Sunday, February 27, 2011

Finally completed...

It only took me 9 months and 20 days after being home to finally complete a photobook from our journey to Ethiopia. WooHoo!!! And, the only reason I was able to get it done today is because I am home with Cuddlebear who is sick with the flu. My sweet husband took Belle to Disneyland for a Father/ Daughter date and my AMAZING mom, dad and sister took Captain Crazy and Sweet M* to the snow. But, no complaints here I had a ball looking back through all of these pictures. What an amazing journey it was and what a life we have together now. Definitely, the toughest 9 months and 20 some odd days of my life, but every tear and every total freak out led me to where I am and I would not change any of it. Well, maybe the 14 hours of screaming on the plane ride home but you know what I am saying ;)

Friday, February 25, 2011


So, this week I have just felt so close to Sweet M*. I think it was my reward for keeping my cool while being tested so much last week. It is interesting after the testing phase we usually make a jump forward and boy does it feel amazing.

Last night my older boys were being pistols right before dinner. Usually, we go around and the kids each get a chance to tell us their favorite part of the day, but yesterday I also asked them to tell me one reason they love their family. Captain Crazy, Cuddlebear and Belle said the normal generic responses that kids might say when asked such questions but then it was Sweet M*'s turn and he said, "I love my family because we all stay in the same house, we are safe in our house, we have food. Some people don't have food but we have good food. And, I love my mom. And, I love my dad." Just the way he said it so seriously and well thought out. He was trying to use all the correct words and pronunciations. It melted my heart and tears fell down my face. He is one Sweet Sweet Boy.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Christmas Armenian Style

Well... I don't really know if it is Armenian style?... but it is OUR Armenian style. Most Christmas Eve's we drive down to my Hubby's Aunt's house. I honestly look forward to it every year bc we don't get to see that side of our family very often. There is such a wonderful vibe in that house. Everyone is laughing, joking, and having a great time. There is delicious food, dancing, games and gifts. Oh, and the big man himself usually stops by. Check out how it goes for yourself!!!

As you can see our newest little Ethiopian/ Armenian joined right in with the festivities. I figured all of the excitement and loud noise would make him nervous... but he just soaked it up. It was a great night!!! Here are some more pictures from the evening...

Back to Christmas!

Okay, so remember I am backtracking to catch up on the blog posts that I missed bc I want to be able to look back through these some day. Especially, now after I just re-read through every blog post I have ever done. Man o man does that make you realize that time flies :)

So, during the holidays there were some things that meant a lot to me including:

Finding a matching stocking for Sweet M*
A few years back I had purchased matching stockings from Pottery Barn. I was tempted to purchase an extra but my hubby thought that was crazy so I passed. Then as we began the adoption process I was stressed about the stockings (weird panic- YES). I called PB but it was not Christmas season and they just told me that the stockings were a yearly item and I had to call back. They reassured me that my stocking had been sold at PB for years and they expected to see it again. But, then Christmas came (we were on the waitlist) and I called PB to order my stocking as planned but to my despair my stocking was no longer available :(
But, I found one on ebay and made sure Hubby knew about it. I wanted it... and then it was gone. I secretly thought I would get it as a xmas gift- but NO. Someone else had bought MY stocking.
Now fast forward to this past Christmas and Sweet M* wanting everything to be the same. Trying to make sure that he is loved as much as his brothers and sister and my heart breaking. I searched and searched and ALAS ebay came through one last time and I was able to purchase his stocking. And, we were able to have it embroidered before the holiday (sounds simple but turns out embroiderers are very busy during the holidays). But, one week before Christmas the Mission was Complete... and All was Good!
Ethiopian Food and Bonding
The holiday break also gave me time to drive down to feast on some delicious Ethiopian Food. The boys (as you can tell) LOVED their meal. We had a great conversation with the restaurant owner and the waitress, toured the shops and headed home. It was really sweet to watch Captain Crazy. One of the little shops sold Fanta in a glass bottle and it reminded Captain of the Miranda he drank in Ethiopia, so he pulled out his wallet and bought one bottle for him and Sweet M* to share along with a bag of Kolo (a traditional barley snack in Ethiopia). It warmed my heart as we continued down the street. How these two strangers became the best of brothers is AMAZING!!! I wish Sweet M*'s birth family could witness moments like these.

