Thursday, October 29, 2009

October 29, 2007

Two years ago today, Sara and I were growing more and more anxious as we awaited a call from our adoption agency with a referral. Our paperwork had been submitted to Russia in May and we had pretty much given up hope of getting a referral before the end of the year. Low and behold, on my way home from work, my phone rang and it was Kids First. Previous to this call, calls from Kids First were mostly about how there had been a delay here or a delay there, or our paperwork was being submitted to a different region, or some other not exciting news. This call was much different; it was Inna calling to say we had a referral. I was driving on I-275 just over the bridge into KY, and I nearly wrecked my car I was so excited. I quickly pulled the car off the side of the road and grabbed anything I could to write down all of the details about the boy that was hopefully to become Lleyton.

The details about this little boy were a bit sketchy, we knew his weight, his length, his head size, and he had been diagnosed with every disorder you can imagine (which, for some reason, is commonplace in Russia. All of the disorders we were informed of turned out to be non-existent). No pictures were available, so we would be traveling “blind,” as they call it. But that was no problem for us, as we were more than happy to make the plunge without having a picture.

After hanging up the phone with Inna, I began my frantic attempts to get ahold of Sara. She just wouldn’t answer, not because she didn’t want to talk to me, rather it was her busiest day of the year at work. I must have called 30 times before she finally got to her phone and called me back. I was shaking with excitement as I relayed everything I knew about our little boy. He was born on December 4, 2006 in Samara, Russia. He had been in the orphanage for his entire brief life (except for a couple extended stays in a hospital). He was very small. His name was Gorsha. He had been diagnosed with many of the fictitious ailments that we had learned about in our adoption seminars.

That call began what was the busiest, most rewarding, most enjoyable, most expensive two months of our lives. We were to be on a plane to Russia sometime in the following 2 weeks (which, or course, would change at the last minute, b/c that is how Russia operates). We were to travel to meet him on the first trip, then head home, only to turn right back around to travel back for court, then head home, only to turn back around to travel back to pick up our little man and venture home with him at last.

October 29th will always be one of those days that reserves a special place in my heart, as it was the day that Sara and I’s dream of becoming parents finally became a reality. We didn’t “officially” become Lleyton’s parents until the December, but in our hearts, it happened on that unseasonable warm day in late October, 2007.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Christmas in October

Today as I arrived home for work I went through my usual routine of letting the dogs outside and getting the mail. The first task came and went without any surprises (thankfully), but with the mail today came a wonderful and unexpected gift from our agency, a DVD of our little girl. We are so grateful that we picked the best agency going. I can't imagine working with a more thoughtful and supportive agency than CCI.

Needless to say, the boys and Sara and myself were very excited to see our pride and joy, Baby Sister, appearing before us for the first time on our family room TV. The video is about 5-10 minutes long and features her in her crib, even cooing at the camera for brief instant, and her drinking a bottle. I am sure that doesn't sound too exciting to the layperson, but to us, it was one of the best movies we have ever seen. She is beautiful! A little girl fit for the big screen.

Lleyton could be heard a few times throughout the movie saying, "She is cute!". Parker demonstrated how he was going to hold her while feeding her a bottle. Priceless.

Here are the boys enjoying the movie.

Being the old pros that we are at adopting, Sara and I know that these processes come with plenty of high and lows (similar to a Bengals season). We try to never get too high with the good times, or too low with the bad, but it is difficult containing our excitement about today's surprise delivery.

Now we have a video, just like during Parker's adoption, that we can turn on in the evenings after work (maybe I will even pull out some of my finest Ethiopian dance moves during the opening music) and we can watch our little girl, in living color, right in the comfort of our family room. A room that hopefully in about 5 months from now she will be with us in, safely in the arms of a mom and dad and two fantastic older brothers.

