Toddler adoption gear: gifts, registering, and what to buy

Registering for my pre-adoption shower was one of the best experiences in my waiting-to-adopt phase because it made me feel like an expectant mom. I was so excited to take hold of that little hand-held scanner at Target and "beep" away to my heart's content, imaging my little boy putting every item to use.

Not sure why I didn't look pregnant? 
When John and I arrived at the store on that magical day, I was beaming as I approached the registry counter. "We want to start a baby shower registry!" I announced happily. The young woman behind the counter paused for a moment, looked at my non-pertruding belly and asked slowly, "Okay.... um, when are you due?"

Ha! It turned out that she herself had been adopted and when we told her we were adopting, she gasped in delight, making up for her earlier bewilderment. She helped us get set up and then right before we took off into the store, handed us our "registry gift." If you've ever registered for a baby, you'll know how totally unhelpful this "gift" packet was for us; it contained: a newborn diaper, breast pump bags, a formula sample, and breast pads.

Wohmp whomp.

We also registered at an independant children's store in town and our "gift" at that store was a coupon for a free mold of our baby's footprint before 6 months of age. Thankfully, I was so happy to be registering, I just smiled and said thank you.

Today, though, I am reaching back to that experience I had over a year ago and- with all the knowledge I have gleaned over the last year as an adoptive mom- I am offering you my own creation: a guide for registering for toddler adoption. If you are a first time mom adopting a toddler, you deserve to have a special list created just for you! No more editing those stock baby registry lists. No more wondering what items you should and should not scratch off. A list especially for toddler adoptions!

This list is fairly minimalist. I am a big advocate of living simply, especially in parenthood, so while there are many fancy gadgets to help you in your parenting journey, you won't find many here. This is bare bones with just a little bit of skin.

At the end of this post, I've provided an abbreviated list.

*Disclaimer: Some of the items listed below are to be used for therapeutic purposes. I am not an expert. I am an adoptive mother and these recommendations come from my personal experience and what I have learned from other adoptive moms about toddler adoption over the last year. Please consult a pediatrician, therapist, or other healthcare professional if you have any questions regarding their safety.*

Household Essentials and Toddler Proofing Items

Crib or toddler bed
     mattress pad (to protect mattress from leaks)
     warm blanket
Night light
High chair
Meal time items like sippy cups and non-breakable plates
Gates for any stairways
Latches to keep little hands away from cleaning chemicals and sharp objects
Toddler proof door latches to keep your escape artist inside when you're in the bathroom!
Outlet covers

Sensory/Expressive toys:

I polled a number of my adoptive mama friends and these toys were the most recommended:

Bath toys and bubble bath
Aquadoodle (we love this one! Painting with any mess!)
Sensory bins (check out Play at Home Mom for ideas)
Blocks and building toys like Duplos
Dolls and stuffed animal toys
Paints, crayons, papers and other crafts
Outdoor ride-on toys
Doctor kit to model and play before you take your child for an exam

Therapeutic Items: 

A weighted blanket or lap pad. Toddlers coming especially from institutionalized settings often have a hard time calming their nervous systems down. Whether as a result of past trauma or neglect or simply due to the enormous life change their adoption ushers in, they go into "fight or flight" mode. Weighted blankets are simply what they sound like: specially designed heavy blankets. The pressure helps little bodies calm down and relax enough to go to sleep.

You can also buy smaller lap pads to help restless littles ones sit comfortably at the table, on an airplane or in the car, or in church, for example. Please research the correct blanket weight for your child. I purchased two of these blankets for another adoptive mom via etsy seller Studio Minkyz and was thrilled with the quality. There are many great sellers out there with all kinds of designs so you can get creative with your choices!

John wearing our toddler size Kinderpack by Kindercarry
Baby wearing gear: "Wearing" your child after adopting is a wonderful way to promote bonding for both of you. When our son came home we used an Ergo brand carrier and then switched to a toddler sized Kinderpack from Kindercarry once he was too big for the carrier. I loved both but I would recommend the Kinderpack over the Ergo since soft structured carriers can be expensive and the bigger size of the toddler kinderpack will last many more months/years than the ergo.

