Thursday, April 21, 2011

Referral Photos and Happy 10 Months

Ugh...Remember all of those teaser photos?  

Here's a look back at the whole picture over the past 5 months. :)

Our very first glimpse of little Beza.
She was 5 1/2 months old (9lbs)

One more referral photo.

A Christmas morning photo present (thank you KV!)
6 months old.

~7 months old (Thank you V!)

Meeting Beza.
~8 months old.

Gotcha Week!
~9 months old

At home...
~10 months old

Beza is now an expert crawler.
Pulls up on everything.
Loves banana baby food (only) and Mum-mums.
Has a bit of trouble sleeping at night, but is getting much better.
Huge fan of granola bar wrappers. :)
Can't get enough running water during her baths.
"Talks" loudly to the cats.
Lights up around her people. :)

Happy 10 months, Beza!  We love you so much, Little Girl!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

4 Weeks and HomeComing

I can hardly believe that we've been home with Beza for just a little over 4 weeks!

It might be a good time to finally post our homecoming photos. :)  (Tomorrow I'll post referral photos and give a little update.)

Without further are the photos taken by Becca and Eric the night that we came HOME. :)

We were greeted with signs, balloons, cakes and pizza.
(M's preschool even made a little sign on the front door.)

And some really cute little people. 

Pulling into the driveway.

First glimpses of their little sister.

Getting to know each other.

Just as this picture was being taken, M said, "Hi, Beza.  I'm your big sister."  And over the next few days I overheard her say several times, "We're always going to be here.  You're a part of our family forever."  M loves being the biggest sister.  

Thank you friends and family for such a sweet homecoming--what a precious memory.

And Nana and Grammy Miller thank you so much for staying with our little people while we were gone.  The peace of mind of knowing how well loved and taken care of they were was priceless.  Thank you for selflessly giving your time and hearts.  Love you!

For a few more pictures, hope over to this post on Becca's blog.  BTW, they are leaving in less than a month to meet their little girl for the first time.  We can not wait for little "A" to be home, too...

Monday, April 18, 2011

More "Funnies": So Much for Vanity

My hair recently entered the "it-must-be-chopped-NOW" zone--very similar to the sensation you get when the piece of gum you've been chewing for a while is well past its prime and has to go.

On Saturday I had the luxury of going to the salon kid-free for my favorite cut--the inverted bob.  It's just a little edgier than the standard bob--you know, to totally reflect my slightly "edgier" self. ;)  I also splurged on my first ever professional (subtle) highlights. felt so good!  And I thought it looked pretty good, too.

And then I got home.

When we watched Tangled, M cried at the end. (*SPOILER ALERT*)  She cried not because Rapunzel's true love was "dead," but because of the loss of Rapunzel's long, beautiful blond locks.  In her eyes the poor princess was just not the same with her short, brown crop.  (Yes, we had the beauty comes from the inside talk.:)

When M and T saw the new "end-of-the-movie-Rapunzel" me there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth.  Okay, that's a little dramatic, but they made it quite clear that they were mourning the loss of my old hair.  Tough crowd for sure. :) 

I however, am enjoying the break from my daily ponytail routine very much. :)

As I am rarely (thankfully) captured on film, here's a glance of my lovely hair style from our neighborhood Easter-Egg Hunt. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Funnies: I Want to Wear Sandals Like...

Really, I do NOT know where he comes up with this stuff...

Today M and I went shopping to get her some more seasonally appropriate footwear--no small feat I tell you (no pun intended.)  We came home with a pair of sandals.

T was feeling a bit left out and was insisting on his own pair (despite his most awesome boots).  Anyway, while trying to immortalize his very dapper apparel today, J captured the "real" reason why he wanted sandals.

 Seriously, can not make this up...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Beaver Dams Afoot

It would seem that our house been infested by little creatures trying to block off parts of our house with every loose piece of flotsam and jetsam that they can find.

It started a few months ago actually.  Desk chairs moved into doorways and were buried with every pillow from the three levels of the house.  Bedspreads added more coverage.  Entire shelves of books provided excellent floor cover.  Sleuths of stuffed bears appeared to dwell among the structures.  Broken crayons, crumpled papers, granola bar wrappers, mounds of hair clips and armies of inanimate guys littered the premises.

Evidence of child's play was everywhere.  But no children were to be found.  The thrill of the game appeared to be in the sequestering of goods needed to build these massive complexes.  Once built they were abandoned.

Until bedtime.

The time when tired parents sighed with weariness because PJ's and even just entrance into bedrooms remained elusive on the other side of the burgeoning formations.  There was an even deeper sigh when they realized that everything needed for sleeping was embedded in the framework of the "beaver dam"--a word that has become common lingo for said structures.

