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Blog Break

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I’m going to take a couple of weeks break, away from the blog.

Thank you to everyone who continues to read this here old blog. I am continually humbled and flattered to think that people actually are interested enough in our little life to read along. Thank you sincerely.

See ya in 2014!


Photo of the Season: Slow Dance

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It was a Saturday morning. We were decorating the Christmas tree in our pajamas. Braydon had Christmas music playing, and my favorite Christmas song came on. I hardly even noticed it until I caught my son’s eye. He was standing to the side of the tree, looking past everything, looking at me. “Do you want to dance?” he asked. I stopped. I heard the song. I put down the ornament I was holding. He walked toward me. I said, “Yes!” He took my hand. And we danced one of the most beautiful slow dances of my whole 41-year-old life.

Santa Letters 2013

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K Santa

K & O got creative this year. They’ve got that whole twin-thing working for them in a big way. They finally figured out that if they split up the requests, they could each get two gifts —instead of one — out of the deal. They couldn’t decide between Star Wars lightsabers (not just any old lightsabers — they have Read More

Fri-Fri [A Week in iPhone Snapshots]

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Friday night we threw a ‘Mocktail Party’ for Sayre students to celebrate the Last Day of Classes. I ordered a ton of good food from LU Catering, and over 65 students showed up to eat it all up. The students love playing with the bambinos’ toys — the engineering students, especially, love constructing crazy marble runs!

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My dad visited Saturday-Sunday. His work has him in Philadelphia regularly, which has been so nice for us because it means we see him a lot more often these days! I love when my dad visits by himself… I feel like we get him all to ourselves, and I love that. We went to a Lehigh basketball game Saturday afternoon, got a babysitter for Saturday night so that Braydon and I could take him out to dinner, and then he took us out to brunch on Sunday morning. Meera can’t get enough of MorFar throwing her up in the air.


Christmas decorating happened.

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Owen and Meera (our chocolate lovers) are loving sneaking treats from Santa’s bag (I swear, they don’t think I know they sneak these, but who do they think keeps filling it back up???). Dash is loving the Christmas tree (I swear, he thinks this is a tree full of dog toys standing there just for his enjoyment). 2013 = Our First Christmas With Dash.


December 8, 2013 = First Snow of the Season & Dash’s First Time Ever Experiencing Snow (related: Dash loves snow).


Also related: Due to the weather system that that first snow got started, we then proceeded to have a week of 2 school delays & 1 snow day. Right at one of the craziest times of the year for our family (i.e. prep-for-Christmas-final-exams-end-of-year-work-and-business-wrap-up).


There was Monopoly.


There was Go Fish.


There was eggnog and iPods.


There were airplanes (these toy planes are the one toy that K & O just never tire of).


There were many, many, many baths with princesses (for Meera taking a bath is a play activity).

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The bambinos rarely get to eat at their favorite campus dining hall — because it is only open for lunch on weekdays. But a snow day was a chance to have lunch there. Left: lunch at the Asa Packer Dining Room (faculty and staff dining hall). Right: Meera makes snowballs waiting for the bus to give us a ride back up the hill to Sayre.


Sledding with students…


…Always seems to turn into tickle tackle with students.


Papi had a dinner event to attend on Wednesday night. So, Wednesday night was Chinese take-out and a Christmas movie (related: my new favorite Christmas movie = A Dennis the Menace Christmas; we loved it!)

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My Thursday morning walk in the woods with Dash.


Friday Treat! (On Fridays, after I pick up the kids from the school bus, I take them out for a treat — Meera always chooses the frozen yogurt place; Kyle and Owen usually choose Starbucks.)


Friday Treat! (The bambinos had a babysitter — yes, that is two weekends in a row! Kathryn, our beloved babysitter from last year is back from her fall semester in Argentina for Study Abroad!) Braydon and I had a chips & salsa & margaritas date night — that’s pretty much one of our favorite treats in the whole entire world — and a good way to end a week.


Last year our awesome maintenance guy, Kerry, put up lights outside Sayre Lodge. This year Meera remembered. She kept wondering when he’d put those lights up. She saw him the other day and asked him about it. He was just so happy that someone had actually noticed and had cared enough about those lights to remember them — let alone ask him to put them up. And the very next morning…. those lights were twinkling on Sayre Lodge.

One week. Snapshots are just that — snapshots. They capture very little. But it is a peek into a week.

