Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Picky eater?

Sylvie has an extremely finicky palate. It is easiest to list the things she will eat: oatmeal, Cream of Wheat, bread with peanut butter, sometimes rice, scrambled eggs, select crackers, & sometimes potatoes. That's it.

Until.....

Today we went to Linsey's to play and then the boys had an ice-skating party to attend. After all of that I realized we were over-due for lunch (and cranky!). We swung through McDonalds (I know--gross and unhealthy--but fast). Guess who ate a cheeseburger? Miss Picky-Eater likes McDonalds cheeseburgers. Never would have thought to try that. She will be disappointed to find cheeseburgers are not a staple food at this house!

Some eating pictures...


Are you kidding? I ate these crackers yesterday!



Mmmmm, peanut butter toast!



Clark makes this face every time he gives her a bite. Think that's why she's not eating? Mean, that was mean (and a little funny)....


All done! This high chair was my grandmother's. It fed my mom and her siblings, as well as a cousin and all of our boys. I love that Sylvie-Aganoti uses it!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Things are coming together!

Childcare has been an unanswered problem for us. My parents offered to watch Sylvie, but will be in Texas until March'ish. I go back to work the first week of February. The original plan was for Clark to take five weeks of paternity leave and patch together the rest of March. Then he got a new job (which we love) and lost his paternity leave (which we do not love). We ABSOLUTELY DO NOT want to have S.A. in a daycare-setting. Too soon and too much like an orphanage. Have I mentioned that Sylvie has been in 6 different living environments in her little life (more than one orphanage)?

We have spend a lot of time brainstorming what to do... a nanny (so expensive), patch something together with friends until the end of March (too inconsistent), a small-scale private learning center (no openings), Montessori (she is four months too young), quit my job (out of the question financially). I lose sleep about our childcare problem.

A co-worker put a bug in my ear a couple of weeks ago about a woman across the street from our school who does after-school care for older kiddos. I had no idea if she would be interested in a little one. We visited right before leaving for Ethiopia and she said she would have to check into licensure. This woman is so nice. She is someone that I know Sylvie would be comfortable with. My fingers have been crossed...

Well, I called her back today and she will take S.A.!!!! We go next week to talk nuts-&-bolts and for Sylvie to meet her. This is the IDEAL situation. I can bring her there right before 8:00 am and come back for my lunch-break to feed her lunch and put her down for a nap. I am off by 4:00 and S.A. will be in my arms within minutes of walking out the front door of school. Attachment should be less of a worry with this schedule, as I am still there during the day. And, we will not have to pay for summer-care to hold our spot.

Thank you, thank you, thank you--it could not be a better arrangement than this!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Da-deeee and who?!?

We have some new words floating around at this house. Miss Sylvie-Aganoti knows who her daddy is and shouts it out full-volume, "Da-deeeeee!". We LOVE it!!!

It seems there is another name she is using. It is for me. Are you ready for this? It's not Mama. Prepare yourself. It's "Poo-Poo". Yes, sadly, that is what she seems to be calling me. "Poo-Poo". Is it because I can handle her nasty diapers with a stomach of steel? Is it because I set her on the potty and cheer for poo? Or, is because it makes us all giggle?

Dear friends, never would I have thought I would be so proud to be lovingly called "Poo-Poo".

With that said, it is ONLY for S.A.'s use. Do you hear that? No phone calls asking for "Poo-Poo". No emails or letters addressed to "Poo-Poo". No gift-tags, no jokes directed at, no conversations started with "Poo-Poo".

All my love,
Poo-Poo

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Favorites from Ethiopia

Rub-a-dub-dub, one Aganoti in the tub!

Daddy's girl.

We held this position for most of our week during the day, during the night, awake, asleep, happy, cranky. You get the picture. She is so, so nice to snuggle with...

Again, snuggle time.

Daddy wants this girl to be a golfer. She loved this golf ball and played with it the whole time we were there. Sometimes she would start her nap holding it and would still be hanging on tight when she woke up.


This is her Embassy outfit. She looked so pretty. Yes, the golf ball went to the embassy.


Is this getting redundant? Really, we did this all week long. She is such a snuggler!


We tried to go swimming but were told it was not "International Hour". I am not sure what that meant. They said it was not time for children the next time we went. We never did swim, but doesn't she look great in her little suit?


This is one of the beautiful Ethiopian scarves Clark bought while we were there. Clark got something for Aganoti's half-birthday (also our Embassy date) for the next 20 years! We will celebrate half-birthdays with traditional ET food and an Ethiopian gift.


This is the kind of meal we ate every night. The food at Bole Rock was wonderful. I have been craving the spaghetti ever since we've been home! Aganoti is eating rice with roasted chicken and diced tomatoes--she loved it.


Lastly, this blankie was her favorite. Thanks Grandma Jeanne. She feels the soft fleece with her hand and runs her fingers down the satin binding. It is her bedtime blankie. In this picture we are trying a hat on her, as it was -40 in Missoula with windchill when we got home. Yikes!!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

"Up-a"

Her new word!!! "Up-a" with arms thrust upward. That one word has so much power. The five important people in her world jump into action when it is uttered. And it is uttered no less than 300 times per day. Our biceps are getting a great workout. Tomorrow we will work on "more". Will her first sentence be "More up-a"?!?

Tomorrow, pictures. I promise. I am sooo tired tonight. Crawling into bed immediately......

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Dog Days

Sylvie and Margaux (our dog) have a rocky relationship, exclusively on S.'s terms.

Monday: M. enters room, S. screams, shakes, sweats. M. is quickly escorted out of eyesight.
Tuesday: M. can be in room, only if laying on dog bed. If M. yawns, wow (see Monday's reaction).
Wednesday: S. pushes toast on the floor and is ok if M. belly-crawls to retrieve. If M. looks at her with appreciation, yikes (see Monday's reaction).
Thursday: M. can roam about the house, only if her tail is between her legs and she looks appropriately brow-beaten. S. whacks her on the nose with a toy and snickers.
Friday: I take a shower and have S. playing in the hall with blocks (bathroom door open). I open the shower curtain to find M. and S. sitting side-by-side waiting for me. No screaming, no shaking, no sweating. Only lip pulling.
This picture is from later in the day. I predict best friends by January...




