Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More FIRSTS....

So Olivia has had a VERY busy last couple weeks. She is now officially crawling upright on all fours. In fact she crawls on one knee and one foot, as she's thinks she's ready to walk. She is really getting around the house on her own now. She just started pulling herself up and is really good at it already. She stood on her own for a couple seconds (several times in fact) on Christmas Eve and got her first tooth on Christmas Day. She ate her first Swedish Meatballs on Christmas Eve (and loved them) and of course celebrated her first Christmas!

Her doctor appointment today was a success! She's happy, healthy and growing.

She is now to the stage where I can look at her and we just laugh together ...for no real reason! She is a joy to us and to her sisters.

Abigail and Emma especially enjoyed some Grammy time over the past few days. They have been such a delight over the past few weeks, despite both having a flu bug.

Sorry I don't have any pictures to post. I haven't uploaded any in awhile, and likely won't get to it soon, as we've been busy packing to move.

Just wanted to post a quick note!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Crawling & Clapping

My last post was just a couple days ago, at which time Olivia was NOT crawling. But she gave us an official move last night and now we can say, "SHE'S CRAWLING!" She's not up on all fours, but pulls herself along, with her left arm tucked under, just like Abigail did. We called it the WOUNDED SOLDIER crawl. It doesn't matter how she's getting around... when she's intentionally mobile, it's crawling! So we now have a crawling baby in our house. She's still trying to figure out the movement when up on all fours, so we'll see if she really gets up pretty soon.

She also is clapping now. It's so cute. She's been watching us do it lately, and just smiles away. But now she can do it herself too. It seems like she's grown up quite a bit in the last couple weeks. Oh boy! Here we go!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sitting up!

I can hardly believe that Olivia is 8 months old already. We've been home for three months. It seems like we only arrived yesterday and yet in some ways it seems like we've been home forever. Olivia is doing very well. She is now sitting up and is working on crawling, but not quite there yet. She is getting up on her hands and knees, so it should be soon! She STILL doesn't have any teeth, although I thought FOR SURE they would be in by "tomorrow" which I've been thinking since the day we met her. She is eating well and sleeping well. She smiles much more easily now and even giggles sometimes when we look at her.

Abigail & Emma are still LOVING their baby sister and are eager to do whatever they can to help her. They love to make her smile and giggle now, and it is such a joy for me to watch. I KNEW they would be good with their baby sister, but I am continually amazed at HOW MUCH they love her and how good they are with her.

Here's a picture of them putting barettes in Olivia's hair!

And here's a picture of story time before bed.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Things NOW!

We have been home for eight weeks now. In some ways it feels like forever, and in some ways it feels like we just got here. Abigail and Emma LOVE their new sister and desire so much to help take care of her. They are always willing to get her a toy, say something silly to her to get her to smile or let us know when she needs a bottle or Mommy snuggles. Olivia loves being with her sisters, and will fuss a bit if Abigail and Emma leave the room. She loves to watch them play and she smiles easily for them. It is so sweet to see them all interact with such love for each other.

Olivia is getting bigger and stronger, and has even grown out of some clothes that fit her when we first met her. She seems very tall to me, but that might be because I'm used to munchkin babies. My prediction is that she will weigh as much as her big sister's within nine months. She is rolling over, but isn't crawling yet.... although she's working on getting her bottom up in the air during tummy time, so it will only be a matter of time. She scootches around the floor as she plays, although I don't think she even realizes she's doing it herself. She is working on sitting up by herself too. Her hair is getting long, and I'm trying to find a good style and product for her hair. If anyone has any suggestions, I'm open to them! Usually she sports a barrette or a headband. I have considered trying to "do" her hair by braiding, rubber bands, etc, but there's something odd to me about a six month old having things like that in her hair. She loves to babble and say, "DaDaDaDa". Too bad she doesn't know what she's saying yet. She is eating solid foods regularly now, and seems to like most all foods we've tried thus far. She is a pretty happy baby, and is fairly content to be with others, although when she's upset, she really wants MOMMY to help her calm down. She sleeps pretty well, but not nearly as well as she did during the first six weeks home. The past couple weeks she's decided it's great to wake in the night... just in time for Mommy to go back to work! She's spoiled me, so I'm not used to getting up with her in the night. Sean has two official Daddy days under his belt now with all three girls all day, and has done GREAT!

We're all working on a new routine now, as I am back to work, pre-school is in session and the summer is coming to a close. Life now seems a bit crazier than it was while I was off work, but we are all doing well and adjusting to our new life together.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The last several days....

We spent the next day caring for Olivia and trying to get to know her. We had our Embassy appointment on Tuesday (sorry, no pics, as cameras were not allowed), which was an exciting day, as we got to see Olivia's Ethiopian visa and hear confirmation that the US is recognizing her adoption, but we had to wait two more days for her visa to be issued to allow her to enter the United States.

