Thursday, September 24, 2009

Soccer Mom

It's official. I have entered the world of the soccer mom. So far we've been able to take it slow, but it's ramping up. Selam and Hana are both playing this year, so that's 2 night of practice each week (one for each) and Saturday games - sometimes all day. And Selam being on the under 13 league has to travel to some other local YMCAs to play. Sigh. I wasn't quite ready for all that!

But it's really fun to watch them play. Hana's first game was last Saturday (Selam had a by-week) and she did really great. Her team didn't win, but she scored her team's only goal and was pretty proud of herself! For never really playing before, she did very well. I was really happy to see it as she has become really shy around other kids she doesn't know well and needs the confidence booster. Here's a few shots from the game.

Hana is in the white shirt with the blue underneath. Here she is totally stealing the ball and heading downfield.

Thirsty girl! You also get a pretty good shot of her missing teeth. She had to have her top teeth pulled last summer, but she just lost her first tooth on her own last week (that bottom one) and was so excited!

Can you tell who played photographer to keep herself entertained?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Uh oh

More books added to my list...

When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box

I need someone to give me an extra 2 hours each day just for reading. :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

My wish list - books

I love to read. I have for as long as I can remember. I used to have a bit of a code - 99% of the time, I would finish any book I started, even if I didn't like it much. It drove me NUTS not to finish a book. Oh, and I would only read one book at a time.

I'm not quite sure when this changed, but my "code" is gone!!!

I rarely get to finish books any more - even those I like! And I am often reading 6 at a time. All the info seems so important and what is fascinating tonight might put me to sleep tomorrow... And let's be real. If I can squeeze in 10 min of coherent reading before I pass out, it's a good day.

But I've got a number of books that are waiting in line fore me. Some I've started, some I've read lots of, but most are just patiently waiting for me to clear out some of the clutter earlier in the line!!! Just thought I'd share a few for a random post today - feel free to share your books in the comments section (or I love recommendations!).


The Connected Child by Dr. Purvis (I read quite a lot of this one, but then it was overdue at the library!)

7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey (Yes, I realize I'm the last person to read this. I started it earlier this summer and didn't finish it. Perhaps it is my lack of effectiveness! Maybe this one should get pushed to the top of the list...)

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren (another one that I've read quite a bit of, but just haven't put the time and effort into really using the book like I should)

Hmm... I can't even remember the other 10 million that are on my list...

So, for a little change of pace, how about some recommended reading (that I actually finished that you should too?)

For mom's of any family size: A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family by Mary Ostyn (aka Owlhaven)

For job-seekers or those looking to make a career move:

Anything by Malcolm Gladwell. He does WONDERFUL audio books - very worthwhile if you like that sort of thing. Even if you don't agree with all his conclusions or explanations, I think he raises some fascinating points and ideas.

And last, but not least, a book for those of us that think the fear of this world has gotten a bit out of hand. That want our kids to have some of the same kind of fun we had as children...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Darker Side of Adoption

I don't spend a lot of time on the various yahoo adopt groups that we are "members" of these days. In the early days of our first adoption, I could read for hours, gleaning information and (what I hoped was) wisdom. Even before Abi and Hana came home, I grew tired of the larger groups and the bickering that often ensued. Now, I typically just check in to our agency list now and again.

But today I decided to go back to the main ET adopt group (the big one). Not even sure why. Oh, the drama. Some of it was just typical nonsense (easy to get a temper up when you can't read inflection, etc). But some of the discussions were very disturbing. As a result, I have spent much time today stewing a bit over some of the darker points of adoption. I don't want to get into the specifics, but there were several families who shared their personal stories with their agencies (several different agencies) and made some very serious accusations. Accusations of some very unethical practices, including lying about health information and "harvesting" children, especially from rural areas.

And it makes my heart hurt.

When we first chose Ethiopia, a big draw for us was that it was still a smaller program. It had seemed to fly under the radar a bit and, we hoped, was avoiding much of the corruption and scandal that many other programs (e.g. Guatemala) were suffering.

But while we were researching, so were hundreds, thousands of other prospective adoptive parents. When we first began our search, only 7 agencies (American agencies) were registered in Ethiopia. Now there are ... I don't even know. 30? The program was growing, so big, so fast... that creates a situation ripe for abuse.

Were we naive? Probably. Frankly, I am probably still naive. I haven't begun to imagine what might really be going on around the world. But I do know that it isn't right.

Adoption is a blessing. Adoption unites families. It gives many children at a last resort that chance they need. It is wonderful and amazing.

But adoption is also a business. And with business follows money. And with money, corruption is often close at hand. Especially with PAPs evaluating agencies (understandably) based on a number of factors - including speed of referral of healthy infants (typically at least). There must be unbelievable pressure to keep parents happy and keep referrals (and court dates and travel) moving - those are stats that PAPs strongly consider.

I don't even know what else to really say - I can't quite make a coherent point on this topic. Just feeling some sadness and needed to vent I suppose.

But I wanted to say this - although I wasn't always 100% happy with the way our adoptions were handled and with our agency in general (oh, just search through my "adoption process " posts and you'll see some good vents. BUT - I have never, ever had reason to question the ethics of Adoption Advocates International.

And that is important. That is a stat that matters.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Labor Day Weekend

We were fortunate to have such a wonderful bonding weekend just prior to starting school. We took the opportunity to spend some time together relaxing as a family and were able to spend some quality time with Mark's parents up at their cabin. The kids had a BALL. The weather was amazing (best of the summer) so we spent basically 2 full days on the water.