Friday, December 19, 2008

First Playdate

Sweet Sylvie's orphanage survival skills made a raging appearance today. Little Brooklyn Hayes came over for a visit this morning. Apparently it is extremely offensive for one's new friend to show ANY interest in playthings. Sylvie was vocal, physical and territorial. Brooklyn was stunned. Moms were not sure what to do.

So, anyone with experience in this type of playdate, please feel free to pass along some advice...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Meeting Sylvie-Aganoti

The first picture is of me meeting Sylvie the first time. She was so shy and quiet. She pulls her lip when she is nervous, which is what she is doing in this picture...


This picture is of the second day when we went back to the orphanage. I did take a picture of Clark with her on the first day, but I had not turned on the flash. Once I figure out how to edit it, we'll post that. This is Sylvie and her Daddy, day two!

We love this baby!!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Home

It feels so good to be home. I have so much to write about but am feeling overwhelmed and tired. This is such an emotional experience...

Aganoti is doing well. She was amazing on the 40-hour trek home. She sat, she snuggled, she slept, she ate. She was the baby that people kept coming up to at the end of each flight to say they'd never seen a baby travel so well. It was unbelievable.

Yesterday we took her to see our pediatrician. If you can believe it, she has already progressed to a size 12-month in clothes and is wearing a size 3 diaper instead of size 2. It has only been 8 days! She weighs 17 pounds and our Dr. feels really good about her health overall. He did refer her to a pediatric opthalmologist, as her eyes have some dark spots in them and do not react to light like typical. Though she appears to see well. I am making that appointment today.

My sweetie-pie is awake and calling my name. :) More later....

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Coming Home!

My mom and Clark are in Washington D.C.; they are flying to Denver Colorado where they will have a seven hour wait. They both tried to get a different flight plan so that they wouldn't have to wait. Mom called this morning well I was asleep; She said Agnoti traveled very well, she also let my grandma try to talk to Agnoti on the phone. Agnoti likes to crawl on the floor and on mom and Clark's legs; she likes to laugh, play and eat. She also takes huge naps, she is a very easy-going baby and she is very smart. She will call again in Denver we're counting the hours.

Jacob

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Almost Coming Home!

Hello. Sorry I have not written in a few days. Power has been unreliable and I was very sick. Thank goodness for Cipro!

Aganoti is doing so well. Crawling a bit, walked a couple of steps to us, eats like a champ, sleeps like a narcoleptic... You are going to love her! She babbles a bit and is very, very shy. She becomes fearful and withdrawn when we leave our guest house room. I hope the airplane ride is ok for her. It is so much fun to give her new foods to try. I know she is just going to love the boys!!! Wait until you hear her giggle...

I can't wait to see you all and it won't be long. Our driver will be here to pick us up and take us to the airport in three-and-a-half hours. We were told to come four hours early to check our bags in. Isn't that crazy? We did find out on our last flight that if you get on the airplane first you get first dibs on the baggage bins. That is very important with all of the baby stuff we are hauling!

Well, that is all for now. We are going to eat an early dinner so that it can settle in our stomachs long before our flight. Our health has felt precarious and unpredictable between the extreme altitude (amazing what that does to your body!), our sleeping difficulties, and the introduction of a host of new germs and bacteria. For the most part it's been ok though...

One last thing, Clark and I were talking about when we all come back as a family. We were thinking about ten years from now so that Aganoti can remember Ethiopia. Jake and Liam, will be in college or beginning careers, but we want them to come with us. We feel like it is so important that they have this experience too. Jake, Liam & Simon, we are so proud to be their parents. They are amazing, wonderful boys who are going to go so far in life. We feel lucky that they are ours.

Feel my hug from Ethiopia and my hand on your heart... Lots of Love, Crystal!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Aganoti News!

Aganoti is having a great day. She crawled! And she took a few steps to us!!! She is much more outgoing, smiling and laughing. And, yes, crying a little. All good signs that she is settling in with us. I can't wait for everyone to meet her!

We notice that when we leave our room, she gets nervous and quiet. She tucks her head into my chest and grabs onto my shirt tight. We are trying to stay in as much as possible.

Clark is out getting gifts and fun things from Ethiopia today with our driver, Ayalie. I wonder what surprises he will bring back?

Some fun things about Aganoti:
1. When she eats, she holds her hand up for a kiss between bites.
2. She loves eggs and does not like citrus.
3. We say "Ahhhh" and she opens her mouth to brush her teeth. She uses her tiger toothbrush.
4. Her diapers are horrible smelling--worse than the Zoology Museum (dead animals). Ok, that one isn't much fun.
5. When we say "up" she raises her arms to be picked up.
6. She is getting four teeth at the same time! The sharp, pointy ones, ouch!
7. She sleeps all night long. And takes two huge naps during the day.
8. She isn't very ticklish, but likes the game where my fingers crawl toward her like a spider.

I am looking forward to Sunday night at 11:41 when we fly in. Hugs and kisses, Crystal!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Update.

Here are some news from my mom; she sent this to us.

Agnoti is very small. Did I tell you that yet? She is wearing some of the 3-6 month old clothes and 6-9 month clothes. She has very tiny hands with long fingers. She pulls at her bottom lip when she feels nervous. She does not make ANY noise. I've never met such a quiet baby. I am sure she still feels surprised and sad about leaving the orphanage. We did get her to smile today though. She likes it when we take her socks off and blow on her toes. You are going to love her soooo much!

It has been Muslim holiday for the last two days. I am not sure how long it lasts. There is singing over a loudspeaker that reaches the city of Addis. Our hotel is very close to the Orthodox Church (where the Muslims are gathering) and it is VERY loud. I am so glad that Terri (another mom from Hope) told us to bring ear plugs.

