Friday, July 31, 2009


Ok readers... does this count as saying "mama"?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First date!

(Beulah enjoying the shade.)

Lots of firsts at this age!
Charlie went on her first play date, with Haiden and Tait (the sons of a good friend of mine). We packed up and went to the park, with Beulah who's day it was to take a walk.

It was a success! Although it was very hot (92 degrees after a week of 70 degrees was quite a shock!) the boys played very nicely with Charlie. Haiden, especially, is an expert sharer (which he learned from his parents and Noggin TV chanel) and would bring toys over to Charlie and say: "Here Charlie, you can play with this pirate! Here, Charlie, you can play with this boat!" and Charlie would sit there eating grass and looking at him with wonder. It was so fun! We are going to try and find a pool to bring them all to on Friday.

Here are some pictures of the fun outing.

Learning to share. Well, at least Haiden is learning. Charlie's not quite there yet ;-)

"Breakfast of champions": Coke Zero and Nilla Wafers.
(Just kidding... Charlie did not imbibe any soda! She did, however, have a Nilla Wafer or two... although I don't allow sugar, I thought it wasn't fair for her to watch the boys eating and not get some.)
Also, check out her 70's terry cloth shorts. Snazzy, eh?

Haiden was very loving and gentle with Charlie. He gave her hugs and kisses freely and without being asked. Future suitor?

Charlie hasn't gotten over the "boobies" shock of yesterday.... Do ALL women have these things??? WOW-ZA!!! Life is good!

Stay tuned for Firday's pool trip.... I'm praying it doesn't rain. We are planning a trip to Dairy Queen after the pool, and to be honest, that is the main reason I want to go ;-)

Monday, July 27, 2009


As you may know, if you've been following our adventure, being able to do anything without Charlie right there has been somewhat impossible. Today, in the shower, I discovered something VERY INTERESTING....



No wonder she's so healthy and huge!

Here's how I found out.

First shower attempt (with Pack and Play in the bathroom doorway): BIG FAILURE.

Second shower attempt (with highchair in the bathroom with me): BIG FAILURE.

Third shower attempt (with Charlie free and crawling around bathroom): SUCCESS. Somewhat. She crawled right in the shower with me, diaper and onesie and all. So I undressed her and took a shower with her. She's such a slippery, soapy baby! Anyway, back to the story...

As soon as she saw my boobs, her eyes got HUGE and she looked STUNNED. She was mesmerized by them. She was not looking anywhere else on my body but at my boobs. She reached out with BOTH HANDS and CHOMPED down on one of them! With her teeth! OUCH!

Since she was dropped off at the orphanage at 15 days, I believe this means someone was breastfeeding her at the orphanage. There's no way she would remember her first 15 days with her birth mother to that extent. So there are wet nurses at the orphanage, and nobody told us PAPs. It's fine with me (as long as they are healthy and don't have Hepatitis or something else that can be transmitted through breast milk), and even a really great gift for Charlie really. If she didn't have teeth already, I might even try and continue, but after that bite there is NO WAY.

On another note, check out these blackberries from my garden! They are HUGE! I got three store blackberries with which to compare them. The photos really don't do them justice. They are the size of half my finger! They will make fabulous blackberry jam :-)

So what do you all think about the breastfeeding? Was your child breastfed at their orphange? Did you know about it? There are so many things I'll never know about Charlie's first 10 months..... that's kind of sad really.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

My girl's got RHY.THM!!!!

I'm sure everyone has seen the YouTube wedding march? Well, Charlie has! Check out her rhythm ;-)

We had just woken up and eaten brekkie, so please forgive the lack of hair and makeup ;-) Also, once she realizes the camera's on her she tends to shy up a bit and so I'll probably never get her in a full-tilt boogie... but you get the idea. Thanks to Aunt Andree for the onesie!

Also, a big shout out to my mom today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!!!!!!!! Charlie sends big MWUAHS your way!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Things are going great!


The past few days have been really great. I've seen friends, gone out every day, and Charlie is settling in to life with me and I'm settling in to life with her. We don't have much of a schedule yet (although I try, she determines when she falls asleep.... sometimes I rock her for hours and she won't fall asleep!) we do have a routine and that has been helpful.

