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Sunday, July 24, 2011

3 months home

Yesterday marked the 3 month anniversary that Jeremiah and Simon have been in the US! We celebrated by going to see some friends of ours in Ankeny, Iowa who were having an adoption garage sale fundraiser. :-) They will be adopting two siblings (currently waiting for a referral) so I wanted them to experience what it could be like for them. We also found some great buys at their garage sale including a bicycle for Jeremiah, a pair of shorts, and a computer desk. The boys got to experience McDonald's play place for the first time (until someone ratted them out the kids who didn't have socks on). Thankfully they had played enough that they weren't too disappointed to stop.

This month has brought more outside play, our 3 month post placement visit which went very well, their first rodeo in O'Neill, Nebraska, helping mommy make chocolate chip cookies and rice krispy bars, getting their hair cut (by a professional...I had done it once before), and just generally having fun. The boys are growing quite a bit as well which is exciting. On April 27 we measured the boys' height and Jeremiah was 3 feet 1-3/4 inches tall. He is now 3 feet 3-1/4 inches tall! Simon on April 27 was 2 feet 11 inches. He is now 3 feet and 3/4 inches tall! That is AWESOME since they were very little for their ages. One change that has taken place this month was that I started working again. I have to tell you that it was HARD to go back after having been off since the beginning of March, but it gives Garth time alone with the boys. I am working from home as a medical transcriptionist. My hours are Sunday through Thursday 7p-1a. I chose these hours so that we could have one meal together as a family at dinner and I would still have time to start working after eating. I just started on Wednesday so I have 2 nights under my belt. I get one 15-minute break so I try to take that around the boys' bedtime so I can give them hugs and kisses and tuck them in. Another perk to this schedule is that Garth gets to clean up the kitchen after supper. :-)

As I've said since we brought the boys home, things are still going really, really well. The boys are an absolute delight. I still LOVE hearing their little voices in the back seat as we are driving and their laughs are contagious. I never tire of hearing that. I posted several of this month's pictures in the 2 month and 2 week blog, so if you missed those click here, otherwise, here are the newest pictures since those!

Smiley boys

Jeremiah relaxing in the back yard

Simon relaxing in the back yard

My favorite kind of laundry

My John Deere boys

New towels from David and Jennifer Druckenmiller

Daddy and Simon

Helping Mommy melt marshmallows for rice krispy treats

Jeremiah and Mommy

Simon after a busy afternoon

Jeremiah that same day 

Jeremiah getting his hair cut by Susan

Simon's new hair cut

Jeremiah's new hair cut

Nate and Pam Maxwell with the boys

Mommy, Jeremiah, Daddy, and Simon at Maxwell's house

LAST DAY for Wade's Pampered Chef party

Today is the last day you can help support the Wade family's adoption PC fundraiser! I will close it out tonight when I get off work so you have about 12 hours left to order! Click on the Pampered Chef logo on the right and start shopping. Enter "Brandy" as the hostess so they will get credit. The money they receive will be going for a GREAT CAUSE...so order today!

Friday, July 22, 2011

World Magazine article about Ethiopian adoptions

Tonight as I was stalking the AWAA Ethiopia Yahoo Group, I saw that someone had posted about an article in World Magazine regarding Ethiopian adoptions. Obviously, this piqued my curiosity. The article is quite long, but definitely worth the time to read. As you know if you have followed any Ethiopian adoption blog in the past 4 months or so, Ethiopian adoptions have slowed. down. a. lot. This article does an excellent job of explaining what steps are taken through the entire adoption process from Ethiopia... from relinquishment to Embassy.  It also has some good comments about AWAA, which I am ALWAYS proud to share. You can read the article here. Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

GOD IS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!

