Sunday, December 19, 2010
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Friday, December 3, 2010
"I just wanted to let you know that we received the two documents from the State of Michigan and the State of Washington with the notary seal pages. My next step is to forward them to the State Dept and the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC to be authenticated."
Our compilation of papers that have been filled out, signed, notarized, etc, which is called the dossier, has also been sent out. The agency will check that over to make sure we did it all right, then send it on to Ethiopia to be translated and processed.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Jenavieve had a lot of Halloween events to attend! She was a ballerina-we bought a leotard at Once Upon a Child (a resale shop) and found some cute leg warmers and a tutu on clearance at Target. She wore tights and shoes we already own, and my mom picked up a shrug sweater.
She had a couple of Halloween parties, one with the June Bugs, the play group for babies born in the summer of 2009:
We hosted a Halloween party for the community at church this year for the first time in a long time, which was a success:
The Friday before Halloween, we visited Uncle Rick's office (where I used to work) for their annual party, Vivi took her bucket and got some candy there, then on the way home we stopped at Eric's office, and he took her trick or treating through all 3 departments he has worked for there. Then to the bank, where they gave her a whole handful of suckers. Her bucket was already almost full!
That same night we went to the Zoo Boo at the Detroit Zoo with Eric's mom and grandma, which was really fun. Chilly, but not rainy like last year, and Vivi was able to enjoy it more of course.
The next day we went to a birthday party for Vivi's friend Vivi. It was Halloween themed, and because they live right downtown, after lunch and cake, all the kids put on their costumes, and we walked downtown where they were having a trick or treat event. It was really cool, any business that wanted to participate put an orange balloon outside their door. Most places had people dressed up and standing outside to pass out candy, but other people made you go inside, which was really inconvenient because it was pretty busy and there was only one door for people to get their wagons and strollers and costumes in and out. We did it once, then realized how silly it was and skipped the rest of them.
On Halloween, we went to my friend Alex's church in Walled Lake, where they were doing a fun thing called trunk or treat. I had never heard of it before, members of the church dressed up, and decorated their cars, and kids went from car to car to collect candy. Alex and her parents were dressed as scientists and did fun experiments with the kids, like the mentos and diet coke trick. It was a pretty chilly night, and Vivi wore sweat pants under her tutu (and I made a mental note to pick a costume next year that can be made from sweats) but she had a good time trick or treating. She started to get the hang of holding out her bucket, and sort of said trick or treat. She doesn't know that most of it is candy, but she DOES know what a sucker is, so when given a choice, she would reach into the candy, pull out a sucker, and put it in her bucket. Then she would pull it back out and ask me to open it for her. We let her eat one, and when it was gone, she pulled out another one and handed it to me :)
After trunk or treating, we headed over to see my cousins Adam and Amy. Adam was out with his friends in a bigger subdivision, and Amy had gone out with her mom, so we took the opportunity to warm up in the house. When Amy came back, she took Vivi trick or treating around their little neighborhood, making sure to avoid the scary houses. It was very cute!
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Monday, November 15, 2010
We are still trying to avoid having a lot of plastic toys and anything with batteries if possible. For a wishlist of specific items she would like, you can click here . She would also enjoy having:
~Dress up clothes/jewelry--she spends A LOT of time in front of the mirror with anything from a plastic lei to a skirt on her head ;)
~Kid's colored nail polish-this may sound like a weird one for her age but she loves to sit and have her nails painted, and is so proud to show them off to anyone she sees.
~Play food (plastic is ok-sometimes that's the only way to get the cool textures!) Melissa and Doug has some really cool wood food sets too. She already has pots, pans, plates, and silverware.
~Her current love (obsession) is Sesame Street. Anything Sesame Street. The stuffed characters she already has are Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster, and Ernie. She would love other stuffed characters, you can get them at Target for like $6 (and they say their names on the tag so you don't have to be a Sesame Street expert). Clothing, Dvds, cds, books, basically anything Sesame Street would be a big hit!
~Winter clothes size 18 months-sweaters, hoodies, jeans, dresses. She has a lot of long sleeved shirts and plenty of pajamas. Shoes size 6.
~She would probably tell you that she would love more baby dolls, although she does have quite a few already ;)
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Her official 18 month stats are:
32 inches tall-68%
That's the highest percentile she's ever been for weight, she's really catching up to the other kids her age, which we have definitely noticed at playgroups. She got one shot, for polio, and I'm pretty sure she cried more at having the measuring tape around her head.