Everyday we do one outside activity in the morning and one walk in the afternoon with one dog. The dogs have to take turns, which sucks for them, but I can only handle one dog and one stroller safely. I remind myself that 90% of the dogs in the world live in a worse situation, either starving in a third world country, or tied to a chain, or even just in a nice garden but never being walked. So a walk every third day is not ideal, but it will have to do.

One thing that I've found happening which is not great, but I can't help it, is I'm falling into the daytime TV black hole! After reading so much about Jon and Kate Plus 8 I finally turned it on one morning and I'm hooked! It's sad this family is splitting up... They are showing re-runs though and it is interesting to watch and see if there are any foreshadowing moments. For example, yesterday Jon had to chase a ball down the street and Kate said something like: "Daddy's running away!" and Jon came back and said something like: "I wouldn't run away in broad daylight, I'd sneak away." Stuff like that.

Now that I'm taking care of ONE child, I can fully appreciate Kate and what she does on a daily basis, taking care of 8 children! And she clips coupons! The amount of stuff she manages to organize and make happen for her family is truly amazing to me. I know people criticize her for being mean to Jon, but I haven't seen too much of that. I see a take charge woman who gets the job done, with 8 kids (6 under the age of 3). Amazing.

Then after Jon and Kate, comes "The Strictest Parents in the World" which is a show on the Country Music Channel (weird). The show can be summarized is a few sentences: Bad teens (usually from the big city Up North) get sent to the Bible thumping farm family (always Down South) and get their heads straightened out in a 30 minute episode. It's ridiculous how blatantly "red state" the show is.... but it's still awesome TV watching!

Then there is "The Littlest Couple" (a new show on a married couple of dwarfs - or "Little People"), "Ruby" (a show about a 700 pound woman) and all day long I could get sucked in, so it's good we have a plan for each day to get out of the house. How did I ever live without these shows??? I can't believe I was spending 8 hours a day at WORK instead of watching these shows!! Live and learn, I guess.

I also try and do one household chore per day, either sweeping or gardening or laundry, while Charlie is napping. So things are not totally out of control around the house. I had a friend come over for dinner on Wednesday and was not ashamed of the condition of the house and even had fresh flowers on the dining room table. She even mentioned: "There's not much dog hair in your house!"

Today as my chore, I cooked up a zucchini and tomatoes and onion from the garden. I just chopped everything up, and sauteed it in light oil over a low heat for a few minutes while doing other chores. Sprinkled on a little garlic salt and YUM!!! So far, I'm doing well on my vow not to feed Charlie refined foods or sugar. She's at the wonderful stage of eating whatever I put in her mouth without question, so I'm putting in lots of veggies and green things (she is currently teething on a large chunk of raw zucchini which she can't choke on, for example). Hopefully in doing this, she will have a wide array of tastes once she hits the stage of pickyness... or maybe she will never hit that stage! One can always hope!

Charlie is doing much better as far as letting me leave the room for a few minutes. We have "quiet time" everyday, whether she naps or not, in her Pack and Play next to my bed. She will play quietly while I read a chapter in my book. This is nice time for me, and I think it helps her to have time when she is responsible for amusing herself for a little while. She can do this for 20 to 30 minutes now, with occasional input and comments from me, with no problems.

The only remaining "issue" is when I go in the garden to pick up poo, pick blackberries, or weed the vegetable garden. She really hates being stuck on the deck in her highchair. I can live with this being the only issue though.

I'm getting lots of daily kisses too!

Sorry this is so "all over the place" but that is also the state of my brain. For example, yesterday I put my wallet on the roof of my car "for a second" in order to strap Charlie into her car seat, and forgot I had put it there. When I got to the store, a mile away, I had a mild heart attack when I realized my wallet was not in the seat next to me. Everything in my life is in that wallet.... Someone was watching out for me though. It was still on the car roof. Amazingly.

So life is settling down, and we are enjoying each other.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A month ago today I met my daughter...

Here are a few things I love about her so far, in no particular order:

- she purses her lips in her sleep and making sucking noises.

- she's learning how to kiss me on the lips, but doesn't understand fully and goes for the open mouthed, stick your tongue straight in my mouth, type of kiss.

- she's relaxing into me at times with a big sigh, which feels great.

- I can fit her entire tummy into the span of one hand. It's a round, warm, soft, globe of yumminess.

- her smile, with gapped top teeth coming in, like David Letterman.

