Sunday, September 21, 2008

International Adoption Network Picnic Photo

Sunday was our adoption agency's family picnic. These are families who are home with their adopted child, or are in the middle of adopting.

We are in the middle. David is the tallest in the back middle and I am holding Tigist to the right wearing a black hat looking away. The boys are in front of us.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Tigist is doing really well!

The Ethiopian New Year was on September 11th of this year, which makes it 2001. (I stole this next text from Leah's blog) The Ethiopian calendar is made up of 12 months, each lasting 30 days, and then an extra month is tagged on lasting just 5 days (6 in a leap year). Most of the world's calendars are in fact based on an ancient Egyptian calendar so there are many similarities. Ethiopia is 7.5 years behind the Gregorian calendar because the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church didn't agree on the date of the creation of the world, so they started off from two different points many hundreds of years ago.

So we went to dinner at one of the most popular Ethiopian restaurants in Denver, Nyala on Colfax. Colfax has many Ethiopian stores, restaurants ... kinda of like a Little Ethiopian area.
As usual, the Ethiopian environment is always like you've stepped into a home of close family. The owner took Tigist in his arms and kissed her cheeks as all Ethiopians do when they meet her and other children. We've eaten ET food before, but tonight, it seemed to be exceptional. Must ... Go ... Back ... Really ... Soon!!!

The plate comes like this where you share it with the table. You don't have to, but this is culturally typical. The meat and veggies is placed on top of a large piece of injera (their bread) where you eat with your fingers using a piece of injera that is brought to your table in bulk as well.

This is a typical "table" that people would all sit around and eat from.

Injera ... bread eaten at most meals.

Nyala Restaurant owner giving Tigist some love and Amharic chat. The food was so good. We ate it all and can't wait to go back. Hopefully real soon.

Tigist playing with the boys in the restaurant.

A children's African choir came to our church this past weekend. (It was NOT the main African Children's Choir like I thought). They were from Tanzania, about 15 of them and they were just precious. This girl was a lead singer and did such a wonderful job. I know all of the congregation was inspired by their beauty and voices.

Since I am back in the choir, I had to come early for rehearsal and sound check, so we also got to see these children rehearse as well. I got so speak with some of them a little. Their English was limited, but I really wanted to connect with them and encourage them. They said this was their first time in America. Our church was only their second stop. I wish we could have spent more time with them.

Us with the children after they sang. They hung out in the foyer so that people can say hello to them before leaving church.

On the Tigist front ....
She is doing really well. She eats a lot, but if she doesn't like the look of something there is no trying it. If I sneak something in her mouth, she has this look of disgust and let's it fall out. Lovely, hey? She seems to warm the hearts of people she meets. She is just so social, I love it.

I have left her hair "natural" for a week now and it is cute on her. We put headbands and she looks like a little "Foxy Brown" ... She is a chatty-cathy all the time ... I mean, ALL THE TIME! She learns new words every day.

She had her first check up on Tuesday. Her pediatrician says she looks very healthy, she's a little small, but perhaps that is because she is Ethiopian and they can tend to be smaller in size. She's very active and seems to have no issues. We are waiting on a few things, some "certain samples", her blood work results and I still need to take her to get a hand x-ray to better determine her age by bone density. It won't be precise, but can give us the "best guess". Regardless, we will keep her at 2 with her birthday being the day we met her ... Aug. 9th, 2006.

It was a bit frustrating though getting her blood drawn. We went to 2 Lab Corp offices for blood and after the needle in her tiny arm and vein for over 10 minutes, they didn't get what they needed. She screamed so hard and loud the whole time, which caused her veins to tighten up and not allow blood flow, so we didn't accomplish anything with those 2 visits. She kept screaming all the words that she knows ... "I loo loo" (I love you), Aman (her 2 yr. old friend), dabo (food), baco (done), ciao (bye). I had to bear hug her the whole time and still nothing. We were subsequently sent to a third place, which was Children's Hospital as they may have a better way to get blood from a little child. When we got there, she recognized that it was another one of those yucky place that stab her arm as she screams and nobody comes to help, started to cry and say all of those words she knows to get out of this terrible mess...he finally got 5 viles of blood and then gave her 2 little "mimis" teddy bears for her to take home. She even found it in her to give him a kiss on the cheek ... she didn't hate him after all.

She also had 5 of several immunizations she needs. So 2 shots in each leg. She screamed so loud and thought it was the worst thing ever. It's interesting, she can fall down day in and day out and never cry once. She is just so strong and not a wimp. But these office visits was the worst for her. When it was all done, I said, "la la", which for some reason to her means "done". So a big la la and we were off for dabo!!!!

