Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Imported & Moved

by Liz

The silence is deafening right? Ok, maybe just to me, but its been months(?) since my last post. New parenthood, work, renovations and moving... we bit off a bit much! I just thought I'd post this photo that I'm quite fond of. Someone actually asked a friend of ours if "that's the box she came in?" I just hope they were kidding! So, now we're moved into our new castle just down the street from our old one (don't forget to update your address books!). Next step; baby-proofing; this gal can cruise!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Model Baby

by Liz

Dove International, our agency, called and wanted to profile our Ethiopian Adoption t-shirt and announcement designs for http://www.zazzle.com/adopttees*.

They needed photos...so it was time for Ru's first "commercial" photo shoot.

Wardrobe: I suited Ru up in her "mimi" onesie and thought to try it with a jean skirt (ummm, nope) and then a plaid skirt (still nope)... they "bound" her up like a rich mans' sausage. Not wanting to undermine her Ethiopian authenticity we settled on the straight onsie.

We waited for the sun to sallow out around 7pm and readied to head down to the neighbors with the idea of getting a family photo with all of us in our "We are family" coordinated shirts. 
It was hot out. 93 degrees... Africa hot. We called for the Diva, and she had a whole list of demands before she'd "step out of her stroller" for the photo shoot; there was a mandatory swim session in the plastic pool, then a bit of a crawl to work out the kinks... then a big 10 oz bottle was requested (she was afraid she'd look a little too lean) and so we finally went to work.

Denise, our star photographer had clocked out for the evening and her dutiful assistant, Mike struggled to work a smile out of the little lady. After a brief discussion, Papa and Mama, the other two "props" stepped out of the photos... it turns out that rolls only look cute on babies... and took turns alternatively shooting or flailing madly at the 
Diva to elict a smile... you see the best of the efforts here with the agent's signoff. 80 shots for three winners. Let the public enjoy... and as Ru would say (if she could say more than "Di Da) "eat cake!"

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Its all about Ru

by Liz

I'm sure I could wax on about the small joys of parenthood; the special delight she shows when I come home, rocking her to sleep in the creeky rocking chair, the smell of her hair after a bath, the way she curls her toes when she smiles... but I know y'all just want to see the photos... so here goes:

Ru styling in a "little Miss Trouble" t-shirt from the Moss crew - yes - cell phone courtesy of our own favorite "Early adopters..." its a "retro" model (Brett; when are the kiddie I-Pods out?).

Ru, dressed for dinner at Fiesta Charra - Ole! Nothing like changing diapers on the floor of a Mexican Restaurant bathroom. Three cheers for hand sanitizer!

Rubber Ducky, Ru's the one. We all love to splish splash in the bath!

Got Rice?

And yes, Thank Heaven for little girls like Ru.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We're back as three

by Liz

She's a peach. A total peach. We're so very lucky and so very in love. She just sparkles and you feel lucky to be in her presence.

Ethiopia gets in you. Its intoxicating, beautiful, perplexing, haunting and elusive. Something about it gets lost in translation and leaves you feeling a bit incomplete. I know we'll never get over it, but we'll definitely go back. The pictures don't describe it; they leave out the smell of the eucalyptus fires and the lilt of the traffic, livestock and prayer chants. Its modern and ancient, current and rustic, welcoming and disconcerting. Through our daughter we'll be forever related to it, but never truly a part of it; always ferenge (foreigners).

We are forever grateful to the people of the Toukoul Orphange, admins to nannies to guards who daily open their hearts for the children who live there. They are as happy and secure as you could hope. The grounds echo with the happy sounds of a summer camp; hardly a place of last resort.

The staff truly cares and there were tears when Ru left her nannies. We'll have to send more photos for their walls and wallets.

Nap time is ending... mama's gotta run!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Day of departure

(by dan)

up before the alarm!

I'm sure that does not surprise anyone? not even me and I'm a sleep junky.
A habit that I understand will end cold turkey with baby Ru's demands.

I wanted to leave enough time this morning to spoil my dog Lola as I understand she'll be taking a back seat for attention when we get back...

and she's responding very well to the bologna that I've decided to eat for breakfast. Should we eat the entire package?

