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.


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,

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


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


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.


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


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


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.

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


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!!!!