Perfect Fall Weekend

We had yet another perfect fall weekend. It was a bit cold on Saturday morning, but that just meant the gardens we went to weren’t that crowded. They had storytime in the garden and a pumpkin patch. It was a lot of fun despite the cold. And then we warmed up by Starbucks, so how could we really complain about that?

That afternoon we went to a Halloween party at a friend’s house. There were five toddlers there and ours was actually the oldest! It is weird to think that he is old enough to be the oldest in the room at times. It was tons of fun with a costume parade and everything. He looked so cute as a little elephant.

Today was eventful as well. Church was packed and so we sat right up front. We’ve been sticking to the back so we could sneak out if the boy starts getting loud, but there we were right in the front pew. And for about 90% of the mass, he was engrossed in the mass. It was so cute to see him pay so much attention to what was going on. He is starting to learn the sign of the cross and he does it with us as we pray before dinner.

When we got home, the kid asked to swing (or, in his words “go weee!”) on our porch. It is funny how this little moment ended up by my favorite part of the day. The kid was so adorable swinging and playing on the porch while my husband and I talked about all sorts of things. He’s been so good at listening to us and (for now at least) is willing to stay where we tell him to stay and hold our hand when we cross the street. It really is the little things that make our life so happy right now. And crossing the street without a meltdown feels like a triumph for now. But we had a terrific day with a toddler who is quickly becoming the sweetest little boy!

To move or not to move

That is the question. We’ve been debating about whether we should move and, if so, what the priorities in a new house should be.

Here’s our current housing situation. We live on a busy street on the border of a highly desirable neighborhood. We live in an urban neighborhood and love it, so no street is really all that quiet. But our street serves as a major cut-through road as cars try to take a shortcut around a nearby traffic light. As we are on the border of the neighborhood, we are a bit far from the park and other amenities that we want to be close to. We are still clearly within walking distance and, indeed, love to walk to the park and shops in this neighborhood. One advantage of being a bit on the outskirts of this neighborhood is that it does put us closer to my work, which I also walk to most days. The house itself has a good amount of square feet, but it is not ideally arranged. Our bedroom is practically the size of a football field while the living room is barely wider than our couch, for example. But our backyard is just ideal–a nice patio, lots of shade, and enough grass for kids to run around but not too much to mow.

So why do we want to move? Location is one–getting to a quieter street where traffic doesn’t speed by quite so fast. And more families with young kids–the main part of this neighborhood has tons of families but on our street it is more young adult renters and elderly women. They are nice enough people, but we would love to have little playmates. Another main reason is to improve the flow of the house and give more floor space to the public areas of the house rather than the master bedroom. And then thinking ahead to when the second child arrives, wanting a separate space for an office.

If we move, we definitely want to stay in our current neighborhood, but just a quieter street and ideally more in the heart of the neighborhood rather than the border. Last year–or maybe even 6 months ago–this definitely would have been possible. But a crazy thing has happened to the real estate market here and prices have skyrocketed. I’m getting a little sad that we may be priced out of what we want. Most houses get multiple offers the first day they are on the market. Realizing the craziness of the market has got me thinking about whether we are better off staying put. There are ways we could renovate our current home to make it more of what we want. But of course we can’t change the street. I’m kinda wondering if we are better off doing a $100K reno on this house than to buy a house for $250K more than this house.

Complicating all of this is our second adoption. I don’t want to do anything that would jeopardize the adoption. Financially we have enough to cover a downpayment while maintaining our adoption savings. But if we end up doing a major reno project on either our current house or a “new to us” house, then figuring out how we get our home study squared away is a challenge. Not to mention not wanting to bring home a baby to a construction project!

Forever Family Day

One year ago today, we officially became a forever family. Our son was already in our hearts from the day he was born but on this day, it was made official. We love you!

When Matt and I were planning our wedding, we were trying hard to stay on budget. While looking at the catering menus, I noticed that lunch was significantly cheaper than dinner–even for the same food. So we had a wedding lunch rather than dinner. The lunch didn’t really start until 2pm, but it counted according to the caterer. This did mean that our reception ended in early evening rather than go all night. Some people might not want that, but it allowed us to actually spend some time alone together on our wedding day. After the ceremony and the reception and the whirlwind of activity, we enjoyed a quiet evening of just the two of us doing something we love to do. We went out for ice cream. It was like our own secret date on our wedding night.

I am telling this story now because when we got the call that the adoption was finalized, we knew there was only one thing we could do–go out for ice cream. I think we’ll have some more tonight.

Navigating our open adoption

I am having a really hard time writing our “dear birthparent letter” this time around. It was hard the first time, but is even more difficult now. You would think having a first draft would help, but I don’t think the letter that was on our first profile really applies anymore. For one, we need to talk about our life with our son and who we are as parents. Thinking about our life now, that first letter seemed pretty abstract about what we “thought” we would be like as parents. I don’t think we have completely changed who we are as people, it’s just much different to think theoretically what life with a child would be like and what in practice you actually do. I mean, you know your life will change but can’t really fathom what that means until it is here.

The other reason I’m having a really hard time writing this letter is that we need to address (at least in broad terms) the type of openness we are looking for. And here’s where it gets even harder.  Right now we have a semi-open, fully disclosed adoption. That means we know the full names of our son’s first parents and they know ours. But, our only real contact with them is by email about once a month. This is pretty consistent with what his first mom wanted, even as we were open to more contact. The problem is that I don’t know how to think about the type of openness we will have in a second adoption given where we are with the first one.

The thing is, even though we initially wanted more contact, if I am honest, I am pretty happy with where we are.  I have started some things to make adoption and his birthfamily part of our conversations–such as reading children books with an adoption theme and including pictures of his birthfamily in a little flip photo album that we use to show him pictures of other out of town photo albums. But even with those things, it doesn’t feel like his birthfamily is a daily part of our lives. Of course, that is easy for me to say since my son isn’t vocal enough yet to give his opinion on that! And that’s really the hard part for me. I wonder all the time if we are doing the right thing by him in terms of how we interact with his birthfamily.

And then I wonder if we need to have a similar level of openness with our second child’s birthfamily. Would it create problems if there were big differences in how we interact with their families?