I came home exhausted, yet rejuvinated. ;o)

Could the kids be much cuter?

Lovin' the water.
Selam did not so much love getting her knee cut open by a zebra mussel though. :(

hanging out on the back of Uncle John's boat

Selam loved the boat ride!

Fishing. Patiently. :)

Sleepyheads! Not sure HOW they could nod off with the boat flying across the lake, but they slept HARD.

Hunting for frogs.

Celebrating her birthday a little late.

Look at that smile! Ally kept yelling at her grandpa to "go fast"!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Yay Adoption

Whoo hoo to Katherine Heigl and her husband on their new baby!

I love postive adoption stories in the media. Good for them.

The Week Continues...Poor Al

So, I don't think I'm actually cut out for 2 blogs. In theory it made sense, and it will annoy me that my blog address is so boring and solely adoption related, but ah well. I might just have to get over it - so you will too. :o)

Day 3 of school (day 2 for Ally). So far, the big kids are doing great. Everyone has been excited and enjoying things, so that's good. Today I dropped Ally off and even before getting out of the van, she was asking me to stay at school with her. :o( She didn't cry when I left, but it took awhile to extract myself (the play cell phone was strong motivation for her...)

I'm still feeling awful.

You'd think that this was the first time I'd ever left a kid anywhere! Hardly. Grace was in daycare until she was 5 - much of it was full time. She liked it overall, but she had her days that it was tough to leave. I guess my viewpoint is a little different now than it used to be. It feels very unnatural. And maybe it's because Al is my baby. I don't know. But I don't like it.

Anyways, more about theo ther kiddos later...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Day of School!

I can't believe it.

The house is silent (other than the dog snoring). It's a little creepy. I miss them all already. And it's 9:30!

That's right - all 5 kids headed off to school today. Here's the run-down:

Selam - 6th grade

Grace - 3rd grade

Hana - 1st grade

Abi - Kindergarten

Ally - preschool/daycare

Can't believe my little boy is already in kindergarten. We've all been a little nervous - Abi in particular. I didn't want to rush him. Our district has a Young 5s option that I thought would be perfect for him (basically 2 years of Kindergarten instead) - after all, he just turned 5 in June. But the Young 5s was limited to Sept - Dec birthdays. :( I thought they might make an exception, given he's only been speaking English for the last 15 months or so. But nope.

We decided that putting him in kindergarten was the best choice. If he really isn't ready, we'll pull him out and put him in a pre-k program at Ally's daycare twice each week and give him some more time. But I think he's ready. He just needs some confidence. And he really needs some friends. Some boys. The poor guy puts up with a LOT of estrogen... He has a busy day today though! Normally he goes every day ½ days. But, to match Al’s schedule (and mine – see below), on Tues and Thurs he goes to an extra K program and comes home on the bus. Unfortunately, we started on a Tuesday so he’s got a long day! Should sleep well tonight!

And yup, Ally is going to "school" twice a week too. I decided I needed 2 days a week for work related stuff (more on that in a future post...) and just couldn't quite do what I needed to do with her home full time (namely, make phone calls and meet during business hours...). And I know that she'll benefit from structure and rules that dont' just come from mom and dad. She's the youngest in her 3 year old class (she's not quite 3 yet) but I am pretty sure she'll hold her own. ;o) I just hope she doesn't bully anyone! I dropped her off after the other kiddos were at school. She didn't even want me to come in with her!
She relented since I was carrying her stuff. But after a quick hug and a kiss she was off to look at the frogs and play with the toy food. I think she’ll be just fine.

Grace is in 3rd grade this year. In a lot of ways, she will always be my “baby” and I can’t believe she is 8 years old and one of the big kids at school! She was very excited to start the year. I am very proud of her – her best friends are in a different class than her, but it doesn’t even phase her. She knows she can still play with them on the playground and have them over. She’s looking forward to making some new friends. She has just grown so much over the past couple of years, really maturing and developing as a wonderful little person. I love it.

And Miss Hana. Wow. First grade. She’s been VERY excited to start going full days. And what a resilient kid. She didn’t make any really close girlfriends last year in kindergarten. She tends to roll with the boys a bit easier (which make sense since Abi is her best friend – she just loves to run and play and dig in the dirt and catch bugs). But she had no concerns about starting school at all. She’s excited for a new class, a new start and new friends. I really hope she’ll find a nice girl to buddy up to so she can start having some play dates and sleepovers!

And my dear Selamawit.
Sixth grade. I am just speechless at HAVING a sixth grader. She is very excited. I thought she would be a bit more nervous to be honest (I know I would be! Seriously – a new school after being in
America only 5 weeks?!?). But Selam is just excited to get started and meet some friends. She is a bit nervous about the language and what not – she hates when she says the wrong thing or cant’ remember a word. But her confidence level is generally very high. She was extremely popular in Ethiopia and I have no doubt she will be here too once she finds her footing. She is just one of those kids that you are attracted to – she draws people in. She has a bright smile and kind eyes. I’m just so proud of how far she’s come so quickly. I’m nervous for her, navigating the world of the 5/6 School… but I also trust her instincts and I trust her to ask for help if she needs it.

I have such wonderful kids!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Rockin' 3 hours of braids and newly pierced ears.

I have a 6th grader.