Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Good morning? Not quite:)

It's easier to post updates on the good days. Days like today - much harder. But probably more important so some other mom out there will no she's not alone when she has a day like it.

Little man slept in his own bed. It took 2 hours to get him to fall asleep and lots of rearranging from his bed to the ergo carrier to the air mattress to running around the room to his bed and back through all the other choices. He ended up falling asleep on me on the air mattress. Once he was asleep, I put him in his bed. He slept there at nap and we had been working on him sleeping there so this was good because he wouldn't be shocked or terrified when he woke up there. I slept on the air mattress next to him so when he woke up - mommy was right there. This seemed to be good cause he didn't wake up in the night and even though he moves around a lot - he didn't climb all over me like usual so mommy got better sleep too. He did wake up an hour earlier though but still - much better than expected.

We were up at 5am. He had a super wet diaper that was so wet it wasn't holding it all in so he basically had a big ole wet spot under him. I threw the sheets in the washer and changed his diaper and clothes and we started the day. He brushed his teeth, took a bath, ate breakfast, we let the dog out and fed her, etc. And then we went for a walk. Or so that was the plan. I keep the stroller in the back of the minivan - it's easier to get it in and out of there with the dog leash and the kiddo than it is to haul it out the front door of the house every time. Plus if we ever go anywhere - it's already in there. We go for a walk with M in the stroller and Auty on the leash literally every single morning. It's not a new thing. But today, Mihretu thought it would be fun and funny to not get in the stroller and instead take off running down the street in the opposite direction. Asking him to come back nicely and be a good boy and listen to mommy did not work. I just heard a loud giggle and he kept on running. I had the dog in hand and the stroller so that was fun. I then switched to the stern "mommy said no - come here right now mister - do you want to go in time out?" voice. More laughter, more running. This time he started up a neighbors driving and into their side yard toward their back yard. Thankfully, I don't think they were home or they would have probably wondered why the crazy neighbor lady was running up their driveway yelling "come here right now" with my dog in tow. Good times. Love starting the morning this way. I finally catch up to him and though we live on a dead end non-busy street, mommy knows that this taking off running business has got to stop because he may not only do it on our quiet street and it is a non-negotiable when it comes to doing things that are dangerous. So I picked up little man and we marched on home. He went in time out and I gave him a lecture about not running off and how dangerous it was and all that good stuff that I know he had no clue what I was actually saying other than he knew my tone of voice was serious and he knew he was in time out. I am praying he does not do that again. Once time out was done and he got the message (hopefully), we proceeded to go on our walk. This time, we went into the stroller at the door just in case he decided to run off again.

Then we went to a friends house mid morning for a playdate. She has a 3 year old and a new baby so we thought it'd be fun for her little man and mine to play. Mihretu didn't want any part of that. He only wanted to get into things that aren't for kids like the curtains and all of my friends sewing stuff and climbing all over the couch and behind it and running off into their kitchen and trying to get into their fridge. When mommy would try to redirect him - he spit at me. When I told him no spit, he started digging at my face with his finger nails and trying to bite me. Good times. Yeah, that was fun. My friend was super great about it and we decided to make it a short visit with hopes that next time he'd be more familiar and in turn more fun to play with. I'm sure he was just uneasy cause it was a new place and he was uncomfortable but gosh, it is really hard to figure out the best way in that setting to try to get him to not bite and hit and dig at me. And it's hard for me not to get frustrated.

