Sunday, July 26, 2009

Things I Have Learned So Far...

Here's a link to purchase this adorable "kiddie" DVD that my 9-yr-old loves!

There is a demo and is subtitled in English!

Next, don't be surprised if your older child has seen some American films that may not have been sensored. We have seen "Van Damme" (we never have seen it ourselves) and many Jackie Chan movies. He learned a few key phrases like "Oh, #@$&! from some of those fine American films, so therefore thinks it is ok.

Food likes: scrambled eggs, fried egg (fully cooked) on toast (to make a sandwich), any steak cut up like you see in Ethiopia (called "tibs"), milk, chocolate, kid's cereal (like Cocoa Puffs), peanut butter, any chicken (called "doro"), Sprite and Coke (they know very well), pork (if you don't tell them), fish...

Karate is a favorite for kids in Ethiopia, besides soccer. Some may even be proficient on the Playstation (which sounded like "police station" the first time I heard it). I believe our guy has played the PS2 soccer game more than our son has! He whipped him!

Riding a bike is a dream. Counting how many televisions and the size of them, a fascination and negotiating bedtime is like every other child. I tried this one the other day..."when you sleep, you get very your brother!" It kinda worked. He then asked if he slept and got tall, if that meant he could drive...ha,ha.

Good luck! I will keep passing on the info...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sharing the World...

Our two boys...sharing the blessed we are!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

One Step At A Time...

Is "cocooning" possible for 9-year-old active boys? I don't think so. We slowed down a ton, but are still going and making huge strides...this last weekend we traveled to Wisconsin to visit and meet grandma and grandpa. They loved him! While there, he swam in the lake, went fishing, tried wakeboarding and ate everything grandma made!

Last week, we had our appointment at the adoption clinic at the university. They drew 6 vials of blood to test for everything! Poor Eli. Afterwards he got a headache and felt sick in the car. It's no wonder! I said, "wow, that's a lot of blood from a little guy!" The nurse responded, "oh, he has quarts and quarts." Really? I feel weird after only 2 vials! Who are these people!?

The other night Eli called one of his friends who now lives in California. They talked and laughed for 45 minutes! It was so cute to see him share all of his news, eventhough I understood very little. Afterwards, he shared as much about the conversation as he could. I am becoming expert in the field of charades and mixed Amharic/English. Through this conversation I learned that his friend loves her new BIG house, does not like American food, has taught her sisters to say "I love you" in Amharic, fell off a bike over and over, is taking karate lessons, loves her new family and is happy in America! Pretty good, huh?

Yesterday, I bought him a watch. He seemed to be able to be close to telling time and was always asking me about time and timeframe. Today, he tells time beautifully! Really. TODAY. We went to the Mall of America for the first time and he reported the time about every hour! (he also went on the Ghostbusters ride...)

He asked about American hamburgers and I reminded him that we already tried a Mickey D's. I reminded him also that he looked at the meat and said "no meat. Ethiopia (pronounced "Etopia") no meat!" Whatever that means...this guy can put away a whole steak! He laughed and said " hamburger!" So, at the MOA, we bought him another Happy Meal and he devoured it! Now, we just have to eat some pizza!

Eli also shares that in "Etopia" they eat a lot of "findisha" or popcorn. So, we took him to see the movie "Up!" and shared a large bucket of popcorn, which I think he ate most of...and LOVED it! It was better than the movie!

Cocooning? What's that?

Lastly, here's something interesting...people are always asking about his mom in Ethiopia...who is dying...people want to know how he feels about it, how sick is she, will they stay in touch, will we know when she dies, how does he feel about me as his mom...etc. Well, I don't know the answers to most of those questions, but he now refers to his mom as his "Etopia mom". Which I believe, makes me his "American mom" and that is okay by me. Just as long as he obeys when I say, "stop stalling and go to sleep."


Just a cool pic

Meeting Grandma and Grandpa

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Food Thing...

Everyone keeps asking how the food thing is going. I mentioned that pizza was not a huge hit, but neither are hamburgers. He looked at the meat and said "no meat. Ethiopia no meat." Yet, he eats meat all the time! I think it was the formed patty meat that looked a little weird. He has eaten sausage, bacon, steak, chicken, salmon, ground beef, hot dogs...

He polished off his mongolian BBQ stir-fry dish. We added curry and lots of garlic. He has eaten everything I have made except Japanese food. He loves grilled meats with onions, garlic and peppers, but then that is similiar to "tibs" in Ethiopia. He jokingly looked at a package of tortillas in the store and said, "injera". I said. "yes! American injera!" ha,ha...but then I served it for lunch with beans and rolled up the tortillas like injera and we all ate it together calling it injera. He laughed and polished that off too!

