Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Catching up!

2012 was a year in which big changes occurred for our family.   We went from a family of 4 to a family of 5.  Doesn't really seem like that big of a change, but the fact that we are now dealing with toddler "stuff" again certainly added a new element to our lives.  And we are having a BLAST! 

But then 5 months after Robel's arrival home, my mom went to her eternal home.  And so, for the last 4 months, we have had a lot of firsts learning how to navigate this world without my mom.  We took a trip with my family, just to get away and be together, but my mom wasn't there.  We celebrated birthdays without my mom there to watch the kids open their presents, and let me tell you, she LOVED celebrating the kids birthdays.  I joked often that I really didn't have to do much because anything we ever did was overshadowed by her lavishing them with love and "stuff!"  We celebrated Christmas without her sitting in her place, taking part in all the traditions and excitement.  This was probably the roughest of days.  But I am so comforted in knowing that she is in Heaven, feeling NO pain, seeing many familiar faces of those she has loved, and sitting at the feet of Jesus, praising Him!

We have been dealing with lots of sadness, but it is all been dimmed with excitement of watching Robel experience so many firsts and the girls getting older and participating in new and different activities. So, that is where we are and where we have been and now we look to a new year, but it is time to do a picture catch-up!!!! So, brace yourself!

The girls' first day of school!

We learned rather quickly, when Robel is quiet, watch out!  I found him in the bathroom "playing" with powder make-up! Yep, he got caught!

The cousins watching Sara in her 1st parade as a band member. 

Look at that girl!  She was so serious.  Couldn't get her to crack a smile, and trust me, we were trying!

Our annual trip to the pumpkin patch!

Our 1st trip as a family without my mom!  Bubba was having some fun with the girls on our little hike.

Robel and Daddy exploring!

Halloween.  OK, I must kids were Si, Jase and Willy from Duck Dynasty.  Sad, I know.  Robel looks a little like Rambo with the gun.  He actually acquired it from another kid and wouldn't let it go. 

A day on the farm.  The girls loved the quad ride.

Robel figuring out this horse thing. 

Robel's birthday!  After his acquisition of the gun on Halloween, our friend decided he needed his own.  He loved it (I hate it!)!

Sara's Birthday!  A night at the movies!

Christmas Eve.  Of course, Dad had to work, but was able to come home for a while and spend some time with us!
To be continued....

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Just like his daddy!

We have had a great day, laying around the house, watching cooking shows, doing absolutely nothing.   We don't get these days too often, so when we do, we take advantage.  Then both Bob and I realized that he HAD to pick up his dry cleaning today.  I just assumed he would make this a quick trip by himself.  I think I heard him ask if either girl wanted to ride with him.  Of course, Robel was not going to go.  He still has his PJ shirt on, no shorts but only a diaper.  Bob gets ready to leave.  I was sitting at the computer and he comes over to kiss me goodbye (he's good like that)!  All of the sudden, here comes my little man, all puckered up.  I leaned down, plant a kiss on him, he waves and says "bye!"  Bob had no choice.  Robel is along for the ride.

I like it that he is realizing he SHOULD kiss his mama before heading out!  That boy kind of has me wrapped around his little finger (just like his daddy).  But shhhh, don't tell anyone! 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

3 Months Home!

Time flies when your having fun...or when you are having fun and adjusting to having a toddler in the house again!  Three months ago yesterday, we brought our sweet boy home and we became a family of five.  We have laughed so much as a family.  I love dinner time because our boy is truly a performer and dinner time is when he has his audience (and lets not forget that he is strapped in the high chair and I am not running after him)!  The girls have really surprised us with their desire to help.  If they see something that needs to be done, they jumped to it before being asked, and they love to play with their brother. 

I always said we had such a quiet house.  Now that Robel is here, boy have things changed.  His favorite thing to do is chase the girls and if he can make them squeal and scream, all the better, and he joins in with lots of squeals and growls of his own.  His newest "show" is his different faces (happy face, silly face, surprise face, mad face). 

We are truly blessed.  I feel so strongly that God perfectly placed just this boy in our family.  There was always a missing part to our family and he is the piece that has completed us.  He is funny, and lovable, stubborn and tough and we have never been happier!!! 

So here are some pictures of the past 3 months...

Ready to do some yard work with daddy!

Lovin' on his dog!

Mr. Funny Man

 First Haircut

Dog Pile!!!

