Thursday, December 31, 2009

One fine-dressed year

One year ago, December 2008:
Then: wearing a dress that I wore on my very first Christmas and standing, thanks to some help from Daddy. See that darling white edging on the dress? That's hand-tatted lace, made by Ivy's great-grandma to adorn this red corduroy dress that Ivy's grandma (aka, my MOM) made for me when I was a baby.

Now, December 2009:

Today: wearing an outfit that friends sent last December and Ivy is standing (and walking, dancing, running, jumping, etc.) all on her own -- this dress used to drag on the floor and I thought that she'd never be tall enough to wear it, but now, 12 months and 12 inches later, it's a tunic top. Ivy and I both love this outfit and she's going to wear it as often as possible before she outgrows it.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas in review

We've had a wonderful week of Christmas Joy. We started celebrating last weekend at Grandma & Grandpa B.'s house in Cochrane and we're still ringing in the season with treats and special times at home in Madison. Santa received our letter, telling him that we prefer creating special holiday memories with family and friends to an influx of material things, and our Christmas was simply lovely, elegant and calm.

That said, we discovered that rounds of races in an antique rocking horse helps burn up some of the energy that simmers during the season. This is particularly useful after we've been cooped up in the house for days on end.

We also learned that ringing a brass singing bowl after breakfast on Christmas Eve catches the attention of eight flying reindeer and their jolly driver:

While our Christmas was simple, it was far from empty. Santa brought a wonderful little wooden kitchen that Ivy absolutely loves. Both sets of grandparents helped furnish the kitchen with necessary foodstuffs and crucial utensils:

An important part of the holidays is the post gift-opening clean-up. Fortunately, Ivy is on top of this task.

And, of course, our favorite memories are of the times we spent with one another. We're all on vacation for another week and look forward to reading many books to each another, cooking warm meals in our small and large kitchens, and spending more time with family and friends.

**Some of you may have noticed the red and white hat that Ivy wears in most of the photos taken this month. She LOVES this hat and asks to wear it every morning after she wakes up. We think that she looks like a precious little elf and seeing her in this hat fills my heart with Christmas cheer. I just might let her wear it all year long -- we could call it a firecracker hat in July, right?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Season's Greetings!

Happy holidays from Santa's most adorable little helper (and her parents). The three of us send all our love and wishes for a safe, healthy and happy Christmas.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day!

And since we've no place to go. . .

. . . let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

At the farm

Ivy adores farm animals and especially loves sheep. We recently enjoyed a late-autumn drive and stopped at a picturesque sheep and poultry farm, the Rainbow Fleece Farm, near New Glarus, WI. I'm a knitter, spinner and occasional crocheter and have purchased a lot of fiber from this lovely farm.

In addition to early-Beatles tunes, Ivy's favorite song is Baa Baa Black Sheep. Here she is, wearing a wooly sweater that I designed & made for my niece when she was a baby, discovering sheep in the meadows of Green County:

We visited the farm on the weekend before Thanksgiving and Ivy was very excited to see actual turkeys. She communicated with them in their own language and proudly told the farmers and other shoppers that turkeys say, "gobble-gobble."

Ah, to be 20-months old, 31-inches tall, and nestled in sun-warmed fleeces on a glorious November day:

When we returned home we drew pictures and wrote stories about our adventures on the farm:

We look forward to visiting the farm next spring to see the newborn lambs; Ivy will be a big two-year old girl next spring and will have so much more to see and experience.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Family Day

Yesterday, Thanksgiving Day, was our Family Day. November 26 was the first anniversary of our becoming a family.

One year ago Ivy was placed in our arms and now I cannot imagine a time when the three of us were not together. There are so many things to be thankful for this year -- for family and friends who helped us find our family feet, for our colleagues who daily encourage us and who keep us laughing, and to the universe for helping the three of us find one another. I am most thankful for our daughter, who continues to guide us and who teaches us the true and honest definitions of love.

Thank you, Ivy, for being our little girl. Thank you for your good nature, for your creativity, for your curiosity, and for your loving, trusting spirit.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Grandma & Grandpa Apple

Ivy is blessed with two sets of grandparents who love her very, very much. We Skype with the Virginia Grandparents every Monday night and try to visit the Wisconsin Grandparents as often as possible.

We made the trek to the western WI earlier this month to partake of the annual Lyster Lutefisk Supper at Ivy's great-great grandparents' little white church in the valley. Ivy didn't eat any lutefisk (and neither did her mother), but she loved her first taste of lefse and meatballs.

Ivy read to Grandma B. on the drive back from the little white church in the valley. A good book helps everyone forget the aroma of lutefisk.

Ivy loves the apple trees in her WI grandparents' backyard. Because of this, she calls them "Grandma and Grandpa Apple." Last week her Apple Grandparents spent a few days with us and they took care of Ivy while Markie was out of town. Ivy is smitten with Grandpa Apple -- he plays his guitar on her command, feeds her all of his own breakfast, and doesn't seem to mind when she jumps on his belly while he's napping on the couch.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Anniversary of THE CALL

One year ago today Kevin and I received the Phone Call that changed our lives.