At lunch, Brandon and I got a kick out of giving Tigist a lime in her mouth. She kept on eating it, but gave us the best entertainment while watching her. She isn't so much a clown, but just loves to have fun and be social. She is very gentle around little babies and kids smaller than her. She still loves to get dressed in pretty clothes every day and when we put her shoes on, she is very excited because that means "ciao" or bye bye. David has taken her on many wagon rides around town and to knock on doors to meet new neighbors. It is so much fun because they have been following the journey since last November and are so thrilled to finally meet her. We usually try to go on a walk with all of us after dinner, except last night the boys were acting up so we had them clean up after dinner while we went on an hour and a half walk without them visiting people.

She sleeps from 9pm to 9am. Takes a 2 hour nap every day and wakes up with big smiles and lots of words coming out of her mouth. We got her a projector light with music that shows images on the ceiling as she goes off to sleep. She loves it. And it gives her a peaceful way to go off to sleep each night. At church, she goes into her class with no problem and does very well. We've met another Ethiopian family at our church last week, so our world is enlarging all the time.

Another big decision we've made is Brandon's schooling, he's 13 and an 8th grader. We've been so challenged and so has he by the kids at school and the lack of respect (to put it ever so nicely). The riff raff he's encountered, the talk about him because he DOES NOT CUSS, DOES NOT DO DRUGS and is just a wonderful guy and respects people, has really gotten to him. Couple that with trying to do well in school and it's just a recipe that has not worked for us. Home school has always been out of the question because I swear, he does not work well with me. I've tried, I've done everything, but he does not work well with his Mom! But lately, we've heard and considered an alternative option. It's e-school through the Internet and our school district. It is the same curriculum as his normal school, (if you want to call it normal ... actually the school is great, the kids NOT SO MUCH!) So he is mimicking the same curriculum, but doing it on his own through his on-line teachers and live feed from their lectures. There are field trips, clubs, blogs to talk thru and home room teachers. His text books should arrive any time now and he's been dis-enrolled from physical public school for a week now.

I have to say, that we decided this as a family, Brandon being very excited about it too. But what I hadn't considered (and it's fine ... it has to be fine!) was that now I have 3 of my 4 family members home with me all day long. When you are a stay at home Mom, you treasure the home to yourself and try to get things done here and there. But it had just dawned on me a few days after we decided that this really changes things for me too. Did I forget I now have a 2 yr. old home 24/7? And now a 13 yr. old that (fingers crossed) will be disciplined enough to pull this off? We'll see. I love his company, however this is going to be a huge challenge and I hope he is up to this. He said he is! He's organized his bedroom so well that now his desk is immaculate and ready for class each morning at 8am. A typical student will get thru class in a day in 4 to 6 hours. Or you can kick butt and do it quicker and be done with the week by Thursday or Friday and have days off. I will also get him out and about for "field trips" and lunches and meeting up with other kids who do this program too. The thing he'll miss out on of course is the interaction with teachers and some kids he likes, but the trade here is important.

Bottom line is I feel really good about not taking him every day to this "battlefield of destruction" only to pick him up each day with bandages in hand for repairs that are needed from the days struggle. Now we can solely concentrate on improving grades and building incredible surroundings for him as he improves his work habits. I'll keep y'all posted.

Evan and Brandon continue to play guitar. I love it when they play. They are playing and listening to all of the songs that David and I grew up with. So when Bad Company come up on the radio or Led Zeppelin we are both rockin' out in the car. I had Bad Company on 8-track in my 1962 Chevy Impala which was my first car I bought for $200. It was ugly, but it was mine!

Let's see, what else ... our adoption agency had a picnic on Sunday for all of their clients past and present. It was fun to see all of the babies and adoptive families we've heard about and have gotten to know since we started. Today is again, another nice day in Denver and David felt compelled to have a day long motorcycle ride to take advantage of the last of the Summer-ish days. Brandon is done with school for today so I think I'll get us out for a couple errands ... it's gorgeous outside.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

We're All Doing Great!

We've been up to so much. Tigist gets us out and about and we are taking advantage of these beautiful days before Winter hits. I'm actually looking forward to the beautiful snow. When the snow hits, when I drive around the city it is so gorgeous. It is not a common sight for me for all of my life, so I'm really appreciating these 4 Seasons here in Colorado...

Evan and David minutes before we left. I had forgotten to post these pics of our luggage and what we took.

It was so fantastic because when the Super Shuttle driver showed up at the door, we noticed that he had a very familiar accent ... Ethiopian. It turns out he goes to our ET church in Aurora. He was so sweet and we can't wait to see him at church.

Our first Sunday home David was recovering from being sick and I was beginning to get sick with the flu. So the 2nd Sunday we were home, we really wanted Tigist to have her first church experience at our Ethiopian Church. Well, Pastor Endeshaw (pictured above) asked David to sing with his guitar. First Pastor introduced us as having newly adopted one of their beautiful children. Each of us shared something about the adoption and what Tigist meant to us. We told them that we just felt so blessed with the life that we have and Tigist is an incredible extension of what is already in our hearts. Pastor prayed over Tigist with the congregation, which was just beautiful. There were many smiles and tears in the seats as they were just so pleased to have Tigist here too.