After her appointment, she got to pick out and eat a sucker (blue of course) and then we drove home to lounge on the couch and watch Sesame Street. Not a bad day, overall!
I'll end this post with a cute picture of my princess!
Monday, October 25, 2010
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
A lot of people have been asking lately how difficult it is to do her hair or how I did it, so I'm going to start explaining in a little more detail what I do with her hair. If it doesn't interest you, feel free to skip past it ;)
I combed and parted the back of her hair away from the top (which this time I did in twists), and divided it into a top layer and a bottom layer. Then took a small strand and twisted it all the way to the end, then used a tool called a beader to slide the beads on, and repeated through the rest of them. I had no idea that her hair in back was THAT long since it is usually so tightly curled...I started with 5 beads on the beader and quickly discovered that I needed more! Each strand has between 7 and 10 beads, with a clip at the end to hold the hair. There are 20 strands.
It didn't take too long to do since there isn't any fancy finger work involved. She likes the way it clicks when she shakes her head, and I like that I can hear her wherever she goes! I started with the pink, purple, and white beads and left them in for about 5 days. Then I took each strand of beads out individually, untwisted it, sprayed it with a detangling spray, combed through it, rubbed in a leave in conditioner called hair milk, and then put in a new set of colored beads, going for a more Halloween look.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Besides eating lots and lots of apples, we have also made and canned applesauce and carmel apple jam (with mom's help of course!). I think an apple crisp may be on the menu for tonight, although we don't have any vanilla ice cream...we may need a quick trip to the store!
And now, for your reminiscing pleasure, the this year's 'how tall this fall' picture and last year's. What a difference a year makes at her age!
|Apple Orchard 2010|
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
After letting Jenavieve nap, we went to Reyna's birthday party. The party was at Grandma Marquetta's house, so Vivi was already familiar with where she was and with some of the people that were there, so she wasn't too shy. Ka'Praisha met us at the car of course, and once we got inside Reyna stuck by our side too. She was Eric's little buddy since dinner the night before, she always wanted him to hold her. More guests started showing up, we got to see a lot of the family members and a few people from church that we met last year, and got to meet a lot of new family members. There were a lot of kids running around giggling. Auntie Quanda bought matching shirts for the girl cousins that were there-Ka'Praisha, Reyna, and Jenavieve. They have Princess Tiana on them, and then each girl's shirt says Princess and then her name. We changed Vivi into hers and of course everyone wanted pictures of the 3 princesses!
When the house was full of family and friends, Marquetta turned on some upbeat music. Jenavieve started dancing and quickly became the center of attention. When Michael Jackson came on, the other kids started dancing too. Those kids have moves! Ka'Praisha knows all the moves to Thriller, and an older boy, Tayon moved just like Michael Jackson. We pulled out the camera and the video camera to document the fun, and after the song was over, the bigger kids wanted to use the cameras. Tayon used the video camera and played documentary filmmaker, and his sister Zakira and Ka'Praisha used the regular camera and took pictures of family members, the birthday cake, the stove...but they got some really good candid shots of the family members too. Zakira was posing different people together and telling them what faces to make. She posed Ka'Praisha next to me on the couch for a picture, which turned into a game of 'saloner' where the sat on either side of me and did my hair. While they played, they talked, and it sounded just like a beauty shop, except they talked about school and toys and other kids. It was very cute.
Meanwhile, Jenavieve, Reyna, and Gianna, who are all close in age, played in the back room and danced. Gianna was the baby last year who slept while her mom did her hair. It inspired me to start experimenting with Vivi's hair, and copy what I saw her do, so I was excited to see her again. This year, I was inspired again, although not nearly as intricate. Pictures of that to come later...
Then dinner was served-yummy southern food! All I really remember is the Cajun rice with shrimp, but there was a ton of food! Vivi got to show off her cake eating/smashing skills to her southern family. She did some cuddling with Auntie Kapri and showed off for the family members.
I was able to have nice conversations with various family and church members, and got to spend a lot of time with Marquetta, which I was glad for. I was afraid with the party setting I wouldn't have a chance, and I had some questions for her about the family history, etc. We both wound up sitting in the back room watching the toddlers play, so we had a good talk. She shared with me that her grandmother was full Cherokee, which is a fun piece of information to have. One of my best friends, Alex, is 1/8 Cherokee, so she'll have to teach Vivi about their heritage when she's older.
