Archive for June, 2012

30
Jun
12

evil genius

I won’t name names, but of my two daughters, the taller one is one to be feared or at least watched.  My family has an annual vacation to Lake Powell.  It’s one of my favorite weeks of the year.  Keta and Francine are excited about the three boats (two fast ones for skiing and the big slow one for dinner and showers and nigh’ night) and the “big pool.”  I think they’ll be a bit shocked at how big the big pool really is, I know I am a bit shocked by it every year.  They have new pajamas for the trip that were surprisingly exciting and new shoes they can wear in the water plus a few new swimsuits and “jackets” so they don’t need their tubes in the water.  They’ve made food requests and know we get to see Aunt Brianna again.  It’s all so exciting they think it should happen later today, every single day.  Finally, to help them understand, I made a chain of rings.   Take one off every night when we put on pajamas, when the rings are gone, it’s off to the boat!  I know me well enough to know I’m not going to remember if it’s Keta’s turn or Francine’s turn to take off a ring and I know my daughters well enough to know that I need to know.  They know their letters, K and F.  That’s how we know which one gets to take off a ring, the letter.  The removal of the ring has become a favorite and much talked about event.  Yesterday, Keta knew it wasn’t her turn when we were discussing it after dinner.  Suddenly she disappeared and I was pretty sure I knew where she could be found.  Yep.  She was taking off the ring with the “F” so that it would be her turn.  So, here’s the lesson and if you’ve been a parent for longer than about five minutes you’ve already learned this lesson or if you teach or have been around kids at all you know it too, but here it is anyway.  Asking a yes or no question in which yes will be admitting doing something the kid now knows she shouldn’t have done and no will result in a lie, will always be answered in the negative.  It’s a lose-lose for the poor kiddo.  Why do these yes-no questions keep falling out of my mouth?  I’m working on it.  Anyway, keep your eye on that one.  She’s smart and always thinking and knows how to apply it, sometimes for good, sometimes not so much for good.

Other happenings so far…..

The temp is in the triple digits here and the wind usually blows too, so outside time is pretty limited.  The girls play with blocks for about an hour a day.  Just yesterday they discovered a bunch of toy dishes that I played with as a kid and have cooked and cooked and served meals to everyone, the dog included.  Put a baby blanket down as a tablecloth and voila!  Dinner is served.  We went on a short road trip to see where all these eggs we’re given are from.  We saw some family too, totally secondary to Keta and Francine.  Fun times though!  It’s still really hard for the girls to be in a room where I’m not, but they’re getting some practice and doing alright with it.  They are learning how to play and color and have fun.  They talk NON-STOP and often at the same time.  Even though most of what they say starts with “Mama” I’m rarely given a chance to respond.  I don’t think anyone ever had any interest in hearing what they had to say.  Some eye contact and an encouraging nod is all they need to talk and talk and talk and talk and that’s why this post has taken two hours and likely makes no sense. 🙂

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22
Jun
12

waterberry, i mean strawmelon

Is it possible to have the girls try too many different fruits?  After ten weeks without, I’m making up for lost time and Keta and Francine (okay, mostly Francine as Keta looks at a new food and immediately and without even a bite says “no thank you”) are eager to try them.  Strawberries and watermelon are favorites (even though the names get mixed up) with bananas and the stand by apple not far behind.  Apricots were only mildly acceptable until Keta and Francine got to help pick them.  Blueberries are still “icky” even though they’re cousin Elsa’s favorite.  They can imitate her eating them one after the other saying, “Yummy, yummy for the tummy!” but if one accidentally gets in the mouth there’s a face and some attempts at spitting that follow.  Overall, they’re both great eaters and easy to please.  It’s helped make the transition to home go pretty smoothly.

Both girls are experiencing less and less terror at the sight of the family dog.  He’s truly a gentle giant and is giving the girls plenty of space.  Francine has touched him a few times and is so proud of herself.  Keta fed him a few milkbones and the look on her face was like she single-handedly ended world hunger.  He’s really not that scary, until he moves.  Then he’s surely going to eat them whole even though he’s been napping at their feet for thirty minutes.

