Friday, August 22, 2008

Busy days of incredibly exciting stuff ahead!

Well, this will be my last post before we head to Colorado!  The events that have taken place this week have been truly incredible.  J, my long lost sister, has been so great to talk to and continues to impress and amaze me.  I'm so proud of her.  It was sounding like it'd be awhile before we'd be able to see each other in person, though... so I was bummed.  However, in the last two days I was able to find a shuttle to get her to the airport (she doesn't have a car), a plane ticket, and convince her I was treating MYSELF by doing all this for her... so she's coming to Colorado TOO!

We arrive tonight about 11:15 pm - ugh.  The kids will be beat, but hopefully it'll mean they'll fall asleep on the flight since they slept on this flight out last time.  When we get to DIA, J will have already arrived - barring any delays on her flights.  She's hoping to meet us at our gate, and if not there then at baggage claim.  It's going to be one of those very public reunions, for sure!  My dad will be there to take us back to my parent's place, and our other sister, S, will be there to take J back to her place for the first night of slumber party central.  ;-)

I can hardly believe that in about 11 hours I'll be officially reunited with J!  I'm so stoked... this still feels pretty surreal.  It's only been... oh, about 15 years now!  

While in Colorado I'm also hoping to get some time in with other friends we've missed.  Elsa - you up for driving down?? ;-)  We know we'll be having some fun with Michael and Julia, which is incredibly exciting, as we've followed their journey for ages!  

Then, after a few days of fun in Colorado, we're off to Chicago to visit my relatives on my mom's side and meet the infamous Luke!  I'm so excited to meet him, and I hope Livi and Ezi pick up on the fact that they will finally be the bigger and stronger babies in the bunch (they've ALWAYS been the youngest!) so maybe they won't try and crawl all over him!  It'll probably end up looking a bit like a cattle roping contest, with me trying to keep them off the poor little guy!

And THEN, after a few days in Chicago, we're headed BACK to Colorado for a few more days of fun before finally returning home.  Whew.  It's going to be a whirlwind 2 weeks for the kids and I!  Joe isn't coming for most of it - he's just helping fly us to Colorado and then coming home after a day there.  Poor Joe... his a total work-a-holic in his new job and doesn't think he's got things squared away ENOUGH to really take any time off.  We'll miss him like crazy... and be doing lots of web conferencing I'm sure so he can see E&O!

So, that's what we'll be up to!  I'll try and update as I can and possibly even post pictures of the big reunion with my sisters!  I'm getting so nervous about it I feel a bit sick to my stomach!  I know I shouldn't be... but I can't help it!  I really thought this day may never come!  Wish us luck on the big adventures about to begin!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Bear crawl

Ezra's newest trick to avoid putting his knees onto hard surfaces... this kid cracks me up.  I remember having to do this as a workout in gym class and it was TIRING!  

Happy 8 months!!!

Wow, what an incredible day this is for us today.  Ezra and Olivia are now 8 (EIGHT!) months old!  It's incredible to think that we've been together as a family longer than they were without us.  We met Ezi & Livi when they were 3.5 months old and came home on April 18th when they were ALMOST four months old.  As I think about all these things, I wonder if they still have any remaining memories of their time in Ethiopia.  Do they remember Toukoul?  Would it feel familiar to them if they were to see the care center again?  Would Ethiopia still have anything "familiar" about it to them?

The changes in Ezi have been truly astounding.  When we met our little man, he was used to laying in his back and soothing himself in the cutest way.  He would hold his right arm up over his head, turn his head to the right, and grab his clothes with his left hand over his heart.  So cute and touching, but so heart wrenching.  This little man had learned to soothe himself at a young age - too young.  His right sided soothing leads me to believe that he was turning into the room at the care center.  We saw their cribs, and this hypothesis is right on I believe.  Little Ezi must have spent a lot of time watching the door and waiting for snuggles and kisses.  

When we first held Ezra, his tiny body was so floppy.  He was so young, but so weak for his age.  Tummy time was like torture and it took a long time to help him build up his upper body strength.  Look at him now!

He talks (still in his own, screeching language), he sits, he crawls, he enjoys making people laugh - currently by shaking his head no over and over again (he doesn't know what it means yet), and he also pulls up to his knees.  He's truly amazing.  He loves to cuddle with his mama and is becoming a bit of a flirt with me.  He stares dreamily into my eyes when I have him strapped into on of our new Ergos (if he's on my front) and smiles whenever I look down at him.  Such a ham!

Olivia is such a strong little girl.  She has flown through physical milestones and is starting to cruise.  She's had a few cruising steps, but isn't doing it very consistently yet.  She loves to grunt LOUDLY as one form of talking and has a love affair with blowing raspberries.  When eating, when crawling around, when climbing on things... spit's always flying!  She's still a peanut, but is definitely so, sooooo much bigger than the day we met her.  She's puttin' on the pounds and it's looking like it's mostly muscle.  Both Livi and Ezi look pretty lean compared to many other babies around their age... but I swear we feed them LOADS of yummy stuff.  They still consume formula like it's going out of style, and have been enjoying more and more foods with more texture.  

Olivia is starting to work on her pincher grasp, and it's coming along.  She now gets Cheerios and puffs into her mouth with relatively frequent success... her only problem is getting it OUT of her hand once she gets it to her mouth!  ;-)  Ezra's doing pretty well with that too, but seems to still be quite content with grunting and squealing at me to request another bite of something be put into his mouth.  Back to Olivia....