Essential oils  Toddlers who were left alone in their crib or put to bed without a soothing routine will likely arrive home with some self-soothing techniques like rocking and thumb-sucking. Parents should not necessarily try to stop a child from self-soothing, but should slowly offer other or additional more positive soothing techniques as the child matures. We spray water mixed with lavender oil on Arie's pillow before he goes to sleep. He loves this part of our bedtime routine! 

There are not very many safe over-the-counter cough and cold medications for toddlers with colds. One of the ways I give relief to my little guy when he is stuffed up or coughing is to add geranium oil, eucalyptus oil, and lavender oil to his bath. It is important to use a correct dosage with essential oils. I use and recommend the book The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy

Picture Album As you familiarize your child with your new family, using a photo album complete with pictures of your child with new family members will be a great tool to tell your child her story and re-emphasize the fact that you are now a family forever! Once you are through the initial busy-ness of becoming a new family, do some research on "life books" and try creating one for your child! 

Clothing Essentials: 

Buying and receiving clothing for your new child might be one of the most fun parts of your new parenthood! You might not know exactly what size your child will wear so err on the side of buying items that are too big. They will always grow into it! In case clothing is not really your thing, here's a list of bare essentials: 
  • 7 pair of socks
  • 10 pair of underwear, unless your child is in diapers. I love these thick toddler underwear by Gerber. 
  • 7 bottoms (pants/skirts/shorts depending on the season) 
  • 7 tops 
  • 2 sweaters
  • 2 pairs of PJs 
  • 2 pair seasonally appropriate footwear 
  • Coat and hat (in winter: 2 pair mittens, 2 hats, snow pants)

Medicine Cabinet:

Children's acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Children's ibuprofen (Advil)
First Aid Kit with bandaids, antiseptic cream, etc
Homeopathic cough & cold medicine (Homeopathic because most cough and cold medicines for children are not approved for toddler age. I like Hyland's brand.)
If your child is not used to being in the car, you may want to buy some anti-nausea meds.


Adoption storybooks: There are many, many great adoption books out there! My favorite general adoption book for kids is God Found Us You. If you can, try to find a book that features adoption from your child's specific country or that features a child adopted domestically/from foster care. Our favorite Russian Adoption book is Mishka: an adoption tale. Lastly, if you adopt internationally, I recommend finding English language books that take feature folk tales or are set in your child's birth country. This is a great way to honor your child's (and now your family's!) heritage. My husband and I recently discovered a Russian folk story called The Miraculous Child for Christmas time and reading it will be a new tradition in our family for the holidays!

"First Words" book: If your child is a bit older you might think these books are too young, but especially if your child is learning English these books can be awesome! Your child will use them both to express needs to you and to learn new, often used English words. Try look for one with "lift the flaps" which will add another dimension of learning.

For parents: My two favorite adoption books for parents are Toddler Adoption by Mary Hopkins Best and Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray. I found myself referring back to these books time and again as Arie and our family went through different phases of attachment. Attaching in Adoption was my single greatest resource and I recommend it to all parents adopting toddlers!

Toddler cookbook: In general I think it is better to introduce new foods as they are so your child will recognize the ingredient and learn to appreciate the taste. However, for little ones who may be undernourished and need good nutrition and lots of calories now, check out Jessica Seinfeld's recipe book Deceptively Delicious. I especially loved her avocado chocolate "pudding" recipe for packing in the calories and healthy fats!

Here's an abbreviated shopping list: 

Now it's your turn! Have you adopted a toddler? What would you add to this list? If you usually comment via facebook, please also leave your advice in the comments below so other readers returning to this page can benefit from your wisdom! Many thanks to you and my sincere congratulations to all you soon-to-be adoptive parents out there!



IUI #3 scheduled

I went in for my mid-cycle ultrasound this morning and was happy to see one beautifully mature follicle. It was a bigger/more mature follicle than I've had at this stage in my cycle, so I was encouraged by that! I was hoping and praying for multiple mature follicles, but the truth is that you only need ONE so I am choosing and trying to be grateful for that one. Here's hoping it is half of my future baby!

Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving with John's mom, sister, and uncle and then Friday morning we will have our third and probably final IUI. It feels surreal to think that we are already on our third try. I scheduled our "what's next?" consult with Dr. Colbert for before we find out the results of this IUI because it gives me comfort to at least know what our future options are, if we need them.

Hard as it may be, I am also choosing to believe that this cycle is the one. Choosing hope and trusting that optimism is better than despair.

Way back before John and I adopted Arie, I talked to a friend-of-a-friend who was studying to be a naturopathic doctor. After I detailed our fertility journey she told me, "You know- you are NOT broken." As much as I understood that message from an emotional health standpoint, I've never been able to accept that. My body isn't doing what it was designed to do. I should be able to conceive and carry a child, but for some reason I haven't been able to do that. To me, that means my body is broken. I know I need a healthy way to think about my infertility, but to me saying, "My body is not broken" just feels like denial.

Recently I was listening to Chris Tomlin's song "I Will Rise" and I a new part of the song spoke to this area of my heart and mind:

"There's a peace I've come to know- though my heart and flesh may fail- there's an anchor for my soul. I can say, 'It is well.'"

Though my flesh may fail, I can say, "It is well."

Both in a "now" and in an "eternally" sense, this idea gives me great comfort.

Because even though my flesh- specifically my ovaries- may be failing, Jesus has overcome. Even if all these fertility treatments don't get me pregnant or if we are only left with options we cannot afford to pursue, Jesus has overcome and it is within his power to give me the desire of my heart. I have been feeling so devastated about both our failed IUIs and the enormous expense of other options like IVF, but lately I have been focusing a lot on the idea that with the power of Christ, nothing is impossible; even achieving a pregnancy with a diminished ovarian reserve.

Eternally, it gives me hope because if the very worst happens and I am left with my unfulfilled longing, it will only be for a time. I pray that if God does not answer my prayer, he will take away my desire for pregnancy so that I won't feel so heartsick all the time. But even if he doesn't, I take comfort in the idea that God has set eternity before me and when I pass from this life to the next, I won't take the heartache with me.

This journey will end. I pray desperately and with my whole being that it ends with a baby, but I take great comfort in knowing that regardless, it will end with peace.

As I anticipate my next (successful!) IUI, I'd love to hear some success stories! IUI/IVF success, a surprise "natural" pregnancy, finding peace another way... especially from anyone who has been diagnosed with elevated FSH or diminished ovarian reserve. But really, from anyone. I just want to hear some good news stories! :-)

Much love to all of you this Thanksgiving season. I truly thank God for you and all the wonderful encouragement you provide to me and my family!



Using your support system after adoption

Today I'm guest posting over at onethousandforone.com on my experience having (and using!) our support system after adoption. It's my hope that as I share my experience, other soon-to-be adoptive families will find ways to make the most of the blessings their own communities have to offer. Please share with your soon-to-be adoptive parent friends! 

Driving away from the orphanage; a family forever.
When my husband John and I brought our two-year-old son home from Moscow last fall, we used a post-adoption bonding practice that is sometimes called “cocooning.” Cocooning means that, for a period of time, the new adoptive family keeps their world very small (house, yard, park, minimal outside events like doctor visit or grocery trips) and the adoptive parents are the only ones to meet their new child’s needs (feeding, bathing, putting him/her to bed, providing snuggles and comfort). The idea is that the cocoon will intensify the bonding and attachment between parent and child and start the process of healing the injury that occurred when the child was relinquished from his or her former family or caregivers. The length of the cocooning period varies, but a general rule of thumb is one month for every year that the child received sub-standard care. Our son was 28 months when he came home, so we cocooned for 2 ½ months and then slowly introduced him to a bigger world.

Our experience cocooning with our son was a very positive one, and today I recommend the practice wholeheartedly. While this intense attachment phase comes with many blessings and joyous moments, it can also be exhausting and isolating for the adoptive parents. It is important for the parents to have a support system in place during this intense season. Based on my experience as an adoptive mother, here are the most important people in your support system and ways they can help your family while you cocoon. ....follow me over to onethousandforone.com to read more! 


