Tiny Green Thumbs

After what seems like an incredibly long winter, HSWT has dusted off its wheels, donned its rain canopy, and is strolling headfirst into spring.  Rather than park it in front of my laptop during nap (which is oh-so-tempting), I’ve been schlepping topsoil and mulch for the latest and greatest Kelly landscaping project. Brian continues to cheer me on as I reduce his mowing time with every bag of soil, and this project takes a notable chunk out of our back yard.

I'm pretty sure our neighbors think I'm crazy...

I’m pretty sure our neighbors think I’m crazy…

As we continue to work with Alexander on increasing his sensory tolerance, I had the idea to create a special garden just for him. We decided to expand from our raised beds with mulch walkways and a lower, fenceless  area perfect for toddler exploration. I’ve had great fun researching plants that are completely edible so that Alexander can touch, sniff, and nibble on everything planted.  Even though he was initially skeptical wandering into his new garden, he is warming up to inspecting the tiny swiss chard seedlings and poking his hands into the dirt. Just yesterday, Alexander pulled me over to a large pot of spearmint and peppermint in the corner of his garden. While he poked around the pot, I pulled a leaf, rubbed it a little, and sniffed it in front of him. He took it from me, gave it a sniff, and broke out into a huge smile. After a little more exploration, he toddled over to his rosemary plant (which is not faring so well considering the snow we received after it was planted) and carefully stroked its leaves and sniffed his hand.

Alexander's landscaping service-- he is happy to take payment in the form of puffs and fruit pouches.

Alexander’s landscaping service– he is happy to take payment in the form of puffs and fruit pouches.

While we know that we will need to supervise Alexander in the other facets of our gardens, we really look forward to letting him romp in his new flower, veggie, and herb beds.  I plan to share photos of Alexander’s garden as it evolves from a pile-o-dirt to a lush landscape. The nasturtiums and bright lights variety swiss chard are already poking through. Last night, as we wrangled Alexander inside after an afternoon play session, Brian noted that our little guy had grass stains on his jeans. I couldn’t be more proud.

Postscript- I am always soliciting new ideas of plants to add to Alexander’s garden. We’re hoping to keep it almost entirely edible. Please feel free to comment with ideas– we could use them!



These dino socks are made for walkin’

If any of you are interested in investing in a “sure thing,” I can offer you a hot tip– put your money in children’s footwear.

Though my own earliest memories of shoe shopping were limited to that scary metal foot measuring device (which STILL creeps me out), I have no recollection of the conclusion Brian and I came to when we sought out Alexander’s first sneakers– tiny shoes are REALLY expensive! Sure, there might be a cute (or not-so-cute) puppet dancing in the shop window, Raffi playing quietly in the background, and lollipops handed out freely. They also might as well be offering small bank loans for shoes for little kids who can’t even walk yet!

Practicing his "Passport smile" for his mama

Practicing his “Passport smile” for his mama

I was nearly sold on the siren song of adorable footwear as I held up tiny boat shoes during a recent trip to the mall. Thank goodness, Brian was there to talk me down and have the chutzpah to ask about the location of the clearance rack.  Though the shoes were unquestionably adorable, the cost of these tiny shoes were roughly comparable to those Brian or I might purchase as an investment pair.   I would LOVE to see a unit cost comparison marked like you see at warehouse stores. “You are paying roughly $50 for less than one square foot of manmade materials that your child will outgrow in a month or so.” Sure… we’ll take 2!

I was able to calm myself from a near crazed impulse mama purchase, and I am grateful that I did. It’s only taken a few outings with a “shoed” kid to understand that you shouldn’t spend too much on footwear.  I know it’ll happen at some point, but we’ve had several close calls where Alexander has managed to unvelcro both shoes and wing them to various corners in our car, all while strapped safely into his car seat.

I'm taking requests!

I’m taking requests!

Even though we’ve managed to shoe him for several outings and inside play, most days he just sports his colorful socks.  He usually gets to pick out his own socks in the morning– we pull out his sock bin, and he excitedly pulls out a pair and hands them to us. (Full disclosure– he usually reaches for the most colorful pair on top, so we have to constantly mix them up to avoid him wearing the same 5 pairs.)  Now that he’s on the verge of full-scale walking, his daily selection is often reviewed to ensure that he has little nubbins or treads to ease his attempts at bipedal movement.

While we’ve watched Alexander move from sitting up to crawling and eventually cruising, I wondered what his first real steps would be like. Would it be a dramatic event with lots of onlookers? Would we even witness it, or would I leave the kitchen to see a toddling kid falling gracelessly onto his backside?  Though it’s a bittersweet benefit to watch our nearly two year old child experience developmental milestones much later than most children, it’s still exciting.

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain!

The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain!

On Sunday evening, after we spent almost the entire day looking at refrigerators to replace our 23-year old broken one, it happened when we least expected it. Brian and I were playing with Alexander on the floor. Brian put out his hands and said “Walk to daddy!” like he’s done several times before. This time, however, Alexander hiked up his butt, steadied himself on his feet, and ran full-tilt into Brian’s arms.  I might have cried a little. And just maybe, Brian did too.

Alexander has spent the last week really testing out his newly forming skill.  He’ll walk a few steps then crawl the rest of the way. He’ll grab my hand and walk assisted around the livingroom, then let go and try toddling off on his own. Just today, I witnessed him get up by himself in the middle of the floor and walk to the kitchen gate without any prompting from me. The cats are understandably terrified, as they see this little stranger move from 4 legs to 2! We’ve caught Valentine on more than one occasion with her front paws on Alexander’s walking toy unintentionally flying across the room, but thankfully, our cats are not evolving faster than nature has intended.

I’m sure that we’ll be purchasing shoes for Alexander in short order now that he wants to explore the world on two legs. It’s easy to carry a crawling kid in socks, but once he’s walking, especially in cold weather, a boy needs his shoes.  Add in the fact that Alexander’s tiny feet are sized much more appropriately for non-walker crib shoes, it’s even more of a challenge. Nonetheless, we rejoice in watching our little man gain his land legs!

A very close friend of ours spent the summer and fall recovering from a serious ailment, which seriously limited his mobility. We have joked lightly that we would celebrate when both he and our son were walking. Though we can’t compare Alexander’s development with our dear friend’s slow but sure return to health, we will all rejoice to see both of them walking hand in hand this Christmas. We continue to thank you all for your support, prayers, patience, and friendship as we help our little boy gain strength and bloom in confidence. Let’s all just hope that he doesn’t become a tiny shoe snob!





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.