Sunday, January 31, 2010

Coco Key

It was about 10 degrees outside this morning when I left the house to run to Kroger to get Sara some cold medicine and Gatorade (it's that time of year), but the temperature outside didn't stop me from getting the boys decked out in their swimming gear when I got home, as my dad had the very good idea yesterday to take the boys and a few of their cousins to an indoor water park today.

The boys had a great time, as did I. Lleyton got off to a bit of a slow start, as the water was pretty cold when we first arrived, but it warmed up, and Lleyton did the same. He started off small, going down a small slide about 100 times, and then he realized that if he bypassed that slide and made his way onward and upward, there were even bigger slides. He, of course, picked the biggest slide and went down it about 25 times before the lifeguard at the top decided he was too small to go down it. Not sure why after 25 times he was then too small, but he handled the rejection well.

Parker stayed busy running around the park with his cousin Claire. If they weren't lounging in the lazy river, they were in the hot tub, if not the hot tub, they were navigating the slides. It was nonstop action for 5 hours. Needless to say, both boys were in bed early tonight, and we were happy about that, as the water park wore me out as much as them, and Sara's cold is not relenting.

Here are the boys killing a little time waiting for Grammy and Pop to arrive.

Lleyton's opting to go headfirst down the small slide.

The face of a fearless child ascending to the to top of the big boy slide.

The aforementioned big boy slide.

Parker has really taken a liking to the responsibilities that come along with being a big brother.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Potty training the potty trainer.

I am happy to report that we are in full potty training mode with Lleyton and he is doing great. He was dry almost every day at daycare this week and he even woke up this morning with a dry diaper.

He has been so good, that he decided that he should start potty training his toy dog, Doggie.

Doggie has been a bit of a slow learner, but Lleyton has been a very patient teacher.

Here are student and pupil this morning before Lleyton had to leave for daycare. Doggie must have taken quite well to Lleyton's pep talk, because when we got home tonight after our Friday night dinner at the Rio Grande, Doggie was completely dry.

Can you help?

I've written about Drawn from Water and the folks behind that organization before on this blog, and I think it is worth writing about again, and again, and again. What these people are doing is truly remarkable, nothing short of saving children's lives. If you have the time, make a daily stop at their website to see the good they are doing.

Today they wrote about their need for donations to keep their mission going and make it more likely that they will be able to avoid situations like the other day when they arrived too late to pick up three children, children who ultimately could be alive today had Drawn from Water had the resources to get there sooner.

Sara and I have committed to help through a $25/month donation, and I challenge others to consider doing the same. For less than a dollar a day, you can have an immediate impact on the lives of the children that the people of Drawn from Water are working to save.

I am sure each person reading this blog has organizations and charities that are close to their heart, Drawn from Water has become one of those for us. If you are not in a position to donate, not a problem, simply by spreading the word through your blog, or Facebook, or Twitter, or by old-fashioned word of mouth, you can help support the very special people that have made it their mission to help these children who are in dire need.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sensory Processing Disorder

It took an occupation therapist about two minutes of observing Lleyton this morning to concur with our pediatrician that Lleyton could be struggling with sensory processing disorder.

What is Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)? SPD is a neurological disorder causing difficulties with processing information from the five senses (vision, auditory, touch, olfaction, and taste), the sense of movement, and/or the positional sense.

Sara and I have been concerned with Lleyton's incredible pain tolerance and his disregard for any sort of fear of falling or running into things or getting hit by things for quite awhile now. We, at first, thought it was just a stage and as he grows older things would settle down. That didn't happen, so we began researching and consulted our physician. She recommended that we see an occupational therapist. Today was the day. We took our little man into the Children's Hospital and it looks like we will be spending a bit more time there. As of right now, we are scheduled to take him to therapy every other week for 6 months.

Our hope is that will be enough time to address the disorder and teach Sara and I how to effectively help him. We want to move past the days of him putting his little hand on the inside of a hot oven door without so much as a whimper (which happened on Thanksgiving, his hand turned red and blistered, but it didn't bother him one bit).

Updates forthcoming.

Friday, January 22, 2010

How to break a 9 year old's heart.

