November 04, 2007

Added some new stuff to the video montages before ordering DVD's for holiday gifts. Creative criticism?

View this montage created at One True Media
Our Kalkidan 4/05-4/07

View this montage created at One True Media
Our Freweyni 8/06-4/07

October 31, 2007

Well, let me just say that Honeybun and Sweetpea had a lovely and sugarfilled Halloween! Though Sweetpea has not experienced the very American holiday, she got right into it and was running from house to house! :) Thankfully, they slept 30 minutes longer this morning so Mommy did not have to seek out her "Happy Place" too much.

More later tonight when I'm high on candy and the Teensies are asleep! Bye for now.......

October 22, 2007

Go To Your Happy Place, Mommy.

My happy place, at least the one I keep in my head, is a lovely little cottage in a tropical paradise. And lots of lovely drinks served in pineapples! Let's just say that I need a looooooong vacation in my Happy Place. Sorry I've been incommunicado lately, but we've been dealing with teen issues. Teen issues, you say? Yes, our 5 yr. old has progressed to 16 yrs. old in just a few short months. We have a really devine combination of wild behaviour, testing testing testing, disrespecting mommy, lying, taking sister's clothes & hiding them... And all of this is iced with the usual Terrible Two's. Need I say more?Any ideas on consequences and raising your child to be a compassionate respectful one? We are not in the corporal punishment camp and far from the new agey habit of long explanations for misbehaviour, but need consequences that will mean something to them.

The hardest part of all of this is that Honeybun was such a loving, affectionate, sweet, respectful child before the arrival of SweetPea. They adore each other (most of the time) and play together nicely (again, most of the time), but now Honeybun treats her formerly beloved Mommy like dirt. I must admit, while it P.O.'s me it also hurts me deeply that our relationship has changed so drastically since last December. So, you moms of older children - is this normal behaviour? Or is it a hint of deeper issues that go unresolved. Please, I need advice.

Well, must go off with SweetPea to make buckets of crabapple butter. Will post more later this evening. Afterall, life isn't all dark clouds and rainstorms and I must fill you in on the good parts too!:)

August 23, 2007

Ok, I'm awful. I hardly have time to breath, so I'm sorry not to have updated sooner. The pictures are:
Honeybun with her best friend from Quebec, Honeybun and Sweetpea in the hammock at the lake, Honeybun with the doll the ladies Hospital Guild made for her, and Sweetpea at our Ethiopian Picnic last week.
Things are going very well. Sweetpea's tantrums are few and far between and she seems to be understanding and speaking VERY well now. She's a bit jealous that Honeybun is starting Kindergarten this year, but was thrilled that she and I would have fun times alone too. Honeybun, meanwhile, is trying out the disrespectful tones (NOT working out quite the way she'd hoped...) and is basically getting all excited for school. She has grown out of every single article of clothing that she had in her dresser, so Saturday is school shopping day for the two of us.
I started an NH (southern Maine and northern MA included for the moment until they form their own groups) Ethiopia Adoptive Families Group. We had alot of positive responses but not so many actual members showing up. (Which is probably good for management of venue, etc.) Anyway, it looks to be a good and useful group; our next meeting will either be on hair/skin care or sibling rivalry issues. Also put together a small group for an Ethiopian Picnic. It was great and I've already reserved for next summer too! :)
FYI, I'm going to be raffling off 5 mosaic pieces in the next 12 months with the proceeds going to Ethiopian/African non-profits and charities. The first is planned for the Addis Fistula Hospital and will be a bust of an Ethiopian magical/shamanic princess. (Honeybun insisted it be a princess!) A subsequent piece will benefit the Mission of Hope School in Cameroon, and I am seeking other beneficiaries for the others. Any thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?
More on these later, and a discussion of sibling issues we've experienced in the next post. Hope all are well and happy!

July 12, 2007

The Path to Insanity is Paved With Good Intentions...

