Sunday, April 17, 2011

look to the right

Did you notice our new clocks on the right of this page? Now you can see what time it is in Ethiopia while we are there :)

Also, one week from right now we will be there!!! We may have even met our kids by this time :D

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Vivi's 2 year check-up

Because of our trip and wanting Vivi to get the Hep-A vaccine before we go, we scheduled her 2 year check up a little early. Even so, my big girl weighed in at 26.2 lbs (50th %) and is 34.5 inches tall (75th %) !!! She did have an afro today so she may be slightly shorter than that but we tried to get the measuring stick through her hair ;)

At Vivi's 1st dr's appointment she was in the 3rd % for weight and 36th % for height, and the doctor (whom I LOVE, she is amazing) assured me that she was totally healthy, she just might be a petite girl. Looking at her now you would never guess that she wore preemie clothes for the first 6 weeks of her life!

She is also developmentally ahead in all areas and wasn't afraid to show off for the doctor. When Dr. P showed her the stethoscope and said she was going to listen to her heart and her belly, Vivi started naming off other body parts for her to check. She also told the doctor of her love for brussels sprouts (I mentioned this morning that I was going to make for dinner and she is very excited) and showed off how she can open doors by trying to escape the exam room. Dr. P was very pleased with her development. 

Then it was time for shots. 2 nurses came in to do one on each side. They are super super nice at this place and let you hold your child rather than pinning them down on the exam table. I brought a sucker for the occasion, and she was fine until they actually did the shots (being careful how I describe it so Eric doesn't pass out when he reads this :p ) and then she was pretty upset. After she calmed down, she showed everyone in the office her sucker and said 'buh-bye'. Her treat for being so brave was going to eat french fries. We had a nice little mommy-daughter (and Tiana) date.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Life in the fast lane

With things constantly changing at the new house and the impending move, packing for our trip to Ethiopia, writing invitations and finalizing (and scaling back!) plans for Vivi's 2nd birthday celebration, and also preparing for actually bringing the kids home, life is just a blur right now! We are constantly being reminded of God's sense of humor and the way He always has a plan, even when we don't.

So, first things first, the house. I think I already wrote that we picked all the colors and styles of everything, and are almost sure of our paint color choices. All of that has to be decided asap, and for sure before we leave. Last week the contractor was still saying it would be done by the end of April easy, but as we reach the middle of the month and are FAR from a livable house, we are starting to doubt him. But we will be gone at the end of the month anyway so it's not like we are going to move in then. Part of the holdup is the way that we bought the house (a downside to foreclosures), through the 203k program. Before our contractor can do anything, he has to have a 203k consultant verify that the work is completed to FHA standards by doing an inspection, then he has to go to BoA to process the draw request and mail a check so the contractor can buy the stuff. It's an annoying process that can make things go slow, but spending the better part of the last 3 years in some part of the adoption process has really helped us learn patience!

They did start working on the gas and water lines, there is a big hole in the basement floor and a big pile of dirt next to it. I was surprised to see that the floor of a basement consists of maybe 3 inches of concrete, and then the dirt below. I'm not sure what I thought it would be, I guess I'd just never thought about it.

We also have done a decent amount of work ourselves in the yard. The back half of the yard has been left to grow wild for who knows how long, and is pretty crazy looking. We've been attacking the forests of pricker bushes, some of which look like small trees and poke through work gloves! This evening, Eric,  my dad and I tackled some of those bigger ones with loppers and a shovel, and made a lot of progress. Living down the street from my parents is going to be so nice, we were able to run down to their house and get all the tools we needed. There was also a brief project in which the guys decided to move the plastic play house from dad's house to our house. After a few trials and errors, they ended up walking it down the street balanced on 2x4s on top of the wheel barrow.Of course I got a picture ;)

This is becoming a long post, so check back later for part 2!

Her own cheer leader

Washing Vivi's hair has been a hassle lately. One stray stream of water in her eye and suddenly I'm killing her if I try to put the cup near her head. She LOVES baths, requests one almost every day, but we only wash her hair 2-3 times a month, so not often enough for her to get used to it I guess. When I pick up the cup I use to put water in her hair and announce that it's time to wash her hair, she screams anything from "all done", "potty", "eat!" to "nonono" which of course breaks my heart. We've tried using different cups, letting her stand in the shower, nothing helps.

Today after the conditioner was already in her hair, I told her it was time to rinse her hair out. Once again the "all done, all done, nonono" started. I promised her I wouldn't let any water get in her eyes, and amazingly, she sat there calmly while I rinsed out her hair, and without her squirming, no water even got near her eyes. I was all excited and told her how brave she was and she looked a little bit proud of herself.

Then she picked up the cup, dumped some water over her head, and started chanting "we go Vivi! We go Vivi!" I'm thinking it may have been 'way to go Vivi'?

At least she's not lacking in self esteem :)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Our travel plans

Ok, sorry it took a couple of days to post again, we're in a whirlwind! God seems to enjoy giving us last minute travel plans. Eric has to keep reminding me that the last 2 calls we got to get on a plane we had MUCH less time (here, when we had less than an hour to pack all of our stuff including a newborn baby! And here, when we got the call about Vivi at 10pm and had to be on the plane at 7ish the next morning, and didn't even have time to make hotel or car arrangements). Enjoy reminiscing with those old posts :)

Anyway! Here's what this trip to Ethiopia is all about. Adoptive parents now have to make 2 trips to Ethiopia. The first one is the court date, and the second one is after the kids have a visa and can enter the US. Before we go to court, we have to travel to Ethiopia, meet and spend time with the kids, and also participate in some Ethiopian cultural things. It is important to them that we have met the kids so we know 'what we're getting' before going to court and making them legally ours, and also that we embrace their culture and keep it a part of our lives as we raise Ethiopian children. Our agency has a few things set up that we can do in a group, with other families who are also traveling. Examples are a silk factory, basket shop, shopping in the market, and eating at a traditional restaurant. A lot of people think of Africa as villages and huts, but we will be in Ethiopia's capital city, Addis Ababa. There are churches, museums, and even a university. They even have American style restaurants.

