Sunday, December 30, 2007

Antartica Video

Listed at the bottom of this post is a link to my share page at I have posted a photo montage of my parents' trip to Antartica. They had a good time but one that they said they may not always recommend. The pictures are wonderful they just have concerns about the safety of the trip. You will see a picture early in the video of a boat sinking. This is not the cruise ship, Explorer, that sank later in their trip. The pictures of the small boats and a large cruise ship sinking are of the Explorer rescue. As you may remember, my parents were on the rescue boat and not the Explorer. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured in the sinking or rescue. I hope you enjoy the video.

A Lot Of Spilled Milk

Ok. I realize that Jacob is a very good kid. Another mother pointed out yesterday how very few "2 year old" problems I have had. But this one is beginning to drive me nuts. Every time I turn around, Jacob is spilling milk, juice, water or anything liquid. He seems to think it is fun to splash the liquid around and watch it pour off the table. I have tried having him clean it up but he just spreads it more. I have tried time-outs but this only works for a few minutes. I have tried not giving him anything else to drink. He happily goes off until the next time he gets the opportunity. Sippy cups are great but he really doesn't need them. He knows how to drink out of regular cups and not spill. So if any experienced parents have advice, let me know. Otherwise, I'll just have to wait until he grows out of this phase too.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sierra to the rescue!

Jacob gave me the scare of a lifetime yesterday. I took a short shower (about 10 minutes) like I do most mornings. I came out of the shower and noticed it was quiet. This is common as Jacob likes to take these 10 minutes in the mornings to see if he can do something I wouldn't normally allow. I snuck down the hallway expecting to see him "cooking" in the kitchen sink or reorganizing the DVDs. Instead, I noticed the front door wide open and Jacob and the dog gone. The door could not have been open for very long. The cold air hadn't even reached the hallway yet and it was only about 30 degrees outside.
I threw my head out the door (wearing just a towel and still soaking wet) and yelled for Jacob. I heard his pouty cry that he gives when he has fallen in the snow and wants me to pick him up. I couldn't see him though. I raced through the house and threw on the first pair of pants and shirt I saw. As I stepped into a pair of boots, a neighbor walked up the steps with my son in his arms and my dog at his heels. He said that Sierra (the dog) had come over to him and got his attention. He then noticed Jacob outside in just his slipper pajamas and one of my t-shirts.
After I calmed down and got myself and Jacob dressed, I followed Jacob's footsteps in the snow. He had gone to the neighbor's front porch. What was more amazing was that my dog's footprints stayed right with him and only left when she went to the neighbor's house to get the neighbor. Jacob's hands were a little cold but other than that, he was fine.
I have now ordered a new front door with better locks. I tried putting a 14 pound bottle of kitty litter in front of the door but Jacob easily moved it. I now have a very heavy box of books. It takes me to hands to lift it and Jacob can't get it to budge. Jacob also promises to never go outside without Mommy again!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Very Merry Christmas!

Since this is the first year that I have a child to share Christmas with, I got to decide which Christmas traditions to keep and what new ones to start. Our first tradition began the night before. As I have done for the past seven years, I celebrate Christmas a week early with the kids I mentor. The girls decided to spend their gift cards in the afternoon. We went to a nice resteraunt afterwards where I spent far more on a meal than I normally do. B and Jacob loved watching the fish and Jacob even was allowed to feed them.

Christmas Eve we wraped christmas presents. Jacob helped with the tape and put the bows and name tags on them. We took our afternoon naps and then made cookies. It was Jacob's gift to the rest of the family. We had dinner and then got ready for church. The above picture is after Jacob was dressed for church. He thought the doll's glasses were a great finishing touch!
Santa Claus arrived Christmas morning to confirm what I already believed. Jacob has been a very good boy this year. We took the new train set Santa left over to Grandma and Grandpa's house. Grandma and Jacob enjoyed playing with it while they waited to open Christmas presents.
After a wonderful lunch, Jacob played with his favorite toy of the day. His new Giggle and Go Sesame Street garage. He really loves the car elevator and all of the "garages." I will admit that this is one of my favorite toys also.
We concluded the day by saying a special prayer at bedtime remembering our family and friends in Ethiopia and America. I hope that our Christmas traditions will teach Jacob about the many values of the holiday. Church will be a good reminder of why we celebrate and to keep God and Jesus involved. Wrapping gifts and baking cookies for others will help us remember the joy of giving. Enjoying our gifts will help us remember how loved and blessed we are. Our evening prayer will help us remember our past, present and future and be grateful for all of it.

Monday, December 24, 2007

A Christmas Wish Come True

It was 2 years ago on Christmas day that I decided to adopt a child. I had been thinking about adoption for awhile but did not believe a single woman could adopt a baby. I wasn't ready to adopt an older child through foster care and wanted to wait a few more years. I began searching web sites wondering if I could find a photo listing of foster children available for adoption.

As I searched the adoption agencies, I discovered single women could adopt. The decision was made immediately. I called a friend who also stated she wanted to adopt a child and had been thinking about it. We attended an informational meeting the following month and the rest is history. Jacob is that Christmas wish and my friend is anxiously waiting for her wish to come true. She is on the waiting list for an infant from a different country.

Over the past two years, many things have changed. As I considered which agency to use and which country to go through, my son's Ethiopian mother was trying to decide if she would be able to raise him or if she should make an adoption plan. Two years later, I hope that we are both happy with the decisions that were made. I know I am.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Beginning To Understand Christmas

I have been very busy this week trying to prepare for Christmas. Our tree is now up, our stocking hung and gifts bought (or those that can't wait until next week). Jacob understands that a special day is coming with presents, church and family. He is being patient but gets excited whenever he sees Santa Claus.

One of my worries as a parent is that Jacob will only see Christmas as a time to get gifts. That it will be all about gift giving and none of the other important parts. He put some of those fears to rest last week. We had been talking about what he wanted for Christmas. I suggested cars, trains, airplanes, clothes, things for his baby, etc. Jacob stopped me and stated he wanted "Uncle Chuck can play." He is already learning that one of the best parts of Christmas is having family together and being able to "play."

Jacob's Christmas wish came a little early last week. We had dinner with my parents and brother. I found Chuck's old toy barn in the basement. Uncle Chuck and Jacob had fun exploring it and learning how animals live on a farm.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Meeting Santa!

Last weekend we had breakfast with Santa. It was at the YMCA and open to children 2-6 years old. Many of Jacob's friends from preschool were there as well as his preschool teacher. Although it was earlier in the morning than we normally operate, Jacob was a trooper and had a great time.

We began with a continental style breakfast. Jacob really loved the bagels with strawberry cream cheese.

After breakfast we met Santa Claus. The older kids sang songs with Santa but Jacob isn't really into singing yet. He may enjoy it more when he is older. Right now, he will sing in the car softly if he thinks I am not paying attention. As soon as he realizes I am listening, he will give a nervous giggle and stop. I think it is because he isn't able to say the words in the song yet. A few more months should fix that problem. He is getting much better at pronouncing his words every day.

