Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Birthday to Paul

Several months ago, Paul reported to his coworker Laura, an avid baker, that he'd dreamed that she had brought him his head on a cake platter. Today she made his dreams come true. Happy birthday, Sweetie!

Friday, August 26, 2011

We're Going to Need Some Coffee before We Deal with This...

On second thought, maybe not. I went back to school yesterday and Paul is now once again in charge of getting the kids dressed and out the door in the mornings. He went upstairs to finish dressing this morning and came down to find the children feverishly trying to clean up this "accident". Because, you know, the brand new economy-sized container of coffee just fell out of the refrigerator and landed on the Tonka trucks.
On the bright side, the house smells great. By the way, we replaced the kitchen floor last week. I was planning to post pictures of it but hadn't really anticipated using these particular shots. It does camoflauge dirt well though.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Aliens No Longer

We took a family trip to Chicago today to pick up Atticus and Norah's official certificates of United States citizenship. For those interested, we applied for these certificates of citizenship (COCs) in November 2010 and received letters of appointment about two weeks ago. I really didn't know what to expect about this appointment. The letter was very explicit that we had to be there today between the hours of 1-3 PM, so I thought maybe there would be some sort of ceremony. Certain people suggested that the kids might need to recite the pledge.

The address ended up being a nicely appointed office building in downtown Chicago. We went through security where a guard commented that my big camera ought to take some great pictures, and then we sat in the huge lobby waiting for our names to be called. While we waited, we passed the time by making silly faces for the camera until a very stern guard called me over and told me that we were not allowed to take photos anywhere in the building except in front of the flag. He then made me delete the photos we had taken inside the building as he watched to make sure the photo card was clear of any pictures that might represent a breach of national security. I hope the twenty-odd pictures of us all sitting on plastic waiting room chairs with crossed eyes and stuck out tongues eased his mind. I felt horribly guilty and embarrassed.

In the end, we sat in the chairs for about 15 minutes and then a woman behind a ticket counter called us over and handed us the kids' certificates of citizenship. There were two aspects that I was surprised by. First, we were told in the letter to bring Atticus and Norah's permanent resident cards. I did not realize that once we handed those into the lady behind the counter that we wouldn't get them back. We took photos of the cards a long time ago and I'm glad we did because those permanent resident cards had two of the mere handful of pictures that we have of Atticus and Norah before they were adopted. Secondly, the letter did not tell us to bring their birth certificates but I had anyway. This ended up being a good move because their names have been changed since the permanent resident cards were issued and the worker was confused by the discrepancy between the names on the permanent resident cards and those on the COCs. At any rate, the entire "appointment" ended up lasting less than two minutes and then we were free to go.
We celebrated today's milestone with a trip to the Shedd Aquarium. The kids have been begging to return since our visit there in December and they couldn't wait to go back to the yellow submarine. Today we were lucky enough to get front row seats for the dolphin show which included a special guest - a sea lion. The trainer had him demonstrate his skills less than three feet in front of our family. It was truly fabulous and the looks on Norah and Atticus's faces were priceless.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Norah Is Four!




I'm a little late in writing about Norah's birthday, but I know she never minds extending the celebration.

Miss Norah truly is gold to us. She's one of the most exuberant and affectionate children I've ever met and her enthusiasm for life infects all of us who have the good fortune to be in her family.

Turning four hasn't decreased her attraction to making messes - in fact she simply seems to have gained the height and skills necessary to reach things that are supposed to be out of reach. A picture of Norah at four wouldn't be complete without photos of her own "creations". In addition, she continues to love digging in the mud, swimming, riding her bicycle, and pretending to be a princess.

Norah, we love you to infinity and beyond!

Whine, Whine, Whine

It's been a stunningly craptacular week in adoption news. I've attempted several times to sort out the facts and compose some sort of concise summary. Frankly though, I'm just a little bit too mentally exhausted.

We weren't submitted to court before it closed last week which means that we may have to wait until mid-October to be submitted and then have no idea when we'll actually be assigned a court date. Additionally, there's all sorts of drama happening behind the scenes in the adoption world that I don't feel at liberty to write about and our adoption agency hasn't exactly been rushing to our aid to hold our hands while providing the red wine and crunchy chips. Suffice it to say that I won't stop being anxious about this adoption until our new little ones are home snug in their beds. Many days it feels as though we're on one of those cartoon bridges that is crumbling as the main characters try to make it to the other side. I believe that increasing the scrutiny of adoptions and orphanages in Ethiopia is an overall good thing, but I selfishly hope that our babies can make it home before any additional calamities strike.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Swim Lessons




I'm using a new camera and clearly need to work on taking action shots.

Dance Camp





Atticus and Norah both had a fabulous time at dance camp this week.

Playdough


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Famine

This article from The New York Times, "Somalis Waste Away as Insurgents Block Escape From Famine", is going to stick with me for a long time. If you're not familiar with the situation, the article provides an excellent overview. The Shebab, which is backed by Al Qaeda, was responsible for the bombing in Uganda last summer at a site that Paul and his coworkers had originally intended to be visiting - so I already had a grudge against them. The details of this current situation have me so outraged. The Shebab banned vaccinations several years ago, so millions of children are now susceptible to outbreaks of diseases. They are actually barring citizens from escaping to refugee camps in other countries and are forcing them to stay in a country where there is little food and terrible medical conditions and it's estimated that more than 500,000 children are on the brink of death. The political situation is so chaotic and corrupt that aid organizations are having an almost impossible time helping victims. The world was in an uproar after 9/11 (justifiably, of course), yet the same organization is causing so much more human destruction in ways that just should not ever, ever happen. I don't understand this world sometimes.