Gotcha Day Anniversary Q&A video(s)

I ask, Arie answers.

That ending "More!" *sad face* is totally Arie's style. He's cute and yes he knows it. Oh boy.

I've posted this one before but can't resist sharing it again: our adoption video! Getting our boy home:


Our first gotcha day anniversary

To resilient little boy, after one year in my arms:

Arie, happy gotcha day. One year ago today you walked toward me with your nanny, proudly waving the monkey lovey your papa and I got you. You were dressed in the clothes I carefully picked out for you, the buttons of your plaid shirt done all the way up to your chin by a meticulous nanny. You were ready to join your forever family.

That day was the most miraculous day of my life. To think that God drew us together, across an ocean, to call each other Mama, Papa, and son... it moves me to the deepest gratitude I know.

On that day, you wavered between great happiness and great fear. It was your first time in a car. Your first time away from the baby home. Your first time going to sleep in a new place, eating new foods, and having a new mama and papa care for you.

You were my brave little boy. You still are. Over the past year you have learned English, learned how to speak, how to be held and touched, how to eat new foods, and how to be loved. You are so tender hearted. You are easily delighted and easily scared. My boy- I am amazed and so thankful that your hard life has not hardened you. You left everything you knew when we brought you home from Russia but you were not consumed. You learned how to trust, how to depend, and how to love.

Your favorite song right now is "I am not Forgotten." You sing at the top of your lungs, "I am not forgotten! God knows my name!" I ask you each time, "Did God know you when you were a baby in Russia?" You answer gleefully, "Yea!" "Even before Mama and Papa knew your name?" "Yea!"

I pray that your life will be defined by that truth. You have never been forgotten. You have never walked alone. Each year on this day we will look back and marvel at how far you've come, but the even greater truth is that when you soar, you soar in the strength of the LORD who has brought you this far.

Artem when you were born I did not whisper your name with love in your baby ear. I did not exclaim it loudly when you first learned to walk. When the apartment door in Moscow finally closed behind us and we were alone together at last, I used your Russian nickname again and again as if making up for lost time, "Tioma! I love you! I love you, Tioma." At home we called you, "Tioma-Arie!" for a while, usually through giant smiles as we watched you do everything in sheer awe- pet the cat, play with blocks, or fall asleep. You amazed us. Now I call, "I'm coming Arie!" when you wake up from your nap or call me to play with you from another room. I use your name a hundred times each day: calling, asking, warning, laughing.

Someday, in fewer years than I like to think about, you'll leave our house to start a life of your own. I know I'll think back to that day- November 19 2012- when I carried you in your little body out of that orphanage at last. I'll probably reach up to hug you by then, and tell you, "I love you Arie. Goodbye." And I'll cry. But I'll remember you dancing around my kitchen, stomping your little feet and singing in your little baby voice, "He knows my name!"

Indeed he knows your name! He knew it before I did. He'll know it every single day of your life. He'll know it even after I've grown old and gone.

You were never forgotten and you will never be.

I am so blessed today to know your name and watch you soar.

I love you- like you love to ask- "A little bit?" "No...

Forever and ever and ever and ever!"





Belief beyond experience

If my experience was to be trusted, I would tell you that sex does not in fact lead to pregnancy.  I would tell you that all those people out there who are getting pregnant and telling you it happened because of sex are lying. Why they are lying, I don't know but I bet there is going to be a whole Dateline episode devoted to it when the investigators finally figure it out. 

Sex does not lead to pregnancy. Trust me. I've tried. A lot. 

You know what else my infertility experience is teaching me? That God doesn't hear my prayers. Or that if he does, he doesn't care to answer them. I've been praying for pregnancy for a combined total of more than two years now. I've prayed humbly. I've prayed passionately. I've prayed with faith and without. I've prayed angrily. I've prayed joyfully. I've even prayed that God would just take my desire to be pregnant away, if he wasn't going to fulfill it. 

