Monday, December 20, 2010

Game Recommendation

We had two extended family Christmases this past weekend, and Yikealo received a new game that I am highly recommending for those of you with small children: Richard Scarry's Busytown Eye Found It game.

Cousin Quinn spent the night with us last night - Yikealo's been begging for him to stay over - and this game kept those two boys ENTHRALLED for a good 2.5 hours this morning. The best part was that I even had fun playing it with them. Games like Chutes & Ladders or CandyLand (both of which Yikealo loves) are about enough to send me over the edge, but Busytown is a definite keeper. You play as a team, so you either win or lose as a group - which is another great thing when you are playing with two EXTREMELY competitive 4 year olds. Quinn, being the youngest of four children, usually resorts to his fists to solve disagreements, while Mr. Y tends toward excessive tattling and pouting if he's not getting his way. Needless to say, we had a lot of discussion this morning about teamwork: "Hey, teams do not fight! Teams work together to solve problems. If you two don't knock it off, the pigs are going to win!" By the end of the 7th (yes, you read that right - the 7th!) game, they were quoting me, "Remember, teams work together! Let's kick those piggies' tails!" Great, great choice, Aunt Julie!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Playing House with a Fighter-Mighter

I was informed today by the boy that he is a "fighter-mighter." What? You mean you don't know what that is? Well, neither did I, but Yikealo explained it this way:

Y: "You have to wear the right stuff, like a backpack, and gloves and boots and a fire hat. And you have to have a bear-n-arrow."
Me: "Oh, I see...but what does a fighter-mighter do exactly?"
Y: "Well, sometimes they climb mountains and stuff. And they shoot stuff. Oh, and they certainly rescue people."
Me: "They certainly do?"
Y: "Of course."
Me: "Hmmm...well it sounds like a dangerous job. What kind of things do you have in your backpack?"
Y: (pulling out a tape measure) "Sometimes you have to measure people." (binoculars) "These are to help me see better." (hammer) "This is for pounding nails." (saw) "This is for cutting logs so we can make hot-dogs."
Me: "Oh, you cook for the people that you rescue?"
Y: "Yeah, because sometimes they are very hungry, and they always like hot dots."
Me: "Interesting."
Y: "Now I need to go outside to see if there's somebody what needs rescued."

When the fighter-mighter came back inside, he had decided that he wanted to be a Dad instead, and I was his baby. I happened to be lying on the sofa at the time, so I figured that I'd play along.
Y: "Child, it is time for bed. Would you like me to get a drink for you?"
Me: "Sure, and then why don't you come snuggle with me?"
Y: "That's what I'm going to do. You don't need to be afraid, okay? Daddy's here." (snuggling in beside me and patting me on the head.) "Do you have your diaper on?"
Me: "No."
Y: "Child, are you a boy or are you a girl?"
Me: "I'm definitely a girl."
Y: "Well then, you need a printheth (princess) diaper, because girls always like to wear a printheth."
Me: "Oh they do, huh?"
Y: "Yes. Child, are you dancing from foot to foot? Because if you are, that means you need to go potty."
Me: (laughing) "It sounds like you've heard that a time or two."
Y: "Okay, Child, now it's time to wake up. You need to learn your shapes and colors, but first, I need to go work at the sink. Then I will help you."

So, is that what I sound like to him? And honestly, what DID I do for entertainment before this kid?

In other news, we had our fingerprinting appointment at USCIS on Wednesday afternoon, so that step is completed. Now we just wait for our favorable determination letter. Once we receive that, we will actually be eligible to accept a referral, although more than likely it will still be months before we learn who our child is. I think I've mentioned this before, but if this adoption were following the same time-line as Yikealo's, we would be bringing our son or daughter home in less than two weeks! Our process this time around is really making me aware of just how crazy fast Yikealo's adoption was.

God must have known that Cleo couldn't have waited even a day longer for her Fighter-Mighter to rescue her.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Coveted Bear-N-Arrow and "Boss" of the Cats

Last night was the Sunday school Christmas program at church - Yikealo's first "performance." When I was growing up, my family had the tradition that if we did a good job in our program, we got to open one of our Christmas presents afterward, so David and I decided that we were not above the same type of bribery.

Weeks ago, while looking through a toy catalog, Yikealo excitedly informed us that what he wanted for Christmas this year was a "bear-n-arrow" (bow and arrow, for those of you who actually know how to pronounce things) and he has not stopped talking about it since. So, the Cyber Monday deal on the Vision Forum website had a toy crossbow marked down 60% to $12. I happened to have a coupon for $10 off any purchase from Vision Forum, so I spent around $7 for the bow and shipping! Yay - you've gotta love deals like that. Since it didn't really fit in with our traditional frankincense, gold and myrrh themed gifts, we thought it would be the perfect "program" present.