And, lastly this ornament was made by my friend H. She had made it while we were both waiting for our referrals and this past Christmas as I hung it one my tree an amazing feeling came over me. We did it! We made it through the tough decisions, the paperwork, the waiting and the dreaded flight. We were FINALLY both home with our sweet babe's celebrating a magical holiday.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Just Kidding!

Well, I went private I think one week ago today? And, I didn't like it. I wasn't sure what to do and then I got sick. I was sick, stuck in bed on my 3-day weekend and my wonderful husband didn't allow me to do a darn thing. So, I did it. I went back through every blog post and removed our names- phew! What a task.

But, it was also so much fun to go back and see all of those pics and videos. To look at what I wrote about my then future son... my thought on adoption... my fears about traveling. It also reminded me how far we have come as a family and about how I wouldn't change a single moment!

FYI: because I removed our names I copied another blogger and let my kids come up with their new identities. My oldest son is now going to be known as Captain Crazy (remember this is what I get for allowing them to name themselves), the second oldest would like to be called Cuddlebear, my youngest son is going to be Sweet M*, and the princess will be called Belle... shocker- I know;)

Friday, February 18, 2011

One More?

Okay... I have been loosing SO MUCH sleep bc I can't get over the fact that we are DONE. We are supposed to be DONE having children. Four was supposed to be the magic number. It is a good number. An even number. We are busy... they keep us very busy... right???

Problem is I am 29 years old. Everyone around us is finally starting to have babies and we are DONE. That compounded with the fact that I have 3 biological children and 1 adopted. Plus, my bio children are white and my adopted child is black. And, we are off gender wise- 3 boys and 1 girl. My boys are fortunate enough to have this amazing brotherhood and Belle is all on her own. Now I know she has adapted to her role as the queen bee in the house... but I LOVE my sister and I want her to have that special bond too.

So now what? What am I supposed to do? I have called agencies and looked into starting this roller coaster crazy ride again and through all the chaos that entails I still feel like we need one more. One more daughter... and I feel like she also needs to be from Ethiopia. Please tell me I am crazy. Please tell me all these feelings inside will subside and I will feel complete. We are already so blessed... beyond anything I had ever imagined. Tell me I am selfish and I should be grateful for the amazing family I have. Please...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Finally time to post!!!

So, life is busy and as much as I want to post about our transition with Sweet M* our trials and our tribulations it is just so hard to find the time. But, today the big kids had minimum day and the littles are with my amazing mom so I am going to get some of this out of my head and onto this blog.

Daily Life:

In all honesty daily life is pretty good right now. We have a good routine in our house for the weekdays and we make plans for the weekend. We make sure everyone is paid attention to, played with and read a book everyday even if it is just several minutes. It may not sound like much but for two working parents and four kids that is a lot of work. I also notice that we all feel like we are a family. The kids are pretty bonded. The are siblings and have their differences but they all play pretty well together and they care about each other. It is really a blessing to watch them develop such close relationships. It was something I always hoped for when we talked about a large family where the kids were all close in age but it is so neat to see that dream begin to become a reality. I also LOVE how it feels when we are going good. It is the greatest feeling in the world. But, we are not there completely yet...


ow well that daily life thing flows? That all depends on where we are with our attachment that week. Sweet M* can be the absolute BEST listener, sharer... the most caring and loving kiddo in this house when we are doing well.

, like this past week he can push every single one of my buttons, his siblings buttons and his dad's too!

What makes this so difficult is I don't always know how to get him out of his mood and it (like this week) can last for days. So, what does that look like. Let me explain...

This past mood began (or what I can trace it back to was) this last weekend when I decided that he could not push a friend's stroller at Disneyland. This was unacceptable to him bc the other adult had said that it would be okay. This made him mad and so the switch flipped and from that point he has decided to intentionally not listen to anything I ask of him.

Now I know you may be thinking I am a dummy and I could have just let him push the stroller right? Problem is most times if I give in once to something I have said "no" to originally I am guaranteed the downward spiral. In most cases it is better for me to not go back on my word. I think it makes him think I am weak. But, this time was an exception and I got the spiral even though I stayed true to my word. Darn!

