Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Need some serious help, Moms. Attachment parenting confusion and dilemna.

I need some advice from the adoptive parenting community:

Charlie cries whenever I set her down for a second. This is not good for our lifestyle, although I can manage it for awhile longer, but not forever.

Let me describe the behavior a bit more. For example, I will have just changed her and fed her, so I know she is physically comfortable. I get up from where I was sitting (10 inches from her highchair while feeding her) to get a paper towel, and she starts wailing.

Or, we are lying in bed and I have to get up to switch off the light which is 5 steps away. She starts wailing.

Etc. This behavior seems to be getting worse over time, not better. There are a few improvements, like she will let my mother and father hold her while I'm in the room (but swivels her head to see where I am all the time) for a little while, but soon reaches out her arms for me to take her. If I leave the room, she wails.

This behavior at first seemed to be completely attachment related. Recently I'm starting to notice that it seems she has learned that crying will get her what she wants. For example, I tell her "no" very gently and remove her hand from the table cloth which she was pulling off the table... she starts crying. I had been then trying to distract her with a toy or something else, but I really want her to learn to accept "no" in her life. It's an important lesson. I certainly don't want a child who cannot tolerate being told "no" or having limits set.

Here's where the confusion sets in. Since she is adopted, and has had three large losses in her life (birth mother after 15 days, nanny after 9 months, and the Ethiopian culture she lived in for 9 months), should I give in to her?? Should I pick her up, distract her, each and every time she starts crying when I stand up for a second? So far I have been and the behavior seems to be getting worse.

My parents are of the mindset that I'm going to "spoil" her (I hate that expression! She's not a piece of fruit!) by picking her up whenever she cries. This morning, she cried non-stop when I went to take a shower and my parents decided to see what would happen if they ignored her (while sitting very close to keep an eye on her). They thought she would stop crying. Well, she didn't. She cried the whole time I was gone, and by the time I got back, it was a full on shriek-fest. She was drenched in sweat. I picked her up and she stopped immediately. I felt really guilty. My poor baby!

My dad mentioned that "she won" by getting me to pick her up. He fully recognizes and thinks the bonding and cuddling are necessary, esp. for newly adopted babies, but thinks it is better done when the babies are being sweet and happy, rather than in response to tantrums (if that's what they are).

I don't see this as a game or contest to be won or lost, but I do understand that I basically reinforced in her mind that 20 minutes of crying gets her what she wants.

Everything I've read about adoption though, says to pick them up whenever they want you, at least for the first month or two, and then once they are firmly attached you can start setting boundaries. My parents think that will be too late, or much more difficult to change behaviors then, and I tend to agree with that notion (that a habit is harder to break once it's been firmly reinforced). So I'm very confused. Also, I have tried to let her cry but after about 5 minutes I start thinking I'm a terrible person, she's so little and vulnerable, she's already been abandoned twice, etc, etc, etc... and I go pick her up to stop those thoughts and reassure her (and myself) that I'm there for her and will never leave her.

One last bit of information to help you give advice: She seems attached to me ever since the first day. I've been with her 9 days today. The attachment seems more "desperate" to me than a secure attachment (like any of my nieces or nephews had. They could all tolerate their mothers leaving the area for a minute, knowing she would be back.)

Ok, parents, here's the question.... How would you handle this behavior? I getting worried that I'm doing the wrong thing, causing the behavior to get worse instead of better, and damaging her somehow.

To Addis and Back (Part 4) Shopping and the city.

Nom, nom, nom ....... everything in the mouth......

Today was the day we went shopping.

Initially, I was told nannies were coming from the care center to watch over our children and free us up to go shopping, have lunch at a nice restaurant, go to the museum (and see Lucy!), then do more shopping and finally have dinner at the highest restaurant in Addis with a great view.


I was not sure how I felt about that. On the one hand, I was tired and aching from carrying Charlie and needed a physical break. On the other hand, I was concerned at the confusion she might experience from seeing her nanny again and whether that would set back the positive strides in attachment we had made in the past 2 days.

I was then told, a few hours later, that nannies were NOT coming and we were to take our children with us for this extremely long day.

I almost fainted at hearing that news.