So. I meant well when I promised that there was more to come. Honestly. My intentions were admirable, but life has gotten in the way. The kiddies are just snazzy and doing well. They are still exhibiting undeniably annoying behavior, but I'm assured by other moms of siblings that their antics are normal. And still annoying. :) The daily circus here at Toad Cottage (we have recently bought the house we have been living in for 10 years, and named it Toad Cottage because of the herds of toads hopping around constantly. Our yard teems with them and the larger of them, who I'm sure smoke and wear matching leather jackets, live under the garage.) includes Sweetpea waking at 5 am & then making darn sure that everyone is awake with her, up to 2 hour crying jags over fashion choices for the day from both Sweetpea and Honeybun, the traditional throwing of jelly covered bagels or spitting of cereal milk (guess who?), terrorizing the ancient kitty, screaming fights while mommy takes a blessed 5 minutes in the shower, etc. Frankly, I hear the strains of Barnum & Bailey's theme before I even open my eyes in the morning! The riot aside though, I adore my family and my daughters are the very light of my existence.

Healthwise, we have been on the upside, thank goodness. Sweetpea is actually swimming (In her floaty bathingsuit, but still swimming) and has had an "ouchy" ear lately. Dr. assures me it is not infected, so I've taught her the dancing on one foot while bending your head to drain ear trick. It is absolutely hysterical! Honeybun, having grown a foot in 2 years, is turning into quite the athlete. She's in tennis camp this summer and is really having a great time.

Rats, geriatric kitty is shrieking. Will have to return later. Meanwhile, here are a couple of pictures.....

June 03, 2007

QUICK UPDATE...More to follow.......

Hi all,

Sorry to have been silent for so long, but things have been a bit hectic around here. The girls are wonderful except for the small issues (terrible two's are a mite too terrible at times, language frustration on the part of Sweetpea, core abandonment emotions and grief on the part of Honeybun since "losing her place" in her eyes, end of school, dance recital, etc. etc. etc.), and truly do love each other desparately. They are my gift from God and my angels. Here are a couple of pictures to tide you over. I'll talk to you more about the above tomorrow when I can locate my missing glasses. Certain little people like to try them on, you see, and I found them last in the cat's litterbox.

March 24, 2007

The pictures are the girls playing dress-up and modeling their new bathingsuits Nana & Grumpa sent from Florida.
So, here I am. Fell asleep folding laundry and am skipping my scheduled duties (more on that later), but wanted to try posting regularly. I've gotten alot of questions about haircare for my daughters and have gotten to a point where I feel comfortable with our "system" thus far. We've gone through ALOT of shampoos & conditioners of every kind and price point! Since their particular Ethiopian hair is baby fine and curly the usual African American products are too heavy and thick, though the Motions line is pretty good. We've whittled down the pile to washing once with either Suave children's shampoo/conditioner or Creme of Nature shampoo, rinsing, and conditioning with a handful of Clairol Herbal Essence Conditioner with palm oil and Aussie 3 minute Miracle conditioner. I usually let Honeybun's conditioner set while I wash Sweetpea's or vice versa and then comb out while the conditioner is still in, rinse with lukewarm water and squeeze out excess water with a towel. After all that, we put in a palmful of Mizani Rose H2O conditioning hairdress (found at Trade Secret at the mall) and a bit of Burt's Bees Avocado Butter Pre-shampoo. It only takes a slight comb to work it in, and then we braid or ponytail, etc. The girls like 2 french braids the best and I find that with the after-conditioner stuff, the braids stay for a week. We don't wash anymore than once a week at most, as more often makes their hair and scalps super dry. Oh, also I squirt a bit of Burt's Bees Apricot Oil on their scalps with an eyedropper and work in every couple of days. So, there you go. All I know about hair. Needless to say, it's completely opposite of mine though I dream of having such lovely curls!

Potty training has quite honestly got me stumped. The teeny one is 2 yrs. old, and gets what the toilet is for etc., but frankly isn't that interested. Poor thing watches me flinch when I remove a po-po filled diaper and kisses me saying "Solly Mommy". I know that she is completely overwhelmed with new things/language/adjustment/etc. but, good grief, I'm sick of stinky diapers. Any advice? It's harder now as she is on antibiotics (Keflex) for an infected Molluscum (a wart like virus she got in Ethiopia), which gives her unbelievable diarrhea. Turns out that this one is a 'skin girl' meaning that all her illnesses are showing on her skin. Looks like we will be having a long relationship with a dermatologist. She will break out in little bumps all over her legs from lotion, itchy rash on butt and hips from bleach used to whiten disposable diapers, breaks out in rashes on her face (one had to be fought with antibacterial ointment as it turned into a staph infection from her scratching it at night) from oranges, etc. etc. etc.