Yet here I am with two years of trying, blood work, consults, invasive tests, pills, ultrasounds, injections, two IUIs, thousands of prayers written into my story.... and nothing to show for it but a breaking heart. 

God does not hear my prayers. Trust me. I've prayed. A lot. 

If my experience was to be trusted, this is exactly what I'd tell you. 

Here's the truth though: my experience can't be trusted. There are billions of people who've walked the earth because their parents had sex and conceived. I'm one of them. I've never actually experienced the reality of sex leading to pregnancy, but there's enough evidence out there to make me believe that it does, even if my experience proves otherwise. 

There's not the same kind of factual evidence to prove that God hears my prayers, but there is a spiritual history stretching back to the ancients and the very creation of the world that encourages and enlightens my faith. And it is faith- not proof- that I profess, after all. Faith that the same God who made Adam and Eve, who saved Noah, who called Abraham, who gave wisdom to Joseph, who empowered Moses to save the Israelites from captivity, who emboldened Joshua, who brought Ruth to Boaz, who anointed David, who both loved and grieved his people through their endless cycles of faith, disobedience, war, and peace, who spoke through John, who lived, died, and rose again in Jesus, who inspired Paul, and who is coming again to make all things new once and for all.... I profess faith that this same God does indeed hear my prayer. 

It's jut that he's answering them according to his purposes, which- apparently- are not always the same as my own. 

I was inspired to write this post after remembering the "by faith" passage in Hebrews 11. The passage describes faith (faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see) and then gives a brilliant list of biblical characters and instances of their faith which shine brightly in the biblical narrative. After the author of Hebrews writes so powerfully about these character and their faith, there's this: 

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. 

They died without seeing the same thing I'm waiting for: the Revelation 21 new heaven and new earth... that moment in time when the redemption Christ bought for us is made fully known. The day we long for when God will wipe every tear from our eyes, when there will be no more sickness or death or mourning, and when the old broken way of things will be no more. 

They died, the passage says, only seeing that full redemption and welcoming it from a distance because God had planned something better. 

So it is with me. Having faith doesn't mean I'll get the thing I'm praying for, does it? It doesn't mean I'll have a completely fulfilled life before I die. I doesn't mean I get pregnant. 

It does mean that I see and welcome the redemption of my suffering from a distance. It means I'm confidant that God's plan is better than mine. It means I'm blessedly assured that he's going to redeem all of this for his glory. 

That's Hebrews 11. You know how very next chapter starts? 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Last week my friend Dominic told me that the word race in this passage comes from the Greek word for agony.

"Therefore... let us run with perseverance the agony marked out for us." 

Maybe the idea of your Christian life being agony is not so encouraging. It's comforting to me, though, because for me the idea of living my whole life never being pregnant and never giving birth to a baby is just that: agonizing. I feel empty, sad, and a little desperate when I picture it.

It's only by faith that I'll be able to run with perseverance that agony. With my eyes set on Jesus, in his footsteps, I will scorn the shame of infertility as he scorned the shame of the cross. For the joy set before me, I will endure. I will consider him as I continue to run tired, breathless, and painfully, my agony. 

By faith, I keep believing beyond my experience. By faith I will keep running, keep praying, keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. By faith, even in my agony, I will not loose heart. 


PS: Dominic shared his discovery about that word race/agony after preaching a sermon about faith and suffering. You can watch it here


IUI #2 results

Not pregnant.

Oooof this failed cycle hurt a whole lot more than the last one. I need a few days to gather my thoughts before writing more, but I wanted to share for those who have so generously been praying us through this cycle.

I cherish your continued prayers as we gear up for our third and probably final IUI.



A day in the life

A week ago my real life and bloggy friend Leanne Penny sent me a link to another blogger who was inviting anyone and everyone to sort of photo-log an entire day in their life. It sounded like fun to me.

I learned a few things from this exercise:

1) A lot of my day is about food and I am in the kitchen a lot.
2) I absolutely love being at home with my boy. Looking back over the day in pictures, I got to see how much I actually see of his little years; I've renewed my determination not to take it for granted.

