Thursday, January 31, 2013

Journey's hand surgery, before and after pictures!

Her fingers are finally not too gruesome to share-check out the before pictures and then the afters-what a difference! She can wiggle the fingers independently and just in the past week has been able to use them just as easily as with her left hand for things like coloring and picking up small objects, they were a little tender before that. She is so proud of how they look and still announces "I have 5 fingers now!" at least once a day :)



The doctor used skin from her inner thigh to make the fingers, I don't know if it will be darker than the rest of her hand forever or not-something I'll ask at our next post-op appointment!
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1st day of school 2013

We belong to a local homeschooling group that has an 'enrichment hub', where home schooled kids can take enrichment classes (music/art/dance, rather than the math/reading/science they are learning at home). They also have holiday parties so they can experience the halloween and valentine parties similar to what public or private schooled kids have. And it's a Christian group so it's in line with our beliefs, and that's always nice.

There are 4 blocks of classes, 2 blocks, then lunch, then another block, and the 4th hour classes have staggered start times. We haven't done a 4th hour class because we'd be there all day and it's just too long for the kids right now.

This winter 2013 semester is extra special because while Jeb is returning for his 3rd semester, it is Vivi's first! Look at my little girl, all grown up and taking classes!

They just look so old! They are taking their 1st class together, an arts and crafts class, then Jeb takes a music class while Vivi takes 'adventures in literature', where they read stories and then to a related craft. Jeb took this class his first semester and loved it, and the teacher is really nice. After lunch, Vivi plays in the parent/tot room while Jeb takes an acting class.

They both had a great first day of school and loved all of their classes. Vivi was very brave and there were no tears when I took her to her classes. It helps that parents are welcome to be in the classrooms or in the hall, observing. I stayed in the hall and got my exercise during 2nd hour running up and down the stairs watching Vivi's class on the 2nd floor, then Jeb's class on the 3rd floor. Jeb's music class has his 2 buddies in it that he's had a few other classes in, he was excited about that. It will be fun to watch them make friendships and interact with the other kids in their age group, they will likely be growing up together and experiencing the homeschooling life as well as the enrichment classes together, and hopefully make some lasting friendships :)
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Monday, January 7, 2013

Melkam Genna!

Happy Ethiopian Christmas! January 7th is Ethiopia's Christmas Day. Christmas in Ethiopia is different than American Christmas, usually spent in church, feasting with family and friends, and playing games, singing, and dancing. Children may receive a small gift, often new clothes.

We celebrated Melkam Genna yesterday so we would have the whole day to spend as a family. We went to church in the morning, then went to the Hands On Museum and then to an Ethiopian restaurant to feast.

A traditional Ethiopian meal includes multiple stews and sauces served on a plate covered with injera, a spongy sour bread. The injera at this restaurant was not authentic, it was made of white flour and not the traditional teff, but it was still yummy. Many of the stews are spicy, while others are rich and savory. There wasn't anything on the injera tonight that I didn't like, and the kids all ate a little of everything too. All 3 of them like spicy food and are pretty adventurous eaters, which I think is a blessing in this chicken nugget world! That is not to say though, that given the option my kids won't eat their weight in chicken nuggets and french fries ;) Journey is funny, she'll take a bite of something very spicy, start panting, drink some water, then do it all over again.


Today also marks another special day in our family, the day Eric arrived in Ethiopia and reunited with Jeb for the first time as legal father and son!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

An adoption update

First of all, we were very excited to learn that during the 'fiscal cliff' budget negotiations, the adoption tax credit was extended! It is a credit, not a refund as it was in a previous year, but it will still help offset the costs of adoption a little bit, which is a blessing to many families!

Not really much to report on the adoption front, we finished our home visits in December and are waiting for our homestudy to be finished. It's a little bit frustrating to be doing this over the holidays because there are the holidays when nobody is working, and our case worker had the nerve to go visit family the week after Christmas ;) So it seems to drag on a little longer than usual, and we are of course getting antsy to move on with the next step. If you missed the announcement, you can view it here.

The next step, once we have our official homestudy in hand, is to apply for our I-800 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (if you were around during our last adoption process, you've heard us complain about mention USCIS before ;) The 1-800 is a petition to classify an adoptee as an immediate relative and is needed to take custody of our child in Hong Kong and will be needed to bring him/her home with us.A difference between Hong Kong adoption and Ethiopia adoption is that in Ethiopia, we went to court and became legally their parents. They got an Ethiopian birth certificate made with their first name and our last name, and when they came home, they became American citizens upon arrival on US soil. In Hong Kong, we only become legal guardians in Hong Kong. We have to finalize the adoption here in the US and apply for US citizenship.So that will be a new experience for us.

Once we receive I-800 approval, we send our dossier, a big packet documents that represents our family to the authorities in Hong Kong. Documents like the I-800, homestudy, marriage licence, financial information, etc.

When our dossier is approved in Hong Kong, we can be matched with a child. This could be 4-6 months from now. Travel to pick up a child usually occurs 6-12 months after the dossier gets to Hong Kong. So we're looking at a long wait. Luckily we have 3 little ones here to keep us busy :)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Henry Ford Museum and the Lego exhibit

Just some cute pictures of the kids at the Henry Ford Museum's new Lego Exhibit, and some of their regular exhibits. Jeb thought the 'little legos' were so cool, he asked Santa for them, and Santa happily obliged :)

When you finish something, you can put it on display on a big center table. This is Vivi with her digger.

And Jeb with his baseball field

Dancing in front of the green screen, probably their favorite thing to do at the museum.

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Journey hand update

Journey's surgery went great, the doctor was really happy with the way the fingers separated. He needed to take a rather large skin graft from her thigh, which has actually been the biggest issue for her.  She did great at the hospital, a little nervous, but after we got the Versed in her she calmed down and got a little silly. We watched Sesame Street and when she started getting upset, I told her we would stop on the way home for something special. She said chocolate milk, so I said of course!  

After they took her back, I wondered if she would remember asking for chocolate milk after the surgery, especially since the Versed can have an amnesia effect. But not 2 minutes after waking up after surgery, she looked at her big cast and said "I want chocolate milk now!" :) We stopped at a McDonald's drive through to get it so we didn't have to go into a store.  When we got home, she started running around with Jeb and Vivi and pretty much acting normal. 

She wore a bulky temporary cast for a week, then we went back in to see the doctor to check on her fingers and the skin graft and then she got the more long-term, less bulky hard cast. Which was, of course, purple :)

As the skin graft heals, it has been uncomfortable, but we have an ointment we put on it that seems to help. She'll get the cast off in a couple of weeks, and is SO excited to see her 5 fingers! I'm pretty excited too :)