Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Goodbye 2008!

This time last is where I was!

What a way to start a new year. Luckily, I was able to spend last NewYear's Eve over the Atlantic and not in the Atlantic (as I was terrified would be the case!).

I'm saving the "big" post for Friday (our official Forever Day). But here is a cute story to keep you happy. Mari's Ethiopian name is Roza and she was very aware of her name when we met. Calling her Roza brought the biggest grin in the world, so I started calling her Mari Roza as a slow adjustment to her new name. Well, the Mari Roza has stuck and I call her this a large part of the time. When we are in a silly mood, it gets lengthened to MariPari RozaPoza. We were watching Dora the other night and I learned that mariposa is butterfly in Spanish.

She has also started (well, a couple months ago) to call herself Mimi. She can't quite get her mouth around the R in Mari and she has learned about "me and you" at school, so Mimi became her name whenever she sees her pix or reflection. I was reading a book about Ethiopia the other night and found that little boys are fondly called Mamush (which I did know thanks to a certain boyfriend) but I did not know that little girls are fondly called Mimi!

Here's my little butterfly, Mimi!
This has been the best year ever! Here's hoping 2009 is just as great!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mari's First Christmas

Post #200! Here it is!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve

One year ago, I spent Christmas Eve alone, wondering what the coming weeks and months would hold for me. It was only a week until I flew and I was scared, scared about everything. Tonight, I read my daughter the Christmas Story (This is the Stable--great book!) and rocked her to sleep. And then rocked and stared (and cried, of course) at the most beautiful blessing I could have ever imagined.

Here is a short video to lighten the sappiness of this post. More to come after the festivities...this is post #199. I guess #200 will be all about Mari's first Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Memories

One of my favorite memories from childhood is making cookies with my Mom for Christmas. I had my own set of little Tupperware cookie cutters and Mom would give me my own dough to make cookies for Santa Claus. One year, my Dad even painted mud hoofprints on our woodstove and in the living room and they crumbled up some of my cookies to make it look like Santa had been there munching away. At least that is how I remember it.

One day, I'll look at these pictures below and remember the first time Mari got to help with Christmas cookies. I'll try to forget that I cheated and used Pillsbury refrigerator cookies. I'll try to forget that there was colored sugar EVERYwhere. I'll try to forget that Mari screamed for 10 minutes after I took the cookies away to put in the oven. I'll try to forget Mari's bright red feet that were stained when her sweaty feet stepped in the pile of red sugar on the carpet. I'll try to forget the language I used when the vacuum cleaner did not want to suck up the pile of red sugar on the carpet. Hopefully, I'll remember those 3 minutes of pure excitement of Mari shaking the heck out of the sprinkle container and the 5 minutes it took her to savor her first warm, fresh-out-of the oven sugar cookie. In the words of the Pillsbury doughboy...Teehee!

Enjoy the video...after the cookie pix, there are some other random ones from the last few days. And be sure to check out Glimpse Photography for a sneak peek of the pix we had done last Thursday through Celebrating Adoption.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pre-Christmas Pix

Nothing exciting to tell you. So, here are some pix (that's all you guys want anyway!).

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

New Post

I was thinking today that I seriously need to catch up my blog...then I looked at the ticker and realized that 11 months ago today, I met Mari. 11 months. I have known Mari longer than her adoption process took from decision to "gotcha". And all those months, I never thought it would ever happen. It is completely unbelieveable.

So, how is Mari these days? Well, healthwise, she is doing okay...we cleared up some of her monsterness by discovering that both her ears were infected. No other symptoms, just being a monster. Unfortunately, while the irritability left with the infection, the disobedience stayed. She is a little rascal lately...purposefully disobeying and then saying "NO"! Tonight, she was splashing her hand in her soup bowl and keep sneaking peeks at me to make sure I was looking. Argh!

Potty-training is going well. Still not there because daycare refuses to start potty-train until she is in the next room and they won't move her up yet. So, at home we do great most of the time. She has started actually telling me now when she needs to go (instead of me just guessing) and sometimes that is too late, but usually not.

Daycare is a whole different ball of wax. She is on her 4th teacher since September which does not help with trust/attachment issues (might explain some of her recent naughtiness). The curriculum has gone majorly downhill...she has gone from doing cool art projects with glitter, glue, tissue paper, paint, etc. to literally coloring everyday. Last week, they handed me 5 pages of coloring, 3 of which were the same picture. And she only scribbles on them with one color. At home, she will sit and concentrate on coloring and use lots of colors. They also are not nearly as active, they used to have dance time every day and she would come home exhausted. I think her misbehavior at school is boredom. Toddlers can't handle free play all day...they need direction. Okay, off my soapbox and I didn't even get into the food/allergy issues (let's just say it took an act of Congress for them to NOT feed her cheese...lactose issues).