Photo supplied by a skilled builder--from inside the bedroom.  A builder, that it should be noted, is small enough to crawl through the blockage.

A mere fraction of what lies within.

Thus would ensue a 30-minute demolition filled with protests from the children and strict orders from parents to cease and desist from building such elaborate ecosystems ever again, especially ones involving comforters (remaking beds at the end of the day leaves one feeling less than jubilant).

...well..., that is unless they are really using their imaginations, because that is what really matters.

And that is why today we find ourselves deconstructing only slightly less impressive structures.  Blankets from beds and pillows from other floors have been banned, but in the interest of allowing for the growth of creativity, beaver dams still appear on a daily basis.  We still might sigh at the end of the day, but deep down we know that all too soon these won't be a part of our house anymore.

And then we will miss them...

 A more recent pile-up comprised of a large stuffed horse (hoof in the middle left), a conglomeration of strollers, random bears, bathroom step-stools and hoards of books stashed under the crib.

BTW, note the hand on the slats.

It's attached to this napping sweetness. :)

Couldn't Put It Down

I recently finished reading this fascinating book on my Kindle.  While Ethiopia is obviously very close to our hearts, the life and heart of Rick Hodes is so captivating that it has universal appeal.

I took the easy route :): this is the short blurb from Amazon.
Dr. Rick Hodes arrived in Africa more than two decades ago to help the victims of a famine, but he never expected to call this extremely poor continent his home. Twenty-eight years later, he is still there.
This Is a Soul tells the remarkable story of Rick Hodes's journey from suburban America to Mother Teresa's clinic in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As a boy, Rick was devoted to helping those in need, and eventually he determined that becoming a doctor would allow him to do the most good. When he heard about famine in Africa, that's where he went, and when genocide convulsed Rwanda, he went into the refugee camps to minister to the victims. When he was told that Ethiopia was allowing its Jews to emigrate to Israel, he went to help. While there, he was drawn to Mother Teresa's mission in Addis Ababa. It was there that Rick found his calling when he began caring for the sickest children in one of the world's poorest countries. But he did more than that—he began taking them into his home and officially adopted five of them.
This Is a Soul is also a book filled with great joy and triumph. When Rick's kids return from surgery or life-saving treatments, he is exultant. "Seeing these people after surgery is like going to heaven," he says.

Marilyn Berger went to Africa to write about Dr. Hodes, but while there, she became involved with the story. When she came upon a small, deformed, and malnourished boy begging on the street, she recognized immediately that he had the exact disease Rick could cure. She took him to Rick, who eventually arranged for the boy to have a complicated and risky surgery, which turned out to be incredibly successful. The boy's story—intertwined with Rick's, and Marilyn's as well—is unforgettable in its pathos and subtle humor.
This Is a Soul is not just a story of the savior and the saved, it is a celebration of love and wisdom, and an exploration of how charity and devotion can actually change lives in an overcrowded, unjust, and often harsh world.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Butterflies Afloat

We picked up these colorful butterfly strands in Ethiopia (there were 2 on each "strand").  (Aren't they kind-of cool?)

I few weeks ago I picked out some really BRIGHT springy fabric (I may have been in the company of one little girl who likes all things pink) to make a rag wreath (see a cute tuturial here.)  The orange and pink combo is really quite cheery.  And, as a matter of fact, just so happens to coordinate really well with those butterflies.

So this is what I came up with--a whimsical ;) butterfly mobile for the girls' room.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Funnies: Real Life at the Library

On Friday we went to the library for the first time in months.  Something about the overdue fines I always seem to accrue (imagine that) and trying to avoid any more of those in the confusion of traveling. 

Before we go in we always have the "be quiet, no running, listen to mommy" talk.  And in the library they were superb.  Even when I stopped to quietly introduce Beza to a few moms there.

Then as we were checking out I was having a lovely chat with the librarian about Ethiopia and how it changes you.  Great conversation.  Then she said something nice about how adoption will be great for all of our kids and how good they are.

I was just about to nod my head to say, "Why, yes, they are being great!" when out of the corner of my eye I watched T grab the handles of the stroller and give it a push.  A push towards a bookshelf.  In slow motion I tried to reach it before the impending crash.  Too late.  Thankfully, it was a very gentle push that didn't hurt or phase Beza in the least and only caused one book on display to fall.

The librarian was not so amused (I wasn't either, actually).  She said something about speaking too soon.  I laughed and said, "Ahh, but we're all a work in process! :)"  And then I chased after T who had escaped through one set of the double front doors.  And I smiled again and we left.  And that, my friends, was real life on display at the library. :)

I have no picture of the "incident" but here are sweet T and little Beza.  He loves her.  Every day he comes over to her unsolicited and says, "I love you, Beza."

