Sunday, December 28, 2008

Post-holiday workout

You know how it is.  You eat too many of Mom's spritz cookies and chocolate-covered toffees over the holidays and before you know it you have a roll of jelly in your belly.  But do not despair!  The very healthy and fit Ivy will lead you through a series of exercises to help you firm up and regain your pre-December shape:

Step One: Stretch.  Touch your toes and chew on a mini-barbell.  Count to 8.  Feel the burn, babies.  Release.  Repeat on other side.

Step Two: Biceps.  Turn a spinning wheel or similar device round and round until your pipes begin to steam.  Stop and reverse the direction.  Do this as many times as possible or until your mother realizes that you're messing up her spinning at which time your attention will be diverted to a pile of blocks in the middle of the living room floor.

Step Three: Agility and strength training.  Ask your father to hold a small length of rope in front of you, grab it with both hands and scale it to his shoulders.  This exercise is particularly useful when preparing for the President's Physical Fitness test. (OMG, history buffs, check out the first chair of the President's Council on Physical Fitness.  No wonder I've always been suspicious of this annual gym class torture.)

Step Four: Cool down.  End your workout by raising your hood over your head and take a cheerful crawl around the dining room.  Then head on down to the locker room and hit the showers and sauna.

(Ivy's workout wardrobe courtesy of Grandma Pauline, Aunt Christine and Grandpa Frank)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ivy's first Christmas

Ivy made her entire family's Christmas a happier one this year.  We traveled to my parents' house in Cochrane and Ivy spent her first night away from home at her grandparents' house on Christmas eve.  She was an angel and, even though I don't have any photos to document the memorable experience, she wore the red dress that I wore for Christmas when I was 0ne.  My mom made this special dress and my grandma tatted the beautiful lace trim that enhances the collar and cuffs.  I repeatedly broke into tears when I realized that Ivy was embraced by the creativity of her grandma and great-grandma.  We went to a sweet service at the Hope UCC church that Ivy's great-grandparents attended and she was met by all the love and support of my precious hometown.  Ivy spent most of her time over the holidays on her grandparents' laps and I kept slathering her cheeks with Markie's Amazing Beeswax & Olive Oil moisturizer every time she turned her sweet (and very dry!) face towards me.  This explains the wet-duckling look that she has in most of her photos from the past 48 hours.

This has been the happiest Christmas I've ever had.  Special thanks to my parents who ensured that my sister and I have pleasant memories of Christmas when we were children.  They've helped us be the best parents possible and I look forward to creating holiday traditions for our own little girl.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Working on a building

Kevin's wonderful (and very cool) colleagues at the Max Kade Institute and the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures recently held a welcome home party for Ivy on the coldest day of the season.  Ivy fell in love with everyone and enjoyed her time with all the Germans, linguists and folklorists.  I think that we might have a trilingual child in our house if these folks have their way.  She received many thoughtful presents: a stuffed penguin, a luscious fleece blanket, a Target gift card, and  Professor Cora Lee and Herr Christian Kluge gave Ivy a fantastic Christmas present - a very hip Brio block set that matched her party outfit.  There are many blocks in this set and Ivy is still having fun unpacking the box and putting each one in her mouth.  I think this shows that she's already working on her very early math skills.

Special thanks to Antje and Grant for hosting the party and opening your warm & sunny home and hearts to Ivy.  She'll be back to sit on your laps and to play with your Birkenstocks.

Friday, December 19, 2008

With love to St. Paul

We are sending stacking cup-loads of love to St. Paul this morning and are whispering the names Bill and Connie as each snowflake flutters past our windows.  We are sending everyone in the Falvey family peaceful and loving thoughts on this December day and I'm envisioning Deacon Bill sitting down to a feast of coconut ice cream, plates and plates of chocolate cake and as many cookies and sweet treats as the angels are able to hold in their winged embrace.
Kevin, Shawn and Ivy

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ivy's turn to post

Editor's note: Given that I'm buried by loads of adorable laundry that need folding and baby bottles that need scrubbing, I've asked Ivy to say a few words about what her life has been like for the past 3 weeks.

