Friday, December 14, 2007
Anyway, one down part of my day today is that we found out today that William is allergic to wheat. Yes, he is almost three and we're just finding this out now. We suspected lactose intolerance, but even that was only a few months ago (and we won't even know if that's true until we let his belly heal a bit from the wheat overload). I'm feeling like a bad mom that I've been poisoning him for approximately two years now with no knowledge of this fact. I guess technically it's a wheat intolerance, since it's not life-threatening and is really just an intestinal issue. That's a positive. The second positive is that he's not allergic to gluten, which is in far more things than wheat alone. So, once I become educated on the best wheat-free products to buy, it will be fine, but right now it's kind of a bummer - no bread, most cereals, crackers, cookies, pasta, pizza. Granted, they do make all of these things with no wheat, but I don't know how appetizing they'll be. The loaf of wheat-free bread I bought today resembles a large brick more than a loaf of bread. Anyway, I am happy to know why the poor kid has the largest, hardest, distended belly at bedtime and rarely eats dinner. I think he just got accustomed to feeling lousy - poor kid.
As far as Sophie, she's doing really well. She is still sleeping like a champ and starting to eat a lot more big people food despite having only two teeth (I can practically see all the others, so apparently they will all arrive at once - that should be fun!). She has gained a pound and an inch each month home. She is over 50% in height and head, and catching up in weight. Her Dr. is pleased and so are we - she's healthy as can be.
We have our 3 month homestudy update on Monday. In Connecticut you don't have to "readopt", you simply validate the international adoption in the local probate court, which took all of 30 seconds with a very nice judge. By the way, anyone who is adopting in Connecticute, DO NOT hire a lawyer - I almost paid $3,000 for a random lawyer to stand with us at this 30 second court date until our social worker told me I didn't need him - thank you Barbara!
She's definitely expressing herself these days (often screaming at the top of her lungs just to hear the sound) and absolutely loves wrestling with the big kids. And I mean full-on, tackle to the ground, wrestling. She loves it! It is so funny to watch. I love that she is going to be one tough cookie.
Ok, well I feel like I have whined enough in this post. I just sent out our Christmas cards today, so once I know that people have received the paper version, I'll post the pictures on the blog. I love how they came out - they really captured the kids well. Before I go I also want to say a big congratulations to the Runnions, the Clevingers and Ethiopia Mama. They are all officially parents of beautiful Ethiopian babies and are in various stages of travel or prepping for travel. I also want to congratulate Jocelyn on the referral of Pacey - she's had a long road and by the looks of the pictures, it was worth the wait - Pacey is beautiful!! To the Quinn girls, Frey family and Renee and Geert, we're thinking of you and have the court dates on the calendar - we can't wait to hear the good news!
Oh, I almost forgot. For those of you who haven't seen this Elf site, I can promise you it is the funniest thing I have seen in a VERY long time. If you don't know my kids, it's probably even funnier if you do it with your own, but it's hilarious nonetheless. Check it out for a good laugh. Have a great weekend everyone!
Friday, November 30, 2007
I also wish that I had brought more for the other children. We brought lots of random things, but with up to 120 kids in some of these places, you really need to have a LOT of things so as to avoid anyone being left out. We ended up leaving a lot of our bags of goodies with Belay so that he could distribute them as he saw fit, but I would have loved to see all of those beautiful eyes light up with even the simplest of gifts.
I guess my main point in thinking about what we could have done is that there are still so many ways that we can still help. Several friends have asked how to make a donation in Sophie's name in lieu of another baby gift that we don't need. I think this is probably the best gift we could ask for. One friend gave directly to the Gladney Fund and another donated a farm animal to a needy family in order to break the cycle of poverty through Heifer International. John and I sponsor two children from Rwanda (and will add two more to our sponsorship - to have one for each of our own children) through World Vision. The kids love to receive the letters and pictures from our sponsored children and love to send photos and hand-drawn pictures back. We know that one day, they will understand how truly important all of this is. We plan to make several trips back to Ethiopia throughout our lifetime and will include each of the kids in philanthropic projects right here at home as each is old enough to understand. This year, we plan to focus most of our annual giving on Ethiopia. After reading the recent accounts of Drew and Carey and the Mestas Family, I think it's best for those of you interested to go straight to their blogs to see about the specific projects.
Drew and Carey are involved in a great project that provides free wheelchairs for people around the world (and specifically in Ethiopia if you want to request it). You can donate one wheelchair for a mere $75. After seeing the many people in Ethiopia in dire need of a wheelchair, this one is a no brainer.