So, what happens when he is in this "mood"... here are a few examples.

Valentine's Day I made treats and goodies for all of the kids. I took special care to make sure that everyone had exactly the same gifts just in different patterns to make sure no one felt anyone else's was better. But, M* wasn't happy bc he wasn't allowed to eat all of the chocolate in the am and he was upset that I received chocolate strawberries from Hubby and he didn't.

I knew that bc the morning was out of routine he may have a hard time so I shared one strawberry with each of the kids. I thought we were doing good. The other kids finished their food and had been excused. Sweet M* decided to peel the chocolate off his strawberry and wipe it on the seat of the chair next to him since he was left alone. Now I probably would not have noticed it or thought it was by accident but M* made sure that I knew. When I asked him why he did it his reply was "I wanted to make mom mad"... he never can tell me why I just have to guess. So, I just told him that I loved him and whether he makes me happy or mad I will love him always. Than I told him he needed to clean up the chocolate and that he wasn't allowed to have the rest of the strawberry bc that was a privilege. And, when we choose to make people mad we choose to loose our privilege.

Another example... I asked him to take off his rain boots (a routine request) when he got to my mom's house in the morning yesterday. I didn't anticipate any trouble bc he does this every day with no trouble. His reply... "I don't want to" as he continued to run through her house.

This week he also hit one of his friends (and hard) which I don't know that he has ever done.

When my husband and I went out for a date night he decided he was not going to lay down for my mom. He is usually the best sleeper in the house.

As well as ignoring any little request any adult in charge makes. I say something like "M* please don't stand on that stool it might break... he says okay gets down and than two seconds later stands on it and makes a noise so I hear him. Here is where it gets tricky again. As a seasoned parent I would typically ignore the behavior, distract him or praise another kid for listening in front of him etc... But, with Sweet M* if I try to ignore or distract than it escalates to something where he could get hurt or where he could hurt someone else or where he could break something etc...

So, out come the time outs and consequences. I have to keep the corrections very monotone as to not show any emotion (not let him know that he is upsetting me) and keep my explanation short.

I have started doing time outs where he sits close to me. So, if I am making dinner he sits on the floor next to me. (This is an improvement bc I used to have to put him in his room where I could put up a baby gate bc the yelling and screaming was so bad or bc he would not stay in time out. I knew that he was supposed to stay close but I needed to get away from the tantrum to keep my cool. I am very thankful that we have made enough progress to have these types of time outs now.)

If he gets off time out but continues with the testing his next time out is longer. The third is really long... think 20-30 minutes. Than if he continues after that he looses the privilege of having access to all of his toys. He is limited to coloring, puzzles or reading for the remainder of the day.

If he is really being tough on me or continuing to badger on of his siblings he is given chores or tasks to do to make it up to that person. Bugging Cuddlebear after repeatedly being asked not to would mean he might have to clean Cuddlebear's room. Continuing to bug me might mean sweeping my floor. Make sense? I also have him color pictures to help him say sorry to someone. I don't know what one of these things is working but I have noticed that lately if he does something and feels bad he will come and apologize to the person without being prompted to later that day. That makes me happy. (Oh and these rules apply to all the kiddos not just M*)

Now with these punishments we also try to keep calm, do our loving eyes, play with him and talk to him about how much we love him and how he will never leave. We just repeat that in our family kids need to listen to the rules bc the parents are responsible for keeping the kids safe. Usually after the consistent consequences for his behavior and the crazy excited positive reaction we give when he does something right he eventually decides it is better and easier to listen.
But today is Thursday and I am one super duper tired mama. I am hoping that today is the day my Sweet M* comes back.

Edited: Sweet M* came home and the "mood" was gone. My boy was back once again. And, this morning as I sip my coffee I know I am one blessed mama!

