Monday, April 30, 2012

Atticus Is Five!







I'd love to take credit for the amazing cake in these pictures, but seeing as I'm just now getting around to even posting pictures - a week after Atticus's birthday - I think everyone would call my bluff. Let's just say that Atticus had a great two-day celebration, with the Peep-Eye kids joining us on the afternoon of his actual birthday and a dinner with the grandmas a couple of days later.

Atticus is such a special and wonderful kid. He is thoughtful, loving, and inquisitive. Watching him grow and develop is a joy and privilege and we're very grateful to be his parents.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Visit with GiGi

Atticus and Norah love their great-grandmother and GiGi is obviously winning over Tiruye too.
The kiddos almost never play with this pop-up tent, but the moment GiGi walks in the door, as soon as he's led her in gently by the hand and helped her take off her coat [How sweet is my kid?], Atticus always runs down to the basement to retrieve it.
Playing tent-peek-a-boo with GiGi is tradition and they all get a kick out of it.

Their other favorite activity with GiGi is covering her with a blanket and seeing if she can catch them.
When we were in Ethiopia last month, one of the employees at the hotel asked to look through the board books we'd made for Tegegn and Tiruye with pictures of their new family. His eyes got wide when he got to the picture of my grandma and he said he was impressed by how lucky our children are to have a great-grandmother who can spend time with them. I generally don't like it when people refer to our kids as "lucky", but in this case I completely agree. Having GiGi in our lives is a blessing.

Weekend Update

We went on a bike ride. It went really well until we declared it was time to go because Tiruye was crying and ready for her nap. At that point, drama ensued and I'm pretty sure some people suspected we were kidnapping a minivan full of children.

There were some pedicures given.

Glitter paint got trotted out.

There was lots of cuddling and window watching.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Tegegn Is Two!



Tegegn wasn't sure what to do with the cake. He came quite close to sticking his hand directly on the candle flame.

He had a lot of help opening his presents.

Tiruye helped sweep the floor to get ready for the party.



Happy Birthday Tegegn! I spent so much time this winter imagining how awful it would be to spend this day without you if you were still in Ethiopia. We so desperately wanted to have you at home and to be a family. It was truly a wish come true to wake up and see your smiley little face today. We love you and are so grateful to have you in our family.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

We Did It!

I fully realize that somewhere out there another blogging mother is posting about taking her twelve to an antique china store during which time they all behaved beautifully. I tip my hat to that lady. However, it felt like a minor triumph today to take all four of my children to meet my dad for lunch at the farmer's market (our first foray to a restaurant with Tegegn and Tiruye) and to then go to the zoo with them by myself. It was epic. Despite his fear of dogs, ducks, baby dolls, and Zhu-Zhu Pets, Tegegn actually fared quite well. I'd warned Atticus and Norah that we might have to leave if Tegen was too scared, but the only animal that caused true alarm was the alpacas. He was interested in everything else and quickly started mimicking the school of icky carp that gasp for air as they're being fed.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tegegn has started to walk around the house calling for "Attis" when he can't find his big brother. They are a good pair. Atticus spent the morning helping me cook. He manned the Cuisinart while we made hummus and then peeled carrots and picked kale from our garden to help me whip up lentil soup. I'd never made it before, but everyone except for Norah loved it. Success!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How Are We Doing?


I know lots of people have been waiting for updates: How are those crazy people doing? While we were waiting for this adoption to go through I was hungry to read about others' experiences after bringing their toddlers home, but - shocker! - apparently a lot of people didn't have time to post anything right after they added to their families.

Overall, things are going very well. We knew going into this that Tegegn and Tiruye spent 17 months in three different orphanages and that we might face a lot of challenges because of that. So far, we have been pleasantly surprised by how smoothly the transition is going. Some challenges: Tegegn is terrified by animals. I've never seen a child as scared as he was when Stella walked into the room. We promptly packed her back off to my parents' house for a while because we want him to feel safe in his house before we reintroduce her. He is also scared of ducks and baby dolls. Tiruye wants to be held by me about 90% of her waking moments. She is getting a lot better about going to Paul, but for several days I was the only one who would do. Because she weighs almost thirty pounds and doesn't really like the Ergo carrier, this means that it's virtually impossible for me to get anything done around the house. She gets upset when any of the other children are in my lap. Several times this week I have been nearly paralyzed by 150 pounds of children all trying to climb on me at the same time. The newness of their new siblings has largely worn off for Atticus and Norah and, though they're still being very loving toward the babies, they have definitely exhibited some choice behavior this week that has indicated that their routine is off. That's always hard for them and the tantrums and other not so great behaviors have been hard to deal with. Paul's mom offered to allow Atticus and Norah to continue attending her daycare this week, per their usual routine, and I could have cried with gratitude. On one hand, I feel like a loser for not being able to manage all of my children at once. On the other, it's been a relief the last two days for the two older children to follow their normal routine and to be able to devote that extra time to Tegegn and Tiruye. This afternoon, Atticus, Norah, and I created glitter calm down jars and cotton ball jars for good behavior. It's too early to tell if either will be effective, but we did have fun making them. It's a testament to how busy life has been that when I tried to take pictures of the process I found that the camera's battery was dead and I had to snap a photo with my cellphone instead. I've taken almost no pictures this week and the ones of Tegegn and Tiruye above were taken in the hotel in Ethiopia.