The date was January 22, 1989. I was at my friend Rob's house watching Super Bowl XXIII in the basement as our parents watched upstairs. Everything was falling into place. Stanford Jennings had returned a kickoff for a touchdown, the D had held the Niners in check, Ickey Woods was being Ickey Woods, the Bengals had the lead with less than a minute to go, and then this happened...

2 Kilometers - UPDATE

(Port-au-Prince, Haiti) Because of State Department procedural requirements, on the morning of January 21, 2010, 114 children left the Maison des Enfants de Dieu (Children of the House of God) orphanage for the U.S. Embassy. Of the 114 children, 111 were the orphans eligible for humanitarian parole to the United States and three were orphans who have Canadian/Argentinea n adoptive parents and may also qualify for evacuation. Eighty-seven toddlers and children traveled in a bus and 27 infants traveled in a van, accompanied by orphanage staff, representatives from the U.S. ministry, For His Glory Adoption Outreach (FHG), and members of the press. Dead bodies, debris and abandoned vehicles in the roads made movement very difficult. Temperatures inside the vehicles became extreme and began to make the younger children sick. After 2 hours of little progress, the difficult decision was made to return to the orphanage.

After returning the children to the orphanage, staff members returned to the U.S. Embassy and received permission to process the children's paperwork without the children being physically present.

Humanitarian paroles for some of the orphans have been completed, however additional documentation was needed for others. The United States Customs and Immigration Service has pledged to work through the night with FHG staff to ensure that all required documentation will be available Friday in sufficient time to allow all 114 orphans to depart Haiti for the United States. Air Transportation from Haiti is being arranged for the evening of January 22, 2010.

Kim Harmon, President of FHG, stated she is "overwhelmed and amazed by the dedication and willingness of individuals within the U.S. Government to assist in meeting Friday's deadline." She continued to call for "everyone to pray, especially for the health of the children."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Baby Sister update

The wait continues. We are into our 4th month of waiting for the good news to come out of Ethiopia that Baby Sister's paperwork has been completed and our case is ready to be submitted to the court. It's hard to explain the mood around our house, or maybe it's not, as this wait is agonizing. The moods range from concerned to depressed to scared to worried to sad for the little girl that we are anxiously waiting for. Each of those moods and emotions are easier to handle due to the fact that Lleyton and Parker don't really allow us to dwell on it too much, until they go to bed, and now we have Super Mario Brothers for the Wii to help distract us during those nighttime hours.

Each day starts the same way, as we check our email as soon as we wake up in hopes that "today is the day." One of these days will be "the day." I just feel it.

Sara and I have switched roles many times over the past months on who is the optimist and who is the pessimist. The adoptions of Lleyton and Parker went pretty smoothly from a beginning to end, of course there were hiccups, but no long delays, so this is uncharted water for us.

It has been nice to receive new pictures and videos of Baby Sister each time our agency director goes to Ethiopia, but it is those pictures and videos that make us yearn to get her home even faster, as it is evident that she is probably falling behind developmentally. She doesn't seem to be able to do the things that she would almost certainly be doing if she were receiving the one on one care that she will enjoy here.

Our agency director is scheduled to be in Ethiopia next week, so we are optimistic that after visiting with Baby Sister again, maybe she will be able to provide us with some additional clarity as to what may be causing the delay and the likelihood that the paperwork will be completed sometime soon. When we first accepted the referral we were considering the possibility that we could be traveling to pick her up in February. February is certainly going to come and go without us traveling, now we are just hoping that not many more months do the same.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

2 Kilometers

That is what hopefully separates the children desperately trying to survive in the Haitian orphanage that our agency works with from a loving home that awaits them in the United States...

(Port-au-Prince, Haiti) On January 20, 2010, 133 orphans from the Maison des Enfants de Dieu (Children of the House of God) orphanage will begin the difficult process outlined by the U.S. Department of State for humanitarian parole and onward transportation to the United States. In accordance with instructions received from the State Department, as relayed by the Joint Council on International Children's Services (JCICS) at 8 p.m. today, orphans along with orphanage staff members have been instructed to arrive at the U.S. Embassy as early as possible on Wednesday morning. JCICS warned that no food, water or facilities would be available for the children while processing at the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince.