- how she gives my thighs raspberries and doesn't care that they are pale, white, freckled and flabby thighs. All the better to get that really good raspberry sound from!

- she'll try any food (she's adventurous!), and she has a delayed reaction by about 5 to 10 seconds while she's processing the taste. Some are hilarious, like lemon yesterday. All are worth the wait.

- her deep belly laugh when I give her tummy raspberries, or when Boo licks her entire face clean after dinner, or when I chase her down the hall. She's sounds more like a 200 lb man than a baby then.

- how she reaches for me when she gets a boo-boo.

- she's getting better at playing by herself for a few minutes, she's making progress, growing, and learning.

I love you, Charlie! I'm so glad I met you and you and I are together! Happy 1 month family anniversary baby girl!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

First party!

Charlie attended her first party yesterday, a birthday party for a friend of mine's 4 year old son. The slide was way too fast and big for Charlie, but she had a good time watching the older kids go down it. She whispered to me: "Next year, I'm so riding that thing..." but for this year the balloons and barbeque were exciting enough!

Tonight, we are going out for Thai food with our friend Elena. Then we will see if Charlie is really a girl who takes after her mother depending on how much she likes the Thai food ;-)

Charlie will be doing this in about a week (genius that she is)!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hurricane Charlie

It begins with a crease. A slight furrow of the brow.

Then, a whimper.

Soon, too soon, a resentful look.

A lower lip juts out.

A nose wrinkles.

A howl reaches ear splitting heights.

Within seconds, tears sprout like from a fountain, sweat beads up on her forehead, all eye contact is denied... Hurricane Charlie has arrived.

Temper tantrums. Daily basis. Sometimes on a minute by minute basis.

They used to show up whenever I left the room, but now they appear whenever she doesn't get her way. It's also her nap time and bedtime routine... the back arching, wailing.. she never falls asleep peacefully, it's always this colossal battle against herself to allow herself to sleep.

I'm not sure how to handle these tantrums.... I've tried different things. I've tried ignoring them (that doesn't work, she keeps going until she is spent and then falls asleep), and I've tried holding her (she arches her back, refuses eye contact, shrieks, until she's spent and falls asleep), I've tried standing near and coming closer when she lessens up and farther when she intensifies (has no effect). She is 10 months old. Ten second time out? (Or, for attachment parents:) Ten second time in? Somehow I don't think that will work... ten seconds is not noticeable to her during one of these meltdowns. Although I haven't even tried time outs... I think at this age they are worthless as she wouldn't understand what was happening.

I don't know how I am supposed to pay attention to anything else around the house. For example, today I needed to pick up dog poo in the yard. The dogs track poo in if I don't pick it up and it's unhygienic so I have to do it. I put her in the high chair, on the deck, where she was within 15 feet of me and could see me at all times. The high chair is very sturdy and she is safely strapped in. She wailed the whole time (15 minutes). This also happens when I shower, even if she is in the bathroom with me. Or any time I'm not paying attention to her 100%.

Did the nannies in the care center pick up every child as soon as they started crying??? I find it amazing to think, but I'm starting to believe it.

Should I just let her cry?

I feel like such a bad mother if I do that. Here I did all this work to bring her here and she's had all this loss and trauma and so how can I let her cry? It doesn't seem right. But soon I will be going back to work and we need to have some ways that we can survive and get things done. She is going to have to be ok being the only child of a single woman. God or whoever put us together and so we must find a way to make it work. She needs to learn, and I am definitely learning!

On the other hand, when she is not tantrumming, she is a delightful, smiley, playful child. She does great with eye contact, she's alert and interested in the world around her, and she is affectionate with me. So this is not RAD or anything as severe as that... it's behavioral and I seem to be making it worse rather than better.


Propagating the stereotype of women drivers....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

"Dreams from my Father"

Have any of my readers read Barack Obama's book "Dreams from my Father"? What did you think of it?

My lovely aunt sent it to Charlie today, for her "time capsule" (to be opened when she is 18). I'm allowed to read it first, and I'm looking forward to it. I wonder when I will find the time, but I'm definitely going to read this book!

I really like our president, I'm so happy to finally have someone I respect on the news every night (instead of gasping in horror every time the old pres opened his mouth). He's so eloquent. As the mother of a person of color, I'm also proud that a black man is in the White House. Charlie will never know a time when that seemed impossible.