Developmentally, Mari is taking off again. Another developmental spurt. She is doing much better with a spoon and can eat soup and cereal/milk now (actually easier because the food floats and she has the most problem with scooping). She can drink out of an open cup, just stand back! She talks ALL the time and sings ALL the time. She knows UP, DOWN, IN, OUT, OPEN (sounds like apple, though), and CLOSED and uses them appropriately. She knows some of her colors: BOWN (brown), BURPLE, YEWWOW, PIK (pink), BOO (blue) all of the time. She gets RED and GEEN right about half the time and just can't say orange. She can count sort-of. If you say one, she will say two, if you say three, she will say four. I did hear her count 1, 2, 3 with Blue's Clues tonight but she won't do it for me. Which is another thing, she is starting to interact with the TV. She will talk back to Blue and if Dora says "say Backpack" she will say "BAK-PA." Very cute.

Other things...Thanksgiving was great, had a really fun time with all the family. It is really sute to see Mari and her cousin Madi interacting so well together. Little Abigail was awake and happy and looking so cute. Over the rest of the weekend, I (with the help of my brother Todd, my Dad, and my babysitter Mom) redecorated my bedroom and bathroom. I'll post some pictures soon...I'm still hanging stuff on the walls and I want to do a before/after show but the computer ate my old pix so I'll have to reload from CD...ugh. Christmas shopping is done. I'll be putting up the tree this weekend...Mari's first tree! We are going to get pictures done on December 11th. It is through Celebrating Adoptions and we found someone semi-local. Looking forward to that!

On to some pictures!

This is what the outfit looks like by the time you wear training pants all day...oops!

Slurping Soup.

Brushing teeth with Mommy's toothbrush.

Sleeping with a big-girl pillow and blanket. When did she grow up?
The Thanksgiving table set with Ethiopian tablecloth. Mom you did an awesome job.
Poor dogs, they weren't invited to the table.
The whole family.

Abigail in her little bear suit.
The little kids table. First Thanksgiving dinner for both (last year Madi was too little and Mari was still in Ethiopia).
Just for a little reminder of how dreams do come true. This is a picture of Mari last year at Thanksgiving taken by a family traveling (Thanks CH).
Mari with her nanny.
This year, Mari with her "nanny". Actually my Mom prefers Grandma but it makes a nice comparison.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Not all sunshine and rainbows

I've debated for a long time about posting this... I keep asking myself what the point of it would be? I don't want sympathy, I don't want people to worry that I've gone bananas, so why do it? Well, there are a lot of families in the adoptive world at various stages of the process, a few that I have followed from the "beginning" are now awaiting court days and travel dates. Others have been through the process and will understand what these feelings are. That it is okay to feel this way. That it is okay not to be okay.

One year ago today, my child's birthmom stood in front of a judge and told him that she did indeed relinquish her child for an American to adopt and take half a world away from her. I agonized that day...I knew that my Mari's birthmom had not seen her baby for 3 months and was now reuniting with her at the House of Hope, holding a much healthier (and fatter!) baby. Would she change her mind? Would she have gotten her life situated to a point where she could provide? She didn't change her mind, she gave up her parental rights forever. I didn't pass court that day due to some missing paperwork from the orphanage, but I passed the biggest hurdle. So on the anniversary of that momentous day, I'll give you this post. It is basically a journal entry I wrote myself over the last couple months to try to "get my head around" some of the things I was feeling. It took a lot of questioning to understand why I didn't cry for gotcha day or on the day I met Mari's birthmom. I often wondered if I was callous, I've come to realize that the feelings were so strong and deep that I just refused to acknowledge them. So here they are:

"Apathy, not empathy. How did I reach a state of apathy? Is it a defense mechanism, selfishness, an inability to deal with reality? When I made the decision to adopt, I chose international adoption because I did not want to meet a birthmom, did not want to have ongoing contact, did not want to run the risk of having my child ripped away from me by a change of heart. International adoption sounded safe; babies left on doorsteps in the early hours before dawn, neighbors finding children left alone after disease/starvation/natural disaster claimed their parents, kids without backgrounds or identities.

When I learned more about Ethiopian adoption and the possibility of meeting my child’s birthmom, I was worried. Did I want to face that? Could I face that? It would be okay, I told myself. Children are relinquished for many reasons but all out of desperate hope. My child’s birthmom would be desperately, terminally ill seeking a solid future for her child while she could still make those decisions. She would be a person so poverty-stricken that her child could not survive due to starvation and disease, adoption was the only choice. She would be a woman so broken of spirit that she could not raise herself up enough to care for her own child. I would be giving a child a future. She would be better off with me, I would be desperately needed.

When I got my referral, Mari’s info listed her birthmom as having no income, her father disappeared. I could handle that. Her basic needs would be unmet: shelter, clothes, food. Mari would need me, I was getting the child I had always dreamed about and she was getting a mother who could fulfill her every unmet need. I wasn’t looking forward to meeting Mari’s birthmom but I knew that I needed to. I needed to have pictures and memories to reassure a confused little girl that her birthmom made the only decision possible, that she loved her enough to give her to me.