First Amusement Park Ride...Not so sure about this! Abby was working hard to make it fun!

Playing in the Creek on our camping trip!

The boy loves his water

First trip to the beach!

Playing in the Sequoias!

There's the "surprise face!"

4th of July...our little family!

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Long Awaited Moment!!!

It has been 6 weeks since we took placement of Robel and I have so much to share about this last month and a half.  In an effort to keep this post from becoming a book, I think it best to focus on our week in Ethiopia! 
Some background information is definitely needed here in order to understand our amazement.  Prior to starting our adoption, I had NO idea what a blog even was.  Within a few months, I had found lots of blogs, many of which were Gladney families, that focused on their adoption.  I checked and read everyday for any information.  I took notes people.  I was not only getting prepared through all the training, I was reading real-life accounts of placements, homecomings and adjustment periods.

We eventually met some other couples in our area who also had adopted from ET and I extracted as much information and advice from them as possible.  As we got closer to our Embassy appt, I began to freak out.  When I say freak out, I was calling my good friend (she's an adoption social worker) for books to read, knowing full well I did not have time to finish anything, but I was stressing, afraid I wasn't as prepared as I should be for what was to come my way. 

So, you may be asking, what in the world was I freaking out about....let me get my list!
  • The initial placement - would he be sad, scared, would he cry (I don't like seeing those things in my kids)
  • Sleep time - I had heard that this is possibly the worst time for kiddos due to sadness, fear
  • Over stimulation with the environment - the size of the guest house, our house, sounds, etc...
  • Him choosing one parent over the other - I really wanted him to choose me, but I would feel so bad for Bob if he did!  :)
  • The coffee ceremony - would he do OK going back to the foster care center and did I want to make him
  • Car rides, baths, the plane ride, food issues, and eventually CAR SEATS!
You understand now the amount of uncertainty swirling around in my head.  It was endless!  I was so thankful to have had ALL the stories to help in preparing me for what was to come.  I felt as ready as I could be.

The moment finally came.  It was Friday afternoon about 2:30.  Anbes was pulling into the gate with our son.  We stood at the top of the stairs watching this surreal moment play out in front of our eyes.  I had dreamed how this moment would be for us.  I was nervous and excited and UNCERTAIN of what to do next.  And then it happened.  Sami, our driver, placed Robel in my arms.  He was looking so unsure of who we were, what he was doing there.  After quite awhile of me holding on to him for dear life, Bob finally asked, "Are you going to let me hold our son?"  Oops!  I guess I had to share!  I will always cherish those first few minutes. 
Our first hour with Robel.  I love this photo because for the longest time, he held the cars just like this.
But let me tell you...there were no tears, no hysterics, just confused eyes looking back at us.  We eventually took him upstairs and pulled out every toy we brought and within an hour or so we were getting some little smiles.  We played lots that afternoon, keeping it as mellow as possible.  Fortunately, we were the only family there that day so it was very quiet and calm.  We fed him some Shiro for dinner, gave him a bottle and off to sleep he went, without tears!  I certainly didn't sleep all that great, but he slept all night.  When he woke, his look was of uncertainty again, but no tears. 
Every morning got better as he became more familiar with us.  By Sunday night we were taking him to restaurants for meals.  Let me insert here, he did not eat all that well.  I was again, a nervous wreck not being able to get him to eat much.  So thankful for the BJoe girls.  They made shiro for him and he would certainly eat that. 
The 1st morning we got smiles right away!
Robel's 1st time in a restaurant (Makush)!
Another restaurant...being a "ham!"
My boy likes his shiro and injera!
I will interject here that while at the guest house, we met several other families who were also taking placement of their children.  It was fun to meet them and see this whole process playing out for other families as well.  But what I didn't anticipate was the awkwardness.  Both Bob and I are fairly outgoing, but we found ourselves sharing this very personal experience with very new acquaintances, which we found to be really hard.  We ended up in our room quite a lot.  But I have to say they were great!  It was just an element I had not anticipated. 

As the days went by, we noticed how he was bonding so well.  When new people arrived, he hid behind us, peeking through our legs, he was really only interested in being with Bob or me.  We were even able to do a little shopping and he did great.  Slowly, by Tuesday, we noticed that he was being just a regular toddler.  While shopping, he wanted to be down running around, but always checking to make sure Bob or I was close by.  And the only time he really cried was bath time. 
Playing in the yard.  He loves being outside!
Unfortunately, by Monday night, Robel began running a fever.  It seemed he would run fevers at night, but during the day the fever would vanish.  Not that I would ever wish this as part of the process, but I will venture out and say that this may have added to our bonding experience.  When he felt yucky, we were right there to hold and cuddle and "make things better!" 

