Sunday, February 27, 2011

We made it through the first 6 weeks!

We have now officially been home (or at least landed at the airport) for six weeks. In some ways it feels like M has always been with us and in some ways it feels like we just left Ethiopia yesterday. I can tell you that I miss Ethiopia so much! I have a FB friend there right now and part of me longs to be there again, but am I ready for our son to have a sibling... not quite yet :)

This post will mostly be photos, but I just want to say that overall things are going very well! Last night was awful (understatement) as my son invited me to a "cry fest" from 10:30-4:00am! Neither of us slept that entire time. I am hoping this means he will sleep well tonight. I am feeling it today and know I will feel it ever more tomorrow.

The post below tells that we have started using cloth. We are also making about half of our baby food. I am not sure I care to learn how to do the meat stuff so I will just stick to fruits and veggies and blends of those and buy the meats :) Now, I will let our son explain the photos below!

"This is my dog. I love barking at him. He is covered with lots of new snow so now I just look our the window and bark and hope he can hear me." (Yes, the piece of plastic in the bush is his "dog" click on the photo to see it.)

"I love checking my reflection. Daddy and I like to do tricks together while I watch myself."

"I went to church last week for the first time. My mommy made me look all handsome. I am practicing my 'Praise the Lord' before we leave for church."

"I got to go in front of church and see everyone. They were all staring at me. I AM pretty cute."

"Whew! That was a big workout."

"I LOVE helping mommy with the laundry. All I have to do is empty the basket on the floor and she calls me her 'big helper'... I could get used to it!"

"I have lots to catch up on with my computer. I have to brush up on my skills for future blog posts." (Note: so glad we kept old electronics :)

"I love to Praise the Lord while I eat!"

"I love to cook with my pot just like mommy's. I mostly cook my Valentines cards and Magnadoodle pieces!"

"I finally figured out this standing thing! Daddy thinks he is so funny. He put a lamb in my pants. I pretended not to notice of about 30 minutes."

"Then I decided to give the lamb a ride around the house. I think he liked it. Well, that is what I have been up to. My teeth are killing me so I really need to cry again. Catch you later."

My little man in cloth!

(Our sons thoughts on cloth)
"NO MOMMY... Don't make me wear these things!" (This was the "pre-wash" folks, they are not dirty)

"Well at least I will be able to pull these things off and attempt to knock over that rack every other day."

"Maybe this extra padding in the back could be a good thing. It is softer when I fall and balances out my tummy."

(Mommy's thoughts on cloth diapers)
For quite some time now I have liked the idea of cloth diapers. I am not a "green machine" though I know that God did give us dominion over His creation and I do take that seriously and try to care for the earth. I am a HUGE penny pincher. I shop sale ads, appreciate Aldi A LOT, re-use and make do, buy second hand, and go without. Yes, I was going to do cloth diapers to save money.

We were blessed with a total of 17 cloth diapers given to us as gifts as well as some disposable liners and wet bags. I purchased a diaper pail with a gift card and my only true diaper purchases were 2 re-usable bags for the diaper pail, which was not a huge investment.

So in theory I had everything I needed. Sadly, my son's digestive system was not aware of my cloth diaper plan :) I decided this week that we would try to just do cloth half time and disposable half time. This works great right now as we got LOTS of disposable as gifts and if we only do 3 a day we have enough to last us 4 or 5 months!

My little man is fine switching back and forth. Cloth is all he knew until he came here so they have not phased him at all. He did have one nasty eruption in cloth which sort of made me second guess the whole thing, but I am sticking with it!

For those of you curious about M's digestive issues. His doctor did suggest to go off dairy which we tried for one bottle which he was NOT a fan of. I am quite sure it isn't dairy as he never has dairy at meals and every dirty diaper is right after a meal. I suspected gluten and have taken that out of his diet for over a week and I am not noticing a huge improvement. I am thinking we might need to start "collecting" again and run another set of samples to the lab to test for parasites. Since he is cutting THREE molars right now I am going to wait a bit longer to make any decisions.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Removing a rock from the pile with each wake up call!

If you have spent much time around me in the last 18 months you know about how much I love the "pile of rocks" analogy. This is a picture of the cycle of need, but I find a way to weave this illustration into almost any conversation. This is an illustration we learned from the "Because They Waited" training for our adoption. This training is WONDERFUL and we highly recommend it.