Yikealo was SO excited to get dressed up and go sing his Sunday school songs last night - he made us turn off our Christmas music in the car on the way to church so that he could "practice some more." He was a very good little boy, thankfully, in spite of the fact that he is on two different cough medications that both have the unfortunate effect of making him EXCEEDINGLY hyper. Besides, he looked rather adorable in his new Christmas outfit.
After church, he opened his present, and we had a hard time getting him to go to bed after he saw what was in it. Of course, Daddy was pretty excited too, and confided to me that he wishes that HE had one just like it. I have a feeling that my boys are going to be getting plenty of target practice in over the next few days.
All I can say is that the resident felines had better watch out. Yikealo has recently "discovered" Cleo, and insists on dragging her around the house, much to her dismay. Whenever we see her skulking around the house with her tail tucked between her legs and her belly low to the ground, darting under the closest piece of furniture, we know that Yikealo is lurking somewhere nearby! When he catches her, he holds her down on his lap with one hand, and repetitively scritches between her ears with his other hand, while she yowls pitifully. He's not actually hurting her, but we can't make him understand that she is not interested in his ministrations.

Along those lines, I overheard this conversation last week:
David: "Yikealo, could you please come give the kitties some more water?"
Y: "Why?"
David: "Because it's your job, and I asked you to. You need to listen to your Daddy."
Y: "Okay, but Dad, I've got a great idea. How about if you be the boss of me, and I will be the boss of the cats?"
David: "Why do you want to be the boss of the cats?"
Y: "Because I want to make somebody hafta listen to me."
David: "Unfortunately, I don't think that will really work."
Y: "Why?"
David: "Because kitties usually listen even less than little boys do. Watch this: 'Frankie, come here!' (long pause) See? She doesn't listen anyway. Being the boss of the cats would not be very satisfying at all."
Y: "That's not fair! Why do I gotta listen all the time and they don't?"

So, dear reader, any suggestions on explaining that one?

Okay, off to get my hyper kid down for a nap. He's driving me just a little crazy today, in case you can't tell. A while ago, I asked why he was being so wild today, and he shrugged and said in a very matter-of-fact voice, "Sorry, Mom, but that's just the kind of little boy you got." Then he told me that it was really "George's fault, because HE started it." This is the same child that informed me last week that he was trying to "get some sleep, but I cannot, because George is jumping on the bed and blowing in my ear." Can you say "active imagination?"

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Prayer Request, New Numbers, and a Strange Medical Finding

Hi again! One of these days we'll actually get back into the groove of posting more often, but you know how life is. We do have a very important prayer request for all of you though: my sister-in-law Casey (my youngest brother Seth's wife) has been in the hospital over the last few days following some stroke-like symptoms, some seizures and a horrible migraine. She has been through a whole bevy of tests, and the neurologist can't find anything wrong, so she is currently diagnosed with a "very complicated migraine." Obviously, it has been very scary for all of us. She is only 21 years old, and she and Seth already have a lot on their plate. Seth is in his 4th year of pharmacy school as well as working as many hours as possible to support their family. They have 3 small children and they live about an hour away from their extended families. Casey's been told that she may not be able to drive again for a year due to the seizures that she had, so that further complicates everything. Please pray for them: for Casey's healing, for their strength, for Seth's last week of school before Christmas break to go smoothly, for their finances, and for their children. God is faithful, and prayer is so important! Here are some pictures of their family: (Zavier, their oldest is 4 and is one of Yikealo's good buddies, Lexie is 2, and smiley Baby Drew is 6.5 months)

In other news, we recieved our new waitlist numbers today: we are now #84 for a girl and #62 for a boy. Not a lot of movement yet, but that's okay. It will all happen when it's supposed to!
We've asked our case manager to check into the possiblity of us being able to meet Yikealo's birth family when we travel to Ethiopia on our first trip, and she did find out for us that Y's older brother is still in our agency's sponsorship program, so they do have some contact with them. We ask for your prayers in this matter too - that God will give us wisdom to know how to proceed and that he will open the necessary doors for us to meet Mihiret and Edil if possible.

Speaking of Yikealo, he has had a nasty, croupy cough again during the last few days, so I took him to the doctor today for some prescriptions. Our regular pediatrician was off, so we saw a different doctor who pointed out to me that my son does not have a uvula (that little flap of skin that hangs down in the far back of your mouth.) She said that while she doesn't really know about Ethiopia, she used to work with a number of refugees from Somalia, and it was common for them to remove the uvula of an infant shortly after birth! I was very surprised that after all of the different doctor's appointments that we've been to, no one has every mentioned this to us, but there you have it - just one of the many possible bits of random information that you can come across as an internationally adoptive Mama!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lessons From My Son

One of my very favorite things about being a Mama is the way God uses Yikealo to help me understand better just how much He loves me. My love for Yikealo does not change or fade or become less "real" based on his behavior. Can I get annoyed with him at times? Absolutely. Does he need to be corrected when he is disobeying? Undeniably. Do I love him any less when he is misbehaving? Certainly not. He is my son, and I love him with everything that is in me. I will go to great lengths to help him understand just how much he means to me, and I'm realizing in a new way that God does the same thing with me, his adopted daughter, during each and every day.