After meeting Santa, the kids received a small gift. Jacob really enjoyed it and wanted to take the other childrens' gifts also. He doesn't quite understand that everything doesn't belong to him. I am hoping this is a phase that passes quickly.

I am sure Jacob does not understand who Santa is or what Christmas is about yet. He is beginning to understand though. He loves the Christmas trees and the lights. He understands that this is an exciting time of the year and that he will get to see Uncle Chuck. That is enough to make him happy.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Preparing For Christmas

We finally put the Christmas decorations up today. It is getting late and I was afraid it wouldn't get done if we didn't do it today.
Many families have a tradition of putting decorations up Thanksgiving weekend. I never allowed my family to do that. My birthday is November 28 and I always made them wait until after my birthday. I still follow that same tradition. I had today off work and we had some extra time so I thought it was a good day to do it.
Jacob helped me decide where to put the decorations. He watched as I set the nativity scene up and explored under the tree. I turned the lights on and he stated "wow!" He loves looking at the Christmas lights and we took a drive to look at some tonight. It was a fun afternoon and he is excited about experiencing his first American Christmas. I don't know what they did at his orphanage in Ethiopia but I do know that it was very different than what he will experience as part of a family in America.

Foster Care Classes

I am excited to announce that I begin the classes for foster care licensing next month. I was worried about getting off work to attend class. My slips all came back approved yesterday so I am well on my way to becoming licensed. My house is almost ready (completing some improvements for a home study last year helped a lot.) I still need to change some door knobs (they have to have locks) and replace a smoke detector that is not working. Other than that, the house is ready to go!

I am very excited to open my house up to another young child. As my doctor said, being a single parent is difficult but having a house full of children is wonderful. Jacob also has "only child syndrome" very badly. He thinks he should always be the center of attention and that eveyone around him is here to play with him. He will have to adjust to have other children living here but it will be good for him.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Nap Time Troubles!

First, let me say that Jacob is no where near ready to give up naps. I am not either so I don't see an end to our mid-day naps/quiet time anytime soon. The problem is that we leave the house at 1:40 so that I can get him to the babysitter and me to work before 3.

The past 2 days we have been busy and haven't been able to lay down at 12:15. Both days it was closer to 12:45. After 10 minutes of stalling, Jacob has been lucky to be asleep by 1:00. Last night he fell asleep while the babysitter was still cooking supper. He ate a snack at midnight when we got home and a huge lunch. I predict the same thing today. If only I could switch to dayshift soon!

I am continuing to enforce nap time and will probably do so until he either doesn't need it or I don't need it. Working second shift, it is very important for both of us. It is the only way we by with not going to bed until 1 AM (he sleeps at the sitter's before I get there but is then up for about 1 1/2 hours after I get off work) and getting up between 7:30 and 8 in the morning. He will just need to continue to take the naps that he hates but needs.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Welcome Home!

My parents have safely returned from Antartica. They said they loved the trip and it was quite an adventure. Due to the unexpected emergencies, they were offered a discount on a future trip to Antartica but I think one trip will be enough.
One of their favorite parts of the trip were the penguins. There is a rule about how close they can approach the penguins but no rule on how close the penguins can come to them. Apparently the penguins were as curious about them as they were about the penguins. They said some of the penguins came within feet of them! It sounded like a wonderful trip. I really wish I could have gone.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Snow is Fun!

Snow is so much fun! Or, at least when you have a mom to do all of the shoveling and scraping :)
We received about 6 inches of very wet snow followed by light rain yesterday. Today, we tried to shovel our way out of it. I wasn't very successful. I got about half of the driveway (thanks to the help of my two wonderful babysitters) and the end of the driveway (thanks to my neighbor with the snow blower) done. The other half iced up before I could finish it. I don't know what to do now. It will either get warm over the next few days and will melt or I'll have to get out there and just keep trying to break it up.
Jacob thought the snow was great. He spent a lot of time just falling into it and rolling around. He also thought sledding down the snow bank at the side of the driveway was fun. He didn't want to go back inside but it was getting late. There will be plenty more snow before Winter ends.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Breakfast In Bed

Jacob decided to treat me to breakfast in bed this morning. He brought me a box of Cheerios and 2 cans of soda (one for each of us). It was a very sweet offer. We ate the cheerios but decided juice would be a better beverage choice :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Very Good Birthday

I turned 30 years old today! I remember when I thought that was so old. I now realize it isn't (and if you think it is don't tell me!). I was expecting today to be a somber day. It isn't the age so much as that my parents are out of the country and I was scheduled to work. I didn't think anyone would remember and that I would slowly get phone calls over the next few weeks as people remembered. I was (and am) looking forward to my family's celebration dinner sometime in the next couple of weeks when everyone is in town.

The day was definitelly not what I was anticipating. Jacob and I woke up a few minutes before 8 this morning. The phone rang about 5 minutes later and it was my parents! They were on a military base in Antartica and were calling to wish me a happy birthday. I knew that they wouldn't forget me but I really didn't expect them to call in the middle of their trip. It really made my day to hear that they are doing well!

A couple hours later, my cell phone rang again. My friend in California was on her way to work but wanted to call to wish me a happy birthday. I couldn't believe it! I am always happy to hear from her so it was another great treat.

Jacob have me 4 1/2 hours off work tonight. He came down with some kind of stomach bug that lasted about 2 hours. By the time the babysitter decided to call me and I got there from work, Jacob was over it. We came home and had a nice couple of hours together at home before he went to bed. I hate to have him sick but am very grateful it was only a couple hours and nothing serious. The time off work with him (not sick) was nice.

I'm not happy about turning 30 but I know that life is good and I have a lot of happy years ahead of me. I have family and friends who love me and that is what is important.

Friday, November 23, 2007


Yes, we braved the crowds and went shopping today. The only thing I bought me was a new pair of pink pajamas. Pink has always been my favorite color and it is one of Jacob's also. He loved my new pajama pants and insisted on wearing them to bed. I realize someday he will be too big to fit into my clothes but I am enjoying it right now.

Everyone's Alright!

Everyone's alright! As many people have already heard, there was a cruise ship near Antartica that had an emergency and may be sinking. It was not the ship my parents are on. My parents are on the ship that is being used as a rescue ship. They called today stating they are continuing on with their trip. They should be home in under two weeks. We are anxiously waiting for them here.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

It will be Thanksgiving in just a few hours. This will be Jacob's 1st Thanksgiving in America. I hope he enjoys it. We are going to my parents house to enjoy the day with my brother. My parents are still in Antartica but we will be thinking about them and missing them. Here are the reasons I am thankful this year.

1) For all of our family and friends (including my new Ethiopian family and Jacob's birth family).

2) For the love and support we receive from our friends and family.

3)For my son! I cannot believe we have been a family for 8 months. It still seems like a dream to me.

4)For a warm home, clothes and food in our bellies.

5) To live in a country where good medical care is available.

6) To live in a country where I don't have to worry about wars and can feel safe in my home.

7) For all the blessings God gives me that I am not even aware of.

8) For every moment I spend with my son. Yes, that even includes when he is having a tantrum and testing me.