JCICS further relayed that orphanage requests to the U.S. Embassy for security and transportation for the children have been denied by the State Department. The U.S. ministry associated with this orphanage, For His Glory Adoption Outreach (FHG), was also asked to stop requesting security, transportation or even water at the orphanage location. Following discussions with staff and board members in Port-au-Prince, the difficult decision was made that all 133 children, including approximately 60 children under the age of 3, will begin early in the morning of January 20th to walk the over 2 kilometers to the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince. This decision was made due to the limited staff available and the increasingly dangerous security situation at the orphanage in Port-au-Prince. The staff will carry as much water, food and baby formula as possible with them for the orphans while processing at the U.S. Embassy. JCICS relayed that once processing is completed, the orphans will travel to the United States on "cargo jets to locations that are not often known until an hour or so before the flight leaves."

Kim Harmon, President of FHG, acknowledged that "this arrangement is far from ideal for the safety and well-being of the children. We are calling to all who care about these precious children to pray earnestly for their safety tomorrow."

FHG is a ministry to the people and children of Haiti. Our ministry is dedicated to fundraising and assisting the orphanage, Maison des Enfants de Dieu, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

I feel so fortunate to live where I live. It almost makes me feel guilty for having the life that I do. The comforts of everyday life here are continually taken for granted, until a tragedy like what has happened in Haiti occurs. Everything is instantly put into perspective.

The thought of everything these children have been through over the last week and the danger they may face on this walk to the Embassy evokes many emotions, not the least of which is pride in our adoption agency. The tireless work they have been doing for days on end is about to pay to huge dividends to the children they are working on behalf of. The world is a better place with people like Sue and her staff at CCI, and everyone that has supported them in the last week, as they work to help those that cannot help themselves.

I am looking forward to the email saying they all made it and are boarding that plane to the United States.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Two years later

Two years ago today, we arrived home with Lleyton. Although the temperature was cold, the Kentucky air felt more like we were in the Caribbean, having just left the frozen tundra of Russia.

The flight home was exhausting, as both Sara and I were on the rebound from a nasty illness we endured during our last day and night in Moscow. That, accompanied by a little man that didn't want to sit still, let alone sleep on the 15 hour flight, made for a long day. Although he didn't want sleep, he handled the flight relatively well. After a few crying spells, I found that looking at himself in the mirror in the bathroom really soothed him. Most people on a flight that long don't turn to the bathroom as a place of refuge, but we did.

Even with the excitement of just becoming an American citizen, Lleyton had had about enough by the time we got through customs and immigration in New York, so he threw quite the fit as we waited for our plane to take us on the last leg of a our journey to becoming a family, but who could blame him.

Thank goodness the flight from JFK wasn't full, as it allowed Lleyton and I to have a a couple of seats to ourselves in the back of the plane, giving us plenty of room for him to lay on his own seat and take a much needed nap, and it also allowed Sara to get an hour or so of shut-eye herself.

We enjoyed every minute of our time in Russia (except our first meeting with Coffee Talk lady), but were excited to get home and get settled in with our little man (When I say little, I mean little. He didn't register on the growth charts for quite some time, but I am happy to report that after his 3 year old checkup yesterday, he is now on both charts, 7% weight and 10% height).

I know I have mentioned another picture as my favorite picture of all time, but this is a close second.

The last two years have been incredible. We have been places and seen things we could have never imagined. We have welcomed two boys into our family, and hopefully soon we will add a little girl to the mix too. I can't believe Lleyton has only been with us for 2 years, it seems like he has been with us forever. Getting to watch him grow over that time has been a privilege, as he has gone from a little boy that was a sight for sore eyes when we first met him to the cutest boy I have ever seen.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


If you were planning on calling me this evening or tomorrow evening, your best bet to reach me will be before 9pm, as today is a day I have been looking forward to for quite awhile, the season premier of 24. If you haven't been watching this show for the first 7 seasons, don't be too hard on yourself, just leave the house right now and go rent Season 1 on DVD and you will be hooked.