Must load up now on coffee and get crackin! Selam!
See you soon grandma and grandpa!
xo dan and liz

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

can't help falling in love

(by dan)

Ah... finally the bags are packed... (sort of, almost)
and we're winding down a bit having a glass(es) of wine and setting up the auto emails to read: "In Ethiopia meeting our future, back on the 23rd. in case of emergency, please do not hold your breath."

iTunes is on and Elvis is singing in the background:
"I can't help falling in love with you" while we gaze at our 6 jpegs of our Ru, how appropriate?

No! NO! now the shuffle just jumped to a song by Rage Against the Machine!

thus prophesizing my destiny as a papa, am I in for it? a rebel? Blamey.

We've packed 8 pairs of socks and underwear, (I cannot stress the importance of these 2 items for a Renuzit kinda feeling) 8 T shirts, one pair of jeans, sneaks, one pair of shoes, two nice shirts and lots of Immodium, for das shits. There is no way I'm going to Ethiopia and NOT eating goat. As long as it's not goat sushi. "Pardon me? Selam! Got microwave?" Seriously I'm very excited about the cuisine- anything beats the food here in Ohio- (Sorry Ru!) and there's a lot of new things to try.

now- it's 11:12pm- and the really nice pair of dress linen pants I was planning on wearing to the embassy meeting with one of those "nice shirts"- are still waiting to be hemmed... hmmm... I'm pretty sure those 2 shirts both match the jeans.

Liz does not plan on sleeping this eve. I'm more of a traditionalist.
good night! (unless I get insomnia?)

Upon our return, some wonderful pictures for you.

Monday, July 7, 2008

back drops

(by dan)

I have in my wallet a very dog eared little piece of paper that I've been carrying around since Wednesday, April 23rd- it's the first picture of Ru we received with her referral.

I've been starring at it for 75 days and the little girl in the photo has been starring back. She looks a little unsure of what's going on and seems to be hesitant to respond to the photographer. She is not smiling but not unhappy either. Just a little dazed- like the way I've been feeling this past week with the upcoming trip.

She has very big eyes and short curly hair. Her right hand is open and resting on her tummy and her left hand is slightly curled under. Both feet are in white socks. She's wearing a purple onesy that has long sleeves with white trim. She is sitting in a baby seat that is on a tile floor. She looks somewhat like a sweet little grape.

We are looking foward to taking many smiling pictures this coming weekend to share with you!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Tribute to our Village

(by Liz)

They say "It takes a Village to raise a child" and our Eaton Cheerleading crew of "37 Aunts & Uncles" headed up by the "Whirling Willis Wonders" proved it, and then some, with an awesome baby shower and party. The decorations were a multi-masterpiece of the Willis Women (Miss Sarah and Kathy), the food delicious, the company stellar, and the booty... oh, the booty... it's out of this world!

Our crew suited us up with not only the coolest most safety-advanced convertible car seat with a "Moo" pattern that would drive any stylish gal to drool (even the ever-dazzling Lady Libby who knows her furs).. but went completely over the top with a off-roading JEEP (that's right... JEEP) stroller with integrated IPOD speakers... are we the object of stroller envy in Eaton or what?

Although they might have wanted to set their pants on fire before admitting it (CRAIG) I think every man in the party wanted to take that number for a ride! (Shawn is still researching an additional rider policy). Even Dan's not sure which of his two "Jeeps" he wants to take for a spin (and that's a good problem to have!).

That not being overindulgent enough, they also cared enough to provide a baby monitor in order for us newly responsible parents to keep up with both our "parental AND social obligations!"

The gals also loaded us up with enough outfits, books and blankies to make a Jolie-Pitt jealous and then proceeded to regale me and the two pregnant gals with enough delivery room stories that, if it wasn't already too late, would have probably gotten two more adoption converts... lucky me, at least I could wash it down with a glass of wine! Stay strong Anna and Amy - we'll all be able to toast to little Ru showing your kiddies around the sandbox!

So on the final lap into our travel adoption adventure we have all the goodies, all the advice and all the love and support this great little village has to offer. How lucky are we?

Thank you Eaton Aunts and Uncles.

Selam. We'll sleep well.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Stranger Anxiety...

(by Liz)

Today's Milestones:

ON OUR END: the first PACKING dry run for Ethiopia has been surmounted (ie. we spread out a bunch of things on the bed for major editing). It looks like we would be wise to invest in two pack mules and lots of duct tape...