Thanksgiving Break in the Chesapeake Bay

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happy place 2

happy place

happy place M

This is us in our happy place: our family alone, off someplace desolate, on the water, unobstructed views (us, looking outward), out of the fishbowl (us, with nobody looking in).

We live such a public life in so many ways — on campus, on the blog, putting ourselves out there in the world all the time. Our family is conspicuous, and we are (for the most part), very extroverted. The combo is pretty intensive. We can’t (and don’t want to) shy away from that. But it is important for us to get breaks from that. Because it is tiring, and it takes a toll. Our nerves get frayed, and our souls get weary. From time to time we need to re-charge.


Amongst all the stuff we are incessantly confused by, there is at least one thing we’ve figured out: our family needs these get-aways in order to keep on going. All five of us do. Rejuvenating and re-grouping and reflecting are key for us. And so we make it a major priority to plan in these times for ourselves. We’ve structured our way-of-life around this. It is our mode of operation. Say whatever you will, think whatever you want, but for us — during this phase of our lives — it is worth it to live in a 750 square foot apartment, in a dorm, “in the fishbowl,” with relatively very few material possessions, and lots of demands on us, and lots of restrictions — in order to live the life we’ve imagined. Because of the opportunities we’ve had and the choices we’ve made, our life is full and rich all the time. We are so thankful for that. And part of that package is the ability to get ourselves away — off on our own — on a regular basis. We’ve been privileged to be able to forge this unusual life for ourselves. And we’ve worked hard to do it. And we are grateful for all of it.sunrise 3

This is sunrise from the house we rented. This is nothing to take for granted. And we don’t.

Anyone who has read this blog for awhile knows that we are big fans of VRBO. We have found that for a family with active young kids, who really values privacy, and wants to get away from it all, and appreciates a full kitchen and a washer & dryer (!), renting a house often ends up being much more cost-effective, and much more experience-enhancing, than staying in a hotel or at a resort. For this Thanksgiving Break we rented a house in the Chesapeake Bay. We loved the small size of this cottage, the high-end kitchen and the outdoor gas grill (not typical of most VRBOs), and… most of all… the house’s location on a strip of completely, totally, mind-bogglingly, 100% private, natural beach. It was an amazing experience to have that place all to ourselves.


house on porch

Don’t misinterpret this: these trips are not 24×7 idyllic for us. Yes, the photos seem to capture that, but the photos aren’t everything. Big and heavy conversations are had; hard stuff is worked on; laundry is folded and dishes are washed; kids get in trouble; parents disappoint. Yes, all that, and much, much more happens on these “vacations.” But much of that stuff is part of what is important about these breaks from reality— especially the tough talks about the challenges we’re facing. We need time to have those connections, as hard as they can be. And making time for that is just as important as making time for the awesome, light, and airy highlights. Some of those highlights of this get-away included:

  • The bambinos’ “polar bear plunge” one night at sunset (Meera only got up to her waist; the boys, of course, did a full-body deep-dive completely-immersed plunge). You only live once! Go for it!
  • Lots of cooking — some cheater (cinnamon rolls from the package), some from scratch (pumpkin cookies!), lots of good breakfast and dinner eats were had by us in that little house (eggs and bacon; grilled lamb chops and mashed potatoes).
  • Chesapeake Bay seafood for lunches out (Owen is a crab lover and man can that boy eat crab like a pro!).
  • Long walks on the beach, playing with sticks, skipping rocks, watching boats, catching crabs, climbing, exploring, running, jumping.
  • Crabbing off the dock (we caught nothing; ’tis not the season).
  • Dash was in heaven for his first family trip! Turns out, our puppy loves the beach (thank goodness because it could have been a real problem if he didn’t!). And, we were relieved to find out, he didn’t even mind the 5 hour drive to/from our destination!
  • The house had an old-fashioned jukebox, which was a lot of fun.
  • Lots of down-time with books, UNO, Boggle, coloring.
  • A couple of very nice bottles of wine (H & B), chocolate milk (M), and ginger ale (K & O).
  • A grand finale campfire on the beach, complete with marshmallows, on our last night there.
polar bear plunge

pumpkin cookies cinamon rolls

11178204786_2bcff321b5_o.jpg 11178303993_e3c0dd66e1_o.jpgH and O


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H and kids


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Dash and Owen beach DashIMG_3159IMG_3160

dinner coloring

spider girl UNOfirefire 4

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“In a cool solitude of trees
Where leaves and birds a music spin,
Mind that was weary is at ease,
New rhythms in the soul begin.
~William Kean Seymour


P.S. For anyone interested in renting this property, the VRBO Listing number is 234838. We can highly recommend it. Contact us with questions.


