Archive for March, 2013


weekend at bibi’s










year in review

One year ago today I sat in the lobby of a hotel in Lubumbashi and the waiting was over, finally.


Ten weeks in country and the rest at home, one short year.  Just a short list of some of the changes.  We’ve gone from……


Size 18-24 month clothes to, girl’s size 6, not even toddler sizes anymore.


So far below the 5th percentile Francine would need to be more than a year younger to even be on the chart, to above the 50th for height and weight (a six month age change got her on the chart, but the rest is just from growing like crazy).  Keta went from the 25th percentile to over the 95th for height and close to the same for weight.


Orphans living in a place not able to offer much of a future, to almost endless opportunities.


Terrified of stuffed animals to, sleeping every single night with Frosty aka Snowflake aka White Doggie aka Duchess ….


Terrified of dogs to, I want another doggie, a brown one with a blue necklace, to I want a cat, no two cats.


Not a word of English to, non. stop. chatter. all. day. long, and some nights.  Seriously, sometimes I have to go in their bedroom hours after I thought they were asleep and tell them to be quiet so I can go to sleep.


Never having seen a person with “yellow skin” to, fitting right in with this crazy yellow skinned crew.


Big round malaria and giardia belly to, total bikini bod.


That first tentative bite of pizza to, a new favorite!


Shaved head to, thick, amazing curls with beads!!


Blocks on tricycle pedals to, needing to move the seat up (SLOW DOWN you two, with the getting taller and older thing!)


Struggling to learn to count to 3 to, struggling to learn to count to 100.


Having no idea what books are all about to, having a considerable library and reading and reading and reading and reading.


Eating everything in sight as fast as it can be shoved in to, eating everything in sight but taking a breath every five or six bites for some conversation.


Not being able to sit still for braiding or twisting or detangling to, ok, still not able to sit still for braiding or twisting or detangling or sometimes even cuddling.


Having no idea how to eat with forks and spoons to, having no idea how to eat with chopsticks.  Fun trying though!


Needing a boost to get on the swing, to needing to make the swing higher.


Needing a step stool to reach the toilet and the sink to, forgetting we have a step stool.  Putting rocks on their heads, totally frowned on, right? 😉


A, B, C what??? to, needing to sound out and guess letters in every spoken word and spell every written word.


Needing to be touching mama to, needing to be in the same room as mama to “is mama here somewhere?”  Not quite, but crazy progress made in the feeling secure area!


Screaming through most every hour of the day to, smiling and laughing, hugging and cuddling and blowing kisses.


Fear and uncertainty to spontaneous, unprompted, frequent and heartfelt I love you, mama!  (Francine, Keta’s not quite there yet.)


Hands down, best year ever.



all mine

At first all you can do is love the idea of them, these strangers that will be your kids.  You don’t know if they’re boys or girls or infants or toddlers, but you feel like you love them.  Then you see that first photo and you say yes and you ask if you can tell people, if you can count on it, and you hear that you can show that photo and smile and call that beautiful stranger your daughter.  You love her cheeks and her eyes and you love to wonder about her personality.  You love that people say she looks just like you and even though it’s crazy you can’t help but agree.  You love the idea of her even more and you love looking toward your future with her and her new and yet unknown sister, this stranger that now has a face and name.  Then you see another photo and are asked how she looks to you and all you see is another stranger but somehow you know she’s that first little girl’s big sister.  You know she’s yours and you say yes and get to call another beautiful stranger your daughter.  You picture their sweet little faces smiling and imagine a laugh and wonder what they think is so funny.  You think about reading with them and playing and cuddling after knees get scraped.  You think about tipping over towering blocks and running through sprinklers.  Then a day or two later you realize she’s not still standing there, right there in the market where the photo was taken.  Then it’s hard to think about sprinklers and books.  You can only think about what they’re doing now, how they are now and who is caring for them.  Except you might think about high school graduation and you feel like they’ll just barely make it home in time for the party, as long as the adoption process takes.  Two governments, different languages, different continents, and endless paperwork make you wonder how it’s possible that it will ever work out to get them home, these beautiful strangers from another world who somehow will end up being yours.  Then they’re home and they’re still strangers, but now you get to love them for real.  You get to know them and love them for who they are.  You learn that the laugh you imagined wasn’t even close and you’re more amazed than you thought possible looking into those dark eyes and you shake your head in wonder.  You tell them, those strangers, your daughters, that you are theirs.  You are their mama.  Forever.  You are theirs.  You tell them a lot because it’s hard to believe and hard to understand and even harder to accept, so you tell them again and again.  I am yours, your mama, forever.  You don’t notice it happening, but little by little they become more and more yours too, no matter how much they seemed like it at first.  Even though you share them with their unknown first mamas, they’re still yours.  And these two silly, smart, brave and wonderful girls are mine, all mine.





weh, weh, weh, wabbit start with w.

Why you not start with u?  Why start with y?  Are start with r!

I want to be a reindeer when I gets big.

dokey yokey

Mama, you like me?

Mama, you going to be my mama when I goes to kindergarten and when I goes to play soccer, too?  Okay, I wants to be a ballerina when I gets big.

Mama, what sound a blue whale make?  (So, I had to find research audio online so she could hear it and then I thought why not hear dolphins too and then I had to hear blue whale and dolphin sounds for hours and play the mama, guess if a blue whale or dolphin make a sound like this game a few thousand times.)