They also took some great pictures of the run-down playground equipment that we all saw at the orphanages, which you can view here and here. Gladney is trying to raise lots of money to pay for 5 new playgrounds for the orphanages. As you can imagine, the shipping alone is astronomical, so any little bit helps.
Finally, one of the other Ethiopia-specific projects near to us is the new library for the older boys at the Kolfe orphanage that we visited and that I wrote about in a prior post. I think the Mestas family explains it the best in their blog post entitled The Forgotton Boys.
If either of the Gladney projects are of interest to you, you can send checks payable to:
The Gladney Center for Adoption c/o Scott Brown.
Mail to: 6300 John Ryan DR.Fort Worth, TX 76132-4122
In the memo line of check write: “Ethiopian Humanitarian Aid”
I assume you should include a note if you want the money to go specifically for the playgrounds, Kolfe or if you want Gladney to decide how best to use it.
This year, we decided that none of the adults need to exchange holiday gifts in our families - we all have most everything we need and if we don't we usually just go buy it ourselves anyway. We're trying to simplify the holiday season and plan to enjoy it and the company of our friends and family more, rather than spending time stressing out about what to buy the uncle who has everything. In lieu of that, we're going to focus our holiday giving on some of the projects listed above and hope that you might be inspired to do the same. Happy Holidays!
Sunday, November 25, 2007
The one in the pink next to Sophie looks SO familiar to me - can someone help me with a name? Robin, is this Pickles? I think the pacifier is throwing me off. I have stared at every picture on your blog, but since she has a HUGE smile in every one, it's hard for me to tell if this is her! The picture was taken by Lisa Holliday in August.
I recognize Berahne from Drew and Carey's blog (I have one more of him from our trip that I can also email you) .
Friday, November 16, 2007
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
As far as us, we've been settling into life nicely - things seem so normal at home now that I haven't taken many pictures. We do have down time tonight between dinner and bed, so I made the kids take some new pics. I think they all look the same as last time, and Sophie even has the same outfit on! As far as milestones, Sophie is still teething like mad - she's an expert double-fisted-teether with 2 fingers in her mouth pretty much all the time. She finally started moving forward (as opposed to rolling everywhere sideways and scootching backwards), but is more dragging herself then crawling. She has gotten on all fours though, so I'm sure it will be any time. I think I better get baby-proofing, thought I'm not sure that's really possible with three other kids at home!
We've noticed that she's let her guard down even more. It seems so bizarre to say that about a 9 month-old baby, but it's true. Now when she sees us she literally screams with delight and kicks like crazy. Not that she wasn't happy to see us before, but both John and I noticed an entirely different level of excitement. It's really great to see. Sometimes the kids are so rough with her (with hugs and kisses, but still!). I'm amazed at what a good sport she is - she really seems to like it! I'm starting to realize how impossible a good Christmas picture is going to be with four. We can barely get a good one with three of them at once! OK, well it's bedtime for the kids, so more later.
A final Halloween picture
William LOVES Sophie
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Girl: "Oh she's so cute!! What is she?"
Me: "Uhhh, I'm sorry?"
Girl: "What is she?"
Me: "Uhh, she is from Ethiopia"
Girl: "Oh" and goes on her way
Me (to John): "Well, I've never gotten that one before!!"
John: "Yeah, hmm" (both of us thinking, ok, she IS 10)
The nice neighbor we're talking with then touches the antenna on Sophie's head when it dawns on me. OH!!!!!! SHE'S A LADYBUG!!!!!!!!!!!
I am an idiot!
Saturday, October 20, 2007
All Time Favorites
The Waiting is the Hardest Part - Tom Petty (not only do I love the sound of this song, I think you would all agree that it's so true - especially this crowd!!!) This was part of my high school yearbook quote and I have never wavered - love it.
American Girl - Tom Petty
Comin' in from the Cold - Bob Marley
Beautiful Day & Sweetest Thing - U2
Romeo & Juliet (live) - Dire Straits
Ant Marching & Crash - Dave Matthews
The Boys of Summer - Don Henley
Stay - Lisa Loeb
Relatively Current Favorites (remember, I mostly get to listen to my music while spinning or running, so cut me some slack :)
Mama Africa - Akon
Move Along - All American Rejects
Big Girls Don't Cry - Fergie
The Sweet Escape - Gwen Stefani
Mr. Brightside - The Killers
It's Like That - Mariah
Hey There Delilah - Plain White Ts
Streetcorner Symphony- Rob Thomas
Fix You - Coldplay
Over My Head - The Fray
With Arms Wide Open - Creed (those of you expecting a new child have to listen to this song - the first time I really listened to it, I was about 2 weeks away from giving birth to Matthew and I was bawling my eyes out. It's a sweet song).
