Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Hands-On Museum

My bff, who also has a 4 year old son, suggested that we have a playdate at the Hands-On Museum. Basically it's all for kids and you can touch everything, which is great for kids AND parents (especially a mother of 3 little ones who love to touch EVERYTHING!) So we packed a lunch and met them there this morning. The kids had a blast, we only made it to the first 3 floors, then after lunch a certain 2 year old had a meltdown and we had to leave ;)

The only picture I got of all 3 of them. A few months ago we were at the mall and just happened to walk into a big sale at Baby Gap and they had these adorable, super soft jackets. I couldn't help but get one for each kid (although I think my mom ended up buying?). They are all different colors but the same jacket so I thought it would help me keep track of them in case the museum was busy. This was Jebriel's first outing like this, and he did great! We've noticed he does really well on outings that aren't about him, but he gets overwhelmed at family events at church, where everyone wants to greet him and stare at him.

He built a structure (with a little help) and then dove into it, laughing hysterically :)

Journey very seriously building a tower with a staff member

Camden and Jebriel with the trains, which were his favorite thing until....

The real ambulance! Luckily that floor was pretty empty so he only had to hop out to give someone else a turn twice. He probably spent 20 minutes pretending to drive and making vroom and wee-ooo noises.

Vivi pretending to be hurt

And driving the ambulance, while Jebriel danced around impatiently to have his next turn :)

Journey loved this piano, she danced up and down it, sometimes wiggling her hips and clapping.

Everyone enjoyed the trip, and we'll definitely be going back again soon!
Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A belated 2 week update

Jebriel has been home for 16 days now! I had planned on posting a reflection of the first 2 weeks on Thursday but, it didn't happen :)

The past week has started to feel more 'normal' and less like we are still getting used to each other. He has figured out our routine and knows what behaviors we will and won't tolerate. That doesn't mean he follows them all the time, he IS a 4 year old boy after all ;) but for the most part he's a very well behaved child. He is gentle with his sisters-if they argue over a toy he won't yank it away or push them, he just holds on tight and calls for one of us to come to the rescue.

He came to us terrified of animals, we had to keep our cats locked in the back room for the first 2 days. Then he slowly got used to them and stopped freaking out when he saw them, and now he's totally fine with them. Except at night-part of his bedtime routine is making sure there are no cats hiding in his room :)
Then the first time we went to my parents' house, he got upset when he saw their cats. Well, technically he saw Moses, the giant fluffy cat with no tail, so in his defense, he may not have realized it was a cat. But, we were just over for dinner tonight and he saw and petted both cats without stressing out about it. Our next plan of action is to find a very well behaved little dog, and move up from there. My sister has 2 big dogs that can be wild and loud, and Eric's brother has 2 big dogs that are total lovers, but in an in-your-face, lick-you-all-over kind of way that is cute unless they are as tall as you and you're afraid of animals. It hasn't taken him long to start overcoming his fear of cats, so hopefully he'll be a dog lover soon too. Not so much that he wants one as a pet though ;)

He was very wary of new foods, and at every meal would scan the table and make sure I was aware of all the things he would not eat by pointing and saying "mama, no" and waving his hand over his plate. The first few days he was home, we let it slide. Everything was new and different, so we let him eat whatever made him feel comfortable. But as he became more comfortable, we slowly started requiring that he at least have the food on his plate, whether he touched it or not, and eventually put our 'rule' into place for him too that before you get seconds of anything, you need to take a 'polite bite' of the other food on your plate. We never require eating a whole pile of anything they actually don't like, but encourage a polite bite and remind them that they might like it, and won't know unless they try. The first few meals with this rule, he left the table after eating the food that he did like on his plate. Then he would very reluctantly and dramatically take a tiny taste and be sure to act disgusted.

After awhile though, he could no longer hide his liking for some of the foods he tried. It started with carrots-every afternoon I cut up some fresh veggies, I try to do an assortment of colors, to put out before dinner. They get a snack after naptime, but if they are hungry between 4pm and dinner, they can eat the veggies. For days, he would scoff at the bowl and never go near it, and then stand in the kitchen and ask for dinner every 2 minutes. Then one day, I was cutting up some carrots and he asked to see. I showed him and offered him one, and he took it. And ate it. And asked for more. That day, I had to cut more carrots, which I never have to do. Then it was mango-he spent 10 minutes making sure I knew he would NOT touch the mango on his plate, and then when it came time to take a polite bite before having more pasta, he only acted a little bit disgusted, and as I was scooping more pasta, he ate another piece, and ended up eating half a mango. Now that he's realizing that he actually DOES like a lot of new foods, he is much more willing to try them. One thing I know for sure he doesn't like though is red bell pepper. He very confidently took a bite when both girls were eating them and made a genuine yucky face!

We've had a couple of family dinners, with my parents, Eric's parents, and my sister, and 2 playdates. My best friend Sam has a 4 year old son too, so Camden came over to play in the snow last week. Then another friend from high school has a 4 year old son and a 1 year old son, and they came over yesterday for a playdate. We also have another family friend with a 4 year old son, and the family across the street has a 4 year old boy too. It's such a blessing, he has some built-in friends with parents that I already like!