We will be leaving Michigan early in the morning on the 23rd, flying to Washington DC, then taking a direct flight to Addis Ababa. It leaves at noon our time, and gets to Ethiopia around 8am their time. It will be a 13 hour flight. We are going to start adjusting Jenavieve's schedule before we leave (she enjoys her sleep!) so that hopefully she will sleep for most of the flight. I'm dreading the long flight, I get antsy on 4 hour flights. But since we're going to adjust Vivi's schedule, mine should be adjusted too and maybe I'll get some sleep too.

We will be staying in a guest house where water and electricity may not be guaranteed. Our stay there will be very inexpensive (about $10 US a night for each of us, and $5 for Vivi). We will have a bedroom and the bathroom will be shared with anyone who stays there. For about $2-3 each, we can ask them to prepare our meals. We can also pay a small fee to have our laundry washed, hung on a line, and delivered to our room.

 Little Boy and Baby Girl are not currently living in the same orphanage, and Baby Girl's is more strict about visitation hours, so the agency recommended that we stay closer to Little Boy's because we will have more opportunity to spend time there, and then we can make a daily trip to visit Baby Girl (about a 20 minute drive). There are a few guest houses that are just a few minutes walking distance from Little Boy. We will hire a driver to take us every day to visit Baby Girl.

On court day, we have to wear nice clothes, and will spend 5-10 minutes getting interviewed by the judge. She will ask us if we have met and spent time with the kids and if we want them to be a part of our family, and how we have prepared to make that happen. She may ask what we have done to experience Ethiopian culture, and how we will incorporate it into our lives after bringing them home. If she likes all of our answers and if the paperwork is in order, we will pass and the kids will be legally ours!

There is a way for us to fail (besides being deemed unworthy, which we're hoping won't happen). There is a stack of required paperwork that the judge needs to have before she can pass us, including a letter of recommendation from the ministry of women's' affairs, statements from birth family if available, death certificates or police reports proving that they are in fact orphans, etc. Sometimes not all of the paperwork makes it there on time. If that happens, we will not pass court while we are there, but we won't have to go back to try again. Once the paperwork is all in place, we will pass and then the process of obtaining visas for the kids will begin.

Failing court is almost never something to panic about. It is extremely rare to get all the way to the courtroom and have the judge deny our petition to adopt. It is, however, fairly common not to pass due to paperwork issues. They aren't the most technologically advanced or organized country, and they run on their own time. It will extend our wait time for them to come home, but won't do anything other than that.

After we go to court (on a Tuesday), we will have the rest of the week to spend with the kids and do some sight seeing. We will leave the following Saturday.

There are a few other families from our agency who have court dates that week, one of whom has become an email friend of mine in the last few months, and we have the same court date! We are excited to have other families like us to spend time with, and a couple of the families have been to Ethiopia before, so it will be nice to have their expertise.

Hopefully I've explained the process well, if not, feel free to ask questions, either by commenting on the blog or sending an email :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

We're going to Ethiopia!

Oh my gosh...I am in complete and total shock right now. We weren't expecting this for at LEAST another month or so. We just got an email from our agency that our family court date is April 26th. That means traveling. This month. That's all the information I have right now but EEEK!!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Update on the new house

This is a big week for our new house, things are really going to start happening now! Up until now, all the work being done was de-constructing; the carpets, flooring, cabinets, sinks, toilet, etc all came out, leaving the house basically a shell. We did get a new furnace put in, but everything else in the house came out.

This week, they are working on the plumbing, gas, and electrical stuff, AND putting in tile in the bathroom and in the back room/den where there is a side door/mud room area and the wood burner will go there too. Once they successfully have heat in the house, they can use their machine to take off all the wall paper.

We have had a lot of decisions to make, a lot goes into a house! We are planning on living here for a looong time so we spent a lot of time making selections. It seemed like just when we finally came to a decision on one thing, we had to decide on something else!

Last week we met with a kitchen designer who redesigned the layout of the kitchen from the way it originally was. It was soo cool, we got to tell her what we wanted out of the kitchen and she had a computer program that she could move things around and find the right products for us. Once we had the layout picked, we got to look at samples of wood for the cabinets. Luckily we'd had the catalog beforehand so we had an idea of what we wanted. To help us choose a color, we brought along the flooring sample we liked and got some advice from the designer. After we chose a cabinet style and color, we looked at countertops and picked one we liked. I felt relieved, we had floors, cabinets, and countertops, our kitchen would be complete, right? Wrong! Next we looked at pictures of kitchen sink styles. Then faucet styles. Then faucet colors! Things that I didn't even think about but are obviously necessary to have a functioning kitchen.

We spent 2 hours at Lowes this weekend picking tile colors for the bathroom and the back room. While we were there we also picked the cabinet and countertop colors we liked to get us ahead of the game this time. And then we looked at paint. I can't even tell you how much time I've spent looking at paint samples. So far, I have a general color in mind for the kitchen, living room, and our bedroom. Still not sure about the bathroom or the den. Or the kids' rooms. We're going to let Vivi pick a color for the girls' room, not sure what we're doing for the boy's room. I'm pretty excited about the colors we picked so far, I think it's going to look really nice.

Hopefully I'll get some before/during pictures posted today, and then after this week there will be more progress and more pictures to add!