Saturday, August 28, 2010

Water Park Fun

Symphony Rehearsal

The orchestra that my mom plays in was rehearsing this afternoon for tonight's outdoor performance. We took Atticus and Norah to watch. (I have no idea why the middle photo won't rotate. Darn it.)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Psyched for School

Tonight we went to Atticus and Norah's preschool open house. There was so much anticipation! When we pulled up near the school, Norah started yelling, "It's my school! It's my school! I'm so excited!" When we entered the building and were standing in line, she started introducing herself to everyone. "Hi, I'm No-wah and this is my brother Att-cus. It's nice to meet you." It was super cute.

The kids will be attending a public Montessori school and we're all feeling very enthusiastic about it. It's close to our house and the student body is very diverse (45% Black, 30% White, 16% Multiracial, 9% Latino). One thing we've read over and over in accounts by adult adoptees is the importance of making sure that our children are not always the minority in their surroundings. Our city unfortunately has almost no Ethiopian community (aside from Ethiopian adoptees), but we can at least make sure our kids don't feel isolated into an all-white world.

This is not to say that Paul and I aren't scared stiff about the idea of them going off to school. We've been so lucky to have family nearby that the kids have only stayed with non-relatives two or three times since they came home 2.5 years ago and in those cases they were staying with close friends of ours for just a couple of hours. The thought that we're about to send them into someone else's care everyday is frightening and we're also worried about whether they'll be on their best behavior or be those kids who throw temper tantrums and necessitate calls home. I really hope it's the former!

(This is where I need to issue an apology to all the friends who went before us in sending their children off to school. I'll admit that I always thought they were being a tad overly dramatic over preschool. I was wrong. It is hard!)

There's a new school in my life too; I started a job at a new school today. I'll be teaching at a middle school and it seems like it will be a welcome reprieve after the last two years. I haven't met my students yet (that happens tomorrow), but the staff is welcoming, the administration seems forthright and involved, and I have a nice classroom that I don't have to share. Overall, I'm feeling very optimistic about it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sleepy Swimmer

We signed up for a membership at the YMCA this week. The kids will be taking swimming lessons this fall and we wanted to be able to take advantage of the family swim days this winter. It is incredibly hot and humid here today, so I took Atticus and Norah over to the pool to try it out for the first time. They don't have much experience with bodies of water that are over their heads. Atticus, however, didn't miss a beat. Wearing a life jacket, he figured out how to jump into the water by himself and swim around in the pool and over to the side without any help. Over and over and over. The kid is fearless in the water. It's so much fun to see this side of him.

One of the reasons I decided to head for the pool was that the kids didn't take a nap today. I knew if we didn't make plans soon, the afternoon was going to devolve into an unpleasant scene at our house. Of course, within about two minutes of getting in the car after our swim, Atticus fell sound asleep. I woke him up when we got home and stood him next to the car so that I could unbuckle Norah. The picture above is what happened. I'm sure he would have slept right there next to the road for a long time if I'd let him.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Happy Birthday Norah!

Today our sweet little Norah is three. She was ecstatic to wake up and find it was her birthday (although she's developed a bizarre aversion to the song "Happy Birthday") and couldn't wait for her two grandmothers to arrive tonight and her party to begin. We love you Norah-Bee!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Adoption Non-Update

Several people have asked me recently how our next adoption is proceeding. In short, we're still waiting to start waiting. Our homestudy is just about completed but is awaiting approval and finalization. Due to our social worker being on vacation and staff from our adoption agency traveling to Ethiopia, it may take several more weeks before we can submit our homestudy to USCIS for immigration approval. Here's a brief outline of the steps:
  1. Complete homestudy
  2. Obtain I-600A immigration approval: 1-3 months
  3. Submit dossier to Ethiopia and wait for a referral: 4-9 months
  4. Ethiopian court date: usually 1-3 months after referral. Paul and I will both be required to travel to Ethiopia for this. Depending upon our finances, we are hoping to take Atticus and Norah along with us and remain in Ethiopia until our U.S. embassy hearing.
  5. U.S. Embassy date: usually about 2 months after the Ethiopian court date. We will be able to come home with our new children after this.

We are feeling relatively calm about the wait right now. We already have an awesome family and don't mind having a longer wait. However, we are really, really, really, REALLY hoping the adoptions will make it through the Ethiopian courts before the end of 2011 which is when the adoption tax credit is scheduled to sunset. When we adopted Atticus and Norah, it took us ten months to get from the point where we are right now (awaiting homestudy approval) to getting through court in Ethiopia.

Many people who are considering adoption for the first time have asked us how invasive the process is. In short, it's kind of like going through pre-Cana marriage counseling, applying for private life insurance, and applying for a mortgage all at the same time. You get to answer questions about the strengths and weaknesses of your marriage, your families of origin, your parenting philosophies, finances, debts, health records, and mental health. There are some educational field trips to state records offices to obtain copies of birth certificates, marriage licenses, home deeds, employment records, bank records, and you get to know your favorite notary on a first-name basis. Yes, it's pretty invasive, but it doesn't really seem that bad if you've already gone through the other investigations that go along with buying a house or other rites of passage that go along with being an adult.

So...that's where we are right now. We will be applying to adopt two children 0-18 months-old at the time of referral. I'll let you know when we have more news.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The irony is not lost on us...

...that Saturday night while we were registering for an online course required for our next adoption, entitled "Disciplining the Adopted Child", our son was upstairs flooding the bathroom. Apparently Atticus decided to wash his hands after we put him down for bed. He added a full container of hand soap and then tried to clean up the mess by putting towels in the sink - while it was still running. By the time we realized that he was not, in fact, sound asleep, there was about two inches of water and bubbles on our bathroom floor and it soon began to seep through our living room ceiling. Lovely. On the upside, the webinar reinforced our decision to make his consequence directly related to his actions: he lost the privilege of having his bedroom door open that night and the bathroom will remain locked while he's upstairs for the foreseeable future.
The picture above is of the kids "fishing" this morning. They caught a few tractors and Atticus kept calling me over to see his big fish. Their imaginative play is exploding these days.
The summer is flying by and I'm feeling the urge to cling to it by my fingernails.