My kids are also big music people, and luckily for me not just Barney. Here are their current favorites:
Matthew - anything by the Rolling Stones - especially, You Can't Always Get What You Want (did I brainwash him?) and Brown Sugar, but also very masculine favorites like Beyonce
Katie - California (the theme from the OC, but I promise she never watched it) and Black Horse and Cherry Tree - KT Tungstall (sp?)
William - We Will Rock You (must be from all the sports on TV at our house, b/c that is definitely not on my iPod during dance party dinner making time)!
Hope you are all hanging in there while waiting!
Thursday, October 18, 2007
- private equity associate
- equity research analyst (one summer)
- commercial banker
- bus girl (I lasted 1 day!)
- sunglass polisher in a factory (for a whole summer!)
- bank teller
-New York, NY
PLACES I'D RATHER BE RIGHT NOW
-at the beach (not too hot) watching my kids play
-a long weekend away with John
-a weekend away with girlfriends (only 3 weeks away - yahoo!)
-This is a hard one. After a week away from the kids, and traveling to Africa, I'm really perfectly happy right here at home for now!
FOODS I LOVE
-Nana's roast beef, beans, mashed potatoes with LOTS of gravy
- Any salad I didn't have to make
-Most comfort food - chili, thick soups, etc.
-Sweet potato fries
-Egg & Cheese on a toasted wheat bagel
FAVORITE TV SHOWS
- Brothers & Sisters (overall winner by FAR)
- The Office (although I liked it better as 1/2 hour)
- Grey's Anatomy
- lots of shows that I shouldn't admit - most were cancelled b/c I was the only loser that watched them! (Bachelor, What About Brian, Jack And Jill etc)
-Studio 60 - is it really gone?
MOVIES I LOVE
- I really don't like to see movies more than once, and I'm a total sucker for romantic comedies (whether or not they're even good) so this may be lame
-A Lot Like Love (I may have a crush on Amanda Peet)
-I'm braindead - can't remember any others, but I'm sure there are more
BOOKS I'VE LOVED IN THE LAST YEAR
- Many by Jodi Piccoult
- Jane Greene & Cecelia Ahern books (mindless, beach reading)
-There is No Me Without You (and I just met Melissa Fay Green at the New Canaan Library - she was so funny and great to hear speak - Her stories about her own Ethiopian adoptions were so heartwarming)
- The Kite Runner
AND I TAG the Jennifers - Ethiopian Mama & Runnion
Monday, October 15, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Monday, October 8, 2007
As far as us, we have settled in nicely. It's hard to believe we've been home for two weeks. The first week was chaotic. It actually was really only hard trying to get everyone back to normal - go through all the mail, school papers, laundry, etc. I just kept piling the mail up and up until I couldn't ignore it anymore. I'm happy to report that that pile is now gone!
I think it was the first day that John left for work that I realized that I am responsible for FOUR little people. He was heading out of the kitchen and they were all eating and playing in the kitchen and I just looked at him like, you are really ok leaving me with all of them?!?!?! I feel like I'm still an irresponsible high school kid sometimes and couldn't possibly be in charge of all of this! Have no fear - they were all safe and we were able to keep everything under control!
The kids are doing so well with Sophie. It really makes all the difference when the new baby can laugh and smile immediately. They have all been so proud to get huge belly laughs out of her. I think Katie has made every bottle for her that she's been home for and Matthew and William love to read her books - see below :)
She has been a great baby. She sleeps about 13 hours a night - straight through. It's pretty unbelievable, actually. She also goes to bed SO easily. Pop in the pacifier, rub her forehead or belly for a minute and she's out! One night she even fell asleep while I was changing her diaper and putting her pjs on. She takes two naps and those were probably most affected by jet lag. They were each about 3 hours when we first got home, which was actually kind of a pain to be "trapped" at home for so long, but now she's settled in to about 1.5 hours for each, which is perfect. It took her about a week and a half, but she now actually wakes up happy in the morning. At first, she would wake up with this terrified cry. At first I thought she was starving, but then I realized that she calmed down as soon as we got her and was didn't need to eat right away. I don't know if it was being alone in the crib or room, but I think we're over that hump now.