On Thursday, November 20, 2008, I was at the Monona Public Library at an all-day workshop, one that I had planned and presented at earlier in the day. Lunch had just ended and the afternoon session had just begun -- I was standing next to my friends & colleagues, Jean A. and Anne H., when Kevin called to tell me that not only was Ivy coming home, but that she was being escorted to the Detroit airport in mere days. My friends literally held me up as I spoke to Kevin (who was being held up by his own colleagues across town) and when I got off the phone Jean looked at me and said, "Go call your mom. Now."

So what does this photo have to do with today's special anniversary? The night before we received The Call I spent the evening with a creative friend who surprised me with a gift of lovely hand-dyed balls of fabric. (Earlier in the year I had casually mentioned that I wanted to make a rug for my study; my lovely friend dyed thrifted sheets, cut the fabric into strips, rolled them into balls and presented them to me in a beautiful repurposed basmati rice bag.) I crocheted an old-fashioned rug for my study and every time I see it, which is about 3 dozen times a day, I think about how our family and friends supported us, held us up, and kept us sane during those months of waiting. Thank you to our community, to the far-flung as well as those across the alley, who have helped us nurture our little family. Ivy is growing up surrounded by loving, supportive Ones.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Ivy **loves** the Beatles. She listens to her favorite Beatles compilation cd, the one that her daddy (and fellow Beatles fan) made for her, at least three times a day.

Not only does she know that a cow says moo and a sheep says baa, but she also knows that the Beatles say, "yeah, yeah, yeah." She's been singing and dancing to She Loves You for quite some time and put on a really great show on Halloween night. Here's a video of her grooving to the music and trying out her new big girl shoes after our adventures on Halloween night. At 2+ minutes it's one of the longer videos that we've posted, but I just couldn't bear to edit out any adorable bits.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Busy as a bee this Halloween

Buzz-Buzz. . . Happy Halloween!

Since Ivy spends her mornings with Markie, a honeybee keeper, we thought that a bee Halloween costume was a perfect one for our little girl who already shows a keen appreciation for helper insects.

We had a great time getting ready for our family's first Halloween. The first order of business was to don a pair of sweats and do some serious pumpkin shopping:

then, this morning we rose at dawn and scooped & carved our lovely pumpkins.

Daddy is a creative genius and designed and carved our pumpkins -- they perfectly represent our current state of toddler joy:

After participating in a neighborhood Halloween parade, Ivy buzzed around the neighborhood and discovered CANDY. Here she is tasting a candy bar for the very first time. (Seriously! Up until today we've allowed her to have cookies and grandma's baked goods as special treats, but we've stayed away from candy.) Notice how she's signing for "more" in this photo:

Throughout the day I kept remembering how I felt one year ago when we were waiting for the call telling us that Ivy was ready to come home. Our families and colleague-friends were so supportive and helped relieve the constant anxiety through their support, good nature and humor. Ivy's nurturing hive is a happy, humming, and often hilarious one.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Just in time for Halloween!

The Amazing Ivini is here to astound you with her burgeoning magic abilities!

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kiss & Tell

Ivy shows signs of becoming an astute director, cinematographer and actor. Please notice how she adeptly moves from her work behind the camera to a starring role in this brilliant little movie. I'm especially impressed with the stellar dialogue, smooth camera work and and realistic set design. We call this film, Kiss and Tell, (starring Ivy and Mama, with production assistance from K-Daddy):

How could I NOT be proud of this video?!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

afternoon artists

The weather is colder and we're spending more time indoors. While Ivy and I love being outside and we miss playing in the late afternoon sun, we also treasure being inside where we make family memories in our home. One of the activities that Ivy and I do nearly every day is pull out a large tablet of newsprint and our box of crayons. We love playing with color, making bold marks on our paper and drawing the everyday objects that make up our lives.

The moments that we create with one another is sacred, mother-father-daughter time -- writing, drawing, painting and creating have always been important parts of our lives and Kevin and I hope that Ivy will associate happy, creative times with hours spent with her mom and dad.

Monday, October 12, 2009

In Daddy's arms

We recently celebrated K-Daddy's birthday. Last year the two of us spent his birthday talking about Ivy, hoping that she would soon be home, and imagining how it would feel to hold her in our arms. Now we can't imagine a time in our lives when we didn't know what it feels like to snuggle with her or comfortably carry her about on our backs and shoulders:

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Seasonal shift

A few weeks ago we packed away the summer clothes and dug out jackets, hats and sweaters. The forecast calls for frost and Mama calls for lots of snuggling. We're trying to spend as much time outside as possible before the snow flies -- and it's flying our way, whether we're ready for it or not.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Virus Among Us

It began its life as a little sniffle on Tuesday afternoon and quickly blossomed into a full blown cold later that evening. Ivy has a nasty cold and none of us got very much sleep last night. We're all lying low today and are trying to keep Ivy as cozy as possible. We plan on having lots of quiet time today and intend to spend our day wrapped in blankets:

and reading some favorite books:

Drink your orange juice! Get lots of rest! Don't put your hands in your mouth after you play with the Lego table at your public library!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Yay! It's Saturday!

