It was one month ago today that we took custody of Mr. S! It's hard to believe that he's been in our arms a month already. In some ways it seems like we just met him, and yet in other ways it feels like he's been here forever.
We landed in Ethiopia on Tuesday night, June 19th, after fairly long but uneventful flights. The worst part, as you know, was that our luggage wasn't there to meet us, but thankfully, we had the bare essentials packed in our carry-ons: meds, toiletries and one change of clothing for everybody. We didn't like not knowing if all of our donations were going to arrive on time, but we gave that up to God. We had better things to concentrate on!
On Wednesday morning, we woke up, got ready and headed down to the lobby for breakfast, where we met up with a couple of the other families from AGCI, including Michael and Mindy A, who attend the Bloomington AC congregation. I had met Mindy at Created for Care in March (the day that she had gotten her referral, actually) and it was great to see her again. Their little sweetie, Alaysia, was having a hard time with the adjustment, and they were all exhausted. We ate a quick meal, and by 7:30 am, Wass had arrived to take us to Hannah's Hope.
When we arrived, Sintayehu was just getting ready to have his breakfast. He seemed neither excited to see us or frightened of us....just interested in eating.
The good news was that he insisted that I pull up a chair and sit right beside him. If I got up to move around, he shouted, "Mommy, nay!" (come here) until I went back to my perch beside him. We were surprised by how much he talked. He had not said one word to either of us on our first trip in April, and now he jabbered constantly. We hurried him through eating and then he said goodbye to a couple of the special mothers that were there. We borrowed a few toys from HH to keep him occupied at the Embassy, and then we were walking to the van, Sintayehu shouting, "Chow!" (see you later!) to everyone and waving happily.
It was a long drive to the Embassy, and Sintay LOVED looking out of the windows of the van at all of the "mekinas" (cars.) We kept up a running conversation with Wass and Johannes about Hannah's Hope, the current adoption situation in Ethiopia, and how Yikealo was doing.
You are not allowed to take cameras, cell phones, or any other type of electronics anywhere near the Embassy, so we do not have any photos from our time there. We went through security, walked into a huge waiting area crammed with people, and listened for our name to be called. Sintayehu was perfectly happy to just sit on my lap. When our name was called, we went up to a little window and answered about 3 yes or no questions, were handed a stack of documents including the court decree and S's birth certificate, and were told that his visa would be ready at 10:30 on Friday morning. That was it, and he was officially OURS!
We drove back to the hotel, changed Sintayehu into some of his new clothes and then headed back to HH with the 3 new dads from the other families for a question and answer session with Almaz. Sintayehu played on the floor while we all talked, and Almaz gave us some paperwork that included an interview with Sintayehu's birthmom. Oh my....her story is truly heartbreaking, and yet we are so amazed at the beauty that God is bringing out of it through our mutual son. I feel so humbled and honored and responsible that He has chosen us to carry this precious child. Tsigie gave us another CD with photos of S and his mama together from the previous week when she had visited him following her Embassy appointment. All of the photos show the two of them looking through the photo books that we had made for her: one of our home and family and the other of our time with Sintayehu on our first trip. I will never be able to describe what I feel when I see those photos, so I won't even try.
Then it was time to say goodbye. Sintayehu ran all over HH, passing out hugs to the staff and the other children, and Almaz told him that she missed him already.
We headed back to the hotel, and then....it was just us....in our hotel room....with nothing to do! Sintayehu quickly fell in love with my rolling duffle carry-on, which he dubbed a "mekina", and he raced all over the room with it. Who needs toys, anyway? :-) He also loved David's i-Pad, with the Mickey Mouse app, and was soon singing "Meeka, Meeka, Mickey, Mow-ush!" at the top of his lungs. We learned quickly that (in huge contrast to his older brother) this little guy played just great by himself. It was obvious that he was accustomed to keeping himself entertained, and he was SO good! He was full of smiles, and he kept coming over to give me hugs. He didn't mind letting David hold him either, which was a big change from our first trip.
We ate lunch downstairs and then went back to our room for a nap. Sintayehu did not like the idea of lying down beside David, but as soon as I joined the two of them, he snuggled right into me and fell sound asleep with no complaint. While my boys slept, I caught up on some e-mails to the family, and when they woke up, we went outside to play for awhile.
After supper we walked next door to meet a mission team from Ordinary Hero that was having dinner with one of the other AGCI families. We talked for awhile while Sintayehu played with his good buddy Bisrat from HH. These two had a love/hate relationship, as they are both bossy, attention-seeking little people, but they were so excited to see each other again.
