Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Football Season & Dominic

With football season rapidly approaching, I've been getting rather excited.  I am a huge college football fan, follower of the Seahawks, and put in far too much effort maintaining fantasty teams.  However, this football season will be a little different for us.  First, it'll be our first full football season with three of us at home.  Dominic was born in November of last year, so he was around for a couple of games.  He just didn't get overly excited about them... or notice them.  The other reason things will be different is that one of us will be wearing some new gear for a while.

Dominic's head from the top down
Being the overly protective parents we are, we've been watching out for Dominic on all sorts of things.  Sterilizing every single bottle, slowly testing out new foods, and repeatedly checking for developmental milestones.  On many fronts, he has done extremely well.  His favorite syllable is "da" (we're still working hard on "pa" though).  He officially has 3 teeth with at least 3 more about to come through.  He can sit up, roll all over the place, stand up with help, and nearly crawl.

The only thing that has had us worried has been his head shape.  Despite our best efforts, his overall head shape has ended up being asymmetrical.  The image to the left shows some laser scanned images that were developed to analyze his head shape.  Looking at Dominic in person, his hair is growing in well enough that it really conceals the imbalance, but the images here show a mild to moderate slant.

Overall, this is not a major issue long-term.  As parents though, we want to correct his head shape now while he is still growing since it is not self-correcting.  To make that happen, he's getting some snazzy new head gear that we're calling his helmet.

Helmet view from the front
Helmet view from the left side
The helmet itself is pretty simple.  The concept is that it is sculpted to focus the future growth in areas that will round out his head shape.  Other areas will be held in place by the helmet allowing those "future growth" areas to catch up.

With football season rapidly approaching, Andy and I may be tempted to add one bright red "N" sticker and another "ND" sticker to each side of the helmet so that Dominic will always ready to go for game days!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day!

We're only a few hours in to Father's Day and our first one has already been wonderful.  Andy's mom has been visiting and let both of us sleep in this morning which was a rare treat!  As I'm typing this, Dominic is actively rolling all over the floor on his blanket while Papa is out in the neighborhood for a run.  This is really relaxing which sort of fits the style of this post as the rest of the content will be done 'grab bag' style  :)

In honor of Father's Day, I wanted to share a link to an article I saw on msnbc.com earlier this week.  It's all about new dads and paternity leave.  Sort of an interesting topic as it's something many fathers out there have to make a decision on.  Our society has a long ways to go on paternity leave.  The telling sign?  A survey question in the article asked what the appropriate amount of time was for new dads to take off from work.  The options?  None, 1 week, 2 weeks, and 'the same amount of time as moms'  The general idea that 3 out of 4 options barely provide any time at all shows a real disconnect in allowing dads to have bonding time with their new son or daughter.

On a personal level with many Father's Days celebrated with my own dad, we would go to College World Series baseball games in Omaha each year and those experiences were always a lot of fun.  I might flip on the tv with one of today's games in honor of our past outings.  Happy Father's Day Dad!

Looking at this picture of Dominic from this morning, it's amazing to realize how far Andy and I have come since last Father's Day.  Last year, we weren't even fathers, but we were just about to enter our adoption agency's waiting pool.  Since then, we were picked by a wonderful birthmother and have been raising the best little guy in the world.  We have been incredibly lucky to experience so many things with him.  Lately, he's been able to sit up on his own (for brief periods), try new foods (pear, avocado, and sweet potato in the past week), and watching him smile as he reaches out to pet one of the cats is one of the most adorable things ever.  Of course, I might be biased on that last one.  I am his father after all, and this is my day...so I think I'm allowed to exaggerate a little!

Monday, June 3, 2013

New House!

It's weird to realize it, but tomorrow marks the one-month anniversary of our family living in our new home.  The entire month of May went by really fast.  As we moved out of our old condo into the new house, we were unpacking boxes, painting, coordinating the remodel of our condo...oh, and taking care of Dominic!

This time has been very exciting for us as a lot of this move has been with him in mind.  We've gone from a condo that had no neighborhood or parks to speak of, to a house on a quiet cul-de-sac.  Our neighbors have kids.  We can walk to a great park with baseball fields, beach volleyball courts, a giant playground, green space, and a beach!  There's also a fantastic commercial area with loads of restaurants, coffee shops, and local stores.  Given the presence of two frozen yogurt shops, I foresee lots of "walks" in our future.

