Thursday, December 30, 2010

Language


video

I took this video a few weeks ago. Aliyah is learning so many new words each day, she continues to amaze us with how quickly she is adapting.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas

I have wonderful memories of Christmas as I was growing up. Then you hit your twenties and the holiday looses a little of the luster and excitement. But then once we had children the holiday became magical again as we share in their excitement while also trying to teach them that the day is about more than Santa and gifts. This Christmas was extra special now that Aliyah is home. After years of paperwork and court delays, it's hard to believe that she is home with us forever. We met several families on our second trip who were in Ethiopia on their first trip. Many of them had not passed court because of incomplete paperwork and then they later had their visa appointments pushed back for unknown reasons. These delays have caused them to spend another holiday without their children. I pray for these families that they will be going back to Ethiopia soon to bring their children home. It also makes me appreciate how lucky we were that our visa appointment got moved up to an earlier date so that we got to have our daughter with us for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

This year we had the boys pick our gifts for each other. You can't tell from the picture but they did have fun exchanging gifts.

It was so fun watching Aliyah slowly unwrap her gifts and the joy on her face as she saw what was inside.

Noah showing his shark teeth.

After Christmas morning at home we went to church and then over to my moms house to have dinner with my mom, stepdad, grandma and my sister's family. Overall a great Christmas for this party of five :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Clothes!






Now I'm not a super girly girl but I have to admit, girl clothes are fun! Aliyah loves getting dressed and loves her headbands, hair clips, bracelets, shoes and all of that.

In case you are wondering about the bandaids, she has a skin condition called mollescums which is basically a pox virus. They are slowly clearing up and luckily she hasn't developed many new ones. Eventually they pop (lovely, I know) and when they do we cover them with a bandaid to try to keep them from spreading.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Birthday Extravaganza

While Noah is great at being a big brother to Aliyah, there have definitely been some challenges to him adjusting to the changes in our family. To help him adjust to his new role as big brother and middle child we have been trying to make sure to give him lots of extra love and attention which translated into an extra special birthday celebration this year.

The celebration started with a family party to celebrate the three December birthdays in our family. I was assigned dessert and my baker extraordinaire friend recommended a great website that gave fun cupcake decorating tips. The final product was red velvet cupcakes with jelly belly decorations. Thanks for the tip Meg!

The December birthdays. Noah (4), Jordan (12), and Grandpa John.

Noah's actual birthday was on Nick's last day of school before Christmas break. Nick's teacher was kind enough to let Noah join in the first grade holiday party.

And to cap off the celebration we had a party at a local indoor play place with friends. Overall it was a great birthday celebration for our very special 4 year old!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ready for Christmas


To say that Christmas is a little extra special this year may be an understatement :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Outtakes

For anyone who we sent a Christmas card to who may be wondering why I include photos of the children individually rather than one good photo of all three, this is why....













Friday, December 10, 2010

Play Date


Two of my girlfriends and their two beautiful daughters came over to meet Aliyah last weekend (she is starting to respond to Aliyah as well as Meseret so we are slowing changing to Aliyah). And while you can't tell from this picture, they had fun playing together! These three girls are only about five months apart in age so hopefully this is the first of many play dates.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Orphanage Visit

In addition to the visa appointment, the other major event on the second trip to Ethiopia is the orphanage visit. This is the opportunity for the adoptive parents to see the orphanage their child was at prior to being referred for international adoption and moving to the transition home in Addis. The orphanage that Meseret is from is about three hours from Addis and we went to visit along with a guide and two other families the day before we left to come home. One family was adopting a 14 year old girl, also named Meseret, who had lived at the orphanage for three years before being adopted. The other family was a very nice couple who were adopting a baby girl that, for some reason that was a bit unclear, was at the orphanage and not the transition home. That means this couple was meeting their daughter for the first time, seeing her orphanage and meeting the birth mother all in one day!


This orphanage has about 10 older kids living there who are either on a waiting list to be adopted or are not eligible for adoption. They were very excited to see both big and little Meseret. It was clear that she was well loved during the year she was there.

One of the older girls prepared coffee for us in the traditional Ethiopian way.


Mezi's crib from age 3-15 months.

This nanny motioned to us to please take her picture with Mezi.

Pete and I were able to talk to the Director of the orphanage and we learned more about the circumstances that Mezi ended up there. We are grateful to have learned more so we can share her early history with her when she is older.

This is my favorite picture. The kids saw some books in our backpack and had so much fun reading them. I taught them the names of the animals in the books and they were so proud when I could point to one and they remembered the word. I may have also made a few animal noises :)


I look at this picture and there is so much emotion in this moment as we were leaving. We all went to lunch afterward before the long drive home and we practically ate in silence. I think we were all numb from emotions of the day and the whole experience. It was a day we will never forget and we are so thankful for the opportunity to see Mezi's orphanage.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful Turkey

Noah's preschool did a thankful turkey project where each student crafted a turkey and then the teacher typed up what the student said they were thankful for. Last night there was a large potluck and the parents got to view all of the recent art projects. Almost all of the students in Noah's class said they were thankful for some type of a toy such as their favorite dinosaur or Lightening McQueen. I was one proud mama when I came to Noah's turkey and saw what he was thankful for.