We haven't started any kind of formal schooling for him, his education right now is learning English and getting accustomed to living here. We do go to the library once a week though for story and craft time. It's a class for 2 year olds, but with Vivi being 2, Journey being almost 2, and Jebriel not speaking English and being a little bit behind, we were able to get special permission to bring all 3. I promised we'd leave if they got crazy, but we've had 2 sessions and they have been great! There are 3 stories with songs in between, one song they get to use either a shaker or rhythm sticks, and the librarian is great, she's great with the kids and does all the different voices in the books. After the stories, we move over to some tables for a craft. Every week has an animal theme, so far we have done dogs and cats.

We signed Jebriel up for soccer, it doesn't start until April but you register now, I guess because they have to order t-shirts and everything. It's just through city parks and rec, non-competitive and fun (and cheaper than the local sports club!) By April he should be pretty fluent in English and is already good at following directions, so I think he'll really enjoy it.

And speaking of English, he is really catching on. He knows the English words for a lot of foods, and while he still uses the Amharic words for a lot of foods, we know those words too, and the girls have picked up on them. Now when I take bread out of the oven, everyone is chanting "Dabo! Dabo! Dabo!" We still say the Amharic and then the English word for all the words we know ("where's your kwas ball?") or sometimes we'll say it in English first and then in Amharic to remind him. He kind of picks and chooses which ones to start saying in English and which ones to keep saying in Amharic. Most of the time he says 'chama', but every once in awhile he'll say 'shoes'. He also knows a few phrases like "don't touch!" "be nice!" and "go play!" and just this weekend started saying "what's that?" It's kind of weird to see him say "mom, what's that?" so clearly. He understands almost everything we say to him now too, so his understanding of English is ahead of his speech, which is normal. I just spoke with a friend who adopted a 5 year old from Ethiopia over the summer and she said after 2 months her daughter was speaking only English. Broken English, she hadn't completely grasped it, but no Amharic. That kind of makes me sad, how fast he will lose his native language. Of course English will benefit him better here, but I do hope to help him retain at least a few words.

Not a whole lot to update on Vivi and Journey, they are still enjoying having their brother home. Journey is struggling a little bit because Vivi used to be more slow paced and she could keep up, but now Vivi wants to be just like Jebby and poor Journey can't always keep up with him and the things he likes to do.  For the most part they play well together, they all like the play kitchen and taking care of baby dolls. A lot of my day is spent tasting pretend food from my 3 little chefs and admiring dolls as they are being fed or rocked or pushed in the shopping cart.

We've been keeping pretty busy, but I'll end this post. I never set out to write such long posts, but once I start typing it's hard to stop sometimes!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

bunk beds?

This is our plan for future adoptions! Just kidding! ;)

Jeb's bed has cube shelves, but they're really deep. And Journey has this need to find a small space and shove herself inside it :)

That would get us an approved homestudy right? ;)

Vivi is a little bit claustrophobic so she didn't want to try :)
Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 20, 2012

Brother and Sisters

Just a few funny pictures from the last couple of days.

leaning on each other while watching a movie

Then he decided to really relax!

I replaced the bandaid on Journey's forehead and the other 2 decided they needed bandaids too. Luckily I have some dollar store bandaids that aren't good for anything else!

Also, you'll notice he's wearing a suit. Dress pants, dress shirt, vest, and tie. We have a range of clothes in his closet from sweats to blazers, but so far he has only picked really dressy stuff. I'm not complaining, it looks adorable on him! Also, he'll go in his closet, pick out a suit or vest or sweater, get all dressed up, look in the mirror, and then ask to go somewhere. Like he thinks he looks so great that he should go out. This particular evening we went to Costco to buy yet more clementines. He has been home for 8 days and we are on our 3rd bag! Because he loves them, the girls love them, and 6 oranges a day makes the bag disappear fast!

I put laundry away and hadn't taken the baskets downstairs yet, and Jebriel discovered that he can sit in it and scoot around! Vivi tried, but was unsuccessful. Jeb would climb into the basket, decide which direction he wanted to go, then say "chou chou!" (Amharic for bye bye, it's the same as the Italian 'ciao', part of the Italian influence from when Italy breifly occupied Ethiopia. But then it would take him a dozen scoots to make it just a couple of inches, so he'd turn and say "chou chou" again, and try scooting away faster. Such a silly boy :)

And since most of the pictures of Jeb include Vivi but not Journey, here is one of Journey's new pasttimes, making silly faces! You can also see that her forehead is starting to heal (this picture was taken just a few hours ago) and doesn't seem to hurt her anymore :)
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day 5, the movie

The kids and I were coloring together, it was really the first time I had seen Jebriel color, other than little marks on a small piece of paper, so I didn't know what he could do. I watched him draw a little, then I drew a circle, and he tried to draw a circle. I drew a smiley face inside my circle, and he did one in his too. Then he wanted me to draw another circle, and he made the face inside. He thought that was so cool that we did it over and over again, and every time he finished another face, he would get Vivi's attention (as he always does when he finds something amusing, and count the faces out loud. He started getting to 3 or 4 in English and then switching to Amharic, but when he was done, I would count them again in English and he started remembering more numbers.