Next up, a woman!

The fact that a black man made it into the White House before a woman really speaks volumes about sexism in this country. John Lennon hit the nail on the head with his song "Woman is the N----- of the World". He saw the writing on the wall. Maybe by the time Charlie is eligible... no pressure, sweetie :-)

Speaking of being sexist: Here is a picture I promised for Tami and Laura when I met them at lunch.
Can you guess who's behind this is???

Thank you Tante Laurie! What a great idea for Charlie's time capsule!

Monday, July 13, 2009

I'm a pathetic dog owner. Let's hope I make a better mother.

Since we've gotten home, Boo has had a sore on the tip of her tail which I've been watching carefully. Honestly, I did not want to bring her to the vet because it's a colossal pain (they always make you wait, even when you have an appointment, at least 30 minutes) and now with Charlie, I could only imagine the utter mayhem that would ensue with an 80 pound dog trying to pull her hardest to reach all the other living creatures in the waiting room, and Charlie in her stroller vocalizing her discontent. Plus, not earning any money right now... if the sore was going to take care of itself, that's another $100.00 I really didn't need to be spending.

All week the sore looked the same, with a scab over it. But yesterday (Sunday, when the vet is closed, of course) I checked the wound, and the scab had fallen off and underneath was the grossest thing EVER. There was a HOLE in her TAIL. I could see the BONE. Ugh. Poor baby. I'm thinking she was bitten by some flesh-eating spider.

So this morning I called for a same day (read: "wait forever") appointment, packed up the crew with bottles, diapers, leashes, etc and headed off for a THREE HOUR WAIT.

Charlie was AWESOME. Not a cranky peep out of her. She was charming and pleasant. She had all the patrons wrapped around her finger from the first minute.

Boo was AWESOME. She was friendly to other dogs and obeyed my every command.

If either of them had decided to act up, I don't know what I would have done for three hours... but they were both perfect, thank heavens.

The vet...

well, he was a major guilt tripper....

"You waited HOW LONG before bringing her in? A whole WEEK? Do you know this looks VERY PAINFUL? This SMELLS AWFUL, it's definitely infected."

I tried to explain that normally I'm a better dog owner who wouldn't wait a week... but that I had just returned home with a new baby, I had a cold and couldn't smell anything (true, I had actually tried smelling her tail and it smelled like daisies to me), and that Boo was still eating normally and acting ok.... but then just petered off into guilty silence, looking at the floor, drawing imaginary circles with my Croc toe. Took my medicine, so to speak. Apologized sincerely to Boo when the vet left the room for awhile (she forgave me instantly) for being a HORRIBLE, NEGLECTFUL, doggie-mommy.

On the bright side, I met several wonderful pet owners in the waiting room and practically could write their eulogies after spending so much time with them....

I packed up the crew and $128.00 later, we headed home, no worse for wear. Boo needs antibiotics and that's it aside from a 30 inch Elizabethan collar which is banging into every surface in the house. We'll be back next week for a follow up, another $100.00, and more exciting adventures from the vet waiting room.

Chalk up one small victory for single parenting and dog owning, although Boo might tell you otherwise.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The hammer's coming down... but first, tiny bubbles!

Tonight was total spa time... bath, lotion, conditioner, nails trimmed, ears cleaned, Charlie is smelling like green apples and ivory fresh!

Tomorrow, the hammer comes down and reality hits: the grandparents return home.
Stayed tuned for total chaos.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Kid-centered vs. Parent-centered?

When we traveled to Addis, we met another adoptive couple who were wonderful people. I really enjoyed their company, they were great dinner companions, van companions, etc. Their names were Hope and John and they have 6 kids (including a little 4 year old boy they were adopting with an amputated leg and a club foot.) They also had a special needs child at home they had adopted from Vietnam and basically saved his eyesight in doing so. I had a lot of respect for them as people. They were fun, and really wonderful with the kids. You could tell they loved their son immensely from the second they laid eyes on him.

We had a discussion over breakfast one morning about parenting styles. John mentioned he had noticed 2 main styles: child-centered parenting and parent-centered parenting. He said he didn't claim one was better than the other, each was different and fit with different families.