Thank you Sue and Angela for making our day today, and many more to come.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

BCS bound

Parker and I were in attendance this afternoon as the Cincinnati Bearcats continued to pave the road to another BCS bowl game. Last year was the Orange Bowl, and hopefully this year they will shake things up even more with an improbable appearance in the BCS National Championship Game. Now, many things would have to fall their way for that to happen, but it is cool think about nonetheless.

Our seats were right behind the Bearcats bench, and fortunate for us, one of the many notables on the sidelines this afternoon was the Cincinnati native, 2 time World Series Champion, Boston Red Sox first basemen Kevin Youkilis. Parker did turn very bashful when he came over to get a picture taken with us, but Youk (as I call him now) coaxed him into taking his head off my shoulder for at least one snapshot.

I know he just signed a huge deal with the Red Sox this past off season, so the likelihood of him leaving Boston anytime soon isn't great, but he sure would look good in a Red's uniform (no offense to Joey Votto, if he happens to be reading this).

Just as bashful as he was to get his picture taken with a Big Leaguer, Parker was equally excited to get his picture taken with the Bearcat mascot. I am thinking he doesn't quite grasp the concept of a mascot yet, because he asked me if the Bearcat was real and why he was walking on his back legs.

Parker's first football game was a huge success. He asked if we could come back every Saturday. That won't be possible, but we will surely make it an annual outing at least.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Baby sister names update

As we continue to narrow down the possible names for Lleyton and Parker's baby sister, we decided it would be beneficial to get the boys input on what names they would like us to consider. Lleyton came up with the following:


We weren't able to promise him that we would name her any of those well thought out options, but we did commit to taking them into consideration.

Do you think there is any way that if we were to name her Tiger that I could possibly parlay that into a friendship with the other Tiger that I am a big fan of? If so, that name is quickly moving to the top of my list, joined atop by Carson and Boomer.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Brothers, and best friends

Who would have thought that a little boy born in Samara, Russia and a slightly older boy from Kamashi, Ethiopia would be brothers and best friends? (Their comfortability and affection for each other is very clearly depicted in the above seen candid photo I caught of the two of them in the car this past Saturday.)

I can't begin to tell you how cool it is to watch these two little guys interact with each other. Lleyton is constantly making Parker laugh. If it's not with his booty shaking dance moves, it is with his gravity defying gymnastic abilities. It never fails, if mom and dad are out of the room, Lleyton can be heard saying, "Watch this, Parker!." That infamous line is almost undoubtedly followed by the loud thud of Lleyton's undersized body landing comfortably on his feet accompanied by Parker's uncontrollable laugh, as if to say, "My brother is crazy!."

I have written this on here before, and you will certainly see it again, I can't believe how fortunate Sara and I are to have these two little guys in our lives. Every day is a new adventure (not all adventures are as enjoyable as the next, but the not-so-enjoyable ones are becoming fewer). I cannot wait to see what life has in store for us and these little boys and their beloved little sister that they know only from the photos they so covet. Regarding that topic, it was so cool to be at a restaurant the other night (our Friday night hangout, the Rio Grande) and to see Lleyton showing the server a picture of our little girl and proudly proclaiming, "That's my baby sister!"

There aren't two boys in the world that will be better big brothers than Lleyton and Parker. How can I be so sure? If they protect her with the the same vigor that they protect that photo, I can't be wrong.

Parker is already excited about teaching baby sister the alphabet. He told me just this morning on the way to school that he wants to watch The Letter Factory DVD with her and teach her the ABC's. How cool is that? I am sure as soon as Parker has finished his English lesson with her, Lleyton will be right there eagerly waiting to show her his new found dance move, or acrobatic, highly flying, stunt.

As the days pass by, and we wait with bated breath to hear about a court date, we can't help but slow down and watch these boys grow into quite a tandem. A tandem that is not afraid to admit a beautiful little girl into the club.

Friday, October 16, 2009

America's Next Top Model

My sister's wedding photographer is lobbying Ralph Lauren to hire Parker and a few of his cousins, and I see no reason not to feature them in his next collection.

