Saturday, July 27, 2013


Dear Micah,
Four years ago on this night, we were collapsed in a hotel room in a strange city half way around the world, exhausted from a day of heat and traffic and high emotion. We had just met our surrogate at the hospital for her last ultrasound appoint and seen your beautiful face; we also saw her admitted to the hospital. The way I figure it, she saw us there, said "my job is done," and "let's get this baby to his mommy and daddy."  We sat in the hotel room that night, double-checking online baby name websites to make sure we had the perfect name for you, a bit stunned that we'd be holding you so soon after our arrival. Daddy thought he'd be able to travel for a week or two!

You arrived so helpless -- eyelids and nose a bit bruised, wrapped tightly up in a cloth like a pea in a pod. When the nurses handed you over, we didn't even know if you were a boy or a girl until we found someone who could translate for us.

And now look at you! Since I last wrote over 6 months ago, you've developed into such a competent little boy, mastering new skills every day. You are still very cautious when it comes to trying new things (for which I'm eternally grateful that you didn't take after your daredevil daddy).  You're insanely curious, particularly when it comes to learning new words, and understanding why things happen. You're easy-going when we travel, adapting to new time zones and sleeping situations with ease. Since last I wrote, we've gone to the beach in Mexico, where you happily dug sand and hung out in a hammock for hours; to Southern California to visit your Grandpa and Nana; to Boston to seem Mommy and Daddy's old haunts, and camping in Colorado.  You're so comfortable in new situations and with new people, which are traits that I think will help you immensely in life.

You've developed quite a sense of humor too.  You love to play "Where's Micah," hiding in a closet or behind drapes and prodding us to look for you ("Mommy, say 'where's Micah' and then look for me but not in the closet!") And your favorite trick when we go to school in the morning is to hide your head under my shirt so that your classmates can't see you, and I turn around and keep looking for you, but of course you're always behind me.

The last 6 months have seen an artistic explosion too.  For quite a long time, the art you brought home from school was all what you described as "a waterfall" -- basically just a scribble.  And then all of a sudden, you started coloring the entire page in with different colors, and then that turned into interesting creatures that you could tell a whole story about.  We absolutely love to see this creativity and encourage you to draw and color a lot. On the flip side, you've also turned into a TV junkie. Dora and Diego are starting to fade from your interest, but your demand for TV time is much higher than I'd like. 

Luckily you also love books and stories. Your favorite request is "Tell me a story about when you were a little boy (or girl) that I never heard before."  You also know that Daddy is good at telling stories, but mommy is better at reading them.  I can't wait until you figure out that all of Daddy's stories from his "childhood" of dragons in his swimming pool and travelling to China are all made up! You remember the plots and quotes from so many of your books, and when I randomly quote a line from a book you always know what I'm referring to -- the English major in me loves that we share this trait.

Invariably when you meet someone new they'll comment on your beautiful eyes, which I take as a comment not just on their interesting color, but also your great eye contact. We are always amazed at how much you look like you belong to Mommy's side of the family, despite not sharing a genetic connection.  Your older cousins dote on you too, and I'm so happy you'll grow up so close to them. We've been nurturing that by inviting them to join us on camping trips, and you've just started to have sleepovers with them (which let each of our families have low-cost date nights, conveniently!)

You still are showing some annoying toddler habits. Our least favorite is when, after a perfectly lovely day that involves treats like going to a fair or someplace else fun, you don't get your way on something and furiously exclaim, "This is a BAD day." Or when I don't let you do something and you tell me "You're not my best mommy."  I tried to curb this habit by including a moment before dinner when we all say what we're grateful for, and it helped a bit.  I laugh when I hear us giving the "there are children in the world who go to bed hungry, so be grateful you have food and eat your dinner" speech. But it is true that you're so blessed with so much to be grateful for, and it will be hard for you to appreciate that. 

Speaking of dinner, you're still a great eater, although it is always a challenge getting you to stay still long enough to eat. You'd much rather be running around and nibbling on the fly, but it is important to us that we all eat together as a family, and eat all the same thing. It is harder for us to get you to eat chicken and other meat than to eat vegetables, which makes me wonder if we'll have a little vegetarian on our hands one day (luckily, Daddy teaches a vegetarian cooking class!)

