Friday, December 11, 2009

December 10th, 2009. A date which will live in infamy.

Few people can point to an exact moment in time in which their lives are inextricably changed forever. For Manu, this was not that moment. That moment occurred nearly eleven months ago when we first met and knew we were to be a family. Today, December 10th, 2009 is simply the culmination of two years of hope, frustration, joy and elation. Today is the day that Manu officially and legally becomes part of our family. Forever and ever he will be our son, and no one will ever be able to take him away. Though the journey was long, hard and expensive, he has given us far more in return. The adoption process has changed our lives forever. We are different people than we were just a few years ago, and we look forward to who we will we become, as we journey through life with our son, Manu Alexander Yeast.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Manu's Halloween Haunts

Manu began the Halloween holiday season by "helping" to clean and carve his first pumpkin. Actually he was insistent on putting the seeds and goop BACK into the pumpkin. After it was finished he was in awe of the glowing eyes, nose and not-so-scary mouth. Being the first pumpkin I have carved in years, I was kind of proud of the results, though it was far from the most interesting that we would see while trick-or-treating.

We didn't know what to expect from Manu as his first Halloween approached. He has never shown any signs of being frightened by much of anything, except a scary life-sized ghoul on display at a local store. With that in mind we had originally planned on visiting just a few houses on our street, and returning home early to give out candy to the other neighborhood children. That was until we learned that 8yo cousin Haley would be joining us for Halloween; And, like most 8yo kids, wanted to trick-or-treat the whole neighborhood, as well as the next town over! So we set out to loot and pillage our little village. At first he didn't know what was going on, but quickly he figured it all out. He couldn't say "trick-or-treat", so he said "more, more, more" as nice people put candy into his bucket. At one point, as some people would crunch down to get on his level and comment on his cuteness, he would again recite "more, more,more" while reaching into their candy bowl and helping himself to more! He was so cute. Unfortunately for Manu, most of his candy left with Haley, not that he really understood what all those shiny wrappers were all about. What he did know was he was getting lots of attention, and loving it! We probably walked about about 2 miles and he never gave up. He was so cute, we were sad when it was all over, but we had to get him home before the dawn...

You didn't tell me you were going to kill it!


Not-so-scary Halloween pumpkin

Haley, as Sandy from Grease, and Count Manu!

Mommy and Manu pillage the neighborhood's candy reserves.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Fall fun

We are entering an exciting time for our family. Last week we had an interview with Manu's court-appointed attorney, to ensure that this adoption is truly in his best interest; mostly a legal formality. That went very well, and now we are awaiting a court date for finalization. All signs indicate that it should happen sometime mid November. Finally, almost two years to the date of our first home study, we'll be officially done with the process, and Manu will legally be our son! Funny thing, he will be issued a Kentucky birth certificate indicating that he was born to us on 4/13/2008.

Manu has fully recovered from surgery with no problems at all. Well, not entirely. After the procedure he became very clingy and it was several weeks before he would let Leslie out of his sight without tears. This made morning drop-offs at day care very touchy. He also has regressed with sleeping independence. Right after the surgery he started having night terrors, usually around 2am, and was inconsolable. So we got in a habit of bringing him to bed with us after he awoke. Well, the night terrors seem to have subsided, but he hasn't gotten any better about sleeping alone. I'll admit that we are weak, and give in sometimes when we shouldn't, but this is a challenge that we have to conquer; daddy needs a good night's sleep!

We've been spending our early fall going pumpkin picking, and to various fall festivals. Manu had a great time picking out his own pumpkin, as well as apples and pears. He was in awe at the Festival of the Horse in Georgetown, and is enjoying the farmer's markets. Manu is also learning to cook. Well, at least he is learning to stir :-)

He also turned 18 months old on the 13th! We can't believe he's been with us 9 months already. He's getting so big!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Surgery update

Just a quick note to let everyone know that Manu's surgery went well with no complications. He was in surgery for about 3 hours, and released shortly afterward. He was very hungry after the procedure, and at a small box of cheerios, 2 small boxes of raisins, and a few handfuls of goldfish, all that on the way home! We had a rough night last night, as he was inconsolable and awoke 3-4 times throughout the night screaming. We called the hospital help line, and the doctor on call upped his dose of Tylenol and Advil. This morning he is a completely new baby, happy and energetic, with no signs of surgical pain. Of course, now mommy and daddy are fussy from lack of sleep! We have a follow-up appointment in 6 weeks, but all signs are that everything is going to be fine. Thanks to everyone who called or wrote to us during this time. It was very stressful for us to have our little boy endure such an ordeal. We're all glad it's over!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Festivals of youth