I know that most of you reading this blog know how awesome our God is, but today I received an announcement that I had been praying to read since March 10. Today, Jen and Brandon Hatmaker from Texas shared with the world that their son Ben from Ethiopia FINALLY passed court. In case you haven't heard the story, I'll give you some background. Jen and Brandon were adopting two previously unrelated children, Remy and Beniam. I had the pleasure of meeting them in Ethiopia because we all had the same court date of March 10. On March 10, little Remy passed court but Beniam's file didn't have the often-missing letter from MOWCYA. Since that day, America World and the Hatmaker's have been fighting for their son Beniam and time and time again they were told that they had to wait...some more. Well that wait has ended!!!!! Right now Brandon and Jen are in Ethiopia bringing home Remy and have been able to love on Beniam as well. When they told Beniam that he had finally passed court, he literally jumped into their arms and started telling his dad what he wanted them to bring when they came back to get him. :-) I will let you read the story here, but I just had to shout to my bloggy world how EXCITED I am that Beniam is no longer an orphan! I have cried so many tears of happiness today that my eyes are all puffy and bloodshot. THANK YOU LORD for your faithfulness to the Hatmaker family! OH HAPPY DAY!!!!!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Chores

I don't know what age I started having chores, but since I was doing "all the housework" when I was a pre-teen (wink, wink), I'm sure I started fairly early. Therefore I thought it was probably a good idea to start the boys on chores so they would have something to feel proud of accomplishing and a way to earn stickers...which turn into 5 cents per sticker. I should say that not all of these are "chores" per se, but ways to teach them responsibility and good work ethic. At the end of the month, we will add up all the stickers they earned and let them either save the money for something bigger in the future or get something smaller now, or save it indefinitely. Here are the sticker opportunities that I have given each boy:

Jeremiah:
  • Get dressed by himself with minimal help
  • Make his bed
  • Bring things from car to house (like his suitcase, books, toys, etc.)
  • Set the table with help
  • Help me cook
  • Help carry groceries
  • Match their socks
  • Pick up toys before bed
  • Saying please without being reminded
  • Limited spilling at the table

Simon:
  • Help me make his bed
  • Pick up toys with supervision
  • Take clothes to our laundry chute
  • Help carry groceries
  • Saying please with minimal reminders
  • Telling us when he needs to go potty
  • Help me cook

There are also things that will take away stickers such as lying, excessive whining, not listening, fighting, waking up the other sibling before they wake up on their own, hitting, and talking back. They can also earn stickers for doing other good things that aren't on their list of things as Garth and I see fit.

We started using this chart a week ago and they have both done really well so far. They get very excited about doing things that will earn them stickers which in turn makes me excited to provide these opportunities. I would also like to know what other "chores" parents have had for their 3 and 4-year-olds. If you currently have or have had a 3 or 4-year-old, please chime in on this subject! I would love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Three month post placement visit

Today we had our 3 month post placement visit with Cindy from Nebraska Christian Services. I was actually really looking forward to this visit. She came around 2:30 and the boys were still napping so we had a few minutes of quiet to get some of the particulars out of the way. The boys woke up about 2:45 and came down. At first they were a little shy, but after about 10 minutes, they got over that and began to be their normal energetic selves. :-)

The questions that we were asked dealt with physical health (illnesses, stamina, height, weight, etc.), intellectual development, adjustment and attachment, community and extended family's responses to the boys, if there were any changes within the family (such as a move, job changes, etc.), our daily routine, their personalities, what they like to do, and how things are going in general.

The total visit lasted a little short of 2 hours and the boys entertained Cindy quite a bit. It will be 3 months before we see her again so it'll be interesting to see how much they have changed since then. :-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

This could have been our boys...

I stumbled upon this article about the drought in Ethiopia today and it broke my heart. Our boys were malnourished when they were put up for adoption, though not this severely. Had their birth dad not made the decision he did, our boys could have looked like this. Click here to read this article.

Increased wait times for Ethiopian referrals

You may be wondering why I'm writing about this since we are home with our boys. Well I still have several friends who haven't yet seen their future children so I like to keep track of how things are going. I shared with you before we went to Ethiopia that the Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA, which has now been renamed Ministry of Women's, Children, and Youth Affairs, or MOWCYA) had drastically cut down the number of approval letters that they were writing each day down to 5. Every family has to have that letter to pass court and be able to be submitted to Embassy. Obviously, that slowed things down in Ethiopia A LOT. Since that time, referrals have slowed down greatly as well, which means families are having to wait longer and longer before getting to see their future child(ren). Well my friends John and Christina Anderson (and many other families) got the following e-mail recently.