We had the first home visit by our social worker.  It was absolutely a non-event, but I’m relieved to have it out of the way.  The paperwork to validate their adoptions has started.  They’ll get U.S. issued birth certificates and become citizens when it’s all done.  Their dates of birth will be finalized as well.  We’ll never know how close they’ll be to the actual days, but that’s alright.

Amazing how well they’re doing.  Most people who meet them are shocked at how much English they speak and understand even though they totally clam up when it’s more than just the three of us.  They’re fun to be around, both of them.  I’m exceptionally lucky!

12
Jun
12

shots

If you heard a faint something yesterday afternoon and couldn’t quite figure out what it was, it was Francine screaming through Keta’s five immunizations and then through her own five.  My hearing might be permanently damaged.  It’s been fuzzy since the nurse said she needed a margarita.  Amazing what some raspberry sorbet and a sprinkler to run through can fix (for the girls).  I was with the nurse, I needed a big girl beverage.

Francine’s spleen is enlarged which means she has likely had malaria.  The only surprising thing about it is that the same can’t be said for Keta.  Otherwise, the doctor said they are amazingly healthy.  Blood work, booster shots and x-rays are upcoming.  The pediatrician, just like everyone else who has met the girls, thinks they’re much closer to around two and a half and just shy of four years old.  Their ages will be adjusted as soon as I can make it happen.  I’ll give them a second to last name too.  Not knowing the dates of birth (or knowing a change is coming) and having four names that will soon be five names makes filling out paperwork for things like insurance a bit tricky.  Kind of like finding a baby book…..single mom, adoption, not infants, kiddos from another country….not the “norm.”  Oh well.  We get a lot of attention, and thankfully for the girls right now, it’s not all up close.  People smile.  Some talk to the girls, some talk to me, some just smile and walk away still smiling.  So far, it’s all good.

Bibi left today.  I think it was harder on the Bibi than the girls, but how do you explain that she’s just going away for a bit.  Everyone else from their lives is just gone, forever.  We’ve talked to her on the phone and we’ll Skype and visit too, but it’s hard to understand.  They’ve done well today.  We’ve stuck to our regular schedule.  We’ll miss her, our Bibi, a lot, but we’ll make it and look forward to seeing her again.  These girls are amazing little troopers, able to laugh and play and miss Bibi too.

09
Jun
12

two full days

We’ve been home two full days now.  It has been wonderful!  The girls both did amazing on the flights and drives to get here, all five flights and two long drives.  They  might be better international travelers than I am.  Not very difficult to get comfy and fall asleep on an airplane when you’re under three feet tall, it seems.

Here’s some of what we came home to.  Three trees had been planted, one for each of the girls and one for us, a welcome home basket with lots of I-ran-out-of-this-in-ten-weeks kind of stuff like deodorant and body wash and other fun stuff, a garden, a phenomenal swing set, a snack drawer for Francine and one for Keta, lots of snacks for me too, both the refrigerator and freezer full of food, a very welcoming and homey front yard complete with flowers and chairs and bubbles and pinwheels that the girls think are “so pretty flowers.”  The girls each have a photo of themselves over their beds and new pajamas.  There are flowers and balloons.  We have five or six dozen farm fresh eggs that surprisingly both girls are quite good at peeling when hard-boiled.  That Y name that is now no one’s but had made a few appearances on various things in the house has been replaced with Keta.  The house had been thoroughly cleaned.  The girls had gifts and snacks in the car for the ride home.  They’ve been given books and dogs in purses and lotion and more clothes than they’ve had all their years put together.  They have a pool shaped like a whale complete with spout to make “big splash!”  They have been adored by friends and family.  I could go on and on about how wonderful my peeps are, I’m kind of in awe of them.  The girls too.  I’m kind of in awe.

