Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thank you for my home!

Thanksgiving. A time to reflect on the blessings of the year, a time to celebrate with friends and family, a time as pastor Pat puts it to examine ways I have been a blessing to others. This year has been an amazing experience! I am so very thankful to have Joseph and Jacob home for the holidays. As we look forward to Christmas, I can't help but remember this time last year when my heart yearned to be in Ethiopia with my boys. A time of great expectation, sorrow, and overwhelming joy. No, they were not home for the American celebrations, but instead in God's perfect timing were here for the Ethiopian Christmas celebration. I know each emotion well and so I know the journey many others are on at this very moment. I still feel that a part of my heart is in Ethiopia. I hurt for each of you waiting for that phone call/e-mail for travel.

I must offer up praise to my son Joseph in this post. Thanksgiving dinner was before us and my sister asked who would offer the blessing. In a room full of adults, Joseph spoke up and said he would pray. I think I held my breath for a minute (you never know what is coming!) but became the proud Mama as he began to quietly sing "God Our Father," a song he has learned at school. As the song came to an end he paused and then added, "and thank you for my home." Kind of puts it all in perspective and lets me know that he gets it. That it's not about all of the toys and other things in life. Yes Lord, thank you for my home! Thank you that I had the courage to say yes to your calling down this road. Thank you for each ounce of strength you afford me and for the opportunity to raise these boys in the home you called their own from the very beginning of their lives!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Happy 2nd birthday Jacob!

Jacob celebrated his 2nd birthday last Monday, 11-7. The day was filled with emotion as I reflected to a year ago when I was in Ethiopia for the first time meeting him and Joseph. We met on the 8th of November 2010 and the only regret is that I did not know he was celebrating a birthday at that time. The day started with a big smile as I sang happy birthday to him. Joseph was quite excited at that time also but quickly became jealous over the attention and told me I hadn't given him a party:) to which I pulled out the pictures and video to remind him of his celebration. Though Jacob wouldn't get out of my lap to open his gifts he quickly got into opening presents and immediately began to play. We celebrated after work and school at our favorite restaurant, Margarita House. There were more presents with his sisters, brother-in-law, and nieces and nephew. Have I mentioned he has a new niece?? Born 9-12, Ms Emmalynn is the light of his life. He just loves holding her, saying her name, and touching her head and hands! The birthday celebration wrapped up on Saturday with a Thomas party and some friends and lots of family showering him with attention. He was hesitant to blow out the birthday candles and began eating his cake prim and proper with a fork, ending with hands and a slap to both sides of his face.

Jacob is in his big boy bed now and is doing quite nicely, having stayed in bed every night since this transition. His teacher at school is frequently reminding me how smart this little guy is. He is counting, trying to say his ABC's, and reading! Yes, reading! The children's names are on the back of each chair. At snack time he pulls the chairs out, reads the name, and places it at the appropriate place at the table! My little genius boy he is. Oh, and there hasn't been anymore biting since the ear tubes were placed. Perhaps my theory was correct and he was biting to relieve the pressure in his ears. Love that boy! Happy birthday little man!!

At Margarita House
With sister Kathy
Some of his birthday loot!
Wrestling with nephew Colten
You might say he enjoyed the birthday cake!

Friday, November 4, 2011

October update

Wow, I can't believe how far behind I am. It seems that time is just flying. In fact, one year ago this coming Tuesday I met the boys for the first time on my court trip to Ethiopia! So hard to believe. We have come so far and yet have so far to go. I struggle daily with the demands of two small boys as a single parent. The first thing every morning I pray for patience to wake them, rush them off to school, and head to work. Then on the way to school each afternoon the prayer becomes endurance for the remainder of the day. I am 49 years young now, and some days I feel every bit of it! At the same time I have begun to wrestle with God over the desire to go back to Ethiopia for more children!! How that can possibly happen only God knows. He knows I do not have the financial resources for more in daycare nor the room in my car for more car seats, and so the answer is adopt older. As much as my heart yearns to follow through and fill my house to the brim, I find myself in the same place I was in two years ago, only this time my eyes are perhaps a bit wider to the reality this brings. So, I pray and wait.