It is hard to get used to the time change. Last night was the first time we slept and I woke up feeling so much better. Between the high altitude (climbing stairs to our room is a killer) and the lack of sleep, last night I was feeling a little crazy. I felt homesick and had been struggling to eat. Sleep was what I needed! Today has been wonderful.The guesthouse is very nice. It has a pool, fully-staffed spa, restaurant, deli, laundry service, transportation, balconies off of the rooms, and on and on. We are very glad to be staying here.Our trip to the orphanage to get Agnoti was incredible and overwhelming! When we pulled up kids mobbed the car. They were shouting "Poppa, Poppa!" at Clark. As soon as we were out of the car, they were hugging us and climbing our legs. We crouched down and the children flocked to us taking turns for hugs. They were beautiful and so, so sweet.

A couple of kids stick out in my mind: A little boy about 4 years old wanted to play catch with me. He had a soft ball that was losing it's stuffing, which I think he would have thrown back and forth all day long. Another boy about 2 years old would run up to me and stick his tummy out. If I would touch his tummy, he would squeal and break into peals of laughter. He was so cute. Daniel was very quiet and serious. He came up for a hug and Clark took a couple of pictures. He was wearing a cap with Pooh Bear on it. The nannies sure love him; he was held and cuddled almost the whole time we were there.

Clark's camera stopped working, so we are going to go back to give kids packages from their parents and take pictures today. When we got our donation bags out, the kids all came inside to see what we had brought for them. We took out the Twizzlers and balloons. They all sat so still waiting for their turn for a treat. If we forgot someone, one of the little girls would tap my arm and point to the child that got skipped. In one of the donations bags were pairs of socks with cherries on them. A little girl, about 7 years old asked if she could have a pair. I gave her one and she asked for another and pointed at her sister. They took the socks and put them on their chairs and sat on them. We went upstairs to visit the toddler room that Aganoti has been staying in. It is very small and about 10 kiddos stay in there. It is amazing how quiet they all are. The nannies had given them big Lego's and they were playing with them on the floor in a big circle. I also visited the tiny baby room. So many babies and they are so little. The nannies do such a good job caring for all of the kids. It is a really nice environment. I have so much to say but I don't know how long my computer connection will last I will write as soon as possible.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Aganoti!

We have had Aganoti with us for four hours. She has been completely silent. She does not want to make eye contact; though, she likes to be held. I can imagine the shock she feels with us coming to pick her up. Especially since yesterday they moved to a new orphanage. She must be reeling from change. She fell asleep earlier in the car ride to the guest house and snores in her sleep. Clark told our driver that she sounds like me. Thanks Clark... About a half and hour ago she was wet and poopy. I changed her (and her clothes). When I left the room to wash my hands, she cried. It was the first sound she had made. We both felt relieved. Clark picked her up, cuddled her close and she fell asleep.You would not believe how beautiful she is. The pictures we have seen of her do not do her justice. She is absolutely breath-taking. I could look and look at her.

We will not be able to get a cellphone. I am sorry boys, and I am disappointed. We will keep working on it, but we might just have to email back and forth.Jake, please make sure you read my emails to your brothers. We love you boys and miss you. I was glad that you did not have to ride the airplane with us, it was really difficult. Hot, smelly, lights on at night-time, and quite a bit of turbulence. It was not dangerous, but Clark and I felt really sick the entire time from Washington DC to Ethiopia. I can't wait for you boys to meet your sister. I think you will bring the smiles and giggles out in her.

Love you, Mom and Clark

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Finally There!

We got in last night (later than anticipated). The email connection was not working and we do not have phone access yet. All flights went well and our driver was waiting for us at the airport. When we arrived at the guest house, they had kept the restaurant open late for us. The food was fabulous, as well as everyone we've encountered. All is good, other than we have been too excited to sleep!

We are going to go have breakfast and then call Rahel, our lawyer, to set up a time for a driver to bring us to the orphanage. What an amazing day.

As I type, Muslim singing echos in the background. Today is an important Muslim holiday. The singing is beautiful.

We will call the boys the moment we have an opportunity! Our love, Crystal & Clark

Heading Out!

This is the my last email before we leave to Ethiopia to meet our daughter. We leave tomorrow and work all day, and have a basketball game and birthday party to go to tonight. Yikes! I keep telling Clark that it will help time pass (like a lightning bolt!).

Jake, will be posting on our blogsite while we are gone. He feels like it is a big job and is very excited. His practice post was last night.
http://familyofsixgoingtoethiopia.blogspot.com/

We hope to come back with lots of pictures. Clark's camera has memory space of 1200 pictures and he is determined to use a great deal of them.

We are so excited for this monumental event in our lives. Sylvie-Agnoti, here we come!!!! xoxo, Crystal and Clark

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Go Jake!

From here on out, Jacob will be posting on our blogsite. What a big job for our 15-year-old! I am confident he is up to the task, as he could teach me a thing or two about the computer.

My parents will be at our home with the boys while we are gone, which we soooo appreciate. It is so important that their day stays as much the same as possible. There has been quite a bit of worry going on about our big trip. Sylvie-Agnoti will have very excited boys waiting to meet her at the airport.

So, please stay tuned for updates from Ethiopia and a BIG THANKS to Jake for being a blogger extraordinaire! Crystal

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Snacks

Clark and I went to the Good Food Store to pick up snacks for Ethiopia. Snacks for us, snacks for Sylvie-Agnoti. This still does not seem real. Maybe it will by the time we board, by the time we land on African soil, by the time we curl up in our guesthouse bed, by the time we are hugging our sweet little girl...

Another picture of S.A. It looks like she likes snacks!


Monday, December 1, 2008

Five Days!!!!

WE LEAVE IN JUST FIVE DAYS!!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Head-cold

I've been battling a horrible head-cold for over a week. It has been affecting my ability to sleep, which in turn has been affecting my ability to parent (and Clark might say have a little something to say about the kind of spouse I've been lately!). Three days ago I lost my voice, those listed above might have done a little behind-my-back celebrating... Two days ago I became extremely emotional (I had myself a little cry at Thanksgiving dinner while everyone was sharing what they are thankful for). Yesterday I broke down and went to the doctor, as I was afraid to board an airplane with my new emotional, voiceless, uber-cranky personality. Diagnosis: double ear infection, strep throat, sinus infection. Yuck! I am now armed with HUMONGOUS antibiotics and, 24-hours later, a little bit better attitude. :)
I took the kids in to be swabbed and Simon has strep as well. I am so relieved that we both are back on the road to "better".