The biggest issue has been all of the health stuff that they warned us to expect. The first day home I brought her to the city to a pediatrician specializing in adoptions. She was checked from head to toe. She had an ear infection, a terrible skin rash and possibly rickets (vitamin D deficiency). They gave her 5 immunizations and took a ton of blood. The shots were nothing compared to the blood work. Because they needed so much, they laid her on her back and had her head hang off of the table while they drew blood from her JUGULAR!! As horrifying as it was (although the "hanging" and being held down bothered her much more than any needle did), apparently it is the easiest and fastest way to draw that much blood due to the screaming and gravity. I'm not so sure about that! Anyway, she was 3% in weight, 12% in height and 45% in head circumference, so we're thrilled that she's even on the charts. The way she's chowing now, I bet she'll blow through these %s. Her birth mother was so tiny, though, so I don't know how big she'll end up (though her mom might not even be done growing). Looking at her most recent pictures, I think her face has already fattened up!
Last week we saw our regular pediatrician. In hindsight, I probably should have just started here since he seemed totally on top of any potential issues from Africa and that way he doesn't have to wait around for results from labs he doesn't know, etc. He was surprised to hear about the rickets and doesn't really think she has it. He had us take her for leg xrays (the least invasive and most conclusive way to check for rickets). He left a message saying everything was fine, but I'll speak to him in person today. The amoxicillan wasn't doing anything for her ears, so he switched her antibiotic, which had the added benefit of killing the bacteria that we found in her belly at the same time, so that's good. We had to treat the original rash with a pretty harsh cream that basically set her cheeks on fire! She also has excema, and it really flared up on her cheeks. We've been able to keep it calm since we figured out that it's just excema, but it's definitely still there. Given how many random little annoyances she's had in the past two weeks, she's really doing great. She is eating a ton and generally very happy. We'll see the Dr every month for a few months to check her progress, but he is optimistic that she'll continue to grow well.
Two days after we came home, we had the opportunity to see Melissa Fay Greene speak at a local library. She was even better in person than in her book – and she’s really funny! For those of you who don’t know it, or haven’t read it, I highly recommend Melissa’s book http://www.thereisnomewithoutyou.com/. It was so great to see local families with Ethiopian babies at home. I even ran into a woman that I know from town that's seriously considering Ethiopia for adoption. I'm so happy to see this really starting to happen in our community.
Oh, and I almost forgot - this was a big week for TEETH! Sophie got her first tooth on our first Wednesday home and got her second this past Thursday. She has two more on the verge. And her biggest brother Matthew FINALLY lost his first tooth this week (he might be the last kid in 1st grade with all baby teeth!). I think Katie and I were much more excited about the tooth fairy than he was since he tried to give the dollar to Daddy in the morning!
Ok, that's all for now. I can't wait to see new baby faces on other blogs soon. Hang in there guys!
See the first one? It's there!
Monday, September 24, 2007
At noon we headed back to the Gladney baby house for more pictures (I forgot to get any of the actual house and rooms during our whirlwind visit last time) and some last minute loving of Baby Zoe and the Mestas twins. Sophie’s primary caregiver, Almaz, was working today, so I was happy to be able to get a proper goodbye and more pictures with her. The twins were practicing sitting up and playing, which was very cute. There is so little space in the rooms (especially because they are in the middle of painting the upstairs, so 3 rooms worth of cribs and babies are in 2 rooms until that’s done), that I don’t think they get much time to practice sitting up, etc, so it was good to see that. We got lots of pictures and videos and then it was time to say goodbye. I don’t know who actually started, but saying goodbye to Almaz was one of the hardest goodbyes this week. We both were crying pretty hard and not wanting to let go. I’ve said it before, but it is so amazing to know how much your child was loved before you were able to get to her. We are so very lucky.
The outside of the baby home
The back - laundry day!