Children who come home immediately to a primary caregiver are (in most families) allowed to have MANY cycles of need met each day. When they are hungry they cry and are fed, when they are wet they cry and are changed, when they are scared they are picked up and loved on etc. Children who grow up in an orphanage or somewhere with less than optimal care experience the opposite. They have cycle after cycle of unmet needs. It is heartbreaking to fathom how many times their cries have gone unanswered. Here is where the pile of rocks comes in. Imagine that each time my son's needs were not met for SEVENTEEN months a rock was placed in a pile. Wow, that would be a lot of rocks. Now he is home and surrounded by love and security, but he brought his "pile of rocks" with him. Each time he cries in the night (which was once an hour on Sunday night) and I respond quickly with love an security I turn a cycle of need and help him remove ONE rock from his pile. Oh, how I would love to demolish the entire pile of rocks in one blow, you know hire some high powered machine to push them into the lake, but meeting needs doesn't work that way. For this reason, I count the cost and the blessing every time I hear cries from my son in the night. Yes, I lose sleep, but I also help him attach and release a past fear little by little.

This "pile of rocks" has been so beneficial for us to talk about with family and friends. We all have issues in our lives. Many of these issues, addictions, vices, etc. have formed over time due to unmet needs and unhealthy relationships and behaviors. Some could call this pile of rocks baggage. I think the difference in the pile of rocks imagery is that you CAN NOT remove them all at once. Whatever your issue is you need to heal one rock at a time. When you look at things this way it is amazing how perspectives change!

So, to some I might look like a push-over mom who doesn't want her son to cry, but I know what I am doing. I praise God for each rock removed and I pray that one day he will be on level ground. Of course I don't want him to forget about Ethiopia, the people, the culture, the life he began there. I only want him to forget waiting for food, going to sleep hungry, laying in a wet diaper, longing for a mother's hug...

I hear him stirring now... he has been napping less than an hour... I get very little done these days... but I am removing MANY rocks!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


OK, I am finally doing a photo post. I also did two other posts below this one with no photos which tell about our lives right now! I hope you enjoy them!!!

Working hard unloading groceries after mommy's trip to Aldi!

His favorite part of the gift... the bow. Actually he liked the gift AND the bow!

My baby turned 18 months! WOW!! We will take photos of him in this chair each month on the 8th to watch him grow!!!

First Play-date with Baby L. They tolerated each other and we know it is the beginning of something wonderful!

He still loves baths and wearing all his fun towels!

His "New in town" outfit all ready for another Dr. visit!

Such a big boy in his overalls!

Wow did my baby grow! There is a photo of him in this outfit down much father on the blog... her is sure filling it out more now :)

9 months and 20 minutes

(written during naps yesterday)

(Also titled “My son tried to kiss another woman”)

In this adoption journey I have been blessed to receive wisdom from so many momma’s who have walked this journey before me. Our agency has a yahoo group which has given me so much insight on so many things. One wonderful mom of many children bio and adopted explained attachment so well saying that she attached to her bio kids in the first 20 minutes they were born. In the same way, attaching to her children through adoption took about 9 months and 20 minutes. I LOVE THIS! Before M came home I didn’t totally understand it, but each day I understand it better and realize how right she is.

First of all, attachment is a TWO WAY STREET. This was honestly news to me in many ways. All the books talk about ways to get your child to attach to you. I read them. I didn’t realize that just as he is attaching to me, I would need to attach to him. Mothers who carry children in the womb grow in their attachment as their child grows. I know some women who don’t get sick while pregnant that say they have to carry a photo of the pregnancy test around just to remind themselves they are pregnant... there you have it, they are carrying a child that they are not attached to.

My heart aches to admit that my love for my son is growing. I mean, my love for him isn’t as strong as I would like it to be. Superficially, I love him. I love the idea of him, I loved staring at his photos all those months. I love the weight of him on me as he sleeps, but we are in many ways strangers to each other. Each day we get to know each other better and each day the bonds grow and the love grows. Being a nanny has actually made attaching harder from my side as I have fallen in love with children before. That has also taken time, but it is real and wonderful and very much how I feel about our son now. I know that my love for him will keep growing and pass anything I have known before, but I am on a journey to that, it doesn’t happen in an instant.