Where did the apathy come? Or rather, when did it come? I was so freaked out by the journey itself; just flying to a foreign land…I was petrified. After 15 hours on a plane, I was suddenly immersed in a culture so different, hearing a language that I had never heard uttered before, hoards of people trying to push their way through customs and grabbing their bags, throngs of people surrounding me in the airport with no thought given to personal space—for the first time in my life, a true minority, an oddity—beggars with babes in arms tapping on the car windows “my baby is hungry.” All that in the dark of night. By the first light of dawn, I got a glimpse of what my coming days would bring. I stood on the balcony of our 5th floor hotel room, looking at the “neighborhood” across the street. Constructed out of sheets of corrugated metal, mud, cardboard…this was the poverty I had heard about, right across the street from my“Americanized” hotel room. Surely this was the “bad section” of town, the “ghetto.” It wasn’t; it was a cross-section of what the rest of the city looked like…it was everywhere we went, overwhelming, stifling.

Driving to the House of Hope was disheartening. Beggars, young children everywhere, people laying alongside the road (drunk or sleeping or dead, no one seemed to check), livestock being herded to and fro, random broken-down animals wandering the dirt streets looking for a blade of grass, people everywhere walking anywhere, games of foosball being placed in the dirt median on machines that we would’ve have put in the garbage dump, 8 cars squeezed into 2 lanes with no traffic signals all honking horns and jockeying for position amongst the pedestrians and animals, heavy diesel fumes, the streets lined with stands selling everything from fruit to clothes to shoes to orange soda. I think this is where I started shutting off emotions, it was too much too quickly; just too much to process and too much to deal with.

When we were safely behind the walls of the House of Hope compound, my daughter was brought to me. Did I feel that instant “click,” that zing all new parents say they feel? No. Honestly, I don’t remember feeling anything. My dad cried. He could feel it, he could look past everything he had just seen, he could process and move on. I was stuck, or maybe struck. Mari was sick; feverish, coughing, wheezing, rashy. I immediately shifted into my comfort zone, nursing. I could handle that, take care of her. I pulled out the Tylenol, mentally calculating the dosage for her weight; estimating how long the antibiotics I had waiting at the hotel would take to kick in. Instead of my mothering instinct kicking in, I just dealt. Yes, I loved my little girl; she was smart and sweet and charming and her smile lit up the room. I was happy and excited but completely detached from myself.

The days ahead got harder and I hit rock bottom one night. I was so tired, so devoid of emotion, so homesick, so desperately needing my mommy. Thank goodness my dad was with me. That night he became “daddy” again—rubbing my back, settling me down, just being there and helping me through. By the time I woke up the next morning, I was better. Not healed, but shielded. Ready to face the world without feeling anything. Ready to face my daughter’s past.

The drive to Mari’s orphanage was over 3 hours. We left in the cool of the morning, driving south on a really nice highway built by the Chinese. The scenery was beautiful, Africa at its best, almost cliché because it looked just how I had imagined Africa. Stretches of desolate land with twisted trees, people working alone in fields—just a dark figure among light grasses, thatched huts with little kids standing outside, a herd of camels, gorges, mountains in the distance. The beautiful Rift Valley. We approached the city of Asela, driving by roadside villages made of mud concrete, corrugated metal—some surrounded by concrete walls that were made with glass bottles sticking out of the tops, then broken off exposing sharp, tearing shards of glass—homeland security at its most minimal. The roads leading into the orphanage spoke volumes about why “the rains” shut down the country for months at a time; ruts that would swallow small cars,rocks jutting out above bumper level. We had to turn around several times before we reached Mari’s orphanage. People were walking everywhere, getting to their destinations without having to turn around.

Mari’s orphanage was small, dimly-lit, hot, with a handful of kids lazing around. Very quiet, cozy, sad but filled with hope. We waited, I felt guilty looking at these older children—maybe 3, 4, 5 years old—and I chose a baby. Everyone chooses babies, why not them… We waited for what seemed like a long time, wondering if she would come. And finally she arrived. As I saw her pass by the window, I was astounded by how short she seemed, bent over hopping on a stick. When she came through the doorway, I did not notice that stick or the leg so badly deformed that she had trouble sitting easily. I noticed her smile, shy but full of spark. She was dressed nicely, she was clean, she held herself proudly…she was not at all what I had imagined. She had walked part of the way to the orphanage that day, a slow and arduous journey on her stick. We had passed her on the road, she saw and knew who I was, she said. I wish I had seen her,had known, had offered her a ride…spared her that journey that was probably more difficult than usual. She brought her daughter with her. Mari’s 4-year-old sister. Mari’s sister. A sister. She was clean, dressed like a typical kid, braided hair, a shy and timid smile, clinging to her mother. Did she understand? How much will she remember? Does she think about her sister now, the sister that she named?

I felt nothing. I just couldn’t, I told myself. Apathy. I told Mari’s birthmom thank you and I love you in her own language like I had practiced a hundred times. She smiled, seemed okay with things, she too seemed devoid of emotion. There we were, two single moms from very different backgrounds both focused on one task…getting through one of the hardest days of our lives. Accepting what was, what is, what will be. Yes, Mari’s birthmom is crippled, she has no income. But she’s alive, really alive. There is a spark there, a vitality, a hope. She’s not desperately ill, not broken-spirited, not hopelessly deprived. So is my child really better off with me? It was supposed to clear-cut, concrete, so definable—her need for me.