Clark, by the way, has been popping Vitamin C like a junkie. I hope he stays healthy for our trip.

Here is another favorite picture of S.A.; look at those eyelashes!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cheers!


Last night my co-workers threw a celebration for our successful court date and our travels to Sylvie-Agnoti. It was such a nice evening. I am fortunate to work with wonderful people. Little S.A. has no idea how many are waiting to hug on her!

11 Days

In just eleven days we will be holding Sylvie-Agnoti in our arms. It seems surreal. Today we put the finishing touches on our paperwork. We will have our taxes and wills notarized this afternoon.

We leave Missoula on December 6th and arrive in Addis Ababa on December 7th. We will meet our girl on the 8th (Monday) and take her back to our guesthouse with us. Wednesday is our embassy appointment to apply for a Visa and have her medical exam. Friday we pick up S.A.'s Visa. Saturday evening we leave Addis, home at nearly midnight on Sunday.

My parents will bring the boys to the airport to meet their sister. They are so excited! I imagine that first meeting and it is wonderful.

In the meantime, enjoy these pictures... They were taken by our friend's sister-in-law. S.A. was teething and we have a series of chewing-on-tongue snaps. I love them!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Shopping, Organizing, Packing

What a weekend! We have been shopping for all of our medicinals and other goodies we need with us in Ethiopia. It is hard to believe that we will be in-country this time two weeks from now! We have organized all of our bathroom stuff, the toys we will bring for S.-A. to play with, passports and other important paperwork... And, we packed little-girl clothes tonight. Ahhhhh, I've never packed for a girl before.

It is so exciting to think how close we are getting!


Here is another picture that we love.....

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Alarmed!

A detour from the posting pattern I've established, but it must be done:

Tonight Simon had basketball practice at the school where I teach Gifted Ed. on Fridays. I had a previous engagement [a radio broadcast about homelessness that I'll write about sometime, when things are slow :) ] and drove to the school before going home. Jake called, asking if he could walk up and meet us, then the three of us could ride home together. My first thought, "No, I know you haven't finished your homework." My second thought, "No, it's so dark tonight; I don't want you walking the winding street up to the school." My third thought, "No, you were a HUGE stinker earlier tonight."

So, I said, "Yes."

Why, when something was telling me to say "no"???

On with the story... Nearing the end of practice Jake sits on a desk near the exit that is cleverly positioned under the fire alarm. He propels himself off of the desk, managing to hit his shoulder on the plastic casing. In trying to fit the lid back on tightly, he sets the alarm off and as people turn to look, there he is with his hand up in the alarm looking like he is intentionally screwing with it. Then the alarm completely comes apart and begins shrieking at a faster and faster pace.

No, that's not quite right. ...begins SHRIEKING faster and faster like an ANXIETY ATTACK...

Much better.

Keep in mind that we are in a gymnasium that is huge and echo-y. All eyes on us, parents quickly start scrambling to retrieve their children. This part seems slow motion... ...kids are screaming and dropping to their knees (dramatic, but they ARE third graders), parents are trying to grab their belongings while covering their ears and motioning at their writhing children with their elbows, all are running out of the gym shooting looks like, "Why would those people pull the alarm? What's wrong with them?" The last guy out yells at us to call 911 and let them know it is not an emergency so that we will be in LESS trouble when security and the firetrucks show up.

Is this really happening? Why didn't I listen to the "no"!!!!!

I call 911. 911 calls the district's head of security. The security guy rolls in about ten minutes later. Fire crew shows up. We all trudge to the scene, wincing at the rapid-fire screams emitted from the gymnasium. The fire crew shuts down the sound system and within minutes we are told that we can go home.

On the way to the car Jake says, "Wow. Sorry about the whole alarm thing Mom. Hey, maybe I'd want to be a fire man. Their job seems cool."

Really? Really???

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

P7040762

Picture number P7040762. Our first offical meeting. It was in this picture I realized the little girl with the big hair-do was our daughter. I whooped and hollared like crazy. Then I sent the following email to our co-director...

"I FOUND HER (Agnoti)!!!!!!!!!!! SHE IS THE KIDDO THAT I HAVE HAD MY EYE ON TOO!!!!!! I am pretty sure she is the little girl in the last batch of pictures (Hope Kids 2008) in the yellow shirt with the big hair. The first time I saw her my stomach had butterflies (this was before our referral!!!). THANK YOU!!! Crystal and Clark"


Isn't she wonderful?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Referral

This is the email I sent our co-director the morning after missing her phone call... "I am hoping I did not imagine your phone call last night. I do not have a message on my machine this morning, which either means I deleted it, or that I was dreaming! If my memory serves correctly you said you had a question for us. Does it sound like, 'Would you like to adopt this wonderful little girl?' Lol!"

She wrote back... "We have a year old little girl. She is beautiful! Weak and a little malnourished. She had a beautiful head of hair but they had to shave it this week. She is weak, like I said but is healthy and will be just fine. She is beautiful--we all wanted to steal her!!! If you let me know today I will have them file tomorrow!"

Those were the most magical words we had ever heard. Of course we said yes, yes, yes, yes!!!

Agony

Near the end of June our co-director traveled to Ethiopia. She asked if anyone would consider a referral for a healthy child without seeing pictures or paperwork. It took Clark and I less than two minutes to decide that we would receive the child meant for us regardless of information. We likened it to a biological child that you do not get pictures or paperwork on--you get the child that is perfect for you.

We were so hopeful for the referral of our daughter.

On June 29th we missed a middle-of-the-night phone call from Ethiopia. We felt we might have missed our referral call. It was agony waiting for another contact...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Take Our Breath Away

The first time we saw Agnoti was before her referral to our family. On June 29th I spied a picture of her that another adoptive parent had taken when they traveled to their child. The moment I saw her I had a physiological reaction--my hands were sweaty, I felt tingly, my heartbeat sped up. I yelled for Clark to come quickly. He looked at her and said, "Are you crazy? We ARE NOT falling in love with a picture of someone else's baby." I promptly ignored his gentle warning, proceeding to email our adoption group with the following... "I was wondering about the sweetie-pie with the "wild do" in 712 & 713!"