This ranks up there as one of the coolest pictures I have seen.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Can you identify which of these boys is from Russia and which is from Ethiopia?

Skin tone was probably the dead giveaway, but you can also tell by which one is bundled up in this weather that is becoming ever so much cooler. Parker is in for a real treat as the really cold weather approaches.

Average annual temperatures:
Russia - 32 degrees
Ethiopia - 72 degrees

Signed, sealed and delivered!

We got the good news we have been waiting for today. Our little girl's medical report came back clean and we have signed on the dotted line.

When I emailed our agency director where I should sign, she quickly responded with this:

"I think you need to sign on the page that says: I will never have a backbone again. My daughter will be wrapped around my pinky. I will pull out my wallet every time she smiles a little smile. I will cry at her kindergarten graduation, her first tooth falling out, at her first date and at her wedding.. well, there will be buckets for my tears. I will start to save for her wedding, college, etc right now because I no longer care about myself.. who needs ice cream, blockbuster videos, movie night, eating out.. when I have a DAUGHTER!"

Needless to say, we have the best adoption agency ever. Sue and her staff at Celebrate Children International are as good as it gets.

Our paperwork has made it to Ethiopia and is being translated as I type. After translation, it will be submitted to court (once they reopen), and we will be given a court date.

Have I mentioned that she is beautiful? I wish I could share a picture with everyone, but that will come with time.

Here's to adding the cutest little girl to our rotation of two very handsome little boys.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Happy Columbus Day

Today was to be a day of fun and games for Lleyton, Parker and myself, as I have the day off for Columbus day. But Parker lobbied hard this morning for me to take him into school (daycare) b/c he wanted to hang with his friends. Some might be offended by that, but I was kind of happy that he is so eager to hang out with other little people that he would sacrifice an afternoon with Dad and Lleyton to spend some quality time at school.

We did have a good time this morning as we ventured downtown to have lunch with Sara. Parker was so excited to see where the Bengals play and see of the tall buildings. As we were driving past Paul Brown Stadium, he wondered where the Steelers play and why he couldn't see there stadium. I am going to have to do some digging into where this quasi-Steelers fascination is coming from and put a quick end to it. I am all for him being his own person and rooting for another team, maybe the Colts, the Bears, the Browns, anyone but the Steelers (and Ravens).

Here are a couple shots we took of Lleyton and Parker yesterday as Sara completed her masterpiece, the scarecrow in the front yard. Lleyton was sick all weekend and into today, but he mustered up enough energy to work his way outside for the unveiling.

Parker made a couple new friends this weekend too, as we walked over to a farm just down the street to see the cows.

No news on our little one in Addis Ababa. We do know that she has been to see a doctor and we are just waiting to get the results from her bloodwork. We are really hoping to hear something this week so that we can sign on the dotted line officially commit to her (our hearts have already committed).

Hopefully this week will bring with it good news.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pajama Day

Today was Pajama Day as Lleyton's daycare, so I can't help but post this picture of him from this morning before we left for school. This is his pose as he acts like he is a superhero.

Quick classic Lleyton story: Last night as we were on our way to dinner to celebrate our referral I was asking Lleyton if he was excited that the little girl he really has taken quite a liking to at school was back in the same room with him. Without blinking an eye, he said in his most serious voice, "Daddy, I love her." It was the cutest thing we have ever heard. The boy is going to be a heartbreaker.

The boys are excited

Both of the boys are so excited about the prospect of having a younger sister. They can't get enough of looking at pictures of her, and hugging and kissing her pictures. In fact, both boys wanted to sleep with a picture of her tonight. They are going to be such great older brothers.

Here is Parker sleeping soundly with her picture.

Although no adoption is guaranteed to go smoothly, the process moving forward should go something like this:

Our dossier has gone through the US Department of State and the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington and is currently en route to Florida, where our agency is located.