Wall removal
Speaking of the future, we've made a lot of progress with the house.  In the 3 weeks before the housewarming party, we had a fair amount of work done.  After having a structural wall removed, we got to work painting our den, remaining arch wall, living room, and kitchen.  It was exciting to share our progress as well as our brand new digs with so many of our friends and family in the area.

Painting the den
We still have a long ways to go to paint the rest of the house and fill it out with furniture and other essentials, but we're starting to settle into a more casual style of updating the house.

Part of the slowdown is due to our general sanity, but the other part is due to selling off our old condo.  It's about to go on the market later this week, and we certainly have our fingers crossed that we'll be able to sell it for a decent price.  Once we're free from that major financial anchor, it will give us a lot more freedom to invest in the house as well as look to the future.

Today's newly installed countertop at the condo!
We've mentioned in the past that we're a ways out from beginning the adoption process again.  The earliest we could start things up again is in November.  Being able to complete our move and sell off the condo will help erase a lot of our economical question marks before we establish enough savings and begin Round 2 of the months/years-long process.

As we have a brand new house with a bedroom just waiting for Dominic's future brother or sister, I know that I'm really looking forward to the days, weeks, months, and years to come in our new home!  I know that Dominic is already enjoying the new digs as he's had plenty of parties with his wild stuffed animal friends  :)

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Last week, in honor of Dominic's six-month birthday, we decided it was time to start him on bananas!

It did not go very well.

Ah well, maybe next time!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Adoption Day

We have a son!

Yes, I know, that's old news. Dominic's been a part of our family for over five months now. (Side note: has it really been five months? Time flies!) But today, we can draw a close to the adoption process we started a year and a half ago - Dominic is now legally our son!

Waiting for the judge to hear our petition.
Around lunch time today, Brian and I picked Dominic up from day care and went downtown to the King County Courthouse. We had a 1:30 court time to go in, answer a few questions in front of the judge, and have the papers signed and finished. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect, but it didn't seem like it would be too crazy of a time.

1:30 was apparently the general time that particular court opened for the afternoon, and they were hearing a lot of different types of cases. The majority, in fact, were do-it-yourself divorce cases (ie, people representing themselves without lawyers) - not a happy bunch! Lucky for us, they took the adoption case first so we were able to get in and out.

Thanks, Judge Name-I-Don't-Know!
As soon as our case was up, the first thing they did was to swear us in. I think that's the first time I've ever been under oath - and maybe that's a good thing? The whole thing barely took 5 minutes from there: our lawyer summarized the facts of the adoption, the judge indicated he had reviewed all the necessary documents, and that was about it! He signed some papers, let us take a picture with him looking "judicial", and with that Dominic was our legal son. Definitely a lot quicker and more painless than I was imagining!

And now, life goes on. From all appearances, nothing's changed for us. I'm sitting at home typing this post; Dominic's across the room playing with some toys and Brian's puttering around doing random chores. But we now enjoy full legal parenthood for Dominic, along with all the rights and responsibilities that entails. And we can finally call the adoption process complete - at least until number two, that is!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Movement Milestone #1: Rolling Over!

It's been a busy time the past few weeks.  Lots of updates forthcoming on here!

As you already know from the title of this post, the real reason that is prompting a quick update right now is the news that Dominic can officially roll over!  He was very close to it last night and this morning.  When I picked him up at day care, they said that he had rolled over from his back to his tummy in his crib...however the poor guy wasn't able to roll back off of his tummy.  Luckily, he figured it out right after we got home!

Our little guy is 5 months 4 days old, and is already becoming mobile!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pre-Adoption Seminar + 4 months

Earlier today, Dominic and I had the great experience of stopping in for one of our adoption agency's pre-adoption seminars.  For those of you that have been reading our blog since the beginning, you might recall that one of the first things in our adoption process was going to a pre-adoption seminar.

I know what y'all are thinking right now.  No, we're not starting the process again (yet)!  Instead, our agency asked Andy and I if we wanted to stop by a seminar to tell our story as adoptive parents.  Because of work and scheduling, it was just me and Dominic heading over to Seattle to talk in front of a few potential adoptive families.  Overall, it was really fun.  On one level, Dominic got a lot of attention so it was exciting for him.  For me, it was interesting to see adoptive families in the same spot that Andy and I were in just 12 months ago.  A lot has changed since then considering we have a 4-month old at home now!