Saturday, April 09, 2011

We Snuck Out... Dunkin' Donuts.

Last night J took the night duty--all of it.  The past 4 weeks of frequently interrupted sleep have made a very weary me. :)  At 8pm I promptly curled into a ball on the guest room bed and slept for a blissful 11ish hours.  Incredible!  I am a new person today. :)  (Thank you, J!)

So, while I took over the morning routine, and J slept in, I piled my gang into the van and we headed to the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru that is less than five minutes from our house (Dangerous--I know.) for 2 medium coffees and a dozen donuts (because, don't you know, it's cheaper to get 12 than 8?!).

New view in the backseat of the van.

It was one tasty breakfast!

After breakfast the little people were glued to the patio doors.
Because they were watching this little guy and his friends.

And it was such a beautiful day that we got new sand for the sandbox,

Planted a few flowers and shrubs,

and Beza played in the grass for the first time. :)

Happy Saturday! :)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

What We've Been Up To (And MILESTONES!)

My Mom, youngest sister, and second youngest sister (I am the oldest of 4 girls) and her husband came to visit for a few days--and left yesterday.  It was so nice to have them here--to meet Beza--and to, you know, enjoy our most awesome company. ;)  My Mom is one lean, mean laundry machine and garbage guru. (Thanks, Mom!:)

Here are a few pictures from the past few days (Thanks, W!).

Uh-huh--that is one spectacular pose, girls!  My look-alike sister plays one mean game of hide-n-go seek--a fan favorite in these parts.

My mom paid them each a quarter to get this pose. ;)  And is it just me, or with that expression would T look really good with a can of spinach?

GrammyKathy and Beza

Also, over the past week and or so, little Beza has been reaching some major milestones.
 Since we've been home, Beza has been growing in her ability to crawl backwards.  A skill that proves excellent for getting stuck under almost all of our furniture (poor girl.)

Though, from the backwards crawling, she has mastered how to go from laying down to sitting all by herself. :)

And then on Monday she took some of her first crawls forward!  She takes just a few at a time--but I'm sure that within a few days she'll be unstoppable.

It's still a bit brisk here, but on Sunday, Beza had her first swing "ride."  
Oh, she loved it!

And she has finally started to eat "solid" foods!  Baby cereal is so not her favorite.  But she seems to like the fruits.  (Unfortunately I don't have any of those classic baby-food-all-over-the-face photos just yet. :)

Right now we're trying to reduce her night-time feedings.  After the first week and a half at home she started waking up almost every 2 hours to eat.  Over the past 2 nights she's woken up a little less and we're trying to give her way less to eat in the middle of the night.  Hoping that soon, just a good snuggle and knowing that we're near will help her go back to sleep. :)

And, that's a lot of what we've been up to. :)

Friday, April 01, 2011

Gotcha Week

Almost 3 Saturdays ago, J and I packed up to bring little Beza home

A brief look back at that week...

Saturday: Pack and Go
We had the bulk of the day to focus on packing--you know, figuring out how many bandaids I really needed and where to stuff that extra pillow.  ;)  We gave M and T some last snuggles and kisses and headed out the door.  It was a mad dash from there.  Crazy traffic, hard-to-find parking (involving J getting lost while I waited with our luggage in the terminal), long check-in lines, insanely long check-in (where we unexpectedly had to check our carry-on's), a last minute scurry in the opposite direction to the reception desk for hotel vouchers needed for Dubai (with literally no one left in the check-in line), a run through security and a scramble to get in the line boarding the plane.  Whew!  BUT we did make it!

Sunday: Dubai
We landed on Sunday night in Dubai (after 12 hours), the airport of seemingly a million sky-high dazzling white pillars.  We spent a few hours catching up on sleep (10-hour layover) and eating lots of food with free vouchers.  It was one of those agonizingly long nights where I woke up fully convinced that it was time to leave only to discover I had only been fitfully sleeping for 1 hour.  We could not wait for Monday. :)

(Carrying the soon-to-be-filled baby sling.)

Monday: Gotcha Day
We left Dubai early on Monday for a short little jaunt to Ethiopia (just short of 4 hours). We arrived just after lunch--with enough time to get to the hotel and to freshen up before being reunited with little Beza (Oh, and with NO lines for visas and our luggage being some of the first off of the plane--whoo-hoo!).

And before we knew it, we were hugging Danny, the driver, and heading off for the short drive to Hannah's Hope.  We walked through the familiar gates, into the baby building and were soon greeted by a little face that already looked like "home."  Little Beza.

(Seeing each other for the first time.)

