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Friday, December 26, 2008

Best Christmas gift ever.

One year ago we had just arrived in Zanzibar. I checked my email to find out that Fiori was going to be our daughter.


For those of you who don't know, we had a honeymoon in Africa during Christmas 2007. I went a bit early and took a side trip to Ethiopia where I met Fiori for the first time. I fell in love instantly but I wouldn't even hold her. You see, there were several people from our agency waiting for infants at the same time and I didn't want to get attached as I had no idea who would be selected by our agency to be our child. Luckily, they chose her for us and the rest is happy history.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas. Look what I can do!

We put this up just before Christmas and look what she can already do by herself.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

When it rains it pours

Fiori is going to daycare today for the first time for a whole day. Up until now, she has been doing 5 hours per day, 4 days a week. But today and tomorrow, she is going for the full day and it may need to become a permanent thing.

You see...for those of you that don't know, I am a real estate appraiser and my work has been dead, dead, dead for months now. Which was nice as I could spend a bunch of time with Fiori when she got home. But it got old really quick with so little income; and we live in the SF Bay Area so I can't afford to be a SAHM. So I have been doing a bunch of marketing and have obtained some new clients. It was just starting to get a little busy when the mortgage rates plummeted. So now everyone and their mother (at least everyone who isn't upside down on their house) wants to refinance and I have gone from having 3-5 appraisals per month to 2-3 per day. Yikes.

To boot, I have been looking at going back to my old life as a product manager in high tech due to the deadness in the real estate market (and I admit because I miss the stimulation). So I had been sending out applications and last week I got an interview with a startup in Berkleley right at the time when my current work went crazy. I did well in the interview and they want me to come in for a second round. So *if* I get offered the job, I am in a total quandary.

Do I stay where I am since things are (currently) busy, I get to work from home and the work is fairly easy?

Do I go back to high tech because I miss it, the longer I am out the harder it is to get back in and because my current level of work may be only short term?

Hmmmmm.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Me too!


Fiori's always wanted to do exactly what we do. If I'm wearing a baseball cap, she wants it so she can wear it. If we're using the remote to change the TV channels, she wants the remote, too. Well, Saturday morning, she apparently wanted to eat pancakes like we were - and she wasn't having any of the small plastic baby fork we gave her. She wanted a real fork.


She did quite well. While she needed some help putting enough pressure on the fork the spear a piece of pancake, she handled all the rest by herself. (And was quite proud of it.)

Next up: We teach her how to do her own laundry and wash dishes.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This is the reaction we're hoping for.


Fiori's first holiday season is here and this is the reaction we're hoping for on Christmas morning.


Seriously though, we've managed not to go crazy with presents. We're just planning on a nice family Xmas with my parents, Nikko's mom and sister, our two nephews, and potentially Nikko's aunt and uncle.

I'm sure we'll post pictures of the big day, but if you don't hear from us before then, Fiori, Nikko and I would like to wish you all the happiest of holidays. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

All she needs for Christmas is a paper bag

Really this was not done just to amuse us. She loved it and kept bringing the bag back to us. I swear!

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And, no, I still haven't found the Mino. I used my regular camera for this. Oh Mino, where for art thou?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Doin the do



Fiori's hair is growing. And I have been kindly reminded (usually by my black friends) on several occasions that I will need to learn how to do her hair. This is true. I am particularly lazy with my hair - basically wash, spritz with gel, drag a brush through it and then I am done. I know this will not be the case for Fiori and now that her hair is getting longer, it is prone to get nappy. Argh.

I have all the hair products so no worries there but try to do her hair and that girl will scream - even if I KNOW it doesn't hurt her. I put her hair in puffs this weekend but we were in a hurry to get out the door and I was really embarrassed that my parts weren't straight. Later on, I stuck her in front of Sesame Street (which she loves) and tried to redo the parts. I put lots of conditioner in, used the soft brush and a chopstick to part. Yep, she screamed bloody murder. But I got it done (although my mom pointed out that my last part wasn't all that straight - thanks mom!).
Hopefully her hair will grow long enough so that I can do braids and not have to brush it out every day.




Monday, November 24, 2008

Argh, where is the Mino video recorder?

Maybe not such a good thing that it is so small as I have managed to misplace it.

We put our house up for sale and I have had to keep it clean (no easy task for me as I am NOT a neat freak). I have basically been putting things away in places I don't usually do so and then I've forgotten where I've put them. Very frustrating.

So now I have no idea where the Mino is which is a total bummer as there are a bunch of things I want to capture on video including Fiori putting her index finger to her lip when I say Shhh and the fact that she knows where her nose is and her ear. And she also knows tongue which she is so fascinated with that as soon as I say "tongue" all bets are off on the other body parts as she has to repeatedly put her finger on my tongue and giggle. Although...she can be sidetracked by my belly button ring which she wants to kiss over and over again.

Kids are so funny.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

One year update

Ok, I'm a little late as she is now heading towards one year and one month.

Fiori is still the picture of health. We went to her one year well baby check and all looks good. She has moved up a bit in the height department and down in weight. She is now around the 30th percentile in both (she was 25th in height and 50th in weight). And she had surpassed all the one year milestones months ago (standing by herself, babbling mama, dada...). The doctor was amazed at some of the stuff she was doing in terms of talking and trying to open things. I just think trouble.