Now you have heard my side of attachment. Our son has been surrounded by a team of women who have loved on him and he has received that love with glee. He now is usually around just me. I have quickly become his go to woman for all his needs. He trusts me and knows to count on me to answer his cries. Is he attached? NO He really likes me and shows me affection. We have a good bond and enjoy being together, but he has a ways to go. Today I realized just how far we have to go. I walked to a small local re-sale shop to drop something off and M tried to leap out his Ergo to kiss the woman working at the store who was giving him smiles. He had never met her before. He hasn’t been around too many other people besides at the clinic and I assumed (bad mommy) that his kisses were for me and daddy. I was shocked by this total lack of attachment. I quickly yanked him towards my chest and told him that his kisses were for momma and daddy. I am sure he doesn’t understand this. My heart breaks. I guess that shows that I am attaching to him :) but it makes me wonder what our next step should be.

Attachment, just like adoption is a journey... so if you see us and I am not willing to let you hold my son, don't worry, no one else is either :)

As my love grows every day I am excited to imagine what my love will look like in 8 months :)

Kisses, Cups, Books, and life with an 18 month old

(Written during a couple of nap times yesterday)

I can’t believe in just a couple hours we will officially be able to say that our son his been home for an entire month. Since I last posted we crossed over the 4 week home mark and M is now 18 months old. He is changing and growing every day. His 18 month old check-up confirmed what we guessed. He gained a pound, grew 3/4 of an inch, and is head grew one cm! YAHOO! This is in just 2.5 weeks since our last visit. Our son loves to eat and play and apparently GROW!! Praising God A LOT of this. With all of his “super digestion” I was wondering if he was really growing, but it seems he is. His clothes are also getting smaller each day. I am so sad to say good-bye to the 6-9 month clothes, many he never wore, but I guess that is the life of a mom. Speaking of clothes, you might wonder why our son is in PJ’s/all in one’s is so many photos. Well, there are a few reasons. First and most importantly, he has so many eruptions and they are the quickest for changing. They only cause one dirty item and nothing filled with poo has to be slipped over his head. The fact they he is rapidly outgrowing the all in ones is killing me... esp as I am trying not to graze my son’s head with his feces! (Yes, it is official, I can’t post now without potty talk!) Another reason for the all in ones has to do with his body shape, a huge tummy and shorter legs makes most pants so long that he trips as he tries to walk with is walker. Smaller pants are way to tight in the waist... Also, they are just super cute :)

Our son love to give kisses and cuddles. He (until today see another post) gives me so many kisses and likes Brandon and I to both kiss him at night. He leans his head back and forth wanting us to kiss the spot that he is leaning to! It is so sweet. He also loves to cuddle and esp. likes to fall asleep on my chest, which I of course LOVE. Sleep is still hard for him and he will be in our room for a LONG time as he is VERY frightened to wake up without seeing me. Brandon was in bed and I was in the bathroom and he woke us and could not be consoled until I was ready for bed and hold him. Yes, it sort of felt good to be needed, but I want him to be able to receive comfort from Brandon too!

He is still very into his cups and spoons. He is always mixing up something or feeding himself, or us, or even the animals in the books. It is so sweet to watch him pretend. He also likes to play with tissues and pretends to blow his nose making a noise from his mouth, too cute! During the Superbowl we taught him to raise his hands in the air when we say “touchdown” and he did great. After the game he wanted to continue, so being me, I changed the phrase to “Praise the Lord” so now he is raising his hands all the time. Speaking of praising the Lord, M knows to pray before every meal. He reaches out his hands and we all pray together. He says something like “amen” over and over when he thinks the prayer should be wrapping up.

He is a BOOK WORM! At 18 months he could read books more than 2 hours a day. We read EVERY book in the family room several times a day, seriously! We love this, even reading the same book OVER AND OVER again. He is learning so many works, and songs and really seems to be taking it in. Honestly, we have to force him to play with his toys which he willingly enjoys for a while, up to nearly an hour, but then he will get a book craving and cry until we read to him again.
He is eating better than before and enjoys most baby foods. I tried my hands at making some baby food and I think I will defrost some tonight and see how he likes it tomorrow. It wasn’t too hard to make so if he like it I will keep at it! The only “adult” foods he eats are rice cakes and bananas at the end of meals. They are broken up into bite size pieces.

