Monday, February 28, 2011

Update on Baby Girl!

I don't know how often they do check ups on the kids, but we've gotten a couple of emails from the agency either with a picture or a brief blurb or a medical form. We got one today about Baby Girl. She has gained more weight, now weighing 20.28 lbs.

The medical line says "she is a healthy baby and doing fine"

And under observations:
-She can sit balanced using hands for support
-She turns toward the direction of objects and sounds and rolls from back to front
-She feeds well and sleeps a lot
-She is happy and playful

She is doing very very well considering where she is. For babies in an orphanage, it is common for them to be late to sit on their own, crawl, and walk, because they don't get as much opportunity or one-on-one help as a baby in a family would.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

All by myself

Over the weekend, our adoption group met at Kiddie Klub in Rochester Hills. It is the same idea as Jungle Java (though more expensive) and we had a blast!

Jenavieve has recently discovered that she loves slides, and has done the toddler sized slides by herself (as seen here) and loves going down the big slides on my lap.

We did that a couple of times, and then one time we got all the way to the top and I started putting her on my lap to go down, and she said "all done all done all done" which is her way of saying she doesn't need help (I am 'all done' helping her). This was a tube slide, I wouldn't be able to watch her go down, and I was afraid she would get bumped around on the curves of the slide, or get stuck, or crash on her head at the bottom with nobody there to catch her. I held her hand, trying to talk her out of going down by herself, while she scooted her way into position and tried to push off. Suddenly the slide had never looked so big-how could I let my baby, not even 2 years old, go careening down this giant slide, clearly meant for kids much bigger than her?  She looked up at me and said "mommy, all done!". She was very determined, and what better place to learn a lesson in independence than a place with a padded mat to land on? So I held my breath, and let go of her hand, and then scrambled to the side of the structure where I would be able to see down, to see if she made it okay.

Not only did she make it just fine, but Eric, who had been chatting with some other dads in the cafe, had seen us at the top and had grabbed the camera to snap a picture of her very first time down the big slide all by herself:

She looks a little out of control, but she came out laughing, and went right back up to do it again. After that, she didn't need our help at all, and kept going up and sliding down all by herself. Eric sat at the top and I stood at the bottom *just in case* but of course, she was fine. My big girl!

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

And now, a word from our sponsors...

You may have noticed that our blog now has advertisements on it, and may be wondering why. Google has a program called adsense, where, if you opt in, they put 'relevant' ads on our blog page, and then when people who come to our blog find one they are interested in and click on it, we make a little money. So, if something catches your eye, don't be afraid to click it!

Clothing for 3

Check it out! The other night, we bought a shirt for each of our kids. The Michigan shirt (which we did not buy for the team, only because it says Michigan on it) and the Little Sister shirt will be sent in the 'welcome bags' to Ethiopia.

Our agency allows us to make a welcome bag that they give to the children to tell them that they have a family waiting for them. We were asked to include a t-shirt, a photo album, and a couple of small toys, all in a gallon sized zip loc bag. They take a picture of them in their new shirt to send back to us (which is why we got a Big Sister shirt for Jenavieve...and because it's exciting ;)

For Little Boy, we are sending a photo album with captions, showing him pictures of our family, our house, and things we do. We're also sending a couple of matchbox cars (maybe he'll put them in the pockets he loves so much!) and some Mickey Mouse themed silly bands (bandz? Whatever those crazy fad bracelets are, they are supposed to be a hit in the orphanages too!) We are doing a Mickey themed room for him so I thought that would be fitting.

For Baby Girl, we are sending a cloth photo album with crinkle pages and a handle with beads on it. It only holds 4 pictures but she's young and I think she'll appreciate the tactile stimulation more than a ton of pictures. I am hoping to find time this week to go through Vivi's old toys and find a good one to send that will keep her hands and brain busy.

Just another step closer! It will be so cool to see them wearing the shirts that we hand picked for them. I think it might make it seem that much more real.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Big Girl Bed

As you may or may not be aware, we have been a co-sleeping family since Jenavieve was born. I had read about the benefits for bonding, but wasn't sure if we were going to do it. When Jenavieve was born in Utah, we had taken a pack and play, and she wasn't comfy in it and slept better in bed with us. We slept better knowing she was right there, and she never had to cry much, or at all, when she was hungry because her stirring woke me up and I was able to get her bottle fast.

