Our Modern Family


adoption finalization

All I Want For Christmas…Is You!

dsc_3757-3Christmas is going to be fun this year. It will be Grace’s very first Christmas and Nolin is actually starting to understand the concept. He is not quite to the stage of knowing what (if anything) he wants, he just knows he wants Santa to bring him lots of presents. Apparently he is an equal opportunity gift receiver.

We will be staying in town this year, and Jenn’s family will be coming to celebrate the holidays with us. While I will miss our traditional Christmas traditions with my family, I am very excited to be able to wind down an amazing year with friends and family.

I have to say I think we received our Christmas present a little early this year. Grace’s adoption was finalized on Monday December 17th! Continue reading “All I Want For Christmas…Is You!”

Wow…Look At That!

So it has been a reunion of sorts.  Last year in October a lot of Jenn’s extended family (from as far as Ireland) were in town during Nolin’s adoption finalization and now many of them are back to visit again…which has been great craic!

Last Wednesday night, I left work and drove down towards Disney to meet up with everyone at the hotel they were staying at for a few days.  Jenn was working late, so she was going to meet up with us later.

Nolin apparently had a big day at the pool and hanging out with everyone, and never really took a full nap, but was in great spirits just having so many people to give him attention.  We ate a quick dinner and then headed to Downtown Disney to walk around for a bit.

As we made our way through Downtown Disney we began to see the mountain shape top of the Rainforest Café and Nolin’s eyes grew wider.  I was watching Nolin take in all the lights and action while also trying to make sure that we didn’t get run over by a family of European tourists who were paying about as much attention as I was to where they were walking. Continue reading “Wow…Look At That!”

Parenting 101: A Few Lessons Learned

So last week I posted my 100th blog entry.  If this were a TV Series, I could be syndicated now.  I unknowingly started this blog a few hours before Nolin was born.  Almost 15 months and 100 blog posts later, life has become more exciting than I ever imagined.

I don’t think as a parent you are ever actually ready…much less when you only have three weeks to prepare.  I had always been nervous about being a father because I just didn’t think I would be good at it. Nolin has made it easy and looking over some of my favorite posts, I realized I have learned a few bits of good parental advice along the way…

  1. Sleep is completely overrated and sometimes difficult to achieve
  2. Nothing sticks with you longer than your first defining moment.
  3. In the beginning there are learning days and growing days and it can really suck when they happen at the same time. Continue reading “Parenting 101: A Few Lessons Learned”

A Baptism By Fire

We had been looking forward to having Nolin baptized for a very long time.  In an adoption situation, you have to wait for the adoption to be finalized before you can proceed with a baptism.  After his adoption was finalized, we then had to find a time when all of our family and friends would be able to make the trip because it was important to us to have as many of the people who are important in Nolin’s life to be there for his big day.

The only thing that I am disappointed about is that Nolin will probably not remember how special and exciting his baptism weekend was.  I don’t think we could have planned it any better and in typical fashion, he stole the show.

The fun started just as I was about to hang up with my sister Wednesday night.

What do you think about me trying to book a flight to Orlando?

Of course that would be fantastic, but with only two days planning time and two full houses, I thought this could be tricky.  Somehow she managed to pull it off and we officially had a full house (Nolin lost his play area as that became Erin’s room).

Friday night I left work to pick my mother & father, grandmother and brother up from the airport.  To ensure her role as matriarch and guest of honor, Nana rolled off the plane in high-heeled boots and dressed to the nines.  We made our way to Don & Teresa’s house for a quick bite to eat and then my brother and I went back out to the airport to pick my sister up.  I guess there is something about fathers & daughters because my dad quickly made an excuse as to why he should join us on the car ride to the airport.  So off we went back to the Orlando airport, just like the Clampetts.

Saturday we all kind of headed out in different directions.  I took Erin out to run some errands (once again, my dad suggested that he ride with us because there may not be enough room in the other cars we had later in the day).  We missed the farmer’s market in Winter Park, but in honor of Axelle we all met at a French bakery in Winter Park that we always wanted to take her, but never made it.

Then I got the call…it was our friends Jeremy and Heather who were coming from Jacksonville to visit.  He told me the day before that they would be in town between 1 and 2 pm on Saturday.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I got a call at 2:00 asking if we were home…whoops.  I had been so good on timing everything out except now…we packed up my car and made a mad dash home.

We spent the rest of the afternoon catching up and hanging out until Jenn arrived back from the beach at about 5:00 with a new (stage 2) car seat.  Awesome, just when you figure out the first one they make you get a new one…and so the struggle began (again).

After about 30 minutes of sweating and a few words that may or may not be suitable for TV, I grabbed Nolin’s godmother Lindsay for help and guidance.  Seeing as she had been to this rodeo a few times before I figured we should be good.  Lindsay’s first suggestion is that we should try reading the directions…they really weren’t any more helpful than my attempt at following father’s intuition, but at least we figured out how to get the straps pulled through the seat.  We continued pulling, adjusting, checking and pulling some more. Yet the car seat still sat there ready to go flying out the window at the first turn.  This really can’t be that difficult I did graduate from College.

The next thing we saw was people flying out of our house and taking off…what?!

Yes it seems that they were all leaving for our dinner reservations and had forgotten about us.  I caught Jenn before she left and she proceeded to tell me that we did still have our old car seat for one more night (which Nolin was already comfortably strapped into)…while I was very relieved that Nolin wouldn’t be like a pinball bouncing around the back seat, I did think that would have been a nice piece of information to share prior to me spending the last hour taking on the child safety industry.

We headed to an awesome little Cajun restaurant in downtown Sanford Two Blondes and A Shrimp.  It could not have been a better setup.  Although there were 17 of us, it felt like we were all just sitting around a big dinner table.  After an amazing dinner we headed across the street to the Hallerbach for a taste of German music, dancing and there may or may not have been a boot passed around.  Nolin was a trooper, he had a huge smile on his face as he growled at everyone.   I am pretty sure he realized this party was for him. Jenn later summed up the night in one word, “beautiful” and I’d have to agree.

Finally the morning of the baptism arrived.  I woke up at 5am after having a dream that we were all sitting around watching TV and forgot to go to the baptism.  To my surprise our whole house was up, showered and ready to go by the time we needed to be there.

As we waited for the service’s procession to start, the Deacon walked over and simply said, “Godparents first and then parents.  You’ll walk down to the left like we practiced”.  We all looked at each other…do what?!  We didn’t practice.  I thought that was why we were supposed to be here early.  Jenn and I had gone to an information session about two months ago, but we didn’t remember what we were supposed to do.

Luckily we got through without too much embarrassment.  As the Deacon announced Nolin’s name it happened.  The moment that I had been nervous for.  Nolin got a big grin on his face and growled.  The whole place started laughing, I turned red and I heard my brother whisper “this may be a baptism and an exorcism”.  One would have been bad enough, but he continued and when he wasn’t growling he was talking “ba ba ba ba ba”.  In typical Nolin fashion, he stole the show.

We headed back to Don & Teresa’s after the baptism for a nice brunch for everyone who attended and spent the rest of the day just realizing how lucky we are.

Me, Nolin, Jenn, Nolin's Godmother Lindsay, Nolin's Godfather Lee
Nolin and his Grandparents Don & Teresa
Nolin & his Great Grandmother Nana and Grandparents Buster & Karen
With The Deacon

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

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