Archive for April, 2012



29
Apr
12

cornrows

I decided that since I have plenty of time here with a very limited audience, I’d practice my braiding.  I understand the mechanics of cornrowing from a little practice and a few YouTube videos.  How hard could it be?  Francine’s hair was co-washed and detangled.  She’s sitting in front of me on the bed and she knows it’s hair time.  Her previous hair people must have had an intricate system of straps and clamps. No one, I don’t care how many hours of braiding experience they walk in the door with, could possibly get a braid on a girl when her head moved around like she was closely following the very random flight of a something that moves really erratically and at warp speed (I can’t think of anything) while sitting on a moving mechanical bull.  It was a disaster.  Next time maybe I need to try a sedative (for me) and a larger cornrow.  I ended up doing box two strand twists.  Bibi helped.  They’re cute and have stayed in several days even with swimming and naps and nights without a sleep cap.  My favorite on her so far is still the wash and go, but I think she’s cooler with a more protective style.  Plus, her hair can do all kinds of fun styles that her Congolese mama would have her wear.  More practice needed for her not Congolese mama!

I packed Cheerios and Goldfish crackers in empty Gatorade bottles to prevent crushing.  Now we’re using the empty (again) bottles to fill with rocks and then empty and then fill with rocks and shake and roll and empty and fill and shake and empty and repeat and repeat and repeat……

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28
Apr
12

earrings

I brought some earrings.  I noticed that in some of the photos of Keta and Francine taken during the wait, that they both had earrings.  When we met, Francine didn’t have earrings, but still had pierced ears (she lost the earrings), but Keta had both of hers.  I wouldn’t have pierced their ears so young, but I didn’t want to change what was done by someone who cared for them.  They get to keep their names and their pierced ears, pretty much everything else from home, their first three years, is unknown to me and lost.  Yesterday one of Keta’s earrings fell out.  Thankfully she was aware and it didn’t get lost.  I pulled out the earrings that I brought and both girls were so happy!  They each picked out a different pair (no arguing!).  Once Francine’s were in, she flipped through her photo album, which is falling apart after hours of flipping pages, and showed me the photo of her with earrings.  She was so proud.  She was trying to look in a small metal handle to see her reflection.  Keta is pleased with her new bling too, silver stars with pink centers.  They’ve heard, “So pretty!” quite a lot in reference to their clothes for the day, their hair, their art, their play-doh masterpieces, and their dolls, that they were saying it to each other and admiring their new jewelry.  Happy girls.

 

28
Apr
12

update

Looks like we’ll be here a minimum of four more weeks, most likely five or more.  Francine’s paperwork was filed with some errors that have yet to be corrected.  It should take two weeks for those corrections to be made.  Remember about delays here in DRC….?  We can hope it’s two weeks.  Once that paperwork is done we can start the visa process which seems to be taking two to three weeks.  Again, I came here knowing it could be a ten week trip.  Waiting for things to happen that have to happen is understandable.  Waiting for things that should have already happened is a bit frustrating.  Still, I wouldn’t undo it and go back and wait in the states if I could.  These babies need to be with their mama.  Their first three years were spent in unknown conditions, there’s a lot we all need to work through together.  That so many wait and wait and wait in those same unknown conditions (or much worse!) while people fail to do their jobs, even after accepting bribes is so sad.  Families are so eager to be with their babies, eager to start the healing.  Sad that the kiddos must wait.

That’s enough whining!

We’re planning our next grocery outing.  Suggestions?  We’ve done a lot of canned tuna for the girls.  They also love boiled eggs, bread, and apples.  They’ll eat raisins and love almonds.  Peanut butter still is acceptable, sometimes.  I make pureed baby food veggies really appealing too and somehow they believe that they’re delicious or at least edible.  It helps that they get about an ounce of juice or two teddy grahams if they finish.  They’re good about taking their vitamins and drinking milk.  Bibi and I have had pasta, energy bars, and thanks to Bibi’s genius, a grilled cheese sandwich!

I you have any simple activity ideas for three year old girls, send them our way (remember, we’re here without a suture kit and supplies for most everything)!  The girls are most comfortable playing in the new box, but are getting better about playing outside.  They never seem bored, but Bibi and I could use a bit of a change of activities.

Both of the girls are so funny and such a joy to be around, most of the time!  😉

 

27
Apr
12

progress

I got a call late last night to let me know that we’d be going to get passport photos at 9 this morning.  Apparently the passport photos we took on Monday were actually not passport photos, but for the visa. At 12:30 this afternoon, I got a call saying the passport photos couldn’t be taken today as there was a problem with the camera.  We’d take photos Monday.  I’m not sure I believe it.  On Monday I paid quite a bit of cash for the passports and was instructed to throw in $100 so they’d be done by today.  Now we’re at a weekend and another delay.  The embassy appointment seems to be getting further away.  I knew I could be here ten weeks, but I keep getting my hopes up with what seems like good news and everything coming together.  Here we still sit in the new box.  Back to today….Keta and Francine have been moved around a lot with little or no explanation as to what’s happening.  As I don’t speak Swahili, it’s hard for me to let them know what’s up.  Today I told them that we’d be going in a motocar to have a photo taken.  “Mama in motocar, Bibi in motocar, Keta in motocar, Francine in motocar.  Francine photo, Keta photo….”  We repeated it again and again and they asked questions to make sure we were all going and coming back together.  Then we didn’t go.  To make the afternoon a bit rougher, the pool is closed today.