I am still overtired and am convinced by looking in the mirror once a week or so that I have aged at least 20 years in the past month. I read an article recently that said 89% of moms admit that they have let themselves go since having children. Sadly, I am one of those moms. Have taken the proverbial bull by the horns though, and am getting a magnificent haircut tomorrow (thinking positively about the magnificent part) and will try try try to spice up my "look" from now on. Thank goodness we get our tax refund next week (Yay for the adoption tax credit!!!), so will have a bit of extra for new clothes buying. Have not figured out the sleep thing. I turned off the dreaded monitor, but still wake up about every hour to listen for breathing etc. Pathetic I know.

Tomorrow I am making Ethiopian food for the pre-school on Monday. I agreed to do an Ethiopian Day with pictures, stories, examples of money/spices/clothing/etc, as well as Ethiopian food for snack. We did not, as I had planned, go to Boston for Injera, so will have to deal with pita bread. :( Oh well. I'm making Ambasha Bread (sweet bread), Gommen Wat (spinach stew), and Shiro (chickpea stew). Cannot wait to fill the house with those delicious smells!!! MMMMMMMmmmmmmmm. Suddenly very hungry... hold on.......................................................... Aaaaaah, will have to hold off the need for Ethiopia food tonight with the help of a hot cross bun.

Meanwhile, the girls are now getting along much better. They are so cute kissing each other and hugging when we leave Honeybun off at school or before bed. It gives my heart a jolt to see how deeply they love each other already. Sweetpea is very very affectionate and her inner comedienne self is getting stronger each day. It is completely hilarious to see her give this long dissertation in mangled Amharic, toddler gibberish, and very mangled English and then fall on the floor laughing at how funny it was! Our daughter the comic.

Oh, and the duties I'm skipping... was putting together a foam board of pictures and stuff for Ethiopia Day at shcool. It will have to wait until tomorrow.

March 08, 2007

Procrastination, thy name is me.

Okay, so "Anonymous" has shamed me into finally posting. I must admit that being the mom of two has taken it's toll on me, and I have merely been procrastinating. You see, my only time to myself is after the sweeties go to sleep (7:30 pm), but by then I am exhausted and opt to relax over a graham cracker with icing or something similar instead of update the blog. Sorry, but sugar has so far beaten chatting with you. Well, not anymore! I have taken the bull (me after many weeks of eating graham crackers with icing...) by the horns and will put my nose to the grindstone. Actually I got a completely wonderful email today from a reader that told me that my blog and story was the only thing that got her through a rough time in Addis picking up her own child. Can't tell you how touched I am that 1. She reads my blog and really got something helpful from it, and 2. That she is sweet enough to write and tell me. Thank you, Reader, and I will respond to you via email.

Someone asked me to elaborate on the horror of my stay in Addis, so I'll give a few extra details. As I've told you, my daughter hated my guts from the getgo and the entire stay was heartwrenching. She would scream bloody murder if I came near her and writhe as if being murdered slowly if I tried to hold her. My sister traveled with me, thank goodness, and was treated the very same by her little niece. When we were able to see our Ethiopian family mid-stay, it was wonderful to see them (we are in love with our daughters' grandmother and are treated as true family members by extended family and friends) but it was also very very traumatic. On our first trip, we did not get the chance to meet the birthmom as she opted out of the visit - which I completely understand. This time, she chose to meet us and is a really great young woman that obviously adores her children. Meeting my children's birthmother combined with the fact that their grandmother is terminally ill with a disease that could at least be treated and her life extended here just about broke my sister and I. The grandmother served us an enormous buffet of delicious foods (which I'm sure wiped her out financially) and came to the guest house to see us the day before we left. She cried, hugged me, and apologized for being ill. She said that she prayed to God every day to be able to watch her girls grow up via pictures and to be able to visit them at home one day. That visit nearly killed me. We supported this fine and regal lady through the baby while she was living with her family, and now will continue to support her privately so that she can purchase the medicines and care she desparately needs. For those of you that pray, please say one for this lovely lady. She lives to take care of others near her that are ill, gives the food right off her own plate (which isn't much) to those that ask, and blesses those that took her granddaughters half a world away. I am very lucky to know her.