He went on to explain that in child-centered parenting, the focus is entirely on the child. All household activities revolve around the child's needs and wants. For example, a soccer game would trump a romantic date every time. Babysitters are uncommon.

Conversely, in parent-centered parenting, the parents set the tone of the house hold and their lives continue, with full involvement in the children's lives of course, but without giving up their identifies completely. There are date nights. The marital relationship is nurtured. Babysitters are commonly known to the kids, and rules and limits are firmly set. With 6 children, I can see why this was the only option for them. I also think it's healthy for the kids to have a healthy marital relationship role model to watch while growing up.

As a single parent, I'm not really sure which camp I'll fit in to... I'm hoping parent centered, because my belief is it teaches the child they are not the center of the universe (to the rest of the world, at least) which is more reality based. I think she'll have less of a shock growing up than if she grew up believe the world revolved around her and then finding out life is not like that.

Which camp do you fit in?

Which camp do you think is better for the child?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Raised by a pack of wolves

My friend Cate has 2 toddlers and 5 dogs. Her kids think they are dogs and line up for treats when the pack does, uses the doggie door, and (to her horror) has been caught on (my) film drinking out of the water bowl.

Charlie seems to have aspirations in the same direction....

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

To Addis and Back (Part 8) Travel Tips

So we left Addis the next evening. Here are some tips for those of you preparing to go.

1) When we made the initial reservations, bulkhead seats (bassinet seats) were already taken much to my dismay. However, upon check-in, we asked again and lo and behold, there was a bulkhead seat available. I ended up sitting in it with only one other person, not a parent, so I got the bassinet! Or rather, Charlie got the bassinet. She was able to sleep for most of the 6 hour flight from Addis to Amsterdam. Definitely ask. Ask at reservation time. Ask at check in. Ask the flight attendants when boarding.

(Caveat: Although the bassinet could be a God Send for the teeny babies, if your infant can crawl, just know you can't get any sleep as there are no straps and Charlie got up several times on her own and wanted to get out. Had I been asleep that would have been bad. On the other hand, having her sleep somewhere other than my arms for 6 hours was great!)

2) Infant Tylenol. I'm not a doctor so I'm not telling you what to do, but this advice came from another parent who was flying with a silent baby: Give your infant a drop of Tylenol 30 minutes before take off, and then have a bottle ready for the ascent and descent. The Tylenol will help their ears not expand, and the bottle will help them equalize their ears in case they still do expand a little. It worked! Charlie was quiet amongst the wails of 50 other infants when we took off.

3) Have several bottles ready for takeoff... sometimes the takeoff is delayed even after the plane has started moving! And I don't know about your infant, but Charlie doesn't like having her bottle taken away once she's started it. She was finished with her first bottle before the wheels left the ground.

4) Ask for an upgrade to business class. It ALMOST worked for us. It doesn't hurt to ask.

5) Don't wear jewelry. The machines are very sensitive. You'll have to take it on and off several times as there are several security points. Along the same lines, use an Ergo without metal, so you and the baby can walk through the metal detector without having to unstrap, unload, reload, etc.

6) In Addis, have your passport easily available in the parking lot, as you will have to show it to even enter the airport at all.

7) If you travel via Amsterdam, Schipol airport has a baby lounge. The lounge has individual "pods" with curtains, a bathing area, diaper changing station, etc. It's quite pleasant depending on the time of day. I was there twice. On the way to Addis, mid-afternoon, it was peaceful and quiet. On the way back, early morning, it was full of screaming babies and mothers trying to cram their own long bodies into the cribs (!). Hardly a place for a rest.

8) Your child does not need a visa for Holland if you are staying in Schipol airport during your connection.

9) I used an Ergo carrier and didn't bring an umbrella stroller. It was helpful to have an extra set of hands. Also, Schipol has the perfect size carts (free!) for carrying an infant.We had 6 hours to kill before our connecting flight, so this cart came in super handy. Plus Charlie enjoyed riding around the airport, gathering attention from all passerby.

So that was the trip. We landed safely after 28 hours of non-stop travel, and three seperate flights, exhausted, to be welcomed home by Opa. After a week in D.C., we made the long drive to where I live, and we've been here for a week now.

Monday, July 6, 2009

To Addis and Back (Part 7) Final Evening

The last night the entire group of traveling families (minus a few exhausted parties) went for a dinner and dancing show, including a coffee ceremony and traditional injera basket tables and Ethiopian fare.