Adoption Talk:

Sweet M* knows the word adopted... but he is trying to figure it all out. He has started using it quite a bit. There is a lot to figure out for a little mind. The other day we were at a restaurant and there was a table next to us of teenage girls that happened to mostly be black. He was acting a little funny at the table and towards the end of dinner he leaned over and in a whisper asked me if they were adopted. My heart just felt like it had been stabbed. But, I think he is trying to figure out if all black kids he sees were also adopted. If all black people are from Ethiopia etc... Poor baby. It must be so confusing in a four year old's mind. He also (as I mentioned in a previous post) makes a lot of comments about his skin color. And, how he wishes he wasn't the only one who was black in our family. These questions made me contemplate adopting another child just so they would have each other. But, I don't think we have the energy for any more.

Edited: I also thought I should mention that Sweet M* is not the only one the struggles to work through the whole "adoption" thing. So, do I. Recently, I have been really struggling with only having one adopted child in our home. And, only one black child in our home. I look at our family pictures and I am scared. I don't know how Sweet M* is going to feel when he is older and he looks back at his childhood. Will he care that he was the only adopted and/ or black child in the family. Would he have felt better if there was one more adopted child from Ethiopia. Would our family balance and dynamic be better or worse?? This is what I am pondering. And, I can't shake it.


We have made the decision to change M*'s age from 3 to 4 when we complete the US Re-Adopt. We are keeping his birth date but changing the year. So, this June instead of turning 4 he will turn 5. This has been haunting me. We do believe Sweet M* is older for many reasons. His pediatrician has backed our decision and really he is going into school the same year he would have had we not changed the date bc I put all my kids into kindergarten late so I should relax. But, it just feels odd.

I really do feel like this is in M*'s best interest. He gets a full year of preschool and then he will go to kindergarten. He will not have to be twinned with Belle which is good for both of them. And, as the years go on he will be with peers his own age. So, they will be closer maturity wise. But, I wish so badly that I knew his "real" age.


There is not a day that goes by that I don't wish I was hopping on a plane to Ethiopia. I just miss it so bad my heart hurts. I want to visit Sweet M*'s birth family. I want to get answers to questions I have... and give them peace of mind knowing how well M* is doing. I also want to go back and play with all of those kiddos in the orphanages. I want to help the women carry those heavy jugs of water. I could go on forever!

I LOVED our trip to Ethiopia but I feel like once we took custody it was over... the chaos snuck in and I got cheated. I want to go back and finish my experience there. Someday... that is what I tell myself.


Sweet M* is so smart. He knows all of his letter sounds and can recognize all of his letters. He can count to ten and knows all of his primary and secondary colors. He can spell and write his name too. Now we are starting to work on writing and tracing all of the letters.

M* attends storytime at our local library with my mom and Belle. They have to go in to a separate room with the librarian and the other kids and he is able to do that each time. Which is a big deal... I am proud.


So overall 9 months feels much different than 6 months home. It is hard to remember the trials from the first 3 months home and I am actually starting to forget about how rough our first days together in Ethiopia were and the plane ride home.

Each day our love gets stronger... And, when we are in those good runs I can "see" Sweet M*. I can see that smart, funny, loving, kind, enthusiastic and happy boy who is my son. And, I have great faith that the sadness and hurt that sometimes mask over his amazing qualities will be lifted so that he can be free to feel secure and happy and loved and safe in our family.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

One Year Ago...

One year ago (yesterday) we received "The Call"... it is crazy to look back at that picture. It just isn't my sweet boy. It is a terrified child who has been traumatized in ways I can't imagine. But, somehow he has survived and joy and light radiate from him. As my Aunt said on facebook yesterday "he is such a blessing".

Here is a link to that day's post...

A day I will always remember.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Transracial Adoption- Talking about color

When Mike and I chose to adopt from Ethiopia we obviously knew that we were likely to have many conversations in our home about color. To prepare ourselves we (read I) read tons of books and attended webinars, read blogs etc.... etc... But, now here I am home for nearly 9 months with my gorgeous black son and nearly everyday he talks to me about the color of his skin, eyes, the difference in his hair etc... I am running out of things to say and nothing I am saying is making him feel any better about being different- HELP!!!

Do any of you have great suggestions on how to make your trans-racially adopted child more comfortable with the obvious differences between you? Or, do you know of any great links, websites, or more books that may help?? Please leave me a comment and let me know.

I am really struggling with this one.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011