For those unfamiliar with adoption, the dossier is a compilation of official documents about our family including tax returns, employment letters, bank statements, a home study, pictures of our house and neighborhood, medical reports for Sara and I, marriage certificates, birth certificates, letters of recommendation, criminal background checks, and the list goes on. The Ethiopia dossier, although cumbersome, is much easier to put together than a dossier bound for Russia (example: Russia would not accept our dossier until we provided them with a certificate for obedience training for Max).

Upon arrival in Florida, it will be FedEx'ed to Ethiopia. In Ethiopia, all of the documents will be translated into Amharic and then submitted to court. There is a quite a backup right now for court dates, as the court system shuts down for the rainy season in Ethiopia, so our court date will probably not be until at least the first of the year. The court date is the one of the major dates to write on your calendar if you are adopting, because if everything goes as planned in court, that is when you officially become parents of your child.

So the wait for a court date has begun. We have plenty to do around the house, so this time should go pretty quickly. My best guess is that if everything moves as it should, we could travel to pick up our little girl in March or April, but we shall see.

Our fingers are crossed again...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

She is beautiful!

Sara had a premonition yesterday morning that we were going to get a referral, and it turns out she was right. This little girl couldn't be any cuter. Ethiopian law dictates that we can not post any pictures of her, but let me just tell you, she is stunning!

Before I get too far ahead of myself (which I already am), we are waiting on a medical report for her before we "officially" commit to her. She is approximately 2 months old and is living in an orphanage in Addis Ababa.

We are over the moon with joy about being afforded the opportunity to adopt another child. We went into Parker's adoption knowing that an infant would be coming along shortly after Parker, we just weren't sure how quickly.

Parker and Lleyton are very excited about the prospect of having a little sister sometime early next year.

More details to come...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rocky Top

This past Saturday was our annual pilgrimage to Knoxville for a day full of fun on the Tennessee River. If you are a fan of college football and you enjoy everything that comes along with it (tailgating), Knoxville is the place for you.

This year we stepped it up a notch and rented a houseboat and had a prime spot in the middle of the Vol Navy. Good times were had by all.

A special thanks goes out to the people of Tennessee for being the nicest folks this side of the Mississippi. In the words of Lloyd Christmas in the critically acclaimed movie DUMB AND DUMBER, "I love these laid back country folks." Those same fine people of Tennessee offered a buddy and myself a bite of a moonshine soaked plum. A very kind gesture in and of itself, but I wouldn't highly recommend trying anything associated with moonshine to anyone else.

While we were gone for the day, the boys got the chance to spend lots of quality time with Grandma Susie and Grandpa Don. They had a blast. Another special thanks goes Grandma and Grandpa for coming down and allowing Sara and I to go join 18 of our closest friends in SEC country.

Here are a few pics from our adventure.

The Vol Navy remains strong although the Volunteers are having a bit of an off year.

Husband and wife, Emily and Andy, face off in a Battle of Titans flippy cup match up. Andy won by the slimmest of margins...

But Emily didn't let the first loss deter her, and came right back and made the finals of the next game, only to again lose by an even slimmer margin. Well done Emily, I am certain Mom and Dad are beaming with pride as they read this.

The vessel with the maroon top was our home for the day.

We came back from Tennessee only to find Wendell had three legs. (For the faint of heart, he did not actually lose a leg, but it sure looks like he did)

Thinking of a new name for the blog...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October 1, 2005

Four short years ago today I was lucky enough to marry my beautiful bride. I'm still impressed with myself that I was able to convince such an intelligent, funny, loving, motivated, hard working, dedicated, and strikingly pretty young lady like her to marry a guy like me.

Thanks to Sara, these have been the best 4 years of my life.

We have gone from being newlyweds and yearning to raise a family to having two of the best boys in the world, and what a ride it has been.

Sara, thanks for being such a fantastic wife, mother, and best friend.

To many more years together.
Love, Matt