Time for bed....we went back to our room, gave Sintay a bath and lotioned him up. His skin was SO dry and it just drank in the lotion. I am amazed at how different it is today. Bathtime was the one small sour note to the day. The water heater in our room had a hair-trigger adjustment. It was too cold, but the most minute adjustment would make it scalding hot. Poor little S got burned by the water and then was afraid of the tub for the rest of the week. He didn't cry for long though, and he didn't fuss at all about going to bed. David headed off to the airport to check on our missing luggage and I snuggled up with our new son. He was asleep amost immediately....a great ending to a wonderful first day together.
I don't expect this post to be of interest to anyone but us, so feel free to skip it entirely. I got the idea from a friend's blog, and yesterday I kept a log of our entire day. I know that it will be interesting for me to look back over time and see how much our life has changed.
5:00 am: David's alarm clock goes off. I have been sleeping very fitfully since 3 o'clock...mostly in 5 minute snatches with long stretches of wakefulness in between. David rolls out of bed to get ready for his Thursday morning Bible study, and I roll over and finally fall into a deep sleep.
6:59 am: Yikealo wakes up and comes over to my bed for snuggle time. We talk and laugh and tell stories.
7:38 am: Yikealo and I get up, and Y starts breakfast (Reese's Puffs cereal that he picked out at the grocery store.) I pour my coffee and add Almond Joy creamer....yum!
7:45 am: Sintayehu wakes up and comes out smiling. He wants what Y is eating, and after a brief internal struggle, Y decides to share his precious cereal. I tell the boys that they also need to eat 1/2 of a banana, and S pouts when I hand Y his half first. With both boys eating breakfast, I sit down in the living room to drink my coffee and have my devotions. I read Isaiah 30-32 to the sound of the boys shouting the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse song while they eat. Cleo tries to sleep on a kitchen chair in spite of the noise, and Frankie munches on our silk tree in the living room.
8:07 am: Yikealo leaves the table to go potty and Sintay throws a fit that Y is not eating. S also asks where Ababa is and if he's coming later (Ababa metah bahala?) This is huge, because typically, S doesn't really care one way or the other about Daddy!
8: 14 am: Y finishes eating and leaves the table to take a shower. S throws another fit.
8:20 am: I finish reading and move to the table to feed S (he won't eat if he's sitting by himself.) I am rewarded with lots of hugs and kisses, and he also starts his morning questions: "Mommy alga?"(Will you go to bed with me tonight?) "Dishush bet? Baby?" (Can we go to Susan's house and see Abby's baby doll?) "Shock-ee-ole?" (Can we go ride the tricycle?)
8:30 am: S is holding every single bite in his mouth. I leave to help Y lotion up and get dressed. I do his hair and we weigh and measure him. He is 46" tall and weighs 46.5 lbs. I start going through Library books and sorting the ones we've already read into a return pile. I return to the kitchen to help S finish his banana. (I don't care about the cereal at this point!)
8:41 am: S is FINALLY done eating. I clear the table and get him bathed. Y makes his bed and starts writing his sentence while I do lotion S up, get him dressed and do his hair. S is 37.5" tall and weighs 30 lbs.
8:58 am: I make S's bed, then I take my own shower. (When did I last wash my hair? I don't THINK it was yesterday, but I can't remember for sure because all of my days are blending together right now...better do it.) I spend my shower time praying and answering spelling questions from Yikealo, who is lying on the hallway floor right outside of the bathroom. I also intervene in at least 2 altercations between the boys....S is touching Y's paper (Y is mad), and Y is not letting S play with things from the toy basket (S is mad.) Remind Y that he is supposed to be writing and is not allowed to play with toys at the moment anyway. His completed sentence reads, "The silly girl talks to her mom when she sits on the bench and feeds the birds."
9:25 am: Get dressed, and change the sheets on our bed (When did I last do this, anyway? I think it was the day before we left for Ethiopia....not good.) Head to the basement to start a load of laundry and get a clean set of sheets. (Where in the world are all of my sheet sets? Oh well....who cares if we have a mismatched set on our bed, because I can't find any fitted and flat sheets that match.) Discover that the laundry load from last night was unbalanced in the washing machine and didn't spin out. Move clothes around inside the washer and restart that load. Head back upstairs to make up bed. Y is now coloring at the table, and S is playing with Buzz Lightyear in the living room.
9:32 am: Take phone call from the international pediatrician's office. Sintayehu's bloodwork looks great, and the only thing that we have to deal with at this point is giardia. She will call in a prescription to Ritzman's.
9:40 am: Off the phone and Y wants to show me his newly colored pictures. When I do not immediately jump up from the table, where I'm still writing down notes from the doctor, he says, "If you come in the next 3 seconds, I will give you a massage!" Head off to his room to see his latest decor additions...he has now added SpiderMan to his many pictures of Buzz. Take time to tell him how nice all of them are. (Hint about Yikealo: he is a total "words of affirmation" kid. If he asks you which is your favorite, he will not accept "All of them" but neither will he like it if you just pick out one or two. You will need to tell him WHAT you like about EACH one.)
