After working for most of the holiday season including Christmas, I was able to cobble together a few days off from work. We decided to take the opportunity to drive to Orlando for a quick family vacation.
We stayed at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort, which was amusing for AJ and JJ as they are currently fans of SpongeBob Squarepants. They enjoyed the 3D Movie Theater and the SpongeBob decorations. There were multiple photo opportunities to meet the characters at the resort, but the boys have reached the stage where they realize it is somebody in a costume and are rather disenchanted and uncooperative with such photos.
DJ and MJ are happy to meet SpongeBob and Patrick even if their brothers aren’t.
On Monday we attempted to go to the Magic Kingdom but were sadly turned away at the gates because they were filled to capacity! We were diverted to Epcot with a voucher for free parking and 50% off lunch so we made sure we made good use of our consolation prizes. As we had predicted, the park was very busy and getting around as a bulky party of 6 was not conducive to getting much accomplished. But we simply enjoyed the time together as a family and considered it a success that we even made it there.
Family of 6 at Epcot
Josh had to get back to work by Tuesday, so he drove home with the babies. I stayed in Orlando with AJ and JJ for two more days to allow them more time to enjoy the parks now that they are tall enough for most of the rides.
12/31/13. JJ and AJ’s new favorite ride. They insisted on going twice!
New Year’s Eve at Animal Kingdom
New Year’s Day at Universal Studios
Now we are all back at home safe and sound. It was a nice vacation to mark the end of an amazing year for our family, and the beginning of a new one. In closing, we wish everyone a Happy New Year and we present our holiday card for 2013!
Happy New Year!
Obviously, we are quite busy these days. There hasn’t been a lot of spare time to compose longer blog posts documenting our adventures. Thus it seems like the perfect time to explore the world of micro-blogging! To this end, I have established Twitter, Instagram, and Vine accounts so I can tap out a few words or capture a moment whenever opportunity strikes. I have embedded our twitter feed on the home page of our blog so visitors can see the latest.
I am new to Twitter but find it very amusing thus far. Unlike Facebook, Twitter gives you the opportunity to communicate directly with so many people you don’t even know. Celebrities are interesting but I also find it very powerful connecting to gay parents across the country and around the world. We may not know each other in real life, but we certainly share a common bond in our special situation.
Last week we celebrated two rarely coinciding holidays, Hanukah and Thanksgiving. The holidays go together well, because both are about expressing gratitude for blessings in life. This year, we obviously have much to be thankful for as our family grows. My sister Annie and brother-in-law Rahul came from New Orleans and Josh’s parents joined us as well for a big family feast.
I am quite proud of the turkey and traditional potato latkes that I made for the meal. Josh shot down my idea of brining the turkey but it roasted nicely anyway with garlic, herbs and seasoning rubbed all over on Wednesday night. Together with my matzoh ball soup, mastering the potato latke means that I am one recipe away from the Jewish cooking trifecta. I will hopefully get the brisket right by Passover next year…
Lighting the candles on the first night Wednesday
The spread 5 minutes before everyone sat down and demolished it
20 pound bird this year
The secret ingredient borrowed from Rachael Ray’s recipe is grated carrot
What a difference a year makes.
Exactly one year ago, my sister and brother-in-law came to Florida to stay for 10 days so they could take AJ and JJ to school and to trick or treat on Halloween, while Josh and I made our first trip to India. We were very quiet about our plans, and not many people knew we were even going to be away. We were so secretive because we felt there was a lot of uncertainty pursuing international surrogacy, and we didn’t want it to be public knowledge if we were about to be swindled.
Investigating our options in 2012, my medical background and our prior experience as parents through surrogacy had already served us well in weeding out some questionable situations. We knew in some cases immediately that we were being lied to: “No need to make the trip to India beforehand. We can just ship your stuff to India because frozen is as good as fresh for IVF.” – LIE; “To ensure success in one cycle, we can transfer to two surrogates. I know you just said you would prefer singleton. The two surrogates have never gotten pregnant at the same time like that, and certainly not with multiples.” – LIE.
But some claims were not as easily disproven, and we had to see the operation for ourselves to make sure things were legit. Once we met Dr. M, we felt comfortable enough to proceed. However, throughout the pregnancy, nagging doubts remained. We had recurring nightmares that we would return to India to find that Dr. M’s Infertility Clinic had been replaced suddenly with Mrs. M’s Nail Salon, and none of the nail techs would know anything about babies… how about a manicure?
One year later everything obviously turned out well, and we were treated with a sweet outcome. But we are also sadly aware of many intended parents pursuing international surrogacy with other agencies who appear to have been tricked into paying for unnecessary medical fees, multiple IVF procedures and possibly even whole pregnancies that may have never really happened. International surrogacy can be a gamble. We feel extremely fortunate for ourselves and sympathy for other IPs who gamble with their wallets and their hearts trying to create families abroad. Trick or treat?
Take your pick – heroes or pirates?
To offset the depressing article discussed in last week’s post, Josh found this piece about a gay couple that opened their hearts and home to an astounding 14 children. I really admire people like this. It goes to show you that just like straight people, some gay people don’t make good parenting decisions, but plenty of others are truly amazing parents!
The Ham Family