Dear Fans,
It is I, IVY!, and I have a few things to say.  Namely:
  1. I like squash.  And sweet potatoes.  And carrots.  I'm on a total beta-carotene kick right now and can see like, forever, in the dark.
  2. I like naps during the day.  Sleeping at night is for wimps.  I really must stay up and catch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to know what's going ON in the world. (My darn parents, though, cramp my style, man.  They insist on a "schedule" and an "appropriate" "bedtime."  Life begins AFTER 7pm, Dudes!  Seriously...)
  3. Cats are awesome.  Especially the chubby one who sleeps on the radiator all day.
  4. I look fabulous in red.  Violet, too.
  5. My father totally cracks me up when he lightly tosses the soft balls that Amy hand-knit at my tummy and toes.  Ah, he has stolen my heart.
  6. Mother is a push-over.  All I have to do is show her my neck that needs kissing and she totally melts and allows me to do whatever I please.  (I shall add this bit of information to my Book of Schemes.)
  7. I have been outside a grand total of 6 times since arriving in Madison.  Each time I am completely smothered by a "snow suit" and "shawl" and have yet to glimpse more than two seconds of Wisconsin sky.  I am told that I shall see the out-of-doors in May.  Until then, I shall remain indoors where I am very content with the books and quiet toys that my parents purchased for me and very, VERY content with the loud toys that my cousins (bless them!) have shared with me.
  8. I like pounding on things, `kay?  It's how I roll.
  9. My teething companion, Yummy Bug, is the most faithful and cheerful companion a 9 1/2 month old baby could ever have.
  10. Facial moisturizers are for geezers like my mother.  I must KEEP it REAL and rebel every time I'm slathered in all-natural balms and ointments.  (Unfortunately this happens several times a day.)  With all the fuss about "delicate skin" one would think that my parents would take a break from all the kissing.  And face-washing after all the above-mentioned squash meals.
  11. And finally... I've started pulling myself up in my crib.  Ha!  The world is mine!
That is all for now, Dear Friends.  I intend to drop in now and then to monitor the progress of this weblog and make sure that my parents are not sharing any embarrassing stories about me.  Things are pretty great here and I've settled into my new digs.  The three of us are a happy little family.

Ivy Kestrel

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A day at the office

So, you know how it is.  You wake up and eat some oatmeal, play with your blocks and practice standing for about 2 hours, take a nap for an hour, wake up, eat some lunch and then head out to the office where you immediately take off your socks in order to face a 60-minute work day.  Well, Ivy made it to the office last week and visited all her friends at the South Central Library System who have been patiently waiting to meet her for the last several months.  Her friends from the Wisconsin Library Association in the office down the hall stopped in to say hello and we promise that we'll return soon so Phyllis and Rose can meet her, too.  Ivy was very social and showed everyone how great she is at crawling.  She sat in a few laps and examined everyone's shoes.  Kerri and Lisa won the prize for having the most interesting shoes and Jean won the prize for having the most interesting mouth:

And Orlando Bloom won the prize for having the most wistful gaze.

I was relieved to discover that I had very few voice mails and that my in-box hadn't collapsed.  It was great to see all my friends at work who have been so supportive of all three of us throughout our adoption journey.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Relatives Came

Ivy finally met her cousins this past weekend.  All three cousins were very interested in one another and the big cousins showed Ivy just how much they love her and how glad they are to have her home.

The big cousins brought some of their baby toys to our house to share with Ivy.  They gave us a lot of great stuff and showed Ivy how to play with everything.

Aw, is there anything sweeter than daddies enjoying Sunday mornings with their little girls?  

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday spirit

When we started our adoption proceedings last spring I barely allowed myself to imagine the possibility of having our baby home for Christmas.  Well, December is here and our Thanksgiving Baby is settling into her Rusk Street home where she's spreading generous portions of holiday cheer.  We are having a fantastic time preparing for Christmas this year and so far Kevin has not asked me to stop the repeated playings of my Vince Guraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas CD.  Here are a few photos to help all of you get into the Holiday Spirit.