As she grew, she started taking up more space on the bed, and Eric started sleeping on a makeshift bed next to our mattress on the floor, until Eric's parents gave us a king sized bed for Christmas last year! We were great until Jenavieve got even bigger and started taking up even more of the bed! Eric would sometimes end up on the couch because she kept kicking him (she would somehow end up with her head next to me and her feet in Eric's face).

Besides all of that, she will have a baby sister soon who will sleep in our bed to promote bonding. Little Boy will have a bedroom and a bed, but of course everyone is welcome in the family bed!

A few months back, we bought a crib mattress and put it on the floor in our room, and put sheets and her pillow on it. I was able to get her to nap on it a few times but she had no interest in spending the night there. We don't like to sleep alone in a bed, so we don't believe that she should be forced to either. We figured she just wasn't ready and hadn't done anything with it for awhile.

Then a couple of weeks ago, we were are Target and saw the cutest toddler bedding set that I just KNEW she would love. We are trying not to spend money on things we don't need so we have more money for the house, adoptions, and the Disney trip I've been planning since before we even had kids (but that's another post), so I went home without it, but kept thinking about how much I knew Vivi would love it. The next time we went to Target, Eric was with us, and I pulled it down to show him. Vivi's face lit up as she pointed and said "E!" Again, I was strong, and we went home without it. But a few days later, we had to run to Target for something, and walked past it again, just to look. Eric laughed at me and put it in the cart. We justified it with the hope that it would make Jenavieve excited about her big girl bed and she'd start using it, which, while it isn't a NEED, it would be nice for her to be comfortable in her own bed for at least part of the night.

So we brought it home and set it up, and she had so much fun playing in it and pointing at the letters. Isn't it cute?

And sure enough, it did the trick! She's excited to lay in her big girl bed, and spends her naps and most of the night there. Usually she ends up back in our bed around 5:30-6:30, but we enjoy the early morning cuddles! The picture below was actually taken a week or so after the above pictures, it was just a coincidence that she is wearing the same shirt!

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

A BIG adoption announcement!

After lots of little updates about our adoption process, we finally have some big news to share! We have accepted a referral for 2 children in Ethiopia. This means that we were given their files with pictures, medical information, etc to review and decide if they were the right children for our family. We spent some time in prayer and quickly knew that these were the kids for us. As with everything in adoption, nothing is absolutely certain until it is legal, and so it is possible that something will come up and we will learn that it wasn't meant to be. But we are pretty certain it will happen just fine.

Unfortunately we aren't allowed to share too much on the internet yet-if you live near us, I have pictures I can share in person, but if not, you'll just have to wait! And, they do have names (which we can't share here), and we will be giving them new first names, but you'll all have to wait to hear those too! I'll give you a hint though, their names will start with J ;)

So, allow me to introduce you to:

Little Boy: 3 1/2 years old, adorable little guy with a beautiful smile that shows dimples in his cheeks. According to observations from the orphanage nannies, he has a healthy appetite and loves beef stew, is a good sleeper, and is an affectionate child who is happy playing by himself or with friends, although he can be shy in new situations. They also said that he likes to wear pants with pockets so he can walk around with his hands in his pockets. That little fact makes me smile every time I read it! 

We have been in contact with another family who recently went to pick up their son from the same orphanage, and they were able to visit with and take pictures of our guy. She reported that "He was quick to smile and very friendly and BEAUTIFUL!!"  


Baby Girl: 11 months old (will be a year in March). Chubby cheeks and mostly bald (although we just received an email photo update that shows she is getting some curls on top of her head). She's a chunker-at 11 months she weighs 19.6 lbs and is 27.5 inches tall. To put that into perspective, at Jenavieve's 1 year check up, she weighed 18.3 lbs and was 30 inches tall. We may finally have some cute little thigh rolls in our house!

We have read in her file, and heard from those who have been at her orphanage, that she is a very happy, playful baby. 

