Friday, January 30, 2009

A fungus among-us

So, I've had this irritating spot on my chin that got a little bigger, then turned into two spots, then spread to my lower leg. Burning, itching, driving me absolutely crazy... Our Dr. says S.A. shared a fungus with me.

A fun-guy has officially joined the family; he's all the way from Ethiopia. And, he's NOT so much fun!

One of the joys of international adoption.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Tent-building and dancing

We have been creating indoor-fun during this recent cold spell. The boys got a tent for X-mas and set it up in the dining area; though, it ended up being much too small for them. It was Sylvie-sized!
Liam and Simon, fearless tent-builders.
A little assistance was required.

Happy camper!

This girl loves to dance! So does her daddy...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Momma, at last!

I have been upgraded, from Poo-poo to Momma. Finally!!! While Poo-poo was cute, I felt the world come to a standstill when Sylvie-Aganoti looked at me with a smile and said "Momma" this weekend. So, if were wondering what that small blip in time was on Saturday morning, there you go!

Speaking of her language abilities, our Yahoo group's recent conversation has been how many words kiddos her age know and use. So, we started counting. We landed at a solid 35! Thirty-five words are absolutely incredible. S.A. has only been exposed to English for six weeks. She heard Oromo her first 10 months, Amharic her next 10 months, now English. She's on her third language in a year-and-a-half! What an amazing challenge.

Drum roll... They are, "Good girl (after using the potty), Hi, Bye-bye, More, Goodbye, All Done, All Gone, Apple, Milk, Juice, Yummy, Uh-oh, No, Remi (sometimes these last two are said together), Daddy, Momma, Cracker, Up, Eat, Baby, Down, Poo-poo, Sit, Peek-a-boo, Go Potty, Dog, Ball, Tea, Out, Woo-hoo, Yes, Hat, Pretty, Yea, Nice."

She has a soft, sweet little voice that is kind of husky. Unless she is mad, but that is a whole other post. We love hearing her talk!!!

Fresh out of the tub. Lois, I bet you recognize this shirt!

She loves to wear Jake's juggling rings on her head!

The snow in her hair was making her head sparkle!

Green is her best color.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sharing custody...

...of a dog is a wild ride.

We pet-share with my parents. For a myriad of reasons, that I won't bore you with, Remi lives with our family part-time and my parents part-time. Remi is a Labradoodle who was supposed to be small. He is only 9-months-old and going on 70-plus pounds. He is not a small dog.

Not only is he large, he lives life large. He wags large (watch your head if you are 1.5 yrs old). He eats large (several bowls a day). He drinks large (gallons and gallons). He sleeps large (snoring, licking himself loudly, running in his sleep). He plays large (knocking chairs over on a daily basis). And he has large accidents (I will not traumatize you with details on this one).

Yesterday was a large day, even by Remi's standards. I knew by the tone in Clark's voice that something was wrong when he shouted, "Crystal, I need you to come look at Remi, quick." Remi had been outside for just a few minutes when he frantically needed back in. He was pawing at his face and hitting his head into the floor. He was breathing, but foaming at the mouth. I thought he'd cut his mouth or had something stuck in-between his teeth. I took a warm washcloth to his snout and tried to look inside of his mouth. He refused entry and I noticed every time he tried to close his mouth, his teeth gnashed together.

To the animal emergency room, pronto.

They take a quick look at him, sedate him and say they fear a dislocated jaw or fracture. We sit, stunned, as they usher him away. We imagine feeding this bounding, bundle of dog through a tube with his jaw wired shut.We imagine the phone call to my parents to tell them this horrible news. We imagine what it will feel like if we end up going home without Remi.

The ER veterinarian emerges less than 15-minutes later with the remainder of a branch held in her fingers. With relief, she informs us, "Remi wedged this nub up into his soft-palate. No stitches were necessary. Watch him closely for infection and do not leave him unattended for the next 24-hours. He is on narcotics and may not be himself for awhile."

While we decide that while we like the "Remi-on-narcotics" version of our dog, we appreciate his reckless-abandon toward life with new perspective. Remi is an adventure.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Why was I cleaning the floor at the mall today?

Miss Sylvie-Aganoti enjoyed her very first Dairy Queen ice cream baby-cone today. The employees at DQ ooh-ed and ahh-ed while she reveled in her first six bites. Ice cream running down her chin. Huge smiles. A few giggles. Such a sweet, sweet baby.

Then she makes a nasty face, tosses the whole cone over her shoulder and yells, "ALL DONE!"

That is why I was cleaning the floor at the mall today...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Princess and the...

Sleeping has been a challenge lately. In our room we have two adults (who are prone to snoring), two dogs (one of whom bites her nails. really!) (the other sticks his head under our covers at night, presumably to make sure we are still there. cold nose in our privates!!), and one baby (who has messy pants throughout the night and makes scritchy-scratch sounds with her fingers on the side of the crib). Lest I forget the nocturnal visits we still receive from two of the three boys sleeping upstairs.

