A Guest Commentary: Sit Up for Justice

Sit Up For Justice: A Special Commentary

By Alexander the Great, Regional Correspondent in the Crib Upstairs



Alexander:  Friends, I appeal to you today with great concern. Babies and toddlers everywhere like myself are being repressed by the Man in a single word– nap. Why must we be forced to rest when there is so much to do, so many things to put in our mouth, and so many things to cover with drool? I ask you again, why must we take this lying down? I say, sit up in your cribs with your fists in the air! Sit up, my comrades! Make those who watch you on the monitor wonder if you’re raging or actually asleep. Don’t let them weaken you with the siren song of the white noise machine with its whooshing and whirring. We are stronger, we must prevail, and we must not nap! And let’s not even talk about that turtle light projector thing– distractions, my friends! Distractions  *yawn*  from our mission of exploration. I know I am not alone, as I have with me in this very crib my friend and colleague Kokkinisto the sheep blanket. Kokkinisto, would you like to comment?

Kokkinisto: …

Alexander: There you have it *yawn*. He’s speechless! As I said before…. wait, what’s that that whooshing noise? It’s so…. calming…. Yes, yes. Sit up! Sit up in your cribs for justice and fight the tyranny of having to take a naa…… *thud*

*******2 hours later*********

Alexander: Mommy? Waaaaaa! Why are you waking me up? Wait, where was I? Oh yes, the nap. Darn. Let’s try this anti-nap rally again tomorrow a little after lunchtime. They’ll never see it coming!

Post script- The author of this editorial in no way represents the opinions of Have Stroller, Will Travel. We endorse long, long afternoon naps for all children, if only for the sanity of their parents.

Signing In

Today was a really busy day at Casa Kelly. As I’ve mentioned a few times in recent posts, we spend a lot of time in the car traveling to and from Comer Children’s Hospital, a part of the University of Chicago Hospital. Aside from the parking deck elevators, which are large enough for approximately 1.5 people, I have zero complaints. (I think our record was us, our stroller with Alexander, a gentleman in a wheelchair, and three other people. We all got friendly REALLY fast). But back to the hospital and adoption clinic team– they are fantastic! I truly feel like they care about our family, Alexander’s progress, and looked sad to see us have our last visit with them today.

The things a mom does out of love-- this time it involved me spinning myself silly on a stool just to make Alexander laugh while we waited.

The things a mom does out of love– this time it involved me spinning myself silly on a stool just to make Alexander laugh while we waited.

We progressed through a series of four visits– the first of which was getting basic vitals, the second being the big blood draw, the third discussing the results of his labs, and the fourth being getting him on track for surgery, speech therapy, and easing us into “normal” life with a pediatrician closer to home. Today was our final visit at the adoption clinic, and it felt a little bittersweet. Our medical team was thrilled with Alexander’s overall progress, and our little man was chipper even through his set of vaccine updates.  He gained close to 2 pounds since we brought him home, which is pretty impressive for his pre-op condition. We also met with a speech therapist, who worked with Alexander and us on ways to increase communication and verbalization, along with eating development.

Our man showed off for the therapist and even was able to drink from a cup. We tried a few signs with him, and he signed back “mine” once to us. Alexander has already been exposed to some signing from us, including mom, dad, cat, and his least favorite “all gone.” Several of you have asked us how his English is coming along– he definitely knows his name, which is a huge relief to us. We were concerned for the first week or so that he thought his name was “Benny.” Every time we’d call for Benny, one of our cats, Alexander would squeal, smile, and clap– total parent failure if your new child thinks their name is actually that of the family pet!

We return to the hospital super early on Thursday morning for a 4+ hour appointment with the surgical team; we knew this would be long and daunting, but the trips into the city do make for long days.  Most likely, we’ll have a better feel for when we’ll be scheduling surgery, which we hope is soon!

Our day ended with a visit from our social worker for our first post-placement visit almost as soon as we got home from the hospital. It was so great to see her, and she seemed to really enjoy meeting Alexander in person for the first time.  We’ll continue having our social worker visit us throughout the next five years (yes, 5!) where reports will be generated and mailed to the Chinese government. Overall first placement report? Two thumbs up for our little man!


Where the Bison Roam

This weekend, we had our first domestic road trip with Alexander. Believe it or not, it was incredibly difficult to pack for just a few days. When we had a weight limit and limited space, it was surprisingly easy to pare down to the essentials. Having abundant clothing, supplies, and space, however, really made it a challenge to decide what we’d need and what was just extra. And the last time I heard, though I can’t actually confirm it on this trip, Peoria does sell baby wipes and diapers just in case we don’t pack enough!

We had an uneventful drive down, with our little man staying away the whole time “la-la”ing to Billy Joel. Alexander has good taste in music!  Soon, we were over the river and through the Heights, arriving at grandpa’s and grandma’s new house! It was so good to see them settled into their new home, and Alexander seemed to approve of his guest bedroom.

A few highlights from the weekend:

Grandpa and Alexander discussing the merits of land tax

Grandpa and Alexander discussing the merits of land tax

Entertaining your grandparents is exhausting!

Entertaining your grandparents is exhausting!

Watching the bison roam at Wildlife Prairie Park

Watching the bison roam at Wildlife Prairie Park

As is tradition in the Kelly family, the youngest was served first.

As is tradition in the Kelly family, the youngest was served first.

Alexander and Grandma Amy relaxing before Mass

Alexander and Grandma Amy relaxing before Mass

Alexander insisted that Mr. Clam should be part of the family photo.

Alexander insisted that Mr. Clam should be part of the family photo.