There have been so many times when I am lecturing Yikealo about some wrongdoing that I hear the echo of my words reflected back onto me. When I'm looking into his sad little face and saying, "Why won't you listen? Don't you know that I know what is best for you? There is a REASON that I told you not to do that!" I can almost hear God saying the same thing to me: "I don't want you to get hurt. I love you so much, and I just want to protect you. Please listen! I am not asking you to let this go because I don't want you to have fun; I am asking you to let it go because it could harm you, and nothing pains me more than to watch you get hurt." When I pick my child up to hold him, comfort him, and assure him that I love him in spite of the bad behavior, I can almost feel my heavenly Father doing the same for me: "Come here, Larisa. Lay your head against my chest and just rest in my promises. I love you so much that I died for you. Do you really think that I am going to stop loving you for some reason? I won't! You are forgiven. Go apologize and move forward! My mercies are new every morning."

Last week, Yikealo came home from pre-school with a colorful paper turkey with five tail feathers. Each feather had something listed for which Yikealo was supposedly thankful. His list was rather random: apples, my toys, food, my race car (he doesn't even have a race car) and "the color green." is the color that he has the most difficulty identifying. That evening, David and I were giggling over his list, and David put on his best pouty face and said, "What about your Daddy? You're not thankful for your daddy?" Yikealo shrugged his shoulders and replied, "Yes, I am, but Dad, sometimes little boys just do not THINK of their Daddy." David snorted laughingly and stated wryly, "Isn't that the truth!" I had to think later, though, how often the same is true of me. There are so many times when I become focused on random, rather unimportant things rather than what is really meaningful. I think about my "stuff" instead of about my Abba, or long for silly things that I don't have instead of giving thanks for the countless good and perfect gifts with which He has already blessed me.

Then there's the way that Yikealo teaches me about forgiveness and grace. There is a reason that the Lord says that we are to become like little children - they understand unconditional love and forgiveness in ways that we adults forget at times. I'll give you an example. A few weeks ago, I was flying around in my typical hurry on Sunday morning, trying to get everything done before we left for church. I had ironed Yikealo's outfit and David's shirt, was cleaning up the breakfast dishes that my husband and son had left on the table, and getting ready to start on my hair. David walked through the kitchen while putting on his cologne and proceeded to drop the bottle onto the floor, splashing cologne everywhere, and making it almost impossible to breathe in the kitchen. Immediately afterward, Yikealo slobbered chocolate from a candy bar (that he was not even supposed to be eating) all down the front of his freshly washed and ironed shirt. Ummm.....let's just say that I did NOT respond with grace. I slammed some dishes down onto the counter, yelled something like "Why do the two of you always have to make such a MESS of everything?" and stormed off to the bedroom, where I sulked. That's also where God began to convict me about the serious attitude problem I was having: "Let's have a little talk, daughter dear, about the fruits of my Spirit, shall we? So your boys made some mistakes - you frequently make mistakes too. Just where were you exhibiting love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness or temperance a few moments ago? You need to apologize." I gave myself a little time to cool off, and then walked into Yikealo's room, where he was attempting to button his re-washed and blow-dried shirt. He gave me a very solemn look and whispered, "Mom, I'm really sorry I made a mistake." I knelt down beside him to look him in the eye, and said "Thank you, honey, but I was wrong to react like that. I'm sorry for yelling at you and Daddy. Can you forgive me?" His whole face brightened and he wrapped his little arms around my neck and squeezed. "Sure, Mom! Actually, I already DID forgive you!" Oh, melt my heart...yet another life lesson from my precious son - the willingness to forgive immediately and fully.

Thank You, Father, for bringing this beautiful child into my life. He is teaching me more about You and Your love every single day...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Waitlisted and Other Ramblings

We finally arrived on our agency's waitlist yesterday, at #90 for a girl and at #63 for a boy. These numbers don't really mean all that much, given our parameters of 0-3 years, but at least we've finally moved to the waiting stage as opposed to the paperwork stage! Our agency is saying that currently most families are waiting 8-9 months for a referral, but that can change at any time. It's just one of the many unknowns in an international adoption. The vast majority of families on the waitlist have specified an infant (0-12 months), so depending on the age range of children that Hannah's Hope receives during any given month, we could get a referral much sooner than that 8-9 months, or we could just keep inching down the waitlist a little at a time.
This much I do know: God has a specific child in mind for us, and He will match up all of the time-lines at just the right moment, so there is absolutely no point in fussing about how long the wait seems. The next step will be to get our fingerprinting done at USCIS - our application has been accepted by them, and we are waiting to hear the date of our fingerprinting appointment. Once our prints have been approved, we will receive our FDL, or Favorable Determination Letter, which will allow us to bring an immigrant into the country. We can't actually get a referral until we have received our FDL, so that's the next big hurdle.