It was fun, with the added challenge of eating a meal on 1 foot stools with a band of merry infants along!

The kiddos loved the music, and Charlie danced her first dance.

As soon as Charlie saw injera (the Ethiopian spongy and sour bread made out of the teff grain, one of the few local grains that grow here) she grabbed a roll and tried to shove it in her mouth. Therefore I thought perhaps the nannies had already started the kids on injera at a very early age, or it's a genetic taste (because most babies I don't think would like how sour it is) passed down through hundreds of generations of Ethiopians.. I allowed her to eat small pieces of it as it tuns to mush in the mouth. Don't worry, it looks like she is stuffing great gobs of it in her mouth, but I was watching carefully and broke up the pieces so she wouldn't choke.

When we got back to the Guest House, all the staff asked how we enjoyed the show and seemed very invested in our enthusiasm, so we were enthusiastic. In reality, most of us left before the coffee ceremony, as it was going on 3 hours by then and the infants (and kids by then) were wilting fast. In all, it was a lovely goodbye to Ethiopia. Most of us were ready to leave, to start our new family life back home, but there was definitely a sadness at taking Charlie away from her birth home and her culture and everything she had known for her entire life.

Tomorrow I will write about the plane ride home, 28 hours non-stop, door-to-door traveling, along with some tips for those of you who are about to make the trip.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Prison Break 3: The Toddler Years

Not in the mood!

This is Charlie.

She makes faces.

But only when she wants to.

Friday, July 3, 2009

To Addis and Back (Part 6) Visiting Charlie's "orphanage"

On our last full day the traveling families got to go and see the care center where our children had spent the last months, or in some cases years. I left Charlie with my mother for several reasons: 1) I didn't want Charlie to think she was returning to the care center for good. 2) I didn't want her to see her main nanny and have to go through a second seperation trauma. 3) My mother had already been to the care center in March so didn't need to go see it again. I'm glad I made this decision, as other families/parents brought their kids along and it was unsettling to see their reactions. I think they all survived it with minimal scars, but I'm just glad I left Charlie with mom. Plus, it gave them a chance to bond a bit, and surprise, surprise, when I'm not around, she is perfectly happy to spend time with her grandmother!

We took a rickety old van on unpaved roads for 30 minutes outside of Addis, passing typical sights of the 3rd world... a skeletal cow grazing on mud (poor thing) on the highway curb, a man lying on the sidewalk either dead or asleep (with 100's of people walking by not giving him a second thought), people in rags squatting on the sidewalk over a kettle, mother's breastfeeding naked babes while sitting on the curb.....

Finally we drove up to the IAG care center gates and the driver honked. The gates opened and the nannies and kiddos were all waiting for us! They were so happy to be reunited with their charges and friends. The kids all gave us the three cheeked kiss in welcome (they do it silently, more like a cheek touch rather than a kiss, while I did it the American way and made MWUAH sounds which got the kids giggling and imitating me ;-)

We saw the infant room where Charlie spent her first 9 months. It was clean and there was no smell at all. The nannies were delighted to meet me once they heard I was Worke's mom. They were also very grateful for the pictures of her I passed out to everyone. The nannies were awesome. They were so loving with the infants, and picked them up the second they started crying.

We were taking so many pictures of the children (for waiting families at home) that it seriously looked like Brad and Angie had stepped out on the red carpet at Oscar time. The babies looked a little shell shocked from all the flashes, but they were resilient and survived the onslaught.

Some of the waiting families had sent over photo albums with us to give to their waiting kids. I took video of several children thumbing through their albums with wonder at seeing their new mommies and daddies and sisters and brothers faces. Upon return I uploaded the videos online for the parents to see, with about 400 photos.

A sound of Ethiopian music drifted down from upstairs and a little boy invited me to come up, so I did. I walked into a room of older kids who had spontaneously started dancing around in a circle! There was an Ethiopian music video playing on the TV, and the kids, ranging in ages from 12 to 4 were dancing in the Ethiopian style, shimmying their shoulders and making jerky motions. They invited their audience to join them and some some of us were in the circle, looking ridiculous, but having fun with them :-) Then I played games with a couple of them, blowing in their ears and making them giggle.

We had a traditional coffee ceremony, which produced such dark coffee that my throat felt like ash the rest of the day!