Deep breath. Okay, that over with...please ask me questions if you need more info on the trip or Sweetpea's demeanor there. I think that my experience with her is more typical than the immediate bonding and connection to Honeybun. Needless to say, now Sweetpea is a different little girl. Her personality has really blossomed, she smiles all the time, thinks she is the funniest thing in the world, and loves her family deeply and we cherish her. I was a tad freaked out at first as she is a 2 yr. old and I have NO experience with that age; also because Honeybun was exhibiting some serious jealousy. It's been a wierd jealosy though in that she wants to be the mom almost, gets mad that Sweetpea wants me to hold her if she's hurt or upset instead of Honeybun, doesn't like me to hold Sweetpea at all, argues with me over e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g, and has been having nightmares. I initially was very worried for Honeybun and was afraid I had ruined our perfect little unit with a competing child. Turns out her behaviour is very normal. Alot of her "stuff" is from core abandonment issues that were buried deep deep deep, and I'm sort of glad this all happened because it's given me the opportunity to confront her issues and talk them through as well as do some cuddle therapy. It's taken some serious talks over and over and over of "I will never stop being your mom; I will never stop loving you; Nothing will ever make me stop loving you; I will never leave you; etc. etc." I also think that it's really helped that we've never even slightly made her choose between us and our Ethiopian family, but have instead worked hard to incorporate them into our daily lives and make us one big group. It's helped Sweetpea too, to look at pictures of all of us, talk about all of us, send letters and pictures to family all over the world, etc.

I've probably already told you all of this before and am just too lazy and unfocused to reread previous posts, so feel free to click over to E online or something if you're bored. Update on the girls... Honeybun is loving her last year of preschool. She didn't make kindergarten this year because her birthday is in December, so just registered for next year. She is growing more beautiful everyday, and still exudes the explosion of joy she always has. She adores her little sister. Sweetpea is all over the place. Like any 2 yr. old, she is into everything, draws on the walls with markers, pulls the cat's tail, is starting to get the whole potty training thing finally, and idolizes her big sister. They both eat like horses and are growing like crazy. Once we got rid of her Giardia, Sweetpea is finally putting on some weight and growing. That was a challenge! Honeybun has grown almost 9 inches and 14 pounds in less than 2 years since coming home. They cannot stand to have their hair washed (though I've remedied that by having them lie on the kitchen counter and washing it in the sink with our little sprayer), have very dry skin with eczema patches and rashes (I've made a salve that seems to work!), and have more energy than any other child I have met (it is focused not like ADD). Hard to believe that 3 yrs ago we were mourning our lost baby and wondering what we were here for. We were always destined to be mom and dad to these two angels, and now we are all Home and happy at last.

February 01, 2007

An update is coming on the weekend. Lots to tell you, but am too tired to type. Here are a couple of photos to tide you over!

January 30, 2007


and I have found them. They all seem to read a wonderful blog written by another angel that I am fortunate to call my friend This particular angel, the Michaelangelo of quilts, blessed with a very sharp wit, an adorable child, and a very large heart made the exquisite quilt pictured above and offered to raffle it off to help bring my darling Sweetpea home. I am speechless at her selfless compassion for us and for Sweetpea, as without her we don't think we could have brought Sweetpea back to her sister. Honestly. The funds just weren't there. This angel called upon her angel pals and they all bought tickets for a chance to win the beautiful quilt. I was and still am completely awestruck at the generosity and love that you all showed to us - a family that you never met. Now I realize that the quilt itself is absolutely devine, but the comments from you on her blog were so beautiful that thinking of them still make me cry. All of you angels have forever changed our family. Sweetpea is now a healthy, happy, loving, and joyful little girl that basks in the overwhelming love of her big sister and can sleep easy knowing that her mom and dad will never leave her alone again. Thank you to all of you that helped our family. We can never repay you all, but will 'pay it forward' and hope that we can do something great in your name. Please know that you all make up a quilt amazingly more beautiful than the one my angel made that will keep us warm for years to come. Blessings on all of you and love from our family to yours.

