Friday, September 28, 2007

Yesterday we had our 1st post placement visit with Connie from Texas Adoption Homestudies. She is so cool. She is now working with Gladney, so if anyone ever wants a very nice social worker that you can be at ease with, I strongly endorse Connie. We talked about how the family was adjusting and how Piper was doing. She really is doing well, now. She is getting along at school and church so well. Everyone talks about how easy she is and really she is. There is a little fight still in her, but that's ok...I want my girl to have that! She still has a small vocabulary that she regularly uses, but she will repeat anything you say easily. I imagine after your third language by the age of 2, you'd be able to say anything, but still not sure which is the right word for something. Now if we could just lose "caca".....

I have started to somewhat potty train. I have learned by the 3rd kid, that this does not happen overnight or a 2-3 day period. I should also say that I am not hardcore on it either. When they are 3 I start sweating it more. Cam did it right when he turned 3 and Brodan about 2 months before 3. And neither of them are perfect at it still...night time eludes us, but we have GoodNites for that. We are using the potty for #2 and I am getting better at reading the signals. She will tug and say that pretty word most of the time, so we are getting better at that. I wouldn't have started already except that she seems ready to begin. It's funny...the boys at this age, it would have been laughable to even think of it. Girls are so smart. Mine especially :)

Here are some recent pictures:

Sunday, September 23, 2007

And what was your name, again?

It is definitely getting harder to post. The ages 2,3, and 4 are tough, man. I have been working on getting a schedule set, since we are finally starting to gel a little better. The dynamic has changed some, but we are really starting to feel "real" and more natural. Looking back, I would wake up in the morning and think about this new child from Ethiopia that was going to wake up soon, and how that would change our day. What would we do, or learn, or what were we going to be up against, that day. Now, I wake up and think, do I have time to get in the shower before someone else wakes up or what can I get done real quick, or who has to bring the snack to school today? You know, "normal" day to day thoughts. I think of my kids collectively, not the boys and my new daughter. Now it's, "the kids". I absolutely love it.

But it does take it's toll. I think my husband and I need a date night soon. Because we have really just been roommates for the past 2 months and that does not a happy marriage make! The good thing is, we are both completely aware of that, and knew going into it, that there would be some times like that. We talked the other day about how we are going into that area of marriage where a lot fall apart, or grow away from each other, and how aware of that we need to be. We have to tell the kids that Mom and Dad are talking and need to be left alone for a bit, or we have to go out without them(on those rare occasions). How else can we teach the kids what marriage should be like?

How do you families out there with several kids do it? And still maintain contact with your spouse even when you really just want to sleep or sit in the bathroom with the door locked for 15 minutes?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Striking new blog

I found a new blog. It is Haiti-related, not Ethiopia-related. Or maybe I should just say it is human-related. This is another this-could-be-anywhere post. This family works for Real Hope for Haiti, from what I understand. On this blog from one of the family members, you see cute old men, surgeries that take place, life and the deaths. In memoriam, she does post pictures of the children who die. It is the hardest thing to do, going to her blog every day, but I have to. I know what I might see, but I feel like that child deserves the tears and for someone to feel the loss of their life. I am sure that I am not the only one, as I know that Licia, the not-a-nurse, nurse, does feel the impact. And the others who read her blog. This blog has the sad reality. Please see the blog No, I'm Not a Nurse. But be prepared to cry. You may not want to do it at work or in front of anyone.

People like Licia and her family give hope.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Still asking for their family

Remember the 3 siblings that I mentioned from Bright Futures Camp awhile back? They still don't have a family, yet. This is what Becky has as an update:

Remember them? Oh how I wish I had good news to report. Sadly, our joy in having Kali as part of our lives is often overshadowed by the heartbreak that these children still do not have a forever family. We received letters today from Genet and Yesalemush. This is the second set of letters that we have received from them since their return to Ethiopia in mid July. These new letters are even more heartwrenching than the first set. The girls are so sweet and mention everyone by name, even remembering that Kali was going to have a birthday and wishing her a Happy Birthday. But their sadness at not having a family is so painful to read. Yesalemush writes, "Please try and be fast the paper and try to be fast to pick me out from Ethiopia to USA."