Once we got home, more acting out - throwing food, throwing things at the dog, doing the opposite of what he knows he's supposed to do. Gave him a bath and a heads up that nap time was coming soon. The heads up seems to help prepare him. It still took awhile to get him to fall asleep and he did throw quite a few things at me. I've learned to just move away from him in those moments and wait for him to calm down. If I try to pick him up when he's throwing a fit - it just results in biting and scratching. He is able to get himself together pretty quickly and then he comes over to me and reaches up to be held which is good. I picked him up and put on the ergo carrier and rocked him while standing until he fell asleep. Then I laid him down in his bed. He's asleep now and I'm thankful. I know all of the above things are totally normal for any toddler but especially for a child who has been in the country only 3 weeks. I know these things are to be expected but it's still extremely challenging in the moment when we're dealing with them. I don't always keep my cool and remain calm. I'm constantly amazed at how frustrating this is and how easy it is to forget what he's going through when the behavior on the outside just looks like a toddler acting out. My prayer is that God will remind me every moment to see the situation through the lens of adoption and all that I've learned about trauma, attachment, trust based parenting and those things - rather than seeing the behavior as acting out. My friend forwarded me a text someone wrote to encourage her and it said to view the child as a vessel that has to be filled with love - take ourselves out of the equation and focus on filling the love tank. And to also take time to fill our own cup when we have a moment here and there. For me, the moments are few and far between and these nap times are pretty much it right now. I'm thankful for these nap time moments when I can frankly just sit down and cry. I can't do that in front of M - I did once cause I was so overwhelmed and it made him cry and it was heartbreaking. And I can't close myself in another room cause he'll freak out if he can't be with me at all times. It's hard not being able to just have a moment when you feel overwhelmed. But I will take the moments I do have. I cherish them. I need them to refuel and just feel like a normal person again. This is harder than I ever thought it would be. I thought all my babysitting and experience with kids would make it easier. It helps but it doesn't make it any less hard.

I'm praying this afternoon is better. Maybe it was the extra hour we missed of sleep, maybe it was truly a more challenging morning than usually or maybe it just seemed like it. Sometimes our perspective has a lot to do with it. Lord fill me up so I can overflow and fill his love tank up. Fill me with your compassion, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and love. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More firsts - church, new friends and more

Sunday Mihretu and I went to church for the first time. I was so beyond excited. It signified to me a return to some normalcy but also - I was so very excited for him to meet all the many amazing people at church who've been praying for him for so long. He seemed a little overwhelmed but he does great - he just gets quiet and clings to mommy and takes it all in. He stayed upstairs in the sanctuary with me for worship. I tried leaving him in kids worship but I could tell that was not going to go over well and since he had discovered the classroom full of cool toys that just so happened to be the room he'd be in for Sunday school - I thought taking him there rather than the worship room would be better. Before church, he met Miss Carla who is the preschool director and immediately took to her. So when we came back down to take him to class, even though he cried for a few minutes when mommy left, he let Miss Carla comfort him. I was able to stand on the other side of the windows that I can see in but looks like a mirror on his side and just make sure he was ok. He calmed down pretty quickly. Carla ended up sitting in there with him and it was so adorable when I came back down and peeked in the window and saw him sitting at the table with all the kids next to her showing her a little toy lion he had picked up. She said he did great, followed instructions and went along with everything the other kids were doing - went over to the circle for story time, to the table for snack and so on. She said he was especially good about throwing all his trash away. He loves to help clean up which makes this momma proud. I was so glad he did so well. Initially I wasn't planning to leave him in there the first day at church but because he's starting school in 2 weeks, I thought it would be good practice for mommy to show that yes she has to leave but she always comes back. And since it's like a classroom, I was hoping that would be even more helpful of a setting.

Yesterday (Monday) he had his big appointment at Vanderbilt International Adoption Clinic. It ended up being 3 hours total but it was really great info and he also met with an occupational therapist. He's a bit behind for his age developmentally - mostly I think because of lack of practice or opportunities to develop certain skills - but they said he shows signs of already picking up things really quickly so they think he'll be up to speed in 6 months. I think so too. If I need to have him work with an occupational therapist in the future, it's nice to know it's there but I don't think we need to at this point. They gave me some great things to work on with him. At the very end of the appointment was the not very fun part where they had to stick him for a TB test and then draw lots of blood to run all sorts of bloodwork on him. He did not like that but he recovered really quickly. He's a tough kiddo. So proud of him.

At nap today he was not wanting to stop playing and sleep which can get frustrating trying to talk him into resting. I ended up trying out the Ergo carrier again - hadn't used it in awhile for napping. Since Ethiopia actually. But I think I will go for that from now on cause he was asleep in like a minute. And I was able to lay him down in his toddler bed. YAY he's asleep in his own bed. Not sure if that'll take or not but we'll keep trying it. The Vandy nurse recommended we transition him to his bed and me next to it on the air mattress for awhile as the next step before mommy no longer sleeps in there. So we'll be trying that and seeing how it goes.