The month of October was very busy. On Oct. 15th we went to the Shrine Circus and the boys got a taste of clowns, elephant rides, pony rides, souvenirs, and lots of junk food. The 16th we went to the pumpkin patch and enjoyed an afternoon with the boys' classmates. They went on a hay ride (minus the hay), worked their way through mazes, fed and saw many animals, and played with and on a variety of other things. Not to mention their first taste at trick-or-treating. I must say that I have the cutest Batman and Robin on the planet! Halloween was quite a treat as they went door to door and ended the evening at a neighbor's house for a Halloween party. I do believe America became even more enjoyable with this night alone!

November began with a bang for Jacob. After literally weeks of recurrent ear infections and issues with his asthma he was referred to an ENT and on 11-2 had ear tubes placed and an adenoidectomy. Prayers were answered as he sailed through the surgery without breathing complications, but perhaps the hardest moment in my life (well, in a lot of years) was when they carried him away from me toward the OR and I watched him flailing and reaching and screaming Mommy. We are two days post-op now and the swelling is residing and pain seems some better. He is quite cranky, but after reading the operative report I can understand why.

We now look forward to the winter holidays. Joseph asks almost every day if it is going to snow and today he asked when Christmas would be here. He seems to remember our Ethiopian celebration last year and has begun circling most every toy in every catalog in hopes that Santa will bring them his way. Jacob turns two years old on 11-7 so I hope to post again sooner rather than later. I plan to put his big boy bed up soon as he is trying to scale the side of the crib every morning! Yes, we have come so far. This little boy who came home wearing 12-18 month clothes is now in 3T. He is coming out with more words every day and I expect once his hearing normalizes he will be talking up a blue streak. Though he has begun having issues with biting in school again (after 2 months without) he is doing well and shows how smart he is every day, counting while breathing in his albuterol and singing his abcs. Joseph is doing well in school and seems to be catching on more every day. He still refuses to call himself Joseph, referring to himself instead as Yosef Tyler Shinkle. Oh well. If that is the part of his identity so important to him, than so be it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Mommy

One more thing I just remembered and had to include. After many days at Ft. Myers Beach, Kathy and I decided to celebrate my birthday on Sanibel Island. Joseph had been viewing this island from the beach for days and desperately wanted to go. This is the video Kathy got on our drive. Absolutely precious...


Well, if you read Jacob's post then all of the beginning stuff applies here also. Joseph is doing well, though I am afraid he is silently troubled...more on that later.

This guy who came home at 37.5 inches and weighed 33.5 pounds  has finally begun to grow and is now up to 39.3 inches and 37 pounds. His August visit to the pediatrician also resulted in a diagnosis of giardia. I was not at all surprised as his appetite has been horrible. Then, there is the stinky poop that required a gas mask to enter the bathroom within 30 minutes of his visits. This was only the second treatment for Joseph and based on his improved appetite and less frequent visits to the potty, it was successful. We will re-test soon. Joseph has caught up on vaccinations and does not return to the doctor until next year. His dental visit went well with two teeth beginning to show signs of decay, so lots of extra brushing going on in the back. Other than a few minor colds, Joseph has been quite healthy.

After a lot of thought and weeks of driving to two different locations twice a day, I made the decision to move Joseph to Smyrna Christian School with Jacob. I struggled because he was so adjusted there. He had two fluffy African American teachers who were wonderful, not to mention all of his friends. I find it so important to keep some contact with his own race and so this created the most difficulty in my decision to move him. But, I am happy to report that he is settling into his pre-k class and quickly making new friends. He proudly displays his accomplishments daily and is slowly learning to write his name as he puts the letters of the alphabet to practice.

This is where we struggle. There have been reports of Joseph twisting his friends arm, hitting his friends, and kicking the bathroom wall while in daycare. Then, there is the heartbreaking tale of several weeks ago. We were having a great day...kicked back, watching his favorite movie "Tangled" and eating popcorn....when out of the blue came this question: "Mommy, will YOU ever leave me?" Oh my! I talked through the adoption and that he was with me forever and thought things were soothed over. At bedtime I could tell he was still troubled and so I said, "Joseph, you do know that your Emiyet in Ethiopia loved you very much, don't you?"Well, that did it and the flood gates burst open. I sat in the bed and explained why he was left in the orphanage and how glad I was that he was with me and we cried. There were several days of unsettled emotion but for now he has quieted the outward display. It is the inward that worries me. This sweet, quiet child that others can't believe would behave inappropriately is angry. I hope to speak with the doctor at his next appointment to see about counseling.