We thought the children knew that we were not adopting them, that we were truly just a host family for them for their stay here in Texas. But then, at the end of their time here, we found out that ALL the children were told that their "families" were only host families, even those whose families were already committed to adopting them. And then they also saw that most of the kids from last year's camp were indeed adopted. So what are they supposed to think? Of course they think that we are adopting them! How are we now supposed to tell them that we are not in a position to adopt them?

Even if there is a family out there who is meant to have these children, we know that the process takes time. But we can't help but feel that we've done nothing but give them false hope by bringing them here in the first place.

The oldest boy, Aschalo, bought a chemistry book when he was here for fun! He was gracious and studious, and did well with the kids. He will age out, I believe this next year. Genet is shy and studios and wants to be a pilot when she grows up. And Yesalemush is the artist and all girly girl. These are just unjust short bios. These precious kids need a family.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sara Groves,

This is in Rwanda. It could have been in Haiti or Ethiopia. Sadly, it could be way too many places.


Last Sunday we had the fine and fun pleasure of meeting the Page family in town at our local Mickey D's whose stinkin' playground was closed!! We had lots of loud fun anyway! Kali was a sweet and very smart little girl who seems to have really grown since the last time I saw her at the Ethiopian soccer tournament in Garland back in July. You wouldn't know that she didn't speak English only a few months ago! While they didn't seem to really recognize each other, they did check each other out :)

And decided that they were OK :)

Looks like the boys thought each other were pretty ok, too

Since Piper and Kali were in the same orphanage, Becky and I (and the Dads) think it is important that we maintain contact. We are close and they are almost a year apart exactly, so we think it would be great for them to know each other and have one another to talk to during those years when they need someone who truly understands what they are dealing with. While we can offer comfort, empathy, advice, and backup, we can not truly understand what they will go through as adopted African Americans in a white family. So this is one way we can maintain a connection with Ethiopia, and foster a relationship that they can identify with. It was great to see you guys, Page family!!

Well, Dennis has been out of town since Saturday. I have decided some things. Namely, I would make a crummy single parent of 3. Maybe if they were older, I had a maid, and a yard guy, then it wouldn't be so bad;) But that was hard! You spend all your time trying to maintain the status quo with cleaning and normal responsibilities and things you are responsible for outside of home, that it leaves you tired, cranky, snappish, and "too busy" to enjoy and just "be" with your kids. I am sure some people are better equipped to handle it or maybe there is a learning curve just like anything else, you get a system or schedule, but it scared me. And left me frazzled. I am sure their ages, 4,3,and 2, are largely a part of this. And when it is kids, kids, kids, from 6:30am to 8:30pm all day every day with absolutely no reprieve, that is tough, too. It is a complete privilege to be able to do this, but is it in my children's best interest when I feel that way? Is it in their best interest to take them to day care and I go to work? What we have now works wonderfully. I work at their Parent's Day Out on Mondays and Wednesdays. While I am with kids there, they aren't mine, and we get a little away time from each other. But I still consider myself a stay at home mom. I prefer it, but I don't at all think that that is always best for everyone. Some have no choice. Some people aren't wired to stay home. I get that completely. Now this is all just "what if" thinking anyway. What if something happened to Dennis. What if something happened to me? But I guess that is our responsibility as parents. We have to think "what if" and cover our bases. Anyways, it left me a lot of thinking to do, once I get time to think!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy Birthday, Piper!!

Today my little girl is 2! While we reserve this day as a day of rememberance of the tragedy that is 9/11, the Ethiopians are celebrating their millenium this year. It is the year 2000 there, now, and it is also Peep's birthday.

Piper is growing leaps and bounds physically, socially, and mentally. She made it on the growth chart today at 3% in weight...yay! I hesitate for her gain more though or her little Budda belly is going to pop! Now if we can get vertical to grow with horizontal, we'd be set! Unfortunately, I have the same problem :(

Piper is repeating everything, so speech is no problem. She probably has about 10 english words that she uses on her own without prompting. She can feed herself better than her now 3 year old brother, put on her own socks, and diaper. My plan is to begin the potty training next month, now that we are settled and have more of a schedule, since she was semi-trained before (although in all honesty, she only peed once or twice a day then, she was so dehydrated). She goes to Parent's Day Out and is doing great there. Everywhere we go, people just have to smile at her and a lot just touch her. That part is funny to me. It is awesome having a daughter that can hold her own with her brothers, too. Those boys(including Dad) are the biggest suckers. And so they should be.

