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.