My friend Robin came over last night and met M for the first time. He LOVED her. I've not seen him take to anyone quite that well right off the bat. She's fun and silly and played with him a lot which made him warm right up. By the end of the night he was reaching for hugs and giving her kisses on the cheek. Pretty sure he stole her heart. My cousin Heather is coming next weekend and I'm SO excited for her to meet him and for her to visit again - it's been a really long time. M and I are going home at Christmas but it'll be nice to have Heather all to ourselves for some one on one time for a few days. Can't wait for that.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

3 week update

Tomorrow marks 3 weeks ago that I showed up at my agencies care center in Addis Ababa and picked up my son. Hard to believe it's only been 3 weeks. So much has happened. So much has changed. Life has changed completely for both of us.

I feel an obligation to be real and honest about our transition - especially as a single mom who has many other single ladies visiting my blog from time to time who are considering adopting as a single.

I knew it would be hard but until you're in the midst of it - you don't know in what ways it'll be hard. For some, hard looks like illness or sensory issues or problems attaching. While others, it's lack of sleep or any number of things. It looks different for everyone, and you don't really know how much your life is really, truly going to change until it does. And with any huge life change, it's hard to adjust - even when it's a good thing. We get set in our ways. We have our own selfish traditions or favorite tv shows or things we like to do. And then it's all different. And while it comes with it's own set of blessings and new traditions and moments, that doesn't mean you don't mourn the loss of what had become familiar. I think that's the best way to describe my first 2 weeks - mourning the loss of life as I knew it.

He's been doing better than I would have dreamed. He's had his moments for sure but overall, he's adjusting super well. But it has been harder for me than I thought it would be. I felt pretty defeated by that fact the first 2 weeks because I thought I'd be more joyful and love every moment. I felt honestly quite guilty for the way I was feeling. Thankfully I have amazing friends and other adoptive families to talk with who assured me this is very normal and it will get better. I know this is the hardest part and that makes me hopeful. And I do love this little man so very much so it's definitely worth it. But as a 36 year old single, independent woman, I have been faced with my own selfishness big time these past 3 weeks. I didn't even realize how much free time I had or how much I would miss things like being able to take a shower, watch my favorite tv shows and be able to sleep in my own bed (oh how I can't wait until I can do that again), or meet a friend for coffee or even just have a phone conversation lasting more than 30 seconds. In my hopes for this process, I guess I just didn't quite picture it without me having any space. Once he begins sleeping on his own, that'll definitely get better. And even now, I do manage to slip out during nap times and have some much needed down time. That 1-2 hours a day is a Godsend. It's amazing how much you can get done in 2 hours! Ha ha

I hope that those reading this are not thinking I'm complaining, I'm really not. I'm just trying to be real. I feel like I owe it to future single adoptive moms to be real. I want you to know that it's worth it and I wouldn't change it for the world but it's still hard. And it's still a huge life change. You won't know how you'll react to it or feel about it until it happens. I prepared as much as I could. But you just don't know until you're there.

This week has been a huge improvement for me. I think it's just all starting to feel more normal for me too. More familiar and we have some things established now. Lots of work to go for sure but there's a familiarity between us. I feel like I know this little person now and can anticipate meltdown times and try to cut them off before they happen. I feel like I have come up with ways that work for him to establish boundaries and am trying to be consistent, even when I'm tired. I've tried to be more playful and come up with creative fun ways to entertain him. He's learning more and more to venture out, play with toys, dance & sing, play with other kids. I'm learning to cram a whole lot into a short amount of free time and to reach out to people and ask them to get together. It is very lonely and isolating those first few weeks. It's been so great to have so many people to lean on and just even come over and sit with us and just have another adult present. Oh how I treasure that adult interaction.