9) For our health.

10) For the strength God gave me as I suffered through losing family members that I love and miss dearly.

There are many other things I am thankful for. Despite my frustrations at times, I am very lucky and blessed. I may sometimes feel overwhelmed but I never forget how good I have it. Especially when I see my son playing or smiling.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Early Morning Wake Up

Ok. So it wasn't really early morning. Jacob was nice yesterday and let me stay in bed until 8. At that time, I heard "open" at the side of my bed. I rolled over to see Jacob holding a jar of peanut butter. He then states, "Open. I cook." Of course, I immediatley had visions of him, my carpet and most of the house covered in peanut butter. I chose to let him tantrum and save our home. We decided to have a quick breakfast and head off to preschool instead.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

An Evening With Uncle Chuck

Jacob's babysitter had to cancel yesterday. Apparently, her son is sick and unable to be around other children. Since my parents are out of town, that left me scrambling and begging people to help me out. I called my brother and he quickly stated he would be happy to help me out. Despite the fact that Chuck has never changed a diaper on a real person or been responsible for a child under about 8 years old, he did very well.
Jacob, Uncle Chuck and I stayed at my parents last night. There are a lot of reasons why this arrangement is better than our house or my brother's apartment. When we got up this morning, Jacob followed Uncle Chuck around the house saying "Unca Cuck." He really loves his uncle and was very excited to be able to spend time with him. (The picture above was taken a couple weeks ago but the relationship and faces haven't changed.)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Letter To Our Ethiopian Family

There is often a debate in adoption about whether records should be open or closed. I guess I believe that they should be open in most cases. I also believe the birth mother/father should be allowed to have the records sealed if they choose. For all those potential adoptive parents who fear allowing a relationship, let me say that you owe your child all of the information you can find about his/her past. I believe that the fewer questions children have about where they came from, the better they will feel about themselves and their histories.

I was fortunate to be able to meet members of Jacob's birth family in Ethiopia. I promised them that I would write to them and let them know how Jacob is doing. They told me Jacob's story which I will gladly share with him as he grows up. He is a lucky little boy. He is loved by two families. One family lives in Ethiopia and one family lives in America. Our lives are very different but one thing is the same. We all love Jacob very much and want the very best for him.

I fulfilled my promise last week to write to his Ethiopian family. I updated them on how much Jacob has grown (8 inches in 8 months) and how well he is doing. I addressed the letter to our Ethiopian family because they are. One thing everyone agrees about is that our families are now connected. I have family here in America and in Ethiopia. I am honored to be able to teach Jacob about both.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Not A Tent!

In some families, the above photo would be called a tent. Not in ours. If you look closely, you can see the wheels of a truck under the blanket. It is Jacob's "garage door." That is the name he gives all garages after his fascination with cars and garages. He loves to watch garage doors open and close. Grandma and Grandpa made it Jacob's "job" to open and close the garage door at their house whenever we need into the garage.
After two days of begging to go to Grandpa's house, I finally came up with the idea to make a countdown calendar. We are now marking off the days until Grandma and Grandpa come home. I hope they know how much they are missed around here. Jacob will be so happy when they return!

Monday, November 12, 2007

They Are Off To Antartica!

My parents (Jacob's grandparents) have left for Antarctica. They will be gone for 23 days. This will be the first time that they will be gone for more than just a few days since Jacob came home. I am nervous but also very happy that they are able to go on the trip.
My parents have really been the supportive rock that I hoped they would be. They love Jacob and enjoy spending time with him. I can (and do) call them at any time day or night when I need an emergency babysitter. Knowing that I am going for 23 days without that is scary but I have friends and my brother that I can call if I need to. I will miss having the security of knowing they are available and of being able to call for advice anytime I have a question.
Jacob wakes up every morning and asks to go to "Bampa's house." He gets upset when we do not see them for a couple of days. He will really miss going over and playing chase with Bampa and reading about cars with Grandma. It is so much fun to watch them have the relationship that I always wished I could have had with my grandparents (mine didn't live near me).
Twenty-three days will go by quickly. Jacob will be bigger and I will have learned a few more lessons on parenting while they are gone. We will miss them but know that they are going on an exciting adventure. I hope they have fun and look forward to seeing them when they return.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's been 8 months!

Wow! Time does fly when you are a mother of a young child. I met Jacob 8 months ago today. I still remember the butterflies in my stomach as I searched the toddlers trying to figure out which child was mine. It is amazing to realize that you are about to meet a child who has been yours legally for over a month but you have never met and do not even recognize.
One of the nannies was holding Jacob because he wouldn't sit still for sun bathing. It is amazing they are able to get most of the children sitting quietly taking in the sun. I do not know how they manage to do it. The nanny put Jacob in his chair and I was told to pick him up. I was told he is shy at first and afraid of new people. I was sure he would cry as soon as this strange looking woman picked him up.
The nanny told Jacob I was his "mommy" and the rest is history. He didn't scream and didn't want me to leave. Within 2 visits, Jacob would cry every time I returned him to his room in the orphanage. He was a sweet child who decided immediately I was his mommy.
Not all children attach that quickly. It is wonderful when it happens but it is not always the case. I know my next child may very well have more difficulty learning to accept me as a mother figure in his/her life. For today though, I will just be grateful for the sweet little boy who attached quickly and with little effort.

Social Worker Update

So I spent two days cleaning my house and making sure there weren't any piles of clutter. Of course, Jacob made sure that there were still toys out as any healthy 2-year-old does when Mom is cleaning. The social worker arrived 15 minutes late and was here for about 5 minutes. She stated I should relax and that the house is fine. She also told me that my references were coming in fine and that I should hear from her again after Christmas.

That is a relief. I am excited about the prospect of becoming a foster parent. I am also scared and have many of the same fears I had when adopting Jacob. I am still waiting for someone to say that I should not be a parents for whatever reason. Jacob is legally mine but I still wait for the next social worker to say I have enough children. I know that won't happen and I believe it is a fear every foster/adoptive parent has no matter how many home visits and home studies they complete.

In other news, Jacob is still doing well. He has another cold and is just getting over a stomach bug that has been going around. Neither are making him very sick but he is crankier than normal. He loves preschool and is doing well at the babysitter's house. It is nice to finally be settled into a routine.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Martian Child

I just returned from seeing the movie "Martian Child." I also spoke to a friend who stated the referrals for my foster care application have gone out. The timing was good for both but raised some thoughts.

The first is that I definitelly do not have a martian child but I do have a child who will have to deal with some of the issues in the movie. If you choose to see the movie, leave younger children at home. If they aren't ready to deal with serious topics about abandonment and trust, they are not ready for this movie. Even as an adult adoptive mother, there were moments that were difficult to think about.

If you haven't heard about the movie, it is about a single man, David, who chooses to adopt an older child, Dennis, who believes he is from Mars. Near the beginning of the movie, David's sister tells David that being a parent is hard. She brings up the argument that it takes two people to raise a child. David points out that it doesn't always take two people and often even two parents cannot do the job. One parent who loves the child and is commited is better than two parents who give the minimum, do not show love and do not really want to be parents. There are many parents out there doing their best as single parents and raising wonderful children. I know several of them myself. Some are single through divorce or unplanned pregnancies. Others chose to be single parents. They all have two things in common. They love their children fiercly and they are doing the best they can.