In news of my Dad, it sounds like he will finally be able to go home from the hospital sometime this afternoon. He will have daily appointments with his doctor until they get his Coumadin dosage figured out, but my Mom is THRILLED to be going home. Please continue to pray for Dad's healing and for God's peace to pour out over both of them. Your prayers are so appreciated.

This morning after pre-school, Yikealo ran into the bathroom to go potty, and when he was finished, he came out to find me with a very ornery grin on his face. Here was our conversation:
Y: "Hey Mom, guess what I did to George?"
Me: "What did you do?"
Y: (gleefully) "I flushed him!"
Me: "What?"
Y: "Yeah, I flushed him in the potty!"
Me: "Why did you do that?"
Y: "Cause I wanted to, and it was fun!"
Me: "So are you telling me that George is all gone now? He won't be coming back anymore?"
Y: "No, he will be back, because he knows how to get out."
Me: "Oh really?"
Y: "Yeah. First you turn left, and then right, and then left again, and then he will be back. Then I can flush him again."

So what kind of little kid pretends to flush his imaginary friend down the toilet anyway? Hopefully this is not a sign of future behavior with a little brother or sister!

Monday, November 8, 2010

So, What is a Home Study Anyway?

We should be announcing our entry to the wait-list sometime this week, so I thought I'd back-track a little bit for those of you who are not involved in the adoption world. This should help to explain just what we've been doing over the last few months since we started this process. The first step in an adoption is the "home study." So, just what is a home-study, you ask? Well, it's essentially an extensive report on a family and their lifestyle, and is eventually used to qualify whether or not a family is suited for an adoption. In our case, since our agency has an office in our state, they conducted the "investigation" on us and then submitted a 14 page report that becomes part of the dossier that we send to Ethiopia. These are some of the things that are required in order for a home study to be completed:
  • FBI Criminal Checks (completed for every person in the home over the age of 18)
  • State Criminal Checks (same rules apply)
  • Local Criminal Checks (same rules apply)
  • Child Abuse Checks (completed for every state/country that you've lived in for more than 3 weeks since the age of 18 - this is the one that made us wait so long this time around. It is completed by the State of Ohio, and they had 1 person running all of the checks for the entire state. It took almost 4 months for them to get the "all clear" signal back to our agency.)
  • Fire inspection of your home by the local fire marshall
  • 6 reference letters, one each from the following people: co-worker, neighbor, friend, spiritual leader or other community leader, family member of the adoptive mother, family member of the adoptive father
  • personal profile of each parent (this is basically a 55 page autobiography. You have to answer every type of personal question imaginable, from what you marriage is like, to how you get along with each member of your family, to any drug or alcohol history for each and every member of your immediate family, to your parenting style, to your religious beliefs, to any mental health counseling, and on, and on, and on...)
  • Financial worksheet giving a detailed list of all of your monthly income and expenses, your liabilities and assets
  • a notarized letter from your bank, verifying all of your account standings
  • employment and income confirmation from your employer
  • a guardianship statement by the person(s) who will take care of your child, should anything happen to you. The chosen guardians must also match the agency's rules for eligibility, as far as age, income and health status.
  • Copies of Birth Certificates for each member of the family
  • Copy of Marriage Certificate
  • Copy of driver's licenses for each family member
  • Copy of social security cards for each family member
  • a letter from your veterinarian, stating the health and immunization status for any pets in the home
  • photos of the family and the home
  • proof of life insurance
  • proof of auto insurance
  • proof of health coverage, including pre-existing conditions for the adoptive child
  • copy of Adoption Decree, previous home-studies and post-placement reports for adopted children in the home
  • at least 10 hours of Adoptive Parent Education (our agency actually requires more than this, as they also require a 175 page workbook, that takes a minimum of 20 hours to complete.)
  • Medical reports on each person in the home
  • an application to the state Department of Job and Family Services for a child placement
  • at least 6 hours spent with a social worker, being interviewed about your whole life
  • a home inspection, completed by your social worker
Once all of these steps have been checked off, the report gets written and submitted to your agency for approval. Once it is approved, official copies of it need to be notarized and then submitted as part of your dossier, and also to USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) along with an application to bring an immigrant into the country. We did all of this last week, so we should be hearing of our arrival to the wait-list this week, and over the next several weeks, we should be having an appointment scheduled with USCIS to be fingerprinted. It just feels really good to have our work DONE for a little while! Technically, things are out of our hands until we get a referral for a child.

In other news, my Dad has been really sick with a horrible mix of a Crohn's flare and blood-clots. He's spent a good share of the last two weeks in the hospital, and from what the doctors are saying, we are very blessed that we didn't lose him. Your prayers for his recovery and for my mom's strength would be greatly appreciated.