ON RU'S END: according to the helpful emails from Babycenter.com... on the eve of our arrival, she will be reaching the developmental milestone of... "Stranger Anxiety."

Oh. good.

So you're also probably imagining the kind of welcome that we strange, smelly foreigners speaking gibberish will be rewarded with after our 22-hour, 7-time-zone spanning journey, right? Feel-Good Family Movie goes Horror-Show before the words "Mommy's here" can even hit her ears.

Well, on the bright side, I guess we can leave the video camera at home and lighten the load for the ever-suffering pack mules.

Expect the first photos to roll in a bit late (how long does it take to convince an infant you're not a stranger anyway?). We'll let you know (or maybe we won't!).

Sunday, June 22, 2008

On the wisdom of Widgets

(by Dan)

Dear reader, to our right, is a very clever little computer widget by Lilypie that as of yesterday said, "1 month and 1 day until Rukiya is home."

I've been using that gauge to keep myself on track for our trip and the impending responsabilities of fatherhood. It's working really well and I've got the one month jitters.

It's the official countdown to my Pooperbowl Championship! We've just got 2 more pictures of lil Ru and she's eating very well- and has had the appearance of a rather cranky little linebacker in the last 2 photo sessions. I am not sure if she's trying to tell me something? ("oh papa you are IN FOR IT NOW!") the pictures are very sweet and I will share them (plus ones where she is hopefully smiling) after we come back to the States.

This is something that I've heard about from other folks we've met who are adopting/have adopted -that everyone seems to get really stressed out about- "why isn't he/she smiling in the photos?" I have no idea- but I can't wait to make her smile. I've seen some funny videos of the first time the parents meet their child and... the child starts wailing the minute mama goes for the first grab! Guess what- I'm not bringing the video camera. I want to see it with my own eyes- not later on the Sony.

So back to my widget.

Yesterday Liz asked if I'd purchased the backup batteries for our digital camera yet- and I said "no not yet- but we've still got a month..."

And she said, "no we don't!" and I said "yes, it's right here on the computer, 1 month and 2 days!?" and she said, "yes, 1 month and 2 days UNTIL Rukiya is HOME, we're going to be there for 2 weeks remember? that means we're leaving here for Addis in about 2 and half weeks."

I had what we call a minor "come-a-part." Everything that has not been taken care of yet flashed before mine Irish eyes.

The battery was purchased this morning thanks in part to (INSERT FREE AD FOR POSSIBLE CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP HERE) Ebay and PayPal (an Ebay subsidiary)... Hopefully it will get here in 2 weeks, it's currently in Hong Kong. That's a long way for extra juice.

Other loose ends:

Biscuit gang member, Lola our dog, will be taken care of by the Hanson family, she will be so spoiled I don't really want to think about the consequences of our return: "Where's the chicken on the crunchies, Dude?"

Biscuit gang member, Sinclair St. Claire (aka Evil Kitty of Doom) will be in a lockdown situation at the Diamond Kennel in West Alexandria, Preble County. Fans of Doom can write to in-mate 009-99-22-DOOM. Any and all email may or may not be read or responded to. Doom reserves this right.

Other serious things you need to think about before going to pick up your little one:
1. "That annoying and catchy cough on the plane directly behind you" Your health insurance- is it ready for the new family member? "why did that A#&@*&@le get on the plane if he was so sick? Infect my baby! you A#&@*&@le!"

2. "Going down in a flaming blaze of glory somewhere over Dulles airport"
OH REALLY- you don't think it couldn't happen? God does have a sense of humor-
Your last will and testament- is it updated to include your new family member? Get that taken care of. It could happen.

3. "Oh my God! they went down in a flaming blaze of glory somewhere over Dulles airport!" says the Guardians/Godparents of your new family member! Make sure that you've made provisions with notaries- so that if this happens your child's legal guardians can go over and get him/her as quickly as possible and bring them back home.

Once you're legally approved as a parent, that kid is YOURS! make sure they're not caught in a legal limbo somewhere just cause you've "Gone down in a flaming blaze of glory somewhere over Dulles airport!"

Serious notes to end a post on for me- but all concerns to contend with.
Damn widget.

I will fight the Tyranny of Pink

(by Liz)

On the threshold of motherhood, my thoughts have turned to... decorating.