Joseph loved absolutely everything about the trip to the beach. He kept my daughter Kathy and I quite entertained with statements on the drive such as, "Florida sure is a LONG way" and "Mama, I'm afraid of the water" as we passed over a bridge. Joseph, I asked, why are you afraid of the water? "Because I can't swim" he replied with a hint of duh. He played happily in the water and sand, picked mangos from his PawPaw's tree, made a hole-in-one on his first shot at the putt putt golf course, and bonded quite nicely with his PawPaw. There are so many pictures I could share, but here are a few favorites.

In general:
As with Jacob, I am sure there are things I am leaving out, but that is the beauty of this method of entry as I can always add later!

This boy loves him some mango!
Playing in the rain while at Shell Factory Nature Park seemed to remind him of a time in Ethiopia
PawPaw couldn't wait to get Joseph in his golf cart and drive him around

Catching up with Jacob

As it has been a while since I last posted,  I figure each of the boys deserves his own post to catch up. August was a wonderful though busy month. Jacob warmed up nicely to his big brother David and enjoyed as much playtime as we could squeeze in before he returned to Hawaii. We celebrated his niece Kensley's 4th birthday, saw the pediatrician and dentist, and went on the first family vacation!

Medical: Hard to believe how much Jacob has grown. He began in January at 31 inches and 23.4 pounds and is now 35 inches and 28.9 pounds! This despite the giardia...yes, he tested positive again. I was a little surprised as he has been asymptomatic but we treated and will re-test later this month. He has about caught up on vaccinations (PTL) and was not scheduled to return to the pediatrician until November. The dental appointment went better this time. He hates having his teeth brushed and this was no exception.
Jacob contracted hand, foot, and mouth disease at daycare and let me tell you, that was no fun. I have never seen this before. He began with fever and within 24hrs was covered in blisters. He is still peeling from this infection three weeks ago and will definitely have scars resulting. Everything including his little mouth was blistered, so we got some real time to bond and attach further as the only thing comforting was my arms (and ibuprofen, though I like to take credit).
He began coughing last Friday and when I picked him up on Tuesday I wasn't sure I would make it to the hospital in time to prevent a full fledged asthma attack. After a couple of hours, ibuprofen, steroids, and albuterol we were released from the emergency department. Follow-up with the pediatrician was today and he has now crossed the threshold with steroids and is labeled asthmatic. Hopefully the addition of daily zyrtec and inhaled steroids will get a handle quickly on this illness.

Daycare: Here is the other point of interest for this guy. So, after much prayer he began a new daycare the 22nd of August and is doing wonderfully. To catch you up, he was asked to leave the first daycare because of biting. This behavior continued in a home setting so I had no real expectations for improvement. After speaking in length to the director and finding his classroom size to be quadruple that at La Petite with only five other students max, he began Smyrna Christian School. I am beyond thrilled to report that there have been zero incidents of biting and he seems to be adjusting well!!

The start of a very long drive to Florida
Vacation: We traveled by car to Ft. Myers, Florida to continue the tradition of celebrating my birthday on the beach. Jacob did quite well traveling with his DVD player and driving by night as much as possible. He was not a fan of the ocean as the waves were up due to lots of rain, but he loved the sand up to and including eating it! I know, this boy is just not right:) He even took his cheese stick and rolled it in the sand for more and discovered that a sea shell makes a nice spoon for dipping!! Despite that (and the fact that he got sick two days into the vacation), we enjoyed a week stay and he won his PawPaw's heart. This has been a long prayer as my Dad was not a fan of the adoption, especially with the color difference, but these two became quick buddies.

In general: It seems I am likely missing some important detail, but for now I will close with the promise to update on Joseph later today. It's hard to believe that a year ago I was in the midst of fundraising to bring this little guy home. God is good indeed!!

Though a little blurry, I love this picture made during a rain storm while we visited the Shell Factory Nature Park.
Leaving dinner with his new best buddy!

This was the usual expression when we tried to get him in the water!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

July update

Wow, where has the month gone. After beginning the month with the boys feeling horrible it seems as if I have blinked and we are heading into August. It has been a month of more adjustments as I was asked by the director at La Petite to find another place for Jacob to  attend (due to the biting). After brief moments of panic I texted a dear friend who agreed to keep him in her home until (or if) I make other arrangements. He is happily playing with her Jacob every day which is fabulous, except for the drive all over Smyrna twice a day. Joseph has an evaluation for pre-K in the public school system this week. If he is accepted I will possibly move them both at that time. I  am hoping a nanny I was referred to will work out and they can spend their days at home and eliminate my driving. But for now, both are quite content.
The big news for the month is that big brother David is home! We met him at the airport and Joseph couldn't wait to jump in his arms. Jacob was a bit reserved until David came over to the house and then I suppose he figured he was okay because he ran to the car to greet him and jumped in his arms.