Here is the first picture we ever saw of Agnoti.


Agnoti, you take our breath away....

Friday, November 14, 2008

First Day

Yesterday was an emotional, happy, relief and joy-filled whirlwind of a day! So many calls, emails, tears, and hugs. We are very thankful for our supportive family, friends and co-workers.

Clark bought cigars and handed them out to anyone that so much as looked sideways at him all day. He had perma-grin and kept telling others, "I am a daddy to the most wonderful little girl." I brought bagles, orange juice, and Ethiopian coffee to my staff. Our secretary posted Sylvie-Agnoti's pictures on her computer for passerby to see and hung posters announcing our good news. What a crazy day at work!

When we got home family and friends started showing up. We decided it was a party and called more friends. We were up late and it was a wonderful, festive evening.

Our hearts are soaring and so full of joy and possibility. Our first official day as Sylvie's parents was amazing!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Introducing....

Sylvie-Agnoti Teresa Tower!
What a beautiful day for our family...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Day is Done...

It is bedtime in Montana. The kids are hugged, kissed and tucked in.

In Addis the sun is rising. It is a new day. Agnoti's case is heard before the Ethiopian judges today, Thursday the 13th of November, 2008.

Is this our day? Will we hear those magical words, "You have a daughter. She is ready to come home."

Sunday, November 9, 2008

This one looks easier...

INDIAN PUDDING

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 quarts milk, scaldedwhipped cream

In a saucepan over medium heat add all ingredients except for the milk. Beat thoroughly. Pour in milk slowly, stirring continuously until the mixture begins to thicken.
Pour into an ovenproof casserole dish and bake for 30 minutes.

Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar if desired.

Recipe found on Cooks.com (submitted by CM)

National Indian Pudding Day


November 13th, Sylvie-Agnoti's court date, is also know as National Indian Pudding Day. I found a recipe for Indian Pudding that looks delicious... http://www.elise.com/recipes/archives/000251indian_pudding.php

Make it! We are going to.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

New Specs

Liam is sporting new glasses. Isn't he beautiful!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thich Nhat Hahn


Last June I posted about my calendar quotes from Thich Nhat Hahn. He often seems to speak to our adoption. This month's quote states, "Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy. The source of a true smile is an awakened mind."

For the last few weeks Clark and I have made a pointed effort to smile when things are difficult. When something really trying happens we give each other a huge, goofy grin. It helps.
Right now, living in peace and joy is a priority.

This morning we received an email from our agency's director who is in Ethiopia right now. He says the judges have requested Agnoti's letter of approval from the Minestry of Women's Affairs by Thursday. He believes our adoption will be approved.

Six more days. Deep breath, muster up the patience and faith to continue waiting, smile, peace and joy.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Update

The Ministry of Women's Affairs still has not recommended Agnoti for adoption. The Ethiopian courts have given MOWA one week to hand in the paperwork or the judges will approve our adoption without their letter. Fantastic!!!

We are probably traveling the second week of December. We will most-likely have a court date of December 10th.

And more... Our co-director visited the orphanage yesterday. She said Agnoti is pulling herself up on things but not walking yet. She said Agnoti laughs and laughs and laughs. Our girl is happy.

What wonderful news to wake up to!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Extraordinary

Our country experienced a beautiful thing tonight.

Welcome, Barack Obama. Hope abounds!

Geuna no

(not yet) It is possibile that the estimation of our court date was incorrect. The cases that went to court today did not include ours. Of the cases that did go to court, three passed which is so encouraging. One did not pass, due to paperwork issues. We really feel for this family.

So, we don't know. Hopefully we will have more to say soon.

Monday, November 3, 2008

In Ethiopia

...it is 6:00 a.m. Our court date could take place within a few hours. We are feeling very peaceful about tomorrow's phone call.

Clark and I have planned a lunch date for tomorrow. We will either be celebrating or coming up with a new set of plans for travel.

Please, wish us luck.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Before eating,

the children in S-A's orphanage say the following:

Thank you God for this day.
We love you.
We need you.
Be with us.
Protect us.
Bless our food.
Bless our thoughts.
And guide us in your way.
In Jesus' name we pray.
Amen.

We have been practicing this together at home so it is familiar for S-A when she is home with us. When she is home with us...

Monday, October 27, 2008

It's a date...

NOVEMBER 4th IS OUR NEW COURT DATE.

Jake says, "That's my lucky number!"

Simon says, "That is the day of the presidential election."

Liam says, "That night I have a band concert."

These statements so reflect our boy's personalities. We feel good about this date. This is the one!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Words from Lily

We received this email from another Hope Adoption mom, whose daughter knows Sylvie-Agnoti from the orphanage:

Hi. Our new daughter, Lily (Yaebsira) was looking at some of the kids pictures from Hope and said, "Ooh, I like her." and pointed to Agnoti. She called her Agnot but said,"Sometimes we called her Agnoti too." We looked up your e-mail address and thought we'd send you a note about your sweetie. Lily said that Agnoti is so nice and quiet and doesn't "disturb" like some of the others. Lily is almost 12, so she does indeed enjoy her quiet time. Lily said, "I love the way she eats her food--she's so cute!" I always loved any updates on Lily, so I hope you don't mind me sharing. God Bless your evening, Cathy Mikus

Thank you Lily for your sweet words. And thank you Cathy, your email brightened our day.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

And here's #7

So it turns out (thanks Rebecca Smith!) when you are tagged you share 7 random facts and tag 7 other people. If you do the math on yesterday's post I am at 6 and 6. So....

Seven: I am really bad at Math. Ha! I really am. For example... The time I was in charge of getting my sister and I, and five kids, to Todd Utz' wedding. We showed up a day early. We also went to the wrong city. Bad Math. Then there was the time my sister and I, and five kids, went to Minnesota. I rented a vehicle for us with two fewer seats than we needed. Bad Math. Then there was the time I arranged flights and a rental car for a trip to Washington for my sister and I, and six kids. Never mind, you get the point... Bad Math.