I am loving watching you grow up, and despair that I'm not capturing all the great things that you do and say everyday. For the last few weeks, when you've behaved badly we've been reminding you that you're four now and should know better, to which you have so far replied "I'm not four, I'm three."  But in just another day, you won't have that excuse.  I look forward to seeing all the ways you're going to grow and change from four to five!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

This dreidel has dropped!

It has been a busy and fun 8 nights of hanukkah around here, and this little dreidel is glad the spinning has stopped!  In 9 days, we packed in two birthday parties, 1 large family party at grandma's house, a party at Micah's daycare where I did a little show-and-tell about hanukkah with another mom, 4 nights of entertaining and making latkes for friends at our house, including a spontaneous party for 10, an evening of dreidel-playing, an afternoon at the botanic gardens, and a daytrip an hour south for a little hike.  Whew!

There were presents galore --hanukkah been berry berry good to Micah. Early on, I realized that there were too many presents, and so half of the things I bought are getting either saved for later or returned.Tonight, I realized with great pleasure that despite all of the new toys in the house, Micah was happily playing with a salad spinner and a shoe. He has loved the books he's gotten, the playmobil figurines, a simple slinky.... It was great fun last night when we had 5 children ages 4 and under and they all happily playing more or less together with the playmobil animals and people.

I think we successfully created a lot of happy moments with hanukkah that will be remembered, which is such an important foundation when he sees so much Christmas around him. I feel so lucky that he is growing up in a world where his holiday is recognized and discussed at school and in public -- so unlike it was during my childhood in the Jurrasic era. And while he exclaims happily when he sees a Christmas tree or santa claus in public, he already understands that they are for Christmas and we celebrate Hanukkah.
Micah continues to love books, and today in the car ride to the hike he kept himself occupied for a long time just looking at the ones we brought. One of the was an illustrated version of the song "Sunrise Sunset" and it amused me no end to here him softly intoning the words to himself. He's particularly interested in the word "swiftly" and keeps asking me what it means. Another popular book right now is an illustrated Grimms Fairy Tales. I bought it because, ever since Halloween, Micah has been asking me all sorts of questions like "What do giants do?" and "What's a troll?" and asking me to tell him stories that I barely remembered, like Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel. Well, now that I've re-acquainted myself witht these stories, I can't say that I think they're very appropriate for children! For example, Rapunzel, stolen from her parents, is locked into a tower at age twelve and when a prince tries to rescue her, he is blinded and she is cast into the desert all alone. Yikes!

Recently the word "alone" has seized Micah's imagination. It started one day at dinner, when Adam got up from the table to get someothing and Micah also left the table. I called them back by telling them I was lonely. Now Micah keeps asking me on the way to school whether I will be lonely at home without him and daddy, and when I had to run a quick errand after dinner tonight, he was afraid I'd be lonely. I've been trying to tell him that there's a difference between being "lonely" and "alone," but I think this is going over his head at the moment. Probably no coincidentally, it is getting much more difficult for us to leave him with a babysitter when we want the occassional time away. Perhaps just as well; our babysitters recently raised their prices so it isn't quite as appealing as it once was, but I do wish he'd give a warmer reception to the two nice girls who have been babysitting for him periodically over the last 2 years. Even when Grandma comes over, he wants to be reassured that we're not leaving before he truly relaxes with her, and she's his favorite person in the world.

I guess this is a natural phase for toddlers, and a compliment to how secure he feels with us. We're treasuring the trusting comfort he has in us while also trying to set some firm boundaries. We realize that this sweetness and love of being with us can't last forever. I love holding his little warm hand and cuddling with him while reading, and adam loves to make him roar with laughter by threatening hin with falling in the "hot lava" of the floor, or by chasing him up the stairs. One little milestone recently passed very sadly, when I noticed that he had gone from utterly guileless to trying to hide from us when he was eating or doing something he wasn't supposed to. Oh how sad, he has learned to lie and deceive. But he is still so very sweet and transparent in his motives, and really doesn't want to do anything more than have an extra piece of candy now and again!

