Thursday, January 29, 2009

Stumbling & Searching for His Hand...

It's been one of THOSE weeks. You (possibly) know the kind I'm talking about.

  • Too many days in a row of waking with a weary heart.
  • Every day feels like a Monday. NOT a first-day-of-the-week-fresh-start kind of Monday; more of a here-we-go-again-I-hope-I-can-survive kind.
  • Lacking patience in ALL things.
  • Failures. Lost opportunities. Angry words.

I have stumbled thru the past days with very little joy. I have trampled the hearts of my husband & son (and possibly others). I have repeatedly acted selfishly and failed miserably in bringing glory to God.

Tonight, as it says in the account of the prodigal son in book of Luke; I have "...come to the end of myself..." and in doing so, I was/am reminded to look to the One who is able to redeem all my sins. With the kind of weariness that comes from trying to find joy/peace "on my own", I surrender my heart to Him (again).

Psalm 37: 24 (replaced the word 'he' with 'she' from the original versions) "...if she stumbles, she's not down for long; God has a grip on her hand."(The Message) "...though she falls, she shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps her hand in support and upholds her."(Amplified Version) and "...the Lord's hand takes good care of her..." (New International Readers Version)

This verse reminded me of a poem/prayer from my great-Aunt Ann which reads: "You are ushering in another day, untouched and freshly new. So here I come to ask you, God, if you'll renew me, too. Forgive the many errors that I made yesterday and let me try again, dear God, to walk closer in Your way. But Father, I am well aware; I can't make it on my own so take my hand and hold it tight; for I cannot walk alone."

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Adoption Court & Finalization...

While our adoption is recognized by the Ethiopian government and the United States government, the State of Illinios does not yet consider Alexander as our son. Craziness, I tell you!

So, we hired an attorney who is familiar with adoption cases to assist us and this past Friday appeared for our court hearing downtown. The morning started QUITE early so we could catch the 6:16AM train before walking several blocks to the Daley Building. It was interesting to be part of the hub-bub of the city in the early morning hours & Alexander refused to sleep a wink as his roving eyes took it ALL in.

While some find the legal system fascinating, I find it mind-boggling and cumbersome. Thank goodness for lawyers who can 'translate' the jargon & makes things clearer.

The adoption court papers indicate Alexander as the defendant in the case and thus, according to law, he must be 'served' with papers (i.e. requiring papers/document TOUCH the defendent prior to a judge hearing the case). This picture shows Alexander being served/summoned.

The court hearing itself was quite simple. The judge asked a series of questions to validate the papers which had been prepared & submitted to the court previously. He extended his congratulations and issued us an Interum Order for Adoption.
This is the first step in the finalization, the remaining steps are bascially paperwork-based. Our adoption should be finalized in early March and once that is completed, THEN we can work on editing Alexander's birth certificate and getting a SSN; another 4 months.

He's been OUR SON for so long already; I cannot wait for the paperwork to catch up and be OVER!

Books, Books, Everywhere...

Xander LOVES books -- just like his mommy! :)
Even though we received lots & lots of books for gifts, last week Blake asked that I bring home some 'fresh' material from the library.
Alexander's current favorite is 'Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb' by Al Perkins. A book gifted to us because of it's title by a fellow physical therapist friend of Blake's.
And YES, we do have large portions of the book memorized :) especially the dum-ditty-dum-ditty-dum-dum-dum parts.
One of my favorites is entitled 'And the Bear Snores On' by Karna Wilson/Jane Chapman which is a kind of sing-songsy rhyming book with cute illustrations.
Do your kids have favorite books? If you'd like, post a Comment as I would love to add one of your family favorites to my 'libarary list' and keep reading to our little one.
The picture below cracked me up as it 'highlights' his totally CHUBBER cheeks. While he still remains below normal in regards to weight (per the medical charts), I think he packs about 60% of his weight into his cheeks and the rolls of his neck!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Ramblings on Motherhood...

I am finding the 'emotions' of parenting to be very similar to those I felft as a newleywed. While this new relationship (then: marriage, now: motherhood) has blessed my life beyond what I could have imagined, it has also 'rocked my world' in such a way that I am uncertain whether my head will ever contain a clear thought again. NOTE to Moms of Multiple Children: I am in awe of you! Complete and utter awe!

Here are some 'highlights' and/or learnings of the past few weeks:

My efficiency has plummeted by 343.29%; an all-time low for this once stellar multi-tasker.