Please take note of the message on this shirt, Grandmas Kathy and Pauline.  Tee-hee - we know that the Grandmas have been doing a little extra shopping this year:

Here is Ivy's tree right after we strung the lights and hung the first ornament of the year.  This is a special ornament that Kai sent to Ivy to celebrate their first Christmas.  The ornament is very significant because it's a painting of a lovely little kestrel that honors Ivy's middle name and her brave spirit.  I especially appreciate how the blue heart on the ornament matches those on her jammies.

And here are Ivy and Kevin looking at her first Christmas tree.  She's been very gentle with the tree and seems most interested in looking at the lights from across the room.  

Happy Holidays, everyone!  

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Garden walk

Here's an update and a few photos for Mark Ibach - I just cannot imagine how he's coping at work, knowing that the office next to his, MINE, is going to be empty for several more weeks and that he won't have anyone to tease until February.  Poor fellow.

We live right down the street from
Olbrich Gardens and on Friday we took Ivy for a walk through the tropical Bolz Conservatory.  Walking through the balmy conservatory in the middle of winter is a surreal experience and Ivy basked in the warmth, humidity and greenery.  She especially enjoyed watching the waterfalls and indoor birds.  She was a little shy and stayed closely snuggled to me in our Ergo carrier, but she smiled and cooed at a 2-year-old boy who seemed very interested in her.

Oh, and BTW, is someone at SCLS watering my plants for me while I'm away?  Our walk reminded me that I have a few sad houseplants in my office that occasionally need water. 

Friday, December 5, 2008

Ivy loves kitties

This photo was taken on the afternoon of our 2nd full day at home and that day now seems so long ago.  A warning for all of my cat-phobic friends (Roxane), look away now: I will post photos better suited for your delicate sensibilities tomorrow.  The co-producer of this production, Kevin (AKA, Daddy) has requested that I post this photo and I'm obliging.  I know that all my pet-fiend-friends at SCLS will love knowing that the cats really love Ivy and she is very gentle with them.  She has taken a special shine to Edgar, but, then again, everyone does.

I love this photo and Kevin and I think that it's quite hysterical. Edgar gingerly crawled up on the chair, sat in Kevin's lap and stealthily slid a skinny haunch onto Ivy's little leg.  Check out Ivy.  She's all, "Hey Daddy, look at me.  I'm petting the kitty.  Let's do it together, `kay?"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Nine months old and one week a family

Today is a special day; Ivy turns 9 months old and one week ago today Kevin and I were united with her in Detroit.  The last week has been a remarkable one and I'm still processing this amazing experience.  Thank you, Ivy, for helping me begin to see strengths that I never knew I had until I became your mom.  Here are some of my favorite pictures from the last few days:

Ivy loves squash!  And she has a cute little tongue!

Just chillin' in her pink track suit from Siena.  (We'll post some photos soon of Ivy in her sweet outfit from Clara, too!)  She looks like such a big girl in this picture.

Happy baby getting ready for our big trip to Target.

Smiley baby, getting ready for her first experience with Madison snow.

Thank you, everyone, for all your comments and support.  We definitely feel the love and I know that everyone's energy is helping make our transition a gentle and loving one.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ivy and Mommy take Daddy shopping

This photo is for Jeannie and Roxane and the others who requested that I get in front of the camera rather than hide behind it.  It seems as if I'm wearing the same LaCrosse Oktoberfest sweatshirt from 1991 and "pritty kitty" pajama bottoms in most of the photos of Ivy and me and, believe me, no one besides my immediate family wants to see that sight.  Poor Ivy.  She must think that I have no taste.

Kevin, Ivy and I ventured outside the house today and went to... Target!  We started planning for the outing yesterday afternoon and last night I made a detailed chart of potential oufits for her before settling on a gorgeous little red velour jumpsuit and black mushroom hat.  I packed up a diaper bag containing approximately 3 dozen diapers, 3 books, 2 toys, 1 flannel blanket, 1 pacifier (which she doesn't use, but just in case she decided to use one in the middle of Target), a quart of hand sanitizer and a jumbo tube of Desitin (thanks, Char!) for our half-hour expedition.  I decided at the last minute to leave a change of clothes at home.  We dressed her in new adorable baby boots and a sub-zero baby parka and I wrapped a shawl around her face before we dashed outside into the cold December afternoon.   I sat in the backseat with Ivy and observed all her moves, which were very few because she was so overdressed and securely fastened in her car seat.