We have heard the kids love eggs. He eats scrambled eggs almost every morning, following a bowl of Reeses Puffs. He also loves anything pasta. As far as fast food goes, the only thing we have had success on is Chipotle steak tacos and a Pot Belly meatball sub. I think we are doing pretty good!

My rule of thumb for cooking is lots of garlic, onions and red pepper flakes or hot sauce! It works for us!

Today, we baked blueberry muffins and he told me that he and the other older kids at
HH baked banana bread at Almaz' house! That Almaz! What an amazing woman! As if she isn't already running a children's home.

Are we having fun yet? Uh, yea! We sure are!! I LOVE this boy! (well, he may have done my dishes tonight too..)

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Teaching new tricks...

Before meeting Eli, my description to others went like this: He may not know how to tie his shoes, use a fork, flush a toilet, use a lightswitch...he may not be used to the noise of traffic, ride in a car, eat our food, watching television, sleeping alone...we may also have to teach him his ABC's and 123"s...

Here's the truth...
~he already knew... how to tie his shoes
~do a cartwheel
~a handstand, better yet, a headstand
~write in English about mountains and valleys in Social Studies class
~multiplication and division
~Michael Jackson
~to read the word "pharmacy" on the Walgreens sign
~that the dancers on "Thriller" were wearing masks
~his left and his right
~that he would probably never eat injera(Ethiopia bread staple)again and was ok with it!
~how to blow bird sounds through his fists
~brush his teeth
~play a better game than tic,tac,toe
~eat with a fork and cut with a knife!
~take care of a baby
~many, many soccer juggling?
~put a match out in his mouth!
~sleep alone and through the night
~makes his bed...every day
~folds his clothes
~loads my groceries on and off the cart
~helps me not to lose at Old Maid...ME!

Things we have been able to teach him...

~ride a bike
~put the toilet seat up
~work the remote control?

Still trying to earn some parenting stripes...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Counting Our Blessings

We had another good day today! We all went to support daddy in the LifeTime Fitness Triathalon where he finished the Olympic distance in 2hrs, 39min! See? I told him he was still young enough to adopt! It was fun to take Eli to cheer him on since he is so obsessed with biking! Dave would love to have a fellow Tri partner! He sat on his big brother's shoulders and cheered with his "Go Daddy!" sign.

He played air hockey for the first time with a friend, and loved it! He pretty much loves everything. We are being careful about making sure he sleeps enough so he doesn't get overtired. Lauren came down with a fever, so the next thing will be to keep him healthy. It'll be a challenge since he keeps running in her room to give her hugs. I keep trying to explain that she is sick. This communication thing needs to go a bit faster!

We also found out that although he seems to like most foods, he doesn't like pizza. Dave and I introduce foods by putting them in front of him and trying not to make eye contact. It seems he looks at us to decide if he should eat it. If we look at him, he says no. If we don't look at him, he smells it, nibbles it and usually eats it. A friend asked how different we feel with this new addition. I don't know that our lives have drastically changed really. We are just way more entertained!

Friday, July 10, 2009

One Week Home!

Riding on a Motorcycle

Watching TV

Riding a Bike

Playing on the Computer

Loving Being in America!

I can't believe we have been home one week today! After a meltdown and a 17-hour sleep marathon, we are much happier! Yesterday, I contacted one of our traveling companions so that he could chat with their new older child. She was also having a bad day so maybe it was good timing. On our end, he left the conversation with a huge smile and was chatty all day (although we didn't understand him).

We are finding inventive ways to communicate. He picked out a new red shirt and asked "shirt tomorrow?" so that he could wear it again. I understood that! My son had sprayed a little cologne on his shirt before we took Lauren out for her birthday. I think he wanted to smell it for another day. We went to Mongolian BBQ and he got to bang on the gong with a tip! He laughed at that. I made his food a bit spicy and added some curry. He polished it off and went back for seconds. The food part hasn't been too challenging. I have had a back-up of injera and wat on days when he doesn't like what we have. For the most part, if I cook meats with garlic and onions, he eats it. We love stuff like that too!

Today, he went with daddy to check out bikes at the triathalon expo in downtown Minneapolis. Dave has a race tomorrow and Eli is going to love it! He is so fascinated with bikes and helmets (and he wears riding gloves). His other new addiction is Tom and Jerry cartoons. We found a classic collection and now everyone is addicted!