Yippeeeee!!! It's the weekend! Let's all jump up and down!

Earlier today we met up with Markie and her grandchildren (who are some of Ivy's best friends) for Rock Star Gomeroke, in which kids sing their favorite songs and they're backed up by a great Madison band, The Gomers. All of our kids had a great afternoon and a highlight of the day was when the adults in the audience gave a standing ovation to an eight-year-old boy, whose awesome rendition of Livin' on a Prayer tore the place APART. Bon Jovi, you better watch your backs, Cole from Madison has memorized your song and has a hunger for fame. We want Cousin Finnian to join us for the next concert so he can finally debut some of his favorite Tom Waits songs.

Ivy's got rhythm and loves to rock out to all kinds of music, especially when Daddy is her backup singer.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Another anniversary

September is a month full of anniversaries, birthdays and special celebrations.

Ten years ago - September 12, 1999:
on the shores of Seneca Lake, New York - that's our dear friend, Kirk, serenading us minutes after we exchanged our marriage vows.

One year ago - September 12, 2008
our first family portrait.

Today - September 12, 2009:

walnut burgers, a grilled cheese sandwich and Spotted Cow (for the adults) at the Harmony Tavern in the middle of the afternoon. I can't imagine a better way to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Referral anniversary

One year ago today we received the phone call that changed our lives. On September 8, 2008, we received our referral for our baby girl and the past year has been a glorious one. We actually didn't have photos of Ivy until September 11 and, when the pictures finally arrived at our adoption agency, this is the first image we saw of our daughter:

I remember simultaneously laughing and crying as I studied each precious referral photo for the first time; these photos became our only link to our daughter during those months of waiting and we memorized every detail of Ivy's face and every fold of her yummy baby legs; we inferred her moods and dreamed of how it would feel to hold her in our arms.

Ivy has grown so much since these referral pictures were taken. We now know how it feels to hold her in our arms, we know the sound of her voice, and we know what makes her feel happy and content.

Our little girl is happy and silly and full of love. She is our light.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Thank you, Half-Pint sale planners!

For the past couple of years two Madison moms have organized a semi-annual consignment sale of gently used children's clothing and other essentials for kids. This year the Half-Pint sale will be held in our own neighborhood the weekend of September 18 - 19.

In mid-August I read some publicity on the Half-Pint sale's blog that caught my attention. Expectant parents were encouraged to enter their names in a drawing and the winner receives a free maternity shirt. No big whoop. . . but. . . what if one is expecting through adoption? I wrote an e-mail to the planners and described the joys of expecting through adoption and asked them to include expecting adoptive parents in future promotions. Within hours I received a very kind e-mail in which a lovely woman named Ellen told me that they simply had a bunch of black maternity shirts that they were trying to distribute and that they certainly want to celebrate all families and our celebrations & expectations!

I'm pleased to announce that a few days ago I received updated publicity about a contest for adoptive parents (enter your name in a drawing and win a onesie for a baby or a t-shirt for an older child). I'm thrilled that my message was well-received and I hope that this is a positive example for other organizations that work with families. Winning a t-shirt isn't a big deal, but recognizing the many ways in which families are created is.

I know that many families read our blog. Please let all expectant parents know about the Half-Pint Sale and the fun events that the hard-working planners have in store for everyone.

Hooray for all of us!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

18 Months Old

Ivy turns 18 months old today. She continually amazes us with new words and insights and I learn so much from her. She teaches me to be patient and, above all, happy and joyful

We've been celebrating Ivy's 18 months for the past few days. One of the best ways to celebrate is by getting up early on Sunday mornings and swinging like a big girl on the swings at the Yahara Place Park. A year ago Ivy's Tia Lisa was here and we walked through this very same park on a foggy September night; mounted police officers silently emerged from the mist, exercising their horses and setting the tone for a magical weekend that we shared with a beloved friend. And, BTW, Lisa gave Ivy the sweet striped dress, er, tunic, that she's wearing in these photos.

Ivy and I spent the afternoon with crackers and crayons. We have luscious beeswax block crayons and I must admit that we were more interested in smelling these crayons than creating masterpieces with them.

Our girl is getting so big. I often have to look at photos from last winter to see how much she's grown and to realize how far we've come as a family.

Monday, August 31, 2009


O.K., guys, I've examined all of the radiators and we're ready for the change of season. Are there any other winterization chores that we need to address? Oh, we need to set a warm cat bed under my block table? Task completed - consider it done and done.

We hope that everyone is enjoying these final days of summer. And we're sending special Happy First Day of School wishes to Ivy's cousins in LaCrosse. Adalia and Finnian are experienced pros when it comes to first days of school.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

March of the penguins + Ivy

Penguin incognito. . .

Can you find a silly penguin?

And a serious one?