Festivals dot the landscape this time of year, and Manu is making the most of the season. Labor Day weekend began with a trip to Louisville for World Fest, a celebration of world culture and food, followed by a trip to Cincinnati on Sunday for River Fest and an exciting fireworks display over the Ohio River. This weekend started with a trip to Evan's orchard for some apple picking, and then a jaunt to Covington for their annual Oktoberfest. Daddy enjoyed some German beer, while Manu lunched on some roasted corn and danced to the live music. Manu always seems to attract a lot of attention wherever he goes, and this was no exception. Several times I was told what a cute little boy we have, especially as he was running around the the grounds, happy to be in the middle of all of the excitement. Leslie and I have always enjoyed small-town festivals like this, but they take on a whole new dimension with Manu. Things that we have taken for granted seem new and exciting again. Even the sight of a dried out, fallen leaf is a treat when presented to me by my son. Leslie and I are really looking forward to coming months, celebrating Manu's first holiday season with us. It should be a blast!

On a more somber note, Wednesday we are headed back to Cincinnati Children's Hospital for Manu's surgery. He is having his umbilical hernia repaired. Basically right now he has a really big "outie." Although this should be nothing more than a routine procedure, Leslie and I are all but beside ourselves. This is my little boy, and I don't like the feeling of helplessness I have as he undergoes this operation, under general anesthesia. If all goes well he should be back home that evening, a little grumpy, but no worse for the wear. His surgery is scheduled for early Wednesday morning, so we're heading to Cinci tomorrow night and staying downtown. The worst part is, he cannot have any food for eight hours prior to the procedure. That doesn't bode well for us, as Manu really likes his early morning milk, and won't understand why mommy and daddy are being so mean and withholding his breakfast!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Nature Boy

Just a quick picture update from a recent trip to the UK Arboretum. Manu had a great time checking out the flowers and trees, and pointing at the fish in the pond.

Align Center

And one more from our previous trip to Talon.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

All good things must come to an end.

Sorry for the delay, getting back into the swing of things after vacation has proven a bit challenging, but the hum-drum of daily life is beginning to re-emerge, so hopefully I'll have more free time soon...HA!

We finished up our vacation by spending the last day back at the Magic Kingdom. Having completed most of Fantasyland on our previous visit, we focused on more laid-back attractions, like the Country Bears, the Tiki Birds, parades and shows. We did take Manu on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin where daddy proved he still has what it takes! A trip around the Kingdom on the train and it was goodbye parks. We went back to the hotel around 3pm to freshen up before heading back down to Downtown Disney for some last minute shopping, and after that we headed to the Boardwalk for dinner. Manu got a kick out of chasing the duckies that were seemingly everywhere. We had a nice meal outside at the Big River Grill and Brewing Works, then back to the hotel to pack up for our trip back home.

The flight back was relatively uneventful, though Manu was a little more restless than before. He slept about half of the way home. Back in Louisville we stopped quickly for a bite to eat before visiting Nana and Momaw on our way back to Lexington. All-in-all this was a great first family vacation. Although Manu was/is too little to understand most of what was gong on, he really seemed to enjoy the music, colors and the general festivities. It was good for us too as a bonding experience, as this was the most uninterrupted time we've had together as a family since India. Unfortunately, this made it a little tricky for Manu to get back into his routine of sleeping all night in his room, and going back to daycare. Since then he is back to sleeping through the night, but still cries when Mommy drops him off in the mornings.

Fast forward to this past weekend. We had our final post-placement interview at Amy's house. It went very well. We got to talk to her too about her little girls, plus we got to meet another adoptive family and their 13mo son Cooper from South Korea. We will now begin the process of finalizing our adoption. With any luck Manu will be "officially" our son, and a US citizen, by the end of the year! Not that we need the government's blessing, but citizenship does come in handy. Sunday we took a little trip out to Talon Winery for some pictures. This is a great spot for picnics and kids, as it is a beautiful setting with plenty of space for Manu to run around while mommy and daddy enjoy a glass of wine!

Manu had no problems getting to sleep each night!

Manu and Daddy at Downtown Disney.

Mommy and Manu at Talon.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Around the World in a Day

After the late ending to yesterday, we started off today on a slightly slower pace. Still managing to get to EPCOT relatively early we headed for the Living Seas to show Manu the dolphins and fishies. He was excited to be able to walk right up to the glass and be face-to-face with all kinds of sea life. After that it was on to the Imagination Pavilion for the Journey into Your Imagination ride. Manu enjoyed the fun colors and sounds while daddy enjoyed the slow ride through the air conditioning. By this time we were all getting a little hungry, so we headed for Germany and the nice buffet that awaited. Manu wasn't too impressed with the food, choosing to chow on the watermelon over the spaetzle and schnitzel. We spent another hour or so touring the country pavillions and then headed back to the hotel for a little relaxation in the pool. This was a "zero entry" pool, so Manu could walk into it to a comfortable depth. We played for about an hour in a foot and a half of water, but he loved it, and it was just the thing to cool us down on a hot Florida afternoon. A quick shower and we're back to the park. Manu slept through "Spaceship Earth," but woke up for the Mexico pavillion and the boat ride there. A few more countries and we settled on dinner at The Rose and Crown, where we had a nice English meal, and got to see the fireworks too! All in all another great, but tiring day. Only one day left, and tomorrow we're heading back to the Magic Kingdom to complete some unfinished business. See you soon!