I absolutely love it when they talked to her in Amharic after church was over. Her eyes light up and she speaks to them in the few words that she knows. They hug her, kiss her all over her cheeks and she just loves it. You would think that she may feel confused about a room full of 500 Ethiopians, yet she is going home with us. She is just so connected to us and feels so secure that we are her parents and her 2 brothers are her forever family. She knows we are here for good and we will continue to spend loads of time with her to secure that in her. I understand that the first 6 months are very important to her connecting and attaching to us, so we are with her all the time.
David works from home, I work an hour a day at home with David's orders, I am with her all the time and the boys come home from school and spend time with her. She couldn't have more attention, she should feel so loved.

After church Tigist ran around with the boys while we talked to some wonderful people.

This is only 1 of many restaurants where we would place Tigist's picture on the table as we ate and enjoyed Italy. We even did it back home with her picture.

I guess we can say that Tigist went to Italy too ?????

Denver Botanical Gardens. Tigist had a really great time. The day was beautiful and so was she. Her cries have gone from a 10 minute screaming cry to about a minute or 2 now. She has improved greatly and shows signs of strong attachment to us as her Mommy and Daddy.

Breakfast downtown Denver before the Botanical Gardens. She understand what the camera is and that you smile when someone points it at her.

Tiggy ... out and about on Saturday at a great outside mall.

A bench her size

She is happy like this all of the time. Of course she is normal ... she is 2 and does those kind of things that a 2 yr. old will do, but we just feel so blessed at how well she has acclimated to her new life. It is just amazing. She has a really fun and sweet personality.

Oh she loves her brothers!! And you can tell from her belly that she loves her "dabo" too! (bread) ... we're working on that. She does not like the look of any fruit or yogurt or unfamiliar type of food. She's eaten a few bites of banana, she'll drink OJ, but that's all. I've made fruit smoothies, but she won't even get near it. We're working on expanding her taste buds, but she is definitely getting protein because she loves eggs, string cheese and now drinks milk. She cries if David and I won't let her sip our Mocha Frappuccino, so we are not letting her have that anymore.

Evan pushes her on his skateboard and her face lights up. She is a girly girl, but she is rough and tough too. She loves to do lots of things.

Here is her hair wet ... I was waiting for this moment to see what it looked like with some conditioner in it to see what kind of curls are there. I think I have found the right product now so we'll see how it works.

I had just taken the rubber bands out and I really liked how this looked. I'll have to find some dark rubber bands so that it looks more like Nubian knots. But actually when I have the colored rubber bands in her hair, children really love to look at her hair. It just looks fun to look at.

As her hair grows longer, I can still use this style on her. We left her 'fro in all day yesterday after a good wash and condition and the boys loved her hair like that. She looked so cute, I just didn't get picture, I forgot.

Many months before we brought her home, David and I envisioned Tigist walking into church holding the hands of her big brothers. This is what we dreamed of ...

Inside of our church, Tigist met many of our friends for the first time.

She did very well. Both David and I stayed in her class the entire time cause we wanted to make sure she felt okay and she did. She just adapts so well. Next week at church the African Children's Choir will be singing at our church, I can't wait. I'm back in the choir as of tomorrow and can't wait to have Tigist see these beautiful children sing so passionately for God. The choir will also meet Tigist for the first time too ... I know they have been waiting patiently and have prayed with us throughout this entire process.

Tigist in her class at church this past Sunday. She loved her "num-nums".

Monday, September 1, 2008

Children's Heaven ... Hanna Fanta

We met Hanna in Denver at a fund raiser she held for her teenage girls in Ethiopia. Our visit to day at Children's Heaven was just wonderful time with Hanna and these beautiful girls.

David, Hanna, Me and Tigist

Hanna with Tigist

Coffee ceremony

The girls watching some of the other girls put on a program for us.

David offered up his guitar to Hanna as she shared with us back in Denver that she wanted to learn to play.

I loved seeing the girls play with her...

Pictures of the Princess!!

Time in the backyard is fun on a nice day. She loves her cat Sadie

Playing with her brothers

She loves a good cuddle

Again ... my blogging buddy

She stood here for about 20 minutes playing with the fountain.

Evan and Tigist taking a siesta in backyard

Doing her hair ... what do ya think?

I'm getting better at doing her hair. I like this style on her.

Time for a wagon ride for ice cream ... even though she doesn't even eat the stuff!


Olympics balance beam time ...

I told her to go ni-nite in the basket. She's always good for a fun picture.

Who else in the world gets a "Potty Song" when they go to the potty?