(Notice the nice Curious George Christmas blanket hanging over the window? That's to block out the extra light at naptime and bedtime, since our days are very long right now.)
9:43 am: World's shortest massage from Yikealo while I talk to David about the doctor's call.
9:46 am: Return to making bed.
9:50 am: Interrupted to break up a screaming fight in the living room. Lecture Sintayehu on NOT hitting Yikealo. S has a total meltdown when I make him apologize to Y. Finish the bed.
9:54 am: Another phone call from the IA ped. The medication needs to be compounded and Ritzman's doesn't do that. She will have to call it into another pharmacy. Start putting together supper in the crock pot, and while I'm chopping vegetables, I call Erica to share the good news about S. The boys are hungry again, so they each get a mozzarella stick. They also fight over toys.
10:29 am: Supper is made, except for a few spices that I'm out of. I'll grab them at the grocery store a little later. I comb through my still sopping wet hair, while Y puts together a Lego set and S runs continually through Y's work area just to irritate him. After a bit, S finds a string and goes off to play with a car. Y tattles that S has his string. I tell Y that he knows where plenty of other string is, to which he replies, "No, Mom! This is MY string that goes to my whistle!" I go to take the string away from S, who is unusally compliant. As soon as I walk out and hand the string to Y, he says, "But he can play with it if he wants to." AARRGGHHH!!!! I finish my hair and go through my Library account online to see what is due. Find that there are several books missing....look all over the house for them, and finally find them on the bookshelf with all of the books that we OWN.
10:44 am: Leave for the Library. On the way, the boys fight over the water bottle that I hand to the back. I answer "Mommy, tricycle?" for the 962,000th time this morning with "Bahala" (later). At the library, S plays while Y picks out new books. He has filled up another section on his summer reading program flyer, so he gets to pick out a book to take home. He chooses a "Kung Fu Panda" book, which I turn up my nose at. He reminds me that I made the choice for him the last time and that I promised that he could pick the next one. He's right, so we go home with a silly book of no literary value. We stop at the grocery on the way home to pick up the spices.
11:21 am: Back home. The boys head outside, and I finish the soup and turn on the crock pot. Go downstairs to change loads of laundry, and then go outside to ride bikes with the boys.
11: 45 am: Inside for lunch. As I am making pizza sandwiches, S asks for a peach. When I tell him "Anda gize" (Just a minute), he throws a fit. Moments later, he throws another fit and moans pitifully for quite some time when I tell him not to step on Yikealo's special photo album.
12:00 pm: Both boys are eating lunch (pizza sandwiches and cut-up fruit.) I cut the watermelon that we bought last night, which makes Y ask all kinds of disturbing questions about how sharp the knife is and if you could cut off your finger, arm, leg etc. while using it. The kitchen trash can is full, so I change the bag and take the full one to the garbage can in the garage.
12:22 pm: Sit down with S to eat some lunch of my own. Y is done, so he heads to his room, where he listens to Disney songs and contemplates what kind of costume he wants to don.
12:30 pm: Done eating. Wash S's greasy hands and clean up the table. Take S potty and head to his bed for a nap. I have to evict Frankie from her nest on the bottom bunk, as S is terrified of her.
12:57 pm: S is in his twitchy REM sleep. I go out to find Y listening to music and looking at books in the living room. He is dressed as "Nike Peter Parker Kung Fu Guy" (or so he tells me.) We go to my bedroom where I fold a load of laundry, while Yikealo practices his reading. I have to evict Frankie from her new spot in the laundry basket, and I get hissed at for my efforts. I take a phone call, and while I chat for a few minutes, Y entertains himself by doing cartwheels off of the end of my bed. I finish the laundry and put the clothes away.
1:19 pm: Yikealo and I sit on the sofa and finish our book: a "We Both Read" version of Peter Rabbit.
1:32 pm: Yikealo and I go to the basement, where he plays Jump Start on the computer, I change laundry and answer e-mails, followed by some brief scrapbooking.
2:20 pm: Sintayehu is awake....it's time for snuggles and snacks! Yikealo even shares some of his most treasured toys with his little brother. (Y really misses S when he is sleeping and usually asks repeatedly if he can go wake him up.)
2:45 pm: I read "Kung-Fu Panda" to Yikealo while Sintayehu tosses a balloon around and shouts.
2:53 pm: The boys put on swim trunks and go outside to the pool (or "weha splash" as S calls it), where Y runs all of the warm water out of the hose and S barks back at the neighbor's dog. I start dishes and watch them out of the kitchen window as they splash around.
