Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Workin' at the car wash

I (Amy) thought it would be fun to cool off yesterday and get some work done in the process. I'm not sure how clean the car actually got, but once the kids got into it, thanks to mommy spraying them frequently, we all ended up having lots of fun.
Essie (background) and Chloe

This is Amsalu's look of "I don't know why you are asking me to do this and I'm all wet and I don't like it".

He eventually figured it out.

Once I let the kids have the hose, all chaos broke loose, which of course is what I expected and why had the camera at the ready.

Eventually everyone decided it was fun to be sprayed. I cringe to think of our water bill, but all in the name of bonding, right?

Even Caesar got in on the fun. We were all soaked to the bone, but as you can see, it was well worth it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My blessing of the day

Our truck driver neighbor Bob blessed us today with a bottle of Cascade that had fallen off one of his shipments so the store wouldn't accept it. I almost cried. I know, I know, its a stupid bottle of dish washing soap but money is as tight as ever with 4 kids to feed now and honesty, the boys are about to eat us out of house and home. Granted, its mostly pasta, mangoes and peanut butter sandwiches (not all together), but they are just in that "I have to eat everything is sight because I don't know when I'll get to eat again" stage that all newly adopted kids go through. Plus my vacuum cleaner died yesterday and our glorified sump pump quit last week and backed up sewage into our lower level ($580 to replace the pump and our insurance company said it was a "maintenance" issue so they didn't cover it.) So a $10 bottle of dish washing soap is a great blessing.

Sorry no pictures of the kids lately. I'm realizing that with 4 kids to keep up with, I'm just too tired to take pictures. The boys start playing soccer on Tuesday through a local league so hopefully we'll have some pictures of that. Or maybe not because I have to work that night so Matt will be in charge of all 4 kids at the soccer field. Pretty sure he's not going to feel like taking pictures. But the girls' 5th birthday is Saturday, so I'm sure to have some pictures of that. Ok, I'm rambling now. Have a great week!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday's update

Thursday was just one of those days where the reality of blending such a unique family together hit. I was met at the curb by Amsalu's teacher (never a good sign). He said Amsalu had had a bit of a meltdown earlier in the day. They called Mickey to the classroom, but Amsalu wouldn't tell him what was wrong. He seemed to recover after that. When talking about it once we got home, I asked Mickey to ask Amsalu if he just was frustrated because no one spoke Gumuz at school and he couldn't speak English. Amsalu nodded to this so I think it was just a normal frustration moment for him. When Amsalu is scared or feeling overwhelmed, he just starts crying giant tears. I talked to one of my clients this morning who lived in Thailand for 2 years and had 4 hours of language school a day (Hi, Kristy). She said grown men cried in her language school, so of course, its normal for a little boy to feel overwhelmed.

Once the girls came home, Essie was trying to let Caesar in off his chain and Mickey tried to help her by taking the chain out of her hands and letting the dog in. Essie just screamed "I don't need help!" and burst into tears. I took her immediately to a quiet place and basically got it out of her that she was frustrated. An hour later, we had another instance where the boys took a toy away from her and she just screamed bloody murder and burst into tears. Its very frustrating for the girls that their brothers don't know how to ask for toys and use good manners. (Somehow I can't convince them that it took mommy months and months to teach them to share and have good manners so they have to be patient.) They want to play with them so badly, but honestly, the boys don't know how to play. I ended up taking the girls on a car ride with me and when we got back, Matt was having very good conversations with the boys and the girls where herded off to bed. The girls are still fighting colds and trying to get on a good sleep routine for school so I know this all played into the events of the day. Plus Mommy drove over 200 miles yesterday to do 2 home visits while the kids were were in school so I know, I was tired and grumpy too.

All these are normal growing pains and honestly, we've been lucky things haven't been worse. Its just no fun to watch your kids struggle to learn their new roles in the family. I told my boss the other day that I am the agency's new expert on adopting older kids. I know God is smiling while He watches us go through all these experiences because in the end, it will help me be a better social worker for my families and a better advocate for adoption. Its just hard, but then again, parenting is hard. We just happened to be experiencing many things all at once due to the way we chose to grow our family. Which, btw, can the school system send any more papers home?!?!?! Each kid brings at least 4 papers home a day. I feel like I'm drowning in permission slips and classroom notes. Ok, that's a subject for another day. Enjoy your Friday!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A not-so-fun day

Today we took the boys to the International Adoption Clinic at UK for a complete physical. The 3 hour appointment is never the highlight of anyone's day, but the doctors were impressed with the boys general health. Now we just get to figure out how we are going to explain to the boys that we need 3 stool samples, 48 hours apart from each other, from each of them. Are you kidding me?!?!?!