Isn't he the cutest?? :)

Family Activities

My day-to-day posts are slowing down as we get into a routine. This was Monday, day 5.

The kids helped Eric make pancakes for breakfast (please excuse my messy kitchen!):

We tried playing a board game...this is Super Why ABC Game, which covers upper and lower case letters, rhyming, and identifying the first letter of a word. It says for ages 3+ but we bought it for Vivi since she knows her letters. Unfortunately, she's the only one that does, and really all they wanted to do was play with the spinner anyway. We tried to turn it into a counting game, putting the cards away and letting each kid spin, then we would all count as they moved that many spaces. It worked, Jebriel can count to 4 in English consistently :)

And after dinner they helped me put address labels, stamps, and decorations on invites for my sister's baby shower.

When the envelopes were well stickered, stamped, and decorated, they were still feeling crafty so I pulled out some paper, crayons, and markers, and we got a cute video that I'll put in the next post, so stay tuned!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 16, 2012

More snow fun-Day 3

We're starting to get into a routine and I didn't have any firsts to document, so this is really all I have for day 3.

Things are still going great so far, we haven't had any issues outside of what you might expect from a 4 year old boy. He is learning our rules and routine, and we seem to all be settling in. We haven't had any real communication issues-he doesn't speak any English, although he is starting to pick up a couple of words, but we learned a couple dozen Amharic words, and Eric learned a few more important ones while in Ethiopia. He understands that we don't speak his language and is good at showing us what he wants.

One cultural difference that is harder to get used to is that instead of saying 'yes' in response to something, he raises his eyebrows and tips his head up. Imagine there is a string attached to your eyebrows, and when the string gets pulled, your head tugs up a little too. He never says 'yes' out loud. He will say 'no' to make sure I don't put vegetables on his plate! Another body language thing is when he's pouting about something, say, taking off his boots when it's time to come inside, he'll throw his shoulder into the air and turn his back a little. I guess it means 'I don't care, I'm not listening to you' or something similar. We've only seen that a couple of times though so far :)

Jeb is used to spending a lot of time outside, outdoor play was part of their daily routine at the orphanage, so he wants to be outside a lot. The Amharic word for outside sounds like 'witch' and he will point to the door and say "witchy?" and never wants to come back inside, but it's so cold out there for little hands and ears, we only let them stay out for about 20 minutes.

Here are some close-ups of my cuties! You can really see here how much darker Jebriel is than the girls, especially Journey! The guest house owner in Ethiopia said that he'll probably lose some of his tan because he won't be outside as much here in the winter months, which has probably happened to the girls in the past few months, but so gradually that we didn't notice. I'll have to compare these with summer pictures and see.

Posted by Picasa

Day 2

It wasn't until day 2 that Jebriel discovered that his bed drawers had toys in them! He was so excited by the cars that he ran to get Vivi (they are best buds and if he finds something exciting, he has to go take her hand and lead her to it) and they took all the cars out and drove them around. Journey joined in the fun too (she fell on the cement steps outside and scraped her face up-hence the giant bandaid on her forehead) Another side note, Vivi picked her own clothes (because Jebby picks his own clothes and dresses himself) and Journey is still wearing the same shirt as Day 1. She wanted to sleep in it, and then in the morning when I tried to take it off, she hugged herself and said "sister!" and wouldn't take it off :)

Isn't he beautiful??

Trying on his hat and silly bands

Jeb's favorite game in Ethiopia is the fishing game where the plastic fish go in a circle and open their mouths, and you have to try to catch them on your hook. We bought the game for our house, and the kids love it! While we put dinner away, they played, and the 2 bigger kids kept coming in to show us the fish they had caught:

Journey has been completely unsuccessful at the game, but wanted to show us a fish too, so she marched into the kitchen all proud of herself:

Yes, our Christmas tree is still up! We decided to wait to do our family Christmas until Jeb was here to celebrate with us. In the future we'll keep it up through Ethiopian Christmas (January 7th) and then put it away :)

Then we had some water fun-Jeb is taking a preventative medication that requires a syringe, and he saw it on the drying rack and wanted to play with it, so I gave him a bowl of water. That's right, we're cool parents like that ;) We had a couple of syringes and droppers in the medicine cabinet so they all got to play. They were soaking wet, and so was the kitchen (Jeb discovered that he could hit the kitchen window from his spot on the floor!) but they had a great time! It's fine motor skills and cause and effect, right? Anything for learning! ;)

Posted by Picasa

Day 1 in pictures

This is the mostly picture post, if you're interested in the whole story, scroll down to the previous post :)

Making Jebby's sign

Right before we went to the airport! Vivi is showing off her favorite headband, and Journey is copying Vivi :)

Holding their sign and waving their flags. Vivi was SO serious watching for daddy and Jebby!

Greeting their brother

Hugs <3

Family of 5

Pulling his own suitcase-I love that you can see the flag in this picture!

Vivi trying to be just like big brother


Vivi and Jeb holding hands on the way home

Snoozing on the couch while Vivi eats all the popcorn

Posted by Picasa