So, what to do now? We have been home over 10 months now. How do I deal with the pain? Knowing now what it feels like to overwhelmingly, unconditionally love a child, how do I go about dealing with the decision Mari’s birthmom had to make? And the sister, oh that little girl. My heart rips open every day thinking about her. I know what having siblings means to me; what will Mari’s life be like knowing she has a sister on the other side of the world? How will she feel? What do I say when she asks why her birthmom kept her sister and not her? How can I answer this?

Now the guilt comes. I want Mari’s sister. I want them to be together. It is not unheard of in Ethiopian adoption for siblings to be relinquished at different times and be reunited later…these are usually families ravaged by disease, devastating poverty. My agency knows; they know to contact me if something happens, they know I’ll move mountains to bring her home. My days revolve around dwelling on this hope and dealing with the guilt of what that would mean for a beautiful, brave, generous woman thousands of miles away. A woman that has already had her heart broken. How can I even think about wanting to bring Mari’s sister home when that would mean devastating a woman that is so much like me?

I get by with daily tear-fests, uplifted by encouraging notes from fellow adoptive moms who share the same heartaches; I make conscious efforts to move on. I seek empathy but I’m so afraid of what that means and whether I can handle it, that I chose apathy. Slowly, I’ll heal. My daughter needs me to. If I don’t learn to heal, how will I help her when she begins to hurt? Slowly, but surely, I’m learning to feel again."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I know, it's been forever.

I'm a bad blogger. Blame it on facebook. Blame it on a debilitating hand malady. Blame it on having a monster instead of a little girl these days.

Mari has been nuts the last little bit. She had another rough day at school on Friday, just throwing unprovoked tantrums. I think it may be a potty-training thing...she started fussing and stamping her feet for me this weekend and we either went to the potty or she had a wet diaper a few minutes later. She's also finally getting some molars, all four I think...I felt at least three that were just about through the surface. So who knows. But her halo definitely needs some polishing lately.

On the other hand, when she is happy...she's a hoot. She is growing up SO fast and it learning things left and right. Her vocabulary has really picked up lately although I've noticed her not enunciating as well (maybe her ears are bothering her or maybe she's just going too fast these days). She's also made some great strides in her motor skills; loves climbing, is running, trying to jump, can get herself off the couch and my bed, loves to help get dressed (and takes her coat off all the time). The spoon/fork thing is going slowly...literally. She is just in too big a hurry to eat, but she is doing better with it. She LOVES drinking out of an open cup. She pooped in the potty today (and it was a regular toilet at my parents house...still freaked her out again but she stayed put instead of panicking and running through the house pooping like the last time).

My cousins Juli and Christy came from KY last weekend with all the kids (Logan almost 5, Brendan 4.5, and Callie 1.5). We had a lot of fun and boy was my house crazy!

Yesterday, we had our first meeting of our Playgroup with a Purpose. See that blog for pix and info.

Enjoy the's a little long but there are some cute video clips in there.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Let's Vote

Hmmmm...for the next Presidential election, Mari will be in Kindergarten. WHOA! There's a thought to scare you!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Bye-Bye Boo Day!

Halloween is over, finished, done. I love Halloween...fall leaves, apple cider, pumpkins, candy.

Monday, Mari had Harvest Hoedown at school, complete with games and a bounce-house. She came home with a tattoo and a little pumpkin that she "found" in the haystack. She loves that pumpkin (about the size of a grapefruit) and carried it around for 2 days. The first thing she asks for in the morning is her "bumpkin."

I took Friday off and took Mari to school for her Halloween party (after stopping by the ER to see some old friends) and came home to clean house. I was feeling a little guilty about that (taking the day off but still taking her to school). She must have felt out-of-sorts with all the happenings and daycare called me after 2 hours because she was crying uncontrollably and they had never really seen her cry, other than regular toddler-tantrums (major GUILT now!). But they were okay with her there, just wanted to check with me to see if I thought she might be getting sick or if she had a bad night. She was okay for lunch and nap and I got there right as nap was finishing and stayed for the Halloween snack.

She was definitely not herself the rest of the day (although the look on her face when I showed up at naptime was worth every bit of guilt earlier in the day!). We skipped the trick-or-treating, other than to visit our neighbors, and went to dinner with my parents. Mari was not real thrilled with the waitresses in their costumes and she wasn't too sure about Uncle Todd's costume when we stopped by there. All in all, a confusing and probably upsetting day.

She fell asleep almost immediately on the way home but was rudely awoken by what would have probably been a very horrific accident. Someone pulled out in front of us (I was going 60) with no lights on, I had to stand on the brakes. Luckily, the brakes worked. Poor Ollie-dog slammed into the dash (he's fine) and Mari woke up screaming (thank God for carseats!). Besides shaking uncontrollably, I was fine too. My shoulders were a little sore, the left from the seatbelt, the right from my attempt to grab Ollie. I'm already a pretty nervous driver on Halloween, the rest of the 20 minute drive was intense.

