Monday, November 10, 2008
Monday, October 20, 2008
She is such a ham, she always scrunches up her face when she smiles at the camera.
I am having fun at trying new "do's" on GiGi. This one turned out really good. As long as I can get her to sit long enough, we are good to go. I also learned this time that doing it after a bath when her hair was a little wet made it easier.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday, October 18, 2008
I realize now that I could never be an actress or newsperson........Pete; however, could! We were so blessed to be called a couple weeks ago for an interview. I may be getting this a little wrong, but here is what I remember: The group within the government who regulates and oversees international adoptions put out new regulations (things that we did not have to do for our adoption). One is that the family needs so many hours of education before proceeding with their adoptions....again, we did not have to do this, but apparently we will next time. Anyway, they were putting together a movie on international adoption which everyone will be required to watch who is adopting internationally. Since Ethiopia adoptions have been so popular and numbers are rising, they really wanted a family to interview and to talk about the process and experience. So.......we packed up GiGi and Pete and I and we headed to DC for our talk. When I sat on the couch in front of the huge, hot lights and the cameras, I felt a tad nervous!! I really wanted to do good, but there were times I really felt like I was on a roll, hitting some good lessens learned, etc. and then the camera guy would stop me and say "ooohhh, your baby hit your mic. during that, can you move her to your husband and start over, that was great." AHHHHHHHHHHHH, what was I saying again? I would totally clam up and could not repeat the same thing. When you are passionlately talking about something and have to "TAKE TWO", it is really hard. Anyway, overall, I think we did good. Pete seemed so comfortable......maybe too comfortable. Come to think of it, I believe he LOVED the spotlight! We laughed that if all the sound bites are from him, we will know how I really did. But seriously, it was a true blessing to be able to talk and share about our experience. So, if you see us one day, stop back here and say hi- and you are free to make fun of me! :)
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I made a duck cake and she loved it....her first taste of cake. We had a candle in an Ethiopian candle holder that we lit in honor of her birth mommy. It was VERY emotional for Pete and I. We want to make sure we thank her, remember her, and pray for her every birthday GiGi has, as that day is more about her and GiGi than us. I now realize why adoptive families celebrate "gotcha days" like birthdays.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Gabrielle will be 11 months the end of this month and I was looking into what types of things I could do to help with her development. She has made such strides since coming home. I mean she was 8 months old and did not have full head control. However I am an American mom with American Dr's. who have all kinds of goals and such. On the possitive note, we also have so many wonderful programs here - thank God, to assist children who are not where they should be developmentally. We could not get her to bear weight on her legs. You would put her in standing position and she would just bend and her legs would not do anything. I wasn't worried, just more concerned that I did not know how to stimulate her or work with her. I wasn't sure if the things I was doing were hurting or helping or even discouraging her. Her pediatrician had us call a local county program and they were so nice. If a child is more then 25% behind the county will pay for the physical therapy- we have an appt. Monday. Well, last night I pulled up on her little arms and said "up" and could not believe it when she actually straightened her legs and stood right up!! She doesn't hold it for long, but if you have seen her you know this is MAJOR!!!! I was screaming and laughing and saying "good girl" in the high shreek that my 6 year old does it. I know it is such a small step, but it is so major to see her for the first time using her lower body.