Would you want to sleep in this room? I didn't think so...

Falling asleep and staying asleep has always been a difficulty for me. As my sleeping hours are more of a scarcity, I've become fiercely protective of them. Weekends are supposed to be about catching up. Right?!? Wrong...

There is a point to all of this background information:

This weekend we decide to take the kids to the bookstore and dinner out as a treat. At the bookstore "one of our younger boys" wants an adult-fiction book on war and terrorism. No way. I offer three compromises. #1. We buy the book and I pre-read it. If the book is appropriate, you can read it too. #2. We look for a book in the young reader's section about war. #3. I help you find an alternative topic that's appropriate to your level. Is he happy with any of these options? Not in the least. We spend FOREVER looking, he and I. He dislikes all of my ideas. We enlist the help of the very nice bookstore employee. She actually finds three books on war. Is he appreciative? Nope. He dislikes all of her ideas. It is time to leave. Angry boy. Huge fit. Rude words said by him in the bookstore. This is not turning out to be a treat for any of us. On the way to the car this child turns to Clark (who was not involved in the bookstore experience whatsoever) and says, "I hate you!!!".

At this point, plans change. This child will not be going out to dinner. We drive him home and tell him to sit tight for two hours. We will be home after dinner. With amazing foresight, Clark places his PSP out of sight. No video-game enjoyment for this kid. He is supposed to sit at home with a ham sandwich regretting his stinky behavior and rude words. I know this part is a mother's fantasy, but still, I indulge.

That night as I toss and turn and can not get comfortable, I return to the situation. With this child in particular, a treat can go oh-so-wrong sometimes. Why does he sabotage the fun? Is there something we can do to premeditate his meltdown? Why do the natural consequences not seem to make an impact? Why am I so darn uncomfortable? Toss, toss, turn, turn. Worry, worry. Baby up and poopy. Dog biting her nails. Snoring husband. Scritchy-scratch, scritchy-scratch on the side of the crib. Cold dog nose in the privates. Toss, toss, turn, turn. Something about this bed is not working tonight. Reaching up to rearrange my pillows for the umpteenth time, my hand grasps something cold, slim, and covered in buttons. You've got it, the PSP!!! In my sleep-deprived state, I wake Clark to remind him where he hid the PSP. He's not surprised, as he put it there. If he put it there, why didn't he take it out? You know how those conversations go at 4:50 a.m....

The next morning, Clark and I reflect on the night's happenings, deciding I must be the modern day Princess and the PSP. Though, we remember the Princess as beautiful and unruffled. And she definately was not changing poopy diapers!!!

p.s. After time passed, the above-mentioned child apologized all on his own. That my friends, is the fairy-tale ending you were looking for...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Moments

Beautiful, monumental, inspiring...

Friday, January 16, 2009


So, Sylvie-Aganoti sports this laugh from time-to-time that sounds like "The Bad Guy" on cartoons. I have tried to catch it on video but have proven unsuccessful.

Here is a clip of her playing Jake's guitar, which she loves. A small giggle at the end but not... THE LAUGH. I'll keep trying!


Do I carry them, bounce them or just lay on them???

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


...somehow turned into a week. We have had company and a new puppy. More on that later. For now, pictures of our sweetie:

Huge fit if we take her food away before she is done + she asked to go potty= eating eggs while going potty. Don't tell me you've never done that!?!

Please put that camera away and take us for a ride in the car!

Don't look at me, I didn't eat that cookie on the counter...

Sylvie-Aganoti and cousin-Olivia!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Things are good...

Sylvie seems to be feeling much better. We are all well.

I am going to bed, but promise to post some cute pictures tomorrow. And, I'll tell you a little bit about S.A.'s new laugh. WOW, it's a doozie!


Monday, January 5, 2009


The last time we took Sylvie-Aganoti's poo in for a test we warned the nurse about it's odorific-ness (that will be on this week's vocab. test). Her words, "We've seen a diaper or two before," sniff, sniff, gag, gag. She proceeds to leave the room, returning with this:
Sad thing is, we'd already wrapped it up in an airtight Ziplock. She was smelling the thing through plastic. It was bad, bad, bad. For the postitive piece of this disgusting story....

We have an answer to S.A.'s diapers! Her second test showed Giardia. What a relief to treat it and know her little tummy will feel better. Her pediatrician was pleased she has gained 2 pounds, 6 ounces and grown 1/2 inch (in three weeks!). He said her gains surpass what he hopes for newborns. Since the orphanage, our girl has gained 6.6 pounds! Wow...

Today was awesome. I think she is a two-nap-a-day kind of kid. That is what we did today and it was marvelous!