Finally meeting his big brother David!

We had family pictures made by my son-in-law and that was quite a disaster :) Jacob screamed essentially every time we sat down to take a picture. The other children ran and played in the rocks and then wiped their hands down the fronts of their white shirts. It was nearly 100 degrees so everyone was soaked with sweat. Nevertheless, we got a few keepers!

All the kids and grandkids!

My five children!!!


Perhaps my favorite, with Joseph and myself clearly showing our lack of support for Jacob's fit

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Snotting and sneezing, coughing and wheezing

After nearly a month of come and go symptoms since starting daycare, I finally took the boys to the doctor yesterday praying for some relief. None of us have slept well in over a week due to the persistent cough at night. Diagnosis for Joseph is a double ear and sinus infection. Jacob has walking pneumonia. There had previously been no fevers, but Jacob awoke cranky and febrile this morning. So, after many months we are enjoying some one-on-one time while Joseph attends "school." He is just precious as an only child:)
Update on the biting is that it continues to happen but with less frequency. They are continuing to work with him and moved him to the two year old class this week hoping that would help. He promptly bit a child his age in the face and I was called to pick him up! I truly don't get it as he does not act that way anywhere else. Not that he hasn't bitten, but he certainly doesn't go on the hunt for his next victim. The doctor had several suggestions, all of which I am sure won't be tried because they involve physically restraining him or putting him in time out.
The fourth of July was celebrated most of the weekend (or as Joseph calls it "America's birthday." These two haven't been up past dark since the night they came home and wondered I'm sure why they were sitting in the middle of a grassy field with hundreds of other people. They both sat transfixed as the fireworks lit the night with Jacob promptly falling asleep once in the car. We spent the 4th at my sisters for a cookout and swimming. Jacob would have nothing to do with the "big pool" but Joseph took off in his water wings. He even attempted to swim when I allowed him to take them off for a minute. Guess swimming lessons are in order for next summer.
We await the arrival of my oldest son next week. He is now safely out of Iraq and back in Hawaii, traveling home next week. Joseph is so cute as he says "David on an airoplane, coming to America!" That's all he has to relate flying to and seems very excited to meet his big brother. Following that visit is the CCI reunion and the long awaited beach trip.
That's the quick update for now as I would be plain silly not to take advantage of a mid-afternoon nap.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A big hurdle

Well, we have finished up two weeks of daycare now and I wish I could say all is well. There were some major stressors week one as Jacob refused to eat and Joseph refused to sleep for the first two to three days. They were both exhausted by the end of the week and seemed to delight in punishing me every moment we were together.
Joseph has done remarkably well adjusting to his "school" and seems now to be settling into a routine.  I believe it was day two that I was one of the last mothers to arrive and heard him sobbing from the moment I walked in the door. When I got to him he was full body hysterical saying "but my mama." When he saw me he all but collapsed saying he didn't think I was coming back. I knew he was reminded of the orphanage from our first visit but had no idea he would be so affected. We now have the same conversation every morning as I reassure him that I will be back after work. He is now sleeping and delights in telling me "I took a nap" as soon as I arrive. He has already advanced to a new class because of his 4th birthday and now has a fluffy African American teacher and a best friend Kayla. Besides the fact that he has a head full of congestion and has been coughing non-stop for three days, he is doing very well and looks forward to his time at school.
Jacob is another story. Praise God we have now advanced past his spending every moment at home crying and saying "no" to everything I do. He has cried every day but two when I leave him but greets me with a big "MAMA" and a hug and kiss every afternoon. He is now eating and continues to nap, though a much shorter and earlier nap than he is used to. I know that the reaction to being left is age appropriate but I was nevertheless very excited when he hopped down, said goodbye, and went about playing on Thursday...without a tear. The big issue is a BIG issue as he has begun biting his friends to get what he wants. Now, anyone who has been around this child knows this is not new. You can look at his crib from Ethiopia and know he has issues with chewing and biting.
He even has some chipping to his teeth from his days as a beaver. Even this is age a point. However, he bit other children six times in three days this past week. He bit the same child three times, once on the face. So on Friday I had the conversation with the director that they were doing all they could but he would not be able to stay there if he didn't stop. I am beside myself knowing how to stop a behavior that they won't even use timeout for when I am not around. I also dread the thought of having to uproot Joseph yet again because of his little brother. So, I pray and ask that others do the same.

