Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The lil' Ally-gator is TWO

Can't believe it.  My [real] baby is two years old today. In some ways that seems so old ... and in others, it seems like so long ago that I was having terrible contractions and rushed off to the hospital ... only to find out I was dilated to 4 (you can't imagine how irate I was - but just ask Mark!  I was at 6 when I went in with Grace and I know it didn't hurt nearly that bad!  Ally was extremely painful!)  Some drugs later and it was all good.  :)  Good ole Alice Jane!

Alright, getting a bit off topic here!  Seriously though, SO much has happened in the last 2 years.  It  is sometimes weird to remember that my "second" child will soon be the youngest of five.  Crazy.

Crazy just might be a good word to describe Al.  She's always on the go; sharp as a tack; lovable, but on her terms. She was not an affectionate baby (in fact, was colicky and crabby!).  But she has really come around and just charms everyone she meets these days (including her brother and sisters - she runs the house!).  We have a rather visible family now, but yet it is still Ally that seems to get the most attention.  And now that she's talking up a storm (it is amazing what she can verbalize) she is just that much cuter.  She shouts "hi!" to everyone she passes and is just generally fun to be around.  Oh, but she can sure crab with the best of them!  (and the screams!)  So, so many people tell me she looks just like Julie (my sister).  I think it is probably true.  She sure has my stubborn personality though (yes Dad, I admit it).

I don't know WHAT we'd do without her.

Lovin on her cake and ice cream

Sweet Barbie car - it was a big hit

She does love a nice ride.

And she REALLY loves cereal.

And her daddy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

No Training Wheels

I was just thinking that would be a cool title for a really deep, thought provoking post.   But since I don't have time to write those, I went right to the point.

'Cuz that's right folks - Miss Grace got over her fear and took off the training wheels (well, we pushed them up out of the way since we didn't have a wrench handy).  And she can now. ride. a 2-wheel. bike. alone.

Whoot whoot.  

I'm very proud of her. She took a bit of a spill last summer and has not been interested in her bike much since.  She hasn't been on it once since June.  Seriously.  How sad is that?  But she decided on Saturday she was going to do it. So she tried and tried. Very close, but not quite.

But Sunday.  Oh yes, it was over.  She was so excited to practice more today.  Sadly it's been pouring all afternoon.  

All the kids has a blast on their bikes. Well, Ally doesn't have one yet. She keeps trying to steal Abi's big wheel. Which he hates (he will share with anyone but her, go figure). But I did talk him into letting her have a turn which she loved (I pushed).  But then she kept trying to push him off... so not such a hot idea by mom after all...   I think Hana will be able to take her training wheels off next summer. She probably could do it now ... but I'll let Grace enjoy her "big kid status" just a bit longer...

She totally thought she was hot sh*t last night.  ;)

Bit of a rough start...

Now we're getting it...

And she's off!


Anyone see this?

From the A.P.:

"Haile Gebrselassie broke his own marathon world record Sunday, becoming the first runner to finish under 2 hours, 4 minutes.

The Ethiopian clocked 2:03:59 to win his third straight Berlin Marathon, beating the mark of 2:04:26 he set last year over the same flat course. He also became the first runner to win the race three times. "

For those of you that aren't as geeky as me, that is an average of a 4.69 minute mile. I can't run that fast for ONE mile, let alone 26.2. This man is absolutely amazing. What a wonderful athlete that my children can look up to.

Has anyone seen the movie Endurance about him? I'd love to find it, but it's not on DVD (and the VHS is rather expensive). =(

Friday, September 26, 2008


Thursday, September 25, 2008

What is it with my dogs????

We've got ourselves another gimp.

Poor Claire. She's been crying off and on since the weekend. Starting limping on Tuesday. Got her into the vet today - partially torn ACL. She's on some anti-inflamatory meds for the next week or so. Best case scenario is that she will take it easy and the ligament will heal on it's own. But I think that is unlikely. So the next step would be to find out if she is a good candidate for surgery. The other kicker is that her OTHER hind leg is getting inflamed because of the additional stress/weight it is bearing! So that one could tear too...