However, in the interest of full disclosure, Noah then proceeded to bicker with the brother he is so thankful for throughout the rest of the evening. So while it's not hugs and kisses and kum bay ya 24/7 at Casa Houston, we are all thankful for each other and especially to have Aliyah Meseret at home.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Our first trip to Ethiopia had a lot of challenges with us being one of the first travel groups to go on the new two trip requirement. Thankfully, the second trip had less issues and overall went really well. We stayed at a different guest house this time and met a lot more adoptive families from both our agency and other agencies. It was so wonderful to share this life changing experience with some truly wonderful families. We were able to have Meseret stay with us the entire trip this time. Besides the embassy appointment to get her visa to bring her to the US and our visit to the orphanage, there were also several cultural outings offered by our agency such as a trip to the national museum, shopping and a traditional meal and coffee ceremony. Here are some more pictures from the second trip.

Ethiopia has a very high unemployment rate so it's not uncommon to see large groups of people sitting in public areas passing the time.


This is a traditional style dwelling that we saw on the drive through the country to the orphanage about 3 hours away from Addis. Although as Pete pointed out I somehow managed to get a picture of the only stone dwelling as most of them were built with sticks or mud.

Everywhere we went, animals shared the road with the cars.


It's not uncommon to see men walking with their arms around each other or holding hands.


The traditional coffee ceremony where they roast the beans. It smells SOOO good!


Mezi knew exactly how to eat the stew with her injera (the flat bread.) We are practicing making injera now that we are home.


An 18 cent cup of coffee.


Mezi is very observant and mimics everything we do. With two older brothers to show her the ropes she is adapting to her new life and home very quickly. Needless to say we feel very blessed!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cocoon Stage

We are home! I will post more about our second trip (which was amazing!) later. Above is one of my favorite pictures from this trip though. For now we are calling our daughter Mezi, which is an abbreviation of her nick name Meseret, because that is what she knows and responds to. She loves bracelets so we bought her a few on our shopping trip the last day as well as the hat she is wearing.

Mezi did great on the flight but it was still oh so looong. 18 hours flying time plus a five hour layover in Frankfurt makes for a very tired travel group. Our dear friend Kate was so kind to take time out from a get together at her home to come pick us up at the airport.


This was the first morning home and the boys were arguing over who got to have Mezi on their lap. She took to the boys right away and follows them all over the house. I think having older kids is really helping her transition because after all, she is used to having lots of other children around all the time. Our goal was to just keep Mezi at home this week while the boys stay in their normal routine. However, this morning it was obvious that she wanted to go with them when they left for school as she put her shoes on while they put on theirs so she may start going with them for drop offs and pick ups sooner than we anticipated.

It amazes us with how quickly she is adapting, it's hard to believe we've only been home a few days! However, for every typical toddler moment like this we have, she also has times were she is obviously scared or confused. She likes Pete and is getting more comfortable with him but when she is really tired or scared she wants me.



She also very quickly learned the game of dropping things for mom and dad to pick up. Right now we are doing our very best to spoil her. A big part of this is establishing trust that we will meet her needs. Nick really seems to get this and tries to find toys to play with her and ways to make her smile. Noah is taking a little longer to adjust to his new big brother role which is understandable since he is no longer the youngest. For now we are just so thankful to be home and how well our daughter is adjusting to her family and home. If you had told us this summer that we would have her home before Thanksgiving we wouldn't have believed it. It's not hard to guess what we are thankful for this year :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nick's Corner

Brought to you by Nicholas, typed by Mom.

Mesi came home yesterday. I taught her how to say ball. She is a good little sister and I like to play with her. She is eating a lot. I like having a little sister. She also like lollipops and bread. She likes to play with balls and cars and bracelets.

More to come from mom later...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Beat Goes On


It's crazy to think that two weeks ago we were in Ethiopia and that life at home just continues without missing a beat. That means soccer practices, games, homework and of course Halloween. The boys weren't trying for a theme but Noah did get a kick out of saying that he was Nick's father. And I just happened to have a Princess Leah outfit from last year so I joined in the family act.


As much as we are consumed in the day to day routine at home, we are eagerly counting down the days until we can return to Ethiopia and bring our daughter home. We got a very unexpected surprise that our paperwork went through faster than originally thought which meant we could return even sooner! For anyone who has been following this process (which is coming up on three years), delays have been more the norm for us so we were thrilled! The last few days we have been running around buying all of the things that we want to take on the second trip with us. Another adoptive mom had recommended a back child carrier to help with bonding so Pete went and got one this weekend. The carrier can support up to 40 pounds so our very own 40 pounder was willing to help try it out. Noah thought it was hilarous and Nick was wishing he were a few pounds lighter so he could have tried it as well.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Taste of Ethiopia

Here are some pictures of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.


Me and Pete in front of the courthouse after passing court.


The coffee there is SOOO good. Pete and I went to this coffee place every day and on the last day Meseret got to come with us :)


A multi tasking mom.


This was the walk to our guest house.


Goats crossing the road as we left the Sheraton where we went to get more money out.


Typical stores. Most of the city had little shops like this.

Pete and I found a beer we both really liked, St. George.

Dinner our first night. A traditional Ethiopian meal of injera and curries. Really good!