I am beginning to accept that no amount of preparation can actually PREPARE a person for the role of mom.

No Flexibility = Tears & Frustration. KNOW Flexibility = a chance of keeping one's sanity & surviving the day

6PM-ish. Daddy walks thru the door. Hands-down! THE highlight of the day.

Today, I am feeling a bit like 'The Little Engine That Could.' WHY? Because tomorrow, YES tomorrow, Grandma is coming to our house!

While talking on the phone last week, my mom said something like, "I'm getting the sense that when I visit you're going to want a break and it'll be just Xander and me..." Right on! You betcha! This mommy is SO taking the day off!
Well, if a day off can be described as cramming in 2 doctors appointments, returning Christmas gifts, purchasing a wedding gift, getting some much-needed groceries, putting away the Christmas decorations, making a pot of soup, writing ThankYou cards, etc.
That said, even when my brain is too fuzzy to function & I am not sure what to do next -- I LOVE being a Mommy to our sweet little boy.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Stay Warm, My Friends!

Taken a few weeks ago, here's a picture of our little African boy fascinated with his first sighting of snow...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Choking & Color Blindness (Sounds Interesting, Huh?)...

My son almost choked -- TWICE -- yesterday.

Note to Self #1: Putting too many small items (cheese chunks) on a small child's tray at the SAME time may result in overstuffing of the aforementioned little one's mouth. Especially in the early, formative days of parenting prior to the mama's eyes-in-the-back-of-her-head being full developed.

Note to Self #2: Although using frozen bagels as a teether seemed to be very effective initially, set a timer and after about 10 minutes remove the aforementioned bagel from the child or it will become so saturated with drool that it is possible for a child to wedge the ENTIRE bagel inside his/her mouth.

Another interesting 'happening' in my day. After almost a month away from the gym -- way too long, I know -- I returned yesterday with Xander. Good times! So, I swiped my card at the registration desk, explained that we are first-timers for child care & inquired as to what I needed to do. The YMCA employee said, "Pay $3/hour at the desk over there for a voucher and then drop your child off in the Nursery." Aargh! I had previously inquired about the child care as it pertained to our Family Membership and thought it was FREE. Being a non-confrontational/non-inquisitive person, I rejoiced that I had exactly $3 cash in my wallet, paid the fee, dropped Xander off and rushed into the gym for a high-enegry, I-only-have-exactly-60-minutes workout.

As I labored on the eliptical trainer, I was almost in tears as I tried to calculate how to fit the extra $40-50 into our monthly budget so I could afford the child care fees & maintain my gym time (essential to my physical/emotional health the past several months). I had almost completed my workout when I stopped mid-lift with this thought...They don't know he's my son!

I finished my workout and then returned to the Y's front desk to ask, "Has there been a change in policy or is child care for immediate family members still free with a Family Membership plan?" I was, as you guessed, told it was free to which I replied, "The little boy I brought in, for which I purchased a voucher, that is my son. I am sorry; I forget that we look so different. He is adopted from Africa but he's my son."

There were some chuckles...and apologies...and when I retreived Xander from the nursery lots of questions & kindness from those at the registration desk.

I am sure there will be many more situations such as this, frankly we had hours upon hours of training as part of our adoption training about these specific types of circumstances. The event reminded me that we ARE a 'conspicuous' family & it was also thrilling to realize that Xander is SO MUCH my son that I forgot about our differences.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Meeting Mr. Bear...

Blake walked thru the door last night with a sizeable stuffed bear, gifted to us by one of his patients.
At first sighting, Alexander FREAKED OUT at the furry creature more than twice his size.

And then their friendship started growing...
Here is Xander's customary greeting of any person/animal/object -- straight to the face. Usually he aims for either the mouth or eyes.
Next the new buddies engaged in a friendly wrestling match. I think Mr. Bear is down for the count...

Finally, exhausted from hours of playing, the boys take a nap using Mr. Bear for a pillow...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Poor Land, A Beautiful People...

Several have requested more details regarding our time in Ethiopia and I plan to share details as I can but wanted to offer a bit of an explanation, too. Part of the reason for my hesitation at posting pics/comments too soon is due to the fact that my heart continues at times to 'ache' with the emotional overload of the 9 days we spent in Africa. Even after being home close to a month, I find myself still in 'processing' mode.