Who on earth plans a schedule like that for a group of new parents with infants??? And one couple had twins 8 months old! Another couple had a boy, 4 years old, with an amputated leg and a club foot who weighed 50 pounds and needed to be carried everywhere. I mean, really!

I almost didn't go.

But I went.

As I thought, it was hot, hot, hot. Not weather-wise (it was actually a cool 70 degrees and beautiful), but in between my body and Charlie's body. We both started sweating almost immediately and were soaked by the time we reached the shopping area.

The shops were a row of stalls along one side of a busy street. The van drivers followed us around to ensure our safety (pickpockets). The wares included typical Ethiopian dresses, *silver* crosses, drums and statues, basic touristy stuff. I got a few outfits for Charlie in various sizes so she will have them as she grows up. At one point a kid came up to me begging and I handed him some Lance crackers. Before I knew it, a woman with a stick came and chased him away. I think he ran fast enough to get away, but this was not a good area to give to beggars. I had been warned there was a "bad" area to give, but hadn't realized this was the spot until I saw the woman with the stick. Yikes!

Shopping went on for an hour and Charlie got too hot. She started whining and writhing and I finally had to take her out of the Ergo and feed her a bottle in the van.

We then went to lunch at Blue Tops, an Italian restaurant. Charlie helped me pick out lasagna.
She was patient for about 30 minutes, although trying to get her hands on everything (like the spoons, glasses, menus, place mats, etc). After about 45 minutes all the members of our party received their food but me. I took Charlie outside for awhile to distract her. My food finally arrived after an hour waiting. A long day was getting longer....

After lunch, some brave souls decided to go to the museum. My mother was among them. But I don't think anyone with infants went. we had all had it by then and were ready to return to the hotel for naps. Charlie took her typical 15 minute nap, so that by the time I finally got to lie down, she was ready to rock and roll!

We played in the guest house for a few hours and then went to a restaurant on top of a mountain where we were treated to a view of all of Addis. Unfortunately, Addis is so polluted now there is a haze hanging heavily above the whole city, blue and gray, and looks so thick I wasn't sure if it was fog or pollution. It was pollution.

The meal was good though. We had filet mignon, and one portion included THREE filets (!!!) all for a whopping price of $6.00. So that couldn't be beat. Charlie was very good at dinner. She let my mother hold her and feed her. We had a picture taken of my mother feeding Charlie, while I was feeding my mother a bite... three generations being fed by one another!

I also managed to do a one-kneed diaper change as I'd forgotten her changing pad and the bathroom floor looked a bit... not pristine. So I thought that was a real "mom" moment and was proud of my balancing skills. Charlie looked a little uncertain, and precariously balanced at times, but made it through with a fresh nappy and a smile.

On the ride back to the hotel, in the dark, through Addis, I noticed many of the same people who had been squatted on the sidewalks earlier, only now they were lit up by the faint glow of embers under their teapots. I realized they probably spend all night out there, on the sidewalks. As we were climbing into soft beds that night, and every night, thousands of Ethiopians are trying to stay warm on the sidewalks of Addis with their tea kettles. It really puts things in perspective.

Charlie fell asleep on the ride home and missed the kettles and embers.

Monday, June 29, 2009

My Exotic African Princess

I did Charlie's hair for the second time last night, while she was sleeping. I'm finding it challenging!
1) I have never paid much attention to any hair, my own or others
2) I've never had experience with black hair
3) I'm not coordinated in the fingers
4) Charlie will NOT sit still, she is so observant that she is constantly swinging her head around to see what's going on behind her. So I have started doing her hair while she's sleeping... which means it's not divided into quadrants very well

But I'm trying!

So last night, after doing her hair during a nap, I decided we needed to protect the hairdo until morning (because we are meeting blogger friends Laura and Tami today! Yay!) and I want Charlie looking her cutest. I know black women wear hair scarves and the like to protect their hair do's and keep them looking fresh. So this is my attempt.

How cute is she????

(Yes, every post will probably be mentioning her cuteness from now on.)

Anyway, the scarf thing did not last long! She pulled it off seconds later, messing up her hair a bit.

This morning, it's almost as messy as if I had not done it at all.