A day in the life: Wednesday, November 13 2013.

7:37am I wake up to Arie's voice carried across the hall. John is already up and in the shower. I grab my camera and fumble around, putting the newly charged battery in place before taking my first picture of the day:

I go to check on my little boy. He's wide awake and full of, "Mama you 'wake? Mama where Papa go? Papa work? I hungry!"

I'm all read these books. I need coffee.  To moms of little ones who get up before 7am: I am in awe of you. You go. You deserve Starbucks every morning.

Downstairs I look out the kitchen window and see the sun rising up into a blue sky. Perfect. Arie and I can walk to Story Hour at the library.

John's already made the coffee so I pour myself a cup, get Arie a sippy of Kefir, and carry it back up to him.

John is just leaving for the day. He kisses us both goodbye probably dies a little inside as Arie adorably asks him to stay home "play wif me!"

After John's gone, I set Arie up with a show to watch while I shower. He picks "Color Inspirations" which is like so incredibly boring. I think it was invented for infants. I try convince him to at least go with Super Why, but he doesn't budge. Color Inspirations it is.

After my shower I "turn on the radio" (open the NPR app on my phone) and search for something good to listen to while I get ready. Dianne Rehm doesn't have anything interesting... what about Science Friday? Oh good! A show about dietary supplement regulation. As I brush my hair and smooth on my foundation I am SHOCKED and DISMAYED at the lack of regulation in the world of supplements! How can this be?? SOMEONE SHOULD DO SOMETHING! They talk about how Canada does a better job and I fist pump to my homeland, mascara in hand. Take note USA! Do a better job!! Hippies all over the country are COUNTING ON YOU!

All this before 9am. Where can my day go from here?

I open Arie's drawers and pick out his clothes for the day. This is one of my favorite things to do. Arie is just beginning to show preference for wardrobe choices, but he usually goes with whatever I pick. I cherish these days!

I pick red pants and a big fall sweater to keep him warm on our cold walk to the library.

To the kitchen.

I've been big on breakfast lately. Toast, eggs, and steel cut oats cooked in milk are my new routine.

I like to eat like a farmer for breakfast, apparently. 

Arie is underwhelmed by the first course of eggs and toast.

He has never liked oats in the past, but I remember that we have a jar of backyard distilled maple syrup from our super awesome I want to grow up to be just like them new friends at church. I mean really, you guys, you know how much I love everything about maple syrup, so you can imagine how my heart leapt when- after dinner one night- these friends placed this homey mason jar of liquid gold in my hands. I may or may not have eaten a few spoonfuls, just plain.

Anyway- I remember this jar and spoon some on to our oats.

People, my son ate the whole bowl. There was much rejoicing!

At this point, we are running late for story-hour at our local library, so I leave the messy kitchen post-haste and hurry Arie into his coat, hat and mitts.
He wants to wear his rain boots. The sky is clear blue and the ground dry, but there is no time to argue. Rain boots it is!

Out the door and down the street, we make it past exactly three houses before Arie is "too tired" to walk. In between his winter coat, stuffed puppy, and sack of library books, I stuff him in the stroller.

We make it to the library at 9:57. Three minutes to spare!

I basically just speed walked a mile in my boots and winter coat so I am already hot by the time we get there and the librarians seem to be having a simultaneous cold flash because I bet it is 85 degrees inside. When we get upstairs to the children's section, I plop down in a seat beside another mom who kindly greets me and asks, "How are you?" I can only reply, "Hot!" It takes me twenty minutes of not moving and slow breathing to cool down.

Sometime during those minutes while I am having visions of getting naked in the library because I am SO HOT, Arie learns about the letter "V!" He's been pronouncing "v" like "f" for... ever, but apparently all he needed was for Miss Eileen the Librarian to say, "Put your top teeth on your bottom lip while you say it!" and BAM- he can now say "V." Thank goodness for Story Hour or my kid would be talking about hating his "fegtables" and not wanting his mom to wear a "fisor" in public until he was 30.