I will try to update you all on our newest daughter & her sister regularly, as well as let you know how I will continue your generosity. Thank you all so much.

January 04, 2007

Finally, an update from an exhausted mom of two...

I am home with my daughters and husband (and geriatric cat), but best of all I am home. I actually flew into Boston on the 10th of December, but could barely remember my name (you will see why below) so did not get to posting until today.

On the 2nd day of December, my sister and her boyfriend came to pick me up at home. We thought that it would be easier for Honeybun to just wave out the window like we do when I go to a meeting and the like. Hah. It was fine dragging my suitcases out to the car. Fine when I kissed DH and Honeybun and hugged them like a condemned prisoner hugs their loved ones. Fine when I got into the car. Fine when we backed out of the driveway. Then, as we drove away, Honeybun took off across the lawn screaming for me to come back. DH held her tight as she sobbed and fell on the grass. That is the image I had in my mind the whole trip. I can't tell you how much I missed my family from the moment I left until the moment I ran to them and hugged them in the airport on the 10th of December.

Ok, so I must pare down my descriptions or this will take a year to tell. The flights were ok, despite my thoughts of firey crashes (I am a seasoned traveller with years of extensive flying under my belt. It's different somehow when you have a family. Perhaps I have become a travel wimp.) I would not fly with British Airways again, however, though the staff was polite and friendly the company is awful. Schedules mean nothing and they would not feed my child. More on that later. Since our travel dates were changed to the most busy time of year for travel to Ethiopia by the agency, we had to pay a thousand dollars more per ticket and the time schedule sucked. Pardon the expression, but it did. We had a 10 hour layover in London on the way over, which generally would mean that one might be able to see a bit of merry old England or at least have lunch. Hah. Terminal 4 at Heathrow is in a league of it's own, security takes 3 hours in or out, leaving us with no choice but to risk missing a flight or staying in the terminal. Believe me there is not 10 hours worth of stuff to do in Terminal 4. For those dumb enough or desparate enough to fly this way, the terminal does have a place called The Holodeck that is a kind of rest spot/snack spot/computer connection spot. Problem is it costs about $30 per person for 4 hours. Needless to say, after 4 hours walking/sitting/shopping/eating junk we were willing to pay it. We comandeered a room upstairs with a lovely view of the runways and slept as much as we could. For me that was not at all, but my sister got to doze a bit. Flew through Egypt and over the Valley of the Kings (by this point, not having slept in 26 hours, I was thinking 'screw the Valley of the freaking Kings - GET ME TO ADDIS!') and into Addis at 4:25 am their time. Miraculously we were rather cheerful, in a bit of a hysterical way, but were nevertheless thrilled to see the agency driver (Mulat, an absolutely great guy that we met the first time and who loved Honeybun before she came to the US with us) there holding a little sign with our names on it. Got to the guest house at 5:15 am and fell into our bed (yes, we had to share an enormous bed) to sleep until 1:00 pm that day. Not enough, but ok.

Got up and were served a lovely meal by Sinadu, the cook at the guest house. She's a lovely woman, a very very good cook, and a person that I am lucky to have become friends with. Good thing my meal had settled a little though I was so excited to see my daughter, because very shortly after I downed my third glass of pinapple juice the van arrived from the children's home. My daughter was carried in by her loving nanny (who, I might add, referred to Sweetpea as her child). The very kind nanny tried to hold her out to me, I reached out for her with love in my heart, and she immediately began screaming and writhing like she was going to be killed. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. The nanny then forced her into my arms and ran to the van, which took off. Yes, I was the evil white lady that had come to take her from her family. Again. Long story short: the whole week was like this. She was to stay at the guest house with us, but hated us from the get-go. My sister and I were despised, no matter what we did. The families that travelled at the same time and stayed at the guest house with us were truly lifesavers, and held us close for comfort. I will always be grateful to all of them. Each night I emailed DH and Honeybun, and each night I wanted to call the airline and go home. Honestly, I felt (and I think my sister did too) that we were making a huge mistake, but decided to keep on going and try again to get through to the poor little girl. On the fourth day, she let me hold her, but only for a second.