Back to the drawing board!

Moms.... do you use anything on your infants heads to keep their hair neat? And where do I buy it????

To Addis and Back (Part 3) Embassy Day

("Thanks to Uncle Jamie for the awesome hand painted onesie! I look super cute in it!))

The goal for the next day was to go to the US Embassy and get our childrens' visas for entry into the USA.

Charlie had woken twice during the night for a bottle, and promptly fallen back asleep. She was a restless sleeper though (one minute her head was at the top of the bed, a few minutes later it was pointed towards the foot of the bed). She flipped and flailed all night, limbs bopping me in the face at any given moment. I got little to no sleep, but not really due her her restlessness... I just couldn't sleep from the excitement of becoming a mom in one day. I mean, I know this has been a process, with court dates and small moments of progress towards the final goal. But today was really the day I became 100% responsible for another human being's welfare. It's pretty huge.

Of course, I choose to think about the hugeness at 3 AM because I'm blessed like that.

Nowadays, that's the only time I get to think anymore, so I better get used to it. Ruminating, perseverating, obsessing and worrying all work well with the insomnia I've been suffering from actually... like a hand fits a glove... Perfect!

So I was exhausted on Embassy day, as was Charlie who had (probably) the second most traumatic day of her short life yesterday.

The morning we spent just getting used to each other and then in the afternoon, mom helped me load Charlie into the Ergo carrier and we climbed on the van to the Embassy with all the other families and their kids.

The Embassy looks like a fortress of beige cinder block, not unlike a prison. We had to go through two separate and extensive security checkpoints, more in depth than the airlines make you do. No cameras or cellphones allowed. We were escorted into a hot room with rows of plastic chairs and a germ-y pit of a play area (none of us allowed the kids to go in there, at least, not for long after seeing how gross it was in there!)

Charlie did quite well in her carrier, even though we were made to wait over 2 hours. It was hot in that windowless brick oven of a room, and we didn't bring water for the adults. Charlie, of course, had a huge diaper bag's worth of formula, water (she can drink from a cup!) and all 100 neccessary items a baby needs at all moments of the day.

The space between my back and Charlie's front was rapidly reaching Def-Con 5. She did not cry or have a meltdown though! She did really well and was patient throughout.

Finally all of us had our childrens' visas in hand and headed back for the guesthouse. No one was much in the mood to go out to eat, we were all exhausted.

I just was extremely grateful that I had received Charlie the day before Embassy day... I couldn't imagine what it would have been like if I'd had to bring her to the Embassy in the heat and humidity and wait for 2 hours while she was in meltdown/trauma mode. That would have been unbearable, for her, for me, and for everyone around us.

This was kind of a boring day, with only one goal to be met. Which was good as I was not the only exhausted parent around. One couple from China had adopted two infants and had their hands pretty full! Charlie was a trooper and did very well and made me proud. Ergo? Check! Patience during sweaty wait? Check! Cuteness overload? Check!

Her wonderful temperament was to be severely tested the next day... shopping day. But that's another post ;-) for tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

We will be back shortly after this message from your sponsor... Charlie and the squirrel

I'll get back to the Ethiopia story later, but just discovered I could post videos here on blogger.

This is this morning, when Charlie discovered the squirrel and chipmunk that come daily for their allotment of peanuts.

What do you all think? Is she the cutest EVER or what???

PS Congrats to my neighbor Sally who gave birth yesterday to Charlie's new best friend, Mia Rose!

To Addis and Back (Part 2), Charlie arrives at the Guest House.

The first morning while waiting for Charlie's arrival, I stepped outside the Guest House gates and saw these girls walking to church. They were so excited to have their picture taken and giggled a lot when I showed it to them.

Two nannies from the care center arrived around 11AM. We were waiting downstairs of course, eagerly anticipating Charlie's arrival. Her nanny was holding her and she started crying upon arrival. I don't think it was my face in particular that set her off (though it could have been) but rather the newness of the whole situation. It probably would have been better for the adoptive parents to go to the care center over the course of a few days and meet our children there, rather than do it this way. It seemed really traumatic. The other child, Bereket, who was brought at the same time was also crying off and on quite a bit (but not as much as Charlie).