After that we said our goodbyes. The kiddos gave me heartfelt MWUAHS! all the way to the gate. It was a great day. I was happy to see how joyful the children were, considering their circumstances.

I have a ton of great pictures of this day, but I cannot post them as they are of other families' children.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

And the world breathed a sigh of relief...

Ok, so maybe THE WORLD didn't breathe a sigh of relief, but I sure did!

We are finally home. Time to pick up the dogs at the kennel and see what happens......

The dogs were so INSANE with happiness to see me that they were completely uncontrollable at the kennel, jumping on everyone and the kennel tech couldn't really keep them controlled with a leash. I had a momentary twinge of fear at how they would react to meeting Charlie after watching their exhuberance. They were jumping 15 feet in the air! Ok, maybe 3 feet, but it seemed like it was really too much energy.

They also STANK to high heaven of urine, so the first step was to bathe all three of them. Then, once they were clean and relatively calm, one by one we introduced them to Charlie. I held her on my lap, as per Dogs and Storks class, and allowed them to sniff her ankle to start. Mostly they could not have cared less... they were more interested in saying hello to me again. Eventually I allowed them to sniff her arms and hands and seeing that they were calm and non-threatened, her face for a second. Charlie was pretty intrigued by the three dogs though, and followed them around with her eyes and tried to reach out and pet them. I'm already started with the "gentle touch" and preventing her little fingers from curling into a grasp and pulling (like she does with my hair!).

We bought some gates today and I already have crates. Basically I think it's going to be an exercise in chaotic crowd control until Charlie grows older or one or two of the dogs passes away. I plan on having a "dog zone" and a "baby zone" so the dogs can relax and not have to worry about being poked, and the baby can wreak havoc in her own area without eating too much fur.

 Here's hoping for a peaceful co-existence.

P.S. Please excuse my disgusting-ness. I had just finished bathing 3 large dogs and had some spit up on me as well.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

To Addis and back (Part 5) Donations

Happy 10 month Birthday, Charlie!

Before I start his post I'd just like to thank the AP community (and others) who posted comments on the last thread regarding Charlie's *separation anxiety*. I found them truly helpful. And the fact that EVERY SINGLE comment gave the same suggestions made for a powerful and persuasive lobby. I had, of course, read all about attachment parenting, and knew in theory what to do... but in real life, with Charlie here in front of me and the theories not... plus being swayed by parental advice (even though they are great parents they have never parented an adoptive child as many of you pointed out)... Well I needed you readers and forum members to remind me of the months of studying I had done previously to bringing Charlie home. So I went back to 100% being there for her and not trying to sneak out the room for a bathroom break or whatnot. Although my back is killing me (spasms), she had a much more pleasant afternoon and evening and I did too. She didn't cry AT ALL (because I never left her side) and laughed and played a lot more than she had been. So thank you all for taking the time to respond. Back to the trip journal:



We brought 4 suitcases of donations for various orphanages. My belief was that my agency care center most likely did not need all 4 suitcases, as every few weeks a new influx of American parents arrive with donations, and I was right. The day we visited her care center, there was a whole courtyard full of suitcases filled to the brim. They are well supplied with diapers, formula, clothing, shoes, medications, etc.

So instead of leaving all 4 with the IAG care center, I did some research ahead of time and my mom asked her Ethiopian friend to do some research as well. We came up with AHOPE

and Mary Joy Aid Through Development as needy organizations that do awesome work.

Each place got a suitcase full of kid's clothes, medications, and jewelry (the edible candy type!) Even the boys enjoyed the candy bracelets! Here are some pictures.

I was not able to go to the orphanages, and deeply regret that. I needed to stay with Charlie, as this was the day she was dropped off at the Guest House. There was no way I was leaving her after waiting all these months to meet her, and she was traumatized and needed to stay put. I know in a general sense what these orphanages are like, having been to several in the past, and worked at one in Bolivia for a summer. Still, I felt sorry I could not go to these, but we can't always go to everything we want to in life. Luckily my mother could go in my stead., She was especially impressed with MJATD, which is not an orphanage, but does outreach in the community regarding HIV/AIDS education and does aid HIV positive kids (just doesn't adopt them out) through community programs. It was started by a Sister named Zebider Zewdie. My mother was very impressed with that program. The website is or