Yes, my sister still speaks to me. No, we don't really take many trips together anymore. :) Xoxo, I love you Annie-bananie!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I'm "IT"


I was tagged. Thanks Gina Ellerbee, I'd flown under the radar until now. :)

Are you sure you really want to know 6 random things about me?!?

One: Clark proposed to me in French. I do not speak French but Clark dabbles in it and I think it is a beautiful language. Ahhhhh, when he speaks French I get the warm-fuzzies. Though, in retrospect, I might have said yes to just about anything. Some examples: Will you stay on your side of the bed, or at least the in the middle? Can you please, please stop running late? Do you promise to be the one who scrubs the bathroom toilet? Will you vote Republican? The answers to all of these questions are "No, no, no and more no!"

Two: I draw goofy pictures on the the kids' lunch bags. Ok, I draw them on Clark's as well. Fine, mine too...

Three: We had a shrunken-head in our basement while growing up. True. Gross. But true. My great-grandfather was a U.S. Ambassador in Mexico and was gifted the head on a trip to Brazil. Can you imagine giving someone the gift of another's head? As kids, it seemed normal. We called him Horace. Some of our friends refused to sleep over if we were sleeping in the basement(Alyssa!). I now know that it is not normal to have a shrunken-head...

Four: A heart-shaped rock is the perfect gift for me. I collect them. I love them. They fit into a hand just right. Sometimes on a really, really bad day I've been know to slip one in my pocket and carry it with me. It helps. From the time my kids were little, they've looked for heart-shaped rocks for me. When we moved, I dug several up from my garden to move with us.

Five: I write children's books, but am too afraid to look into having them published. When I write a book I wake up with the idea and have to go write it at that very moment. It's happened at all times of the night. I know that's weird. I have written several. Two are really good. I get scared, like icy-water moving over my body, when I think about doing something with them. I need a nudge. Clark said if I found a way to make one-million dollars we could adopt again. Maybe that is my nudge...

Six: I usually only really, earnestly pray when I want something. I am exploring that. I read a book not long ago addressing prayer. It suggests that anytime you engage in a truly honest conversation with another prayer is happening. Prayer does not have to be a formal event, on your knees, to God. Prayer is about living compassionately, unselfishly and carefully. Prayer is about truth as a way of being. I have a lot of thoughts rattling around in my head and heart about my own spirituality right now. I usually do not share my ideas and questions out of not wanting to offend or not wanting to seem silly and lost. Sometimes risking offense and feeling silly or lost can be very productive.

So that's it. Something romantic, something goofy, something creepy, something sappy, something scary, and something searching. Thanks Gina, that felt good!
The next contestants on You Have Been Tagged are..........
Michelle & Casey McDowell (yes, both of you!!!) http://mcdowellfamilybuzz.blogspot.com
Linsey Wisemann

Monday, October 20, 2008

Watch this clip!

This video clip is from the area in Ethiopia that Agnoti is from (Awasa). Awasa is south of Addis Ababa, the capital. I am really taken by the kids and how much a couple of them look like Agnoti.

http://www.smh.com.au/interactive/2008/world/ethiopia/index.html

I have such regard for those out there working toward wellness on a global scope. Doesn't this clip make you want to reach out and do something?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

In the name of bread!