This time there were no tears.  She seemed so content.  (I thought I would be a blubbery mess, but it was just a sweet, amazing afternoon.)  After a bath and a change of clothes, we all left--sweet girl will never have to spend another night without a family.

(Leaving that afternoon.)

Tuesday: Full and Final
After a great night of sleep (Beza woke up a few times to eat, but went right back to sleep), and a relaxing morning at the hotel, we headed off to the U.S. Embassy for the last step in this part of the adoption process.  After waiting in chairs in a room that looks like, say, the DMV or any passport office, we walked up to a little window, answered a few questions and then heard the words, "Your adoption is now full and final."  Wow...  Those were big words...  Amazing... :)

Wednesday: Please, NO! and Chillin'
Right before going to bed my eye started to feel a little icky.  Oh, please, no!--I just kept hoping that it was because my contacts had been in for a long time.  But then in the middle of the night I woke up with my eye crusted shut.  Yuck.  My mind started running through all of the possible scenarios--1.) worsening pink eye all week with no help,  2.) trying to get some drops from Hannah's Hope but feeling horribly guilty about taking their goods, 3.) standing in a long line at an international clinic with a baby, and 4.) kicking myself for not bringing extra drops that I had at home.

Quite thankfully, by the morning it wasn't too bad.  Even more thankfully, I mentioned it to another traveling family and do you know what?  They had awesome drops that they had brought with them preventatively and I was able to use them all week.  How cool is that?!  Seriously, so, so thankful for those drops!

For the rest of the week I sported by new glasses (I got them just 2 days before we left). Because the only very rare times that I wear my glasses are when I take out my contacts early at night, wearing glasses makes me feel like I'm not quite ready for the day and I kind-of don't look like myself. :)  But, I could see. :)

(Nice and big. ;)

During the day, while we were waiting for the last of Beza's paperwork to arrive (her passport and files needed to enter the U.S.), we were able to go back to Hannah's Hope each day to hang out with the little ones there.

Thursday: More Chillin'
We spent more time at Hannah's Hope taking photos of the little ones there to send to their waiting families--we were so grateful for those photos while we were waiting for Beza--thankful to see her face, to have them to mark the times that we were missing with her, to be able to show her someday and to be able to share with her birthfamily.  It was such a privilege to be able to meet all of the beautiful babies and toddlers there.

Friday: Still Chillin', Coffee and Going HOME
We started each morning by giving Beza a bath in the sink.  She was just the right size.  A bit slippery, but with two people it totally worked. :)   Unfortunately, we forgot to pack hair products for her curls, so she rocked a fuzzy head for most of the week.

But on the last day, as we were packing a few more things into the donation bins, we finally found some baby oil--what they use at Hannah's Hope.  We were so completely out of our league on this one and I'm not quite sure why, but J actually took a large handful, and *phwack!,* glopped the whole blob right on top of her head. We looked at each other in stunned silence.  Oh, no--what do we do with this mess?  J wiped out a bunch of it with a tissue and the rest just kind of rubbed into her little curls and disappeared.  Phew! :)

We spent a few last hours at Hannah's Hope.  And then we had to say goodbye.  That was hard.  Each day Beza was able to spend a bit of time with her "special mothers" and, again, we could see how much she loves them and how much they love her.  We have no words to express our thankfulness to them for loving her so well... 

After a tearful goodbye, we went to Kaldi's (much like Starbucks) for lunch.

Then, once again, we found ourselves in another mad dash to get to the airport. :)  No worries, though, we got there in plenty of time with zero lines.

(Waiting at the airport.)

Beza is an ace flyer!  Girl slept the whole way to Dubai, kept us entertained a bit in the airport lounge, and then finally finished her night of sleeping on the lounge couch (7-hour layover).

International travels are definitely a great way to meet people from all over the world.  While Beza was sleeping, J and I met a kind woman from Calcutta who insisted that we eat her mango and naan sandwiches.  She also requested J's toothpaste.  (Kind of interesting. :)

Beza continued with her awesome traveler-status on the last flight home.  She slept, babbled, ate and slept some more.  And after 14 hours we finally landed.  So good to be home. :)

What an incredible week!  Ethiopia was as beautiful, friendly, and complicated as we remembered--and while our time there has been brief, it has become one of the few places in this world that feels like "home."  Beza was brave and amazing--she gave us a million smiles, fussed a little when strangers got too close, slept well, ate well and really, was just a delight. :)  We talked to M and T almost every day on Skype--Beza even patty-caked with them.  And after a full week, we couldn't wait to all be together. 

We are heading into this next part of the journey with full and grateful hearts, prayers for our family growing together well and excitement for what the future holds. :)

(Homecoming post coming soon.)