Then she got out some gifts she had gotten for Jenavieve-an alphabet book that is personalized with her name in it and a message that says 'love, your family in Charleston, SC', a really soft stuffed lamb, and an adorable little wooden chair that says Jena on it (that's their nickname for her down there, I like it!). It was just the perfect gift, I've been wanting to get her a personalized chair, and she loves books and is really into pointing at letters for us to to say out loud. I love the lamb too, that she has something from Grandma Marquetta to cuddle with.
It seemed like we had just arrived when it was time to get going. We went around and said goodbye to everyone, and Marquetta and Ka'Praisha walked us out.
Outside, Marquetta shared with us how appreciative she was for the letter I sent her on Mother's Day. It basically thanked her for welcoming us into the family and for sharing with us her side of the story and how difficult it all was for her. It really meant a lot to me to hear all of that, and she could not have been more welcoming when we first met. She hugged us and said "I don't just think of you like family, you are my family". It was a very touching moment. We all hugged again, then she kissed Jenavieve and prayed over her in her carseat. Ka'Praisha climbed up to kiss her and drew a cross on her forhead with her thumb, like they do at their church when they anoint and pray over someone. After more hugs and promises to keep in touch and visit each other's states again soon, we left.
We were so wired from the fun day we'd had, we were able to drive late into the night before stopping at a hotel-we didn't bother trying to drive straight through. We enjoyed another complimentary breakfast, then got on the road again. Vivi was, again, quite well behaved. We drove to Dayton to visit Eric's sister and her family for a few hours before we headed home. Anya and Asia had church that evening, so for a lot of the evening it was just the babies. Jenavieve and Aera were so cute running around together!
When Vivi got cranky, we headed out for the easy 3 1/2 hour drive home...until we hit a fatal accident investigation that closed the whole highway. The worst part of our vacation was 40 minutes from home, although it took an hour and a half to move a mile and get off on the next ramp. Vivi was sleepy and tired of being strapped in her car seat, the m&ms I brought as a just in case snack only lasted 10 minutes and then she was mad that they were gone. Luckily, her favorite Sesame Street dvd saved the day. We watched it twice, and were on our way home!
She was asleep when we parked, but woke up when I carried her in. I was hoping she would transfer easily to the bed, but she was so excited to be home and see her toys that she ran around, picking up a toy, bringing it to show us, and then dropped it and ran for a new toy. Eventually she ran out of steam, and we all collapsed into bed after a really great vacation!
Here are the pictures, most of them have captions to describe the picture
|South Carolina 2010|
Vivi was actually very well behaved in the car. She ate a lot of snacks, read a lot of books, and we sang A LOT of songs. She made up a new game where she makes motions with her hands, and we have to guess what song she wants us to sing, and as soon as we start singing a song she quickly says "no, no" and moves her hands again. She thinks she's so funny :)
We made good time and got to the hotel around 3:30. Eric and Jenavieve unloaded our bags while I shaved my legs (I was going to wear jeans to dinner that night but it was HOT!) and then we headed over to Grandma Marquetta's house. We met Kapri's sister Quanda and her daughter Reyna, Kapri's dad, and Ka'Praisha and Quez's dad, then we took Kapri, her kids, and Reyna (so her mom could finish getting ready for her birthday party) to Golden Corral, our traditional dinner place. Having 3 kids under 3 and a 5 year old who did a lot of 'helping' made for an interesting dinner, I think the waitress was relieved to see us go, but we had a lot of fun! Ka'Praisha is such a little mama, she wanted to sit next to Jenavieve and cut all her food for her, and got her a big bowl of ice cream because "my sister likes chocolate ice cream". Despite having such a busy dinner, we did manage to do a lot of catching up with Kapri, and she's doing very well.
We dropped everyone off and headed back to the hotel. Jenavieve was exhausted from running around with her siblings and cousin, and got a good sleep. The next morning we got up and had breakfast, then went to get Kapri and her kids to go to Portrait Innovations. My mom made matching outfits for the kids, and Kapri had a coordinating outfit. For her birthday present, we got pictures of each kid individually, all 3 kids together, and Kapri with all 3 kids. We kept a sheet from each pose and gave the rest to Kapri to share with the family. Jenavieve did not want to sit and look at the camera, she was all smiles watching the other kids get their pictures taken, but when it was her turn to sit with them, all she wanted to do was run around. We managed to get really cute pictures anyway.