An aside: going to Target in the middle of a weekend day or at noon on any weekday is my definition of agony.  I often seem to be in the same aisle with a mother who always seems to be screaming, "Jakey, do you need to go POOP?" or a parent who reminds his/her child that s/he has already received one spanking today and that s/he is going to get another one when they get back to the car or a mother who finds her child to be even more adorable when the urchin continually throws the holiday-themed cookie jars in aisle 11 to the floor.  I become very uppity & pretentious during these moments and often call my sister on my cell phone and hiss, "guessssss where I am?  Just listen to this..."  And she always humors me and tells me that I'm right because that's what sisters do.  I'm sure that I'll pay for my impatience ten-fold and will probably have my own breakdowns in the middle of Target in the years to come.

Ivy fell asleep the minute we got to Target and was an absolute lamb.  She woke up enough for us to snap a few photos of her (yes, we brought the camera to document the trip), and totally made us look like pros.  What a good sport - what a good girl:

Some of you might be wondering why I have so much time to write this very long blog post.  Because she's sleeping!   For the 2nd night in a row Ivy has fallen asleep at 7:00 pm.  She woke up only once for a bottle last night and then slept until nearly 8:00 am this morning.  We hope that this is the beginning of her transition to Madison time and Kevin and I are especially thankful that we were able to get a little more sleep last night.  She continues to amaze us and we marvel at everything she does.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Family visit!

Grandma & Grandpa B. and Aunt Kersten came to visit us yesterday and they gave Ivy an amazing pink exersaucer!  She loves her new toy (and so do her parents) and she also fell in love with her Grandma, Grandpa and Auntie.  She did very well meeting everyone and she had no stranger anxiety or confusion.  She loved being held by her adoring relatives, but proved to everyone that she definitely recognizes that Kevin and I are her mommy and daddy.

She also showed everyone how well she's transitioning to Madison time as she took two afternoon naps and then stayed awake for a long time and went to bed shortly after 6 pm.  Every day brings us closer to more sleep and easier nighttime routines.  We are very proud of and amazed by our little girl and we're looking forward to introducing her to Grandpa Frank, Grandma Pauline and Aunt Christine.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Our little squash blossom

Anybody wanna kiss?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Post-Thanksgiving Greetings

We're home!  Ivy was an amazing traveler and slept all morning while we waited to board our plane in Detroit.  We've been singing praises for our Ergo carrier (thanks, Yvonne & Miya for suggesting that we get one) and Ivy immediately fell asleep as soon as Kevin put her on his back and stayed asleep - as long as he kept walking with her.  I'm sure that he walked several miles back and forth, back and forth, in Terminal A of the Wayne County airport yesterday morning.

You all know what we're thankful for, and what we'll be thankful for in the Thanksgivings to come, but this year we were thankful to gobble down a bowl of pasta and especially appreciate our neighbors, Rob and Cindy, who took care of our cats while we were away and who dropped off pumpkin pie and a 6-pack of Spotted Cow for us last night as we were transitioning from nap time to waking time.  Ivy's nights and days are completely opposite of that in Madison, so we're gently acclimating her to the Central Standard time zone.  And she is working really hard and is teaching us so much about what it means to be a nearly 9-month old teething, jet-lagged baby whose life has just completely changed.  She is a sweet, gracious little girl and the three of us are enjoying being together very, very much.

Ivy enjoyed some traditional Thanksgiving food - she had squash for breakfast and loved it!  She also loved video skyping with her Grandma & Grandpa B., Aunt Kersten & Uncle Jim and her two cousins while she ate her breakfast.  She showed them many tricks.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

As close as can be

Ivy, Kevin and I have finally found each other.  Meeting her was a beautiful, amazing moment and she greeted us with smiles and waves.  I forgot my concerns about becoming a family in the middle of an airport and the few people who were in the international arrivals waiting area respected our privacy and I know that we helped make their day a happier one.