For Mihretu and I, the biggest challenges and areas of prayer right now are as follows:
1) Because he has attached to me so well (which is a Godsend btw) it means that he freaks out when I leave the room. He has to start school in 2 weeks so my dear friend Merrill who went with me to get him in Ethiopia is coming over a few times between now and then to practice having mommy leave and come back so that he can hopefully begin to understand that I always come back. I'm so thankful for her willingness to help with this. She's the only other person besides me that he's comfy with right now so I thought that'd be a great place to start. Praying that goes well and that his transition to school would go good as well. He starts Dec 3 and I'm still technically on leave that week in case I need to pick him up early or anything. If he does really well (praying so), I'll go ahead and go into work but it'll be nice to have that flexibility if I need to go get him since I'll still have some vacation days left.
2) The dog - he's warming up - especially outside - I think it's because it's a wide open space. Sometimes even in the house he seems to be warmed up to her but then all of a sudden he's acting terrified again. It's pretty inconsistent and it definitely has added a level of difficulty for me trying to rangle the dog and care for her while also trying to keep her away from him in moments when he's scared. He's definitely making progress though so it's a huge praise.
3) Spitting, biting, pinching and hitting - we are making progress but this is still a big thing with him. Whenever he doesn't get his way or is frustrated, he will do one or more of these things. I've noticed he's doing it more and more when we are in public and it's harder to do a time out so I hope I can come up with a good time out option that works for public places. At home, this area has really improved and the time outs are working. He has to say sorry (yeekerta in amharic:) and the amount of time it takes for him to say it has become less and less. I've also noticed when I say no - about half of the time, he stops what he's doing and actually listens. This is huge progress. I'm sure all of the boundaries we are trying to set will become much easier over time as he understands more and more English. He's already understanding quite a bit and I've been amazed at how well we communicate with the little english he knows, the little amharic I know and lots of hand gestures and acting things out, pointing and head nodding. Truly amazing really.
4) Sleeping - I would LOVE for him to be sleeping in his own bed soon. Right now, we're on an air mattress in his room. One day we tried getting him to nap in his bed and he seriously melted down. I know it was too soon so we scrapped that plan. But it will be really nice once he finally does. In the meantime, I'm extremely thankful that he sleeps through the night and takes naps. He's been a lot more resistant to nap times this week - not sure why - but today he acted upset about me turning the light off so I left it on. That seemed to do the trick because he didn't fuss near as much and fell fast asleep. We can leave the light on. Mommy is learning to be flexible too:)
5) He's clumsy. He fell the other night and scared mommy half to death. He hit the back of his head super hard on the hardwood floor. Poor little guy. It was awful and he didn't want ice on it either - he wasn't happy with me about that. I ended taking him to the doctor to get checked out the next day because he had a meltdown mid-day and started holding his head like it hurt and then cried so hard he threw up. I didn't know if it was related or not and didn't want to take a chance. It wasn't, thank God. Doctor said he was fine. He was over-tired and didn't want a nap, had a total meltdown and cried so hard he made himself throw up. Nevertheless, glad for a doctors office who got us right in to ease a worried moms mind. Today, he bumped his head on the chair in my room while playing on the floor. He likes to climb on things and is all boy - it just makes me nervous. Especially after his hard fall the other night.

Thanks for praying for us. I can feel the prayers and I'm so thankful.

Gotta run - my little many just woke up:)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pictures


Our first grocery store visit on Tuesday

Our first doctor visit Tuesday evening
 
Thursday morning - we visited everyone at mommy's office

Thursday - we went to the playground at the Nashville Zoo. He loved it!!!




Thursday afternoon nap - Mihretu gets ready for sleeping. So cute!!!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Proud momma - my boy is doing great!

Mihretu is doing amazing. Since the major meltdown on Monday, I am happy to report that all meltdowns since have been brief and minor in comparison. Praise Jesus.

Tomorrow will be one week since we got home. Wow - only a week and so much has happened. He's come so far already. My sweet, smart boy.

