Our Modern Family


October 2010

Le Retour

Je suis tellement excitée, je ne peux pas le cacher!

Our next chapter is starting off with a bang, as we welcome our teenage daughter, Axelle back to the United States for 10 days.  It has only been four months since she left Florida and went back to France to finish her senior year of high school, but it feels like it has been a very long time.

It was one of the craziest ideas that Jenn and I ever had, but raising a teenager for a year was an experience that neither of us will ever forget.  It was a year filled with stories and ending with the arrival of Nolin.  It is exciting for me to know that in some shape or form, Axelle will always be a part of our family.  It will be nice to see her again because it has been difficult for us to get together over Skype (isn’t technology pretty cool) frequently due to the 6 hour time difference. 

Although we have been able to keep in touch over email and Facebook, I can’t wait to sit down and hear about everything that has happened over the last four months.  Like most teenagers, I think the last four months has seen a rollercoaster ride of dating, breaking up (Facebook must grow tired of managing teenager’s relationship statuses), and hanging out with friends, but Axelle has always had more to talk about than just that.  I always found it very interesting to not only get a teenager’s viewpoint on things but a foreign viewpoint as well.  It will be interesting to get her view of the protests that are currently going on in France (which she was amazed that we had heard about here in the States).

I also can’t wait for Axelle to see Nolin.  I don’t think she will be able to get over how much he has grown since she left. 

Axelle will be back with us for the next 10 days.  My only regret is that I am already fearful that the time will go by way too quickly.  There are so many things that I want to do while she is town, but I know that we probably wont get to half of them.  I am now beginning to understand how my parents must feel during one of our whirlwind visits home for a few days.

For now I guess it is just best to concentrate on getting to the airport in time to welcome our daughter back home!

Chapter Two

Friday was a big milestone for our family.  Nolin’s adoption was finalized.  In some ways it was exactly what I expected, in other ways it was a very surreal experience.

We woke up early, got Nolin ready to go and began the trek to Daytona.  After showing up at the wrong courthouse, we finally made our way to the correct location.  We met with our attorney, who briefly ran through the process…you’ll be sworn in, we will verify that you have read and signed all documents, you will explain to the court why you want to adopt Nolin, etc..

Well…That should be easy enough.

As we were waiting to be called into the court room, Teresa noticed that Nolin must have spit up on himself.  Upon closer examination, it turns out that his father must have been in a bit of hurry at 6am and got a little careless with the diaper.  I immediately thought, well that’s great the judge isn’t going to trust us to take care of this child if I can’t even change a diaper correctly after 4.5 months.  So I did what any good father would do…I blamed Jenn.  Which worked out great until she told everyone that I was the one who changed the diaper…so much for for better or for worse.

Anyway, that was a pretty minor crisis with no real harm and we began to make our way into the court room.  Jenn and I walked past the bar and sat down with our lawyer.  The judge entered the court room and they started with me.

Jenn, Nolin and I with her parents

They asked me to raise my right hand…I panicked.  Am I supposed to stand or sit?…why didn’t they go over this with me?  How am I supposed to answer?  Am I actually raising my right hand or did I accidentally hold up my left hand? Being that my family is made up of lawyers you’d think I would be alright, apparently not.  Then they asked me to state my full name…ok finally a question I can answer. I started to relax.  Next they asked me to state Jenn’s full name.  Again I panicked.  Do they want her maiden name or her middle name.  If I choose wrong will the adoption be denied? Needless to say we made it through relatively unscathed.

The one thing I told myself before the whole process began…this is a celebration, do not get emotional.  So after Jenn and I spoke the judge started addressing us.  I looked over to Jenn and could see her eyes beginning to water, I looked over to the Clerk of Court and she turned her head to the side as her eyes began to water.  I glanced at everyone behind us, they all had these big happy smiles on their faces…oh great you’re going to be that guy.  At that exact moment, Nolin let out one of his squeal laughs and his big smile and saved the day.

Our family with the judge

After the formality of the adoption process, the judge began to speak directly to Jenn and I.  She told us that she has always viewed adoptive parents as angels on earth.  Being a family law judge, I am sure these cases are a welcome relief, but the comment really stuck with me.  I think because this day never would have happened without the support of our family and friends, the help of our social worker, the love that Nolin’s birth parents have for him, but most importantly it never would have happened without Nolin.  I’d have to say that he is really the angel on earth.

It is hard to imagine what life was like before Nolin or how much things have changed.  I am excited to see what the future has in store for our family and I’m looking forward to writing our next chapter..unless of course that chapter is teething.

Some pictures of our day at the beach after the finalization…

Pointing Out The Trees To Nolin

Happy To Be Relaxing

Attracta & Nolin

Nolin & Jenn

Can’t Sleep

I know what you think, this is the post that I start talking about how we thought we had it good, but as I have mentioned before I have learned the first rule of Baby Sleep Club, you don’t talk about Baby Sleep Club.  Once you do, they do a complete 180 and your nights become a whole lot longer.

It’s really quite the opposite actually.  Nolin is still sleeping much better than I ever imagined, but it is his father who has been having trouble sleeping lately. 

It seems like lately we have so many exciting things on the horizon, but none is as exciting for me as tomorrow.  Tomorrow is the finalization of our adoption.  From the very first moment I met Nolin, I instantly fell in love with him and felt an intense bond.  There was never any question for me that he was my son.  So I guess I am not really expecting to feel any major change  once the adoption is finalized, but I do feel like it will be a nice exclamation point on a surreal and amazing experience. 