We're now back in the room and Ivy is sleeping on Kevin's chest.  We played for a little while and she showed us a few of her tricks: she crawled back and forth between the two of us on the bed, she chewed on a toy and she ate a few bites of applesauce.  She cried for a bit, but swaying back and forth and bouncing up and down in her daddy's arms helped settle her down into a nice deep sleep.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Getting closer

We left Madison this morning at 10:00 CST and arrived in Detroit at 12:00 pm EST.  

The flight was fast and easy and even more enjoyable because our very dear friends, Joshua and Stefanie, were on the very same flight.  They are shuffling off to Buffalo for the Thanksgiving weekend and Stef kindly changed seats with Kevin so that he and Joshua could sit next to each other and be silly.

Kevin and I were so happy that good friends were on our flight - they walked with us to baggage claim where we exchanged heart-ful hugs before we went our separate ways.  Having them here with us today makes me feel less alone and anonymous. 

Now we're settled into the hotel.  It's zen-like and very peaceful and I think that it's the perfect place to return to with our little girl tomorrow afternoon.  Exactly 24 hours from this very moment we'll be meeting her and taking her into our arms.

But for now, we're collecting our thoughts and settling into the room.  We're going to go back into the airport for a late lunch and we look forward to coming back to the hotel early this evening to soak in the hot tub and prepare for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


So, how did the rest of you spend your weekend?  We're spending the weekend packing for a trip to.... Detroit!  We are meeting Ivy and bringing her HOME on Wednesday, November 26.  Hurrah!  The agency in Korea completely surprised us and instead of us flying to Seoul, as we intended to do since the beginning of our adoption journey, they are sending Ivy to Detroit with a loving, experienced escort.  We don't know what happened and this is an extremely rare situation, but I am unconcerned about the specifics - the most important thing is that our daughter is coming home next week and that the three of us will be together for Thanksgiving and for the rest of our lives.  Kevin and I are spending this weekend by going out for dinners and movies, cooking and freezing some meals for our homecoming feast and preparing for our cloistered, special days alone at home where the three of us will start bonding and begin to define who we are as a family.  Thank you to everyone who sent positive thoughts our way.  I am touched by everyone's love and thoughtfulness and I'm looking forward to bringing Ivy home to this amazing community of compassion.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Creative spirit

Here's Kevin standing in front of one of the paintings that he made for Ivy's room.  I love knowing that she is going to wake up surrounded by the artwork that her daddy made for her, artwork that is warm and nurturing and created to help her feel the love that we have for her.  

We've received many beautiful handmade items for our little girl.  We have handmade blankets from Roxane, Linda J. and Heidi O. hanging over her crib railing and I have a feeling that her Grandma & Grandpa Brommer are busy in their workshops in Cochrane.  I've knitted bibs, burp cloths and a blanket for her and I'm trying to finish a lace scarf that I'm knitting as a gift for her foster mother.  (Wish me luck with that project.  I much prefer the weight of bulky wool to that of soft, airy silk.)  I'm waiting until she's home to begin working on her first hand-knit sweaters and I have a few adorable patterns that I can't wait to try. Working on these projects helps pass the time while we're waiting for the call and if my wrists are sore from all the knitting, well, then the ache is just a reminder of how fiercely we yearn to bring our daughter home.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I'm looking forward to seeing this little face and can't wait to gaze into my daughter's eyes.  We're getting closer and are still waiting for our agency in Korea to meet with the US Embassy to finish the process of securing a visa for our little girl.  Please keep sending those positive thoughts out into the universe - your energy is helping us bring Ivy home.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Ivy's first Halloween

Ivy dressed up as a tiger cub for Halloween! Here she is with her daddy, taking a break from passing out candy.

And here she is with a special friend from the neighborhood, who will certainly fill her in on the way we do things here on the East Side. Girls rock!