The nannies stayed for a few hours and Charlie cried throughout. Considering she had probably never been outside of one room at the care center, I believe riding in a van and then seeing a crowd of new faces, as well as a new building and all the attention focused on her... it was just too much. I kept wanting to take her upstairs to the quiet of our room, but various people wanted to try their hand at consoling her, rocking her, etc, to no success. I thought all the attention was making matters worse, frankly, but also didn't want to be pushy or take her when she wasn't ready for me yet.

Luckily, I had not had any pre-pickup fantasies of what it would be like, so I was not disappointed or hurt. I was concerned about the experience for Charlie, and wanting her fear to end.

Eventually, I did take her upstairs and asked everyone to leave (my mom and her friend had a lunch date anyway) and rocked her in my arms until she fell asleep. She slept for hours, having exhausted herself with the trauma of the day.

When she awoke, I bundled her in a soft pink blanket and gave her a bottle. She looked up in my eyes, wonderingly, while sucking on the bottle. She reached for me, waved at me, gurgled, and that was it, I was mom.

From that moment on, I could not put her down for a second without her started to whimper and then full on cry. Even putting her down for a nappy change resulted in tears until I picked her up again. This was a positive sign for attachment (although I wondered how she could attach in minutes, really) but not so positive for me as I had a hundred things to do, baby related, and couldn't do them while carrying her. My mother would try and hold her and she refused. She showed her discontent with that arrangement by shrieking, tossing her head, arching her back, etc. Thankfully, mom did not allow her feelings to be hurt and was happy she was attaching so well to me.

I started wondering how I would do at home... how was I going to shower? Feed the dogs? Make breakfast, etc? There are a hundred things to do each day, from picking up a toy to preparing to work and carrying a 20 pound baby while doing it seems like a very difficult proposition. As I watched the other adoptive parents at the Guest House, they all had a co-parent to take over, even for a minute, to make live more manageable. Not one of them was unable to put down their child for a second. All of them were able to put on makeup, dress in clean clothes, eat. Here I was, dirty with formula spilled on me, old crusty makeup on, teefs unbrushed, hungry, with a baby on my hip. Pretty soon my shoulders started hurting from carrying her around. Then my back. Then my arms. Then my neck. Rising from bed after a few hours of sleep to get her bottle became an exercise in excruciating stiffness.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. This was Day One with Charlie and it was traumatic for her. I wished I could make it better and less scary and by the end of the day, I had succeeded it seemed. She was just as beautiful as her pictures, even more so because she was live in 3-D. Certain looks and actions make your heart melt. I'm forever grateful to Ethiopia and her birth mother for producing this little being.

(Part 3 coming up)

Bye for now!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

To Addis and Back (Part 1)

I'm writing a captain's log so I have a record of the trip and store memories safely.

We (my mother and I) flew KLM from Washington, D.C to Amsterdam, then Amsterdam to Khartoum, and finally Khartoum to Addis. I had worries about the plane being stormed in Khartoum by a band of terrorists, as we had to sit on the tarmac for 90 minutes for refueling. It brought visions of other tarmac stand-offs, but against all odds, nothing happened!

Two new warnings the flight attendents give these days: 1) "As the plane is refueling, please keep your seat belts UN-FASTENED for safety reasons." Ok. Now what's THAT about?? "In case the plane explodes in a fire ball not unlike a nuclear mushroom head, we want you to be able to exit safely???" 2) "Due to flying over U.S. airspace, Homeland Security requires passengers do not congregate in the galley area or near the restrooms". Hmmm..... makes one feel cozy and safe, eh?

Anyway, we made it after 28 hours door to door traveling without crashing, exploding mid-air, being taken by terrorists, or having lightening strike us down (a new one for me, I thought planes were safe from lightening until the recent Air France disaster.) I slept through most of the trip thanks to my anti-anxiety agent, and enjoyed that much of it, knowing the way back might be much more difficult with an infant on my lap.

We were supposed to be met at the airport by an agency rep, but he was nowhere to be seen so we caught a taxi (the driver had no headlights and strapped our luggage into a pyramid on his roof. It was too dark to notice much of the city as more than half the lights were out.