On another note entirely I have now received the boys new social security cards with names changed, have submitted forms to health and life insurance, and sent in paperwork for the new certificate of citizenship. I cannot believe that these two have only been here six months and life has settled to the point it has. I think frequently to a year ago when I had received (and lost) their referral and was wondering what God's plan was in this crazy adoption adventure. For all who continue to wait, know that every step of the journey is a part of God's plan that will soon make sense. Even what we now face I realize will ultimately be for the best. Even if that means starting the search all over again.
Yes, his teeth did that damage

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Birthday and more

We celebrated Joseph's 4th birthday the second time with a Diego party on May 15th with family and friends. Despite the cool, drizzly weather we enjoyed some grilled burgers, cake, ice cream, and lots of presents.  Just as the smile of a bride cannot be recreated after her wedding day, Joseph did not share that big smile for his birthday party day. I think perhaps he was a bit overwhelmed by all of the attention but he got right into the act of tearing presents open and couldn't decide which new toy to play with first.
Blowing out the birthday candles. He actually got excited and blew them out before we finished singing, so we had to light them back up for the picture

Jacob quite enjoyed the birthday cake!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sneak peak

Joseph turned four years old yesterday. I have so much to be thankful for as we celebrate yet another milestone. His birth mom was on my mind a do you ever thank someone for giving the ultimate gift. We are celebrating with a Diego party on Sunday so many pics will follow. However, I couldn't wait to show off the look that did not leave his face from the moment I first said Happy Birthday! That was a solemn moment, let me tell you. As he repeated "Happy Birthday, Joseph????" Yes son, the first of many happy birthdays to come.

Mother's Day

Wonderful day spent with the children and grandchildren. After church we went to Olive Garden where the older three children surprised me with a new mother's ring complete with the stones of all five children! We then went shopping for above ground swimming pools. Joseph declared the other day, "Mama, I need this!" Seems he and I need to learn the difference between his needs and his wants:)
Amy, Kathy, Jacob, and Joseph. Now to get David home from Iraq and make a full family photo!
What a special day...

Child Dedication

Joseph and Jacob were dedicated to the Lord in a service at LifePoint Church May 7, 2011. What a tender time...despite the boys being sick with a virus and running high fevers. In attendance were my daughters Kathy and Amy, granddaughter Kensley, sister Terri and her family, friends Tina and Jeff. These, and others who could not attend, committed to bringing these boys up to know God, promised to support me and be an ever source of encouragement, and above all vowed to love Joseph and Jacob as they learn to seek the Lord in their daily walks.
This was the first picture as they tried to figure out what we were doing
They were so cute that they got a couple of pictures by themselves!
A precious moment captured during prayer
With Pastor Pat Hood

Not bad, considering they have never been in front of a professional photographer.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

They are mine....again!

In a document signed April 21, 2011, Yosef Debra Shinkle officially became Joseph Tyler Shinkle and Yabsera Debra Shinkle became Jacob Yabsera Shinkle! This time according to the laws of adoption in the state of Tennessee these two little guys are mine all over again. As soon as the new birth certificates arrive I get to re-trace steps to get new social security cards, new certificates of citizenship, and insurance changed over. The process was a bit anti-climatic after the past year plus of getting them home. After a  meeting with the attorney two weeks ago tomorrow, she filed the necessary paperwork and filed everything with court. No hurrah, no least from their end!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Good news in April

Finally, finally the end of April brings good news. After four rounds of three different medications, Jacob's giardia has finally cleared! Poor little guy...despite it all he continues to gain weight...a litte over three pounds since coming home. He has also had another four teeth come in (of course all four at the same time) and can now eat almost anything safely. It has been so fun this month as his little personality has really developed. He giggles at almost anything (though he can still throw a tantrum with the best of them) and tries to repeat most words said to him.

His weight has held steady since mid-February but he is definitely getting taller. Joseph speaks 98% English now! We always sit and talk over dinner with me talking and trying desperately to understand what he is saying. One night it was as if someone had flipped a light switch and we were having a real conversation. So fun especially because he has the cutest high pitched accent mixed with a Tennessee drawl. He is playing Smart Start baseball. He has had two practices and a scrimmage and the smile has not left his face. He still doesn't get a lot of why he is doing what he is doing but he loves it.