Poor Claire. I know it hurts. =(

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Perfect Day

A couple of weeks ago, a crazy random thing happened. We had a weekend. with. no. plans.

It was wonderful! We had a ball with the kids! My friend Amanda came over in the morning for a fabulous breakfast a la Mark and we hung out and played in the yard. The weather was great! Abi caught a big fat frog that we kept as a pet for the day. That afternoon we walked the froggie down the street to our "swamp" and hiked back to the water and let him go "to his friends." Then we went home and built a (very small) fire in the back yard and roasted a few marshmallows.

One of those days where not a whole lot happens. But everyone just has a nice relaxing time. It was great. =)

P.S. This was totally not the video I meant to upload. But it took ages to load, so that's what you get. If you want a translator, she is talking about "big jumping" and she also mentions a snack. Other than that, who knows?

Boyfriends? IKES

At dinner...

Grace:  "Hana has a boyfriend" (sing-song voice)
Hana:  "Yup!"
Grace:  "His name is Ryan and he is 6.  He rides our bus.  He is sort-of my boyfriend too except me and Eva just mostly play games with him."

High school is going to be ROUGH.

P.S. Like the hair?  Hana actually sat and let me braid it last Saturday.  Sadly, it never lasts more than 2 days.  Sigh.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Golden Ticket

Oh yeah, that's right. On Friday (but Mark didn't mention this until last night...) we received our approved 171h in the mail! For you non-adopters out there, that is our green light from USCIS to bring in an immigrant (aka our daughter) into the U.S. We weren't in any time-crunch, but it's one more item brining us closer to getting *S* home!!!!

As much as I hate...

when people ask me if I "want to be like Angelina", there are times that I wouldn't mind being compared to her...

See the article

Jolie and Pitt give over 1 million pounds for Ethiopia kids

[-] Text [+]

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Angelina Jolie and partner Brad Pitt have donated $2 million (1.12 million pounds) to create a centre, named after their adopted daughter, Zahara, for Ethiopian children affected by AIDS and tuberculosis.

The Global Health Committee said the donation from the Jolie-Pitt Foundation would establish a centre in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to treat AIDS orphans and develop a program to treat drug-resistant tuberculosis.

The Oscar-winning Jolie adopted a baby girl she called Zahara, now 3 years old, from Ethiopia in July 2005 and the new clinic will be named after her.

"It is our hope that when Zahara is older, she will take responsibility for the clinic and continue its mission," Pitt said in a statement.

Pitt and Jolie now have six children -- twins Knox Leon and Vivienne Marcheline born in July, Shiloh, 2, and adopted children Zahara, Pax from Vietnam and Maddox from Cambodia.

The Jolie-Pitt Foundation helped set up a similar clinic in 2006 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia that is named after Maddox.

"Our goal is to transfer the success we have had in Cambodia to Ethiopia where people are needlessly dying of tuberculosis, a curable disease, and HIV/AIDS, a treatable disease," Jolie said.

Ethiopia has the seventh-highest rate of tuberculosis disease in the world and an estimated 1.7 million people in the country are infected with HIV, according to the World Health Organization. UNICEF estimates that more than 900,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS in Ethiopia.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant, Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ike Ravages Haiti

As much as I complain about the weather in our lovely state (especially around February of each year) I have to stop and give thanks that we very rarely are forced to deal with deadly threats of nature. As most of you know by the non-stop news, many other parts of our country and the world aren't so lucky.

Hurricane Ike has been ripping through Haiti. Although it has now been downgraded to a category 2, it left plenty of death and destruction in its wake. I have several friends waiting for their little ones yet in Haiti. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to watch such terror on the news and not be able to hold your children and let them know it will be okay. Or the terror of not knowing for yourself if it will be okay...

Click here for a fascinating, though upsetting, first-hand view of the destruction.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Follow Up on USA Today Article

And the story snowballs...

See the homily of a Catholic deacon here.  Pretty cool 'eh?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

First Day of School 2008

And we're off!  School year 2008-2009 has begun!  The kids started school on Tuesday and so far it's going very well. Gracie is in 2nd grade (yikes!) and loves it.  