On to another topic.......when to leave baby for the first time. We have not left Gabrielle at all since she has been home. Either Pete or I have been with her nonstop. I have been really trying to work on my running routine again.......not so easy with 3 young kids who are all home. I don't have a triple jogger (laugh), so it has been challenging. I squeeze it in when Pete gets home, or on the weekends, or do the double jogger if Isabelle is at camp or a friends house. Well, we have an amazing little girl in the neighborhood who loves the kids and always wants to help out. She is too young to leave to go out or shopping, but wonderful to be with the kids outside or playing while I get things done around here. So, my BIG plan was to have her come while GiGi was sleeping and RUN!! The thought of this time alone on the mountain, with the fresh air, running like the wind to my music blasting in my ear without pushing 100 lbs. of kids or watching the canopy raise every 2 minutes with wonderful comments about their space in the stroller being compromised, or the need to stop to check out the cool bug on the road, the occasional snake, or the pee break. I was beyond happy until I realized that our nap schedule was off due to a Dr.'s appt. in the morning. So, like any good mom, I panicked and called "daddy" wondering if it was really bad to have GiGi here with an 11 year old, sitting in the family room with her toys, should she wake up. He said, no she is ready, you will only be gone 30 minutes or so. Sweet, I just needed a little support, so on with my plan; however we know the plan never really works out like we think. I thought GiGi would have been awake before I left, but she wasn't. So, I told the sitter if she woke up and was upset to call me, but she would see Isabelle and Johnny and should be fine. Well, I did get to go up the mountain, and on the way down, cruising to "How Great is our God" (thinking I had struck gold and really gotten smart about squeezing my time in with 3 kids), the phone buzzed in my hand. I pulled up and the runners high was broken immediatlely upon seeing my home number. GiGi was FREAKING out, Isabelle and Johnny made her call because they had never heard her cry like this before. I was on my way........now I am running with the TOTAL opposite feelings. I felt like the worst mom, how could I leave this child and think she would not wake up and be scared to see another face. I was now running, not like the wind, but heavily and hard. I pulled up with my hamstring- tight!!! I stretched and tried to run again.....not happening. I didn't pull it bad, but there would be NO running back home or it would be bad. As I am now WALKING ( when I felt like flagging a random car to get back to my scared, freaking out baby) I am WALKING like there was all the time in the world. I literally laughed out loud and thought, "God, you are really funny". I don't know what this means, but it is funny. I have never wanted to get back to my house so quickly from a run before, and I have never gotten there so slowly. When I got home, she was fine.......definatley looked as though she had been screaming HARD, but she calmed very quickly with me and we moved on. I don't think she is scarred for life, but we will be waiting a little longer before I try that lovely plan again!
Sunday, August 10, 2008
GiGi got so much attention at the hospital, it was really cute. I think any person who was working who was from Ghana, Uganda, Ethiopia, and so on, had to stop by and see her. It was wonderful how supportive and amazing they all were.
I had a strange experience as we were getting ready to leave. That morning a Tech had come in and woke me up.....I hadn't gotten much sleep so I was REALLY out of it. The first thing I thought was, wow, my stomach feels really good, but I shouldn't be laying on it. I then rolled over carefully realizing that I didn't just have a baby.....well I did, but not out of my stomach like the last 2. The last time I was in a hospital to stay over was for my c-sections. Anyway, I thought the similarities were wild and it was like I had just had a baby- I did! So, when the nurse came in later and took out GiGi's IV's and such and said, congratulations you may get her dressed and go home, I was so excited. I couldn't wait to get that little gown off of her and get her in her clothes and do her hair. As I was picking out her outfit and getting her ready I started crying as, once again, the feelings were so familiar to the 2 times before as I had gotten my new babies ready to leave the hospital. It was a gift from God to have this experience, the one on one time, the SERIOUS bonding through some rough moments, and the joy of getting her dressed and ready to leave the hospital with me as a total and complete part of me, just as I had with my 2 older children.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Gabrielle is coming out of her shell more and more every day. It is so amazing to watch and enjoy. Pete and I keep saying, "she REALLY likes it here." She is starting to be able to hold herself up on all fours- with me supporting her. So her are strength is getting better each week. She is babbling and talking and is so happy. She says "dadda", still working on "momma"; for some reason she thinks it's really funny when I say it repeatedly to her. I think she is playing me. The best news of all is SHE IS SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!! Thank you Jesus! After being sick and having weeks of not good sleep, we all feel like new again. Need I say it- we take sleep for granted too!! I appreciate now and thank God for getting a whole night of un-interrupted sleep :)
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
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Thanks to my girlfriend Tamara, who took amazing pictures of Gabrielle~ It was so fun to connect with good friends and to have GiGi have her first photo session!
Monday, June 30, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
We were privledged to spend time with the beautiful kids. They sang songs for us while sitting in their small schoolhouse room. Thanks to the generosity of our friends Chris and Jan McNally we brought a parachute to play with the older kids - and you'll see by the looks on their faces that they just loved it! These kids gave us a gift that we'll cherish forever.
Words (or video) alone can not adequately describe the experience of visiting this orphanage. If there is one simple truth that we learned during our short visit it's this:
No matter where in the world you go - kids are kids. They want to learn, they want to sing and they want to play - but most of all they want a family. Our hope is that every child in the home has their day - their day to be united with their mom and dad.
