Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Knee Deep

in laundry from little dude's tossed cookies all night last night and a good handful of, shall we say, diaper "incidents" from a certain little girl. :)  But all is well. :)

A little glimpse of Beza in one of her many baths.  She loves baths.  We love fresh babies. :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Made It: Bird Garland

I'm in a bit of a bird phase. :)  I think maybe I like them because they're cheery.

Yesterday, during the afternoon siesta (loving that Beza and T nap at the same time--whoo-hoo!), I tackled this easy garland project.

I found a simple bird template online.  Traced it on this cool adhesive paper
(50% off at HL).

Cut out the bird shapes facing alternating directions.  Unpeeled the adhesive backs, tucked in the string, and closed the sticker-paper back up.  

The finished product.

Ahh...and while we're here, check out the
cool elephant banana leaf print from our travels.

And this awesome stool from Ethiopia--love it.

And this mortar and pestle.

Last, but certainly not least, our crew this morning. :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Cupcake

Within the first few days in Ethiopia, we had nicknamed Beza, "Cupcake."  I get that we might be a bit biased, but this little girl seriously has one of the sweetest personalities. 

Her scrunched-up smile face takes over her whole face.  And she smiles a lot.  Not to be silly or to make us laugh, but just to share a smile.  She snuggles in for cuddles--burying her little head into our chests.  Her body is nothing short of scrumptious--totally squeezable (poor girl gets a lot of little squeezes in a day).  When she talks, it is quiet and gentle.  She loves to play peek-a-boo and moves the blanket all by herself with her tiny little hands and again, with that stunning smile.  Sweet, gorgeous, and delectable--a cupcake!

Her little face right after her afternoon nap.

Um-hmm--Squeezable cheeks.

Playing "Peek" with M.

Her amused face.  
Love these girls (and T, too, of course. :)!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Spring: A New Beginning

While we were gone Spring sprung here (well, except for these pesky snow showers--but I'm just going to ignore those for now).  The irises and lilies have popped out of the ground, the robins have returned and peepers are busy peeping down at the pond.  Kind-of a fun time to be starting out our "new" life together as a family of 5. :)

Just wanted to post a quick update about how our first days at home have been.  M & T have been beyond our wildest imaginations amazing!  Beza is also doing awesome.  She only wakes up once or twice at night to eat (from her schedule at HH) and then goes right back to sleep. 

She had her first doctor's appointment on Monday.  She's in the 10th percentile for her height and weight--yay!  And she's also doing great developmentally (yay, again!).  Little Miss rolls over, sits by herself and can say the usual da-da's, ma-ma's and ba-ba's. :)  But the poor girl had a fever yesterday and the saddest face all day long--I think from the vaccine the day before.  Today she was back to her cheery, smiley self.

J and I are finally getting over the jet lag and our days have been very good.  We are so thankful. :)

Just a few pictures from the first days at home. 

 First ride in the car seat on the way home from the airport.  She just kept smiling.

 M and T showing her all of the toys. (Reaching for the snail.)

 M insists on them dressing alike every day. :)

The crew snuggled together (nevermind my exhausted get-up ;).

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Slideshow from Trip 1

This is a really quickly put together slideshow from our first trip that we made for our families.  It's really fast-paced (and totally doesn't match the music), but it does show the beautiful highlights from the first time that we met little Beza. :)

(Don't blink! ;)

(Really can hardly believe that right now she's downstairs snoozing on the couch with J--so thankful!)

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Best Things In Life Are Worth Waiting For...

With great awe and overwhelming gratitude, 
we are so excited to introduce our daughter,

Beza (BAY-zuh) Miller

Born in Ethiopia, Africa on June 22, 2010
 Forever In Our Arms on March 14, 2011

 With Love,
J, G, M & T

Saturday, March 12, 2011

And We're Off!

In just a few minutes we'll be loading up the car to head to the airport.  We'll fly through some sort of time-warp and end up in Ethiopia someday on Monday morning there--and that's when we'll pick up Little Girl to start a whole new journey!

Can't wait!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Making Progress

We are in full pack mode around here.  Carry-on's and all of the goodies to be packed inside are all over our bedroom.  The challenge of making it all fit is definitely a worthy adversary.

At some point in the next 24-hours we do in fact have to get the infant seat and crib out of attic. :)

Prescriptions need to be picked up and my photos for the special mothers at Hannah's Hope are waiting for me at CVS.