3:15 pm: Go outside to intervene in a fight. Make more soap and water to the bubble wands so that the boys can blow bubbles. Sintayehu chases all of his bubbles with an open mouth and tries to eat them.
3:30 pm: Finish the dishes. Y comes in to tattle that S has just bitten him. I make S take a time out on the back step, where he wails unhappily. I also make him say "Yikerta" (I'm sorry) to Yikealo and "do pinkies." (This was HH's way of making the children apologize to each other. They have to link their pinky fingers (although S usually uses his pointer) and then take turns kissing the other's finger....sort of an "I'm sorry" and an "I forgive you" all rolled into one.)
3:41 pm: Go outside with the boys. S rides his tricycle while Y and I read books. The boys have a couple of pouting moments when S wants to listen to the story too and they argue over who is sitting where. Sintayehu's attention span is pretty short, so he spends most of his time running back and forth between the books, the pool, the tricycle, some toy trucks, and his bubbles. Yikealo and I read 6 books together and then Yikealo plays with his little brother while I blog about the good news on Sintayehu's health. Yikealo requests a snack of custom Oreos: one side vanilla, one side chocolate with double cream in the middle.
4:50 pm: Go inside. David has just left a message that our van is done at RNS - they replaced the air-conditioner belt, and the horrible squealing sound is gone. D says that I should start feeding the boys their supper so that we can go to pick up the van as soon as supper is over.
4:52 pm: Head back outside where I am met with wailing from S. Y has just crashed his bike into the tricycle, leaving a huge, ugly welt on S's back. I take Sintayehu in to comfort him and clean him up and leave Y to clean up the back yard.
5:02 pm: Sintayehu is washed and lotioned up again. I go back outside to help Yikealo finish putting toys away, and then Yikealo washes up and gets dressed.
5:19 pm: Sit down to supper with the boys: chicken tortilla soup....Yum! I feed Sintayehu bites in between my own. When I'm finished eating, I go to the bedroom to fold another load of laundry.
5:30 pm: Daddy's home! Best part of the day!!
5:50 pm: All of us are done eating. I clean up the table, and Sintayehu gets another time out for kicking Yikealo in the head. Once he has stopped screaming his indignation at being made to sit in a chair, I make him apologize to Y, and then the two of them toss a balloon back and forth through the living room while listening to Disney princess songs. :-)
6:06 pm: David protests both boys and a cat being in the bathroom with him. I tell him that I don't get any privacy during the day, so why should he?
6:10 pm: We leave to pick up the van in Orrville. On the way, we stop at Baltic's to pick up the 30 pounds of blueberries that I ordered. When we get the van, David tells me that I can drive it, so as to have 10 minutes of peace and quiet on our way to his parents' house. I belt out "Worthy is the Lamb" and "Mighty to Save" as I listen to my I-pod, and thoroughly enjoy my minutes alone! When we get to Gary and MaryAnn's, Y informs me that Sintay was crying on the way because I wasn't with them. We move the carseats to the van, and I am rewarded with LOTS of hugs and kisses from S. (We currently have 3 vehicles, and we park the one that we aren't driving at the moment at David's parents' house....they have more room than we do.) Drive back home.
7:26 pm: Arrive home to realize that the blueberries are all still in the trunk of the Cobalt. :-( David says that he'll run back over to get them while I'm lying down with our sons. David gets the boys ready for bed while I catch up on Facebook for a few minutes. We answer the "Tricycle?" question YET AGAIN, and Yikealo checks off his job chart. S lists off all of the extended family members that he recognizes in the photos on our pantry door. David tells Sintayehu to put his balloon away, and S comes to check with me whether or not he needs to listen to Ababa. Then he throws a fit because Y is standing too close to the balloon. David reads a Bible story, we say prayers and sing a song together.
7:40 pm: I lay down with Sintayehu. David reads "Kung Fu Panda" to Y (again) and then puts him to bed. David leaves to get the blueberries, and I try to convince a hugely yawning Sintayehu to shut his eyes. This child fights sleep as hard as he possibly can these days....I think that he's starting to grieve his huge losses. He kisses me over and over and pinches my throat and kicks the wall and tosses and turns and sticks his fingers up my nose and pulls on his eyelashes until I feel like screaming. Thankfully, Yikealo falls asleep quickly in spite of all of the noise.
8:40 pm: Finally tell S that I'm going out....I can't take any more poking and prodding. I check e-mail again and put the soup away.
9:01 pm: Check on S, who is sleeping soundly. David and I snuggle on the sofa and talk. We read out loud together from Ann Voskamp's amazing blog and discuss our day.
9:58 pm: Brush teeth and get ready for bed. Get our pillow cases from the dryer and put them on the pillows. Take our sleeping boys potty one last time.
10:17 pm: Head to bed. Pray out loud together and go to sleep! All in all, a very typical day for this stage of our lives.