Wednesday was our Embassy appt.  He had run a pretty good fever Tuesday night, but again, by morning the fever seemed to be gone.  To be on the safe side, however, we decided after the Embassy appt we would head to the Foster Care Center for the coffee ceremony and see the pediatrician about the fever. 

The coffee ceremony went like I had feared, not as I had hoped.  As soon as we walked through the gates the tears began.  We tried to back away in hopes that he would settle.  Unfortunately, it didn't work.  I will always be so grateful to the ladies that took care of him while he was there.  I KNOW they loved him and I felt so bad that their reunion with him was going this way.  We were able to get some pictures before the dr. called us in.  He was still crying the whole time, while being checked, and we were told he had an ear infection.  It was at that point that we decided to leave.  He was not settling down at all, and we had a prescription to fill.  So, we quickly said our goodbyes and left. 
Robel and his special mom, Hirut!
As soon as we left, the tears ceased and he fell asleep.  Poor baby took a 4 hour nap.  He was a champ taking his antibiotic!  Wednesday was stressful for sure, but again, this was our unique experience in our bonding process!  I was anticipating some setbacks due to the "trauma" from the day.  However, when he woke from his nap, he was all smiles, played with us, laughing lots, and even began interacting with another little boy at the guest house that night. 

Thursday was the day we were heading home.  However, before we could make our trip to the airport, we had the opportunity to meet Robel's birthfather.  What a treasure for us and for him.  I will forever cherish that hour's visit. 

After a great lunch with Anbes and his wife, we headed to the airport.  Due to some unforeseen delays, we were running a little late.  I do not recommend this at all.  Thankfully, we had done some "stroller training" through out the week, getting Robel used to the stroller.  That training came in super handy as we ran through the airport.  Again, I am thinking is the poor kid going to be traumatized...but no, he was giggling like this was the greatest adventure ever. 
We love BJoes and all the girls!!!
I can say now that he did great on the plane rides.  He slept a little on the flight from ET to Dubai but we did have to entertain quite a bit.  We had a horrendous layover (6 hours) in Dubai.  Robel loved the people movers in the airport which lent us hours of entertainment.  And when his little body couldn't take it any longer, he took his bottle and crashed.  We had to wake him to get him to the gate and on the next flight.  That hour or so was not so pleasant...he was exhausted!  However, once on the plane, he ate a little and slept for a good part of the flight. 
And this is how we spent some of our time in Dubai!
The story gets a little interesting here.  We had checked the weather online prior to leaving ET, and saw that a big storm was blowing through CA.  Normally, we would only deal with some rain and all would be ok.  However, we had a 3 hour drive through the mountains and snow was expected.  In CA, when snow falls in the mountains, they often close the freeways.  We were just hoping we made it across the pass before the storm hit.  When we landed, we had our little baby in his his pjs (shorts and t-shirt) and it is pouring.  We did our best to fly through customs, claim our bags and catch our shuttle to our car.  It was freezing and so we had our little guy, in his summer pjs, wrapped in blankets, trying to keep him as warm and dry as possible.  Again, I am thinking, the trauma he is facing may be too much for him.  He just smiled and stared at everything that was happening.

Finally, the moment we had been dreading...the CAR SEAT!  We had no idea how he would handle being confined into the seat, much less a 3 hour ride.  So, we just went for it.  I plopped him in, buckled him quickly, and he whimpered for just a second until I got in next to him.  Again, he just stared at everything around him.  After about 15 minutes on the freeway, he reached out wanting me to hold him.  Bob turned on his Classic Rock music and the dude was out! He slept for the next 2 1/2 hours!  YEAH!  He woke up ready to be released.   And I must say as we crested the top of the mountain range, the snow had just begun.  Praise the Lord, we made it!!!!  I think just a couple hours later, the freeway was closed for the day! 

Our homecoming was at our house.  Unconventional, I know.  But landing so far away, we had friends and family waiting for us to welcome us home and then they were all kicked out.  Pictures will come later because I am waiting on them from my dear friend....hint...hint...! 