Other shows that we DVR and don't miss an episode:

The Office
Modern Family
Man vs. Food
Project Runway (don't think less of me)
First 48

Shows we DVR but are not new right now:

Top Chef
Big Brother
Next Food Network Star
Top Design
Hard Knocks

I know I am missing out on plenty of other high quality shows, as I am pretty dedicated to my Fox News in the evening, but I am open to suggestions. I am pretty sure that Sara would welcome the thought of not seeing O'Reilly and Hannity every night.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


As I sit on my couch watching football, I can't seem to stop thinking about the devastation in Haiti. The pictures and reports coming out of that tiny country are hard to process.

Here is an inside look into what is happening in Haiti from the eyes of an American missionary family living there.

I received an email from our adoption agency director this afternoon with an update from the orphanage they operate in Haiti (along with Ethiopia, our adoption agency also works quite a bit in Haiti), the first report we got earlier this week was that all of the children and nannies had made it through the earthquake, although the orphanage had sustained structural damage, reports today say that the orphanage has been robbed of all of its supplies, and a nanny has passed away.

The agency is doing everything they can this weekend to attempt to get the children humanitarian parole visas so that they can be brought to the United States, and ultimately united with the families that are waiting for them. The director acknowledged that this is a long shot, but nonetheless, despite the long odds, they will work tirelessly through the weekend and into next week to try to make a miracle happen.

I can't imagine being one of those parents who are waiting, wondering, worrying about how their children are doing and when and if the adoptions will be finalized.

There are plenty of ways you can help, we have all been watching the TV coverage of this disaster, but if you are searching for a way to help, our agency is raising money to help these children in need. You can donate by visiting There is a link on the front page of the website.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Heroes among us.

On most weeknights, my routine following putting the boys to bed stays pretty consistent. I find my favorite spot on the couch and settle in for The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity. While I watch the fair and balanced news coverage that Fox News offers, I also fire up the laptop surf the Internet.

Most nights come and go without reading anything earth shattering, but there are nights when I come across something that stops me in my tracks. One of those nights happened last week. Sara was taking a look at the Internet, which usually means she was reading her favorite blogs while endlessly checking her email in hopes that an email will pop up with information about Baby Sister, when she called me upstairs to read the story of an orphanage that recently opened not too far from the village that Parker grew up in.

The story of this orphanage is remarkable, heart wrenching, eye opening, and extremely saddening at the same time.

My initial reaction the story was disbelief, but at the same time, I was thankful that there are people in this world who are willing and able to make a difference in these children's lives, lives that would otherwise be lost. The people that left behind the lives that they led in the United States in order to save the lives of these children are truly heroes.

It's stories like this that make me so thankful to have my boys, but these stories also solidify my yearning to find a way to make a difference in the lives of people that Parker left behind. I have thought long and hard about various ways to give back and have come up with goals that are hopefully achievable.

Success won't come easily, as our plans are ambitious, but reading about those that have taken on much greater odds and been successful in making a difference gives Sara and I something to draw from as we continue to think of ways to turn our ambitions into reality.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Bengals lose, but I quickly bounce back.

The last time the Bengals were in the playoffs was January 2006. Back then, life was a little different, Sara and I were newlywed, we dreamt of having kids, but didn't have any yet, and I lived and died with every Bengals game.

How times have changed. The Bengals laid an egg last night, they are terrible. They haven't won a playoff game since I was 11 years old. The Reds are terrible. Tiger is in hiding somewhere after the world found out that he isn't the guy he seemed to be. The Hoosiers won't be in the tournament for a couple more years. The Bearcats can't draw 10,000 fans for a game against UConn (that they won), and all of that stuff really doesn't bother me too much anymore. Why? Because of my boys. I could sulk after that loss to the Jets, who were only in the playoffs b/c both the Colts and Bengals laid down in the last two games, I could ponder what caused Carson Palmer to go from an elite quarterback to a quarterback on the same level as Jason Campbell, I could even dwell on the fact that Shayne Graham missed two chip shot field goals that could have changed the outcome of the game, but I could also just forget about it and enjoy hanging with Sara and these two little guys.

That is just what I did.