Amsalu was very excited to try the blood pressure cuff out.

Doing some goofy game while we wait that supposedly tells you how many sibling you have based on the number of vertebrae you can reach. I didn't get it, but it entertained the boys while we waited.

Mickey concentrating very hard on the hearing test

This is the face that best describes the end of the day when we walked to the lab to get 10 viles of blood drawn on each of the boys. They really weren't happy with the TB skin test, but then when we walked to the lab, they REALLY weren't happy. Luckily a stop for pizza afterwards made all things better

Learning Life Skills

If you've been following our journey for a while, you know I like to help the kids learn life skills. =) So the boys were acting bored the other day so I decided to help them learn what a vacuum cleaner was. They only sucked up one towel, along with most of the dirt on the floor.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First day of school-boys

After the boys staring at us for a week, we decided it was best to send them to school. I always recommend to my families who adopt to keep there children at home as long as possible, but I realized it is different with the boys. They are used to going to school and being with kids their own age all the time. They don't know how to play with toys or what to do with just an adult. Last week, we did plan some activities, but in the end, they were just bored. Plus they have watched the twins get on the bus every morning Part of this is because Mickey was in the transition house in Addis for 2 months and did not attend school during this time either. He is a bright boy who loves math. We bought him a math workbook on Saturday night and he spent all of Sunday working on it (w/o us asking him to). We had registered them last Wednesday, but Mickey told us he wanted to stay home with mom on Thursday. We didn't push it on Friday and by 3pm, he told me he wanted to go to school now. I had to explain it was a little late in the day and there is no school on Saturday or Sunday.

The boys had a good day at school. When I picked them up, Amsalu was crying, but only because there were so many kids waiting in the hallway with him. I think he got overwhelmed. The school did call to tell me that Mickey had bitten into his cold pack in his lunch box thinking it was food. Luckily, he was eating with his teachers and they stopped him after he had only swallowed a little and the stuff was non-toxic. Amsalu apparently threw away his cold pack. Guess I should have explained the ice packs better. But if that is the worst that happened today, I think we are blessed.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Whew-what a week!

We've had a busy couple of days (just what I tell my clients not to do) but things are improving every day. The boys are trying new foods and sharing more about what they like and dislike. Today they discovered ranch dressing and baked beans. Amsalu is mimicing everyone. Today he learned "follow me" from an old Transformers TV show Matt found on DVD (More than meets the eye).
The view of my back seats in the van now.

We were blessed to have Sue & Julie Hedberg stay with us Thursday -Saturday. Sue is the director of Celebrate Children International, the adoption agency we used. Friday night we had a get together of families who had adopted using CCI, many with Ethiopian children.

Sue and Chloe

Ellie Kedest Prosser and Charis Haskins

Holly and Jeff Prosser (photo by Amsalu)

lots of kids (photo by Amsalu)

Photo by Amsalu

No idea who took this one

Meredith, Curtis and Hensley Hannah (photo by Chloe)

Jeff Wills-awaiting a referral from ET (photo by Amsalu)

Julie and Sue with the whole Kinnell family

We celebrated one week home and Aunt Buffy moving back to KY by eating out at Pizza H*t. The boys have made it clear that they like pizza and I think they ate their weight in pizza last night.
Amsalu & Ababa

Mommy & Chloe

Ready for church-Michael was not quite sure about going into a new situation, but he did fine and was polite when people greeted him.

Apparently tonight, the youth group was watching a video that included a scene of the Crucifixion and our boys walked out and rejoined us in the main service. I have no clue how to explain to them what happened. We also have a large picture of the crucifixion on the wall by our pew and I noticed Amsalu staring at it this morning. I'm sure the boys have so many questions, but just do not have the English skills to express it. We might have to Skype with some older boys from the same orphanage who now live in the US to explain this one.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Day 5: Bumps in the Road

One might think by looking at our blog that it is all smiles and hugs at our house. That is, of course, because we are generally positive people and try to focus on the good things. We have had our share of bumps in the road, though, as all families do, especially in this kind of transition. We don't want to dwell on those things, but we would like to share them with you so you will know how to pray with us.