We are thrilled to bring them home and ask that you pray for them while they wait and that we  have a swift, smooth process. 

So, you may be wondering, what happens next?

Now that we have officially accepted the referral, our file with all of our information and the kids' information, has been submitted to the courts in Ethiopia. Our file will get in line behind everyone who submitted before us and the courts work their way through them on a first come, first served basis. Possibly in 3-4 months we will be notified of our court date, which will be at least a month after that. When we learn of our court date, we will make our travel plans-Eric and I both have to appear in Ethiopian court. And yes, we are making it a family affair and taking Jenavieve with us.

We will stay in Ethiopia for about a week, visiting our kids and doing a little sight seeing. And of course the main reason for the visit-our appearance in court. The judge will review our file, ask us some questions, and we will answer them, and if all goes well, the judge will then finalize the adoption, and they will legally be our children!

Unfortunately, we will have to leave them and come back home while the agency prepares their passports and other documents they'll need to leave Ethiopia. About 6-12 weeks later, we will get to go back to get their U.S. visas and bring them home with us! 

So on the long end of things, it could be another 7 months, or even longer, before they come home. But it could be less too...staying positive and prayerful that they will be in our arms sooner than later!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mommy's Helper

Jenavieve loves helping me with ANYTHING I am doing. Her eyes light up whenever I say the word 'laundry'-she likes to help me shake the container (we make our own laundry soap), pour it into the cup, and then pour the cup into the water and throw the clothes in. She also likes to help put the wet clothes in the dryer, and you've seen pictures of how she 'helps' fold!

She also likes to wash, dry, and put away dishes, sweep, mop, cook, and vacuum. And Miss Independent likes to tell me that I'm "all done", which means that she knows how to do it and doesn't need any help! This little vacuum is just perfect for that-she can turn it on and off by herself, and when she uses it, she's actually helping!

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

mom date!

My best friend Sam and I have been best friends for 16 years (yikes!). Lately though, with each of us having our own families and responsibilities, we haven't been spending much time together. On New Year's Day, we made a resolution to talk or text at least once a week, and get together at least once a month. So far we're doing pretty well-Eric has class on Thursdays and Sam's fiance Alex goes to the gym on Thursdays, so we've been getting together then. Tonight we went to Jungle Java, for dinner and playing. Jungle Java is a giant indoor playground with places to climb and lots of slides. Usually when we have gone, Vivi has only played in the toddler area. But with big buddy Camden there, she wanted to play in the big area. She's big enough to do most of the climbing (with supervision of course, so mama got a workout too!). She loved the slides, she would laugh on the way down and then say "adee! adee!" which is how she says 'again'.

I got tired and wanted a rest so we went over to the toddler area, where I was able to snap a couple of pictures. She can do everything there by herself now! We didn't get a ton of talking in because we were busy chasing the kids, but it was really fun! It's nice to have an excuse to climb around and go down slides yelling "whee!" :)

Being a daredevil and running down the slide. She can also walk up the slide without grippy socks, and kept walking up to the top and then throwing her leg over that rock wall and trying to hop it. Wild child!

She climbed up the steps in the back, then sat down, put her feet forward, and slid down while saying "wheee!"

Sam and Camden, who is 3 1/2 now!
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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A serious post about adoption

I just read this on another blog and found it very humbling, and a perspective many people don't think about. Let's do an activity together-go get a piece of paper and a pencil. We're going to get a glimpse of what it's like to be adopted as an older child. Got your paper and pencil ready?

First, write down the name of the most significant person in your life.

Write down your most important role.

Write down your greatest support group: Church, family, a friend...

Write down your heritage.

Next, write the word 'knowledge'. This represents the information that gets you through your everyday tasks.

Then, write down your favorite place.

Write down 'cultural information'. This represents everything you know about your culture.

Now, write down 'resources'. This represents all your material possessions, everything you own that has worth.

Next, write down 'values'. This represents your faith, concepts of right and wrong, priorities, likes and dislikes, etc.

Last, write down the activity that brings the most joy.

You should have 10 things on your list. Now, which 4 things on the list could you live without? Cross them out now.