 Family togetherness on the first night of hanukkah
 A hanukkah carnival offered sugar galore and a face painter
 Best present of the holiday, promptly and surprisingly given the name "Pasta."
 Teaching the young 'un how to gamble
 It's a hanukkah candle, people!
 Playing with our neighbor friends.
 Garden of the Gods hike
 What, me worry?
8th night.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Words seem to be failing me

Seems that the larger and more complex Micah's vocabulary and conversation ability grows, the less I'm able to capture who he is in words.  Does that mean it is time for me to give up blogging?  Probably not yet because I find it very useful for my scrapbooking. 
He is turning into such a fun little companion, almost always cheerful, curious, and wanting to participate.  He makes us smile many times over each day.  I love having conversations with him in the car -- he always asks good questions about what he sees around us, and loves watching out for certain landmarks, like the "funny car" -- an old truck rigged up to look like a train engine parked outside a VFW post.  When I bring him a snack for the car ride home from daycare he tells me I'm a "nice mommy", and he is very affectionate with both of us.  He still has that adorable toddler speech, saying "weely" instead of "really" and "twee" instead of "tree," and it is cute to hear him trying to get out more complicated thoughts or questions.
He loves to pretend Daddy is a monster and run away from him, but also loves to get caught and have a ticklefest.  Hates when any other friend at daycare tries to talk to me -- will loudly announce "No! That's MY mommy!"  Loves doing art projects at school and home, although his art still looks mostly like scribbles, he will identify it as being something specific.  {interestingly, the girls seem far advanced of the boys in terms of creating representational art.}.  He has a new set of drawers at home for art, and recently he snuck out of bed one night after I tucked him in to nab some paper to draw on in his room -- I came up to find his bare chest covered in blue marker, but so far we haven't had any more writing on the wall incidents in this new house.
After being officially out of diapers 3 months, he's just hit a major milestone where he seems to get with the potty program.  It has been a long stretch of many loads of laundry a week until now. He just didn't really care at all, but this week it seems that a lightbulb has gone off and he understands.  We still have to watch for the tell-tale crotch grab to steer him to a bathroom when he's immersed in something else, but he has been taking himself to the bathroom pretty often too.   
October was a fun month, with pumpkin festivals and a weekend that we spent in an 1880's cabin, updated with a few electrical outlets for lights, electric blankets, and a small vcr player, but no indoor plumbing or running water.  We brought my nephew and the boys loved peeing on trees, playing with deer bones that they found lying around, and exploring the weird relics of the 1880s that made up most of the village.  For halloween, Micah inexplicably decided he wanted to be a ghost -- was it from reading Clifford's Halloween book dozens of times?  Regardless, he was a very cute ghost several times, including a party at school where his fleece costume was way too hot, and a few other outings. With Halloween, we've had a big influx of new topics to discuss, such as mummys, vampires, goblins, and witches. It has been a challenge to explain these things in ways that are appropriate for a 3 year old! And every time we cross a bridge he wants to know where the troll is.
Favorite playthings recently include a playmobil -- can't wait to see all the imaginative play that comes out of these cool toys -- and big-sized legos and blocks.  He also adores books and has progressed to books with more words in them -- loves to be read to but will occassionally "read" them himself. And his CD player in his room gets a lot of use -- he will often put on a CD to listen to at bedtime or when he's having some quiet time in his room.  Speaking of that, perhaps as an adjunct to potty learning, he seems to be outgrowing his nap, and has trouble falling asleep before nine if he's had a long afternoon nap. Looks like we'll be transitioning out of the nap soon as we'd really like him to be in bed before we are!
We're enjoying the long Thanksgiving weekend now -- had 14 people for dinner yesterday, with Micah swiping the candy turkeys from the table and playing contentedly with his cousins instead of eating a real dinner, a nice day of playgrounds and leftovers today, with family movie night after dinner, and plans to go to a wildlife sanctuary tomorrow.  All in all, our family is very content right now and we feel so very luckly.
 New playmobil toys ... the house hasn't been that popular but I don't think it is because it is pink....