Yesterday was a good day. We woke up at 5 am after going to bed the night before at 7pm. Getting more adjusted to time zone. Mihretu loves shoes. He even wants them on at night and during naps. The only time he wants them off is in the tub. Chamas - shoes - is a word he says a lot. So cute!!! I talking him into wearing slippers to bed last night instead of tennis shoes. I told them they were bedtime shoes and I put on my slippers. This made him excited and want to put them on. I think these slippers are much better for sleeping than tennis shoes so I'm glad he was up for it. In the mornings, he's been waking up smiling at me and touching my face and then giving me a kiss. What a sweet snuggly boy. Then he sits up and points to the door - he wants to go to the bathroom where he proceeds to get a drink of water with his toothbrush cup. Yesterday, we then took a bath, got dressed, let the dog (woosha) outside, and we ate oatmeal and applesauce. He has now decided he wants blueberries in his oatmeal like mommy. Still no rasberries. But he likes the blueberries. After breakfast, we then went for a walk with the dog. As of yesterday, he's riding in the stroller and I'm able to also walk the dog. This is awesome and much easier on mommy than carrying him in the ergo since he's almost 30 lbs. YAY - victories!!! Throughout the day, there were several baths, lots of dirty diapers, one time going on the potty, several changes of clothes, lots of hand washing and putting things in their place, M helping mommy with laundry, playing with puzzles and legos, swinging in the little tikes swing hanging from the tree, exploring the backyard and another walk in the afternoon. Merrill came over around 4 to bring dog treats and batteries for M's activity table that plays music. Then we went to Green Hills for our first doctor appointment. The docs office schedules new patient appointments last in the day so it was scheduled for 5pm. They called on our way and said they were running behind. I needed some things at Trader Joe's so I decided since we were over there - why not? I'm a proud momma. Mihretu did awesome in the van and his car seat. He did awesome in Trader Joe's sitting in the cart smiling and looking around, never once trying to get out of the cart or never crying or anything. Granted - I'm a power shopper and we were in and out in 15 minutes. But still - he did so great. He was just checking everything out. The only moment where he got mad was when mommy wouldn't give him the whole bag of cheese puffs in the car. He got over it quickly and ate the handfull I gave him in his car seat cup holder thingy. At the doctor - he did awesome. He even let me take his shoes off to get on the scale, let the nurse move him over to the measuring height area and let the doctor pick him up and put him on the table to look in his ears, eyes, throat, listen to his chest and examine him. Didn't cry at all. Wow - that was definitely a great first outing. We came home and grabbed something to eat and then it was time for bed.

We went to bed at 8 pm last night without a fuss by the way. We have a new routine where we get in our pjs and I put down the air mattress on the floor. I'm sleeping in his room with him since he's freaked out without me right now. Instead of having him in my bed, I thought sleeping in there would make for a good transition to his own bed when the time comes. It's not the most comfy thing but it works. And he squirms and moves a lot in his sleep so a regular bed would not be a good bet anyway. I wouldn't want him falling out. His toddler bed has a railing so once he's in that, we should be good to go. In the meantime, he snuggles up with mommy. So after pj's, we sit on the rocking chair and read 3 books. Then I say "taga" which is sleep and he lays down on the mattress and mommy covers him up and then lays next to him. He kisses my cheek and smiles and then lays there quietly until we both fall asleep. Cutest thing ever. This morning, he woke up at 6:15 am which was great. If we can do 8pm bedtime, up at 6ish am, 12 noon nap for 2 hours - that will be a perfect schedule to continue with once he's in preschool and mommy goes back to work.

He has some control issues when it comes to food which is pretty common with children who've come from orphanages. Especially ones where they may not have gotten their bellies filled when they were hungry. My boy loves to eat. And he can eat a lot. This morning, he didn't eat all his breakfast - we left it on the table and did our morning routine of bath and getting dressed and then going for a walk. So after our walk - we came back in the house and he saw his oatmeal and wanted to eat it. Fine with me - he didn't care if it was cold and it hadn't been sitting out long - so why not? While he was eating it - he pointed toward the sink. Usually this means he's done and wants to rinse his bowl. I proceeded to pick him up and carry him to the sink to do so. Oh no - this is not what he wanted at all. He threw a fit, threw his bowl on the floor and went into a full on screaming/body flailing fit. Mommy misunderstood what he wanted. And since we have a language barrier and my Amharic is limited - it gets tricky. I took him to his room and sat him down and said "Tell mommy what you want bud. Use your words (I'm turning into Karyn Purvis - you adoptive moms will understand that reference). He's still crying and I start using the little Amharic I know. Bella is food so I said that and he stopped crying and shook his head yes. I said "show me" and reached for his hand. He lead me out into the kitchen and pointed to the microwave. Turns out - he wasn't pointing to the sink. He was pointing to the microwave. That's pretty much my source of cooking lately since amazing people have brought us meals - I've just been heating it up in the microwave. He was basically telling me he wanted more. Whew. Crisis averted. Boy calmed. Mommy realizing food is a trigger. We'll learn from that one for sure. All in all - it was solved in less than 2 minutes. That's a victory for sure.