And just one quick Yikealo story as I close today: he is becoming quite adept at the art of flattery. There have been a few times lately when a request by him has been met by a "maybe" from me. When he hears that, he gives me a very winning smile and says in a soft voice, "I hope that you will say 'yes'!" Then the compliments start flowing. He'll walk up, wrap his arms around me and say things like, "Mom, I really like your pretty face" or "Mom, your pretty hair makes me happy," or "Mom, you make really good food. This is truly scrumptious!" I mean, really, how am I supposed to resist that?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lonely, Sushi, a new Friend

Here I sit at the Charlotte airport, away from my wife, away from my son :(

I am such a home body. I hate traveling for business, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. This past weekend I've spent four days in San Antonio and have learned something quite poignant: you can miss two people in completely different ways at the same time.

The conference I attended was on San Antonio's Riverwalk. If you've not been to San Antonio then the only way to describe the riverwalk is to imagine your favorite romantic walk and then stretch it out for 6+ miles. Gently flowing water, lush vegetation, gurgling waterfalls, soft background music, and picturesque dining tables everywhere you look just begging you to sit down with your sweetheart and hold her hand... but I'm in Texas... and my sweetheart is in Ohio :(

And then the phone rings, and I answer and hear: "I rode a horse and touched a snake!!!!" The wrenching feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear my son's precious little high-pitched voice is about enough to make me tear up through my smile.

Two different relationships; both so different; both absences felt full force... simultaneously. Will I ever get home?

On Sushi:
The millions of sushi lovers couldn't be wrong, could they? Turns out... yes.

I've eaten California rolls in the past. Once or twice at different functions they've been served as hor d'oevres and I figured I'd try them and, to my frustration, they've always tasted just as nasty as they've looked. So anyway, a business colleague had a hankering for sushi and after filet mignon two nights in a row I figured "why not?" I like fish, I like rice, I even like soy sauce a little. How bad can it be? Besides, all those nasty California rolls were served at hotels and, like many other foods with which I'm more familiar, the hotel versions probably don't do justice to the real thing.

Things I've learned:
  1. There is a very good reason we cook and season our fish. That would be because it's gross when consumed raw.
  2. The salmon colored, thinly sliced food on your plate between the... er... salmon colored salmon and the... er... salmon colored yellowtail is actually ginger. Just because it is more thinly sliced and easier to pick up for the novice chop-stick user, and just because it's on your plate, doesn't mean you should eat it. If you do your mouth will taste like you just ate an entire flower shop... and a Bath and Body Works store.
  3. The little blob of avocado colored gunk on you plate is actually wasabi. Just because it looks like guacamole, and just because everything in San Antonio is served with guacamole, and just because it's on your plate doesn't mean you should eat it. If you do, your head will feel like you ate a volcano.
  4. You can ruin perfectly good smoked salmon by smooshing it together with cream cheese, bland rice, and wasabi colored avocado and then wrapping the whole mess in seaweed.
  5. Just because a place can't pull off the main course doesn't mean you should rule out dessert and coffee. This was quite good and pulled the experience from F- to a solid F.
A new friend:
I boarded the flight from San Antonio to Charlotte feeling very lonely and ready to be home. God arranged for me to be in a seat next to the sweetest little lady; she was reading her one-year Bible and her name is Vivian. Vivian was widowed 20 months ago and is still working through her grieving process. She was visiting San Antonio for a 45 year college class reunion -- her first time out in 20 months. We chatted from take-off to landing. Over two and a half hours. I didn't feel lonely once. Thank you, God, for a friend. Anyone reading this, please say a quick prayer for Vivian and ask God that he would comfort her.

Time to board for CAK. This blogger needs to go home.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Finally Moving Ahead

At last! The State of Ohio FINALLY completed our child-abuse checks - after ONLY 104 days - and we are moving on to the last stage of our homestudy. A few weeks ago our agency decided to make an exception in our case that would allow us to start our social worker interviews while they were still waiting to hear from the state. I was so glad that they did...while I understand completely the point of waiting for a family to pass all of the legal hurdles before allowing a social worker to visit their home, in our case it seemed a little silly. Stacy, our social worker, had visited us to complete her final post-adoption report on Yikealo ONE WEEK before we applied to our agency for this second adoption. Obviously, she knows us well, and she knows that we're not child abusers! Anyway, we heard this past Tuesday that we had passed with the state, and on Thursday evening we met Stacy and her daughter at the Ethiopian restaurant in Cleveland for our third and final interview.

By yesterday, she had already turned in her report to her superior in the Ohio office for review before it gets sent off to Oregon for approval. Once the Oregon office approves it, they will return it to Stacy for notarization, and then we will receive copies of the completed report. We have to send one to USCIS along with our application to bring an immigrant into the country. One gets sent back to our agency as part of our dossier. Once our dossier is reviewed and approved, we will finally be added to the waitlist! I'm hoping that we'll make that by the end of October, but we'll see. At that point, our dossier will get sent to Ethiopia for translation, and USCIS will give us a fingerprinting appointment. Once our fingerprints are approved by the Department of Homeland Security, we will recieve a Favorable Determination Letter (FDL), which will allow us to bring an immigrant into the US. At that point, we will be able to actually recieve a referral for a child, although based on the current waitlist, it will probably take a while longer. This is all new terrritory for us, as with Yikealo's adoption we received his referral before we had our dossier completed, before we ever received our FDL, before we ever made it onto a waitlist, before we even knew that our homestudy had been approved! There will be lots more steps this time, which all goes to show what we've been saying all along: God knows His plans for us, and He controls the timelines. Everything will happen precisely when it's supposed to happen - even though the waiting can seem hard at times. At any rate, it feels good to be moving forward after several months of absolutely nothing!