Anyway, today was much better. Mari had swim lessons again this morning (LOVES them) and then took an almost 3 hour nap (did I mention that I LOVE swim lesson days too!). When she woke up, she was her normal self again. Thank goodness. Uncle Todd came down and mowed, weed-eated, packed up the hose for winter, etc. because he was "bored and it was a nice day." Big THANKS for that one. Now if I could get the inside of the house looking as good as the outside.

Onto some Halloween pix (there are a few other in here too).

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Long post but lots of pix!

Update time. First of all, my camera broke (the screen shattered) and since it is out of warranty by a couple months, I'm doing Kodak's service upgrade...send in the camera and they give you 15% off your next one. So the good news is I'll be upgrading from 6.1 mp to 8.2 mp for the same price as fixing my camera. The bad news is that I'm currently back to using my old 2.1 mp camera. So some of these pix may be a little fuzzy if you blow them up but some were taken with my old camera and some are from my family. The worst news is that my old camera only takes 30 sec video clips with no probably no new videos for a few weeks (sorry Spud and Brendan!).

On to the good stuff. Fall is in full swing, I love this time of year. It is so pretty. I've been trying to take lots of outside pix but do to the aforementioned problem, I won't get as many as I want. The mountains are beautiful right now. It finally got cold. The start of last week was in the upper 80s and today it was well below freezing upon getting up. (Funny, I was looking back through old posts for some info and I said nearly the same thing this time last year about the weather).

Mari had her 18 month checkup on Friday (she will be 19 months this Friday). The big news...SHE GREW 2 INCHES IN 5 WEEKS!!!! That makes a total of 5 inches since we came home in January. She did not gain any weight which is why I can now see her neck! Her growth spurt launched her from about the 10-15 percentile to 35-40 percentile! And her weight is dead on at 50%. Yea!!! Her pants are kind of starting to fit in length. Her capris are looking like capris instead of full-length jeans!

Mari's new favorite activity is coloring. We can color for long periods of time (in toddler time-frames that is 30+ minutes). She does pretty good about changing colors and focusing on one area instead of just randomly scribbling. We even bought crayons desigend for the tub...MAJOR hit.

I can't even begin to tell you how many words she knows...a crazy amount. She is learning to put things away and that is a lot of fun to watch. The potty-training is going good...she still won't tell me when she needs to go but she will usually go if I remember to take her. If not, she wets her diaper...that is during the day. At night, totally different story.

Nights have been rough lately. My pediatrician says that all kids have sleeping glitches about this age because of some big developmental breakthrough. Two weeks of waking up at 4am. Last night she was awake from 9:30pm to almost 11pm. The problem is (one of them anyway) is that she will not wet her diaper at night. She wakes up crying--which is very unlike her--and is dry. I take her to the potty, she pees and then she is supposed to go back to sleep. Not been working out too good on that last part. The problem last night was needing to potty and after I figured that out (an hour later) she peed and went right to sleep. So we need to work on communication...she can say about anything else. Anyone know a good sign for potty? She picks up on sign language really fast.

Major food breakthroughs today. At lunch, Mari left food on her plate and said she was "all done." She has never not finished eating, ever. At supper, she handed me her plate and cup and said "all done." Usually taking the empty bowl or plate away causes hysterics...I have to distract her by getting her out of her booster seat or a cookie or sticking her cup of milk in her hands. She absolutely squealed with delight when I told her I was proud of her. I think she was just tickled to be imitating Mommy because I had just taken my plate to the sink and said "all done." Anyone who has dealt with post-adoptive food issues knows what a major breakthrough this is. Only took 9+ months (the doc at the International Adoption Clinic in September told me it could continue for another year, maybe we will be ahead!).

Well, on to some pix.

Granddad with Madi and Mari...not the most flattering pic but still cute.

SIL Lesa holding our niece Abigail.

Mom and Mari reading...not sure who is reading to who (whom?).

Braids! 6 of them to be exact. They are lasting about 2-3 days at a time and she is being super cooperative. She even fell asleep one night while I was braiding. Takes me about 30 minutes. Makes haircare SO much easier.

Ready for the cold weather, let's go.

This pic was taken by my brother Todd. Pretty good!

Cousins and BFFs. (Juli, kind of reminds me of the two of us).

Me and my girl.
Uncle Chad and Cousin Madi helping finish Mari's picture. Thanks for the "special" drawings you added Chad!
My brothers and my niece Abigail.
Us three kids and our girls. Trying on our Halloween costume.

Our trip to the Pumpkin Fest. Overall, a total bust but Mari did get to BAA at some sheep, she didn't really appreciate when they BAA'ed back at her!