Dennis needs to learn to trust. He was abandoned by his birth family and has learned that parents can disappear at anytime. It is so sad that children sometimes learn this and have to live with the consequences of their abandonment. It must be so difficult to not know if you can trust the adults in your life that you love. I can only imagine the pain and confusion that older children must experience as they go through the process of hoping for new parents while wondering if their new parents will disappear like the old ones. Adoptive parents often will talk about the pain of waiting for their new child's referral but the pain they go through is nothing compared to the pain and confusion these children must experience.

You will have to see the movie to find out if Dennis learns to trust, if David is able to adopt Dennis and how they work through the many emotions and tough questions that surround adoptive families. As a mother I was touched by the movie. As an adoptive mother, I was moved to tears.

I have begun the process for a foster care license and received feedback about the referral form they send out. This process is opening my eyes to the complexities in our foster care system. I was told that some licensing workers do not like approving families if their homes smell like smoke (whether the parents smoke around the children or not) or if they can smell litter boxes or animals. The questions they send out not only ask the standard questions about if the person is good with children but also about the person's personality. It makes me wonder if they will believe assertiveness is a good quality or bad. I can be assertive when I believe someone is not treating my child or me fairly. I can be assertive when I believe someone is being wronged or a problem needs to be solved. I can also be quiet when I don't have the answer, am in an unfamiliar situation or believe that I will only make the sitation worse by speaking up. So is assertiveness good or bad? It doesn't fit the stereotypical mother who quietly goes about the housework leaving the discipline to the father. At the same time, it is probably a needed personality characteristic for a single mom who has to quietly do the housework but also meet with teachers and principles, make sure her children are getting the proper medical care and discipline the children.

Single moms (and married moms) wear many hats and need to have many qualities. Assertiveness is one (in my opinion as long as it is at the right time) but so is love, patience and consistency. The secret is knowing when to wear which hat and sometimes wearing more than one at a time. No one said being a mom was easy and I am certainly not perfect. I do my best though and that is the most important thing. There is no such thing as a perfect parent but I try to do my best to raise my son to be happy and loving.

I may or may not succeed in becoming a foster parent or having more children. All I can do is try. I can tell you that I have a wonderful son who shows me his love everyday. The night he looked at me and quietly stated "You are my mom" and when he smiles, asks for a "huggy" and tells me "I wuv" are some of my most rewarding moments as a mom. I would love to have another child but I know that I am already blessed. I have one child to love and am selfish to ask for more.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Go Badgers!

Yesterday, Jacob and I attended Camera Day at the Kohl Center with Big Brothers/Big Sisters. It was a day of great fun! We took my "littles" J and B with us. Everyone had a great time! The kids had the opportunity to try on real equipment from the University of Wisconsin Football and Basketball teams. The pictures above are of Jacob wearing a real football helmet and size 18 shoes. We were all amazed to see that Jacob was actually able to walk in the shoes for a short distance without falling! The helmet was his favorite though. I cringe at the thought of Jacob getting hurt playing football but I won't keep him from it (when he is much older). I am still hoping he will be a professional baseball player though! The Brewers could use a good short stop :)
After taking pictures and trying on equipment, we enjoyed a good women's hockey game. Jacob had a great time cheering with a man a few seats down from us. We also enjoyed free hotdogs, soda and popcorn. I bought a pretzel and cheese for me and cookie for Jacob also. I couldn't resist the pretzels and Jacob just had to have a cookie. It ruined dinner for us but was great fun. One of my favorite parts of being a parent is though times (not often though) when I can stop worrying about diets, nutrition or adult responsibilities and just have fun. That is what we did yesterday while cheering the ladies on and eating junk food. The women lost but we won by enjoying a fun afternoon together and with J and B.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Foster Care Licensing

I have been receiving a lot of questions from people lately about Jacob's new sibling. I still don't have an answer. I can tell you that I have seriously been considering foster care. I would do what is called concurrent foster care. That means that I would help the social worker, child and birth family in a reunification plan. If that plan fails, I would agree to consider adopting the child.

After much thought and deliberation, it seems this is a good thing to try. I really enjoy working with children and am usually patient (Jacob challenges that belief from time to time.) Foster care will give me an idea of what to expect when adopting an older child who has been involved in the foster care system and a better idea of what I can handle. If it doesn't work for my family and me, I can always stop after the first child. I won't stop before the first child's case is concluded in my home (either reunification with the birth family or an adoption plan is made and our family is not a good fit). I believe strongly that every child has a right to a safe and secure home and will not disrupt that for any child if possible.

Some people have expressed concerns over how difficult it would be to allow the child to go back to his/her birth family. I don't doubt it is extremelly difficult. I will always be open to being involved in the child's life but also know that it is best for the child to remain with the birth family when possible. Children feel tremendous guilt, grief and anger when removed from their birth families. The children may feel responsible for their parents' problems or believe that they caused social services to come into the home. They love their parents and want to be with them. It is always good if a child can be spared the grief and trauma of losing parents. If that is not possible, the next best thing is to find a loving home for the child as soon as possible.

I also believe it will be difficult for Jacob to say good bye to the child. They will be like siblings and also bonded. I will have to explain to him that the child is/was only living here for awhile but is going back to his/her family now. I will also always reassure him that he will never be forced to leave our family and will always be my son. It may be difficult but hopefully it will also teach him to be compassionate and reach out to others in need.

It comes down to the simple fact that Jacob and I have room in our hearts and home for another child. It doesn't rule out possible pregnancy or adoption but does give us a starting place to examine some less conventional options. I have never been one to be afraid to buck the norms or do what I believe God is calling me to do.

The licensing process is just beginning. I sent in my application yesterday. I have some work I need to complete around my home before the home visit and some classes I will need to attend. I believe this process will make me a better mom and a better person. I hope it is what God wants from me and know it will work out the way it is supposed to.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Enough Halloween!

I realize Halloween isn't for a couple more days. I have to say Jacob has definitelly experienced the holiday. Not only did he go trick-or-treating at the zoo, he also went trick-or-treating at area businesses with his babysitter on Friday and to a halloween party at our church on Saturday. I wasn't there but heard the stories. He went around to the kids handing out candy at church stating "I need" while holding up his hand. He ended up getting over half a bag of candy and still wanted more! I guess we will have to begin learning not be greedy.

Halloween isn't over yet though! He painted a pumpkin at the church and still has to carve one at home. He also is going trick-or-treating at his preschool class on Wednesday. They are just going around the building but he already has a ton of candy! I am definitelly not feeling guilty that I have to work Halloween and won't be able to take him door to door that evening. He even woke up yesterday morning asking for more candy!