She is definitely a mama's girl when she's uncertain about things.  She's getting better at snuggling into me when in a carrier (now the Ergo!) and letting herself sleep/nap this way.  JUST like me, she tends to prefer her own space when sleeping... but recently she's getting better about being flexible about that when we're out and about.  She loves to crawl and climb all over Joe or myself when we're down on the floor playing with them, and has a serious jealousy thing when Ezra's getting cuddled and she's not.  This girl has an attitude and will show it if necessary!

A trait these two keepers of my heart share - CURIOUSITY.  I realize by nature, all babies are pretty curious.  But from DAY 1 with Livi and Ezi, we knew we had some seriously curious kiddos.  People have never believed how young they are because of the level of alertness and curiousness they display.  They're interested in everything, but in recent weeks have really begun to have a real awareness of what the OTHER one has and then MUST have it for themselves.  Olivia is definitely worse than Ezra about this.  She follows him around stealing whatever toy he has, and insists on climbing over or onto Ezra to get it.  She has also discovered the velcro on the back of his diaper and occasionally spends an entire play session chasing him around, climbing on his booty and trying to undo the velcro.  Yikes...

Check this out:

So that's it, in a nutshell.  We have been blessed beyond words with two amazing, miracle babies.  I can hardly believe I get to be their mommy!

Happy 8 month birthday Olivia and Ezra!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Photo catch up

A few photos from the last few weeks to catch everyone up on the E&O cuteness around here!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Reconnected to my past...

I can hardly believe I'm typing this.  It's taken me nearly 24 hours to get this post written from the time that the following events conspired.  This is NOT related to our Ethiopian adoption, but to the "failed" adoption of my sisters.

Let me explain - in BRIEF.  :-)  My parents wanted to expand our family through adoption when I was about 9 years old.  When I was 10, we had two incredible sisters join our family through the county's social services' system.  They had endured a life story up to that point that was beyond conceivable (they were 3 & 5 years old then).  We loved these girls unconditionally, but the US foster-adopt system can be... well, I won't type what I think.  Let's just say that social services in that county did some terrible things, and my beautiful sisters were separated and re-homed individually.  They been in our family for over two years when this happened.  After some initial contact with us, their new families felt their attachment to us prevented them from bonding to them, so we were no longer allowed to visit.  (The re-homing had nothing to do with something that happened in our family - it was external factors).  

A miracle happened a few years back - the older sister sent us her high school graduation announcement and invited us to her graduation party.  It was unreal.  Seriously like living in a foggy dream.  What do you say to your "long lost sister" after so many years?  Well, long story short, things have gone very well and we're all very close now.  Our love never left and we now get to enjoy a friendship I thought would never be possible.  I had one of my sisters back - it was a different sisterhood, but it was something.

This was also a constant reminder of our other sister for me.  It nagged at me and made my heart ache more than ever before.  Our younger sister had also lost contact with her bio sister (getting confused?) as well as our family.  Only small second/third hand details were passed along to S (the older of the two) on what had become of J.  We both talked of how we'd love to find her, but from what we heard, she wanted nothing to do with any of us.  So, we reluctantly didn't begin the large-scale search for her in order to respect what we thought were her wishes.

Last week, S decided it was time to find J.  Don't know why she thought NOW was the time, I guess it was because she thought they had a way to track her down.  Anyway, J has been located!  Not only has she been located (after a few false leads!), but I have SPOKEN to her!  I wept and wept yesterday when sister, S, called to tell me she'd spoken with J and J WANTED to talk to myself and my family!  Apparently we'd been told wrong and she'd always wanted to reunite with us!  

J and I spoke for TWO hours yesterday afternoon.  Half the time I was hardly able to form sentences - had our little J really grown up?!  She sounds sooooo different.  Of course she would, but when you haven't spoken to someone since they were 7 years old.... at ALMOST 22 years old now they sound pretty different!  She's truly blowing me away.  I couldn't be more amazed at what she's endured, overcome, and risen above.  There isn't an ounce of weakness in her, I think.  She sounds so mature and couldn't be more sweet and polite.  Wow.  I've fallen in love all over again with my baby sister.  :-D  She's back - and hopefully for good this time!  We're halfway across the country from each other right now, but we're hoping to meet face-to-face soon.  I haven't seen a picture of her yet... so I have no idea what she looks like.  It's weird when I talk to her because I have this vision of her tiny (she was TINY for her age) little self with white-blond hair and her cherubic face with adorable chubby cheeks.  She tells me her hair darkened and she's NEARLY my height!  (She's 5'6", I'm 5'7").  She was so little we all figured she'd be lucky to hit 5'0"!

Ok, enough rambling.  I spoke with her again today for about 45 minutes... this is unbelievably surreal.  I am in total awe.  Thanks for listening to me ramble - I just had to share my joy!  She's doing so well with this "blast from the past."  She spent most of the day yesterday on the phone - talking to S, talking to my parents, talking to me.  It's crazy.  I hope we don't overwhelm her - at this point she tells us she's realizing how much she missed us... but I'm sure that'll wear off soon when she remembers how goofy we all are!  ;-)

Are you racist? LINK FIXED! :-)

There was a link to an interesting study posted on one of the Yahoo Ethiopian Adoptive groups I'm a part of.  It's quite interesting.  Many people have been surprised by their results.  I was relieved to get a response stating "You show little to no preference between European Americans and African Americans."  I really didn't think I would, as I don't consider myself racist, but the study was formed (I believe) to test for underlying racism.

Take the test for yourself and see where you are in the racism spectrum.