Last week, knowing the snow was coming, we ventured out in search of a sled, and we found one. So we put it to good use this morning, and we all had a blast.

Take a look at the determination on Lleyton's face as he prepares to face the hill for the first time, and this was no bunny slope, it was a good sized hill.

Sure, I put myself in the line of fire for a few these shots, but it was well worth the looks of shear enjoyment I was able to capture.

Sara couldn't help but get into the action as Lleyton joined her aboard the sled.

The day would not have been complete had we not taught Parker the art of making a snow angel. He is a natural.

Carson who?

Queen of Sheba

Yesterday afternoon we rounded up the troops and made the hour and a half drive to Louisville to get together with a very nice group of families that have also adopted from Ethiopia using our agency, CCI. The event was held at Queen of Sheba, a delicious Ethiopian restaurant. My compliments to the chef, the food was out of this world.

If Parker gets around injera, we know we are in for a long meal, as he won't stop eating until we mandate it. He and I put a very nice dent in our plate meant for 4 people, and if that wasn't enough, Parker also shared some of his friends Essie and Chloe's meal as well.

Here are the boys getting geared up for what is certain to be a great meal.

Here we are enjoying our lunch. Lleyton didn't eat any of the Ethiopian food, he opted for mac and cheese instead, but he did enjoy playing with the injera.

Here is Parker enjoying the food, hoping that he did a good job lobbying me to ask for another basket of injera (he did).

I want to thank Kristina B. for putting this event together. I am sure plenty of time and effort went into it making it happen, and it turned out great. Thank you.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

С Рождеством / Melkam Genna

That is how to say Merry Christmas in Russian and Amharic.

Today is Christmas Day in both Russia and Ethiopia.

Hopefully we will get to celebrate a little this evening with the boys maiden voyage on a sled, as the snow is continuing to fall.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Future aspirations

I vividly remember when I was six years old wanting to be a Pepsi truck driver when I grew up. Thinking of that this evening, I asked Parker what he wanted to be when he grew up. He quickly gave me that look he gives so effectively and said, "You already know."

Not remembering exactly what he had told me prior, I asked him to remind me.

Without hesitation, he replied, "An elf."


If an elf doesn't work out, he wants to be a football player, and in the unlikely event neither of those two work, he wants to be a coach.

The boy knows what he wants.

When I asked Lleyton the same question about what he wants to be when he grows up, his answer was...

You guessed it, a dump truck.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A look back at 2009, and Thank You's to my boys.

Properly characterizing the year that was 2009 is more difficult than it may sound.

The year began shortly after Sara and I decided to embark on another adoption journey. That decision came pretty easily to us after a slew of failed attempts at fertility treatments. Our experience with Lleyton's adoption certainly solidified for us the fact that we wanted to adopt again, we just weren't sure it was going to happen this quickly.

In January, I spoke with Sue at Celebrate Children International and we made the decision to hire her and her agency to help us along on our journey to Ethiopia. We were introduced to Parker in January through the CCI website and a video that Sue sent to us from one of her visits to Ethiopia.

Going into this adoption we were set on adopting an infant as young as possible, but after seeing Parker's picture and learning of the relative ease of adopting more than one child from Ethiopia, and after weeks of contemplation, in February we decided to commit to adopting Parker, knowing that shorlty after we brought him home, we would be looking at referrals for infant girls as well.

Another highlight from January was the very brief, albeit enjoyable day we spent with friends in Florida. Lleyton (and I) loved his visit to Rob's Naval base.

February brought with it the excitement of knowing that before too long we would have a brother for Lleyton. The excitement was accompanied by plenty of nerves about adopting an older child that was coming from a place that we knew very little about and who had suffered more change and loss in his short life than I could imagine. But we hadn't made this decision without doing our homework and talking with numerous families that had been through this process, and each one of them had told me how simple the transition had been for them.

As March came about, my 30th birthday came and went in America while Parker was formally introduced to his new family through a care package that we sent to him in Ethiopia. It's funny looking back at this picture of him receiving the care package and not having a clue who the Bengals were, and now as we sit here today he is so disappointed the Bengals game is on too late for him to watch it tonight. Hopefully someone little boy in Ethopia is wearing that shirt with pride right now, as Parker graciously left his nice clothes and toys from the care package behind in Kamashi for his friends there to have.