BEWARE: THIS STORY CONTAINS SOME EMBELLISHMENTS FOR THE SAKE OF A GOOD READ. :)
Ugh.
I have difficulty remembering to put gas in the car. Fortunately, our car has a neon warning that counts the miles down to empty. Unfortunately, I forget to look at it on a regular basis.
Ugh.
Friday afternoon the boys and I head to Great Harvest Bakery. The BEST bread! We treat ourselves to a loaf of cinnamon-swirl every once in a while. This particular day we go to the bread store, have a hot slice and a small carton of milk each. I pay for our goodies plus a loaf of cinnamon-swirl and we leave. While starting the car I notice my friend, the neon reminder, giving me that special sign. I think to myself, "We'll get to that the next time we go somewhere."
Ugh.
Friday night Jake, Liam and I run to get a movie for a cuddle-up, eat buttery, salty popcorn with chocolate M&M's kind of night. As we pulled out of the driveway I see "17 miles to empty!" displayed on the dashboard. "No problem, we'll get gas after we pick out our movie," I think to myself. We pick out the movie, we pick out the treats. We drive home. Right past the gas station. Without filling up.
Ugh.
Saturday morning we wake up, looking forward to cups of tea and cinnamon-swirl toast. The conversation sounds like this. Me, "Boys, have you already been into the bread? I can't find it." (Hmmm...) Boys, "Nope." Me, "Will someone go out to the car and see if we forgot it?" Silence. Me, "Hey, someone run out to the car and look for the bread." Silence. Me, extremely irritated, "I know you hear me. Go find that bread!" A couple of minutes later Simon emerges from outside. No bread. Me, "Who carried the bread out of the store?" Boys, "You did." Me, "No, one of you did." Silence. Silence.
Ugh.
Saturday mid-morning I call the bread store. No, they do not remember me buying and leaving my bread. (Clark reminds me later that night of the hundreds of customers they serve daily...) Yes, they will set a loaf aside.
Saturday afternoon we head to the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation lands to walk Margaux. First, we drive up the hill to pick Liam's friend, Ryan up. At Ryan's, Liam disappears into the house, car running, I watch the minutes tick by. This is a habit of Liam's that is sooooo irritating. As I am beginning to fantasize about busting in and hauling Liam out by the back of his shirt, the boys emerge. We drive back down the hill to the DNRC and have a GREAT walk. After walking, I remember my ink cartridges should be ready at the ink-refiller store.
Ugh.
We swing by the ink-refiller store and I leave the car running as I step in "real quick". (Let me say the car has four boys and a dog in it. And they lock the door.) Ink-guy confesses that our cartridges are not-quite ready. He does his thing. I wait. The car runs.
Ugh.
After hopping back in the car I remember our loaf of cinnamon-swirl. We drive across town to Great Harvest. I pop into the store, again, car running. (Kids inside with the doors locked!) The person I spoke with on the phone did not relay the message to the girls manning the cash registers. They confess guiltily that they just sold our bread. Aarggg! (And, Clark, they do remember me. I do not know if that's good?!) They write an I-owe-you slip and tell me to come back tomorrow at noon.
Ugh.
I climb back into the car and spy my friend shrieking; we now have "4 miles to empty"! I tell the kids what a close call we are having and notice Liam's friend, Ryan, looks a bit sketched-out. I do not think things like this happen at his house. Wow, I feel like a loser as I thank my lucky stars that we did not run out of gas in Great Harvest's parking lot.
Ugh.
I stop at the closest gas station, Gary's. I've never been here before. As I turn the engine off, I notice their gas is much higher than I would expect. Hmmm. I look to my right and see a guy with a Gary's shirt on testing my fellow-customer's tires and looking under her hood. What? I look back at the Gary's sign to see "Full-Service Station" printed at the bottom. This is not typical for Montana. In Montana we do it ourselves. I am not sure what to do. Do I tip? Am I supposed to have cash? Crap, I only have my debit card. I don't even have a couple of dollars to tip if I do use my debit card. I see movement to the right. Another guy with a Gary's shirt is advancing on our car. I panic. Reflexively, my foot hits the pedal. I don't quite peel out. I don't quite pull away at an extremely fast speed. Somewhere in the middle. Not appropriate.
Ugh.
I look in the rear-view mirror, Ryan's eyes are like saucers. This definitely does not happen at Ryan's house.
Ugh.
Back on the road. My friend now says "3 miles to empty". The do-it-yourself gas station is just about that far away. Ryan-be-damned, I tell the kids to cross their fingers that we make it three more miles. After sitting through our second stop-light Ryan looks like he might jump out the window. I sympathize; I feel a little like jumping out the window too.
Ugh.
We pull in, "0 miles to empty", thank you very much. Relief does not explain the feelings I have filling my car up. Elated we made it. Scared about our close call. Giddy from adrenaline. Wanting to dance and shout for the joys of a no-service station.
We take Ryan home. Awkward goodbye.
Ugh.
Saturday night, enjoying dinner with friends, Kevin and Angela. I share this ridiculous story. I tell Clark we have to go back to the bread store at noon on Sunday. Third day in a row for one loaf of cinnamon-swirl. Everyone is laughing. Though, Clark might look a bit concerned about my mental state. He and Ryan have something in common.
Ugh.
Then it dawns on me, I left the I-owe-you slip on the counter at the bread store. Clark is sure they will remember me...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thank you Disney

Disney has just advertised their first black princess movie. Take a look at......

http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/princessandthefrog/

How exciting!

Fortune

We had Chinese with friends, Glen and Tara, a few days ago. My cookie read: You will soon gain something you have always desired.

I hope that fortune is talking about Sylvie-Agnoti.

I am really, really trying to be optimistic. Our adoption will work out. Our little girl will come home.

On Tuesday after getting the dissapointing news about not passing court, Clark said, "If I have to, I will wait the rest of my life for this to happen. She is my daughter."

I echo that.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Strike 3, 4, 5

We've lost count.

Our adoption did not pass through court today. There does not seem to be a sensical reason for it. A letter was sent saying no that overrode our letter saying yes that overrode our letter saying no that overrode a favorable recommendation. What the heck!!!

We are angry, frustrated, and so, so sad. Our daughter is growing up in an orphanage and we are missing it. So many of our friends have kids her age. We watch in their kids what our daughter is doing; we hear their milestones and can not participate in Agnoti's. We feel so powerless and hopeless.

I sat in on two job interviews today for maternity leave that we thought was beginning in a few weeks. It was going to happen this time. I sit in on another interview tomorrow. My employer is losing patience with this unpredictability.

I want to scream and cry and throw things.

I want to go to Ethiopia and hug our girl.

I want to know her beyond pictures.

I want to stop feeling so damn lonely for someone I've not even met.

New court date: about three weeks from today, based on the Ethiopian calendar. We do not know when that will be.

Friends like this...

...don't come along very often.

It turns out Linsey's birthday is today. She offered her midnight birthday wish to Agnoti. What can be better than a birthday wish?

Perhaps a bald head? Check out Casey and Michelle's blogsite..... http://mcdowellfamilybuzz.blogspot.com/

Top that with the dozens of well-wishes and emails and we feel the support like arms wrapped snug around us.

Thank you...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tossing and turning...

...is what we will do tonight. We find out within 24-hours if our little beauty is truly ours.

Sit tight sweet Agnoti, we are coming for you...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Just say NO



We had to say NO to Jake's birthday request. :(

He turns 15 in two days and what he wanted for his birthday was a toga party. There is something about dozens of 15-year-olds in nothing but sheets that makes us squirm.

Jake said, "Maybe next year for my Sweet-Sixteen."

NO...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Bald and Free Day

So if you read my last post, you might know where I am going with this...

October 14th, quest for an auspicious event.


Can you believe it?!?

Head check!

Our newest court date is October 14th, just a few days away. I have been searching for an auspicious event telling us this date is THE ONE. Until today, the most auspicious event I could muster was that a woman that I do not know has a sister with (she thinks) a birthdate of the 14th. That's not cutting it.

As many of you know, I work in an extremely low-income school. Around 80% of our kiddos qualify for Free-and-Reduced Meals. We have the highest transitory population in Missoula, as well as the highest rate of families experiencing homelessness. With that said, we also have an outstandingly high rate of head lice. Yep, head lice.

Back to our daughter...

When our beautiful girl, Sylvie-Agnoti, was brought to the orphanage she had a HUGE head of hair. It probably stood off her head 4-5 inches. It was thick, it was curly, and it stood straight up like Don King's. I loved it. Well, her hair-do was short-lived because it was crawling with critters. Her head was shaved bald, oh-so-bald, like Don Rickles. A couple of days later her playmates were bald. A few days after that some of the older kids were bald as well. Pretty soon, bald kids left and right. Clark and I have joked about our girl infecting the masses.