The Yikealo-ism for the week: As he was getting ready for pre-school on Wednesday, he suggested that I do his hair while he put on his socks so that we could see "who is the faster." I agreed, and then he continued: "Mom, if you win then I will be your slave, but if I win then you will be my slave." about NOT! Besides, son, even setting aside your overly competitive nature and the whole problem of slavery, I think that you are imitating the wrong guy in the David and Goliath story!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recent Quotes from the Resident 4-year old

  • as I was washing dishes: "Mom, I would like to dry for you. Would that be helpful?"
  • after taking a bite of a new dish: "Hmmm....not TOO bad..."
  • "Mom, am I just too cute for words?"
  • while talking on the phone to his cousin Shana: "Bye! Over and out!"
  • as I walked out of my bedroom dressed for the day: "Mom, that outfit is horrid."
  • after being reprimanded: "Mom, can I tell you something? Sometimes it's just really hard to be good."  (Don't I know it, buddy!)
  • "A-E-I-E-A-P-T-E-Y. Mom, do you know what that spells? It spells 'elephant'!"
  • after listening to some geese honking overhead: "Mom, why do those geese always squeak like that?" Me: "Well, that's just how geese talk to each other." Y: "Oh. Well, how do a pygmy marmoset talk?"
  • first thing this morning: "Mom, I'm sorry that I was not being a good little boy last night. Will you forgive me?" Awwwwwwww!
  • after showing me some accomplishment: "Did you ever know I was this smart?"
  • while complaining about bedtime: "Why do little boys always hafta go to bed early?" Me: "Because little boys need lots of rest so that they can grow up big and strong." Y: "But you LIKE me to be little."
  • prayers at bedtime: "Thanks for God and for mom and for we're getting a little boy or a little girl and they don't have much to eat. Please give them much to eat and please help the peoples to not get sick, and for Daddy have a belly ouchie (he still remembers David's stoma from last fall) and for You will make him all better and for Mom would not let me play my game on the pincuter (computer) and for that was not nice. In Jesus name, Amen."
  • "Hey Mom, you know what? God loves you when you're a bad girl and he love you when you're good. And He love Daddy when Daddy is good, but He still love Daddy if he is bad. And me too. God love me when I'm a good little boy, and He still love me if I be bad. Is that the troof (truth)?"
  • "Mom, you're a very cute little girl."
  • after being told to stop pouting just because he had not gotten his way: "But Mom, why you ALWAYS get YOUR way?" Me: "I don't." Y: "Well, it seem like it to me."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Preschool, the Fair, and a Scary Pirate

Life's been pretty crazy lately - hence the total lack of blog updates. We've had lots of great, busy weekends traveling and visiting friends, and David has been putting in quite a few extra hours at work over the past few, since Mr. Y is currently getting ready for some Daddy time, I figured it might be a good time for me to catch up.

Yikealo started pre-school on September 1st, and he really seems to like it. After weeks of talking non-stop about it, we had a bit of a set-back on the first day when being dropped off in a new location with lots of other kids triggered some memories of his birthmom leaving him. When we arrived, he went into his "coping" mode, which essentially means that he pretends that I don't exist and doesn't respond to me in any way. When I picked him up, he was still behaving a little indifferently to me, but thankfully, Aunt Susan managed to get a few photos anyway!

When we got back home that morning he was really acting out, so I asked him what was going on. First he said in a quavering voice that he missed his daddy. I responded that Daddy was at work, but he would be home that evening, to which Yikealo replied, "Mom, it is SCARY when you leave me with those people, because I don't know them and maybe you're not coming back!" I said that I wouldn't ever leave him there, to which he replied, "You did not stay at that house, and that is like leaving me." Then he started bringing up bits of convoluted memories from Ethiopia, so I knew immediately what he had been frightened about.  He is so well-adjusted most of the time that it always surprises me a little when he has a flashback - and yet I know that in some ways this could happen for the rest of his life. It's funny, because I really don't think that he even remembers Mihiret - if he brings her up at all, he calls her by the wrong name, and if we ask him about her, he says that he doesn't remember her - and yet he definitely remembers the feeling of being left with strangers. I'm just glad that he talks about it with me and shares his feelings. On the second morning, he was pretending to be sick so that he wouldn't have to go, but when I picked him up he told me, "I was not scared today, because I knowed that you were not gonna leave me there. I knowed that you would come get me, 'cause I'm your little boy." Since then, he's been delighted to go and generally comes home overflowing with information about what his teachers said or what he learned.