I am glad he is having fun. He walked into his new preschool room this morning and began playing. After a couple minutes, he decided he needed one more hug and then I could leave. I was pretty impressed since he only knew one child in the room and I don't think they recognized each other. Now, if only he remembers his promise to listen to his teachers and use "gentle hands" while playing with the other kids. Both are difficult tasks for a young 2-year-old but also something he needs to learn.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Halloween Fun!

We went to the zoo today for Trick-Or-Treating. It was a lot of fun. We are having abnormally warm weather this year and it was in the 70s. Normally, parents fight with children and make sure costumes are big enough to layer clothes underneath. This year we are fighting to keep our children cool in costumes bought for colder weather. It was still a beautiful day and a lot of fun.

As the above pictures show, Jacob was a dog. It was very fitting. Jacob practices being a dog several times a day and loves to sit and pant with the dog. The first picture is of Jacob panting like a dog. His grandmother bought him the costume when we found it at Walgreens earlier this fall. It was a wonderful buy. Jacob just stared at himself in the mirror after Jasmine finished putting face paint on him. All of the candy was just an added bonuses.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

And Grandpa Is The Winner!

Jacob has been perplexed lately. Who would he rather grow up to be? A doggy or Grandpa (Bampa)? He has spent plenty of time practicing to be both. He still pants and barks like a dog. I still catch him trying to drink out of the dog's water bowl when I am distracted. He still loves to play with our dog (the large one in the background) and any other dog he can.

The problem is that Grandpa is so special. For Jacob's birthday, he received a construction hat just like the one Grandpa wears in the Summer. He also has a couple of adult size baseball caps that look like the baseball caps Grandpa sometimes wears. If I want him to do or wear something, I tell him he looks just like Grandpa. If someone in a store tells him something looks like Grandpa's, I end up either buying it or hearing the protests as we walk away. Jacob has no trouble telling me no but when Grandpa gets upset so does Jacob. No one can change Jacob's behavior and mood faster than Grandpa can.

So who's the winner? Right now it is Grandpa. Jacob idolizes his grandfather and loves to spend time with him. I am jealous. I never lived near my grandparents growing up. I was always jealous of my cousins who got to spend a lot of time with our grandparents. I grew closer to two of my grandparents as I became an adult. I will always cherish the times that I did have with them and remember our long phone calls and visits. I hope that Jacob will grow up to realize how special these days with his grandparents are. I am so happy he is able to have the relationship with his grandparents that I always dreamed about having with mine.

Getting Better

I was thinking about how lucky Jacob and I have been. He had not had more than a bad cold since he came home over seven months ago. That ended this week. He came down with a cold early in the week and an ear infection Wednesday night. After a couple doses of antibiotics, he is now on the mend.

One thing that amazes me is that being sick doesn't seem to slow him down. He was a little whinier than normal but otherwise still played, ran and jumped. If he didn't have a fever, I never would have guessed he was sick. I am happy to see him feeling better and back to his old happy self though. Here's to another seven months without illness :)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Grateful For What We Have

I have been spending quite a bit of time lately worried about money and the upcoming holiday season. It's not just the holidays. After the holidays, overtime historically drops at work and is much harder to find. That means my paychecks will be even smaller as gas and electricity bills rise. This isn't a post about how hard my life is though. It is about how grateful I (and most of you) should be about what we have.

I received two envelopes in the mail I have been waiting for. The first one is a new coupon book for my mortgage payments. The second is my renewal notice to pay the yearly sponsorship pledge for a little boy in Ethiopia. Looking at both of those envelopes led me to think today. I was dreading both envelopes. The coupon books because it is my largest monthly bill but also my most important (in regards to living comfortably). The second I dread because it is money that I just don't have.

So why do I still pay it? It's simple. Even in my toughest and most frustrating financial months, I still have more than this child and his grandfather have. I may not have as much as some of my friends or neighbors, but I have enough that I can still dig a little deeper to help this child.

K lives in Ethiopia with his elderly grandfather. K is an AIDS orphan losing both of his parents to the dreadful disease. It is a disease that they most likely never received the life saving medications available to AIDS patients here. It is also the disease that not only made K an orphan, but caused him to have to quit school after only one year. His grandfather is too ill to take care of their fields and produce enough food for them to survive. By giving a small amount of money to K through Wide Horizons For Children, I am able to help him attend school and have enough food for him and his grandfather.

It is a small thing to me but a huge thing to K. So I pause today and look around me. I have a nice car that is almost paid for, a nice house with food and heat, clothes on my back and medical care available when I need it. So why do I worry? I don't want to lose those things I am accustomed to. I don't want to suffer. Why do I give? In hopes that K and children like him will suffer less.

Today is a day to pause and be grateful for what I have. Tomorrow I can continue to worry about money, presents and trying to make ends meet. Today and tomorrow I remember to thank God for the many blessings I have. Including the one in the back bedroom crying because he doesn't want to go to sleep.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Fall Fun and Down Time

Our child care crisis seems to be over for now and life has begun to settle down. The above picture was taken at a festival about an hour from our home. My friend was babysitting while I was at work and sent me this picture. Jacob has been having lots of fun while I work and doesn't even look back when I leave. It makes working and being away from him much easier when I know he is being well cared for and having fun.
So life around here is finally settling down. I have bee able to get started on some cleaning projects that have been on hold. I have reliable child care and am able to work overtime during the week off. I might even be able to go out with a friend later this week without any children! I just need to convince someone to watch Jacob while I am gone.
Jacob and I are preparing for his first Halloween here. We bought a small pumpkin at a farm last week and he has his halloween costume. We are going trick or treating next weekend. I think a friend is taking him trick-or-treating on halloween but once again I will be at work. I will probably try to take off work in the future so I can be with him but I am happy I will be able to be with him next week to celebrate. I am anxiously looking forward to experiencing Jacob's first American holiday season with him. Money is tight but we will still have fun making cookies, decorating and buying small gifts for family.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Socializing As A Single Mom

A topic has come up lately amongst some of my on-line and real life single friends. How do you find time for yourself as a single mom? I wish I had the answer. As you can see by the above pictures, most of my socializing involves my son. I have heard several suggestions and some of them I like more than other. One of the problems is the cost of hiring a babysitter. Another problem is deciding that it is ok to allow myself to sacrifice more time away from my son.

Ok. So I admit that I feel guilty leaving Jacob even for just a few minutes when I am not working. Money is very tight right now and I am working overtime on some of my days off. I make sure that I leave one full day that is just for Jacob. It is a day that I am willing to share with friends and family but Jacob must be included. This day is non-negotiable. I hate not seeing him for more than a few hours on the other days and feel like we both need this time together. I am blessed to have friends who understand this and help to come up with activities we can all do together.

One way around the money issue is to go out on a Monday-Friday evening that I am off. Those are the days that I have already paid for childcare so it won't cost anything to take him there. The only problem with going out these nights is that I cannot work overtime on those days since I still need to leave at least one day for Jacob. It is an option that I will have to explore now that our daycare situation has changed.

So the answer is not simple. I get 1 1/2 hours alone on Friday morning while Jacob goes to preschool. This time is my time to go somewhere and just relax. It doesn't really matter what I do as long as it is quiet and alone. Sorry, but it really is my only time alone during the week.