The guest house was simple but adequate and we slept for hours, only intermittantly noticing the neighborhood dog who barked from 11PM to 4 AM every. single. night. I would notice him much more the following nights.

In the morning, we feasted upon scrambled eggs and dry french toast (syrup was not a known topping at our guest house, but that's ok). I had been told the night before that I could see Charlie today instead of having to wait an extra day and she was to be arriving at around 10 AM so I was very excited.

(To be continued.... here is a teaser pic)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's been quite a trip so far

Well, I'm not going to be writng alot because I'm afraid what happend to my update at Schipol airport will happen again here in Addis... namely the power will go off after a long post. Nor will I be checking for typos. Typing as fast as I can. As it is it took 10 minutes to get to my email as the computer at this internet cafe is sooo slow.
But on to the big news! I'm here in Addis with my mom and we got to pick up Charlie a day early (on Monday!) instead of waiting. The hand over was pretty traumatic and awful. She cried upon arriving at the Guest House even though the nanies stayed for severl hours she cried through the whole thing. Then the nanies left and she kept crying, shrieking really, and was inconsolable. nothing I tried worked. I think the agency should have aprents pick up their kids at the care center, where they are calm and not afraid of new surroundings, maybe over the course of a few days. As it was, Charlie was in a brand new place and seeing brand new faces, all at the age of 10 months, when stranger fear is great.
She finally cried herself to sleep and when she woke up I was there with a bottle. She looked into my eyes and like a baby duckling, she imprinted on me and since then I cannot put her down without her shrieking and having a meltdown. Even my mom, who has been around her as much as me, cannot hold her. if my mom even glances at her she hides her face in my neck and starts crying. When she is in my arms, she is a pretty good baby, not much cring. She is teething and has some bad congestion. We tried taking her to the dr, but due to rolling blackouts they were not seeing people at the time we arrived.
 I'm sending this before the blackouts hit this area of town. Back soon if possible! Sorry no update for so long but it's been literally impossible.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Safe at Schipol So Far

Well, we have landed for an interim at Schipol airport in Amsterdam. The flight was way too bumpy for my taste, and the plane was not as big as it could be (they called it an "air bus" but I was not impressed with the size). We got the seats in front of the bulk head, which means we were not able to lean back the few centimeters most people are and it was a pretty uncomfortable ride. My mother gave up prime real estate to sit next to me, and then I ended up sleeping most of the way! But I warned her I was going to sleep, so that is her choice I suppose! On the way back it will much more important that we are seated together.

Luckily, we were not charged for our overweight bags because the check-in clerk in D.C. was Ethiopian. I showed her a picture of Charlie and explaned that our bags were filled with cdonations for the orphanage and that was that. Free donations. Which is how it should be, really. There is a nice "baby lounge" here at Schipol, with rounded "pods" containing cribs and seating for parents, along with a bottle warming station and a bathing station. Right next door is a lounge for slightly older kids, with slides and climbing apparatus and a forest mural. Very nice. Of course there are tons of stores, for cheeses, chocolates, and hundreds of coffee shops and restaurants. It's a great airport. On the way back, we will have to spend 6 hours here in the early AM and so I think we'll be using the baby lounge.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

And we're off!

The packing was quite an ordeal. We were spread out in several rooms, in several states (NC and then MD), and over several days!

First we had to pack everything we needed for Ethiopia. Then we had to consider the week in DC once we get back stateside. Then we had to consider carry-on for adults, and carry-on for Charlie (which honestly, most of each type is Charlie's stuff... I'm bringing a pair of jeans, 4 shirts, 4 underwear, a bra and a pair of sunglasses!)

We had piles of donated stuff, piles of ET stuff, piles of stuff for the week in DC, piles for the diaper bag, piles for the suitcase we're leaving behind, donated medications, donated clothing for all ages, donated shoes by the box load.... etc, etc. People were SO generous with donations, however we did not anticipate this and were worried we wouldn't be able to take it all.

Then, once we had everything packed, we had the bright idea to check KLM's policy on extra bags, because with all the donations we had one extra bag. It's $150.00 for ONE extra bag. So re-pack we did! We managed to fit everything, after several packing attempts. I'd rather give AHOPE that $150.00 than KLM frankly.