P.S. Bono wrote this song after he and his wife visited Ethiopia years ago and were forever touched and changed. He just released the song a few months ago. Here is the link to Bono being interviewed about it and singing it for the first time. He gets pretty emotional, it is an awesome video.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
Things are going so well with Gabrielle and the rest of the family. We are finally getting settled.......that would be mainly Pete and I. Gabrielle has been doing so well, it has been mommy and daddy who have had some catching up to do! The whole family is bonding and it just seems so right and like it is exactly how it was supposed to be. God always knew what He was doing, boy can I see that loud and clear now.
I keep watching Gabrielle and looking at Pete and saying, "she looks just like the baby we took from the Transitional Home." That is sarcastic. It was work to make her smile, she actually only smiled a couple of times the two days we were at the TH. She also was so "blobby". She just didn't move and was pretty still and quiet, just taking it all in, a very sweet quiet demeanor. She is still very sweet and very good, however she babbles and babbles and cracks herself up. She smiles all the time and just seems so happy and really coming out of her shell. When we first got her, her head was still wobbly and she wouldn't really go into any position other than a slouch in your arm, or cradling her like a baby. We have been amazed at how much she has changed, she started sitting today!!!!! This seems almost impossible compared to a week ago. She still has some work to go to strengthen her muscles and catch up, but I have faith and confidence she will continue to do so. She was obviously loved and cared for, but the development part of nurturing was not there. She needed her mommy and daddy and brother and sister and we are thanking God every day for his blessings and the gift we have received.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
A special thanks to Dana for taking such amazing pictures that we will treasure forever, and to Barett for taking great video (and being an all around great guy!)
Friday, June 13, 2008
Yesterday was such a full and amazing day. We went to Kids Care orphanage, where Gabrielle came from. It was a blessed experience. Those of you who know Pete, imagine him with 25 kids, HE WAS IN HIS ELEMENT! He had them all singing, he kept handing out candy and they kept singing for him, it was a beautiful sound. We got it all on tape so we will be downloading many videos for you to watch when we get home. Then, in Pete style, he taught them how to sing "happy birthday".......to him! It was so funny and so classic. After that we took them all outside and played with them. Our dear friends the McNally's bought parachutes and beach balls for us to bring some of the places we visited. We pulled out the huge parachute and began playing. The squeels and laughter and HUGE smiles were again a vision we will never forget. Pete had them count 1, 2, 3 all around the circle and then as he called out the numbers one by one, the kids took turns running
under the parachute as it went up. It was so much fun. The look on Pete's face was priceless the entire time too.
I went into a back room and found many women hunched over bowls of water with rice, and open fire. They were preparing food. I took a stab at pouring the Injera batter on the skillet, we all laughed......I need some practice. They laughed so hard at me and called me white.......isn't that discrimination :). I laughed so hard, they kept putting their arm next to mine to compare and laughing. The women were a rip!
Some of the gut wrenching parts about this orphanage were the tiny, tiny day old babies who were lined up in the cribs. So small and so helpless, I kept picturing Gabrielle lying there. The great news and thing I had to keep telling myself was that if they were healthy they would go to families just like us and it was a blessing that they had made it there. There were also some sick children who looked to have Aids and that was really hard too. Again, this place was so amazing and took great care of the children, that it was a gift they were even there. I just wish they all had homes and parents.......but we can't change the world in one day.
Later we got to JOURNEY to meet our great friends little boy. This was really fun and quite the experience! We drove and drove and finally found the place. There was no way to drive around to the door so we had to scale down and up large rocks and a gully filling with water, and wave a man to stop drilling, to get to the other side. After getting in they told us he was not there, that was their headquarters. The director told us we were not allowed to see him, and then after talking he said since we has travelled so far we were alllowed!! PRAISE!!! Then we proceeded to find the actual home where he lived. (The roads here are CRAZY bumpy, and oh there are no traffic laws at all. Makes for some very interesting navigating.) He was soooooooo cute and sweet and so happy to learn of his mommy and daddy. They had made an album for him and we had a translator read the whole thing to him. He smiled and told the translator he was happy. This was such
an experience to be able to hug one of these children and assure them they have a family- someone coming to get them who truly love them and are working so hard to get here to pick them up. It was my wish for every child we had seen at Kids Care and it felt so good to deliver this news to a child, especially one who will be coming home to our friends right in Leesburg with us. We go to the same church too, what a blessing for he and GiGi. I am so glad we will get to see him again one day, and to know that a little boy probably slept very good last night after hearing about and seeing pictures of his soon to be family, the dream of every orphan here!
