Outside Play Videos

And now that I've figured out how to use the video option on the picture camera, I'm loving it!!! Here we are outside:

Blue Day

Our next color was blue!

We did a blue sky project and added white puffy clouds and planes and helicopters to the picture.

"Just a dot - not a lot!"

We ended the day with a blue tub (thanks to Sesame Street Fizzy Tub Colors). The boys LOVED the blue water!

Red Day

We are talking about colors for the next couple of weeks and we started things off with red!

We started the morning off by making red jello: Then we went on a hunt for red items in the house. I'm not sure if John Eyob is showing me the handle is red or if he just wants to play with Play Dough!And this is a completely posed photo. I totally told Ryan Ephrem to point at these bags!
Playing with red balloons (we LOVE balloons):
Coloring with red crayons on small pieces of cardboard:Trying our red jello at snack time after nap:

You can't tell by the pictures, but they did enjoy the jello!

Thoughts and Discoveries

* There is nothing better than watching two little boys sleep at night - one because they are not moving and two because you are overwhelmed by how blessed you are.
* There is nothing like being called "Mommy" (or in my case
"Mommy-a") by your own children.
* There is not better picture than two smiling boys, smiling simply because they are happy.
* Nothing sounds better in our house than children's laughter and running feet.
* When the train lets out, it is a great time to watch out the window for "mock-e-naws": * It is okay if the television is on in both the living room and the playroom with nobody watching it (because as soon as it gets turned off, a little hand will turn it back on!).
* It takes a few days to establish a routine.
* When restarting the computer, check to make sure the volume is turned back down.
* It's hilarious to wear Mommy and Daddy's slippers:* Walks outside should last a looooong time simply because there are so many things to stop and look at.
* Ryan Ephrem likes bananas and grapes but John Eyob only likes grapes (Eyob no bananas Mommy-a!).
* Clementines are fun (and easy) for little boys to peel.
* John Eyob is great a seeing something and then doing it himself. This is his version of Uncle Don, Sami, Maddy, Gramma, and Bompa riding in Gramma's car (drawn after Mike drew a picture of it first):
* John Eyob and I put this alphabet puzzle together one afternoon. I would give him the next piece, telling him the letter and naming the picture. the next day, he spent over 20 minutes working on this and only asked for and needed a little help at the end:
* Socks can double as hand puppets:* Lots of things can wait until tomorrow.
* The first week home is really, really hard but then everything starts to get a lot easier.
* There are big melt downs and mini meltdowns. This is a mini melt down over have to come inside for dinner, no-bones-boy lying on the kitchen floor:* This is his younger brother who thought it would be funny to imitate his older brother and lay on the floor too:* Cuddling after nap time is one of my favorite times. And I know it won't last forever.
* The bottom of the slide is called the 'window'- "Stand at the window, Mommy-a!"
* The boys love setting the table.
* There is slight confusion over 'garbage' being throw out and 'dirty' clothes which are washed. ("Oh, garbage Mommy'a" as dirty clothes are but in the laundry basket.
* The word the biys know for shoes is 'jama.' What must they have thought the first bedtime when we said we are putting out 'pajamas' on!
* Pretending to sleep in a box is a great photo opportunity:* Pretending to sleep on the back of the cough like Scout is another great photo opportunity:
* It is amazing how many hundreds (literally!) of people have been part of our adoption journey - that's a lot of joy to share!!

Our Dancing Boys

The boys LOVE the CD "African Playground" and it was playing the other night. These videos show off their dance moves! Mommy used the video feature on the picture camera for the first time and realized you can't turn the camera sideways! (I have tried to get the boys to dance again but nothing was as cute as this. So you might want to tilt your head to the left to view the videos.) You might wonder when Ryan Ephrem has socks on his hands - or maybe not! - he helped me fold the laundry, which entails his handing me one item at a time from the dryer to fold. I love it! he found Daddy's socks and came up with the idea to put them on his hands and make them talk like puppets. If you know my and Mike's connection to puppets, you'll know how great that is!

3/16/10 - One Month Gotcha Day Anniversary!

I seriously cannot believe it has been one month since we "got" the boys!!! What an amazing, challenging, joy filled, exhausting, wonderful different daily discoveries, flown by month it has been! Here's a brief overview:

Week One - It's all about survival baby, both for us and the boys!! lots of meltdowns as the boys learn what is okay and what is not okay, have to share, and don't like being told no - regular kid stuff, hum? Establishing a routine takes a few days (because it's not a routine on the first day, is it?) Mike was figuring out how to sleep during the day (he works third shift) with two boys in the house and I was fighting a TERRIBLE cold. By the end of the week though the boys seem to be getting into the swing of life here: the realize they can color or play in the play room first thing after coming downstairs in the morning. I still spend most of my time watching everything they do because I don't trust them not to get into something they shouldn't!! And thank you Tracy and Geralyn for the play date that first week! Doctor visits and blood drawn this week - both boys are totally healthy - PRAISE GOD!

Week Two: By the end of this week John Eyob is understanding almost everything we are saying to him or asking him to do - WOW! I make my first trek to the grocery store with the boys. They love the shopping cart mock-e-naws (don't know how to spell it but it's Amharic for car) and we only buy about six items at two different stores but it is a success! We also try a few different projects involving gluing, cutting, and coloring on big pieces of poster board. I even have a few moments a day, while the boys are awake, to check email and the Yahoo Group!

Week Three: The weather is nice enough to get outside and the boys LOVE it! And they seem to have been home long enough that they are not running out of our yard and into the street. We have established consistent days we take tubs (which they could stay in for hours), which day of the week we run errands (note to self: always make the post office the first stop and not the last), and an approximate time for daily naps. And I am not completely exhausted at nap and bedtimes. I even make it to 9:30pm a couple of times! John Eyob has a dentist appointment this week (lots of decay, eight cavities in all). Kids Dentists will become great friends as we schedule the first four of eight appointments to remove, cap, and crown teeth.