Those of you who know me well aren't surprised, are you? And in the same vein you won't be surprised that I aim to "buck the trend" of submersing my little lady in pink... like many hopes I have for parenthood (such as the hope to avoid drowning in large garish plastic lawn toys...which is already fading) I imagine this one will also be short-lived in the face of the realities of the retail options and the feminine imperative that seems to drive all us gals to pink. I do admit that even at 38, the Pavlovian thrill of Barbie pink has only subdued slightly.

So, after putting together a "concept board" for the baby's room and then having my hopes dashed by the all-knowing baby designers at Babies-R-Us, I plow forth alone with my decorating dreams... sewing bold red trim onto yellow gingham, painting antique dry sinks rich red for a changing table, decking the rocking chair out in turquoise blue and landing on "Mondragon Orange" for the walls...a rosy, warm, coral orange... with a force of personality that I think may just keep the neighbors up. Dan's hoping that I can work the angle to get some sponsorship dollars from Home Depot.

Already I've purchase a back-up gallon of responsibly pale "indian summer" with the thought of confining Mondragon to merely an accent wall. And I know that as soon as she gets her language skills up and running, her first words will be; "Can't I have pink walls, Mama?" (Luckily I don't think they have baby sign language for that phrase so I'll be able to put it off at least a half year or so).

So, orange it is. With yellow gingham, red and turquoise... to "tone it down." Perhaps I can even summon a trip to Ikea for the adorable, and even better, tonally perfect oversized hippo stuffed animal which would be great for the photoshoots (yes, the Art Director has those planned too).

And yes, I do have deeper thoughts than color palettes keeping me up at night (and all day long while scraping ceiling popcorn down inch by painful inch)... and I will summon some good pearls for you at some point... but now, with the countdown ticking loudly... I'm back to my paintbrush and my concept board...(yes... for a baby's room... I'm a designer... I can't help myself)... for your amusement...

Monday, June 16, 2008

All my fears wrapped up in one sentence...

(by Dan)

Like many of you-

I have my favorite parts of movies- songs, poems, and for some of you- BOOKS EVEN! I do try to read books, occasionally- but... I guess I'm more of a magazine guy- or enjoyer of my own dreamscape at night... unless I've eaten too much pork and then I get my "porkchop nightmares..." which Liz claims might be from whatever I washed said porkchop(s) down with...


I heard this one tonight from a movie called "OLD JOY" on the Sundance channel and it defined to me in movie words my own current set of fears and anxieties and the reason I've gone to bed the last 3 nights wearing my rubber mouth guard (the kind you get in 5th grade to avoid dental trauma in sports- or the kind you get as an adult that's "fitted" at the dentists office cause you grind your teeth that costs over $200 dollars- or the kind you still get if you're like me- at Walmart- the one from 5th grade- that only costs $3 dollars cause at 39 years old you're a bit price concious and paying for your own healthcare in America...)

So these two old friends are out camping- sitting around the campfire enjoying a couple beers- and the one guys says to the other- "So are you looking forward to fatherhood?"

and the other guys says "Well, yea man- definetly"

and the response: "Wow, you're really brave- I've never gotten myself into something I could not get myself out of!"

Parenthood anxieties defined for me at this moment!

I know these worries will change- evolve, etc.- Just like me- when I said oh- what 2 years ago? "I'm totally fine without having kids- not for me."

oh look out!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Just who is this "Biscuit Gang?"

(by Dan)

Our gang consists of 2 artists, one genius baby, a dog that skips and a very evil cat.

The genius baby has not arrived yet- we are adopting her from Ethiopia and going on an adventure to get her that starts on July 9th. Her name is Rukiya (Roo-kee-ya), or Ru for short. Ru will be 8 months old when we arrive in Addis Ababa. Stay tuned for more details about our new director of inspiration when we meet her.

Until then look for writing from me- her papa Dan Robertson that will be nervous in tone and at times highly exciteable or simply confused.

Actually that will probably be the way most of my writing usually sounds.

The other gang members: Liz Robertson- my wife. the other artist, (formerly known as a Stotler), who is also a graphic designer, writer, marketing guru, momma to be and believer in the good karma that floats around the universe that can occasionally be contained if you try hard enough to add to said karma. Also, she can also run with scissors.