I will not bore you with all the details. If you want to hear it, comment to me with your email and we can chat privately. Instead, here's a bit of advice for those going, planning to go, thinking of going, or just interested:
1.) Communicate with the in-country staff before going to find out about your child/children's personality and attachments or lack of. This will at least enable you to do some research and prepare yourself for possible problems.
2.) Read read read about developmental stages and toddler adoption. Not all the info out there is relevant to you or pertinent to your case, but it is helpful to be over prepared.
3.) Try to get LOTS of rest before travelling. Though it is an exciting time, get much more rest than you need beginning a month before travel. I didn't and I don't even remember what a good night's sleep is like.
4.) Pay whatever you have to to get business class. It is worth every penny.
5.) Whatever you find in Ethiopia, and whatever the emotional condition of your child, it will turn around 100% when you arrive home.
6.) No matter how tired you are, how much you feel like heaving said child out the cargo door of the plane after 12 loooong hours of screaming, or how shattered your heart is with rejection, keep on going. Give that extra hug or kiss. Speak softly and confidently despite holding a child rigid with tantrum-itis.
7.) I would not trade a second of my journey for anything. My baby is a sweet loving child that melts me when she reaches out for me to hold her or softly strokes my face as she goes to sleep.

The flights home were... interesting. We should have known something was off when we stood in line at the Addis airport check-in and the entire airport lost power! Barely made it to the plane (ran like the wind to our gate) and then off we went to stopover in Egypt. Sweetpea began screaming (and I mean with the pitch and decibel level of an opera singer in NYC trying to reach an audience in Kirgistan without benefit of audio enhancement). Smooth flights despite the shrieking child lashed to my body (Quick plug for the Ergo carrier. It was great.) and glided into Alexandria. While waiting for the plane to reload food and other passengers and continuous plodding back and forth in the isle with said child, a sweaty man boarded and sat fortunately (remember the power outage in Addis...) directly in front of our row. After a period of 2 minutes or so, the sweaty man became a projectile vomiting man and spread his previously ingested breakfast all over our carryon luggage. Of course, the plane, which was inching toward the runway at the time, hightailed it back to the gate area and stopped. We were informed that the man would be deplaned only when a dr. could examine him. Guess they would not let him off if he was, say, carrying the plague or something. Lovely. Finally got him off and sent in a poor guy with a bag of rags and what looked like Egyptian Pinesol. After an hour and a half of cleaning, we took off in a plane scented with vomit and Pinesol. Got to London - very late, booked it off the plane, ran to our other gate, and found that the flight to Boston had been delayed. Again, we were stuck in Terminal 4 at Heathrow. Too much, we'd had it, broke down, comforted each other as much as possible, called our families and sat down to wait. Finally finally finally, we boarded, took off and arrived in Boston 8 blessedly quiet (Sweetpea finally cried herself out and slept) hours later at midnight. She was very squirmy and whimpering and I prayed hard that she would hold off until we were away from the airport. I have to tell you I was surprised when we spotted Honeybun and DH, ran to them, and she quited right away and clung to Honeybun. (She had seen pictures of Honeybun for the past year and a half in her grandmother's house in Addis, so knew who her sister was.) They held hands from their respective carseats all the way home.

I was prepared for the worst when we took Sweetpea home. After the horrible time in Addis, after being rejected every single day, after having her choose to be held and loved by anyone else but me, after the screaming fits on the plane, she is a lovely, funny, affectionate child. Her personality is beginning to blossom, and she obviously loves her family. We are experiencing the typical sibling things along with the love of two sisters, and have been dealing with some sleep issues (thus my reason for not calling the people I so badly want to talk to = literally no sleep and absolutely no focus due to that) but also are cherishing our newly expanded family.