Speaking of vegetables and visors- looks what we made!

A visor! With vegetables! Attached with Velcro! How clever.

Arie picks out four new library books and then follows me downstairs to get a new book on making your own bread in only "five minutes a day," which I am checking out because the Maple Syrup Family makes their own bread every day and I wasn't kidding when I said I want to grow up to be just like them.

After we check our books out, I bundle both of us up in our winter clothes again and head out for our walk home. Our trip home is much slower than the jog here, mostly because Arie picks up every single leaf and stick along the way and wants to be the only one to push the stroller.

We pass by two churches with bell towers on the way home. It's 11:30 and I make a mental note to spend a little more time at the library next week so we can hear the bells ring on our walk home.

I notice berries on the holly bushes! Christmas is coming! 

Soon we are at our front door again.

I tell Arie to play in the playroom while I make lunch. He come into the kitchen every 15 seconds to remind me how hungry he is. I suggest that he go make his own lunch in his play kitchen! What a good idea! He scowls.

Minutes later, he is in his chair eating lunch.

Once he's eaten all his yogurt and sucked the juice out of his orange slices, leaving behind a mess of pulp all over my kitchen table, it's time for nap.

He needs "puppy." We get puppy. He needs "ewa-phant too!" He get elephant. He needs "a ball!" We get a ball.

He barely makes it up the stairs alive.

In bed, he trades the ball for his little monkey (same one we left with him in Russia!) and snuggles up to go to sleep.
Bye Mama! 
He sleeps for two hours while I clean, work on my blog, and have a cup of tea.

Remember how messy my kitchen was this morning?

Boo ya.

I hear Arie's wake-up cry over the baby monitor and I am in his room 2.7 seconds later, but he still looks like this:
I thought you would never come!!
Don't worry I gave him lots of love. He was playing happily with his Christmas tent only minutes later.

While I snapped a few photos of him playing with his tent, I heard a big crash from the kitchen area. Arie gasps, "What dat Mom???"

It was our cat Jasper, knocking over a bag of empty bottles I had set out to return.

As punishment, Arie sits in front of Jasper's kitty door and refuses to let Jasper hide from his shame.

Their punisher-punishee relationship is resolved during snack with a game of peek-a-boo. Arie is squealing and giggling with delight while Jasper retains his ever-present what? expression.

After lunch we run upstairs for a quick change into a cooler shirt. We're going to church tonight and the children's ministry classrooms are always so hot! I learned my lesson at the library this morning.

John pulls up while we change and we run down to greet him at the door. This is the best part of both Arie's and my day!

Out to the car we go.

It is dusk now. Arie points out the moon as it grows brighter in the evening sky.

We pass through our downtown area and Arie exclaims from the back seat, "CHRISTMAS BALLS!" He's pointing out the seasonal decor, newly adorning shops and lampposts. It is amazing what kids notice!

In the parking lot at church John picks up his little boy and Arie waves goodbye to the sky, "Night moon! See you 'morrow!"

Inside, we grab a quick dinner. On the menu is fettichini alfredo. Arie eats a cookie instead.

We learn about Moses and the burning bush during children's ministry. One little girl in Arie's class will only listen to my reminders to sit on her bottom and listen to the story if I address her as "Mom." In turn, she calls me "Honey." I think it's a fair trade.

It's nearly 8pm by the time we're ready to head back out to our car and Arie is so tired he's loopy. He runs through the long church hallways squealing and falling in equal measures.

Arie plays "Papa" while we get our coats on.

At home, John gets Arie's teeth brushed and pajamas on. I sneak upstairs as John tucks Arie into bed to snap a few pictures. This is an accurate representation of how it's going:

Even John's "I'm going to sleep too!" fake-out yields no results.

I kiss my little boy goodnight and wish John luck, happy to be escaping the chaos.

I turn the kettle on for some tea, open my laptop and begin the process of writing this post.

8:30pm- my day is done. I do some quick tidying before I head to bed at 11pm and I go to sleep, ready to do it all again, tomorrow.

A day in the life.

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