Images of the other children at the orphanage flood my mind. The 'squealer' in the corner whom I was given permission to cuddle with. The handsome little boy with the most amazing smile seeking my eyes (and arms) from across the room. The curly-haried angel that would peer at us from between the bars of her crib. The weak little one just inside the door who struggled to give even the smallest of whimpers -- is he still alive?

There are moments in my day when I can very clearly hear the voice of a little street boy pleading in a whisper-soft voice, "American Mama. American Mama. Please help me. Just a little money, please."

Not a day goes by that I cannot recollect the intense love in the nannies/nurses eyes for our little boy. And the sadness there, too, in knowing that he would soon be going far away.

I don't have actual images/photographs of the above to share with you. They are simply imprinted on my heart and forever etched in my mind.

Here are some images that I DO have; most of them shot from the windows of our bus as we travelled thru the Merkato, the largest open-air market in Africa which covers several square miles and employs 13,000 people. The primary mechandise passing through the Merkato is locally-grown agricultural products -- most notably coffee. We were not allowed to leave our bus due to recent/frequent bombings in this part of the city. People were simply EVERYWHERE.
This is a common scene; a combination storefront/family dwelling selling a variety of goods and/or food items. The interesting part of this picture is the age of the man here; we were very much aware of the limited number of elderly people within the country (average life expectancy of Ethiopians is 40-45 years of age).
Another common sight. Women (and sometimes even young children) would carry infants on their backs wrapped in shawls/pieces of fabric. Their arms were often full of merchandise recently purchased or items they were hoping to sell. The man in this picture was spotted by one of our co-travellers and quickly dubbed, "The FedEx Man"...

The children in this picture were begging outside the gates of a hotel frequented by foreigners. No one was exempt from their pleading eyes & voices. If a gift of any kind was given, 20-30 more children would appear within seconds, rushing to the 'kind' individual's side. We were cautioned regarding this activity prior to travelling due to accounts of unsuspecting visitors being trampled/attacked by these desperate children.

And...there were animals EVERYWHERE. Lots of oxen, cows, stray dogs, donkeys and goats. The goats in the last of these set of pictures with red markings had been blessed by Muslim spiritual leaders.

That's all for now. If you have any specific questions about the country of ET or our experience there, feel free to leave a Comment. CIAO! (good-bye in both Italian and Amharic).

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Quick Update...

Not much time today as I am trying to get the house back into order after the holidays -- even as I am beginning to accept that "back in order" has an entirely new definition these days :)

We are doing good! Prior to leaving for Ethiopia we were not sure of little Alexander's disposition & whether attending holiday celebrations and/or church would be an option but Xander has simply been a trooper! It was really fun introducing him to so many individuals who have been prayer warriors for us in the past months/years. Here are some current pictures, playing with some of his recent Christmas gifts.
He's eating good. We learned that we need to give him foods with lots of texture (i.e. rice/chunks) & spices (i.e. onion/garlic) since that's what he is used to. The Gerber baby food carrots/peas and such were simply NOT making the grade. For the sake of bonding/attachment, even though he was cup-fed at the orphanage, we have transitioned him to a bottle & he's adjusted really well...which delights his mama's heart! He has also transitioned well from the ET formula (Bebelac) to that recommended by our pediatrician (Similac). It seems to me that after just a couple of weeks on the more fortified formula his shirts & PJs are becoming a bit snug :)

He's sleeping good. WARNING: Those struggling to get a full night's sleep, please skip over this paragraph! On average, we put him to bed about 9PM and he wakes around 8AM. Naptime is a bit less structured but he'll either take a short nap in the AM and longer nap in the PM or vice versa.

He's catching up quickly development-wise. Originally he was unable to put any weight on his legs when we pulled him upright but now he's pulling himself up quite easily & has begun 'creeping' along the couch. Getting down is a bit more complicated. He gets especially frustrated when he wants to continue playing with a toy he's leaning against but his little legs get tired/shaky :) He was initially unable to self-feed due to not having the opportunity to practice Now...the Cheerios are finding their way into his mouth quite quickly. Here he's having 'Cheerio time' with his cousin, Jared (just one week older than Alexander).
There are so many moments that have delighted us in the past weeks. The kind of things/events that you are not even consciously aware of but then they happen...and you cannot help but feel blessed beyond words. One of those moments was Alexander sharing a bath with his cousins, Jonah & Jared. They were having SO much fun splashing around and I leaned over to my MIL and said, "Do you see that? I have a little boy in that bathtub. Amazing, huh? He's actually here." little guy is having a meltdown in his crib right now. I guess naptime is over. Gotta run...