Speaking of Dominic being 4 months old now, his 4-month birthday was yesterday!  Andy took him in for his latest pediatrician appointment, and the little guy is doing great.  He's about 25" long, 13lbs 15oz, and cleared to start trying real foods!  This weekend might involve an experiment with rice cereal.  The only downer was that he had a fresh round of shots and wasn't overly thrilled for a little while.  However, he handled it like a champ and is all better now.

Post-Placement Meeting #2

It's been a busy time the last few weeks, so we're behind on updates!  Here's a post that I started back in February covering our 2nd post-placement meeting.  Yep... finally finished it.

Last week, we had our second official meeting with one of the OA&FS counselors (Katie).  It went really well and was in a way sort of relaxing.  Compared to all of our pre-placement meetings that were all about anticipation, planning, details, money, paperwork, etc., this was a breeze!  In essence, we're at the stage where we're just waiting for the legal items to get wrapped up before a court date where we will be granted custody of Dominic.  At the moment, he's a ward of the adoption agency during this interim time for the legal stuff to get sorted out.  We don't have a court date set yet, but we hope that will find its way onto our calendar in the next 4-6 weeks!

Some other interesting things that came out of our meeting with Katie involve the future adoption steps we might take.  With the knowledge that the average waiting period for adoptive families is a little under two years, Andy and I have debated about when to restart the adoption process all over again.  The earliest we can get rolling again for the ~6 month paperwork period is in November, or at least 1 full year after Dominic's placement.  It's tough to think that far in advance, but here would be the potential timeline for us if we wanted to move as quickly as possible:
  • Nov 2013 - Begin adoption process (2nd time around)
    • ~6 month paperwork period
  • May 2014 - Entry into the waiting pool
    • Potential wait time: 0 months to 2+ years
    • Average wait time: < 2 years
There's definitely a lot to consider here.  For us, we're not going to think too much on this one as we have several months until November as well as Dominic's legal finalization to wrap up.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Day with the Nonnos

Dominic started daycare yesterday! Or at least, "daycare". See, we found a center months ago and set February 18 as his start date a few weeks before he was even born. As it turns out, there was a miscommunication and yesterday was actually a staff development day at the center. But, as luck would have it, my dads both had the day off work for President's Day! So Dominic got to spend a fun day with his Nonno Mark and Nonno Rich.

Tummy time with the Nonnos!
I was a little nervous dropping Dominic off in the morning. It wasn't because I worried about Dad and Rich taking care of him, of course (I knew they'd be absolutely great), but rather because it was the first full day Dominic would have away from me and Brian. But there was nothing to worry about. It looks like everyone had a great time, and I was pretty jealous of all the fun "Dominic play time" pictures I kept getting on my phone while I was spending those long hours at work!

Listening to the 'Toddler
Tunes' station
And in the end, I think yesterday was a nice transition for us as both Brian and I go back to work. Today, Dominic will go to his real daycare center, and that's going to be difficult for us no matter what. But since we already spent one day away from him yesterday while he was with trusted family, I think that'll ease the change just a bit.

Anyway, here goes! We'll hopefully have good things to report tonight at the end of day one!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

3 Months!

As of 12:24pm today, Dominic is 3 months old!  He's grown quite a bit over the past three months and it's been exciting to seem him develop and get older.

Dominic before Christmas (< 2 months)
Dominic at 3 months

Over the past week, Dominic has had a special treat of having Grammy and Grandpa visit.  Luckily, they were in town through this morning and got to be here for his 3-month birthday before heading back to Nebraska.

Grammy, Dominic, and Grandpa

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Changing of the Guard

We're now into my favorite winter month: February!  (because it's the shortest)

Back in October and November, Andy and I put together a schedule for parental leave.  While there's plenty of websites, research, and articles out there that can support each side of the 'stay at home vs day care debate', we knew that the day care would begin someday for Dominic.  We just wanted to stay at home as long as we could before day care started up.  Some day cares accept babies as young as six months!  For us, we opted to stretch out finances and savings to keep Dominic at home until he was at least 3 months old.

Now that it's February, Andy's paternity leave at work is coming to an end.  He goes back to work on Monday for the first time since Dominic was born.  For Dominic, I think it has been great for him to have the stability of Andy being at home for such a long time.  Andy's great parenting has given Dominic lots of attention, taken him out for various excursions during the weekdays, and also resulted in plenty of great parenting experiences.