So today we leave! Please, if you are reading this post, send off a quick prayer or thought into the universe regarding the safety of our flights! I know we are not any more special or deserving of a safe flight than the people on Air France.... I also know that I have been expecting "the other shoe to drop" any day now... because this kind of goodness, this kind of amazing gift (a human being!!! a child!!!) seems like too much for any one person to receive from the Gods... it all feels a bit like it won't come to fruition, like at the last minute something very bad will happen and I will never get to meet Charlie. Or worse, I will meet her and the plane bringing us both back will go down.

So on that bright note.... please help us out and send some positive vibes into the universe so we actually, amazingly, despite the odds, make it back home safe and sound. Any other moms feel that way, like the other shoe dropping, before bringing home a baby?

The final array:

Thank you!!!!!!!!

PS Hi Joyce!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shower pictures

Upon requet, here are some shower pictures.

Welcome to Sally's house! We're having a shower!

Here is the table setting. We had pastries, a french toast casserole, grass fed pork sausage, smoked salmon with cream cheese and toast triangles, roasted potatoes, asparagus and blue cheese quiche, quiche Florentine, and....

for dessert....

Sally baked a spectacular dark chocolate cake with raspberry cream layers, topped with fresh raspberries. Yum!

My dad composed a poem welcoming Charlie home. He touched on issues such as leaving behind everything she knows and learning about a whole new world, but that we are ready for her and will help her.

One of the crafty activities was to use fabric paint and paint on onesies. There were some excellent results, including "I summer in the Hamptons" and one with the Ethiopian flag (which Charlie will wear while exiting Ethiopia.)

Another fun activity was having everyone put together a scrap book page for Charlie's scrap book. My mom and Dad had diligently worked on a scrap book which included several pages of this blog (and readers comments and congrats, in particuler the day we passed court!) I have about 15 new scrap book pages, each with it's own flavor and design, thanks to my creative guests.

My cousin Kiki (mother to Matty and Ola of "Silly Saturday fame") copied the Word Art I did on a post here and had a graphic designer come up with this fabulous framed piece for the nursery! I love it! It's the perfect color, an the perfect gift.

And this wasn't part of Sally's shower, but at work I had a shower today also and this was on top of the cake. I thought it was adorable.

Thank you, it was as special as I had hoped...

Thank you for taking a day off of work.

Thank you for paying for flights here.

Thank you for participating in crafty things with full enthusiasm
(even though you may not have thought it was your cup of tea :-)
- apparently is IS your cup of tea, and that's so fun.

Thank you for helping assemble the high chair.

Thanks for the hug.

Thank you for the idea.

Thank you for organizing.

Thank you for all the weeks of work on the scrap book.

Thank you for baking a beautiful cake, scrumpcious french toast, sausages and grasshopper martinis.

Thank you for schlepping all the gifts there and back.

Thank you for the AMAZING word art framed picture, I love it so much.

Thank you for letting by gones be by gones.

Thank you for the mountain of gifts that will make Charlie's life more educational, full, safer, and my life more manageable.

You are always so generous, thank you.

Thank you for the touching poem.

None of it went unnoticed, nor unappreciated.

Thank you for welcoming Charlie home in this way.

PS Thank you cards will be on their way, but I just wanted to get this out there as soon as I could.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Silly Saturday

My niece and nephew are so smart, they figured out there was a camera on this rollercoaster ride, and figured out exactly where it was and when it was taking a picture.... and posed for it. Hilarious! Ola is making the "L" for "loser" symbol. Sheesh these kids.... precocious.

Their smarts were showing long before this picture. Here's this Saturday's installment:

Matthew 2 yrs, 2 months – Matthew & Daddy having dinner alone. Matthew having chicken and peas and Daddy quickly cooked hotdogs for himself. Matthew pointed at Daddy’s plate and said, “Hotdog!” Daddy asked, “Would you like to try a hotdog?” Matthew answered, “No, I eat food.”

Matthew 2 yrs, 4 months – Matthew was enjoying a cookie as he clomped around the house in his Dutch wooden shoes. Daddy asked, “Do you knew where people wear shoes like that, Matthew?” Matthew replied, “On their feet, Daddy.”