With April came nicer weather and our house experienced one of the many transformations of the year, as Parker's room was put together. Sara really enjoys decorating the kids' rooms, and she did a great job giving Parker a room any 6 year old boy would love to have. With the good weather came a few chances for us to get out and about and have a good time with Lleyton as well.

May was the month we had been waiting for. The month that we would boarding the plane to travel to Africa to experience a place, a culture and a country that would undoubtedly change our lives. Following Sara's 30th birthday, we spent quite a bit of the month gathering donations for children Parker would be having to say goodbye to, and the rest of the time was spent squeezing any moment we could in with Lleyton, as we knew an older brother would demand quite a bit of our time. So we had Lleyton Day, a day that consisted of all things Lleyton. His favorite breakfast, a trip to feed the horses, his favorite lunch, some time in the bounce house, a trip to the park, and his maiden visit to Graeters. Looking back, it was the most enjoyable day of the year.

On May 30th, we said our goodbyes to Lleyton and headed off to Ethiopia. Our trip to Ethiopia was as expected, life changing, in many ways. Our introduction to Parker wasn't what I had envisioned in my dreams, he didn't come bounding out of the door into Sara and I's loving arms, it was a bit more reserved and uncomfortable. Our friends that we traveled with, the Berrios family, captured the moment for us in this picture.

When you really think about it, and I actually talked with Parker about it last night, he was scared, he didn't know us, he had never met us, and didn't understand exactly what was going on, so the feelings of uneasiness on his part, are more than understandable.

The rest of our days in Ethiopia we were spent trying to get to know our little guy and experiencing his country. The trip was more than eye opening. The poverty that exists in Ethiopia is overwhelming. As we were on a drive to the highest point in Addis, we came across this not-uncommon scene, an elderly woman carrying what seems like a load weighing three times what she does down this mountain. Heartbreaking.

We knew that upon arriving back home with Parker, we were going to face some challenging times, but we had no clue regarding the extent of the challenges. I believe I outlined it as well as I could at the time, but looking back and remembering those first two and half months as a family of four is still quite painful. We were lost. We didn't know how to properly handle many of the situations were put in. The language barrier was huge, the fact that Parker had probably never had much structure or discipline was difficult. The fact that Parker didn't know us, didn't know where he was, he didn't know if we were going to be there the next day (as he had experienced quite a bit of loss and change, as noted earlier).

We leaned on every shoulder we could to make things easier, but it came down to figuring out worked best for us. For families going through situation not much unlike ours, I would recommend going back and reading about a few of the techniques that worked best for us.

We were very fortunate to have the boys at a daycare that was very supportive and helpful, especially in the most difficult times. There was more than one occasion where I was expecting them to ask me not to bring Parker back, but they never did that, it was those times that they actually helped us come with ideas on how to help Parker progess. Thank you to director and staff at All About Kids, you certainly went above and beyond.

Amidst all of our very challenging times, there were good times as well. I caught this very cute moment of the boys enjoying a show a couple weeks after Parker got home.

July brought with it Parker's birthday and Emily's wedding, on the same day even.

By August, Parker's English was really improving and he was looking forward to starting Kindergarten. Although our tough times were not gone as soon as school started, that seemed to be a point where they diminished. I can't point to exactly what it was, but I think the combination of improving communication and getting settled into a daily routine helped relax Parker a bit.

August highlights also included our trip to the Florence Freedom game, our dinner out at the Ethiopian restaurant, but who could forget the best of all, the day we saved the turtle!

In September, Sara and I finished up our most ambitious home improvement project yet, as we removed the carpet and existing hardwood from the first floor of our house and replaced it with new hardwood. That accompanied by some pretty cool looking molding in the dining room made for a huge change. Home improvement projects turned out to be one of the effective ways of keeping ourselves from going crazy during the difficult times of the year. Here is the end result.

We knew heading into this fall, we were willing to start looking at referrals for infant girl starting in October. Well, to our surprise and delight, on October 5th we got a referral for the girl of our dreams. The boys instantly fell in love with their "Baby Sister."