With Andy going back to work tomorrow, we're doing our final changing of the guard.  I staggered my paternity leave to include the first two weeks of February, so I'm officially back on paternity leave.  I'm really looking forward to spending time with Dominic at home.  Also, my parents will be in town from Wednesday night through next Tuesday which will make the time even more fun.  Between my parent's visit, Dominic's 3-month birthday, a trip to Tacoma to see Carly, and a lot more, these next two weeks are sure to go by really fast.  Before we know it, we'll have another changing of the guard and Dominic will be transitioning into day care.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Work-Life Balance

One the toughest challenge for many people in their careers today is finding a way to strike a healthy balance between their life at work and their life at home.  My career field of engineering is heavily marked by its consultant-style of work.  We're hired by clients like a City or State DOT that have high expectations and sometimes unreasonable demands. On the consultant side, you either make them happy so they hire you again or you "disappoint" them and you lose a source of future revenue.  Everything tends to work out well the majority of the time, but there are plenty of cases where life can get... challenging.

Now that Andy and I are raising Dominic, my world has an entirely new perspective.  Like any good parent, I want to spend time with my child.  With Dominic's daily schedule, his primary awake hours are from 7am to 7pm.  If I work past 6pm any night, that means I'd miss his entire 12-hour block of time.  When thinking about the long-term, the idea of working late can impact many other things as well.  The thought of sporting events, concerts, after-school functions, and much more that are important to Dominic are all times where I want to be there to support him.  I know we've all seen those movies or TV shows with the workaholic parent that always lets their down kid by not making it to the big game.  My workplace, like many others, highlights the people that go above and beyond to get the job done.

Oh, you worked 55 hours this week?  That's great, but did you hear what Joe did?  He worked 80 hours, skipped his kid's 5th birthday party, cancelled the family vacation, and lived in the office for 3 days to get the job done.

If you're Joe, you might have just done something great for your career.  If you're not Joe, you might feel a nagging pressure to do more.

My goal is to be on the opposite end of that spectrum where my children can depend on me to be there for them.  Of course, what does that mean in regards to work-life balance and developing a career?

A great thing about my company is that it supports young professionals.  I've worked with the program for several years now taking part as an individual, local lead, and national lead.  Last fall, we were at a weekend event where the Presidents of our company had a Q&A session.  At one point, someone asked how they handled their work-life balance.  Their responses were unexpectedly honest.  One of them hadn't spent a night at home in 3 weeks because he had been traveling all over the country and to Australia.  The other elaborated and told a story about how work-life balance was all about making choices.  Earlier in his career he had a major interview to win a big project.  However, his son had a minor surgery scheduled for the same day.  His choice was to go to the interview.

To me, work-life balance isn't something that can be attained with a single decision.  It's an ongoing series of choices.

  • Do I leave work after just 8 hours today?
  • Do I work 40 hours or 50 hours this week?
  • Do I stay at work another 90 minutes or do I go to the gym tonight?
  • My child has a pediatrician appointment.  Should I take off time for it?
  • This project has a deadline and needs 3 hours of work, but it's already 4pm.  Do I stay late?

In the past, answers to these questions were much simpler.  I could work a little late, and Andy could easily flex his schedule for a later dinner.  These days, a small change is a much bigger deal with factors to account for like picking Dominic up from day care.  Additionally, we hope to adopt another child in the future which will add another layer to the work-life balance puzzle.

After being back in the office for a month, it's been a big shift.  I've consciously made the choice not to work a lot of extra hours so that I could come home to Dominic and Andy each night.  In a way, I tried to set the expectation at work that my family comes first and I wasn't going to immediately work late every time it was needed.  It's been tough as many of my work friends are overloaded and putting in extra hours themselves.  However, this is the choice I have been making that is in the best interest of my family.  Up to now, my work-life balance has been fairly stable.  In the future, that could easily change.  Monday will bring another work day and more choices to be made.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Oh No, the Shots!

Daddy plays with Dominic
before the "event".
Dominic's 2-month birthday last week was definitely a fun celebration for us, but alas, this milestone also brings with it the first round of vaccines. On the one hand, we've been waiting for this to happen so that we could take Dominic out to some more public places that we've avoided up until now. But still, no one enjoys shots, and it meant we had to watch Dominic get his for the first time.

We've been to the pediatrician's office a few times now, so at least the environment was known and somewhat comfortable. And for the first time, Dominic was actually awake when we brought him in! That whole falling asleep in the car seat thing? We're so past that... at least once the car stops moving :)

Blissfully unaware...
...and unsuspecting...
The shots themselves were both better and worse than I expected. Dominic definitely started screaming right away when they poked him, and it was one of his worst screams I've heard to date. Since he's normally pretty docile, any screaming is bad; this was definitely excruciating to hear! But luckily, it was over quickly. There were three shots, and I was incredibly impressed with how quickly the nurse got them done. In fact, I only saw him do two of them - not sure when the third got in, but I was glad it was quick!