Friday, June 12, 2009

Virtual shower! Isn't this amazing?

(Above are gifts from the shower organizer, Gwenwifar. Thank you so much for the shower, Gwenwifar!)

As I wrote previously, my BookCrossing community organized a virtual baby shower for me and tonight a few of us met in an online chat room and I unwrapped gifts. Boy, will Charlie's bookshelf be full already I think!

Since the letters and cards will remain private, and go into Charlie's scrap book, here is the loot!
This is from Shelj7k in Ireland (my baby will be a well rounded worldly girl. There are books from Ireland, Canada, Hawaii, and all over!)

My parents arrived after I had opened the first box, and they were blown away, as was I, that these are people I have never met. Not only because of the gifts sent, but because of the letters and cards that people wrote. REAL letters. REAL cards. With hand written emotions. Awesome.

This is Opa, trying out the Elmo hand puppet before Charlie arrives, so he will be a pro once she comes.

This is a close up of the BEAUTIFUL crocheted blanket that dg7500 made.

Book and a soft photo album from Bkind2books:

And one of my favorites, Curious George, from Dove i Libri (and a nice frame) (Guess who's mug will be smiling out from that frame?)

This is a daily meditation type book with funny things that kids do. I'm going to take it to the office and check it every day for a laugh. Thanks to Chubsie Whubsie!

Some books and lots of BookCrossing labels (a very important BC'ing accessory) of all types! Thanks to Hyphen8!

Some lovely books that I think Charlie will enjoy, from Jessibud. Thank you!

And what a cute onesie! And look at the booties! And the entire Pooh Bear collection! Pooh is my absolute all time childhood favorite. I so love Pooh and Piglet, and Kanga and especially ROO. And of course Eeyore. He's great in his curmudgeon-i-ness. And TIGGER! (Tiggers are wonderful things!)
Thank you so much Dusties!

And oh how jmsmom went overboard and completely spoiled me and Charlie! Within her magic box were books, a beach towel, two stuffed animals, a fuzzy blanket, and a book on toddler health. WOW! Thank you jmsmom!

Isn't that amazing???? And there was more... more books, more cards. These are just the highlights.

My parents walked in and were flabbergasted that such people exist. As am I.

Thank you Book Crossers, for making a special time even more fun.

Ok.... time to write the thank you cards......


I have a dining room table full of items for Charlie that need to be packed, and a houseful of guests arriving for lunch tomorrow.

Which means I have to get this stuff packed and off the table.

The problem is, I might receive certain items for my shower on Sunday. Items I’ve already bought in order to be “ready’ to travel 2 days after my shower. In my wisdom, I decided that it would be better to have too much “stuff” than not enough “stuff” and have to go shopping the day after my shower. Some people might have asked: “Why not wait until after the shower and only buy what you still needed?” Well… I was working on the premise that I wouldn’t get the “useful” items off my registry, because they aren’t that fun to buy. Like a nipple brush. Or disposable diaper bags.

The 2 days after the shower, I actually have to go to work full time, immunize the dogs after hours, pack, go to the bank and get $2000.00 in new (post 2004) bills, drop off the dogs at the kennel, do about 20 other things on my to do list and LEAVE.

So I thought it would be smart to buy everything on the list, and return things that I received as gifts later. So I bought all 200 items, and put them all on the dining room table. What better place to keep stuff organized? Besides, half of it’s from one store and half from another, so they must stay in their bags so I can tell where to return it to.

Problem is, where to put all that stuff while guests are expecting to eat off a table? And are sleeping on beds? And your house should look the best it ever has because family who haven’t been here in years are coming to visit? I feel like weeding the entire backyard, but have simply run out of time.

Also, I just bought a crap load of food at Sam’s in order to feed the troops, and we’re leaving 2 days later. Unfortunately, much will go to waste I fear, as it’s not really freezable. Perhaps I will give it away.

Which is one more thing on the to-do list.

Why does it always seem like when it rains it pours? And everything exciting in life happens the day before the other most exciting thing in life? I have spent MONTHS sitting around waiting. And now, all of a sudden, it went from 0 to 60 in a day. Wooo-hoo! Hang on, it’s a rollercoaster!