The boys are bored. And that drags their attitude down. They don't really know yet how to play with toys, and they are used to having over 100 boys their age around them. Matt has been battling head cold, stomach bug, and jetlag issues, which hasn't helped as he just hasn't had the energy to entertain the boys. We are thinking of putting the boys in school on Monday, hoping that the interaction with other kids their age will be good (especially for Michael) and help their English progression (especially Amsalu's).

While Amsalu is a pretty good eater, Michael is extremely picky. He is very reluctant to try new things, and usually makes up his mind before he tries it that he won't like it. One night this week he turned up his nose at a meal Amy had cooked, and when we tried to make him eat at least a little of it, he sat there for over an hour before dissolving into sobbing. It may have been a battle line drawn too soon, and we are still paying for it.

Last night we had Michael talk via Skype to another adopted boy that he had known in Ethiopia. While he brightened up a bit during the conversation, he did tell his friend that he didn't like it here. This is a very natural thing for him to feel at this point, but it still makes our hearts hurt a bit.

Although Amsalu seems to be a bit more resilient, he also gets frightened more easily. He burst into tears when he met his teacher on Wednesday. He is very shy around new people.

All that fun ended at 9:30 last night with our injector pump going bad. (That's the pump that grinds up the raw sewage from our downstairs bathroom and pumps it outside.) Filthy water all over the basement. We were literally up a certain creek that shall remain nameless. Not what we needed on this night.

A wonderful thing about our faith is that we believe that God can redeem any situation. That is really what adoption is - a redemption. All adoptions begin with some kind of tragedy, whether it is death or abandonment or poverty. And through adoption God is able to redeem those tragedies - both those of the adopted and the adopter - and bring healing. And redemption is never easy. Our spiritual redemption cost our Lord His life.

Like marriage, adoption is more than just the meeting of a human need. It is a spiritual discipline whereby we can know God more. Our spiritual adoption teaches us that we are loved and we are wanted - nobody forced us upon God, and he wasn't forced to take us. Ephesians 1:4-5 says we were chosen before the world began, and it was God's pleasure and will that we would be adopted as His children. We are loved. We are wanted. We are children of the King - even if sometimes we think we don't want the good things that He has for us.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 4-sibling bonding

As you all know, I like to incorporate the kids in household activities/chores. Since we have had a few eating issues with Michael and since Amsalu cannot get enough to eat, I thought they'd like to help make supper for everyone. Of course the girls did not want to be left out so it ended up being a great, sibling bonding activity.

Chloe and Michael

Essie and Amsalu

Amsalu and Essie worked on the round pizza.

Chloe & Michael made the rectangle pizza

While waiting for the pizza to cook, the kids thought it would be fun to try to pick each other up in a blanket. I'm not sure the exact point of this game, but all 4 kids were laughing (loudly) so I guess it was fun.

The boys decided to show their big muscles by putting the twins in the blanket together.

The dinner was a success and the boys asked for seconds and thirds. Yeah!!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Day 3

We took the boys to a local park to play a little "football". They thoroughly enjoyed the time at the park. You will see Caesar running around as well. The dog has slept for 2 days straight after only 30 minutes of free run.

Micheal wearing his Asbury College shirt-he picked it out

The significance of this picture is huge. In 3 days we went from squealing with fear to asking to walk Caesar. Way to go, Amsalu!!!

If my parents taught me anything, it was to put kids to work when they act bored so I asked the boys helped me with some yard chores.

Ok, before the grandparents freak out, I gave the boys a thorough safety lesson about the lawn mower and I never left his side. Since our lawn is half dead, I decided it wouldn't be so bad to let a novice try his hand at mowing. He had some trouble with turning and keeping a straight line, but on the whole, Micheal did pretty good.

popsicles after school

Watching "Waving Flag" video from the World Cup-they loved it!

Micheal got to talk to his friend Obsi who was adopted about a month ago.

Chloe being well...Chloe

We had a great surprise when our friends the Hughes stopped by. They are in the process of moving to the States from Northern Ireland.

Highlights of the day:
  • Everyone ate supper!!! I made spaghetti but used Wot sauce mixed with a little oil for the boys. They asked for seconds!
  • The boys brought a live bird into the house, yes, a live bird that they caught as it flew through the air. They were so excited to show me, but I squealed when it flew out of Micheal's hand. The worst part was Caesar went ballistic trying to get the bird so I had to explain that while it is way cool that they caught a bird, it is not cool to bring it into the house when you have a bird dog as a pet.