The post-vaccine reward!
True to form, Dominic calmed down pretty quickly. Five minutes later he was cranky ("I'm hungry!"), but no worse for the wear. I got him home, got a nice big bottle, and now he's upstairs sleeping peacefully.

So now he can travel a bit more, and we're glad for that! Dominic's likely to make a trip back in to Brian's work this week or next, and maybe we'll even venture out further at some point. Either way, I'm just glad the shots are done! (at least until 4 months...)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

2 Months!

With today being January 12th, Dominic is 2 months old!  Ever since he was born on November 12th last fall, he's had a busy life as he's been through his first Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, our wedding, family visits, meeting friends, excursions to our offices, and much more.  To celebrate today, we decided to go with the low key approach.  Of course, that may have been more for us than for him  :)

Hanging Out in the Crib
The morning started off well.  As Andy normally takes care of him in the morning during the work week, I got up with him at 7am today.  Being the good little guy that he is, he patiently waited while I got him ready for the day before we sat down for a snack and a Skype session with Grandpa and Grammy (my parents).

One interesting thing about today marking 2 months is that we're going to cross the age barrier.  Since November, we have essentially measured Dominic's age in weeks.  After 8+ weeks, he's already up to 2 months which means we'll be counting the months for his age.  He's always been our little baby that is "X" weeks old.  In a way, the fact that he is already 2 months old feels like it snuck up on me!

The rest of the morning was actually really relaxing while Papa slept in for a little while.  Dominic hung out on his exercise mat for a bit and played with some toys from his overhead gym.  At one point, I tried to give him some tummy time, but he took that for nap time instead.  (Good thing he already has really strong neck muscles for his age.)  Eventually, I got him settled down for a brief mid-morning nap in his bouncer.

Activity Time
Nap Time

While we don't want to be the parents that mark every tiny occasion with pictures, gifts, and demands for attention, we kind of wanted to mark today as a little milestone.  So when the Amazon box arrived this morning, that means Dominic had his birthday present!

"Birthday Present"
Yep, his "birthday present" was a humidifer.  I can already tell that we'll be those parents.  The ones that get him language lessons and a savings account for his 5th birthday while Jimmy down the street gets an iPad and a puppy.

In truth, this just happened to arrive in time for his birthday, but we decided to roll with it.  Also, just how adorable is a polar bear humidifier?  Pretty sweet huh?  Props to Papa for finding this one on Amazon.

For the rest of the day, we'll treat Dominic to all of his favorite things: bouncing, swaying, rocking, eating, and sleeping.  With the potential for story time and a visit from Crazy Bird, we hope that Dominic will enjoy the rest of his 2 month birthday.

Friday, January 11, 2013

OA&FS Holiday Party

Last weekend, we had the great opportunity to go to our adoption agency's yearly holiday party.  It was a fun experience on multiple levels.  Along with Dominic and Andy's older brother Josh, we spent a couple hours in Seattle with many other adoptive families.  We were able to talk with families that had already adopted, some families that had adopted and were in the waiting pool again, and some families that were in the pool eagerly awaiting their first placement.

After only being able to take part in two adoptive family gatherings while we were in the waiting pool, we enjoyed going to another gathering of adoptive families.  We're still incredibly busy taking care of a young Dominic and adjusting to our life as parents, but it is really worthwhile to spend time with other families who have had similar experiences.  Many of the people we've met are just wonderful and fun to talk to!

Looking ahead, we still have some work to do until Dominic's adoption is legally finalized.  Until then, we've been keeping busy.  Now that the holidays are over and we're into 2013, I have started back at work full time.  It's been a big shift and I'll likely have a post about my new parent-based perspective on work-life balance.  In addition, Dominic's 2-month birthday is tomorrow!  We've been pretty busy and quiet on the posting front (especially me), but there will be some fresh updates in the coming days.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Feeding the Cats

A couple friends of ours were out of town this weekend and asked us to take care of their cats. Sounds to me like a perfect opportunity for a Dominic lumberjack photo shoot!

"This is a really comfy bed."
"Um, who's this guy?"
Everyone's a critic.
Dominic tried to mimic the face on the art, with limited success.
Time for a few pull-ups!
Dominic got jealous of the kitties.