The dog that skips is Lola. She's a rescue dog from Puerto Rico that is 8 years old. She's the original companion to our recently lost friend Otis the Chihuahua. (piss, vinegar, and foundly missed) Lola is very shy, screwy, dramatic and obsessive compulsive. When she's in a happy mood on a walk, she'll skip every 4th step.
She also looks a bit like Sandra Bullock.

Backing up Lola's timidness, and giving no quarter is our all black, slightly damaged cat Sinclair St. Claire. (aka Doom) He found Liz while relaxing on his deathbed under a bush downtown. He'd been hit by a car but couldn't be bothered to go to a vet. So we took him, "a cat, barely alive... Gentlemen, we can rebuild him, we have the technology... he will be better than before, Better. Stronger. More evil." Doom spends much of his time pouncing on Lola, stalking Lola, and grooming Lola. He loves Lola.

We look forward to sharing with you!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

What do we need to bring to Ethiopia?

(by Dan)

I like gum. I chew a lot of it.

I can do practically everything while chewing as well, even drink coffee.
Now I'm mostly chewing sugar free Stride. in equal amounts of either Sweet Berry or Forever Fruit.
If I can't find Stride I'm also very happy with Trident's Tropical Twist.

My grandfather's a Juicy Fruit man.

I'm guessing that the kids at the Toukul orphanage are all going to all want a piece of my gum as well. This is a concern of mine and I'm hoping to pick up some corporate sponsorship from either gum manufacturer.

As a chewer of both Stride gum, and Trident gum, I hope my readers freely reach for either brand.
for more information on Stride or Trident please view
www.stridegum.com or

now gum execs, please send me some sugar free gum to share with all my new friends?

So I'll have gum. Underwear. I think dark colored ones are better. Continuing with my love of fruit- 14 day trip- hmmm...
8 pair Fruit of the Looms. Bring equal amounts socks. Find laundorama in Addis.

I am really excited about going to Ethiopia- which for me is odd as I am mostly a real homebody and mother hen preferring to stick around the nest. Obviously getting Ru is the major draw (duh right?) but we're scheduling in an extra week so we can go to Harar which is an old walled city that's supposed to be "other worldly" and we'll also being taking a trip to Ru's hometown to do some investigating and take pictures for her.

Unfortunetly we won't be able to meet anyone from her birth family but I think having photos of her original eden will someday be appreciated. I have a hard time thinking about what it will be like for Ru when she's older to have that lingering unanswered question about her birth mother and father. Aside from my excitement about adding Ru to our family I do feel a deep sadness when I think about the sense of loss her birth mother must feel.

We will definetly take Ru back to her hometown when she is older and wants to find out more about her past.

Add to list: open sense of adventure

So, gum, underwear, camera and curiousity.

I will keep working on this list, in the meantime- if anyone knows any gum execs...
and I'm totally vexed on what to bring for shoes?

Getting ready for Rukiya!

(by Dan)

Monday, June 9th, 2008.

We are 30 days away from ground zero and I am now getting really nervous. My nervous tick nervous. Last week I was only pleasantly nervous in the way that's to be expected. That motivational kind of nervousness that allows me to watch my wife assemble the crib and feel a sense of accomplishment.

In one month we will going to Ethiopia to pick up our daughter Rukiya who will be 8 months old and is patiently waiting in her crib next to a picture of her future momma and papa. She is in the Toukul orphanage in Addis Ababa, being very well taken care of and will be a most welcome addition to the biscuit gang.

Things I am currently worrying about:
Not dropping my daughter
Changing her diapers, changing her diapers on a plane. Diaper rash.

Keeping her hands and feet clean if she puts them in her mouth. Sanitizing everything.

Will she be lactose intolerant? Projectile diarrhea and vomiting, from both of us.
Will she be teething? does the cherry flavored teething medicine taste better than the berry flavored teething medicine I bought at CVS?

What's the difference between a digital thermometer for $7.99 and $49.99? Won't she going to be equally annoyed with me when I put a thermometer under her tongue versus in her ear?

Does the "Diaper Dude" bag my wife got me really look like a messenger bag?
Should I have gotten the camo pattern instead of the orange one?

Things I was previously worried about that are now on the back burner:
Achieving whiter teeth, My side burns. Getting sunburn. Gristle and lint.