Wednesday, July 29, 2009
(Beulah enjoying the shade.)
Learning to share. Well, at least Haiden is learning. Charlie's not quite there yet ;-)
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
SOMEONE HAS BEEN BREASTFEEDING MY BABY!
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
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
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
Sunday, July 19, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
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
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.
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
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Charlie seems to have aspirations in the same direction....
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
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
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
Friday, July 3, 2009
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
We are finally home. Time to pick up the dogs at the kennel and see what happens......
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
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 www.maryjoyusa.org or www.maryjoyethiopia.org