Happy birthday, big little girl!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Happy Birthday, Brodan!!

Happy Birthday to my little big boy. I thought he was little and my baby until I brought little Piper home and saw that my baby was really a big boy! Brodan is the most loveable boy. He is laid back, affectionate, and ALL boy. He could lay and dig in the dirt forever. He could lay on the floor and push a car back and forth while singing to himself forever, too. Brodan is also starting to talk a lot more and use phrases like, "I can believe it" or "I don't think so", which are so cute with his little lisp. He has really surprised me with his sister and is willing to share toys and food with her with no problem, mostly of his own volition!

Happy birthday, Brodan. And just like your Great-Granddaddy always said to me, you will always be my baby.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Gray areas of life

Brodan told me that I have white hair. I said no I don't. He said, "Yes you do and!", pointing at my head all serious. Thank God we weren't in public.

Time to get my roots done.
Strike a pose, there's nothin' to it...

Good news to report!

We are parasite free! Cross one off the list! Yee-double-haw!

We had a little scare earlier this week. When Piper's blood was retested, her levels were almost normal. However, she tested positive for Hep C. They checked her again for Hep C in a different way than she had been tested before. You can, though, have a false negative AND positive. Since they had enough blood, they tested it again and it came back negative! So 2 out of 3 of these special tests are negative. And all her regular Hep tests were negative. That is very reassuring and they will test again in the next couple of months or so. We still go to the GI doctor later this month and will know more then.

Piper had her first day of "school" yesterday. It is at the Parent's Day Out I work at. She is such a champ. She cried for about 30 seconds when I dropped her off and that was it. I peered in at her all day and she was laughing and playing. I think it was like being at the orphanage for her...kind of her comfort zone, you know? She is used to lots of kids and that was probably more like home for her than anything else so far! It made me very happy, but I am sure Monday will be the real test, now that she knows what to expect. We'll see!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Happy Labor Day

Did you know that Piper's official name is Chaltu Dennis Elliott? Poor thing. They gave her her Dad's name as her middle name. He doesn't like the name for himself, much less his daughter. I am going to call the lawyer this week to get that readoption ball rolling. Anyone know a ballpark figure on that? I'm skeered!

This weekend we went to Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch in San Antonio (or at least outside of S.A.). It was really neat. The kids loved seeing the animals up close and got to feed them. The ostriches were a scary bunch and pushy, too, so we had to roll up the window quick on them.

This past month has been such a whirlwind. Piper has done amazingly well and it's getting better every day. She has learned some limits and responds well to time out. The swatting is getting less and less and now when she does it, she catches herself and sometimes, just sometimes, will stop herself. I consider that a success! We have been one sick family the entire month. Just this morning I woke up with double pink eye. Thankfully it is just me. I will wash my hands and not smear eye gunk on anyone. Please, please, please, don't let anyone else get it...I HATE pink eye. It is so hard to deal with at their young, gross-touch-and-share-everything ages. Brodan had the puke and poop twice, Cam had it once. Piper with her parasites and fungus. Busy busy busy...

I saw on Tami's blog the other day the question on how I will incorporate Piper's heritage as an Ethiopian and her future self as an African American into her life. How will I teach her or learn with her about the cultures she represents. That is a lot to chew on and there are so many answers that I don't have time to write them all down. I have many in mind, but I am sure there will be more ways than I can think of now, as she grows and I learn. When I read the book "In their own voices", I learned one thing. It is that it is vital that I extend us into the African American community so that she has a sense of belonging no matter where she is, but especially amongst other African Americans. No parent wants their child to be looking from the outside,in. Hopefully, we can do our part to instill in her the confidence she needs to participate whenever, wherever, and with whomever.