(Actually in my defense, I have been preparing, such as making jam from garden strawberries for guests, and shopping for Charlie, and preparing the nursery… it just feels like I’ve been sitting around waiting for awhile….)

Thursday, June 11, 2009


This was an email test, but appears to have messed up the font in the rest of the blog... so I'm retyping to see if that makes any difference. Sigh. Technology.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Promises, promises....

Dear Charlie,

As I pack and get ready to bring you home, I've been thinking about all the fun things we are going to do together, but also about all things I need to do for you. I'm imagining what type of mother I will be, and how I will accomplish the goals I have set for myself. I don't have it figured out yet, and I may never figure it out. So far, this is what I've got: I promise to give you all the "regular things" parents give their kids such as food, medicine, hygiene, protection, school, encouragement, comfort, cuddling, playtime, and a reliable schedule.

I also promise some unique things, just between you and me, our little twosome:

You will get to go back to Ethiopia with me one day.

We will play and eat with other Ethiopian adoptive families as often as possible.

You will never be the only child of color in your school.

I will read you a story as part of your nightly routine.

I will offer you the freshest, non-refined foods I can find.

I hope to teach you to recognize and cope with your emotions.

I will learn to make some Ethiopian dishes for us to enjoy.

I will learn to do your hair in ways that make you feel pretty.

We will honor your birth mother on Mother’s day and many other days.

I will offer you my support in dealing with any adoption issues or grief you may experience.

I will not expect you to fulfill all the goals I haven’t gotten around to fulfilling yet.

I hope to be a feminist role model, meaning an independent woman who is able to take care of herself, have a career, and have loving relationships.

I will give you choices in daily life, and even allow you to make mistakes. If you make big ones, I will stand by you as you fix them.

I will not rush you into growing up, and not infantilize you once you do.

I will validate your feelings.

I will allow you to explore your independence (although I may be holding my breath the whole time so please be quick about it and get it over quickly!)

I promise I will not use my saliva to clean your face.(Unless it’s an emergency and no one is watching.)

I won't be perfect in any of these pledges, but I will do my best.


Your Mama

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Virtual baby shower!

I wrote about BookCrossing a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to show the blogosphere how awesome this book loving community is...

A BookCrossing member organized a virtual baby shower for me, and the packages have been weighing down the postwoman lately! It started out as an effort to get Charlie some baby books (which will fit very nicely on her new book shelf!) but I can tell from some of these packages that there is more than books in them!

I'm just waiting on a date and time to open.... then I will post some pictures.
Thank you BookCrossing! You guys are awesome!


Monday, June 8, 2009

Garden 2009

Here are some of the flowers and veggies growing chez moi this season:

Potted plants I bought, before they went in the ground. I figured I better get my gardening on before Charlie arrives, so I spent 80 bucks on plants and got good and muddy this weekend :-)

Can you tell I love the variegated leaves?

Ooh and this one has both FUZZY leaves and SPIRAL leaves, something you don't often see in nature together, so of course, I had to buy it.

Here's 2 days worth of strawberry collection from my out of control strawberry patch out back. i'll be making jam for my parents who love my jam. (One container is frozen already which is why it looks a bit whitish. No, not mold.)

This behemoth was had for a mere $16.00. What a deal! It's so huge I could barely fit it in the back of my car. It must weigh 40 pounds. Seriously. I love the two toned leaves, green and purple. Who could pass that up for $16.00? Not I.

The row out back. If you remember, I posted way back in the beginning of spring (after dumping a flat of seedlings on the deck) so I have no idea what some of these are. I do know the tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, zucchini, squash, onions, and artichoke. There may be spinach, carrots, watermelon, and cantelope out there too. We'll just have to wait and see. I've eaten broccoli from the garden several times already this year, and it's yummy.

The flower patch by the front porch. I'm hoping these all spread out and creat a lush, colorful tableau. Ooo.. using French words! Means it's a classy and elegant garden.

I love this tall blue flower and have planted several more that have yet to open, but are budding.

Cone flowers in the sun.

How is your garden growing?