 Spending time at the Guffy jail with cousin Ben. A cold weekend in the 1880s!

 At an inflatable haunted house for halloween.

Getting ready for Thanksgiving with Grandma.  Micah has decided that it is grandma's "job" to tickle him under the chin, and will loudly demand that she do her job as soon as he sees her.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Micah has a new best friend, and her name is Dora.  How oh how did we create an addict? It wasn't so long ago that Micah's TV viewing was limited to the occasional glance. He came home from daycare and played with blocks or trains, or "helped" me cook. But somehow, in the last few months, Dora has crept in slowly and steadily, first earning her place because she offered a few words of Spanish, and then serving as a convenient transition time from daycare to dinner. But suddenly, she's become an obsession, to the extent that there are tears, kicking, and screaming occurs when we turn it off.

And turn her off we do.  Because really, Dora has very little redeeming value. Yes, she speaks Spanish occasionally, and yes she does teach some navigation skills and nature/cultural facts. But when I see the trance my son goes into when she is on, I know that can't be good.

We even had a little incident where Micah sulkily told us "Your not my mommy" and "you're not my daddy," after we turned Dora off for dinnertime.  I'm pretty sure it isn't in the good parenting manual, but we had to have a little discussion of shipping him back to India and what we would do with the $$ we spend on daycare each month.

And Dora is also not helping our potty training efforts.  Due to the aforementioned trance, there have been way more accidents at home than we'd like {daycare is mostly accident-free these days.}

Thoughts and suggestions on how to cut the TV obsession without throwing the box out the window?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Three last month.... a little medium boy

I can't believe that it has been over a month since Micah's big birthday bash.  At three, he is finally starting to understand that his birthday is his special day, and this year it lasted an entire week.  We held his birthday party a week before his actualy birthday due to some other conflicts.

The party had a safari theme -- we decorated with some calendar pictures of African animals saved by Grandma Judy, invited a face painter, and "commissioned" Aunt Jackie to make a giraffe-shaped cake. The kids each brought a safari animal and we had a parade, read books about safaris in our tent set up in the backyard, and we played pin the tail on the monkey.  A good time was had by all!  The good part of having a birthday party for a 3-year old is that you still get to set the guest list, so we had a nice crowd of our friends and family, and kept the menu simple {for us!} - sandwhich roll-ups, chips, dip, and cake and ice cream.  It is nice to have a summer birthday because all the chaos happened in the backyard. Exhausted, we ended the day with a family trip to Benihana, where Adam has been anticipating with glee for a long time... I thought it was more expensive than it was worth, but it was a memorable end to the day.

At the end of the week, I took brownies into Micah's school so they could all sing happy birthday to him, and on his actual birthday, we had dinner at Grandma's house.

And the rest of the summer has been a whirlwind of Micah-growth.  For most of the summer, he's been insisting on falling asleep in our bed, or waking up in the middle of the night and wandering into our bed. One night, after we put him to sleep in his own toddler bed, we couldn't find him.  Panicy minutes later, we found him asleep in our closet hidden by low-hanging clothes.  I finally put two and two together and realized that he was uncomfortably in his toddler bed, now way too small for him.  So one of his birthday presents was a brand new big-boy bed from Ikea.  He loves the cozy space and the three drawers where he can store all his treasures, and we love not having to walk him back to his own bed in the middle of the night. 

So, big boy bed, check.  Running outside without us to play with his friends {several much older kids) in our cul de sac, check.  Definite opinions about things and wanting to do everything himself, check, check, and check.  We kept telling him, hopefully, that these things meant he was a big boy and, hint hint, big boys use the potty.  No dice.  "I'm not a big boy, I'm a little boy," he insisted.  Adam finally hit on a solution, telling him, no, you're a medium boy.  Now he loves telling us, "I'm a little medium boy." 