Oh, yeah, and we need milk for the local folks. :)

But we are SO CLOSE!!!  Really, we can not believe that this moment is here.  I have imagined it in my mind like a million times.  The flights are LONG, but I really don't even care--I just want to get there and I want to bring her home.  Home.  How cool is that?  Pretty amazing. :)

And I've been checking the petition that will be given to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia next Monday a ton.  There are still a lot of unknowns, but there have been and will be some important meetings to talk about the process of adoption from Ethiopia.  We are hoping and praying that they will come to a quick resolution that will ensure ethical adoptions while continuing to work with efficiency and integrity on behalf of the children who need families.

My frequent visits indicate that the number of signatures on the petition is around 32,000 right now (a huge thank you to all who have signed! :).  The goal is at least 250,000 by Monday.

You can go to the Joint Council  or to Be the Answer for Children to read more about what's going on.

And here to sign the petition:  I love the opportunity to be a voice.  (Pass it on!)

Okay, back to packing and hanging out with my gang. :)

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Please Help

I think that most of you know this, but if not :), we are leaving on Saturday to bring Little Girl home! We are really excited!

But I also wanted to let you know about what is going on in Ethiopia right now.  The Ministry of Woman's Affairs has issued a statement that they will be cutting the number of adoptions they process by 90%.  That means that a family could wait for at least a year before they get a court date (we waited 2 months).  And that means that little children (who have no homes) will be growing up in orphanages. 

So, a few things: 
1. This is happening literally right now and there are a lot of unknowns.

2. You can read a little more about it here:  and from Tom Davis here:

3. You can quickly "sign" a petition here that will be given to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia.

4. Pray for the children there and the families here who are effected by this.

It's a complicated problem and we ABSOLUTELY support ethical adoptions!  But allowing children to grow up in orphanages does not seem like the best solution.

There are millions of orphans all over the world. This is an opportunity to be a voice for the voiceless...

Thanks for "listening" and caring!  Love you guys!


(copy of a letter to our family and friends)

Monday, March 07, 2011

The BIG One: Attachment

I've been mulling this one over for months.  No...years, really--it's in all of the adoption books and I started reading those quite a few years ago.  It's complicated and messy and unclear.  It's hard to understand and even harder for me to put into words. :) 

But, I want to share the basics, as I understand them, of what exactly attachment is and what our plans are.  My understanding is novice at best and in no way will be able to encapsulate the intricacies or depth of this process.  But, it's important, so I'll do my best. ;)

In reading this, please know..
-this is a lifelong process.
-we will most definitely make mistakes.
-as I share my emotions in writing this and my experiences as we live this out in real life, know that with firm confidence I know that God is so much bigger than attachment issues and so much bigger than our mistakes.  And I know that in it all, He will work it out for the good.

Okay, so the basics.
Attachment is essentially the relationship that is built in our infancy as permanent caregivers continually respond to our most rudimentary needs.  And from that relationship a scope of critical brain functions are established.  The abilities to trust, to understand our own identity and to form moral beliefs (empathy, compassion) are all established because of attachment.

For most of us, this is something we never even think about--it's just a natural, given way of life.  But for some, particularly in international adoption, that is not the case.  Neglect, inconsistent care-giving, loss of one or both parents and life in orphanages doesn't afford orphans the ability to form healthy attachments  (a reality that honestly breaks my heart).

What does this all mean?
It means that because of adoption, we get the opportunity to help a child learn all of the things that she's missed because of her life circumstances.  And that is a great privilege.  It is also hard.  And time-consuming.  And it will require large doses of unselfishness.

For us, we know some pertinent personal information that gives us some insight into how this may effect Little Girl.  We know that when Little Girl was very tiny she had a huge loss in her life and that she lived in at least two other orphanages before coming to Hannah's Hope when she was 5-months-old.  We also saw how much she seems to light up with her special mother's at HH.  And how she cries when she's with unfamiliar people. That's great news because it means that she's attaching to the people in her life.  From that attachment all of those healthy brain functions are being formed.

We also know that when she comes home, she will experience grief over the loss of everything that she has grown attached to in the last several months.

In trying to wrap my mind around this, it's helpful for me to be able to scaffold to something familiar.  While I get that all children are completely different, I try to imagine what that would be like for M and T.