I have hired a house cleaner to help out with chores. I really don't know how long I will be able to afford that though. I need to really think about if it is worth it. It is one more bill that I don't have the money for and am not sure I need. I plan to cancel my home phone and go with just my cell phone soon. That should free up some money but not all of it. It does save one morning a week and makes me feel better about my home and mothering skills.

I love my son and one of the sacrifices I knew I would make is my alone time. In reality, it is a small sacrifice to make. He brings so much joy and fun to my life that I rarely miss time with friends. It has been about 3 months since I went out without him and I am beginning to think it is time again. Hanging out with Jacob is a blast but sometimes I get tired of asking "What's uh oh" or "Honey, please don't throw toys/food at our friends." A meal where I don't have to check the temperature of the bowl and food or cut anyone's food except my own is a fond memory and not something I experience often.

If anyone has any great ideas for spending time with adults and filling my adult needs as well as Jacob's needs, I would love to hear them. In the meantime, I will continue to look for opportunities to see my adult friends. Even things like attending playgroups once a month help. The children are occupied and I get to see other people who struggle with many of the same issues.

Even with my lack of alone time/adult time, I would not change a thing. I am still hoping to have another child soon and just wish I could afford one now. More children will mean even less adult time but the rewards far outweigh the negatives.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

A Sad Few Days

Things have been difficult around our house lately. The woman pictured above is experiencing signifcant health problems. Mrs. G is experiencing serious memory problems and is no longer able to live on her own. She lived next door to us until yesterday when she moved in with her daughter. Jacob and I both loved Mrs. G. and will miss her dearly. I still keep looking out the window wishing I could see her walking down her driveway. I will miss our long talks and her advice whenever life started to feel like it was getting too difficult. Jacob asked where she was this morning and I had to explain why we would not see her anymore. Good bye Mrs. G. I hope you are happy in your new home.

Our former au pair is still living with us. That is a difficult situation as well. It is difficult to explain to a small child why his nanny and friend no longer wants to play with him or even talk to him. I guess I don't completely understand it either but we are moving on with our lives. We have a new babysitter that Jacob adores. It is nice to have someone he enjoys being with that I can completely trust and depend on.

So now, we are adjusting and grieving. It may be a little while before we feel like the adjustments are over and life slows down. In the meantime, I am concentrating on thinking about the many blessings I have. Beginning with my biggest blessing who is currently sleeping with his Diego doll and under his new Cars sheets. Life has many ups and downs. We are in a low spot now but we also know that there are many highs to come in the days, weeks and years ahead of us.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Our House Has Gone To The Dogs!

I am ready to run away and move out! My friend is out of town for a few days this week. I have agreed to take her two dogs while she is gone. They are two yellow labs ages 9 months and 14 years. Talk about extremes! Our house is a fun zone of chaos.

The puppy is full of energy. She spends a large part of her day wresling with my four year old, 70 pound, dog. The older dog spends her time wandering the house or sleeping. She also loves the back yard and spends most of the morning out there. It is a lot of chaos and a lot of fun to take care of the dogs.

My friend returns tonight and I will be happy and sad to see the dogs go. Jacob loves all of them and greets each one individually when we return home. I will be happy to be able to come home at night and just go to bed without fighting to get three dogs outside and then back inside and to stop playing on the bed so we can sleep. The dogs have kept our lives interesting and it is fun to watch them play. I enjoy dog sitting but definitelly will not be getting another puppy for our house any time soon.

Friday, September 28, 2007

New Daycare!

We have new daycare. They are both in-home centers. The home he is going to during the week is absolutely wonderful. S has 4 children. Jacob has quickly become friends with the 7-year-old (I think) boy. He gets to do the boy things I cannot give him like wrestling and playing cars the way only boys can play. They make most of their food from scratch and the children get to help prepare many meals. It is wonderful. S is supportive and flexible which is wonderful. She is willing to watch Jacob on weekends but I don't want to overburden her and wear out our welcome. I will not hesitate to use her if I need someone though.

The other care taker SM is only a weekend sitter. Her prices are reasonable and she seems to really care about the children. She has three children. Jacob won't start there until the middle of October. I hope that he likes it there.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Another Search For Childcare

Our latest au pair did not work out. I am very disappointed. I really thought things would. She was great for the first month but things have been getting progressively worse since then. It is time for her to move on. I have notified the au pair agency and am looking at other daycare options. Thankfully, my friends have pulled through for me again and covered yesterday and today. I am hoping to have new child care by next week.

Searching for childcare is one of the most time consuming and nerve wracking parts of parenting. It seems like the search for good care is never ending. I have looked at daycare centers and they are my first choice. Unfortunately, they are not open in the evenings. I am now seeking an in-home center which will meet our schedule and needs. I am optimistic that I will find one we both like. Jacob is a great kid and easy to care for.

So what am I looking for? Not anything anyone else doesn't want. I want to come home to know my child is safe and has been watched closely throughout the day. I want to know there will not be ink pen scribbles all over my walls, computer and windows. I want to know that the person caring for Jacob is fun and loving and plays with him. I want to know that he was given healthy meals including vegetables even when I cannot cook for him. Basically, a healthy and safe envorionment where he can learn and grow.

I believe I will be on dayshift soon. Hopefully, Jacob can attend a full-time preschool/daycare center next year. I am just waiting for dayshift hours. If I have to wait another year, that will be fine too. Jacob will not start kindergarten until 2011 when he is almost six. That gives us plenty of time to find the preschool program that fits our desires. He will do well almost anywhere.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Jacob's 2!

Today is Jacob's second birthday! He is growing up so quickly! He went to preschool this morning where he was too excited to sit still. We had ice cream with friends and played with their dogs. They were visiting from California and it was wonderful to see them again.

Tonight was Jacob's birthday party. We had several family friends (all teenagers or adults since that is who we know.) Jacob has some friends his age but none that he is really close to. I will probably have a party with other children next year when he is old enough to develop close friendships with other children. Everyone had a good time. I showed the video at the link below. It highlights Jacob's World over the past six months.

I hope everyone enjoys it.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Below is a link to see a video of our trip to Ethiopia. It has been slow getting it together. I am still having difficulty getting it to post like I want. I hope to have a new video at the same link next week showing Jacob's World and his first six months home. I hope you enjoy the video. It doesn't seem like just 6 months ago I was in Ethiopia getting to know my son and his birth country.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Congratulations Jacob!

I heard the words I was hoping to hear in the near future. Jacob's preschool teacher recommended that he move up to the 2-3 year old class. He is currently in a class for 1 1/2 to 2 year olds and doing well. He can participate on projects and follow directions. Now, if I can figure out how to get him to do well when I am in the room. Sunday School is still a challenge but a little age will help a lot there too.

Jacob will be 2 years old later this week. He is proving it. I have been very good at ignoring his tantrums. After I ignored two of them earlier this week, he decided he needed more practice. A little later in the morning, I found him practicing tantrums. He would run around in a circle, throw his arms up and then throw himself on the ground pretending to cry. It did make me laugh but I will still continue to ignore tantrums. It is comforting to know he is a typical two-year-old and developmentally on task.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A New Millenium!