I'm trying to get ready like Mommy does. I'm even using her tote bag. (Yes, that is one of my cats in the background eating on my vanity counter. You try to find a place where the dog can't get's better than the kitchen counter!)
Bathtub crayons. Any bets on how long before she uses real crayons on the tub?
My mom carving pumpkins. We all carved pumpkins at my house Saturday night. A new treat for my mom.
Some of our pumpkins. Mine is the cat, second from the left).
More to come soon, I'm sure. I've been meaning to take pix of all Mari's art projects from school (MamushART Gallery style!) but I'll wait now until I have my new camera.

If you live around me and are interested in getting together for a playgroup. Check out the post below. Some of you will be getting info in the mail this week about it but if you are interested, let me know. I could only send out to those I had addresses for but I welcome anyone.

Friday, October 17, 2008

My new project

Here is my new project. Some of you will be getting info in the mail next week about this with more specifics. If you want to participate, drop me an email or leave me a comment here or on the new blog.

Playgroup with a Purpose - Shenandoah Valley Chapter

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Spud, this one's for you!

Hello everyone! We are still alive! Mari and I had a fantastic weekend last weekend and a pretty good week. This weekend is a different story...I picked her up from daycare on Friday and she had turned into an absolute monster. Argh! It has been non-stop misbehaving and tantrums, especially today. Finally the last couple hours tonight she seemed back to her old self (was it the motrin, the teething tabs, the orajel, the gas drops, the allergy meds, or the yummy fish sticks...who knows, who cares?). Yes, she has been gassy, teething, not sleeping well, clingy, etc. etc. etc.

Worst of all, she has decided that it is okay to hit mommy. WRONG! Telling her "no" produces a laugh. Redirecting her just gives her a chance to run around and go right back to whatever it was she was doing. Praising her for listening or putting something back just lends itself to her being more ornery so she can get the praise when she does listen. So I've instituted "sit down time." If she gets in trouble she has to sit down, no toys, no music, no mommy. At first she thought that was funny until I wouldn't let her get up...I only make her stay until she actually seems upset about it. If she starts crying or throwing a tantrum then she stays until she gets herself together. It was somewhat working but the consistency was difficult, so now we have moved onto a "naughty spot." This is an old (but still nice) kitchen rug that I put in the corner of the living room and that is where we spend "sit down time." It is much more effective, she is already responding to the phrase "do you need to go to the naughty spot?" We'll see.

Here is some pix/video. Mari is growing up very fast. She has started eating at the table with me (instead of the highchair or the booster/tray). She is doing very well with it, has even really started trying with silverware. She talks nonstop...favorite words are Abigail, Elmo, eyeballs (we have googly eyes on her mirror for Halloween), Happy (she has a "Happy Bear" in the car). She has started to read along with me at bedtime. She knows lots of body parts...fingers, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, belly, hiney, feet, toes, arm. I think she is finally growing a little taller (check-up on Friday, we'll get the "official" measurement) and I actually can see her neck now!

Best thing of all...she knows that I'm Mama! (Not just repeating it when I tell her or screaming it when she's mad). She will come running to me at daycare with her arms stretched out yelling "Mama!" Ahhhh.....

Sunday, October 5, 2008


My Dear Mari,

One year ago today, I looked into the eyes of an angel. I didn't know what the coming days, weeks, months, years would bring but I knew in an instant that I was totally in love with a beautiful little girl. Your face was so solemn waiting on your joy to come; your fingers curled waiting on a warm hand to take it and hold on forever. I'll never forget looking at your picture that first time, I was so overjoyed I could hardly breathe. I was about to change your world and your life forever but you will never understand how you have changed mine. I love you from the bottom of my heart and I will always be a better person because you came into my life.

Love forever,

Thursday, October 2, 2008

9 out of 18 months = Half of a Lifetime

January 2, 2008

October 2, 2008

Today marks 9 months since Mari and I became a family forever. Unbelievable. Crazy unbelievable.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bad News...

Mari got my dancing genes!

We are doing good. Nothing exciting to report. I survived my few days away from Mari and actually was able to enjoy them. I think my mom had a good time with Mari, I KNOW Mari had a good time with my mom. While Mari was super clingy after I got home on Friday, I was relieved that she was happy to see me.

On to some photos and videos. If you stick this one out to the end (all of the two minutes...I kept it short), you will be rewarded with a hilarious outtake from a day in the life of Miss Mari. Yes, the toilet training is going well...sometimes she is just a little too quick leaving the bathroom.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy Half-Birthday!

Happy 18 months!! Little Miss Mari turned 18 months old today. Next week, we will have been together for 9 months...half her life. Wow! She has done so much growing and changing. And developing that personality...she is a little spit-fire.

And I am not with her today. I left last night for a training class a couple hours away and won't be home until Friday. My mom is staying with Mari and I'm sure that they are having a great time together. I'm doing something called "me" time. This is the first time Mari and I have been apart since we came home. Some tell me that I'm long overdue for "me" time. After 8 solid years of "me" time, I am not in any hurry to get back to that lonely world. But I'm trying to relax and make the best of my trip. I'm staying in a nice hotel (on the company's dime) with free wifi, microwave and fridge in my room, huge comfy bed (I get to sleep in until 7:30!!!), and a swimming pool. I had Outback for dinner, took a swim, took a hot bath, will soon watch Project Runway and eat some popcorn. A little mini-vacation. The best part is the class is in my hotel meeting room so I don't even have to travel for class. Ahhh!