We spent Wednesday hanging out with some new friends who live in Ethiopia -Henoch and Theresa. They both were born in Ethiopia, but Theresa grew up in Canada and Henoch went to college in CA. It was so good to spend time with them to get their perspective on Ethiopia from a more American point of view, as they had a pretty good understanding of both cultures. Theresa took us shopping in the morning to pick up a few more items to help us remember Ethiopia and in the afternoon she took us to an orphanage outside of the city which they are trying to support. This orphanage houses 53 children -from toddlers up to teens, and helps to support other children who live elsewhere as well. They have a building consisting of two rooms, one for the boys and one for the girls. Each room has rows of bunk beds. The children are trying to grow their own gardens to help with food. But this orphanage needs help. They have volunteers who care for them when they can. They do not have any permanent full-time care. They are in desperate need of food and a kitchen in which to prepare food. I was told all of these children are adoptable, but their is no focus on finding families for these children, as they first need food to sustain them. These children need help.

Our dear friends Jeff and Bethany are working with Henoch and Theresa to find supporters for this orphanage, to find sponsors for these children, and to find donors to help them be able to build a kitchen. If you are interested in helping these children, please visit theperpetualchange.me for more information and to donate.

The rest of the time we spent loving on Olivia, hanging out with some of the other families in our travel group, going for short walks and packing of course.
This is the view from our hotel room!

Another view from our hotel room. These boys are employed as shoe shiners. They check out every pair of shoes which walks by and even wants to shine shoes which aren't shinable.
A man walking by. I like the view of this picture. We were on the fourth floor, so this is a pretty good zoom.
Nap time.
We received Olivia's passport and visa on Thursday morning and departed for home that night.

Monday, September 20, 2010


On Sunday we took custody of our precious baby Olivia. It was an exciting and joyous day for the adopting families. All seven families in our travel group were so excited for this day. We started out by filling out some paperwork together as a group for our appointments at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Tuesday. Then we got some lunch while we waited. We all returned to the Guest House to wait for our special deliveries. Then we waited some more. And finally the van arrived with the nannies and our children. The nannies handed over our precious children and said their good-byes to all the kids. These were kids that they had spent at least two months caring for. I can't imagine how difficult it must be for them to have to say good-bye to these kids -knowing how the kids were pretty scared and unsure of what was in store for them. Remember, for each of these kids, their lives were turning upside down. New parents (of course), but also new clothes, new foods, new scents, new homes, new language, new sights, first airplane rides. These children had to leave absolutely EVERYTHING they knew behind except for memories. This is a part of adoption which makes my heart ache. Adoption is a beautiful thing -an amazing blessing to families who are welcoming children, but it is so heart-breaking for the children to have to suffer so much loss.
Nanny handing Olivia over to me.
Sean having a moment with Olivia!
Nanny saying her good-byes to Olivia for the last time.
Some kisses for baby Olivia!
These are some of the families traveling with us to get our precious children.
After we all loved on and played with our children, we headed back to our hotel -very anxious to change Olivia's clothes into something pink and girly and to play with her.

Daddy and Olivia smiling at each other!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Traveling out of the city

We spent two days of our trip outside of the city, which I must say was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was so beautiful to see the scenery in the southern area of Ethiopia. We took a five hour van ride to Awassa, and we couldn't capture enough of the scenery. It was just gorgeous....much more what I pictured when I thought of Ethiopia. We saw farm-land, lots of animals -cows, goats, donkeys and chickens. We saw green lush land, fields of crops, gorgeous trees, massive termite hills, fields being plowed with oxen, and children herding animals. We saw grass homes, rolling hills and beautiful people.

We arrived in Awassa and visited the orphanage where Olivia was originally taken by her birth mom. We got a brief tour and were able to see some of the other children who are there still waiting to be matched with their adoptive families. We saw many babies -from just a few days old to older babies and toddlers primarily. When we visited the area where the toddlers were, as they poured out of the room, each one of them greeted us with amazing hugs and kisses. It was just heart-breaking. These children were longing for love. Some of them gave brief hugs and moved on and others held on much longer, with a tight grip. It was overwhelming to me to see these children and see their huge need for a family.

This is Esther, who was Olivia's nanny while she was at this orphanage. Look how tall Sean and I look next to her!!!

In this picture Esther is standing next to the bed which was Olivia's while she was there, which was just a few days more than a month.

After our tour of the facility, we waited to meet Olivia's birth mom. It was a bit awkward. Afterall, what do you really say to a woman who gave birth to your daughter? Other than, "Thank you for the amazing gift you've given to our family" of course. We had the opportunity, via two interpreters (to cover three languages) to ask her some questions about herself, her family and the brief time she was able to spend with Olivia. It was a bit surreal and a bit impersonal with so many people involved in the conversation, but we were so grateful that she was willing and strong enough to travel to meet us and share information with us, which will be so special to Olivia as she grows up. This was an amazing experience.

After the emotional birth parent meetings, we visited a nearby park, which was a much needed break from the intensity of the day. I was so excited to see monkeys!!! We were able to feed them from our hands and they enjoyed getting on our laps too. I am a huge monkey fan, so this was an especially special treat for me. We also saw the beautiful Lake Awassa, in which the town is named after. We did a bit of shopping before heading to our hotel for the night.

Lake Awassa!
The following day, after purchasing some raw coffee beans, per Sean's special request, we traveled back to the city, another five hour trip through the beautiful southern part of Ethiopia. That evening we were taken to an authentic Ethiopian restaurant which included some live entertainment with singers and dancers.

At the market. The local kids surrounded us. I guess they weren't used to seeing tourists.