I know that I would feel blessed no matter what our circumstances had been, but I watch Robel and continue to be amazed at how well he has adjusted and adapted to his new home, surroundings, and adventures!  He is one amazing kiddo. 

Monday, April 30, 2012

8 Amazing Years!

Yesterday was a big day around here. My middle baby turned "8"!!! Can't believe how time has flown. She is my crazy, funny, sensitive, rule-following, snuggling, laughing girl. We are so blessed that God has given us the opportunity to be her parents. We are just so stinkin' proud of her and love her to pieces.  Here is our walk down memory lane...
 Her birth day!
And the Big "8"!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

We Are Alive!!!

We have been with our little man for 16 days, at home for 9 days!  We get the following questions quite often...
  • How is Robel doing?
  • How are the girls adjusting to life with a brother?
  • Is he sleeping through the night?
For starters, I was told many, many times that girls and boys are so different.  Of course they are!  These people that were sharing their incredible insights, did they think I was clueless?  Well, I kind of was.  Robel is gross!  The girls were clean and sweet and didn't like mess.  In fact, Sara was so concerned with germs that we thought she may be borderline OCD.  Robel, on the other hand, eats dirt, spits his food out, pretends to burb, and LOVES the whoopie cushion! 
However, he is the sweetest thing ever!  He hugs like no 1 year old I have ever seen.  He will grab our faces and plant a big old sloppy kiss on the lips while adding the appropriate "mbah" sound effects!  He LOVES to laugh and giggle and play ball.  In the morning, his favorite thing to do is wake up his sisters with lots of tickling and squealing. 
He likes our dog...he LOVES our dog.  I was so nervous that he would be scared of her.  Quite the opposite, actually.  I think the dog is a little scared of him.  He squeals and chases, kisses and occasionally tries to bite her.  What dog wouldn't be scared, right?  I know one day they are going to be best friends. 

So, I guess we can say that Robel is doing great!  We struggle a little with food issues, but I am often reminded (as it has been quite a while) that most toddlers aren't big fans of food!  Thank you to our pediatrician for putting my mind at ease!  As for the sleeping, we are getting there.  Every day gets a little bit better.  In fact last night was a 9pm -7am kind of night!!!  Daddy and Mommy are feeling better everyday!!!

The girls, as well, are doing so great.  Abby has had a little bit of an adjustment not being the baby anymore, but she is figuring out that she has a very special place in our family that no one else can fill!  Sara is just the biggest help!  I still can't get her to change a diaper (haha), but she is so helpful in other areas!  They both make us so very proud!  They are the best big sisters. 
 Last night we were laying on the floor in Robel's room playing with him after bath time.  He was quite excited and running from one person to the next.  We were all laughing and reaching out for him.  Bob finally looks at me and says, "This kid is going to think that the world is here to make him happy!"  Right now, that is our goal.  We want him to feel safe and secure, happy and loved!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

We Are Out of Here!!!

At 12:00 am on Thursday, March 29, 2012, I was good and asleep.  I wasn't sleeping all that great but I was sleeping nonetheless.  I woke up to the sound of my phone ringing.  Bob was on the other end.  He said, "Guess what.  We cleared!"  I immediately jumped out of bed and headed to the computer.  I had to check for myself.  And low and behold, there it was!  An email from the Embassy in Ethiopia stating that we were cleared to bring our son home! 

It is at these times that I am so thankful that Bob works nights, because I had tried to stay awake as long as I could, knowing full well that he would be checking email anyways.  So, here it was in the middle of the night and we began making plans for our trip to bring our sweet little boy home.  We immediately sent our email requesting our interview date and shortly later we received our second email confirming our date. 

So, here I sit, five days later, writing on our blog when I should really be packing, cleaning, shopping, etc...  But I want to be up to date with this thing when we return from our 2nd trip. 

We are ready to go!  I think we have just about everything we need!  We have amazing people supporting us and encouraging us and offering to help with whatever we might need!  There is only one thing I can think of that we could use help with...that is you joining us in PRAYER!

Things you could pray about:
  • Safe travels (I am kind of a wimp when the turbulence gets bad)
  • Our girls (we have never left them this long)
  • Robel - That his anxiety would be minimal
  • That none of us would get sick on this trip
  • That our time together in ET would be amazing and that the bonding would begin quickly!
So, here we go!  In ten days, we will all be back home, together as a family of 5!!!!