So...things have been hectic but very good. Both newbies are showing really good signs of attachment. They keep a constant eye on us, they follow us everywhere, they love to snuggle and make eye contact. Their appetites are healthy (bananas, hummus, meat babyfood, and sweet potatoes are favorites). Their English is obviously not up to speed, but they make their needs and desires known loud and clear. Tegegn loves playing in the yard, being pushed on a swing, and riding in the car and stroller. Tiruye hates being strapped into the carseat and distrusts grass. Both newbies are a little unsure about how to handle all the physical affection being delivered to them by their older siblings, but it's already apparent that they think Atticus and Norah are awesome. All told, I think we're off to a really good start.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Home

Home, home, home, home, home. It is fabulous. Atticus and Norah are most excellent older siblings and it's turned my heart to ooey gooey puddles of mush to see how gentle and loving they are to Tegegn and Tiruye. We had planned on being strict about the parents being the only two people to feed the little ones, but one look at Norah carefully dicing up hard boiled egg to serve to her little sister and we decided to relax that policy a little bit. We have had our moments when it seems like all the children are screaming at once, but generally the transition is going really well and we are revelling in watching all four of our children bond to each other. And, yes, in case you were wondering, four children does feel like a house full - in a good way. Paul says it feels like he's moved up from the Parenting JV team to the varsity team.

Finishing Up in Ethiopia

On our last day in Ethiopia we found the free playground at the Sheraton. It was by far the nicest playground we saw in Addis Ababa and I wish we'd found it sooner.
Then we were ready to head home. The flights were long, long, long, long, long, but the kiddos did pretty well considering they were asked to sit on the laps of parents they'd only known for a week for 27 hours straight. The flight attendants on our Lufthansa flights were extremely helpful and we sat next to some lovely people who were gracious about sitting next to wiggling toddlers. Indian food was served twice and it turned out that Tiruye is a huge fan of it. On the leg from Frankfurt to Chicago, a large group tour group of older people found out that we were returning home from adopting and Tegegn and Tiruye would be entering the U.S. for the first time. They were so excited for us and made us feel like minor celebrities as they all craned their heads to get a look at us in the immigration line of the airport. It was really nice.
There really are no words for what it felt like to pass through the gates of our own airport and see our family and friends waiting to greet us. Pictures were taken and I'll attach them when I get a copy. Total happiness.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Tiruye


Tiruye was awake and ready to roll by the time we got to the park. She is walking well these days but doesn't have much practice navigating steps or hills. Her solution is to fall to her bottom and scootch past anything she deems too challenging. She liked finding sticks at the park to put in her mouth.

I found it challenging to pack toys for this trip. It's so hard to know what will capture a child's interest and with limited luggage space I wanted to make every item count. By a landslide, the most highly prized "toys" in our hotel room have ended up being the vibrating toothbrushes I brought for the kids, the extra travel toothbrushes I brought for myself and Paul, the complimentary toothbrushes the hotel leaves out, the boxes those complimentary toothbrushes come in, empty water bottles, and the set of travel Tupperware I brought for the kids' food. Obviously.

Tegegn's Turn



Due to some weird Ethiopian internet quirk I can only attach two pictures per post. It's been hard choosing my favorites from each day.

We went to the Lion Zoo today. We had heard, quite accurately it turns out, that it's a pretty depressing place with very sad facilities (especially sad when one considers how close the animals are to their natural habitat) so we our expectations were not high. There were a ton of lions (I'd guess close to thirty), and also tortoises and various primates. It was a crowded park that was populated almost entirely by local citizens and our family attracted quite a bit of attention. Tiruye had fallen asleep in the van and remained that way throughout most of our time at the zoo, but Tegegn was content to ride on Paul's shoulders - as long as he could hold onto one of Paul's ears as a security blanket.

Tegegn loves brushing my hair and having his own hair brushed. This isn't the most flattering photograph of me, but I love the look on his face. He's such a sweet little soul.

P.S. I figured out how to add a third photo. How could you not love this kid?

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

We miss our big kids terribly and are always thrilled to get pictures from their grandparents.