We took them back to help set up for the party and went for lunch and drove around so Jenavieve could get a nap in. We stopped and bought a sweet grass basket from one of the roadside stands as a souvenier, and got a booklet with it that told about the history of the sweet grass baskets. Our first trip to South Carolina, we thought it was very odd that all of the roadside stands on the high way sold baskets and nothing else. Turns out it is a traditional art form that was brought over from Africa with the slaves, who continued making and using baskets for their work. It is a practice that was passed down through the generations. As big stores started moving into the area, basket makers moved to road side stands. Sorry for the history lesson, you can read more about the history here. We bought our basket from Lizzie's because we saw her actually weaving a basket while sitting there and we wanted to see. She told us that her grandmother used to make and sell the baskets, and she taught Lizzie. We didn't realize how pricey they were, or that they took hours to make a small basket, but I'm a sucker for history, especially since it is a part of Jenavieve's history, so we had to get one. We were able to haggle a price on a small basket, perfect for Vivi to carry around, and were on our way.
Check back soon for part 2 of our trip, and a link to all the pictures!
Monday, September 13, 2010
The plan was to do a road trip to Missouri, like we did last year. We were all packed and ready to go on Thursday, when Ryan called and said Janelle had the flu bug that's going around (we all had it the week before). So my dad and I did some googling and found a park called Storybook Gardens in London, Ontario. We figured since it was Labor Day Weekend it would be hard to get a hotel here, and since everyone healthy enough to travel had a valid passport, we decided to head up there for a day or 2 until Janelle was feeling better.
Storybook Gardens was pretty fun. It was really inexpensive to get in, and it was a big park with a lot to do. They had a playground area, a waterpark area, a maze, puppet shows (ok, the puppet show was pretty lame...it featured Otto the otter and Baa-rbra the sheep. They also had a petting farm, and a lot of photo ops. The whole thing had a nursery rhyme theme, so the farm was Old MacDonald's farm, and they had a lot of statues of different characters, which you'll see in the pictures below.
We drove around looking for a hotel that wasn't busy, turns out Canada has a Labour Day, same day as our Labor Day...go figure. We had to call a bunch of hotels to find one that had a room for us. We checked in, went to the pool, and had a late dinner (which is a story of its own) and went to bed.
The next day we had breakfast at the hotel, checked out, and went to the London Children's Museum. It was no Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, but it was pretty good. The best part was a mini city, complete with child sized 2 story house, McDonalds restaurant and drive through, grocery store with conveyer belt, and an atm machine, among other things. They had cars and shopping carts, it is great for preschool aged kids. Jenavieve didn't get as much out of it, but she did enjoy pushing a shopping cart around.
As far as London as a vacation spot for families, I would definitely recommend it, especially for people who live around here. It was only about a 3-3 1/2 hour drive and had a lot of fun things to do for not too much money.
Janelle was starting to feel better so we headed back and met with them for dinner, and the next morning, we drove out to Grand Rapids. We tried the Meijer Botannical Gardens, but they didn't have power, so we went to the John Ball Zoo, which was a good zoo, you could get pretty close to the animals. Then dinner at Golden Corral, which was a special treat since we don't have one near us! Jenavieve loves buffets, she really enjoyed having me take her down the row of food and she could say "no, no, no, yes!" to the food she wanted. After she had 2 plates of dinner and some dessert, she wanted more food, so I took her back by the dessert to see if she wanted any treats, and she said "no" to everything there. I kept walking down the rows of food, asking her what she wanted, and she finally got excited when we got to the stalks of steamed broccoli. I put one on a plate for her, but she insisted on holding it like an ice cream cone and proudly showing it off to all the tables on the way back to ours. My silly girl.
Then we went back to the hotel pool to play until bedtime (actually Vivi and I went to bed and everyone else stayed up in Janelle and Ryan's room playing games).
The next day we decided to try the gardens again, and I'm glad we did, it was really fun! They had a children's garden that was very cool, and a lot of interesting sculptures.
I've been trying to finish this post for days and keep getting interrupted and having to save it, so I'm just going to post it, the pictures say enough about how much fun we had anyway :)
|Family Vacation 2010|
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
She loves to eat! She will eat just about anything, especially if someone else is eating it. She loves sweets, but also loves fruits and veggies. She's a very well-rounded eater so far...let's hope it stays that way!
She loves animals. On this day, she was tasting the treats before (and during) sharing them with the dogs.
