Wednesday, February 29, 2012

More snow pictures

my snow angels!

"look, I'm sitting on a snowball!"

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I SEE you!

We got the call from the eyeglass place at 4:40, telling us that Journey's glasses were in and we could pick them up before 5 today, or any time tomorrow. We rushed out the door and got there with 5 minutes to spare! While we waited (they take their sweet time there and have no problem socializing and not working, right in front of the customers...) Jeb and Vivi were asking why they couldn't get glasses. Life just isn't fair, is it? ;)

We haven't noticed a difference in her vision yet, but mostly we've been saying "keep your glasses on...leave them alone...don't pull...where did you stash your glasses this time?!?!" I'm sure it's a funny feeling to have them on all the time and it will probably take a few days. We may not really notice a difference around the house since she is so familiar with her surroundings here.

Look at my cutie!

She finds this picture particularly funny and keeps asking to see it, and then mimicking the pose :)

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Monday, February 27, 2012

What kind of fruit?

Just wanted to share a conversation I had with Jebriel today during their after nap snack. His English is coming along impressively well, but it's little things like this that can get really confusing:

Jeb: What's that?
Me: grapefruit!
Jeb: orange?
Me: No, it's like an orange, but it's grapefruit
Jeb: grapes?
Me: Not grapes, grapefruit
Jeb: not grapes?
Me: Nope, not grapes, it's grapefruit
Jeb: ....what is it?

And if you're wondering, wikipedia says that grapefruit gets its name because of the way the fruit grows in clusters on the trees, apparently looking like bunches of grapes.


There is a funny thing that happens to you when you adopt. You don't think about it at first-you decide to adopt a child to grow your family. Another little face at the dinner table, to read bedtime stories to. But what a lot of people don't realize is, whether you like it or not, you can never add a child to your family without bringing part of their history with them. Adopting a child is not a 'cleaning of the slate'. They get to start a new life in our family, but they come to us with a history, and people who helped them to get to where they are.

Adopting the girls as babies, we bring their people up to keep them in their vocabulary and their thoughts every so often. Had it not been important to us, we could have just left their past in the past and they wouldn't remember anyone, but that wouldn't feel right.

Adopting an 'older' child though, comes with even more of a history, and not one that we can choose or alter for them. Jebriel spent his time at his orphanage with a handful of other children, all of whom he mentions from time to time, but he has 2 best friends who are on his mind a lot. He is old enough to understand adoption, and to understand that he left his friends and came to America with us, while his friends stayed 'home'. They spent every moment together for so much of their little lives, and suddenly he left them, not knowing when he would see them again.

Thankfully, and amazingly, he WILL see his best friends again. We were able to connect with the parents of both his best friends (across agencies even!). They both live in neighboring states within a day's drive, and when Eric was there to pick Jeb up, both other sets of parents were there for court, so they all got to meet, and were able to tell the boys that they would see each other again.

Eric and Jeb left for home before the other families, and they reported that their little boys, who had to stay behind for now, took his leaving very hard. For Jeb, he hasn't been upset about them until tonight. Everything was new and different and exciting. He was finally getting parents and coming to America, something the older kids at the orphanage apparently talked up quite a bit.

But tonight, as part of our daily routine, Eric finished reading bedtime stories, and we all sat on the bed and held hands to pray. We pray specifically for his best friends, as well as 2 other girls being adopted with one of the boys, and usually Jebriel enjoys repeating their names, but tonight he looked really sad. We tried to assure him that they would come to America soon, and he asked "after take a nap?" and looked even more sad when we had to tell him no, they would not be in America after his nap. He is old enough to understand the concept of seeing them again and their joining him in America, but doesn't quite understand the concept of time yet. These boys are more than best friends to him, they are his brothers, a constant in his life. We know that he is happy here and adjusting and attaching to us very well, but they are his family too.

With the addition of Jebriel to our lives, we also add these little boys, and their families. Their pictures decorate our son's room. We have 2 more Christmas cards to send, 2 more road trip destinations, 2 more people I can call friends. While we wait for all the boys to come home, we keep up with each other on facebook, through emails, and even phone calls. We share this special bond, and have so much else in common as well, only God could have orchestrated it this way.

It makes life a little more complicated, a little harder to explain to the kids and to others about our 'extended family', and it isn't the life some people want, but adoption has helped us (forced us?) to broaden our horizons, and our family, and step out of the familiar and comfortable to experience all the amazing things that God can do, and it is always amazing us!

We aren't able to post pictures of the other boys until they are home, but they are a very handsome, photogenic bunch and we have a lot of great pictures of each of them, as well as some great group shots that we cherish. Please pray that all of the paperwork gets done quickly so they can come home to their families where they belong. I can't wait to see their next group picture!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Snow Day!