And even medium boys can use the potty, apparently. This week, to our surprise, we came back from a few days away to learn that his daycare had decided to move him to the next room, where diapers are not allowed.  He had had a few potty successes before, but they were very sporadic.  Now, after only a week in the new room, he's had a few accidents, but a lot of success. His only big disappointment is that in the new classroom, they don't give candy rewards for success the way they did in the old room.  Several times, I asked him when I was taking him home if he needed to use the potty, and he insisted on going to his old classroom to pee since he knew they gave treats there, which made me laugh.  I was also amused by watching him try to figure out why his underwear had a flap in the front. That's definitely a question for daddy!  This morning, he came to wake me up to tell me he had to use the potty.  "I have a feeling" he told me.  We are so proud of him. We just discovered some video snippets from when he was a baby that we have been showing him, and he loves pointing out all of the things he couldn't do when he was a baby that he can do now.

One last amusing anecdote.  It has been important to me that Micah know from the very beginning his unique story, including the fact that he didn't grow inside me.  He knows "Rajeshree grew me" and he has seen pictures of the doctors who helped us.  This morning we were reading a library book about a mother telling her daughter about all the changes in nature she observed while waiting for her.  I liked the story because it isn't heavy on the pregnancy part, more on the waiting part, which I think rings true for all of us who had babies in India.  {also, the book has beautiful watercolor pictures of nature and makes me tear up every time I read it} Anyway, this morning when I read it to him, I did point out the picture of the heavily pregnant woman at the end, explaining that the baby was inside her. I thought that would be the end of that, but sure enough, Micah immediately asked "how did the baby get inside her?" Luckily, right now it is enough to talk about the daddy put a special seed into an egg and it grew into a baby. Yikes! Time for me to create that book I've been thinking about to explain surrogacy!!!

Anyway, my little medium boy will soon be up from his nap -- time to go buy him a new backpack and underpants! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mr. Personality

When you're expecting a baby, you wonder and wonder what the baby will be like as they grow up -- what they will look like, who they will take after, and, if you are expecting a baby in India, what gender they will be. Some of those questions are answered as soon as the baby is born, but other answers emerge more slowly.  With Micah turning 3 this week, we're beginning to learn a lot more about the personality of our dear boy -- who tells us several times a day that he's not a "big boy" yet, just a "little boy."

He's an observer:  He needs to observe an activity for a while before jumping in, but then masters it quickly.  If he can't do it right, he doesn't want to try it. For example, he didn't want to do anything on a playground except swing for a long time, but now he's a little mountain climber. Right now he's observing the potty process at school, with two boys who are a bit further ahead of him in putting it in practice. This is requiring some patience for mommy and daddy, who would love it if he would start dressing himself and trying the potty more willingly, but I think he's not too far off track for a boy.

He's a collector. We refer to him as our little financier because he loves to gather like objects up into a hoard. His latest passion is to walk around the house gathering pieces of paper and putting them into a sack.  Problem is, sometimes those pieces of paper are trash and sometimes they are important papers! He also can't leave the house without putting some "precious" objects, ranging from rocks to toys to photos, into his bag. Thinking about this, I realized that we've been doing this a lot lately too -- gathering up swimsuits and towels before heading to the pool, or gathering snacks to have when we're away from the house, so I realized this funny little habit is just based on what he sees his "bigs" doing.

He likes having explanations.  We were trying to think of a way of bribing or rewarding him to get rid of his "beechies," but before we did, we actually told him the truth:  the dentist said that beechies were bad for his teeth.  And what do you know, within a few days, no more beechie!  {We're still looking at many years of orthodontics someday}.  Another example: exhausted from the game of Micah jumping out of bed a thousand times and frustrated at having to be mean to him in order to get him to stay in bed, I sat him down and looked him in the eye. "Micah, mommy doesn't want to yell at you or make you cry at bedtime. You don't have to go to sleep right away, but you have to stay in your room."  And sure enough, I stood outside his door and heard him moving around and singing happy birthday to himself, but he didn't come out.  We were so spoiled by having such an easy bedtime routine for so long that I suppose we are due some trouble, but at least now I know how to deal with him around it.

He's happy. I can count on one hand the days that his day care reported any other mood than "happy," and those were usually days he was sick.  He's just a cheerful, contented guy who has an easy time with transitions.