Mommy and Manu at the park entrance.

I think this mouse is following me!

Boy do my feet hurt!

Hungry Manu waiting for our table.

Friday, July 31, 2009

A Magic Day

It's now 12:30am and we're back in the room and Manu is down for the count. After staying for the fireworks and the mob-scene that follows as 50,000 people all try to leave the park at the same time, we're beat, so here is a quick recap of the days events:

We got up at 6:30 this morning in order to make it to the park at opening. Our plan was to hit Fantasyland hard before it got too crowded. We were a little concerned how he would handle some of the darker rides, but he loved them. Peter Pan, Pooh's Adventure, Small World and the teacups were his favorites. Sensing that he was going to be OK on whatever threw at him, we took him for the ultimate 15mo fear-test at the Haunted Mansion, where he laughed in the ghost's faces! At least until he fell asleep half-way through. Around 1:30pm we headed out of the park to have lunch at an Irish Pub in Downtown Disney. Manu was not too impressed with the bland Irish cuisine, and frankly neither were we, but it was refreshing to sit down at a real restaurant instead of counter-service in the park. After looking around a little bit more we headed back to the hotel for a shower and a nap, and to wait out the ubiquitous mid-afternoon rain storm.

Back at the park, Manu dared to take on the Pirates of the Caribbean, and lived to tell about it! We had dinner at Columbia Harbor House and made it out in time to watch the Spectromagic parade. Manu was in sensory overload for sure now! We weren't planning on staying for the fireworks, but after the parade, and by the time we got even remotely close to the front of the park, it was only another 10 minutes 'till they began, so we waited and watched. I'm glad we did as he seemed to really enjoy the bright colors and musical background.

That's all for today, I'm not sure we could have handled much more. Tomorrow we're off to Epcot to take Manu on a world tour, even though he's already seen a lot of it :-)

If I have to hear that song one more time...

I would have sworn that there was a fountain here a minute ago.

Daddy, I think we need to fertilize our garden at home.

The queen and her little prince.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Manu on Safari

This morning we started with a character breakfast at Animal Kingdom park. Manu got to meet Donald and Mickey while enjoying eggs and waffles! After breakfast we headed to Kilimanjaro Safari, where he saw lots of animals in the wild. We even had to stop for a giraffe crossing. Manu took a little nap while we toured Asia, but he was up and ready to go for the Jammin' Jungle parade. Manu attracted all kinds of attention from the cast members and characters. Manu also got to meet several of the characters from The Jungle Book and Tarzan! We left the park just before the rain set in and headed back to the hotels to freshen up a bit before dinner. After a couple of hours we headed back to the Contemporary Resort for our reservations at the California Grill. This special dinner was to celebrate Leslie's birthday. We had a very nice meal, Manu particularly enjoyed the fig and prosciutto flat bread, and also helped with mommy's blackened grouper and daddy's pork tenderloin. Now well past his bedtime, we all headed back to the hotel to recharge for the big day tomorrow at The Magic Kingdom. I have to say that, although we have been to Disney many times before, it is amazing to "see" it again through his eyes. Manu was in constant awe of his surroundings. He had a great time today, and was a real trooper dealing with the heat, humidity and rain.

Manu wondering why this oversized mouse was interrupting his breakfast?

Manu with family and jungle friends!

Manu after a hard hour of safari.

Manu and Mommy at dinner.

Manu sums up his day!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

We're going to Disney World!

We asked ourselves, what could we do to top a trip halfway around the world to get the cutest little boy ever? We're going to Disney World! We started out this morning driving to Louisville where we flew Southwest Airlines directly to Orlando. We were worried about how he would handle the flight, as he is much more active than he was on our flights in India and homeward. We held him in our laps, well Leslie did most of the holding, and though he squirmed a bit and was generally unimpressed with the travel arrangements, he did pretty well, finally falling asleep an hour and a half into the two hour flight. We got our bags, picked up our car and headed to the Hotel. We got a great rate using Priceline for the Omni Resort and Spa. This 5-star resort cost us less than than the economy-class Disney hotels, so that helps ease any disappointment with being off-site, though only by a five minute drive.