As usual, we didn't get nearly as much snow as the news station hyped it up to be, but we did get a decent amount of snow. And, it was great for packing! Here are some pictures, remember that clicking on a picture will make it bigger :)

I taught Jebriel how to make a snowball and roll it around the yard to make it bigger. You can see how sticky the snow was, it literally rolled up off the ground and onto the snowball, leaving a trail.
Teamwork! They rolled it over behind the garage and shed and I had to roll the giant heavy thing back to the middle of the yard so we could see it from the window, it got pretty big!

 Our finished snowman, the kids were so excited about it!
 A closeup-2 clementines that were reaching the end of their lives, part of a carrot leftover from yesterday's soup, and a snap pea smile.
 Jeb thought it was the coolest thing, so we started making more little snowmen until everyone was too cold to stay outside. He spent a lot of the afternoon hanging out by the window, admiring his snowmen :) 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Jebby's first zoo trip!

Last Sunday was so mild out and we didn't have any plans, so we decided to take the kids to the zoo. We figured if it was too cold, we'd stick to the indoor things, but if the kids could handle it, we'd walk around some of the outdoor exhibits. 

Explaining to Jebriel that we were going to the zoo to see animals was totally confusing him, the whole drive there he kept saying "where we going??" 

We also introduced him to our goofy tradition that my sister and I used to do when we were little, and I passed on to the kids. There are 3 tunnels on the way to the zoo, and I don't remember how it got started, but while going through the tunnels, we would put our hands and feet in the air and say "ahhhhhhhh" all the way through each tunnel. Obviously I haven't been able to show them how to put their feet in the air, but we do our hands :)

We went to the penguinarium first, and learned that Jebriel, our resident animalphobe, is also afraid of penguins behind glass. Journey is afraid of animals too, but we attribute that mostly to her vision problems (and no, her glasses haven't come in yet, but I will post pictures when they come!). A penguin jumped into the water and Jebriel jumped into Eric's arms and said "no thank you penguin!" Journey was already clinging to me and fussing.

So we moved on, not feeling very optimistic about the rest of the trip. The butterfly house was fun-Vivi chased the butterflies and the other 2 ran from them...but the bird house was ok because we didn't see any birds too close. 

Only Jebriel was afraid of the camels, and wasn't impressed when I told him about the camels riding on a truck that I saw in Ethiopia.

The kids liked skipping down the 'street'
 The mandatory picture in front of the fountain :) I was playing with some new settings on Picasa (where I keep my pictures)

We went into the cafe for a few minutes to warm up and have a snack. At some point last summer, we must have bought cheetos to take to the zoo, because Vivi associates the zoo with eating cheetos. Since it was a fun family outing, we swung by Kroger to pick up a bag. 

Then they wanted to see the polar bears. We were walking down the arctic trail, when suddenly we came upon a peacock, just hanging out in the middle of the trail. Jebriel freaked out, screaming and pointing and squeezing Eric's neck. Meanwhile, all the other kids there were saying "hey cool, a peacock!" and the parents stared at Jebriel, freaking out at a bird. Then the peacock decided to walk down the path in front of us, which made Jeb even more upset, and he was all done with the zoo. 

We figured the sight of a giant bear would give him a heart attack, but we were already most of the way in, so we walked through. And just our luck, a polar bear was playing in the glass tunnel. He was nervous at first and wouldn't go into the tunnel, but after we let him touch the glass and he saw the crowd of people enjoying the bear's antics, he relaxed and even started wandering around without clinging to Eric. And I got some fun pictures :)

At the end of the trip, we stopped at the zoo store and let him pick a stuffed animal. Partly to reinforce that the zoo is a fun place, but also because he loves stuffed animals and both girls have animals from the zoo. Journey's best friend Sealy is the souvenir from her first trip to the zoo. He picked a giant giraffe (he was on sale) and he sleeps with him every night. They all said they had fun after the fact and nobody wanted to go home,  but I think we'll do a few family visits before I try taking my animalphobes to the zoo by myself!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

First time at the arcade!

Our local adoption group meets at a different family-friendly location once a month, where we get to try something new, as well as hang out with our friends. The arcade was fun, but it was loud and crowded, so the adults didn't get quite was much socializing time as usual. On the way out the door, I grabbed my pouch sling, just in case. Journey usually rides on my back in the sling (she calls it 'ride mommy' haha!) while I'm cleaning up before, and while I make dinner, and sometimes mid morning when I'm cleaning and she would rather cuddle with me than go play. We don't usually take it out of the house because she likes to walk around and we rarely need it, but for some reason I grabbed it. And I was glad I did!

It was dim, which usually makes it hard for Journey to see, and with all the flashing lights all over, she was totally overwhelmed. I put her in the sling on my front and figured she'd warm up eventually, but she never did. She didn't want to ride anything, or touch anything, or talk to anyone, poor baby!

