour (of course). We have family time for a bit, and then the Bird goes to bed between 8 and 8:30. He sleeps for a long time during his first night shift. Once as long as 9 1/2 hours (!), but usually between 6 and 7 hours. His second sleep lasts about 4 hours.

We just love him to bits.

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?

DIY Nursery or Holiday Bunting Banners

27 Jan

My current obsession is making paper banners for the house. Remember when I posted my inspiration board for the nursery way back before we even knew about our little man? Here it is again:

Nursery Inspiration

See number 10 there? That’s a Baby Bunting Banner from this Etsy shop. I just loved it. We registered for it using Amazon universal registry / wish list option, but no one bought it. No matter. I’m all kinds of crafty so I decided to make one myself. But, time being somewhat limited these days and with the nursery only partially done, I decided it would be faster and easier to make a banner from scrapbook paper.

Here’s my banner:

Holy moly! It was so easy that I knocked out two more for Valentine’s Day.

Now for the fun part. I made three easy templates so that you can make your own.

You will need:

  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  •  Template of your desired size*

You might need:

  • A hole puncher
  • High quality, clear craft glue
  • Thin piece of cardboard or card stock
  • Letter stencils
  • Markers

Here’s what you do:
  1. Choose your template from the three options provided (or make your own)
  2. Print onto a regular sheet of paper.
  3. Cut along the lines so that you have the shape you want to make on thin printer paper. If you would like to make a sturdier template, trace your cutout on a thicker sheet of paper or even some thin cardboard and then cut that out.
  4. Using either the thin cutout you made with printer paper or your sturdier template, trace your shape with a pencil on the back on of the scrapbook paper you want to use. If you are using 8.5 x 11 inch paper for the 8.5 inch two-pointed flag you only need trace the mid line and the two triangular points since the template is one half of the sheet of paper. Same holds true for the smaller templates if you are using the papers from one of those mini-cardstock books (4.5 and 6.5 inches).
  5. Carefully cut out your shape on the scrapbook paper. Repeat until you have as many flags done as you would like.
  6. The triangle flags look great as is, but the two-pointed flags are meant to have something else on them. I cut out little hearts for the smaller banner and glued them on. I used a ABC letter stencil to trace the words “Be Mine” onto the burlap-looking banner and then colored it in with a red marker.
  7. Decide how to string your banner. I glued the nursery banner to some white pom pom ribbon and the fireplace banner to orange rick rack. The Be Mine Banner has two small holes punched in each corner and is then threaded with very thin red ribbon.
  8. Hang on wall. Stand back. Admire.
That’s it! See how easy?
* Here are the templates
  1. 8.5 inch two-pointed flag (half of of 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper)
  2. 4.5 inch two-pointed flag (half of one 4.5 x 6.5 sheet of paper – the kind you buy in a mini cardstock book at the craft store)
  3. 4.5 inch triangular flag

If you have the time and patience, you can also make these with fabric – sew or no-sew versions. I might remake the one for the nursery eventually, but this does the trick for now.
If you make one, share a picture with me, won’t you?

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

It Happened One Night

1 Jan

Way back when we started the process of adoption, someone spoke to us about what typically happens during your match period. Every match and placement story is unique and there is no formula. That said, there are things that are typical. Things that normally happen.

For example, normally you have some notice between being matched and meeting your child. Well, no one ever said Don and I were normal.

On Tuesday, December 11 I was still in my office when my cell phone rang just after 6 p.m. on the East Coast. The caller ID showed me it was coming from Overland Park, KS so I knew it was someone from our agency. We had sent in our expiring clearances a few weeks before so I while I hoped it was “the call”, I figured it was more likely to be about those forms.

Now, just a quick word about how our agency is structured. Adoptive parents have social workers who only work with them, and expecting moms have social workers who concentrate exclusively on their needs. That means that even though each family has its own social worker, he or she is not the one who calls you when you are in a match.

That’s why when I answered the phone and the caller identified himself as someone I had never spoken to before, I knew what was happening. I shut my door, sat down and started taking notes.

Before Cole, the birth mom specialist, told me about our match, he did mention those expired documents. When I told him they had been sent the day before Thanksgiving he said something peculiar.

“Well, that’s great,” he said. “It might affect the length of your ICPC stay, but it shouldn’t make much difference.”

That seemed peculiar because documents that should be ready within the week seemed hardly likely to impact a match.  That is, unless the baby had already been born.

WAIT. Had the baby already been born?

Then Cole confirmed what my mind was just starting to stumble upon. The baby we’d been matched with had been born the day before. In California. His birth mother had chosen us as his parents and since he was being discharged the next day, we’d need to get ourselves to Modesto right away.

Thankfully, Modesto is only 2,800 miles from Arlington.

Remember that I was at work still. Don was on his way home and even though I had sweet fantasies of how I would tell him we’d been matched (assuming I was the one who took the call), there was no time. Cole asked me to reach him via cell phone so that he could communicate as soon as possible with the baby’s birth mother.

When Don answered the phone I said, “We really need to decide what middle name we want for a baby boy because when they ask us to fill out his birth certificate tomorrow, we’re going to need to tell them.”  He laughed and then said, “Really?”.

A few more phone calls with Cole and it was official. We were in an immediate match. We stared at each other in disbelief. We laughed a lot. We opened champagne. We called our parents. We called someone to watch Casey puppy. I called my boss to let her know I’d be out for the next 12 weeks (!). We called Jaimie and Dean to see if we could borrow some infant clothes. We found someone to notarize a document at 10 p.m. We booked plane tickets. I packed.

At 2 a.m. we turned off the lights. I started to cry. It was a crazy mixture of happiness, fear and relief.

I have never been so scared in my life. I had never felt such joy. Until the next day, when I held my son for the first time.

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.

The Better to See You With

2 Dec

Quick update:
We have vanity mirrors in our master bathroom. What? It hasn’t quite been one year.