I don’t know what’s going on with the paperwork.  I guess we’re waiting on translations and other paperwork which I have no idea what it is.  I don’t know when to expect passports or when to expect the visa process to begin.  We keep getting our hopes up, and I guess that’s all we can do.  I’m powerless and totally at the mercy of others to help me and Bibi and my kiddos get home quickly and safely.  For now we’re all spending great quality time together!  We’re blessed to have this time with the girls (what can you do inside a box except play and bond with kiddos?) and thankful everyone is safe and healthy!

Yes, that’s food on her forehead. 🙂

27
Apr
12

clever

Here at the new box a crib was brought in for the girls.  The crib mattress is plenty big for both of them, but they were trying to climb out of the crib.  The floor is tile.  We don’t have a suture kit (not having a suture kit is one of our running jokes….Francine, let mama cut your apple in half, we don’t have a suture kit…..Keta, no jumping from the roof into the pool, we don’t have a suture kit…..).  I moved the crib mattress to the floor where the girls are happy to sleep.  Francine likes to be close when she sleeps, like on someone’s face close.  Keta gets on the bed and cuddles a bit with Francine, also on the bed.  Keta “accidentally” falls off the bed and cuddles up on the floor where I’ve put some blankets for the inevitable fall from the bed.  Francine quickly follows, bed or no bed, she needs to be close to someone.  When Francine falls asleep, Keta moves to the bed and has it all to herself.  She’s willing to sacrifice a cover, just to have the bed to herself.  Clever girl, and of course I’m quick with the extra cover for her.

 

25
Apr
12

shhh

We spend a lot of time looking at and talking about picture books.  One has a photo of a baby sleeping.  When we get to this page, Francine instructs us all to, “Shhh!”  She reminds us loudly to stay shhhhed.  Apparently even whispering is loud enough to wake this sleeping baby while Francine’s loud shhhing doesn’t bother her at all.  When the page is turned, the baby is still sleeping so we still have to shhh.  Makes learning about colors and numbers and what cats say kinda difficult.

Francine usually takes a decent nap after lunch.  Yesterday I think she was ready for her nap a bit early.  She curled up on the bed late in the morning.  She covered herself and her babies with a placemat.  The placemat is used for a lot of things, none of the uses have anything to do with the table or dishes.  It’s not unusual to find the placemats packed in the just my size backpacks the girls love to pack and unpack.  Using the placemat for a blankie was a first, though.  Too bad the photo I had to take disturbed the whole nap thing.

Some of us sneeze pretty frequently here.  We have a bless you, thank you, you’re welcome procedure we have to follow after every sneeze.  Francine has started to have really dramatic and painful to the ears fake sneezes mixed in with her real sneezes.  She thinks it’s hilarious.  I think my ears are going to start bleeding.

Our favorite game of late, no matter if we’re inside or out, is hide and seek.  Keta loves it!  It’s great counting to ten practice and we get some exercise too, if we’re outside.  Keta hides in the same place every time, just around the corner of wherever we are, inside or out.  Francine never stays hidden long enough for me to get all the way through, “Ready or not, here I come!”  I try to fake it and look exhaustively (ten to fifteen seconds) for Keta who is only slightly better at staying hidden.  Francine’s pointing finger in response to my, “Where’s Keta?” makes the search harder to fake.  “One more, please!” about a dozen times.  We’re trying to switch to, “Again please!”  It’s not a smooth transition so far.  Sometimes they’re willing to switch it up.  They cover their eyes (not at all successfully) count to ten (almost successfully) and look around for me.  Endless fun!

 

 

25
Apr
12

4 down

Today starts week five with Francine and Keta.  We keep getting our hopes up that things will be moving along quickly and then they don’t.  We still hope we’re over half way through our time here and that maybe once things start happening they will happen quickly and we’ll be throwing things in suitcases to race to the airport.  Just in case though, we’re going to start looking at preschools for the girls.  😉  We are safe and doing really well, but we’re ready to get these girls home!  Four weeks down and ???? to go.  I wish we had some measurements of the girls when we first met.  I think they’ve both grown!  Keta freaked out when she saw the cloth tape measure though, so no first week measurements.

In some ways it seems like that day four weeks ago was a thousand years ago and sometimes it seems like the last four weeks have gone by in a blink.  They have both made such tremendous progress towards trusting that we’re forever family.  They are understanding so much English and working hard at speaking a bit too.  They are learning to have some manners and ask for what they want.  They’re learning numbers and colors and how to swim.  They’re learning to trust and learning what having a family is all about.  We have our struggles and set backs, of course, but the recovery is quicker and quicker.  The time here has been priceless as far as bonding with the girls goes.  There has been a price though, financially, so until Colorado starts to pay teachers a bit better we’ll be selling pipe cleaner bracelets, artwork, photos, advice on surviving extended time in country, plasma, authentic DRC dust straight from the source…….

Here’s a sample of the artwork.  Obviously I have gifted children 🙂