Thanksgiving 2013

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kids T'Giving

The highlight of our Thanksgiving Day 2013 was the chance for these five kiddos to meet each other for the first time, make fast friends, and have a blast together for Thanksgiving with the McCormick side of our family! I have absolutely no expectation that family members will necessarily like each other, let alone be friends, but it sure is nice when it happens! And it happened with Josephine and Rebecca, who are Braydon’s cousin Aimee’s two darling girls (i.e., K, O, and M’s second cousins). We spent Thanksgiving with them, their parents (Braydon’s cousin and her husband), and with Braydon’s aunt and uncle, parents, and sister, in Washington, D.C.

I really do hope that this little group of five has some more Thanksgivings together in the future. They really enjoyed each other.

The day before Thanksgiving the bambinos had their school Thanksgiving Assembly. I was blown away by it. Kyle and Owen are in the school chorus. They sang a few pieces in the assembly. As I watched my boys up there on the stage, I was overcome with emotion.


The Thanksgiving nine years ago, my heart was breaking in our adoption waiting — Kyle and Owen were in an orphanage in Haiti, and I was an emotional wreck laying awake each night crying with fear that they would die before we could get them (several babies/kids did die during the time that we waited, and I lived in fear of it happening to us; Kyle and Owen were so young and fragile as infants in an orphanage unequipped for young babies). I couldn’t help but have all of that come back to me as I stood in the audience watching my sons sing on stage, nine short years later, in their beautiful dress uniforms, confident, and proud, as Haitian-American boys thriving in their lives, with all of the world laid out before them just theirs for the taking.

It is an incredible thing to witness— the transformation of lives, from the deepest desperation and most dire destitution, deprived of everything, devastated… to virtually limitless possibility and almost unconstrained capacity. It is hard to fathom. The emotion took over and I began crying, there in the audience, unable to keep the tears from streaming down my face. I was thinking of their birthmother, who gave them all of this by having the strength and courage to do what she did for them; I was thinking of how amazed and proud she’d be of who they are; I was thinking of how proud I am of who they are. I just stood there watching them, crying with joy and pride and the realization of what we’ve been given and what we’ve done with it. I’m sure everyone around me thought I was a crazy person. But the depth of my gratitude and thankfulness — to everyone who has played, and is playing, a role in these boys’ lives — was the deepest possible in that moment. It is indescribable. I leaned into Braydon, and he squeezed my arm with a knowing that only a couple who has done this kind of adoption together can know. And for that — our togetherness in this — I was, and am, so thankful.

And then it was time for the kindergarten’s performance of “Thanksgiving Tableaux.” There were no tears for that one. I was just smiling ear-to-ear watching Meera up there on the stage in all her glory, looking for us in the audience, and sneaking waves to us multiple times during the show. All three of our kids had spent the past month in school studying Native American history and culture, and the way this was threaded into the kindergarten’s production was ingenious.


Meera was adorable. As were her cute little friends. I hope someday Meera sees this picture (below) and can see what a happy, adorable little 5-year-old kid she was:


Our three kids are currently thriving — just blossoming beyond belief. And that is for what I was most thankful during Thanksgiving 2013. As for the bambinos… they filled out these cards at school a couple of days before Thanksgiving. When they came home in their backpacks I saw them for the first time and was pretty much awe-struck:

M Thankful

{“My brothers / Mom Dad Dog / Teachers / Friends / Swain School”}

Owen Thankful

{“All the knowledge I can get, my friends, for my school, my home, and most importantly my life”}

K Thankful

{“I am thankful for getting adopted instead of living on the streets”}

K & O’s First Sleepover

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sleep over

Last night Kyle and Owen had their first real, full-fledged, official sleepover. It was a sort of monumental occasion.

For a very long time, Kyle and Owen never asked for — or even seemed interested in — a sleepover with a friend. After all, when every night of your life is a slumber party with your best friend, there isn’t a whole lot of internal motivation for a sleepover of the official non-family-member-friend variety. But things are different now, because… drumroll please… K & O have their first Best Friend.

I don’t know if this is developmental (maybe it is the norm for super-tight, same-sex twins like Kyle and Owen to take a long while before being ready for a ‘Best Friend’?), or if it was the change of schools (at K & O’s new school there are a lot more kids who are socially their speed), or if it is just a matter of finally finding the right person? They’ve always been the most popular boys in their class, but have never had that classic one best friend… until now. All I know is that this friendship was a long time coming. And I’m very glad, for my boys, that it is finally here.