Around 11 am we went back to the doctor to drop off M's stool sample to test for parasites. Pretty sure he has some. Most Ethiopian kiddos do. I think Giardia - not sure how you spell that - but I hear that's the common one. He did great in the car and we only ran in to the doc for a second. Came back home and a friend brought some food over and some toys for M. We ate lunch and then it was nap time. We read 4 books this time. He tried for 5 but mommy said no, we're done, time for nap. Sure enough - he laid down and got ready for nap. Gave mommy a kiss on the cheek and a cute smile and I snuggled up next to him and we both fell asleep. He's still sleeping and I got up shortly after to pay some bills online and pick up the house a bit. And write this blog.

Love my sweet boy. So very proud of him. He's doing so amazing. I'm going to go online and try to find fun things to do - maybe library kids music hour or something. Might take him to the YMCA to see how he likes the pool. I imagine he'll love it. I also have a zoo membership so we'll probably go there soon. Will start integrating some playtime with other kids and most likely will attempt to go to church this weekend. We shall see how it goes. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Celebrating victories

I wish I could write down every single thing.
I wish I had more time to blog.
I wish y'all could see how smart and curious and fun my son is.

I also wish we were past the hard stuff - like him being afraid of the dog and his terrible meltdowns where he scratches mommy's face, tries to bite and hit me. Those are not the fun moments. But those are the realities of adoption. Thank God those are things I knew might come so I'm at least somewhat prepared. Although in the moment, when he's screaming and throwing his little body around and trying to hurt mommy - all I can do is just be with him and pray. Lots of praying. Lots of asking God to heal his little heart. He's never had one person focused on him who would meet his needs and stick around. He's been in orphanages with lots of kids and limited nannies. He's probably had days where his little tummy was hungry and didn't get fed. I know there were times when his diaper was dirty and he didn't get changed. My sweet boy has experienced trauma and we're in the midst of building trust and trying to work through it. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't hard. It is. But I will tell you with 100% certainty - I am absolutely honored to be his mom. And I will absolutely gladly walk through this with him, even if he bites and kicks and scratches my face. Even if I have some crying sobbing meltdowns myself. If you catch me in one of those moments - don't worry - I'm not thinking I made a mistake or wishing I hadn't done this. Yes, I'm tired and yes those moments are hard. That's parenting, right? Yes - hard but no I'm not regretting any of this. He's hurting and I'm his mommy and I want to help him through it. I can't control what happened before he came home but I can do my darndest to make sure he learns that mommy loves him and I'm not leaving and over time, he'll begin to understand that. And healing will begin to take place. For now, it's one day and one moment at a time. And we celebrate the victories along the way. There are so many victories and I am so thankful for those. So thankful that overall, considering everything - my son is doing amazingly. He really is. I love him so much. He's such a precious, smart, curious, amazing, snuggly little boy.

Here are some of the many victories:

• Snuggles - he loves to snuggle and hug mommy. This morning he woke up next to me and hugged my neck and kissed my cheek. Seriously - melt mommy's heart. :)
• He loves to take baths - we're averaging about 4 per day. He is so happy in the tub, playing with the foam letters and washing his body with the soap that he reaches out his hand for mommy to squirt in every few minutes.
• He is a good sleeper. He was on a great schedule in Ethiopia - nap for around 2 hours at noonish and then go to bed between 7 and 8 pm and sleep 10-12 hours. Holy cow - that's a great sleeper. We are WAY out of whack here because of time zones but he's still sleeping a lot - just at weird times. Like this morning, when we were up at 2:30am. Yeah, I'm a bit thrown off on time too:) YAY for parental leave and no place to be for awhile.
• He loves to eat - he eats about the same size bowl of oatmeal in the morning with me, plus a banana and applesauce. He has eaten 6 bananas since yesterday afternoon. He loves them. He very rarely turns his nose up at something - he'll eat almost anything. Including dog treats - he put one of those in his mouth today. Yuck;)
• This one amazes me - he has gone on the potty 4 times since yesterday. He's got a pretty upset tummy - pretty sure when we go to the doctor tomorrow, we'll find out he has a parasite which is pretty much the norm for Ethiopian kiddos. So it's a noisy process when he has to go potty. He tells me "kaka mommy". Sorry if I'm getting too graphic. If you're a parent - you know - bathroom and diapers and potty are big deals:) So he told me he had to go and sure enough - I sat him on the kid potty thingy that sits on top of the regular seat and he went. I was shocked. He's pretty much brilliant!!! My smart boy, already starting to potty train.
• He LOVES to put things in their proper place. For the fact that we speak a different language, we communicate really well. I learned a lot of Amharic words and he talks a lot with body language. The adorable eyebrow raise up and down is like a yes. No is a shoulder shrug or shaking the head no. When he wants something he points to it. Almost always when he says something, I can figure out what he's trying to tell me. Anyway, so he dumped out a bunch of toys and then didn't want to leave the room until we picked them all up. But not just picked up - he wanted them in their proper place so every single toy he looked at me and with his ways of communicating asked me where it went. We ended up separating 3 bins of toys into 3 categories as mommy directed.
• Puzzles - people gave me a few puzzles which are actually pretty advanced. Probably not the type of puzzles you start doing puzzles on. One has textures and shapes and low and behold - today he looked at the octagon with the pink textured top in his hand, looked at the puzzle board and figured out which one matched. He then proceeded to pretty much do that with all of them - from square to triangle to diamond to oval and so on. I was impressed. He is so smart.
• We have a changing pad that you can travel with and it's super easy to fold up and velcro shut. He loves to help me put it away and once I showed him the shelf it goes on - he absolutely wants to make sure it gets put there everytime we use it. He loves things to be where they go.
• He thinks it's fun to rinse all his dishes in the sink after he eats. I put the step stool in front of the sink. He climbs up there and rinses everything just like he saw mommy doing and then he climbs down and puts them in the dishwasher. He loves to help.
• He's still not ready to be too close to the dog but we're making progress. He thinks it's fun to throw treats to her over the baby gate.
• Huge victory - yesterday he wanted down in the backyard to walk around while holding mommy's hand. And the reason that's huge is because the woosha (dog) was running around the yard too. Auty would run right by us but not too close - she's so smart - she knows he's afraid of her. If she got really close, he'd want me to pick him up. But otherwise, he was fine to be down while she was running around. This is a big victory. So is the fact that I can now walk Auty while I'm carrying Mihretu in the ergo. This morning, he even wanted down on the walk. Wow!!! Huge progress. Can't wait till they are best buds.
• He loves to wash his hands and brush his teeth. The first time I handed him his toothbrush, he went to it like he'd done it a million times. I'm glad I got babyganics organic toothpaste without flouride cause he's brushing his teeth a lot. He also washes his hand a lot. We are getting lots of use out of this little step stool in the bathroom. We are spending a lot of our day in the bathroom between baths, potty, washing hands and brushing teeth.
• He is already learning words in English. Like "up" when he wants to be picked up. And "thank you" when I give him something. I always say those to him so he's picking it up quick. He also says "hello" in the cutest amharic accent. And there's nothing that beats the way he says "mommy, I love you". Melt my heart.
• When someone calls - like my mom or dad or cousin or anyone - he likes to get on the phone and talk to them in his adorable cute voice. I think we need to skype some friends soon:)
• He loves to be covered in baby lotion. He also wants some in his hands to rub it on himself. It's a process after each bath. This kid is the cleanest, best smelling kid on the planet right now:)

Those are just a few of the hundreds of fun things we get to experience everyday. LOVE LOVE LOVE this kiddo. And I'm gonna love him through the hard stuff as well as all the fun stuff. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

We are HOME

My friend and I got on a plane last Friday afternoon. We made it to Ethiopia late Saturday. On Sunday morning, we got up and got ready to go meet Mihretu's grandmother. I'm not going to post details about  his story or what all she told us because it's his story and I want to keep it private but... I will say that it was a complete honor and blessing to meet her. She spoke a blessing over me and I know that it was sacred that time I had with her to be able to ask questions and find out about my son's story. This will be incredibly helpful to him when he grows up and begins asking about his birth family. So thankful I had that chance. 