So, we are heading out tonight, so we will check in from home!!!! Thanks for following along, we have some amazing movies Pete has put together, but we have bee un-able to download them. Check back to watch in the next couple days!
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
We are doing so great here, and absolutely taking it all in. I think it will take me years to process and try to describe everything that has happened so far, needless to say, it has been life changing already. The people are amazing and the amount of situations and experiences that are heart touching and heart wrenching are endless. Several moments stand out in my mind- one I will never forget was pulling up to the transition home. The intensity and nerves in that van could have run it without diesel. Before we went in we all held hands and prayed, a moment I will NEVER forget. As the doors opened and the parents of the older children walked in, all you could hear was "mommy", "daddy"......again a sound I will never forget. These children came running into their parents arms and never turned back, they now had a mommy and daddy and the smiles have been endless ever since.
We each got to take turns as our babies were brought out. As if we were not already in tears with our hearts swollen to the most, after witnessing the older children, God continued to swell our hearts with love and gratitude as we watched each family united with their babies. Again, a moment I will never forget.
Yesterday we got to go back and get our children for good, again- amazing! Just as I think I have pulled myself together this week, another life moment gets us. Saying good-bye to the nannies, the gate man, the nurse and the older children who are staying was almost more than I could take. The gate man LOVES Selam/Gabrielle and she "lit up" whenever he was near. I did not know at one moment what she was so excited about, she started smiling and wiggling and waving her little hands and feet. I looked over and the gate man and he was snapping and smiling at her. I cant recall his name right now, but we recorded him giving Gabrielle a video message that was being translated so she can always remember him. He was like a daddy figure to her and he cried when we said good-bye. He told her his hope was that one day he would see her again. Summed up- It was wonderful, beautiful and heart-wrenching, all at the same time. Tears of joy, tears of
compassion, tears of gratitude, tears of sadness, and tears of hope.
Since then we have gotten to spend time with our little girl. She is the sweetest little thing. She smiled and giggled for us yesterday AND started babbling- which they told us she did not do at the transition home. She is such a baby to us, and can already see her progress and personality coming out. She is a treasure and a love, and she is already so attached to us. AMAZING! Oh, and did I mention how beautiful she is? Those eyes and that little mouth and her hair!!! I love it all.
So, here we are today, blessed by a success at the embassy and looking forward to tomorrow where we get to go to the orphanage she was first brought to. Also we are going to see a dear friend of ours little boy. They were referred him several weeks ago and he was moved to their transition home with another agency. We get the privilage of bringing him the first coorespondance from his family, a letter, a photo album and the amazing news that he indeed has a family who wants him and already loves him sooooooo much! This should be another one for the books!
Monday, June 9, 2008
Sunday, June 8, 2008
sitting in the tarmack due to storms, but otherwise it
Took some time to get through the airport in Addis,
but that was to be expected. We are so excited and
happy to finally be here, it is almost surreal. '
The other families are awesome, we are going to have a
great week. THanks for your prayers, we will be back
soon with pictures!
Friday, June 6, 2008
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Our friends and family and blog-world friends: You are all so important and special to us and this part of the process would never have been so rewarding and deal-able (I know that is not really a word, mom don't call me on that :) without all of you. Sometimes just looking forward to reading your e-mails and posts was what made everything "fun". Your prayers and commitment to friendship and faith has blown both Pete and I away, and I am really touched by the world of people who are out there. I invite you all to join us on our trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We will be blogging as much as possible and would love to give you all a look into what we are doing, seeing, feeling, etc. These may be my famous last words. I realize the power, the new baby, the sleep, the (hopefully not) stomach issues, may make it tougher to blog, but we will give it everything we got. Here is the schedule of what we are doing:
Saturday night- leave
Sunday night- arrive
Monday - morning shop
afternoon **seeing Gabrielle for the first time**
Tuesday- Take Gabrielle with us
Wednesday- Embassy appt.
Thursday- visit orphanages, etc
Friday night- Leave
Saturday morning- ARRIVE HOME