Jeb and Vivi loved all the little kid rides, so much that we just let them run around and sit in them for awhile before we showed them that they move if you put a quarter in them!

Driving a train, of course!

The only picture we got of Journey, who was brave enough to touch a ball for a couple of minutes. I think that's a pig behind me? I didn't even notice it at the time, the arcade was full of stuff like that!

This game was great, it was a 'play till you win', and the crane picked up candy on the first try for both kids.

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Friday, February 17, 2012

A Journey update

I almost forgot to mention! Journey has had a very busy last couple of weeks, with a lot of important doctor's appointments! First she had her cardiology appointment, after the cranky doctor wouldn't give us the echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) because he didn't think it was necessary, and we drove all the way to Children's just for an ekg. We emailed the geneticist to let them know and they said they really do want to check her heart, so we had to go back. Journey was great, they let her sit on my lap and they had a little tv that was playing Mickey Mouse, so she squealed "Mimi Mou!" Everytime he was on the screen, and didn't cry at all during the whole thing.

She had her hand appointment too, but that is a loong post and I think I need to post pictures to help explain, so I'll work on that tomorrow!

And finally, Journey had an appointment with a new ophthalmologist, who gave her a prescription for glasses! To jog your memory, we had seen another eye doctor, who performed an exploratory procedure under anesthesia, and after he was done he came and told me it was a complicated case and he needed to talk to a few other doctors before deciding how to proceed, and he would call us in a couple of weeks. He never called, so after a month we started calling him. And he never called back. So, we found a new doctor.

Everyone at this office was very nice and Journey was really good. This doctor told us the opposite of what the other doctor said, that her left eye can barely see, and her right eye is better, but still bad. The other doctor said her left eye (which is the smaller one) actually saw better because the right eye was so bad. But, this guy wants to do an exploratory procedure of both eyes too, so hopefully he'll have seen everything the other guy saw. He also wants to put in something like a giant contact lens, that goes around her smaller eye and fills in the space. They can change it to a bigger one, usually once a year, and he thinks they can even out her face. The area around her eye is proportional to her small eye, but if they put this prosthetic shape in, they can encourage the bone around her eye to grow so that her face will be more symmetrical. 

After we left, we drove right to our local eye place to get the glasses ordered. We ended up picking a soft silicon type that doesn't have any arms to snap off, it's all one piece, with elastic on the back, sort of like swim goggles. She was so funny, she wanted to try on all the pairs, and look in the mirror after each one. All of the employees came out to see her, and another customer commented that she also has an almost 2 year old, but he would never be this well behaved in that setting! We finally decided on this pair, Journey picked the purple, and the woman working with us wrote down the model number, and then said "ok Journey, come here!" and Journey toddled right over to her and stood still while she measured around her head and the space between her eyes. They couldn't believe how cooperative she was!

She is very nearsighted and getting a strong lens for her right eye, and just a clear lens for her left eye, as this doctor doesn't believe her eyesight will be improved by glasses in that eye. He didn't have anything encouraging to say about her lack of depth perception, other than kids, especially kids who are born this way, do eventually find ways of coping and figuring out depth in other ways. So, we just have to watch her very carefully whenever there is a step or ledge. 

And of course, how super cute is she in glasses?!?! I can't wait until the real ones come in!  

Henry Ford Museum

This year is a non-adoption year for us (we think! ;) so Eric doesn't have to save up the 6 weeks of vacation he gets. Which means more family fun days!

So, last Friday, Eric took the day off and we all went out to the Henry Ford Museum! We thought our train and car loving son would enjoy seeing the real life trains and cars, and they would all enjoy the big open spaces to run around.

The night before, I packed lunches for everyone. My dream is to someday be an awesome, adorable bento maker. Not that I'll ever be this good, but I can dream!

Anyway... in the morning, we headed out! We knew we would get a membership, because adult tickets plus parking are kind of high. And the membership covers the museum and Greenfield Village in the spring/summer. They're all still a little young to appreciate the history of it all, but there are cars and trains and Greenfield Village has a real train you can ride (for a little extra money). We're pretty excited! When we were signing up for the membership, the woman asked what kind of membership we wanted, and I said "just a regular family membership, unless there are other options." She asked how old the kids are and it turns out kids get in free until their 5th birthday! Since Jebriel won't be 5 until the end of September, we ended up going with the membership for one adult plus a guest. That way Eric can be the guest if he takes a day off, or I can bring a friend who also has kids under 5 and we can all get in free. And it's a way cheaper membership, I was so glad she brought it up! When he turns 5, we can pay the extra to upgrade, but probably won't do that until we need to, if Eric has a day off and we all want to go.