Although not one hundred percent sure this can all be trusted, they have transitioned pretty smoothly.  I slept on the floor between their beds for the last two nights since for the last ten weeks I slept an arm’s length away.  Tonight they know I’m sleeping in the big bed in the next room.  They’re no longer getting lost in the house and although nervous, they proudly and bravely stated, “Mama, Keta no cry at night night.  Francine too, no cry.”  They were right and are sleeping peacefully.

They have braved a day with a dog in the house.  He’s been confined, but still here.  Keta’s close to wanting to be more involved with Milo.  I think tomorrow she might go up to the barrier and take a closer look.  Francine will take a bit longer, but she’s on her way to liking him too.

They’ve had so many firsts.  Stairs that move in the airport and some strange thing that blows air onto their soon to be dry hands, which they love to imitate.  Lots of new family that just couldn’t stay away (I’m glad!) after worrying and hoping and missing so much for ten weeks and a few years prior.  They’re finally seeing those people in the photos, the rooms too.  They’re real!  Swings and slides and climbing walls, strollers and a full size refrigerator, a present to unwrap, toys and sidewalk chalk, enough shoes to need to decide or know that one pair is for running outside and one pair is for playing in water and another is just pretty.  They point to the floor in the house and ask, “Home?” just to make sure this is finally the place.  They each have a bed, but right now feel better sharing one.  They’re trying some new foods and enjoying some familiar ones.  They took a bath, way more fun than a shower.

They’re going to be alright here.

07
Jun
12

home!

Details coming soon ……..

04
Jun
12

travel

Our worst case scenario plane tickets are for 2 pm tomorrow.  We still don’t have an exit permit.  We don’t know if we’re leaving or not and it’s after 6 pm.

02
Jun
12

visas

Visas for the girls were finally issued yesterday.  What a relief!  The final step before going home is to have exit permits completed by the Congolese government.  After a week of working toward these permits only a post visa approval stamp is required.  Of course the one man who operates the stamp doesn’t work on Saturday.  He might be convinced to go to work long enough to stamp some forms if we pay for petrol.  Deal!  Our worse than worst case scenario flight leaves on Tuesday and we’d feel a lot better having this step done before Monday afternoon.  Looks like our homecoming is finally coming!  We feel relieved and excited, but in a reserved let’s wait until we’re actually on the plane kind of way.  We’ve talked about the airplane and who will be on it to make sure the girls understand that where Mama goes, they go too.   No need to be worried about the possibility of Mama leaving you or giving you to someone new.  We’ve talked endlessly about all the things we’re taking with us and that the airplane is taking us home.  “Pack pack on a-plane?”  “Baby Farmer (the name each of the girls chose for their dolls) on a-plane?”  “Dress on a-plane?”   “Mama dress on a-plane?”  You get the idea.  They ask about everything they can see and everything they can think of.  We’ve practiced what we’ll do when we see Granddad, Uncle Erick, Aunt Lindsay, Aunt Brianna, Gigi, our dog Milo, and everyone else, big hug and lots of kisses.  This, I doubt they follow through on, but it’s sure cute and funny to watch them practice.

The last ten weeks have been gone by in a blink.  Somehow they’ve also been the most impossibly long weeks of my life.  The idea of the girls finally being home with their forever family, being safe and happy, is almost overwhelming.  They’re so happy and learning so much so fast.  I know I’ll be amazed at their continued progress once we’re home, they’ll thrive.  Plus, they’ll be English speaking little American girls from DR Congo in no time at all.  I’ll always remember fondly words like belly bunt, byerd (bird), pureple or burple or pearple, egg-ee, excuse-ee me, duck and dog sounding exactly the same, Yindsay, etc.  So much fun!  While I’m thankful for the hunker down and get to know the girls time here, (it would have been more difficult at home to shut the world out for over two months) I am so ready to move on!

Two confused, sad and scared babies to this, in just ten weeks…..