Hana is back in kindergarten and is thrilled (minus a snack misunderstanding...)  

Abi will start his twice a week preschool next week, but enjoyed his orientation this week (loved the toys, was mad he couldn't keep them).

I think it'll be a good year!

The Gimp

Poor Ponch.  Really, this would happen to him.  On Tuesday my good friend Amanda was in town and came for dinner.  No sooner had we sat down to some tasty enchiladas, then Poncho plops down on the kitchen floor, his foot bleeding profusely.  [sigh]

Turns out he had broken his toe nail pretty badly, lord only knows how.  We couldn't stop the bleeding.  My lovely visit with Amanda continued while we rushed Poncho to the vet (thanks for driving babe!) where they removed the rest of his toenail (ew!).

So, he has been MISERABLE laying around the house and generally feeling sorry for himself.  Poor pooch!  Also, apparently toenails grow back after being removed so thats handy!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Check out this article in USA Today.

This article was written about the wonderful family of one of my good "virtual" (and real!) friends. The article is great and also appeared in quite a few major papers, including the New York Times and Washington Post. The comments are absolutely horrible (well, most of them). Sadly, people are still incredibly ignorant. And bigoted. And angry. And who knows what else.

But whatever.

Sad News...

As you have (obviously) noticed, we did decide to go private with the blog. We got some disappointing news this weekend and I thought it was just not worth it to open myself up to problems that might jeopardize our adoption.

On Sunday, we received an email from our agency's director. The gist of the email is that anti-adoption sentiment is growing in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian government is taking steps to keep adoptive families out of the public eye while in Ethiopia. Our agency was informed that Ethiopian government has instituted a new rule that adopted children must remain in their orphanage until they are ready to leave Ethiopia. Any agency failing to enforce this rule leaves itself open to closure by the Ethiopian government.

There is speculation that the root of the problem stems from some adoptive families (allegedly from European countries, but quite possibly from the US too) have not been culturally respectful while in Ethiopia with their adopted child(ren). But some Ethiopians (like many Americans and otherwise) aren't supportive of international adoption in general (see this relevant article). The lack of respect from adoptive parents is just another slap in the face.

On one hand, I am grateful and in support of the Ethiopian government for the new rule - the alternative is likely to halt all international adoptions, period. That helps no one and would certainly be devastating to our family.

On the other hand, this was horrible news! We were SO looking forward to spending time in Ethiopia bonding with *S*! When we were there in March with 3 kids six and under, we just didn't get "out" nearly as much as we had hoped. A little shopping, but no museums, no hiking, no big road trips (save one). With an 11 year old, we had hoped she'd have fun poking around some shops, seeing Lucy, heading out of town for a day... Now we are faced with the possibility of only getting to visit *S* at the orphanage until the final day when we can take her to the airport with us. Which means our real "bonding" time would begin on a 30 hour return trip! Yikes!

We've considered escorting as an option (i.e. someone would actually "escort" *S* from Ethiopia to the U.S. and we'd bring her home from that point - likely Washington D.C.). The pros of this option are: (1) financially more manageable and (2) if we can't spend time with her in Ethiopia, does it make sense to leave the other 4 kids at home? However, the con is pretty huge - how are we supposed to explain to *S* that we came all the way to Ethiopia for Hana, but we are only "sending" for her? We know this adjustment is likely to be very hard for her even under the best of circumstances and we want so badly to not start out on the wrong foot. Another con to the escorting option is that it could easily add several months processing time to our adoption - which no one wants. =(

Sorry to just ramble. We were just so disappointed to hear the new directive. I'm so very sad that the actions of a few disrespectful parents has, at worst, jeopardized the future of Ethiopian adoptions when there is still so much need, and at minimum has severely disrupted our initial attachment with our oldest daughter. And I'm fearful that no matter what we choose, *S* may feel (even if she *knows* better) that she is somehow less than her sister due to the fact we can not conduct our adoption in the same manner.

I hope that the next few months may provide some insight as to how this rule will be enforced and what our practical options are.