Tomorrow we will have the opportunity to stand before some of our family and friends and tell them all how honored we are to have Nolin in our lives.  We will be joined tomorrow by Jenn’s parents, her aunt from New York, her aunt and uncle from Ireland, her mom’s cousin from Ireland and about 10,000 of our closest biker friends. That’s right Nolin’s finalization will be taking place in Daytona during Biketoberfest. 

So while Nolin is fast asleep upstairs in his crib, I am sitting here anxiously awaiting a huge milestone in our lives.  Tomorrow will most likely be just another day for Nolin, but for me it will be the start of chapter two.  My only hope is that one day Nolin will be able to look back at October 15th, 2010 and truly understand why it was that his father couldn’t sleep.

Up In The Air

On Tuesday this week, I did the unthinkable.  Nolin and I took our jet setting lifestyles on the road for a 28 hour 1600 mile overnighter.  What?!  Who in their right mind could think this would work out well?  We decided to surprise his uncle and show up for his birthday party.

I got the bags packed.  I timed Nolin’s feedings perfect, so that I could feed him just before we got on the airplane and finish up as the plane was taking off.  I had mentally prepared for anything and everything that we may encounter before we left.  This was going to be a perfect trip.

What I didn’t plan on was the reaction that I would receive from people as a “single” parent travelling with a baby.  I quickly learned that women don’t think a single father has any clue as to what he is doing when it comes to taking care of a child.  Most women I encountered felt a sort of pity for me, and wanted to help however they could.  They wanted to help with my bags, they offered advice on how to travel with an infant and how to carry a car seat, etc. Others questioned why his mother wouldn’t want to come on the trip with us.

 While I found most of it amusing and in good nature, I wanted to let them know that this wasn’t Nolin & I’s first rodeo when it came to flying.  I guess the only helpful advice I received was from the security screener as we walked through the scanner.  He told me that when I had a chance, I may want to check my zipper…awesome couldn’t one of the 20 other people before him have told me that? I had now been walking around the airport like an idiot for 30 minutes.  So maybe in my haste, I did forget a few things, but when it came to Nolin I was pretty set.

We made it to Virginia Beach with no problems (minus my attempt to air out).  As it turns out Nolin is an awesome travel companion (at least for now).  Grandma & Grandpa were definitely excited to see him.  I have learned that at this point, I am pretty much a second-rate citizen when Nolin is around because he gets all the attention, which is fine with me.

We made our way around Virginia Beach incognito, and finally made it to the party that evening.  I can honestly say that Uncle Hap was beyond shocked that we flew up for the party.  Nolin was a hit as I displayed the fact that I am not a very good bowler. 

We made our way home and after a day of flying and a night of partying, Nolin was a little off his schedule.  He didn’t fall asleep that night until 12:30, but then at 6:45 he was ready to party again.  I woke up to laughing and feet kicking, so I guess it wasn’t all bad, but as I got out of bed I thought seriously how do single parents do it?

We spent Wednesday hanging out with family and visiting a few people that we could squeeze in on our way to the airport before we flew back home.  Once again it was an easy flight, but this time I didn’t seem to get as much helpful advice as I made my way through the airport.

Nolin and I arrived back home around 9:30 that evening to a mom who had desperately missed her baby and was ecstatic to see him (apparently I was just the chauffeur).

The Difference Between Mothers and Fathers

In what I think has the potential to be an ongoing title for many posts over the next several years, I quickly learned the other night the difference between mothers and fathers. 

Nolin had his four month doctor’s appointment the other day in which they determined he was in the 50th percentile in weight, 75th percentile in head circumference (apparently he takes after his uncle) and 10th percentile in height.  She also indicated that developmentally he was doing great.

She told Jenn, that we should start introducing rice cereal into his diet and should stop feeding him in the middle of the night (again I will note that I think this is a conspiracy by parents who had angry babies to make everyone else’s life miserable and that there is really no reason for baby torture). 

So to set the scene…Nolin and I are in the middle of bath time, one of our favorite nightly rituals.  I was realizing just how quickly he is growing up in front of my eyes when my attention turned to rice cereal.  Much like the powdered formula, I wasn’t exactly sure how this whole process worked.  Obviously he doesn’t have teeth and can’t eat it, but Jenn had told me that we would need to get super flow nipples for his bottle.

Innocently I turn to Jenn and asked, so are we supposed to just crunch up Rice Krispies in his bottle?  Probably as soon as the words came out of my mouth I should have realized it was a pretty stupid thing to say, but it seemed to be a very logical question to me.  Jenn’s eyes got big and all she said was you’re kidding right?! She kept looking at me for an answer.

I don’t know, was I?

The question seemed logical.  Rice Krispies are made of rice and it is cereal, so therefore logical reasoning would deduce that Rice Krispies were in fact rice cereal.  My next thought (although I didn’t verbalize this one…learned my lesson there), was I guess it was only a stupid question because Rice Krispies aren’t in fact organic and contain sugar…surely that had to be the reason why Jenn was so surprised.

There was really no playing it off.  All I could think is thank God this kid is not depending on me for nutritional guidance because with a diet of frozen pizzas and ice cream, he may end up in the 99th percentile in weight while remaining in the 10th percentile in height.

I guess dads (or at least this one) should stick to what we’re good at teaching our children to make fart noises and laugh at stupid jokes while moms can stick to the easy stuff like developmental milestones.

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