Final dinner in Addis
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Since it was so rainy and Sophie could use a nap in the crib rather than trekking around on our laps, she and John went back to the hotel while I was driven to do some souvenir shopping. Apparently, the Mercato is the largest ourdoor market in all of Africa with everything from jewelry to tires for sale. All of the Gladney people here basically told us that it is a total nightmare and the biggest discount you would get on any one item (compared to more civilized areas) was $1. Apparently it is so full of people that it’s very easy to get lost in the crowd and if you are going to have any pick-pocketing issues, etc, that’s where they would be. With that in mind, I let them take me to the best alternative – the post office area. Once I can post pictures this might sink in a little better, but suffice it to say, I felt very uncomfortable pulling up on the side of this muddy road in a spankin’ clean white mercedes with my driver. Granted, I had no other option since I don’t speak Amharic and have no idea where I’m going or what I’m doing, but I felt like an idiot. In the 4 or 5 tiny store fronts, I was able to buy lots of souvenirs for very little money. I had picked out one pair of leather sandals with pretty beads on them for myself and when the saleswoman told Eyasu (my driver, bag handler, interpreter and guardian) the price, his eyebrows went way up and he said the equivalent of “WOW! in Amharic” He then looked at me and said, “these are very expensive”. I was prepared to put them back when I asked him how much. He told me 130 birr with a surprised tone in his voice. I pretended to think about it and then decided that I would splurge and spend the $14 or so. I’m sure he thought I was way too extravagant with my purchases, but I just told myself that it couldn’t have been the first or last time he would witness an American buying up the store (it was really just 1 or 2 bags, but it felt like the store!) I’m sure he was also wondering why I wasn’t bargaining, but to be honest, I just didn’t have it in me. I’m getting a HUGE bargain, and they’re barely making a living – let them charge me a little more than they would an Ethiopian – what do I really care?
Mommy & Sophie overlooking the volcanic crater lake - we didn't even get to see a sunset and it was still spectacular!
Friday, September 21, 2007
Sophie's favorite Hilton employee :) The donkeys at work The man with the gunThe view from Entoto The daily task of hauling eucalyptus branches to sellAfter walking around the top of Entoto breathing the air for as long as possible, we met Ryan for lunch at a delicious Chinese restaurant. He had spent the morning at the Embassy for us and we now have Sophie’s Ethiopian passport, US visa and all of her paperwork to bring her back home. After lunch we went to the Alert Hospital, which is a whole compound for the treatment of Leprosy, and is the only such hospital in all of Africa. The main reason for visiting there is because the people that have been treated there spin cotton and weave all of these beautiful cloths and clothing. We were able to see the whole process (all hand done) from pulling the raw cotton into yarn to the looms to the final embroidery. John even got to spin some cotton himself! We bought quite a few souvenirs for the kids and our home there and felt like we paid way to little for such beautiful handiwork.
John spinning cotton at the Leprosy Alert HospitalOur last stop before naptime was the Lion Zoo. For $1 a person (+ $2 for your camera), you can see the black maned lions in these horrible, cement cages. Although being that close up to the lions was absolutely amazing (and I think the kids will love the pictures), PETA would not be very happy. It was a little depressing and the raw slabs of meat in the cages leftover from lunch was not all that appetizing!
Close up at the lion zoo
A lot of people have asked whether Sophie is Ethiopian or foreign (and many people thinks she looks like John except for her button nose!) Ryan said it’s mostly a function of her lighter skin and slightly straight hair. It’s funny b/c I can almost see the people discussing and guessing before they ask. The people have been so great. It’s going to be hard to come home and not be able to have someone else hold her all the time while I get things done. Everyone here (stranger or not) wants to hold and kiss her!Well after lots of rest yesterday afternoon, we had a quiet dinner with Belay at a restaurant called Serenade. It felt very familiar – small, quaint and the food was delicious. John and I felt kind of guilty as we scarfed down our delicious meat dishes while Belay had to have a medley of vegetables served in halves of eggplant – Orthodox Ethiopians fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, which means no meat or any animal products on these days. After dinner Sophie and I passed out at about 9. For some reason, John and I have been on opposite nap schedules, so since he wasn’t tired, he hung out in the hotel lobby for a little while watching Rugby. We’re so conflicted because we want to spend every minute soaking in the city and the culture, but we are truly exhausted. Luckily, neither of us has gotten sick, but that being said, neither of us has felt “normal” since we arrived. I really don’t know if it’s jet lag, the altitude (~8,000 ft about sea level), the intense diesel fuel we’re breathing in, or just the fear of getting sick. I have been either freezing or really hot the entire time we’ve been here. I also have felt a little light-headed and my stomach sort of feels like the days after you’ve had a bad stomach bug and haven’t eaten for awhile. Although we are certainly ready to get home to the other kids and to resume a normal life, I’m afraid of all that we’ll miss. My body is definitely ready to come home though!!