Tomorrow we might visit her child-care provider for the first time. Stay tuned....

Saturday, January 3, 2009


Sylvie-Aganoti woke up with a cold today. This helps to explain yesterday, which has been our very hardest day so far. She was so unhappy. Tylenol might have helped. It is helping today.

Have I mentioned that she is getting four teeth at once? Yikes, definitely part of the picture.

We are now feeding her soy milk. We'll see if that does something with the diaper dilemma.

I went to the international adoptive parents meeting. No parents were meeting. I don't know if it was cancelled due to the holidays or if I confused the information. It was kind of silly, as I'd invited Linsey to go and it was just the two of us. We got a chance to visit though and it was so good to brainstorm with another adoptive mom. I need to read more about toddler adoption and attachment. If anyone has suggestions let me know!!!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Just a dream

Last night I had the strangest dream and my wheels have been turning.

Tomorrow morning a meeting in Missoula for international adoptive parents takes place. I am thinking about going. In the words of the mom who invited me, "It is a chance for us all to sit around with a cup of coffee, cry about how hard things can be sometimes and lend each other support." I am excited to go. I am nervous to go.

Back to the dream.

Clark and I are at dinner with friends and they kindly bring us a bottle of wine. Not having enough arms to carry that plus the paraphernalia S.A. requires, we put the wine in her diaper bag. We forget the diaper bag in the car overnight and temperatures dip way below freezing. The next morning I am running late for the adoptive parents meeting and feeling hectic. On our way to the meeting S.A. poops, blowing out her outfit. We get to the coffee-shop and, hoisting S.A. out of the car, I whack the diaper bag on the car door quite hard. I enter the meeting to find a large group of composed, well-dressed moms who did not bring their children with them, sipping lattes. I am standing with a poop-saturated kiddo, holding a diaper bag that is slowly leaking wine out the side. I look down and see the lace of my boot trailing behind me on the floor and I think, "I can't believe my boots are untied."

Dream over.

I can't believe my boots are untied...

Waking up, I realize this dream is about my feelings of incompetence as Sylvie's mom. Her pooping is out of control; I've never seen anything like it. She burns through outfit after outfit all day long. We have changed diaper sizes and brands. We changed from cow's milk to goat's milk, which seems to have made it worse. Today we are trying soy milk and are re-testing for Salmonella and Giardia. It seems I've forgotten how to baby-proof. I've had three kids but somehow feel like this is my first time. Sometimes Sylvie cries and I can't help. She's outraged if I hold her, outraged if I put her down. The look on her face says, "You are doing this the wrong way!" Getting her to eat is a Herculean effort.

About these certain things I feel incompetent. I know coming into her life after she's had 18-months of we-don't-know-what is difficult. She has history. She has ways of being soothed that we are in the process of learning. Foods she's used to we can't offer. Everything here is different than in Ethiopia. Parenting a child from birth can be a shot in the dark. Parenting a child who has a year-and-a-half under her belt is much more complicated.

I am trying to cut myself slack.

I love this baby. I do not want anything about her to be different. That does not change how hard some days are.

It was just a dream. However, sometimes my boots are untied.

Take a deep breath, lace them back up, things are ok.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Goodbye 2008

2008 was a huge year for our family; nostalgically we say goodbye.

In 2008 Jacob entered high school, thus beginning a new phase of his life. He is evolving into a remarkable young man with interests in music, the arts, animals and medicine. We are very proud of him. Liam became a middle school student, got braces off and glasses on. He earned a position in competitive club soccer; he will love the challenges and experiences it brings. It is thrilling to be a part of this enthusiastic, dynamic kiddo's life. Simon grew physically and spiritually over the past year. He is such a serious, determined child. We often wish we could have a peek into his future, as we know he will find an interesting niche in life.

Clark wrapped up the tail-end of his accounting degree and, though we had decided to wait until our adoption finalized to actively job hunt, an accounting opportunity arose that Clark gladly accepted. His new employer, willing to hold his position until our return from Ethiopia, is a family-friendly, community-oriented organization that Clark is thrilled to work for.

Our biggest feat of the year was bringing Sylvie-Aganoti Teresa Tower home. Words can not describe the importance of her joining our family. We waited for so long. Bringing her home feels like a happy ending.

Looking back to this time last year, we were wrapping up our home-study for Vietnam. We spent much time reading books on the country, immersing ourselves in culture, history and food. How interesting the turns we take in life, as several months later we were adopting from Ethiopia. Our path in adoption is a bit frightening, as had we not been on the exact time-line we were, we would not know our daughter. We can not imagine our lives without her.

In summing up this past year, we are so grateful for our health, the glue that holds this family together, our jobs and home, the supportive people we have in our lives, and the beauty and possibility surrounding us. We feel very fortunate. Goodbye 2008 and thank you.