They met Dean on the first day of school this year and it was instant friendship. I knew this kid must be really special — it takes a very special person to be able to be best friends with a pair of twins. And when I met Dean I could see the connection. He is an extremely bright, hold-his-own, quick-wit, rough-and-tumble kid. He seems unfazed and undaunted by being best friends with a set of twins — let alone this particular set of twins. He has eagerly fostered this friendship with Kyle and Owen and seems just as monumentally excited about it as they do. They are quite the threesome.

They’ve been begging for a sleepover. We’ve had a few playdates, and our families have gotten together a couple of times, and it was time for it to happen. Last night was the night. It was everything they had hoped it would be! Sports, sports, sports; pizza and a movie; talking and goofing off late into the night; and breakfast this morning at the Waffle House. They didn’t get much sleep, but had loads of fun. Exactly as it should be for a good sleepover.

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Molly & Lehigh-Lafayette Weekend

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So, this is Lehigh-Lafayette weekend. The climax of Lehigh-Lafayette Week. Which means all sorts of things. If you ask, most students will tell you that “Lehigh-Laf” is the “best week of the year.” “Better than Christmas!” “Better than Hanukkah!” I’ve even heard, “Better than Spring Break!” I’ve asked lots of them about this, because it sort of intrigues me. I mean, I get it — it is a week-long party. But, really? The best week of the year? When I ask them why, over and over students tell me the same thing: they say it’s the best week of the year “because everyone is happy.” A week long happy party — that’s what Lehigh-Laf is. Living here we see it in full swing.

Before we had even moved onto campus we had already strategized that we’d plan to always go away for Lehigh-Laf Weekend. Last year we did (see that post here). But this year, with this weekend falling right before Thanksgiving Break, and after having survived over a year of living on campus and navigating the party scene pretty successfully, we felt confident about sticking it out and staying on campus for the weekend. Our logic was that if we are going to be here for Sunday through Thursday nights of Lehigh-Laf Week, then we may as well just ride it out and stay for the weekend too. So, we took a chance and decided to stay for the weekend.

This year the game was at home. And while we go to just about every home football game, we have yet to feel ready to go to Lehigh-Lafayette. Our idea was to just lay low and roll through the weekend. So, when the guys from the fraternity house directly behind where we live asked us to take care of their dog Molly for the weekend, we said, “Sure! Why not?” and promptly added Dog-Sitting-Molly to our Lehigh-Laf Weekend Plan.

Molly is a puppy the same age as Dash. There are very few dogs on campus, but it has been known to be true that a few fraternities do have ‘house dogs.’ Over the fall we’ve gotten to know some of the SigEp guys as we’ve bonded over our puppies. We’re especially fond of Molly’s official owner, a great student who is an unusually responsible and mature sophomore. Molly and Dash are BFFs who love nothing more than to run around together at mach speed on the Sayre Lawn.

We knew it would be crazy to add a second dog to our mix, but we also knew it would be a good distraction as we hunkered down for the weekend. And, honestly, I was pretty impressed that the SigEp guys were confident enough to ask us to help out with Molly– and I wanted to encourage that growing friendship on campus between a fraternity and a professor’s family. It isn’t everyday that a professor is dog-sitting for a fraternity’s puppy for Lehigh-Laf Weekend. But this is what real community is all about: you help each other out with stuff like this.


I have to admit, as crazy as it has been (we were right: adding another dog to the mix just takes the crazy to a whole other level), it has been really fun to have Molly with us for the weekend.6am

Although, last night, after we finally got the kids to bed, and were at long last sitting down to watch an episode of Breaking Bad (yes, we are just watching it now, and yes, we are 100% addicted), Braydon was not entirely thrilled with the insanity that was the ridiculous-non-stop-puppy-play.


Similarly, we were not entirely thrilled with the jumping-all-over-our-bed-to-get-us-up-and-let-them-out which was our 6am wake-up call. But it is pretty fun to watch Dash with his best friend. They could chase each other for hours (and have this weekend).


The bambinos, of course, have loved every minute of it. Here they are right before they headed out with the dogs for a walk in the woods:morning walk

Finally, by this afternoon, both pups were completely exhausted. This was them while we had the Lehigh-Laf football game on tv in our apartment:

tired dash tired molly

It has been a really fun, unusual, and sweet way to spend Lehigh-Lafayette Weekend on campus.