As your family is in the waiting stage of the adoption process, we are writing to inform you of a change to our predicted timeframes between dossier submission and referral.     
 
The wait for a male referral is now predicted to be between 10 and 16 months.  The wait for a female referral is now predicted to be between 11 and 18 months.  Wait times currently show a trend of increasing.
 
There are many factors that contribute to wait times.   Each child’s case can vary in the amount of time it takes to be ready to be referred to a family.   America World thoroughly investigates each case and it can take weeks, and at times months, to clear referrals with medical or documentation issues, or to obtain necessary governmental documents/clearances/etc. that are needed before he or she can be referred. 
 
While we know this news is disappointing, we are encouraged to share that MOWCYA has increased the number of recommendation letters they write to 15 per day. We will continue to apprise your family of any other changes that occur, and we are praying for your family and all families in the various stages of the adoption process.

So I would like to ask you for your prayers for these families who are waiting for that oh so important call. While we know that God is in control, waiting is still very hard to do. 

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Two months and 2 weeks home

I know, I'm very behind on my blogging. Our 2 month anniversary of being home came and went without a single comment. I didn't forget, just haven't taken the time to do it. I realized, though, that I better TAKE the time to do it or our 3 month anniversary of being home will be here and I will have skipped 2 months. So here we go. As I am writing this, the boys are running around the house, jumping on the couch, and laughing while doing all of it. :-)

Things are still going incredibly well. Some of their favorite activities for the last 6 weeks have included meeting several cousins, playing with water toys, riding horses, having their first boat ride at North Lake here in Nebraska, going swimming in the Trenton, Missouri pool, watching fireworks in Trenton, going to their first rodeo, having tractor rides, 4-wheeler rides, having injera at the Ethiopian restaurant in Omaha, and playing with neighbors.

Garth and I continue to LOVE being parents and can't imagine our lives without the boys. I often find myself amazed at how God orchestrated our lives to be together. It hasn't been an easy road for any of us, but God has been faithful to us all. Enjoy the pictures!

Smiley Simon

My 3 favorite guys with water balloons

Jeremiah made this castle by himself...Simon wanted in the picture

Jeremiah, Granddad Kelley, and Simon reading a book

Jeremiah, Simon, and Daddy

Simon riding a horse...he wasn't as excited about it as his brother


Jeremiah didn't want to get off the horse

They took a 3-hour nap after their fun at the farm

Irish Superman!

Simon wearing pajama bottoms as a hat

Simon and Mommy taken by Jeremiah

Simon dancing

Simon, Jeremiah, and Daddy behind bars

Mommy and Jeremiah at the Ethiopian restaurant

Simon and Daddy at the Ethiopian restaurant

Jeremiah and Simon in a laundry basket

Simon, cousins Ellie and Rick, and Jeremiah

Jeremiah and Simon right after they got back from Missouri

Simon, Grandpa D, and Jeremiah

Simon and Jeremiah playing in the sprinkler in Missouri...BRRR!

Daddy giving horsey rides

Daddy and Simon in the Trenton pool

Daddy and Jeremiah in the Trenton pool

Simon and Jeremiah on a slide

Simon, Jeremiah, and Daddy in the little pool

Simon kissing Daddy

Simon in the high chair with Grandma K looking on

Simon kissing Grandma

What a cool dude...

At the rodeo they had a coin search in all this grass...Simon had more fun dumping the grass on his head than looking for money

Jeremiah did a little better looking

Big handfuls of grass

Simon rolling in it...he still has grass in his hair...

Jeremiah at the rodeo on day 2

Simon having fun with the spritzer fan

Jeremiah was playing with a smaller fan that we won

He was pretending it was a phone

Big smile!

Simon at church in the park

Jeremiah at church in the park

Jeremiah, Daddy, and Simon coming back from going "shint"

Simon relaxing

Jeremiah

Today I Kissed an Angel

Today I kissed an angel. I knew it from the start. The first time my angel smiled at me; I gave away my heart.

Today I kissed an angel; This angel child of mine. Though not of my creation, My child by God's design.

Today I kissed an angel. My heart is dancing wild; Our family, by a miracle; Blessed by our angel child.

All I Really Want by Steven Curtis Chapman