Finally, as we prepared for Easter we visited the Easter bunny and I explained that there would be toys and candy left for them in a basket. In Walmart the Saturday before Easter Joseph said "Mama, I lika chocolate" (yes the "a" is intentional). That is his now favorite thing to say about anything...I lika this and I lika that. The boys will be dedicated in church next weekend and lets not forget the big 4th birthday Diego celebration coming up in just a couple of weeks. I will desperately try to update again soon. In the meantime, below are a few of my favorite pictures from Easter.

My two handsome men!
Jacob is a complete grump when you wake hime up...nevertheless, I love this picture
Minus one son and one grandson, but here is the rest of the family

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Busy March

I have found it incredibly hard to keep up with the blog now that I have returned to work. The good news is that the boys love spending time with Amy while I work and usually run to her house in the morning. There were (and still are) a few tears from time to time, but both seem to realize when they wake and see me in my work clothes what the day will bring.
Each continues to grow and change dramatically from day to day. Joseph is now using sentences composed of primarily English. What he doesn't know he mutters instead of mixing with Amharic. Jacob has hit his terrible twos (at 16 months) and knows how to throw a beautiful, text-book temper tantrum. We are all enjoying the spring weather and spending as much time outdoors as we can squeeze in. They both saw the audiologist this week. Joseph passed his hearing screen with flying colors. Jacob has mild hearing loss in the right ear due to fluid so I expect a call and visit to the doctor next week to evaluate for an ear infection. He has pulled on that ear since right after coming home but it always seems clear. Guess we wll meet an ENT if it still appears normal.
Most exciting for the month have been the many birthdays and parties. Nephew Colten turned 5, big sister Kathy and brother Steven turned 29, and Granddaddy turned 98! They met Chuck-e-cheese himself at Colten's party and acted as if they had participated in that craziness all their lives. Since then we have been back to Chick-fil-A for a reunion (a fundraiser was held there) and they met the cow. I guess the Easter bunny is definitely on our list for this year.
I hope to catch up more later but that is the quick update. Busy, busy, busy!

Joseph and his 98 year old Great-Grandfather. He immediately stole his heart (and won a ride around on the scooter)
Jacob didn't care so much for the ride but chased everyone else through the house instead. I love that the color of skin faded as Granddaddy watched these two play and participated a bit himself!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Just had to share

Had to share this poem written by a dear friend of mine...

God's Plan

I heard the Lord speak to me
as I was worshiping one day.
I know the plans I have for you...
now listen and obey.”

What is it Lord? I humbly prayed,
that You would have me do?
Leave your home and cross the sea.
I have two sons for you!

Step out in faith and follow Me,
remembering you will never be alone.
For I go before you preparing the way
to bring My children home.

As I've journeyed this road less traveled;
I've watched in amazement and awe
as every hurdle and obstacle that threatened
began to crumble and fall!

Two more sons the Lord has given to me;
two sons I have now brought home.
I look at their precious little faces and know
My family, faith, and love have all grown.

Give me the wisdom to raise them, Lord
as You would have me to;
that they may learn of Your love for them,
and return that love to You.

Jeremiah 29:11
In honor of Debbie, Joseph,
and Jacob Shinkle
Sandy Minor
February, 2011

Friday, February 18, 2011

Valentine's Week

What a busy week! Boys to the doctor on Tuesday, first trip to the zoo Wednesday, first trip to the park on Thursday, and a first birthday party tomorrow! Wow, thank you Lord for this beautiful weather you have blessed us with this week before I return to work. Though I had planned on going in a couple of days this week that was not to be, so we have made the most of every day.
Doctor's visit - Joseph gained 1 1/2 pounds and as expected had no upward growth (yet). He received four vaccinations and a TB skin test and began zyrtec for his runny nose/wheezing as a trial run. Jacob gained 1.2 pounds and grew an inch and a half! No wonder all of his clothes are getting too small!! He received three vaccinations and a TB skin test. Another stool sample has been collected and sent away as he has begun having awful diarrhea. Possibly due to the transition to whole milk, possibly a GI infection, possibly a lactose intolerance. The doctor suggested beginning sow milk if tests reveal nothing. Luckily it doesn't seem to bother him regardless. Jacob ran a fever for about 24 hours after his shots but Joseph had no side effects whatsoever. Audiology appointments are scheduled and the 6 week appointment for next vaccinations. Both TB skin tests are negative. Praising God for a heathly visit and a fabulous week!
First visit to the Nashville Zoo. Sister Amy, nephew Colten, and neice Kensley accompanied us for the day.
Jacob loves Colten!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lessons learned in the first six weeks