Mama, why that bird make a sound like…. and she proceeds to make a sound that made me wonder if I was going to have to do the Heimlich maneuver or if we were still having a conversation.

Mama, can I has a gumball if I brush my teeths weally weally weally good tonight?


IMG_2306Two days, three movies and about seven hours of detangling and moisturizing, twisting and beading required repeated requests to “keep your fingers out of your hair” and “does your neck hurt from swinging your beads around so hard?” and “if we’re home you need to be wearing a sleep cap” and “great job carrying your step stool around on your head.”  Cringe!  Major need for a massage, not from the seven hours of styling, but from the tension in my shoulders from watching somersaults and wrestling and wanting more than anything else for the beads to last at least as long as it took to get them done.   Glad they’re healthy and active, and I’ll happily do repairs.  I just didn’t expect the repairs to be needed in the back while I was still working on the front.  It was just a ten minute break to work on your sister’s hair!  Their hair is getting a lot longer and lot thicker a lot faster than I’m getting better and faster, but five days later, still looking good!




Trying to explain about Santa was difficult enough, but what’s up with the Easter Bunny?  Where does he live and “why he so big?”  Who is his mama and does he “has a sister?”  Why he not a girl?   Who open the door for him?  A tunnel let him in?  He’s friends with Santa and the Fairy Godmother and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang?  Just a few examples of the many, many, questions that have come up in anticipation of a giant “muloji” with huge teeth coming into our safe and comfortable home in the middle of the night.  Totally creepy.  Mama’s happy to let a giant stranger in here when we’re all asleep?  Right when everyone was really starting to believe mama was trustworthy.  An awesome Easter basket might help, but I don’t think Francine cares what he might leave behind.  She’s not excited to have him here, and don’t even get her started on losing a tooth.  She’s just not going to, she thinks.  Keta will lose one first and I’m expecting Francine to stay awake and terrified all night.  Tooth fairy, no thank you!

I’ve scheduled an emergency egg dying session.  Keta and Francine have to take two dozen boiled eggs to school to dye them.  No way am I missing another first.  Nope, missing three years of firsts is enough.  I don’t care that we will end up with nine or ten dozen hard boiled eggs, we will all dye eggs together their first time.  Come over for deviled eggs, egg sandwiches, doro wat, and ideas for other things to do with hard boiled eggs.  It’ll be great!

IMG_2279Baby chicks!



hula hoops & hiking

If you’ve never seen a kid try to learn to hula hoop, you should.  It’s hilarious.  You’ll have to find a YouTube video of someone hula hooping after a few failed attempts at trying to demo it yourself, if you’re like me and find that hula hooping is not like riding a bike.  Even though at some point in the past you could hula hoop for several minutes using a variety of body parts and maybe even multiple hoops at once, you may find you no longer possess those abilities.  Seeing little hips attempt to keep the hoop going long after it hits the ground is funny.  Seeing little girls think that spinning themselves around and around will improve their success rate is hilarious.  Laughing just as hard as they’re laughing and so hard that you’re not able to see anymore is awesome!

We went “hiking.”  Keta and Francine thought they were on the greatest adventure anyone had ever had.  The steep climbs and treacherous descents, the views and the sounds of wildlife, climbing over fallen trees and ducking under branches, balancing on narrow bridges stretched over deep canyons, ah, a day in the wild.  We were in a small open space next to the park across the street from our house.  We live on the plains.  It’s extremely flat here and the deepest canyon around is two and half feet deep and made by a sometimes trickling creek, but each time we visit this small hidden place we’ve left one world and entered another.  Love it!






Yes, Bibi’s eyes are closed. 😉DSC_0827_2



Auntie B said I was going to kill her when I saw what she got Keta for her birthday.  No way, couldn’t be worse than the recorder or the keyboards or the makeup and I just smiled and shook my head a bit at those.  Seriously though, whoever invented the recorder died a slow and painful death listening to heartfelt and extremely loud songs of mourning played on recorders by a large (or small, doesn’t make a difference) group of kids under five.  So I did, I said and it, couldn’t be worse, and I really felt like I meant it.  Her warning didn’t scare me at all.  How wrong I was.   Keta got a two foot tall Hello Kitty gumball machine from Auntie B.  Money isn’t required, but her whole defense was that it was kind of like a piggy bank.  They could use money to get a piece of gum and learn to save money.  Weak!  We had a spill loading the thing so most of us at the party had three gumballs.  Keta was too quick for me to get a good count on the number in her mouth.  Francine had at least two.  They’ve never had gum before, in my presence, since I’ve known them.  Never had gum before, I thought.  How wrong I was, again.  Not sure how they came by it, but these two are experienced gum chewers.  What’s really impressive is that five seconds after Francine spit out her piece of gum she was chewing another, just as enthusiastically as before she spit it out.  I watched her and knew she didn’t get another gumball.  Somehow, she had kept her two gumballs separate in her mouth, energetically chomping on them both the whole time.  No wonder I didn’t get any argument or even a slightly pouty face when I made her spit it out.  She had backup!

Awesome birthday present (just like all the other great gifts!  Our peeps are so fantastic!) and everyone is still on speaking terms with Auntie B, but does anyone have tips on getting gum out of thick curls like Keta’s and Francine’s?  It’s bound to happen.







Check back in a few days for a photo of this thing.  Already we’re needing a gumball refill, and a dentist appointment. 🙂