Funny story to end with. Brandon is in FL though is coming home tonight... THANKS BE TO GOD! Anyway, last night we were finishing up dinner and M was pooing away in his chair. When he was done I took him out and realized it went through he clothes. What else is new :) It was an outfit so we had to deal with the whole over the head issue. Then sadly, M decided to let his hands investigate everything and enjoyed his discovery. Everything went downhill fast is poo was suddenly everywhere! I am so thankful for the diaper changing system we developed with a wash bucket at hand to toss the vilest offenders into as we go through them. I was tossing wipes in left and right... YUCK! Of course I couldn’t really wash his hands until he was cleaned off and with just a wipe wash his hands went straight to his mouth... ahh... then after everything was done I was washing his clothes in the sink in the bathroom and M begins to rewash his hands (yes, I had washed them at this point) in the toilet... I asked him if he turned 2 over dinner and he just smiled. The rest of the night was spent with him getting into everything he shouldn’t be. This mommy is going to be begging daddy to get more cupboards baby-proofed soon! M does have a cupboard with all of the plastic stuff in it. His record time spent playing in it is about 2 minutes. I guess the cupboards with glass in them are just more fun!

** today addition***
He said a version of apple, owl, and Babette (a friend's cat) today.
He also stood alone for several seconds which we captured on video of course!

NOTE- to save time I didn't proofread so sorry for things that don't quite seem right... sound it out :)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Getting “caught up”

I feel so behind on blogging and since I don’t think I will every write much about our second trip to Ethiopia on here at least I can get caught up on a few other posts I have been wanting to write. There are 3 new posts below to enjoy!

No photos in the posts as blogger was not working with me... I guess you will have to wait a couple of days for those!

A reality in adoption

Two nights ago we had a horrible night. I knew a night like this would come, but it didn’t make it less easy. M woke up crying at 12:30. I get to him one second after he wakes up as he is in a crib about 4 inches from our bed! He was screaming and after about 2 minutes I knew this was not a quick cry and back to sleep, so we left the room so Brandon could sleep. Once in the hallway, I could tell M was clearly upset. I changed his diaper and it was wet, that would make me upset too. That wasn’t the problem... I WAS the problem! My sweet child either had a dream about Ethiopia, was grieving leaving his nannies (and culture, language, smells, sounds etc), was dealing with some dark stuff or all of the above. Anyway, he looked at me with glazed eyes filled with fear and anger. My heart broke. He screamed in my arms, everything I tried to soothe him made it worse. I finally decided to lay down with him on another bed and put a wall of pillows on one side of the bed and me on the other side of the bed. This was a bit better as he didn’t want to have anything to do with me and this way he didn’t have to be held by me. My plan was to have him fall asleep and then carry him back to the crib. Well, he would start to calm down (I was making sure part of me was touching him the entire time) and then look and me and cry again. I just kept praying over him, demanding that darkness leave our home, calling on the Lord, and telling him “Mommy is staying here, mommy loves you.” At almost 3:00 after hours of prayer and tears the darkness left. My babies eyes were his again. He seemed to be very alert and actually a bit happy. I brought him downstairs and we looked out the windows as a huge blizzard was going on this entire time. After watching the blowing snow we laid on the couch and he fell asleep on my chest. I carried him upstairs and he woke up and needed another cuddle before he finally went back to sleep after 4:00 am. He was up for the day at 6:00... oh how I pray that is it! I am not sure it will be, but there was battle going on that night, and our God is higher than any other! We will take it each day and rejoice in the good! We know that God loves adoption... which leads us to... who hates adoption? The battle is real friends... as M is grafted into our family we pray that God will protect us and our home!

So, to those of you who ask how the sleeping is going... it isn’t predictable at all!

Collections (Warning, this post contains talk of things that could be considered gross)

Do you like to collect something? Maybe you collect spoons, stamps, nativity sets, little bears, books, dust :) or something else. Collecting in general is fine... unless you are collecting what we have been the last couple weeks. We had to collect 5 stool samples and one urine sample. The stool samples were nasty and time consuming, but easy to get considering our son’s quick ability to digest! The urine sample was another story.

I am not a huge fan of collecting my own urine, it is sort of a challenge to hold the cup, a tiny bit might get on your fingers etc, but collecting urine from a baby... how do you do that anyway? We can’t ask our son to “pee in a cup please” so we have to attach a plastic sack to his body and wait for results. In theory, this would work pretty smoothly, but in practice it is a big mess.

The first sack was attached at the Intl Adoption Clinic. We were headed over to children’s hospital for labs so we were hoping that they could take it off and we wouldn’t have to worry about it. Arriving at children’s we learned that M certainly peed, but the sack fell off and the diaper was wet. The people at the hospital kindly attached a new type of sack with a lot more stick and sent us on our way.

When we returned home, M had a stinky diaper so we were ready for both stool and urine collection. Brandon and I were working together... the problem, tiny bits of poo mixed with the urine while the sack was removed (remember his poo was very loose at this time). We sent in the sample and hoped it would be fine.