Then Friday, home to my baby...I mean little girl. She's not a baby anymore. So sad!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bad Blogger

I know, I haven't updated in awhile. I promise to bring you more stuff later but here is a video to keep you happy!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Happy New Year!

Melkem Adis Amet! Happy New Year! It is now the year 2001 in Ethiopia.

On New Year's Day (for the US), I was flying over the Atlantic Ocean, Europe, and the northern deserts of Africa on my way to start a new year, a new life, a new adventure. We've come a LONG way in the last few months.

Hopefully in the years to come, we will celebrate many new years together--who cares whether it will be in January or September!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Long Post with lots of happenings!

Wow, so much going on in our little world. I’ll try to catch up.

First, as I eluded to in my last very brief post, I have a new niece. Her name is Abigail Kate and she was born Sept 4 at 12:21 pm. This is the first kid for my oldest brother Todd and his wife Diana. My two brothers and I have gone 3 for 3 with the girls (I cheated genetics a little on mine!)...guess it’s time to work on some boys now! See slide show below for pix.

Mari...where to start? She has turned into quite the Dr. Jeckyl/Mr. Hyde lately. One day she is all-out Miss Crabby-pants and the next day she is so silly. She is communicating more and more with both words and signs. She can sign more, please, eat, mommy, dog, milk, stop or help (similar signs and not sure which). She puts more and please together a lot! She is also pairing up the sign for please with actually saying it and she is learning to say thank you (with prompting). She knows quite a few animals, either the name of them or the sound: doggie woof woofs, kit-kat eows, duck kak kaks, baa (for sheep), ooo ooo (for owl), moo (for cow - duh!), she kind of grunts for goat, she bounces for frog (cause I always bounce when I say ribbit), but I absolutely can NOT get her to say neigh for horse–she just looks at me.

But the big news.........she is potty-training herself. I was casually thinking of starting this fall but not really looking forward to it. She took matters into her own hands. I bought a potty chair months ago because she kept pooping in the tub and I wanted something handy for the first sign of poopy face. Then she stopped pooping in the tub so I just put it in the corner of the bathroom. So she has been playing with the potty chair lately lifting the lid up and down. I always strip Mari down before her bath and let her run around naked while the tub fills up but a couple times this week, she peed all over the carpet (and not just a little bit–like she was saving up). So Wednesday night, I stripped her down and sat her on the potty chair, turned around and started the water and turned back...I heard this little musical ditty and thought "NO WAY!" Oh yes way! She peed in the potty! I thought it was beginner’s luck, the whole "novelty" angle, whatever. So we went Thursday to see little Abigail and I changed Mari’s diaper before leaving the hospital at 7pm. I made sure to get to her as soon as she woke up this morning...she was DRY (11 hours and she was in the world?????). So I put her on the potty chair, she grinned, peed, got up and toddled off to find her sippy cup. I’m cheering all over the place and she’s looking at me like I’m a nut. So after daycare today, I took her in the house and asked her if she wanted to pee in the potty, she walked right over to it, I stripped her, she sat down and peed!!!!!

Holy Cow! I’m not ready!!!!! Do they even make underwear in 12 months, cause that’s what size she is in (occasionally 18 months pants so we can accommodate the diaper). Oy!

I ordered Mari a doll (for Forever Day which isn't until Jan. 2) from Autumn who is another CHI mom awaiting her referral. Check out her blog for pix of the doll that is special made just for is beautiful (as are ALL of Autumn's crafts).

On Tuesday, I'm taking Mari to our nearest IAC (International Adoption Clinic) where she will get a full evaluation including hearing tested and comprehensive developmental evaluation. I'm looking forward to it. Maybe we will solve a couple of lingering issues. I'll let you know next week.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Girl Power

I have a new niece!!! She was born less than an hour ago (it is 1:15 pm). We weren't sure what Todd and Diana were having, so we've all been on pins and needles all morning. I'll edit this post after I get home tonight with pix and details.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

If you need help this!

After reading Jenni's post about taking pix of Mamush sleeping, I went back through my pix and realized I have an obsession with sleep pictures (maybe because that is the only time Mari is still!). So I put together a collection of my favorites and set it to one of the tunes from Mari's lullaby CD. Enjoy it and try not to fall asleep.

If you like to play games...count how many times you spot "giraffey." She has a green one and a yellow one.

In case you feel that those pix weren't enough, I left 45 in the recycling bin...I can always put them back in!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Okay, back to normal posting.

I'm off my soapbox now. Someone else can borrow it if needed!

New Words: Cheese and trees. Okay, a little stretch because both of them are "eeezz" but it is still cute. I'm trying to teach her to say cheese when the camera is out...she already knows how to pose!

New Foods: Lima Beans--she LOVES them almost as much as peas (and that is a lot!). Grapes--took her a little while to finally eat them (they were a little tart) but now she is hooked. Blueberries--holy cow! Tonight was the first night with blueberries and I'm not really sure she ate them, they disappeared so quickly that I think maybe they just evaporated into thin air.