Disappointingly, things have not progessed as we have wished with Baby Sister's adoption. Tuesday of this coming week will mark the three month anniversary of our referral, and sadly, nothing has happened during that 3 months that makes us any closer to adopting this little girl than we were the day of the referral. Hopefully, with a new year will come a stroke of luck and something will happen and we can go over and pick up the little girl we consider our own.

As in any other year, the months of October, November and December seemed to fly by, as each is very busy with holidays that we love (my love of Halloween has only come about over the last year, as it used to be one of my least favorite, but now with the kids and the tradition of heading to Indianapolis, things have changed. I know that during the years when Halloween falls on a weekday, I can't go to Indy, but I will have to deal with that when it comes.)

Halloween pics for the ages.

December also took us to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital for the second time with Parker. The trooper that he is had his tonsils and adenoids removed and after a very rough 10 day recovery, he felt much better and Sara and I's concerns about his sleep were gone.

Christmas picture of our boys. Best friends.

As we ushered 2009 out the door the other night, I must admit, I wasn't sad to see it go. 2009 was the most challenging year of my life. It challenged me in almost every way.

Going into the year, I was pretty sure I was the world's best dad. At the end of the summer of '09, that feeling was gone and I was doubting I had what it took to be the dad I always wanted to be.

Somehow, at the same time, this year was the most rewarding of my life.

Through all of the difficulties and frustrations and doubts and second guessing, I came out of it feeling that Sara and I accomplished what didn't seem possible. There were points when it seemed hopeless, where Parker was always going to feel like a guest in our house, an overnight friend of Lleyton's maybe, but through hardwork, perseverance, tears, you name the emotion, we came out of 2009 a family. A family of four. Not a family of three and a guest, we were a mom and dad to two wonderful boys.

To be as honest with you and myself as I can be, I am glad we didn't know how difficult this was going to be, because if we did, we would not have done it. We would not have Parker here with us, and I cannot imagine not having him in my life, not seeing his excited face each night when he gets home from school, anxious to give me a big hug and tell me what he learned that day.

I am so thankful for my boys.

To Parker,

Thank you for opening my eyes to how others live in the world, it changed my life.

Thank you for not resenting me when I was not able to see the world as you were seeing it.

Thank you for being so adaptive to the changes we instilled in your life.

Thank you for being such a big Bengals and Bearcats fan with me, it's good to have you aboard.

Thank you for being so open about Ethiopia with Mommy and I and teaching us about where you came from.

Thank you for being an awesome older brother for Lleyton (or as you call him, Llater.)

Thank you for accepting Mommy and I into your life, we will never replace the Mommy and Daddy you had in Ethiopia, we will just continue what they started.

I love you.


To Lleyton,

What can I say, you are the best thing that ever happened to Mommy and I. You opened our eyes to how wonderful it is to be parents. Thank you.

Thank you for making us laugh constantly.

Thank you for teaching Parker how to throw a ball like a boy.

Thank you for still letting me hold you and hug you and kiss you as much as I do. I should cut back, but I can't.

Thank you for rooting for the Colts for Mommy, you are the biggest Momma's boy ever.

Thank you for still not having to go to the emergency room once, your agility and balance are amazing.

Thank you for making the worst days great when I see your face.

Thank you for accepting Parker into our house. I had no doubts you would love to have an older brother, one that you lovingly call, "My Parker."

You are the coollest three your old boy I have ever met. Mommy and I are going to have our hands full, and we can't wait.

I love you little buddy.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Grandfather Frost remembered where we live.

It is Russian tradition for Grandfather Frost to show up and bring gifts to the children on New Years Day. Well, for the second year in a row, he has made the long journey from Russia to our house as well.

The kids were quite surprised to see he had visited.

On a bit of a disturbing note, our neighbor just stopped by to tell us that their house had been robbed last night while they were out. The thieves took quite a bit of valuable stuff. She asked us if maybe we had seen anything, but we had not. After she left, Parker said, "Maybe Grandfather Frost saw the bad guys." He's always thinking.

Signing off. I must now start shopping for an alarm system. What has the world come to?