At 8-9 months old, M was on the verge of walking.  She was determined and serious.  She had her favorite toys (Barbara the pink rubber duck), our usual hang-outs (Panera's+Chicken Noodle Soup=Some pretty sweet memories), and favorite little buddies to play with.  I held her for one of her naps every day (an indulgence that I knew would be next to impossible with more than one child).  

And every day we waited at the front door for Daddy to come home from work.

At that same age, T loved his people.  He was undeniably interested in big trucks, but not so much a fan of their loud engines.  He liked to hang out with all of the BIG guys in his life.  He smiled easily and laughed with us (or maybe at us ;) a ton.  He had a lot of favorite foods (including, for some unknown reason, green bean baby food).  And he was an awesome snuggler.

M was his best bud (they're watching the first snow of the year together).

Even from the moment they were born they were each a huge, priceless part of our family.  We had fun little songs that we sang together.  Our own mostly predictable routines.  Favorite stuffed animals.  Little things that we said just to each other like, "You're my girl."  or "I love you more than this (with arms spread wide)." 

When Little Girl comes here, all that she has experienced, all the words she knows, all of the familiar sights and smells, and all of the people that she loves, will be gone... 

I can hardly fathom that for M and T.  What would it have been like for them if J and I were suddenly gone.  If they were taken away to another country all together.  Can. Not. Imagine. (And, quite frankly, really don't want to--it hurts too much.)

That is what will happen for Little Girl.  Ugh...  She's too little to understand our words of comfort and explanation (even if she understood English).  Too little to clearly express her loss, her depth of emotions and understanding. 

This is not sounding so good.  So now what? :)
It is not hopeless. :)  There are things that we can do to help her with her grief and to help her establish new healthy, attached relationships.

(This is where I am so thankful for all of the available resources--books, online resources, blogs and friendships with those who have walked this road ahead of us.  They are a wealth of helpful information.)

When we very first come home, we will be very intentionally working on showing Little Girl that we are her Mommy and Daddy.  She doesn't know what that means yet (can you imagine?--again, totally breaks my heart).  We need to teach her that there is something special about us that makes us different from all of the other people in her life.

What does that look like?   
In a way, it's kind-of like treating her like a newborn--but way more carefully than I ever did with M and T and taking into account that she is living through a great loss.  We need to help her build trust in our relationship.  Very practically that means that J and I will be the ones who feed her, change her diaper, comfort her when she cries, snuggle her and be within arms reach.  Ideally, for a little while, we'll be the only two people who do those things.

Some things are pretty similar to what we've done in the past.  But there are a few things that will be different.  To promote closeness and bonding, we'll be carrying her in a sling a lot during the day.  And for the same reason,we'll be giving her a "bottle" for at least a year after she comes home (making up for all of the lost special bonding time in her early life.)  We'll be together a lot.  :)

In those first few days and weeks we'll probably be staying home more than usual.  We'll be catching up on sleep from that lovely jet-lag and also because of late-night feedings. :)  And then we'll be working on getting into a daily rhythm (this always took me like a month or two with M and T).

As Little Girl is learning more about who we are in her life and adjusting to her whole new world, we'll continually be looking for signs of healthy attachment (crying when we leave a room, following us with her eyes, good eye contact, shyness with strangers, looking to us for comfort, etc.).  Over time, we won't have to be quite as careful (though, this is a life-long process).  Over time her little heart will be mending...    

Our note to you.
We want to say how incredibly grateful we are for our special family and friends.  You have all been so supportive in this process.  We really feel so blessed by that--more than you probably know.  And we are incredibly excited for you all to meet her!

We already love her so much and can hardly believe that this moment is finally here--on Sunday she'll be in our arms forever!  Thank you for walking this journey with us.

Our Little Girl waiting for her family...

We Have News...

We got the call this afternoon that our Embassy paperwork has been cleared!  That means that we are leaving sometime at the end of this week to bring home Little Girl!!!!

We are SO excited!!  But our hearts are also burdened for all of the families who are still waiting for Embassy dates, court dates and referrals of little children who need a family.  There are rumors of changes in Ethiopian adoptions--changes that are very heavy on our hearts and have been (and will be) in our prayers.