So....

An official email from Missoula County Public Schools Health Nurse arrived in my Inbox today. October 14th all children in our school are to be checked for lice. OUR DAUGHTER'S COURT DATE IS ON HEAD CHECK DAY!!!!

Is that auspicious or what? Ok, I'll keep searching. In the meantime, a few photos below...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sweet Samuel

This family from our agency just brought their two little boys home from Ethiopia 5 weeks ago. Samuel, their 3-year-old, was terribly injured yesterday. Please send them your good thoughts and prayers. The following is from their website:

Samuel was injured today in an accident involving the tractor. He was airlifted from the park behind our house to Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee. We need prayers.
Currently he is still in surgery and will need many, many more. He has lost one leg below-the-knee and the other they are trying to save to the ankle. One arm is broken near the shoulder but the elbow is more critical - open fractures with tissue damage/missing.
His pelvis is also fractured on one side. His buttocks and back are injured and he needs a colostomy. If he continues to do well in surgery tonight that will be performed now.
His vitals are good. He was awake up until surgery where we were able to kiss him.


They have set up a Caring Bridge web site to keep people updated on the progress. http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/samuelphillipson

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sleepy Saturday

I have the house to myself this morning. I slept in. I caught up on emails and the blog-sites I love reading.

Clark is golfing.

Liam and Simon are at football with Aaron.


Jake is on a fishing trip with his friend Bryce. Check out the fishing duds!


I might just crawl back into bed with a book. I love a sleepy Saturday...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Family meeting

We've been struggling with how much to tell the boys about our wait that is stretching on and on. From the beginning they've wanted to know each part of the process. They've been so involved. However, over the last four months, it's been really hard on them each time we have a setback. Two days ago, when we found our date had been pushed to the 14th of October, we had a family meeting to find out what the kids want as far as information. The collecitve opinion was they want to know all of the information, even the frustrating things, as they feel if they don't know what is going on, they will worry more than they do with the disappointments.

Jake said, "I don't care what happens or how it happens as long as I get my sister by Christmas."

I think that is a first on this family's Christmas list.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Woof, woof...


This morning Clark, Simon, the dog and I were in the kitchen with the usual coffee, oatmeal, dog treats & toast. Clark looked at me and said, "You are the most beautiful girl." So nice. My tummy felt flip-floppy.

And then, Simon countered, as he looked at the dog lovingly, "Actually mom, you are the second-most beautiful girl in this room."



You've got to be kidding me!




Woof, woof...

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Scenario Two:

The world is a place where things move slowly and we have to wait for a new court date for our paperwork to be reviewed again.

October 14th is the new day to look forward to. All cases were shot down today in court and most were reassigned in November. So, though it is frustrating, we are so, so glad to only be looking at two weeks.

A word about my co-workers: wonderful. This week, a surprise chocolate on my desk, emails and questions about our hopes for today, a very sweet and encouraging letter, amazing support. I am lucky to work where I do, surrounded by really great people.

xoxo, C.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Send us your good thoughts


Tomorrow is the "Official First Day of Court Re-Opening". Though, court has been open for the last three days.

We called our co-director today and here's the scoop: People have been in a never-ending line to get into the courthouse for the last few days. Unless a person has a court appointment they are turned away. Our lawyer has four court appointments tomorrow, as well as 7 new cases to file. Our case has been through court twice (and failed both times). We now believe we have all of the required paperwork and should pass through court. We do not have a new date, as we have previously filed an appeal. This means???? Scenario One: The world is a beautiful place and we find out tomorrow that we have already passed through court unscathed. Scenario Two: The world is a place where things move slowly and we have to wait for a new court date for our paperwork to be reviewed again. Scenario Three: The world is a bummer, but we'll deal with it and we need additional information and then will re-file for court. Scenario Four: The world is against us and we need some unachievable, undetermined, ambiguous piece of paper. Just to note, if Scenario Four occurs, Crystal will be sent on the fast-track to the looney bin.

So, folks, those are the possibilities, unless there lies a Scenario Five which we don't even want to consider.

Send us your good thoughts please, please, please!

Monday, September 29, 2008

When you wish upon a star...



Tonight Clark and I wrapped up in fleece blankets and sat out on the porch with a glass of wine. Our date night. As we sat, I saw a beautiful shooting star. I yelled, "Come home Agnoti, come home!" I hope the Ethiopian courts heard me.

Clark is pretty sure they did. :)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Shower

I went to Linsey's welcome home baby shower for Abdisa today. He is beautiful. So healthy. So happy.

Have you ever been doing fine and then your emotions hit you like a truck? Like a truck carrying livestock, big and stinky? Linsey is standing with Abdisa and I think, "Agnoti was supposed to be here..." Then Linsey asks how I am doing with the wait. I start crying. Not just a little crying. Snot running down my face crying. Which makes Linsey cry. So we stood and cried and hugged and cried some more.

Please God, let us hear good news about Agnoti within the next few days. I feel like I am crumbling.

There was more than one baby at the shower today.....

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Somethin's Fishy...


Liam had his Middle School Open House last night.


His science teacher, Mr. Wilson, has a large kiddie pool in the classroom filled with rocks and a rotating watersource. Mr. Wilson has invited the kids to bring water pets from home. We have a beta. Liam has been begging me to let him bring the beta to school. Way above and beyond the usual begging when one wants something. Last night we found out why.


About ten minutes after arriving another mom pulls me aside asking about our electric fish. Electric fish?? She giggles saying, yes, Liam told the class that we own an electric beta fish and that she is curious about it. A couple of other parents stand nearby snickering. She then asks if we plug it in.... I look at Liam, who's face is beginning to painfully contort. He's caught in an embellishment (Liam is FAMOUS for this). Liam's mom hates this part of parenting. I smile and tell laughing-mom that our electric beta actually saves on the power bill, as we no longer need a nightlight at our house, the kids just tote our beta's bowl around.

No Liam, the beta fish will not be going to school. Somethin's fishy at Open House... ...us!