After checking out the hotel for a bit, we headed to Downtown Disney for some shopping and dinner. Unfortunately, not long after we arrived it began raining and continued the rest of the night. We popped in and out of some of the stores, then headed to Wolfgang Puck's restaurant on the West Side. This has traditionally been our first dining spot of our Disney vacations. Manu enjoyed sharing some spicy butternut squash soup, pumpkin ravioli in a sage and brown-butter sauce, and a four-cheese pesto pizza. That boy can eat! After dinner we ran through the rain back to our car and headed home, stopping at a Publix grocery store for some milk and banannas. Tomorrow we start out at Animal Kingdom park with a character breakfast at Tusker House restaurant. Manu will meet many of the Disney characters in their safari garb. Should be fun. We'll report back tomorrow evening with more on Manu's jungle adventure!

Manu waiting at Louisville Airport for daddy to return from parking the car.

Mommy and manu walking around the airport terminal

Manu at Wolfgang Puck's before dinner.

Manu after eating soup, squash, pizza and bread.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Manu's first day at the pool

While back in Whitesburg visiting Leslie's family this weekend, Manu got his first experience in a big-kid swimming pool. He was a little unsure of things at first, but quickly any doubt turned to ecstasy as he had a wonderful time splashing around with mommy and his cousins.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The secrets to happiness.

As I get older, I find myself more reflective on the past, to my younger days, to friends and family that I have lost touch with, or to experiences which, in their time, seemed would last forever, but are now blurred, jumbled pieces of memories. Through the innovations of the internet, recently I have become reacquainted with part of that past. People about whom I haven't thought in years are suddenly brilliant in my mind as though it was only yesterday that we said goodbye, or didn't. I am back in high school and college having the time of my life, and the dreams of my youth are once again alive in my head. But as exciting as it is to reconnect, I start to wonder how I let it all slip away. As time marches on we take for granted that what we have today, we will have tomorrow. But few things, if any, are forever. Each chapter of life is a transition into another, and there is no going back, only reminiscing.

But then I'm back in the present. We've had such an exciting couple of years, but they've passed so quickly (in hind sight), and now I want things to slow down a bit so I can enjoy more time with my family as it is today. Manu is growing up so fast; I'm afraid he'll be driving and dating before I'm ready for him to be out of diapers. I don't want these moments to become distant memories. I also don't want to live in the past. I think the secret to happiness is understanding that right now, you are in a place at which you'll wish you could get back to sometime in your future. Enjoy it and make today the best day it can be.

As for living in the moment, Manu has had another first; his first Fourth of July! On the 2nd, he and his classmates at school had a little parade around the parking lot. It was so cute seeing all of those little ones trying to stay in line! He began the 4th by channeling his support to mommy and daddy on their 6.2 mile run in the annual Bluegrass 10K, from the comfort of his crib, asleep! After we hobbled home we met up with the rest of the family in town for the weekend, and headed downtown to the festivities. Manu really enjoyed the parade, especially the horses and the marching bands. The politicians made him cry though, so now I'm sure he's my boy! After the parade we attempted to walk the streets, checking out the crafts and food vendors, but the drizzle that had gently dampened the parade was starting to pour, so we got back to the car and headed home. That night we hosted friends and family for what should have been a fun evening for the little guy. Instead he decided that nothing was going to please him, so he cried himself to sleep without finishing dinner, and drifted off well before the fireworks.

Manu is becoming quite the little climber. He insists on traversing the stairs himself, rather then being carried. He has even taken to climbing into his own high chair when he's ready to eat! He's learned to place objects on the ground and stand on them in order to get a little bit taller. This has caused more than a little commotion, as this puts him just tall enough to pull down anything left near the edge of the kitchen table! On the sweeter side, he is blowing kisses to everyone, and kissing mommy and daddy on the cheek. Every time he sees a cow he tries to moo, but it comes out more like, "mmmummmm." He likes to go "bye-bye," and runs to the front door squealing with excitement at the prospect. His hand-eye coordination is improving to where he can make precise movements wit his little hands. He has recently mastered putting all of the wooden rings on the little pole, though he still can't catch a big rubber ball if you roll it slowly at him, LOL. We set up a little pool out back that he liked well enough, but he preferred exploring the back yard, so he did while mommy and daddy sat in the 12 inches of water and dreamed of the beach! Manu is a lot of fun right now, with more smiles and fewer tears. He is like a little sponge, soaking up all that is to learn around him. We're learning a lot too in the process.

But back to the past: Life has turned out nothing like that 17yo imagined it would, but any change along the way would have altered the outcome, and where I find myself today. Sometimes I wonder where I would be if I had done this or that, but then I have to consider the cost; what would I give up now to have what I thought I wanted years ago? That's an easy one, nothing!