We'll post more later when we have our travel plans ready.  And we have a post about attachment coming soon. :)

Have a great afternoon!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

I Promise, That is NOT What He Meant! :)

M's preschool has a drop-off line.  We pull up to the door and a teacher gets her out of the van.  LOVE that!

Every single day, T has to tell the teacher that he is big.  I think he wants them to know that he's big, or at least getting bigger, because he can't wait to be able to go to school, and "big" kids get to go to school.  If he forgets or doesn't get a chance to say, "I'm big,"  he gets really upset at himself.  Really.  But, we've been working on saying, "Hi," before launching into the whole "big" discussion.

Here's how that all went the other morning.

The van door opens with me quietly reminding T to say "Hi" first.
Teacher: "How are you today?"
T: (As fast as he can possibly say): "I'm big and 'hi!'"
Teacher: (Laughing): "Well, I hope not!"

Oh, T--you are a funny, funny guy...

(A picture of T in his seat, albeit from last year. :)

Friday, March 04, 2011

Friday Afternoons

Are a great time for a big bowl of popcorn

and a game with my favorite big girl. :)

Thursday, March 03, 2011

There Was a President With Bad Teeth

Last week was President's Week.

I started with great ambitions to "meet" the presidents.  Somewhere along the way I have acquired presidential flashcards.  Yeah, so, that was pretty much a really difficult task.  Instead, we settled for rocking out to this rap song.  After which M and T (and me) all know that there have been "44 Presidents, White House residents..." (actually George Washington didn't live there, but you know--there have been 44 Presidents and they reside in the White House.) and a few other facts.

We also took a look at the faces on coins.  We played a super fun penny toss game.  I filled our giant bath tub with a little water, put two floating bowls in and gave M and T handfuls of coins to try to get into the bowls.

And last week in preschool M's class was learning about dental hygiene and cavities.  M told me that she raised her hand and told the teacher that the first president had really bad teeth and so he didn't smile.  Really, I've got to wonder what they think we talk about at home. 

Sesame Street had some funny/good stuff, too! We even learned a little bit about the revolution.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

The Baby Makeover

Our house has been undergoing a transformation--a baby transformation.  We've been hauling out long-ago tucked away toys, clothes and gear.  And I think that we're almost ready to bring home a baby. ;)

The diaper drawer has made a reappearance in the living room.  And those baby toy bins that have been lying dormant are ready for some action.  
We even found the little snail toy that she seemed to love so much while we were at Hannah's Hope.

I made room in the kitchen cupboards for the likes of bottles,
formula and baby foods. 

We have baby toys tucked into bowls, baskets 
and bins in almost every room.  M and T have been loving these toys.

I found this chair on Craig's List.  It's the same chair that she frequently sits in at Hannah's Hope.  It's even missing the middle toy,
just like the one there. :)

Upstairs in my room, the gliding chair is all ready for late-night bottles.

A new little bathtub is waiting for some first baths.

The girls room is full of baby essentials.  Her future desk is being put to good use.  
I even rearranged the dresser drawers to work for two little girls. :)

The bib drawer.

And the closet is, once again, full of little pink outfits.  
Can not wait to use these again!

Today I filled the van and diaper bag with extra outfits and diapers.  We still need to retrieve the infant car seat from the attic.  I have a few little odds and ends to pick up and then I think that we're pretty much ready!  Bring it on! :)

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

New Video of Our Journey...

Last summer when I was driving for work, I had a lot of time to think.  My mind often wandered to different parts of this adoption process.  Especially trying to figure out how to wrap my mind around the loss that a family experiences when they give their child up for adoption--which can happen for many reasons (sickness, death, extreme poverty...).

One late summer night I pulled over at CVS to write down some of my thoughts.  (Little Girl was born in the summer.)  I have wanted to find a way to express what I was feeling, but I wanted to know more of the story.

A few weeks ago we met Little Girl's birth family and were able to hear a little more of the pieces of her life.  Her name is very special.  It means, "Savior."  Her family gave her that name, because soon after she was born they were unable to provide what she needed to live--she needed a "Savior."  And out of their love for her, they prayed that she would be adopted...

They were praying for us.

We were praying for them...

This is a short little video that I made to try to creatively express this part of our adoption story...

We found out today that our paperwork was submitted to the US Embassy in Ethiopia.  If it all looks good, the best case scenario is that we would leave late next week to bring her home.  Can. Not. Wait.