Happy New Year! It may seem odd that I would say that today. The truth is that it is New Years Eve in Ethiopia and tomorrow marks the beginning of a new year. Their calendar is seven years different than ours so it is their new millenium. Today marks the start of 2000! I hope that the new millenium sees an end to extreme poverty and a century of hope, happiness and prosperity.

Jacob and I will be celebrating the new year by having lunch at a local Ethiopian resteraunt. We will also say a prayer remembering our friends and family in Ethiopia as well as all of the wonderful people who live there. Please join us in taking a moment to remember all of our brothers and sisters living in Ethiopia.

Monday, September 10, 2007

6 months ago today

I cannot believe it has been six months already! At the same time, I cannot believe it was only 6 months ago that I was single with no kids. How quickly things can change.

As you have probably guessed, it was 6 months ago today that I met my son. I have to say that it was one of the best days of my life. A lot has changed but I would never want to chage a thing.
Here are some of the biggest changes in my life since I met my son.
Six months ago today, I met a little boy who wanted a mommy. He had been at the orphanage 8 months longer than most children. He had seen countless children come into his room and leave with their new mommies. The nannies were always telling the children how loved they would be and how wonderful it would be when their new mommies came. Jacob was passed over week after week.
I walked up to Jacob who was described as being shy around strangers. The camera man told me to pick Jacob up. I was nervous. This child had no idea who I was or how much I already loved him. It quickly became apparent he was willing to take the risk. He did not want me to leave and kept one hand on me for the first two hours we were together. He didn't smile much but he only cried when that strange looking old man (now known as Grandpa) took his shoe.
Two days later I came back to the care center (orphanage) to visit with him again. He saw me walk up to the building and began screaming and laughing. He was so excited that I came back for him! I entered the building and began playing with the other toddlers in the room (after I greeted Jacob of course). A little boy gave me a hug. Jacob's reaction was swift and serious. He pushed the little boy out of the way and began blocking me from all of the other children. He was not going to be picked over again!
Jacob screamed the next two days when I returned him to the Care Center for the night. It broke my heart but we were doing things in the evenings that the children could not come to. It was such a relief to finally take custody of him on March 14. The rest is history.
Here are my favorite memories from the past 6 months.
1) The day I met my son for the first time.
2) The way he smiled the first morning after he spent the night with me. He sat up and smiled when he saw I was still there.
3) The first time he "petted nice" when he saw our dog.
4) The first time he kissed me without prompting.
5) The first time he told me "I wuv."
6) Watching my parents fall in love with him.
7) When he smiles and runs to me when I return home.
8) The look on his face when he learned Mama and Mommy are the same thing. (The nannies told him I was his mommy but I called myself Mama).
9) The day he learned his name was Jacob Mitiku and walked around pounding his chest while I said Jacob.
10) Every smile, I wuv, hug kiss and moment we are together.
Life has changed in 6 months for both of us. There have been challenges (tantrums, parasites, grieving) but there have been many more great moments. I cannot wait to see how he continues to grow and change. I love him and he loves me. We are a family.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A New School Year!

It is time for the students to head back to the classroom. That includes Jacob as well. He went to his first day of preschool for the new session at the YMCA. He is still in a class designed for 1 1/2 to 2 year olds. He moves up to the 2 and 3 year old class in October. It is exciting to see him love school and want to go.

Jacob will also attend Sunday School this year. Or, I am going to try to send him. He is not real great at sitting still even for the 15 minute lesson in Sunday School. I plan to have him attend 2 or 3 times a month. Religion is very important in our family and I want him to continue learning about God and attending church. He loves attending the nursery during the church service so hopefully Sunday School will go well too.

With the end of Summer comes new possibilities. I am on the lookout for cheap (read free) activities to do with Jacob now that the weather will be getting colder. The mall is a wonderful place to spend some time but not always cheap or free. We will probably be going to the YMCA more often now and possibly the Children's Museum. There is still another month of nice weather but it won't be like Summer. This will be Jacob's first winter and my first winter as a mom. We will have to learn about fun activities and outings together.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Fun Reunion

We had a great time today. We spent Labor Day at a picnic about 1/2 hours north of our home. There were many families there with children from Ethiopia. The guest of the day was the director of the orphanage Jacob lived at in Ethiopia. Asnake was very happy to see all of the children today. His wife saw Jacob and immediately became excited.
It was clear to see how loved all of the children were. Asnake's wife told me that many of the nannies still wonder about Jacob and how he was doing. I was happy to be able to send them a videotaped message about how well he is doing. I hope they will approve of how I am raising him and how he is doing. Asnake seemed to be pleased and really seemed to enjoy holding the children and seeing them again.
Jacob and I had fun meeting some new families. It is always great to make new friends and I enjoy being around other families similar to ours. It is also good to be reminded about how loved the children are in the orphanage and how well cared for they are. I will always try to keep some kind of connection to Ethiopia and the wonderful people we have met through adoption.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Jacob's 1st Chore

I believe that chores can be beneficial to children and families. Although not crucial, chores do not harm children and can teach many valuable lessons. In our family, chores are a necessity. As a busy mom, I have difficulty keeping up with chores and need help. Jacob is now old enough to start helping. Besides helping to pick up his toys at night, he has an official chore. Jacob's job is to feed the dog.

Jacob is wonderful at feeding the dog. He knows to take the measuring cup and use it to scoop food from the bag into the dog's bowl. The problem is that he doesn't always understand the difference between dog treats and food.

The above pictures are the first time I told him to go feed the dog. Jacob ran into the kitchen and got the dog treats out of the pantry. Before I knew what he was doing, he had fed the dog over half a box of dog treats. The dog was very happy and couldn't even finish the treats.

For those of you who have read earlier posts. Yes, Jacob still believes he is a dog. I had to remind him about an hour ago that I only like Jacob kisses and not doggy kisses. The dog also loves Jacob and puts up with a lot of abuse from him. She probably knows that without Jacob, she would not receive nearly as much table food or treats.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


A note to all parents out there. Let's discuss sharing for a moment. Sharing is not each child stakes out toys for themselves and does not allow any other child near them. Sharing is taking turns or playing with the same toy together. I say this after a frustrating morning at an area store yesterday.

There were several children there who all wanted to play with the toy trains. I have taught (and his teachers have taught) Jacob to share toys by playing with other children. This includes taking turns with the favorite toys. There were other parents there who felt their child should be able to hoard 3+ trains and go wherever they wanted just by saying "excuse me." Pushing younger children away from the table and saying "excuse me" is NOT sharing.

Jacob was insistent though. He continued to offer to let other children use his trains and did not let the older children bully him. I just wish I could say the same for the other kids.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

An American Citizen!

Jacob and I woke up early this morning so that I could readopt him in Wisconsin. By 8:30 AM, the readoption was complete and Jacob was automatically a US citizen. Here is a recap of our very fun day.