A couple of days later we got the call that we needed to re-do the urine as there was bacteria in it. Shucks! We began trying to collect in ourselves and had no success. The plastic always came off and no urine was collected. Often the sack would be totally covered in poo also, yucky!

We had a Dr visit and the nurse put the sack on. Oh how I prayed it would work. Nope, that one fell off too. At least I knew it wasn’t my fault. We tried several more attempts and then I called the Dr office to ask if it was essential, and it was.

We had another visit to the clinic so I asked the nurse to try again. This time she glued, yes, she GLUED the sack to my son. Yes, the glue was attached to the most private areas of his little body. After she glued the sack on I gave him a bottle and proclaimed we were lot leaving the office without a sample.

We then went for a chest x-ray. The x-ray was awful by the way. M had to sit on a bike seat with a tube wrapped tightly around him and his hands in the air. I had to hold his head and hands. He was screaming, which apparently he needed to do to get a good photo. I felt like an awful mom as I could not soothe him since they needed him to cry.

After the x-ray we headed back to find our nurse for the urine check... and SUCCESS!!! I was praising God very vocally in that exam room as she peeled the glue off my son and rushed the sample to the lab.

We were done collecting... I felt like such a free woman with a free son. He could now go and we could throw! YAHOO!

We received great news this week that he has no parasites and the urine is also clean. We are still waiting to hear back on several tests, but so far, overall, he is doing very well. He is below the one percentile for height/weight, so he has nowhere to go but up... hopefully he will be on the charts soon!

Milk Delivery

( there are supposed and the to be photos in this post and the ones which will follow, but blogger is not working... just imagine a freezer full of milk :)

Our son loves to drink milk! We have been SO blessed to give him real “momma milk” from the sister of a dear friend. His milk momma actually had a child stay in the NICU so for those of you out there who are worried about this, her milk has been tested!

When we arrived home from Ethiopia we had quite a sight in our freezers. We thought some milk might be delivered while we were traveling and arranged for that to happen. The amount of milk shocked us. We realized that our 2 freezers were so full that weights had to be put on them to hold them down. All of our food was underneath 100’s of bottles and bags of milk so something had to be done. We got out lots of boxes and started sorting the milk by month. We then moved all the non-milk to one freezer and the upstairs freezer which was quite a task (we buy quarter cows and I was stocked up on everything). We then packed the milk newest on the bottom and it perfectly fit in on 7 cubic foot freezer! Yes, we have an entire freezer of milk!

God is so faithful! As I said earlier, our son loves milk. He drinks (I am not joking) 32oz of breast milk a day. Yes, he also eats three meals. Speaking of meals, he is now eating 40-50% rice cereal mixed with veggies and fruits. He is doing well. He loves veggies and is not a fan of fruits, but I am trying to get him to eat a little because the consistency, color, and smell of the diapers is so much better with a little fruit (I am sorry, I become a mom and suddenly I mention gross things in every post).

When I first saw the milk I didn’t think there was anyway he could drink it all, now I know he can and I know it will be the perfect thing to help his bones get stronger!

I must mention that we also received several bags of milk from other friends too! I sure am blessed with amazing friends!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Our little "Snow Bear"

"Come on guys, I am so ready to get out in that white stuff... the window tastes great, but there is more to explore."

"I like hanging out in this white stuff."

"We all know mommy doesn't like the cold, but she was such a good sport for my special outing."

"Daddy and I chillin on the big drift in front of our back door. I can't wait to watch daddy shovel this thing and yell encouragements to him."

"OK, enough with the snow, enough with the photos. Take me inside!"

"Why are they forcing me to sit and watch this box? I have better things to do" (You all know we don't really watch TV with our son, but we wanted to capture the blizzard warnings and weather men stuff from the day so we set him up like he is watching it.)

"I love my new phone (a remote). It works so much better than talking with just my hand. How come I can't hear grandma?"

"Yes, daddy is finally shoveling. I could watch him shovel all day. Seriously, the snow flying through the air is about all I can take. Nothing funnier around! Daddy is shoveling his 'commute' to work. Mommy thinks if he would have had a longer commute he would have had a snow day, but we like living right where we live. OK, I am about ready for a bath."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

New Photos - Feb 1

This is Brandon writing again with more new photos to post. The one of him upside down demonstrates one of favorite new tricks; he likes to look through his legs to see what's behind him. He is definitely getting stronger. He continues to "talk" and sing almost non-stop. He also really likes to read books.