  • It is okay to have dirty dishes in the sink
  • Toys do not have to be in the room in which they "belong"
  • If clothes are not on and teeth are not brushed for early AM mama appointments (and maybe pajamas are still on) it is ok...for the boys that is
  • A room that has just been cleaned will likely not be that way in five minutes
  • Dust will still be there tomorrow
  • Grocery shopping alone (or anything for that matter) feels like a vacation
  • I CAN survive on less sleep
  • Dirty clothes can wait
  • Little boys love to eat and love when mama cooks
  • There is nothing more precious than late night snuggles
  • Two little boys light up my world and are keeping me young
Yes, it was that bad just a few weeks ago. When my oldest son left home three years ago I celebrated that I could clean and return two days later to find it as I had left it. I rejoiced that I only cooked if I wanted to (and rarely did). I had silence except for the television. I slept through the night and often had a blessed nap in the middle of the day. The cats had lots of lap time and I only did laundry on Saturday.
If you can't tell, the last few weeks have been a major adjustment for me. The boys have watched as I tried to maintain a life that had been and somehow integrate it with what now is. I failed, and miserably. I can finally say that some of my OCD tendencies have faded and I now don't mind the toys scattered throughout the house or the dishes in the sink. The floor gets swept at the end of the day and so what if we walk on goldfish in the meantime.
As I return to work this week there will be many more adjustments to be made. How can I be an effective mom with only a few hours in the early morning hours and a few hours in the evening. I am thankful that Joseph and Jacob will be staying with their sister Amy while I work. At least I know the love and attention will remain. Weekends will become a bit more hectic with even less time for cleaning and shopping. Instead we will play ball, visit the zoo, and a sundry of other activities.
I am saddened that this time has so quickly come to an end. I was a stay-at-home mom with my three biological children and feel a bit guilty for not being able to do the same now. As I begin this next chapter I ask for prayers. It is difficult being all things for these two little ones and I pray that at the end of the day they only feel the love I intended when I began this adoption journey.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Five weeks home!

Wow, where has the time gone?? It seems that only yesterday I was wondering if this day would ever get here and now I am a week away from returning to work. Things continue to go well with more good days than bad. The boys have a very good schedule and get off kilter easy if I stray from it, but they are learning to adjust to these minor bumps never-the-less.
Sleep - much improved with the help of benadryl. Yes, after a few weeks of little sleep I resorted to this trick. They are on the final wean and now sleep 10-11 hours through the night with no problem (which means Mama is much happier in the morning). We have moved through several stages as I tried to decipher what worked best for bedtime. We now enjoy some reading time and then off to bed they go. Jacob usually falls asleep in my arms in Joseph's room and then I carry him to bed. Joseph waits for this move for one final hug and kiss and then rolls over and puts himself to sleep. At nap time today as I was walking from his room I heard "Mama....I love you." Not that they don't say that a thousand times a day, but oh how my heart leaped as this came from his mouth.

Health - we have all had this horrible head/chest congestion for two weeks now. Finally today there has been less snot to wipe and no breathing treatments required for Joseph. He has now had three bouts with an asthma type illness and will likely receive the dreaded diagnosis at his pediatrician visit next week. They begin immunizations at this next visit and we will schedule a circumcision, so not looking forward to this trip at all. They each had a first dental visit today (pics below) and did as expected. Joseph got the perfect teeth report. Jacob, not so much. Because he continues to chew on pretty much anything he has a few chips in his teeth. He also has some staining from birth and his teeth are very crowded. Predictions are that he will need braces. Oh well, join the club as two of his four siblings have been there and done that.

Play - they still seem so overwhelmed at the choices and more days than not Joseph will resort to his comfortable toy of a ball. At the same time they have learned to dump all the toys from the toy box and stumble over things. Luckily some orphanage habits have stuck with them and Joseph is a huge helper when it comes time to pick things up. Both boys love to be held over play any time and I really have to force them to get down and burn energy and calories. We get lots of snuggle time in throughout the day.