Week Four: The boys are really understanding what we are saying. John Eyob is beginning to carry on basic conversations and Ryan Ephrem is super at repeating words. They play and act silly. They ask questions to verify when we are doing what (especially John Eyob). They are happy! Ryan Ephrem has his dentist appointment and wasn't too excited about opening his mouth. But the doctor gets a chance to look inside (and he was screaming) and things look MUCH better than his brother so we don't need to come back for six months.

One month down - a life time to go!

March Fun Around the House

Silly boys! This is how Scout, my cat of over 10 years, spends (or tries to spend) most of her time:
This is how the boys approach her:
And this is how they gently pet her:

If you know me and my cat you were probably totally surprised by those pictures! To say Scout is a bit of a scared-y cat would be an understatement. It took years for her to come downstairs when people visited! However, she seems to know the boys are here for good and tolerates their attentions.

This picture is after our first day grocery shopping (and I use the term grocery shopping loosely - we went to two stores and only got about half a dozen items at each). John Eyob has a paid for sticker on his forehead. Each boy received one at the store!

Thank you Ms. Doreen for the yummy Pez dispensers - we loved them!

Building with legos and so proud of how tall they are:

Resting on the cough snuggled in the blankets made by our friends Dannah and Aria:

Gives a whole nother meaning to the phrase "coke head":

John Eyob showing off all the chips he threaded on a pipe cleaner:

Our first experience with painting:

And then painting our nails:

Monkey see, monkey do:

Ryan Ephrem loves to get the oven mitts out of the kitchen drawer and wear them. It totally cracks him up:

Playing with toys from Uncle Don:

Ethiopia and USA - Day 6 & 7 - Traveling Home!

Our flight out of Addis left at 10:15pm so we were picked up to be driven to the airport at about 6:30pm. On the advice our my friend Kim who had traveled to Ethiopia earlier this year to get her two precious children, after checking in and going through all security check points, we found dour gate and waited outside it until about 45 minutes before. There are no bathrooms and water beyond this point and it was GREAT advice. And thanks to the help of some of our wonderful traveling families, we were able to get all our luggage checked in and through all the lines and our boys remained relatively happy.

Once on the plane with the seat belts on was another story! As we had been warned, they DID NOT like the seat belts and let the entire plane know it by screaming bloody murder! However, our children were not the only unhappy children, so I didn't feel all that bad!! Once the seat belt light went off, things got much better and once they fell asleep, they were great:

Ryan Ephrem discovering the music on his MP3 player. Our friend Emily downloaded hours of children's songs and the boys LOVED listening to them!

Looking out the window at Dulles:

Getting through security at Dulles was a less than enjoyable experience as the original directions I was given to get myself and the boys through the metal detector were not specific enough and add to the fact that John Eyob took off running and then all four of us had to walk through the metal detector again - it was not my finest moment!
After that it was off with two other traveling friends to Fundruckers for cheeseburgers (the boys loved them) and Ben and Jerry's for ice cream (Ryan was asleep by then, John didn't like it all that much but we think it might be because it hurt his teeth, and Mommy so needed some chocolate!)

This picture is right before the start of a melt down:

But, yeah, then everyone was happy:

John Eyob shares his MP3 player with our special friend Ms. Linda. She traveled with her daughter and our travel buddy friend Alice as Alice picked up her forever daughter. She was a TREMENDOUS help as John enjoyed holding her hand right and thus stopping a melt down!

The flight from Dulles to O'Hare was only about an hour and a half - a piece of cake. And you will notice lots of pictures of John as this flight went MUCH BETTER!

John discovering the music with the headphones. He LOVED pushing the button on the arm rest to change the station!


Watching the planes and cars out the window after landing in Chicago:

Family and friends were there at the airport to welcome us home and rejoice with us! And I cannot begin to put into words, and am chocked up even typing this, what it was like to be carrying our babies down the stairs as our family and friends, with balloons and signs and video cameras, ran toward us!! We were so excited to share this moment with so many who had prayed and supported and encouraged us through this process!

A few hours after arriving home, showing the boys around the house, and giving them a tub (which they LOVED once they got the concept of sitting down. We think they had only had showers before), my family came over for dinner, to visit with the boys, and see our video.

A surprise from my Mom and sister Sarah:

Thought/Advice to those coming after us:
1. Definitely take our friend Kim's advise and wait outside the gate at Addis until the last possible moment.
2. Airplane Bathroom FYIs for those traveling to adopt older children - we heard that most children were frightened by the toilet flush on the airplane (our oldest however loved it and thought it was hilarious!) so our plane was to open the door and then flush. We didn't need to though. Our oldest also had no problem telling us when he needed the bathroom and then waiting in line. Our youngest guy was in pull ups and we suggest using the back middle bathroom - there is a big mirror and our guy stood on the closed toilet seat looking at himself in the mirror while I changed his pull up. (Can you tell where lots of our concern was in regard to the flight!)
3. On the plane ride, just remember you will eventually get home!!
4. Don't worry about inviting friends and family to the airport. Our boys loved it.
5. We were unbelievably blessed to have had meals brought to us every other day for the first three weeks plus friends who gave us frozen meals. This was AWESOME!!!!! I was horribly sick the first week and a half home and not having to figure out what was going to be for dinner was such a blessing. But even more than that, our friends got a change to hang out with the boys for a little bit! If you are reading this blog and have friends who are adopting, remember to bring them a meal when they get home!!