Eventhough he is nearly 10 years old, I found that an occasional nap does wonders for his attitude! I wonder if there was "rest time" at HH? Thanks to all our fellow bloggers that post pics. It was great therapy to look at those yesterday where he could see some of his friends happy and thriving. I also showed him pictures of families waiting to pick up his best buddies at HH.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Little Bump...

We have had 4 glorious days of smiles, hugs and kisses. We worried it was too good to be true. Today, we hit a wall. When they recommend "cocooning", they might actually mean it. I have never had a child who had a full-out tantrum. Unfortunately, his big sister got the best of it. (we were birthday shopping) We have done nothing but meet people, run errands, play, play, play, meet more people; visitors and going places...and more play. We still struggled with our sleep and jet lag, but he seemed fine. I guess not. After a huge display of kicking and screaming, he passed out for a 5-hour nap! Wow! He woke for a couple of hours, had a bath and then went to bed for the night. Tomorrow will be a better day...

Tomorrow, Lauren will be 17! Happy Birthday, sweetheart! It's been quite the birthday week!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Our Days in Ethiopia

After three days, we are recuperating well. We flew home with Julie and I kept reminding myself that she was there for a month! We managed to stay healthy and never got sick. Maybe just a little...when we were all crammed in a bus for the hour long trek to the embassy appointment while smelling the diesel from the many vehicles on the road! I can't believe we are back and the long wait is over.

We took lots of pics, but many of which are of the children, which we can't post. Here are a few from the hotel and at HH...

Here is Lauren with her new baby brother, Elias Bereket "Eli"

This is our first meeting with Elias. He looks a little uncertain...

Oh, you've seen these guys before...they are as important to some of these little guys as the special moms are.

Eli with Almaz. She is one incredible woman! I can't imagine doing all that she does at HH and for the families.

We brought some punching balloons for the kids. They LOVED them!

Lauren with Eli in the hotel. This is the toy we sent in his care package back in April!

This is Danny the "guide". Lauren wanted to bring him home too.

Great to be with our little man finally!

Saturday, July 4, 2009


We are back! Home yesterday at 3pm after over 40 hours of being awake and traveling. I am surprised I'm still standing!

Hannah's Hope was truly an experience, as was Ethiopia...but in a hugely different way. We will probably never see that kind of poverty and suffering again, unless we continue to travel to third world countries. Outside of the gates of Hannah's Hope, there is a world of sadness, but inside, there is utopia and heaven on earth. The children at Hannah's Hope are blessed to have made it to this transition point where the next step is a forever family. My only hope is that we can offer the same level of love, acceptance and nurturing that our man received at this amazing place.

Bereket found us at HH and recognized us from our photo album. It was so sweet. He first found Lauren as she was filming another family's first meeting with their new baby. She felt a little tug on her jacket and looked down into the eyes of her new little brother and a warm smile of hello. She was in love! We were called in and here he stood holding her hand with a beautiful smile of welcome. I will never forget it.

I am actually able to post as Bereket now sits with his daddy watching Spiderman on this quiet fourth of July morning. He slept peacefully through the night and had a full breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage and a pop tart! He loves hot tea, so I brought home two boxes and we shared some Ethiopian tea with honey this morning. If you are traveling soon, the little boy "Danny" that hangs ouside of the Union Apartments Hotel is an amazing resource. He can take you anywhere and run errands. I gave him 50 birr (a little less than 5 bucks) to find me two boxes of Addis Tea and he came back in ten minutes with it. He told me it cost him 9 birr, less than 90 cents for two boxes! I was so amazed and told him to keep the change! You should have seen his face! He just got tipped almost $5 for running an errand! Then, I worried he would get mugged crossing the street back to his home...but he made it. You will LOVE this kid! His english is pretty good too!

Speaking of English, Bereket (who now wants to be called Eli), is writing in English at about a 3rd to 4th grade level, although probably doesn't understand it. He can read English pretty well too, like maybe first to 2nd grade? He does multiplication and division, and can draw like an artist! I believe in his language he is easily in 4th grade. He plays soccer like a pro, and showed us his hand stand, push-ups, cartwheel, and how he puts out a lit match with his mouth!! Whoa!!! Wasn't expecting that trick!

So far, we are doing well and loving having a little one around...keeping us young! We are waiting for the shoe to drop, but maybe shouldn't. He is respectuful, kind, energetic, happy, smart and so affectionate. He constantly holds our hands and gives us hugs and kisses. He loved on all the babies at HH and we constantly heard them calling his name to be picked up! We are enjoying him after a week and he says he is very happy. I am so relieved. I will post some pics later with more updates.

For now, Happy 4th of July! We can now celebrate our new citizen of the U.S.!