"Now, I promise everything will be ok. You will be just fine. Give up 2 more."

"Now, I am the almighty social worker. Trust me. And give up 2 more."

Children who are adopted at an older age (not as a baby) have a life. They have a home (although it may not be the ideal home) and they have friends, a culture, a favorite place. When we receive a referral for a child, we get to see their pictures, their information, their medical history, and we can decide if that is the child we want. The child gets no choice. They don't get to say "I want a family with a dog, or a family who is the same color as me, or a family who likes the same food I like". They get uprooted from the home they know and the people they know, and get plunked down in a new place. Sometimes, they get uprooted multiple times until they don't know what 'home' is. And so, while adoption creates a family, it does not come without loss. We can try to preserve as much of their original life as possible, but we will also be dealing with children who have lost EVERYTHING and are completely starting over in life. It doesn't matter to a child that they are going from having very little to having every opportunity, it matters to them that they are being uprooted. They may need time to grieve before they can truly become our children. They will probably, at some point (or many points) in their lives mourn the loss of their birthfamilies, of growing up in their culture, of everything that might have been.

Hollywood makes adoption seem very simple and happy, a celebrity flits on over to another country to adopt a child and then you see them in the magazines in their cute little outfits, but nobody ever mentions the real pain and loss that a child plucked from his home can feel.

In almost every case, the children come home and adjust and become a family and everything works out absolutely fine. They will embrace their new lives and cultures and be happy and turn out just fine. But they will still have times of sadness and times in their life that they will have to work through the issues in their early life.

I invite you to pray with us for the children who will have had to give up so much in order to become our children. The blogger that I got this exercise from ends with this sentence:

"Am I worthy of all this sacrifice? Is anyone?"

You can find the original blog post here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Jenavieve started the day with a heart shaped pancake (banana chocolate chip), some strawberries (which would have been cut into hearts but she still needs them cut up year!) and some greek blueberry yogurt.


We've both had colds the last few days so we've been doing a lot of cuddling on the couch. We have watched The Princess and the Frog (or as she calls it "Inana" which is how she says Tiana) a million times. Good thing it's an awesome movie! For those who haven't seen it, it takes place in New Orleans, and they talk about gumbo a lot, so I've been thinking about trying it. I even dreamed that I was making gumbo. Since it is a red stew, I decided to make it our Valentine's dinner. Hope it turns out!
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

We learned 2 things today

1. Jenavieve can open the pantry door all by herself.

2. We have to stop keeping the cookies on the bottom shelf.

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Saturday, February 5, 2011

How Vivi shops

This is the produce we had to buy because Vivi 'sampled' it at the store today. At least we were planning on buying those vegetables anyway...just not those specific ones. Toddlers!

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day!

Happy Blizzard 2011 Day! As expected, it isn't nearly as historically awful as the news suggested, but I guess it isn't over yet, so we'll see! Eric worked from home in the morning, then went in for the afternoon, but I think he was the only one in the office because we live so close. Vivi and I planned to stay in all day, so I started looking for things to do so we wouldn't go crazy! Because we got so much nice new snow, we made snow cream, which was 1 cup of milk, 1/2 cup of sugar (we thought that was pretty sweet though...) and then a big bowl full of snow. Mix the milk and sugar first so the sugar dissolves, then scoop snow in slowly until it gets to the 'right' consistency. Jenavieve wanted the whole bowl in, so that's what we did. This was a great activity for a young toddler because she gets the scooping and stirring practice, and it's just snow so it won't hurt anything.

She was very proud that I was taking pictures of her stirring-that is her proud face below :)

Then it was time to taste, yum!

Then more transfering!

We also did a Valentine's craft today to get in the February mood-this was equal parts-ish of shaving cream and glue, and I added food coloring. Then she painted it on construction paper that I had cut into hearts. I got the idea from a blog (but I can't find it again to give credit, sorry!) anyway, it also said to sprinkle glitter on top of the painted goo, but we didn't have any glitter, so I put some sugar in a salt shaker and let her shake some on when she was done with each heart. They aren't completely dry yet so I don't know what will happen to the texture tomorrow, but it turned out cute!