Eating - also much improved. Jacob eats pretty much anything put in front of him. Since finishing a round of antibiotics for giardia Joseph's appetite has also improved. He is a much pickier eating, but considering the variety thrown at him I am not surprised. They both enjoy eating out with Mexican continuing to be a favorite. I'll be interested to see how much they have each grown at their check-up next week. Jacob is down to one bottle a day at bedtime. The doctor wants this one gone also, but I am giving him through the week and then we will see how he takes to this idea. He is also slowly transitioning to whole milk!!

Other- Joseph is signed up for baseball in the Spring. He has a natural athletic ability and I am afraid this Smart Start league will bore him quickly, but the basics must be learned before big boy ball. Both kids have been to watch Kensley at gymnastics a couple of times now and they love when we clear the rug and do forward and backward rolls.

More changes have come quicker than I wanted as Joseph decided after a time or two with his sister that he was too big for his booster seat, so he has moved to a regular chair meaning Jacob got his booster and got to join us at the table (pics below). They each maintain a sense of independence that I do not wish to steal from them, but there are times I wish they would just be kids. I have been leaving them with big sister Amy one day for a little longer each time so they are as prepared as possible for my return to work. This past week they got through lunch and a nap, which meant I got to shop alone and clean the house. I worry so about destroying the confidence I have built in them that I will return. Amy's words last week meant so much as she told me how well adjusted she felt they were.

Finally (as nap time is quickly coming to an end) here are a few pictures from the last few no particular order as things keep popping up all over the page!. As we prepare for another snow storm coming our way I am sure there will be more soon! 
We are big boys now!<><><><><><>

Joseph trying to comfort his little brother during his dental cleaning.

Showing off that smile after his first dental appointment!

Too cute not to include!
We thankfully have had a few days pretty enough to get outside and play!

Handsome man!
First haircuts in America!

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Nearly three weeks home now and so much has changed. I am celebrating good health after getting the report back on the boys. All blood work looks fantastic and except for giardia in Joseph the GI tract looks good also. Treating both boys just to be sure this does not linger. Jacob also got the all clear on his ears. There have been lots of firsts in this short time. First snow, first krispy creme donut, and this week I celebrated with Joseph as he began going potty by himself! Yes, it is the small things that make me happy.

They are both getting very comfortable in their new surroundings and enjoying lots of play time with nephews Michael and Colten and niece Kensley. Oh, and I found out this week that a new baby is on the way to join them! Wow, I get to be a new Mama and Gram all in the same year!!

Joseph loves to wrestle, which is right up Colten and Kensley's alley.

Michael taught him some new Wii games this evening.
This is going to end badly some day. The healthy fear is gone:)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Memories of our embassy trip

December 28, 2010. After getting word for travel clearance on Monday morning, Kathy and I headed out of Nashville to Chicago. From there we boarded Turkish airlines, had a layover in Istanbul and then literally (well slightly) crash landed into Ethiopia. A big thanks to our dear friend Tina who agreed to get us to the airport last minute!
We arrived early morning in Ethiopia where we were greeted by the wonderful owners of Grace Guest House. A few hours to unpack and we headed to Miskaye. Joseph just happened to be standing on the steps as we entered and with a smile of recognition grasped onto my neck.
                    Jacob reacted with tears which quickly passed as we rushed off to the embassy.
                        Soon enough I had the boy's visas in hand and the prized paperwork for travel!
The next morning we returned to Miskaye where we had an unexpected visit from the boy's birth mother. I was able to get some prized pictures and information on their lives (some of which will be difficult to share at some distant time). We then went to the Lion zoo and the Ethiopian museum.
New Year's Day we returned to Miskaye for a final farewell. We had hoped the birth mother and grandmother would show up for a visit but unfortunately they were unable to make it before we left.

A trip to the park (where we found out just how fast Joseph could run!) was followed by lunch at a wonderful Italian restaurant.

Finally it was time to head to the airport and travel home courtesy of Ethiopian airlines. There are so many pictures I would like to share, but here are a few of my favorites.
Joseph was so excited to pull his suitcase along and seemed to know exactly what was happening.

Jacob played happily while we waited to board.

                                                              The airplane sighting!

                                                        All three children fast asleep:)

                                                                        TV time!
                                                               Cat nap in the bassinet!

                                                The final leg home. Dulles to Nashville.