After we left there, we ate a quick lunch and then headed onto the care center to get my boy. After almost 3 months, it was so surreal to walk in there knowing I was leaving with him forever. He looked confused for a few minutes but quickly warmed up and was in mommy's arms. We hung out there for a few hours before we left with him and we decided to come back the next day for a final goodbye after our Embassy appointment. Mihretu was super curious in the car and seemed quite content to be strapped to mommy in the Ergo baby carrier. That thing is a life saver (and back saver too). We headed back to the guest house where we had dinner. My boy did so great - he ate dinner in a big boy chair with his own kid bowl and silverware the guest house provided and even wore his Baby Bjorn bib I brought him. He loves to eat and isn't picky - he ate carrots, chicken, potatoes and almost anything we put in front of him. He wants mommy to hold him all the time and I'm so thankful for that connection. I gave him a bath in the guest house sink and he LOVED it so much. Cutest thing ever. My boy loves to play in the water. He got out without a fuss when I grabbed the towel and then I got him dressed and ready for bed. He likes to go in the carrier on my back at bed time. He was fast asleep in 10 minutes and I layed him down on the bed where he slept for 10 hours. Holy cow - what a good sleeper!!! I slept next to him but really didn't sleep much. I kept staring at him - hard to believe he was finally there next to me. Sunday night, after I was in bed, my friend Megin and her husband arrived. They were there in August for court and we both were adopting kiddos who came from the same orphanage. Our kids grew up together there and then got transferred to our agencies care center at the same time. They are buddies - Mihretu and Sitota who is now 3 years old and super cute!!! Their process took over 2 years but what a joy to be able to be there at the same time and have our kiddos transition one more time together. 

Monday morning was our embassy appointment at 9am. It was super quick and very different than what I would have pictured. I was so overjoyed when they handed me his documents and told me I was good to go - I about lost it in the lobby in front of the 100 or so people. Still so surreal. He came along in the ergo and fell asleep in the car. We went back to the care center to say goodbye. It was kind of emotional - even in only 3 months of being there, the nannies were already really attached to him. One looked like she was gonna cry. He went to her but after hugging on her, reached his arms back for me. This is a huge thing - that he would still want me even over the nannies. Very unusual - it's usually the opposite. I am a thankful momma. He didn't cry at all when we left - seemed happy to go for another car ride. And Sitota's parents were there too so they rode with us back to the care center. Mihretu and Sitota got to leave together. Very neat. We went back to the guest house and had another lovely dinner where my big boy sat up at the table like a pro and so did his buddy at the other side of the table with her mommy and daddy. Mihretu is so cute with such a big personality - he makes funny faces and loves to be the center of attention. He loves to snuggle and be close to mommy. And he's just a fun little guy. I can't wait for everyone to get to see his personality. Love him soooo much!!!! 

We played at the guest house and got another bath and then mommy put him on her back in the ergo and he was asleep again. He slept 12 hours this night. I went to bed soon after he did and thankfully I slept 11 hours. After several nights of practically no sleep at all - a good nights sleep made all the difference. 

Tuesday, we stayed at the guest house all day. Sitota's mommy and daddy had Embassy and some other things to do so we were there by ourselves. Merrill got to take a nap while Mihretu and I played outside. We played in the front courtyard with the stroller that Sitota's parents left for us to try out. He loved being pushed around in it. When Sitota got back - the two of them were so cute running around shouting out high pitched Amharic words to each other in the front courtyard. Adorable!!!! He's got a lot of energy and I certainly got a workout in that day chasing him around, walking him up and down the stairs in tow. He's an active little guy. I just can't believe how well he's doing - he just goes with the flow and hardly even acted like anything was outside the norm. He did have a few afternoon overtired meltdowns. I've already learned the different cries and I have seen the over tired one a lot - especially in the last 48 hours with all the crazy travel we just did. Whew. 

Speaking of which, I'm going to end here so I can wake him up. His little body thinks it's nighttime and he's already taken a crazy long nap. I know he needs sleep so I let him sleep for quite awhile but I think I better go wake him so he will want to sleep tonight. Oh jet lag - good times. 

Perseverance

By definition Perseverance is: steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, o...