Along those lines, we had the following conversation last week. After our devotions at night, one of us usually lies down with him for awhile, and he always asks for a story. I had told him the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and then we talked about it:

Me: "You know, this story is a really good reminder that God can use what seems like a terrible thing to show how powerful He really is. He can take bad situations and make them into something really beautiful. Yikealo, have you ever had something happen to you that was really scary?"
Y: (thinking hard) "No."
Me: "I think that you have, but maybe you just don't remember it. Can you remember when you lived with Mihiret?"
Y: "No."
Me: "Well, you did live with her for awhile, but when she couldn't take care of you any more, she took you to some men that could help you find a new Mama, and I think that you were probably really scared when that happened."
Y: "No I wasn't! I just wanted to be with you! I always want to be with you, Mama!"
Me: "I'm really glad that you feel that way, but that just shows what I'm trying to say. God took a really sad thing and turned it into a wonderful thing, and I'm so happy that you're my little boy."
Y: "Me too!"

In other news, my sister Erica visited us earlier this week, so Yikealo got to play with Mimi for most of two days. These are two seriously bossy kids who are both used to having their own way, but they did pretty well together most of the time.

On Tuesday evening, we took Erica and Mimi to the fair, and the kids had a blast on the rides. They got to take turns choosing, and I must say that Malia was the most adventurous of the two - choosing the ferris wheel and a little roller coaster -  although I think that had more to do with the fact that Yikealo was enamoured of all of the "boy" things like cars and motorcycles. I was reminded of just how terrified I am of heights - let's just say that next time, David is going to be the one riding the ferris wheel with our son!

After Erica and Malia left for home, we continued to walk around the fair looking at the animals, which caused no end of whining and complaining from a certain little boy who just wanted to go on more rides. At one point, he stamped his foot and said, "I HATE this! I want to go on the rides!" - so I gave a little lecture: "Listen, Yikealo, this is not all about you and what you want. We are a family, which means that we take turns. Daddy waited patiently for you while you were on the rides, and now if he wants to look at animals, that means you need to wait patiently for him. We've already told you that you can go on some more rides, but you are going to wait your turn, okay?" He gave a long-suffering sigh and grudgingly said, "Okay" but I think that he really did get the message. A few minutes later, David asked him if it was okay to look at some cows on our way back toward the rides, and Yikealo replied, "Sure, Dad. It's not all about the rides, you know."

He did manage to talk his Daddy into buying him a lovely plastic light-saber at the fair, and then last night at Target my two "boys" agreed on horrible foam swords and a shield from the $1 section, so we have had a sudden infestation of pirates in our house.  They've been having non-stop sword-fights, intermittently shouting "Hi-yah!" or "Engarde!" - except that Yikealo's version is, "Hun-yah to God!" Ummm...yeah...I don't think that this is exactly what we want him to be learning, is it Dear? Here are some photos of the pirate captain and his first lieutenant:

One other example of religious training gone awry: Last night we were walking at a local park, and Yikealo was spitting with abandon over a little hill. I told him to stop because it was really gross, and he replied, "It is not! It's cool! Jesus learned me how to do this when we were up in the clouds, and he said it's good!"  You have to admit that he's pretty innovative with his excuses. How am I supposed to argue against something that Jesus "learned" him to do after all?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Growing Up So Fast and Some Other Updates

I have definitely turned into a Mom - one of those emotional, but oh-so-proud women who delights in her child's new accomplishments at the same time that she grieves just a little bit that he is growing up so fast. Case in point: he starts pre-school next week. He is beyond excited, and asks every single day, "Mom, when I wake up from my bed, THEN it will be time for me to go to pre-school?" We bought him the required back-pack last week - a gray and lime-green affair that is much too big for him, but that he insisted was the one that he liked - and he has been dragging it around ever since. He fills it up with random things that he deems necessary for pre-school: paper, stickers, his "bottle-water" (in case he gets "firsty") and...his I-Pod shuffle (which I've been trying to explain will NOT be accompanying him!) It's only for two hours at a time two days a week, and the teachers are ladies from our church, and it will be a wonderful opportunity for him to learn and interact with lots of other little people, BUT...I'm still kind of dreading it. I never dreamed that it would be such an emotional thing for me to let go just a little bit - and this is only the beginning of letting go!