New Tricks: Drinking out of a straw, a real one (skinny, bendable, white with blue and red stripes kind of straw). She did really good, too bad she can't hold the cup without spilling but it does get her to drink her probiotics since she stopped taking them in the sippy cup. The straw helps with the novelty angle.

Where did she learn that?: Mari is in love with Blue's Clues. She will do the little "jazz hands" when they sing "Blue's Clues." I was playing along the other night doing the motions with Steve (she responds to him more than Joe, maybe she likes green better than purple?--if you don't know what I'm talking about, sorry guess you don't have toddlers or a tv). Anyway, when they got to the part about "put it in a notebook" she pointed with one finger to the palm of her other hand (just like Steve drawing a clue!). I was astounded and then she put her hand on her cheek. No big deal until she switched hands and put the other one on her other cheek (just like Steve think, think, thinking!!!). Whoa! What a smartie!

Not so niceness: Mari bit me, through my shirt and still broke the skin. Not a happy mommy! I don't think it will happen again.

Cutest Thing: Mari's friends at school. All the little girls in her class are so cute (all blonde BTW--Mari definitely is unique but only in her class, the rest of the school is pretty diverse!). Several of them need hugs from me before I can take Mari home. They all tell us bye-bye and give Mari hugs. One even cried when I left with Mari today. So sweet. I'm glad she is making friends, I was worried about moving her away from Cousin Madi (daycare-wise I mean).

Mommy Triumph: Braids! Yes, we are braiding. Mari was sitting so still last night, I started playing with her hair and she let me braid it (see picture in the slideshow). It was so easy with her curls. But then I tried to braid again after bath time (and adding products!) but my hands got too fumbly (Mari sat really still again--wow!). This is a short one. I'll try to get the Blue's Clues dance on video for next time around.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Watch Out - Religious Statement Coming!

I don't use my blog as a platform for much in the way of issues, I very rarely even bring emotions into it. It is mostly a blog to keep my family, friends, and fellow adopters up-to-date with the adoption process and, now of course, our post-adoptive adjustments. I am always checking out other blogs, some more than others and I have found one family that I want to take the time to share. First, they have adopted some HIV+ children; this was something I was too afraid to do, mostly because as a single parent, my resources are limited. They have also rescued a gorgeous little girl (and they would probably not like the term "rescued" but it is true in every sense of the word) from the brink of death to give her a loving home. Take time to scroll back through the last couple of months to read the beautiful story of Selah.

But here is where my statement comes in...I don't talk about religion (ever). There are too many sad and hurtful things in my past that block my desire to be part of an organized religion. Just the term "organized" somehow takes away from the freedom to worship and believe the way I want to. I won't get into my beliefs here other than to say that they are strong and grounded thanks to a good upbringing. Here is my this particular post. If you are a church leader, a church member, or just call yourself a Christian and this fails to stir you...then I'm not the one with the problem. I have read this statistic over and over again so I'm going to spell it out plainly.

If 7% of the people in the world who call themselves Christians would adopt one child, there would be NO orphans!

Hello, did you read that? Read it again. Do you call yourself a Christian? Then why are there still children without families?

Disclaimer: Before you leave a lot of messages (which I welcome) trying to justify your decisions, please realize that I know that adoption is not right for every family and every situation. But if you can't, what are you doing to help those that will?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bad bugs gone! Ethiopian Flu Returns.

So we finally got rid of the yummy tummy bugs only to be assaulted by the Ethiopian Flu again. Mari had the sniffles for a couple days at the end of last week and by Saturday, I had to fire up the nebulizer again. We added in another allergy med today to try to control the copious sinus drainage and teary eyes. She is very wheezy and breathing fast but it hasn't slowed her down. She had a fever this morning but that has continued to stay down all day, so back to school tomorrow. I was hoping that she was outgrowing her asthma since it had been over 2 months but I guess there are a whole new set of allergies brewing out there as we start heading into a new season.

So I have decided to start a new blogging method. One change will be that I will probably be doing all slideshows instead of individually posting pix...blogger just is not picture friendly sometimes. If anyone has trouble viewing these on their computer and is dying to see them, let me know and I'll compromise. I will also be adding in my own "categories." So here are my new categories:

One of the little "joys" of motherhood: Finding the front seat of your car covered in glitter (thanks to an art project from school).

One of the little "not-so-joys" of motherhood: Poop in the bathtub...again! Ugh!

Best piece of advice (also another little joy): Always clean out your pockets before washing clothes; it is amazing how many tissues, barrettes, socks, goldfish pretzels, etc. you can accumulate over the course of a day.

Mari's newest "cute" thing to do: Telling the dog (doddy!) NO!!! and then putting one finger to her lips and shhhhhing him. Too funny!

Mari's newest words: Ball and book. Both sounded like "bah" last week but ball has become more pronounced with a hint of an "L" at the end. Book is still "bah."

On to a slideshow.