He's verbal.  Micah loves knowing the right word for every kind of car or truck, and is a good conversationalist.  He sometimes has so much he wants to say or ask that he stutters a bit trying to get it all out, but we are always amazed at how much he knows and remembers.

He hates commotion. Loud noises disturb him, and when his cousins started fighting recently he told them it was time to go home.

What I find most interesting about a lot of these traits is that in many ways, he's a lot more like me, his non-biological parent, than his adventurous, thrill-seeking dad.  I have to admit that this tickles me no end.  He loves his dad's silly side, and they will always be the best of buddies, but very different personalities.

Loading up his stroller with candy at a grocery story.
Popsicle pause on a not summer day.

Whee!  Not afraid of the highest slides anymore.

Having a happy 4th of July in Arcata, California.

Next post: Micah turns 3.  Wahhhh, my baby has left all traces of babyhood -- except diapers -- aside.

Friday, June 1, 2012

No!!! I Wanna Do It!!!!!!!

Insert a crazed wail with the title of this post and you'll get the general idea of what it sounds like around here lately.  This refrain can be heard from morning til night, sometimes followed by a very sweet, "Can you hep me?"  Yes, we are in all-out toddler mode.  All cooking -- even boiling water -- must be supervised (from a stepstool that's a highly dangerous addition to any cooking routine).  All gardening requires surrendering the tool you'd prefer to use and using the plastic version instead. 
Making Zucchini ribbons 
The other way we know we're in toddlerdom? The sound of the word "Why" reverberating over and over.  I love having a curious kid, and having the opportunity to take a deep breath, think about how to explain something in terms a nearly-3-year old can understand, and make my best case to the prosecution.  However, anyone whose kid is in this stage will know the end of the story..... no matter how good your explanation, the response you get back is likely to be another, slightly whinier, "Whyyyy?" When he really doesn't understand something, however, it is more likely to be the very cute, "what you say?" 

The flip side of "why" is that there's a lot of pretending going on.  When he wants some snuggles, my little boy suddenly turns into a kitten, meowing for attention.  And he loves dressing up in his fireman costume -- too cute.

I've learned in another way is that children are the univere's way of teaching you humility..... I find that I'm already bumping up against the limits of my understanding of the physical world, unable to answer why it thunders, or what snails eat.  And Micah's already posed some tough questions I thought I wouldn't get for a few years, like "what's god" and "what's a soul?"

Some of my favorite Micah-isms at the moment -- he still calls the computer a "bee-ga-do," still asks to be carried by saying "uppy!"  and still cherishes -- and squirrels away like a little financier -- his "beechies" (pacifiers.)  Those beechies are going to college with him, I'm pretty sure, along with his "na-na,"  which he sighs with delight and tells me "its so soft and cozy."  He loves being part of a "Micah sandwhich" -- we ask him "who's the bread? and he answers "ME!" "who is the peanut butter?"  DADDY!"  who is the jelly? Mommy! and then each kiss him on a cheek.  (Interestingly, when I was a kid I would only eat jelly sandwhiches, and my mother told me I was going to be a jelly sandwhich when I grew up.  Now it appears to be true on several levels!
And the final way we know there's a toddler in the house?  So much ENERGY!!  He's always wiggling and dancing, sometimes just taking off and doing a lap or 7 around the living room, doing funny walks or demonstrating how he can stand on one foot.  He loves going to the playground (no longer calls it a "geygound" sadly) and has gotten more adventurous about climbing and slides.  But we were very impressed with his ability to sit still recently -- we took him to the circus last weekend, the first time we went to entertainment where everyone had to stay in their seats, and he lasted for the entire first hour very happily, despite a lot of sensory overload.  Even during intermission, he sat quite still while getting his face painted, but his attention (and ours, I admit) started to flag during the second half, so we beat a hasty retreat and considered it a good outing. 

We've all adjusted to and grown to love our new house.  Micah was a trooper during the move, spending several long days at Grandma's house.  Our new house has lots of room for guests, by the way, so we'd be happy for visits from any of our surrogacy "family" should you ever find yourself in Denver!