She loves to dress up-the more stuff, the better! The other day she took one of her little rubber hair bands, looped it over her thumb, and walked slowly toward me, staring at her thumb held out in front of her, like it was the most beautiful ring she'd ever worn. She looked so proud to be wearing something so beautiful :)
She loves to explore. She likes to see what happens when she squishes things or drops them in water, and lately her experiments have become more involved. in this picture, she took the peas from her plate, dropped them in her water, poured the cup out onto her plate, splashed the water a little, and then ate all the peas. All for the love of learning!
She loves to play! She's really into hiding games, in this picture she was hiding in the tunnel, and when we pulled it off of her she would give us her sneaky grin, then shriek and dive back in. When she didn't see us peeking in the top, she was just sitting there, smiling, enjoying being hidden.
I don't know many kids her age that will sit still while getting her fingernails AND toenails painted, but this kid brings me the nail polish and sits and watches while I paint. Today was the first time I painted her fingernails since she puts her fingers in her mouth a lot, but she always checks out the big girls when they have their nails painted, so after I did her toes, she handed me the bottle and stuck out her hands. We'll see how long it stays on...
Click on this picture to make it bigger, it really shows the true color of her eyes, which is hard to capture in a picture
She has become quite the little girly girl. Besides the jewelry and nail polish, she also likes lip gloss, fragrance spray, and lotion. Lotion has been a part of her daily routine since she was born, but now she'll bring me the lotion and ask to have it put on. She can even rub it in by herself!
She can point to many of her body parts as well as following other simple directions such as "put that back" "throw it away" "sit down" "show me" "give so-and-so a hug" "jump" and others I can't think of. She also knows the names of many of her toys, and if we ask her where something is, she'll go get it. She loves her baby dolls, Elmo, and Bob and Larry from VeggieTales. She's also saved the day many a time by remembering the last place she had her pacifier when we can't find it!
She doesn't say too many words clearly yet, she says dada and mama, dog, duck, moon, star, chalk, yellow, and green, although she doesn't seem to associate the actual colors to their words, she just says them when I do. She can make the animal sounds of a dog, cat, duck, and any animal that growls. She's working on saying grandma, grandpa, and Janelle, and has other words that mostly sound like "deh" but will also point at what she means. For instance, she's discovered airplanes, so when she hears one, she'll say "deh!" and point up to the sky while trying to see it.
She now has 11 teeth and is working on at least one more that we can see. The 4 front teeth on top and bottom, 2 molars on top, and one on the bottom. The molars seem so big in her little mouth, and look so painful as they come through!
So that's pretty much Jenavieve this month :)
Monday, August 9, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
On the adoption front, our homestudy was approved by the agency in Washington and sent our application for advance processing of an orphan petition to USCIS. We're still waiting for that to come back.
In the meantime, we have 10 hours of adoption training to do online (thank God we don't have to sit in a classroom and do it!) and we are halfway done with that.
We applied for and have already received our passports.
We have to get notarized letters from our bank, our city police department, our doctors and 3 more references (the old ones don't count because they're not notarized) saying that we are healthy, responsible citizens in good standing who are capable of raising children, and we have to send a notarized letter to the government of Ethiopia introducing ourselves and our intentions.
We have to sign and get notarized a form naming someone in Ethiopia as power of attorney for our kids there when we know who they are to secure medical testing for them and to represent us with the government and embassy.
After all of those things are notarized, we have to send all of them to the apostille in Washington DC, which from what I understand notarizes the notarized documents.
We also got our appointments to get fingerprinted (because for some reason the ones we did a year and a half ago for Vivi's adoption don't count). This time we got a letter saying "This is your appointment date and time" instead of getting to schedule it ourselves. And we have to go all the way down to Detroit to do it.
I think that's about all the progress we've made so far.
And on the home front, we're keeping busy and trying to keep cool! We joined a new play group for local adoptive families. They get together one Saturday a month to do something like go to the zoo or a park, and also do occasional things during the week. In a couple of weeks a few moms with African American or biracial little girls are going to get together and bring all our products and supplies and have a hair party to exchange ideas. I'm really excited for that! We learned about the group through a mom and daughter we met at the library. The little girl's name is Viviana, and they call her Vivi (pronounced Vih-vee). It's funny to have Vih-vee and Vee-vee playing together :)
Monday, July 19, 2010
Having a poolside snack with Cammie, who was born the day after Vivi
Vivi helping Amira smell a flower
Splashing in the pool with Brett