He has also learned to ride his bike sans training wheels during the last week - a feat of which he is prodigiously proud. He's been continually announcing to random strangers, "Hey, you know what? I can ride my bike without training wheels!" and then puffing out his little chest and waiting for the praise to start falling - which it inevitably does, because he's just so adorable with that huge grin on his face. I have to admit that his skill is pretty impressive, considering that we purposely bought his bike bigger than necessary so that he could "grow into it." His feet can't touch the ground when he's sitting on the seat, so I wasn't planning to remove the training wheels until next year when he was a bit taller. However, the little daredevil had been riding so recklessly down our fairly steep driveway that his training wheels were bent beyond usefulness, and he was actually learning to ride his bike leaning to one side in order to compensate. So, the training wheels came off, and after about ten minutes of David helping him to stay up, Yikealo had the riding thing down perfectly. I was thinking that he'd still need us to get started and stopped, but he figured out that if he pulls alongside the curb, he can easily stop by touching his foot to the grass (which is about 7 inches higher than the street.) With a few tries, he also figured out that if gets the pedals positioned just right, he can start the same way - by pushing off of the curb. I was pretty proud of his "problem-solving" - but it just proves that when there's a will, there's a way. The new developments in riding do require frequent stops, by the way, so that Y can practice putting down his new "hand-stand" and no amount of talking on my part can convince him that it's called a kick-stand.

He hasn't out-grown George though. I was sweeping several days ago, and stopped the vacuum cleaner next to Yikealo's chair while I went to unplug it. As I was walking out of the kitchen, I saw him reach out and put his thumb on the start button, so I gave some orders: "Yikealo, don't you DARE turn that on!" He looked at me with a very insulted expression and insisted in his best "Duh-Mom!" voice that he wasn't going to turn it on. I asked why he was touching the "On" button if that was the case, and he replied, "Mom, I am holding the button so GEORGE will not turn it on!" Oh, of course! What WAS I thinking?

This morning, as David was getting ready to leave for work, Yikealo was stomping around the house with a blanket for a cape, a balloon for a weapon, and a fierce expression on his face. He informed us that he was a very, very bad guy named "LaWishy" and that he was "stremely dang'rous" to touch. David responded, "Well, if you're too dangerous for me to touch, then I guess I won't be able to kiss you goodbye" to which Yikealo said, "No, YOU can touch me, and Mama can touch me too." I asked who exactly he was so "dang'rous" for then, and he quickly replied that he was "dang'rous for George to touch. George is very afraid of bad guys!" All I can say is that George MUST be a sissy if he is scared of a bad guy who can't abide the thought of missing his morning goodbye kiss from Daddy!

A quick update on our second adoption: quick, because there is absolutely nothing happening right now. We had finished all of our paperwork and parent education by the middle of July, and I was very pleased with the fact that it had taken us a little less than one month to finish. However, I suppose that I needn't have hurried quite so much, because the State of Ohio is currently taking at least 70 days to complete child abuse checks on prospective adoptive parents, and our agency can't continue with the homestudy process until they get that report back from the state. AGCI filed the paperwork on June 14th, so it should be 70 days as of today. Hopefully we'll hear something by the end of this week, at which time we can schedule our interviews with our social worker. She has to spend at least 6 hours with us to make sure that we're fit to parent another child, and then she has to write our homestudy report, which is basically a brief history of us: our lives, our beliefs, the reason we are adopting, and our parenting style, along with her personal recommendation of us as adoptive parents. Then, that has to be approved by the central office in Oregon, signed and notarized, and returned to us, where it will become part of our dossier. Once our completed dossier arrives in Oregon and is approved, we will be added to the waitlist for a child. We were told two weeks ago that our agency is currently telling families that are added to the waitlist that for a child of 0-3 years it could take up to 18 months just to receive a referral! That was a little surprising, considering how quickly everything went for us the last time, but there have been so many changes to the program, as well as a LOT of families who have signed on since then. If this adoption were following the same time-line as our previous one, we would be receiving a referral within the next month - and now we're learning that it could be a couple of years before we are home with our second child! So, we're settling in, preparing our hearts to wait, and reminding ourselves again and again that God's timing is perfect. He knew every bit of this when He called us to adopt a second time, and He is in control of everything, so there is really no point in being anxious about any of it.

In other news, we are still struggling with USCIS and the Social Security Administration over Yikealo's information. I filed for his Soc.# in mid-June. We had waited for a full-month from the date that we had received his Certificate of Citizenship with the updated birthdate - hoping that it would have given USCIS enough time to get all of their records straight. Two weeks ago, after waiting for 8 weeks, I got a call from the local SS office. They had received a notice from the Department of Homeland Security stating that the information in their database did not match what SS had for Yikealo, so we would need to make a trip to our local USCIS office to ask them to update their computer system. WHAT? We need to take time off of work, drive an hour to Cleveland, pay parking fees, and then drive an hour home - just to tell a government office to DO ITS JOB?? How does that make any sense whatsoever? USCIS GAVE us the document that doesn't match their computer data! At any rate, we didn't really have a choice, so last Friday afternoon, I got the pleasure of yelling our personal information through a plate-glass window to a hard-of-hearing USCIS employee who didn't speak English very well. Oh joy! After a few minutes of me holding papers up to the glass and shouting my request, he appeared to understand my predicament and supposedly "fixed" the date in the computers. We'll see. I called Social Security today to have them try again, so I'll expect to hear something in 8 weeks or so. Pardon the sarcasm, but doesn't it just warm your heart to think that government offices will be handling your healthcare too at some point? Oh well, as I stated above, God holds the future, so what's the point of worrying?