As indicated in the post’s title, our big outing was to the Wildlife Prairie Park, just outside of Peoria. It’s a beautiful wooded park and serves as a home to many bison and elk, just to name a few species. Though the park isn’t the most stroller-friendly place, we got a workout pushing the little guy up and down gravel paths. We were grateful that he’s not so mobile yet; our resident Eagle Scout and his father confirmed the presence of a LOT of poison ivy on the trails. We all enjoyed a picnic lunch and some infant puree and called it a day. I didn’t manage to catch the photo, but after we returned home, all the Kelly men took a nap.

Alexander had a fair number of culinary highlights as well– since he’s eating solid food now, we’ve been experimenting. He tried “meat” for the first time along with grandma’s hummus, and just today he had quinoa and leeks. Although I don’t think he caught the hint of terragon (no joke!) in his dinner tonight, I’m thrilled that this kid has quite the open palate (no pun intended!). Next stop, crushed bacon!

Our weekend concluded with meeting great grandpa and grandma Kelly, great grandma and grandma Little, and great Uncle Paul.  It was a very full weekend, but judging by Alexander’s snoring every night, our little man continues to prove that he’s a great traveler and loves meeting his new family.

It’s a good thing, kid, because you’ve got a LOT of family now!



All Bottled Up

This will be the first in an ongoing series of product reviews at HSWT (yes, that’s Have Stroller, Will Travel for all of you acronym fans). I can promise you that anything I post about I’ve tried first-hand. If I say it’s great, it’s worked for us; likewise, if we’re not a fan, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a terrible product.*  I owe a great deal of gratitude to a variety of sources for our successes– an unnamed baby discount book that every mom-to-be hears about from others who have been there and done that, general parent-to-parent advice, and sheer dumb luck.

Now, onto the reviews!

I never thought I could get so excited about a cleaning product, let alone a somewhat uni-tasking one. I present to you the Oxo On-The-Go Drying Rack w/ Bottle Brush.

We initially puchased this for our trip to China, knowing full-well that we’d need to set up a BabyCentral(TM) in a hotel bathroom. I originally put an awesome-looking full-size rack for home that resembled our front lawn into our cart during one expedition to the local baby superstore.  I got a slight eye-roll from the spouse, even after I showed him all the little add-ons (all sold separately, mind you). “But look! It’s a flower that serves as a peg! And this little twig you can buy will dry all his pacifiers!” My appeal didn’t work, and we went home that night without any rack.

As time ticked down for China, I got desperate and began looking for small, lightweight drying racks. When I found the OXO model, I was sold. This little contraption folds open to reveal plenty of space for bottle drying and also comes with a full-size, collapsible OXO bottle brush. The brush actually opens to contain a nipple-cleaning attachment (which had no meaning to me until I was trying to get gunk out of those tiny things), and the brush fits snugly in the case, so there’s no jostling. I was even able to put a small sponge in there and a small container of dish soap. Closed, it’s approx. 9 x 6 x 2.5″ and incredibly lightweight.

So what’s the big deal about this, right? What continues to unreasonably thrill me about this is that not only did it work really well during our travels, but that we have never purchased a full-size rack for home. We just opened this little contraption up on our kitchen counter, and we were set. It’s really easy to clean, and the color choices (orange, green, aqua) are all pretty inoffensive.  I also like that it’s small enough to haul to grandma and grandpa’s house for the weekend and use without completely taking over their kitchen counter.

Because this product is so awesome, I can’t wait to find new uses for it once the bottle days are over. I’ve already thought about using it as a backup drying rack for our camping trips and family vacations when you want to bring your travel coffee mugs and water bottles with you, and even for trips to the Happiest Place on Earth (when every mom in her right mind plans on a few non-mouse shaped breakfasts in the hotel room).


Pros: Compact, utilitarian, and for $14.99, it’s a steal!

Cons: The bottle brush just doesn’t seem to want to stand up in its holster.

The Verdict? Buy this now!


*Companies who produce said products, please don’t begin to send me hate mail unless you’re willing to start sending me products to test in order to change my mind!


Chapter 1

Welcome back! For many of you, this blog will serve as the continuation of A Wide Sea, our family’s international adoption blog. Because we’re hoping to share our evolving adventures in parenthood and Alexander’s enduring cuteness, we decided to start a new site.

Before we adopted, we were warned by many parents and non-parents alike that our lives as we knew them were over.  Our excursions to breweries, weekend shopping, and outings to Las Vegas would be distant memories. What we’ve found out in just a few short weeks as parents is that your family life evolves, but ultimately, you’re only limited by your comfort zone.  When we think back about our trip to China, sometimes it’s hard to believe what we did with a son who we had just met– we survived a 14 hour international flight, we went through airport security in a foreign country MULTIPLE times without a stroller or carrier, and we prepared bottles on the fly in vans, airports, restaurants, and while watching a movie at a museum.  We changed his diaper on so many bathroom floors and in public places that we feel spoiled finding those Koala Kare thingies in restrooms now.  We’re pretty sure he’s no worse for wear, and mom and dad have mostly maintained their sanity.  No, we don’t plan on any weekend jaunts to Las Vegas with Alexander in the near future, but he would have had his first brewery tour in Guangzhou if we weren’t thwarted by a huge rainstorm.

We hope to share what has worked for us, what doesn’t, what baby and kid products we can’t live without (and a few that never left their packaging), and the general chaos involved with raising a little man with a few extra medical needs. I’m sure we will also tackle a few ongoing adoption-related topics on here as well, but our focus is on our new life as a family. We hope this serves to educate, entertain, and maybe even provide a little encouragement to other families who want to enjoy family time that’s not always at your local rodent-themed pizza parlor.