Jacob and I woke up early and put on some of our best clothes. Grandma met us at our house and we drove to the court house. Court was at 8:15 AM and we were done by about 8:30 AM. Short and simple. Jacob received a stuffed dog from the dog. He had everyone in the judge's chambers laughing during the hearing.

We left the courthouse and walked to the Children's Museum. This was the beginning of our fun filled day. Jacob was practicing his fishing skills inside the boat. He also drove a car (pretend and it didn't move), dug for dinasaur bones and moved a crane. The museum is a great place for children to learn and move at their own pace and age level.

We left the museum and drove to the zoo. It has been raining here everyday for over a week. We were lucky to be able to walk around without any rain! Jacob loved the seals, turtle and monkeys. He also enjoyed seeing the giraffes. Doesn't Jacob make a cute polar bear cub? The carasel is also a lot of fun. Last time we went, he was afraid to ride on the animals. This time, he laughed during the entire ride and cried when the ride ended. What a difference just a month can make.

After the zoo, it was definitelly time to head home for a nap. I was hoping for a 2 hour nap but settled for one hour. We were both exhausted from our morning of fun. We spent a couple hours after naps mowing the lawn. With over a week of rain, the lawn was about 6 inches tall. Jacob thought it was great fun to watch me sweat and fight the lawn mower. Note to self: mow it sooner next time (even if it is wet).

After our yard work was completed, it was time to head out for dinner. I wanted to remember Jacob's birth culture, country and family. Without their love and help, Jacob would not be my son or an American. We invited a friend to dinner with us. She had never been exposed to Ethiopian food and what better way to celebrate Jacob's life than by sharing some of his birth country with a friend. We had dinner downtown at an Ethiopian resteraunt. Jacob still loves dorowat but he is beginning to lose his taste for injera. Injera was never something he adored in Ethiopia and I think he has developed more of a sweet tooth now.

We finished the day off with a couple quick stops at some stores and a quick visit at Grandma's house. She had left us at nap time and it was time to say thanks for everything she does for us. Grandpa and Uncle Chuck were out of town (the timing could not be avoided but they sent their love) so we will celebrate with them later.

Jacob's adoption is now completed but our journey together is far from over. The past few months have had many ups and downs but we couldn't be happier. God has finally blessed me with the child I have prayed for since I was Jacob's age.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

5 months together!

5 months ago I met Jacob and prepared to bring him home.
Jacob has grown steadily and quickly. This is him last week. 3 pounds heavier and 2 1/2 inches taller.

It was 5 months ago this week that I met Jacob and brought him back to the United States. The past 5 months have had good times and bad but the good times far out number the bad.

Five months ago, I arrived in Ethiopia on an airplane in the late evening hours. The Ethiopian on the plane began cheering as the pilot brought the plane in for a smooth landing. I began crying. I was in the country that my son was born in. In just a few hours, I would see him for the first time and be able to tell him Mama was here. As the Ethiopian cheered, I shed tears of thanksgiving that I was finally going to meet my son. My dream was finally coming true.

I left the airport with several other families. I was not the only person fighting tears as we drove down the rocky road towards the guest house. I looked at the buildings and the beautiful people along the road trying to remember everything. This is where my son had lived for the past 11 months. It was the country he was born in seventeen months earlier and the country who gave me the greatest gift I have ever received.

Early the next morning, I awoke anticipating meeting my son. I was both excited and scared. Would he scream and cry when he saw me? Would he accept me as a mother or hate me for taking him away from everything and everyone he knew and loved. I got up, ate breakfast and tried to seem cool, calm and strong. I tried not to show my fear or my anxiety.

I finally met Jacob at 9:30 that Saturday morning. He clung to me and stared at me. He did not want me to let him go but he was also overwhelmed and probably scared. We sat together as he clutched a small bear I gave him. Eventually, he cried when I removed a shoe. The stress came off of him and he began to slowly relax. We spent about 2 hours together before the adoptive parents said goodbye and headed back to the guest house.

Jacob came home few days later and for several weeks was afraid I might leave or choose someone else. He got upset when left in the church nursery or when I held another child. He screamed if he did not get food whenever he wanted even if I was cooking food in front of him. Jacob was a good walker but was still clumsy and fell often. He became frustrated when I did not know what he wanted and would refuse to go to sleep unless I rocked him first. He loved me from the beginning but was overwhelmed and not sure that I was going to stay forever.

Jacob has now passed many milestones and is well adjusted. He smiles often and laughs until he chokes. His teacher described him as "always happy" and fun to have around. Jacob not only walks but he runs and climbs as well. He loves to dance and play with toy cars. He has begun sharing toys without being prompted and loves to share his snacks with other children. Jacob gives spontaneous hugs and kisses while telling me "I wuv."

Jacob no longer panics when left at preschool or in the nursery. He tells me "bye bye" and will push me towards the door if I stay too long. I return a short time later and he excitedly runs to the door to greet me and show me what he played with while I was gone.

Our lives have changed forever. Five months ago Jacob was living in an orphanage with several other children. I was living the single life going out when I wanted and doing as I pleased. Jacob was on a strict schedule getting up at 6 AM and starting his day. I was sleeping in until at least 9 AM and often did not get out of bed until I left had to get ready for work at 1 PM.

Jacob now sleeps until 8 AM and I now get up at 8 AM. I no longer want to go out with friends every weekend but would prefer to be with Jacob. Jacob no longer fights with other children to have a toy to play with. He now has more toys than he or I can count and willingly shares them with his friends.

Five months has gone by and I could not be happier. I have the child I dreamed of. Jacob is resilient and happy. He loves me and I love him. I cannot imagine life without him and do not know what I would do without him. I love being a parent and would not change a thing for all of the riches in the world. I look forward to many more months and years being his "mama."

Monday, August 13, 2007

Finally a Chance To Relax!

After three very hectic and fun filled weeks, life has begun to slow down. Jacob and I went to the state fair last week. We listened to a free concert put on by high school and college students as well as looked at the animals, items for sale and ate lots of junk food. Jacob loved petting a calf at the cow barns and even met Santa Clause! Santa looked a little warm while wearing his traditional outfit in 90+ degree weather!
Jacob had his third dermatology appointment last week. His birth mark has faded a lot since we began the treatments. We always follow the treatments up with a trip to the toy store and a new toy. That seems to make his day better! The treatments don't seem to hurt. He lays on that side of his face just minutes after the treatment is over. It just seems to scare him and then make him very angry. He will point to his face, glare at me and then cry. I will be so glad when the treatments are over. Unfortunately, that won't be for about 2 more years.
This week we have a lot of free time. I plan on going to the sprinkler park on Wednesday and also getting some house cleaning done. I need to get some other household chores done today and tomorrow so I can go to a Brewer baseball game on Thursday. Jacob will not be going to the game this year but I look forward to taking him next year. He needs a little more time to grow so that he can sit still a little longer first.
Summer is coming to an end but we finally have time to enjoy a little more of it. Then comes the fun of raking leaves into big piles to jump in. Followed by making snowballs and snowmen if it ever snows this winter.