We headed right for the cars first, and had only been in the museum for about 5 minutes when I heard Eric call my name. I turned around and saw this:

That's right, Vivi saw a gap in the gate, stuck her head in, and couldn't get it back out. And yes, I took a picture before I tried to get her out ;) We attracted a small crowd as we twisted and turned her to get her out. I climbed over the gate and we eventually pulled her all the way through because her head was not going back the way it came. Good thing she has a skinny body! Impressively, she didn't panic, probably in part because Eric and I were cracking up.

After we got her out, we decided to find a different exhibit with less fencing. He really liked climbing on the trains, until he saw out the engine window a giant miniature train display with a bunch of different trains going around the track. He was mesmerized! We watched that for a loong time, and then they had a hands-on area that they had up around Christmas but it was so popular, they hadn't taken it down yet. It had train tables and legos with wheels so you could build your own trains.

Now that we have both genders of children, we really get to see the difference between boys and girls. Here you'll see that Journey made a lego baby, and was rocking it and carrying it around:

Vivi used a piece with wheels to make a baby stroller, and a little lego block was the baby. She took her baby for rides up and down the floor.

And Jebriel spent the entire time very seriously driving the trains around the track, sometimes with sound effects.

They spent a looong time with the trains:

They also had a group talking and singing songs for Black History Month, the kids enjoyed dancing and clapping their hands. During a particularly lively song about the protests, they had passed out picket signs to a lot of the kids that said things like 'equality for all', and between verses of the song, everyone was chanting "Freedom! Now! Freedom! Now!". Vivi chose that moment to get away from me and climb up on the stage. As I hopped up the stage to go after her, I realized what an ironic scene we were making, a white woman chasing a little black girl in front of the whole crowd as the crowd chanted "Freedom! Now!" while waving picket signs, and couldn't help but laugh. Luckily my laughing made Vivi laugh as I caught up to her, so I didn't have to carry a kicking and screaming little black girl off the stage as they chanted "Freedom! Now!" It also made me a little bit reflective-what a difference a few decades has made! A few decades ago our family would not have been allowed to look like this.

She made up for it during the last song by dancing with one of the performers, who showed her how to take a bow at the end. We had a nice conversation with him after the show, and all the kids got little pins to wear that say 'henceforward shall be free!'.

And then we got some family shots with the Weinermobile before heading home:

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hair time, and siblings

**I meant to post this the other day, I'm not sure why it didn't post...but enjoy!

We did a different style on Vivi's hair today, and when I do something new, I like to take a picture so on a day I'm lacking inspiration, I can go back and look for some ideas. I also have a few other friends on facebook with African American daughters and we post our hair pictures and then look through each other's pictures for inspiration.

For those who are curious, I sectioned the hair and rubber banded it, then did three 2-strand twists out of each section. I didn't tie them at the ends, just twisted them around my finger. Then I took each twist, one by one and went in a circle around the others. Sort of like a zulu knot, only with multiple twists.

After finishing the style, I had her sit on the floor so I could get a picture of the top:

And how it looks from the front:

Then Jebriel wanted to sit for a picture:

And so, of course, Journey did too :)

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Valentine's Day!

One thing I remember from my childhood is that my mom always did something to celebrate every holiday. Little things like putting colored food dye in our bread or pancakes (red for Valentine's day, green for St. Patrick's day, etc) and I always loved celebrating all the little holidays, and we want to do that for our kids. In the days leading up to Valentine's Day, I started telling the kids about it, and we made a few valentines. The day before, we decorated the house by coloring on hearts, and I cut out a bunch of little hearts (which was actually my failed attempt at making a paper heart chain) and let them tape them all over the house.
 I did manage to figure out the heart chain, which Jebriel was especially impressed by. I made one just for him to hang in his room. You can also see his art gallery.

The night before, we went to Party City and got each kid (plus Camden) a heart mylar balloon. It gave them hours of fun, and they're still floating tonight, so there's more fun to be had!

After we put the kids to bed, I pureed some strawberries and Eric made some heart shaped pancakes. They didn't turn out very pink though-I think the problem was the whole wheat flour, white flour probably would have taken on the pink color rather than the strawberries taking on the whole wheat brown. But, they were hearts, and they were yummy! We did them the night before because they aren't very good at waiting for breakfast, so in the morning we were able to eat them right away :)

My bff's husband works nights so we invited her and her son over for a mini party! We did make-your-own pizzas

And I made a special Valentine's drink by mixing club soda with cran-raspberry juice. They were a little young to appreciate the special-ness of the bubbles-we don't buy juice so that in itself was a special treat. But I liked it!

The kids played and we had an impromptu dance party, and then dipped fruit and cookies in chocolate for dessert. It was a really fun Valentine's Day with all of my Valentines!

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