She is now walking. A lot. A week ago it was a few steps into your arms with prompting, then it was a couple steps totally on her own and now all of a sudden it is pretty much nothing but walking. This is an issue as we are selling our house and have staged it and taken down baby gates so we have to watch her like a hawk. We did leave in all our plug covers which is good since she is fascinated by electrical outlets.

She's talking a lot too. Lots of babbling (could be fluent Amharic for all I know) but also words. She still does "hi" all the time but she is pretty easily repeating words now like "dog", "light", "eye", "food", etc.... She knows where her nose is and when I say "shhh", the puts her index finger to her mouth. So cute. She still doesn't call us mama or daddy although she often says daddy as that was one of her early sounds. It will come soon enough.

And I don't remember if I said before but she is going to day care part time. I was pretty worried about it but she seems to be going great and the place we take her is very small so she gets lots of individual attention and yummy organic food. We weaned her into it and now she is going 5 hours a day four days a week. I have to admit I'm a bit jealous when we arrive and she jumps into Maria's arms. Then again, she arrives just at lunch time and knows she is getting food (which our girl loves).

She is still a joy, still has a wonderful temperament, still sleeping through the night. Add to that our joy at watching her grow and learn new things. So amazing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Had to be part of it

So I am sitting there at around 6 pm with Fiori watching news of the election and I start thinking "how lame, I am here with no one to share other than Fiori who is more interested in her spoon".

I call my mom who is a trade union activist (she nearly got arrested earlier in the day as a poll watcher) and she says to come to Downtown Oakland where her union has some reserved tables at the local (hopefully) victory party. So as soon as Matt gets home, I high tail it down there, manage to find a parking spot and rush in to the convention center just after they announce the results. Everyone is hugging, crying, cheering. My mom and I both have tears in our eyes; it was such an amazing night to be a part of.


After Obama's speech, we spill out into the streets to the sounds of cars honking, victory cheers and a spirit of optimism.
And now we don't have to move to Canada/Australia.

Ok, now back to Fiori posts.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I couldn't help myself

I had to steal this "Letter to the Red States" from the blog of a fellow Bay Area Ethiopian adoptive mom. I hope you don't mind Porter.

And please don't take offense all you folks with right leaning tendencies.

-------------------------------

Dear Red States:

If you manage to steal this election too we’ve decided we’re leaving. We intend to form our own country, and we’re taking the other Blue States with us. In case you aren’t aware, that includes California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and all the Northeast. We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation, and especially to the people of the new country of Nuevo California.

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states. We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get Dollywood.

We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard. You get Ole’ Miss.

We get 85% of America’s venture capital and entrepreneurs. You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue, you get to make the red states pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22% lower than the Christian Coalition’s, we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of bitter divorced people.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro-choice and anti-war, and we’re going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight, ask your evangelicals. They have kids they’re apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose, and they don’t care if you don’t show pictures of their children’s caskets coming home. We do wish you success in Iraq , and hope that the WMDs turn up, but we’re not willing to spend our resources in Bush’s Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand, we will have firm control of 80% of the country’s fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce, 92% of the nation’s fresh fruit, 95% of America’s quality wines, 90% of all cheese, 90% of the high tech industry, 95% of the corn and soybeans (thanks Iowa!), most of the U.S. low-sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias, and condors, all the Ivy and Seven Sister schools plus Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States, on the other hand, you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans (and their projected health care costs), 92% of all U.S. mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson, and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

Additionally, 38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we’re discussing the war, the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

Finally, we’re taking the good pot, too. You can have that dirt weed they grow in Mexico.

Peace out,

–Blue States

Glued to the television

So I had to leave for a few minutes to go pick Fiori up from day care. As I pulled up into my driveway, I heard a group cheer coming from a house above mine. What did I miss? I would say it was Obama getting a projected win but I couldn't quite tell which house it was coming from. You see, I live in a VERY democratic area. However, my across the street neighbor happens to have probably the only McCain/Palin sign I've seen in our whole city. But since they are in their 70s and hardly ever leave, I don't think they are hosting a results party.

I have to admit I'm pretty emotional about the whole thing. I feel like we are on the cusp of a historical moment - not just because our next president will likely be black but because I can feel the potential for change. I was pretty upset at the last two elections and kept threatening to move overseas. I am totally ready to do so this go around should things go not as expected except I have no money anymore due to our lousy economy. But how cool is it for Fiori to be home in the USA for this momentous occasion. Too bad she is not old enough to understand it. The girl is not paying any attention whatsover to the results on TV.

First solo steps

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C is for Cookie

We so need to Tivo Sesame Street. Is it even on anymore?

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Tickle monster

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Happy Birthday Fiori

Fiori's first birthday was October 29th.


We were supposed to have a party at our house but since it is now up for sale and that was the day of our open house, we switched it to the Oakland zoo at the last minute. The weather cooperated, it was a lovely day and we had a great turnout. A fun time was had for all and Fiori had a blast playing and ended the day covered in dirt.


Our friend Dawn knitted a sweater that has her name in it. Can you believe it?

Yeah, a race car!


Merry-Go-Rounds are fun. Although, it is way past her nap time so it wasn't as fun as earlier in the day.


Dawn's kids also wrote her a wonderful birthday poem to go along with the sweater and home made card.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Packing again? Oh no!



We have decided to put our house on the market. We made the tough decision to downsize and hopefully move into a place with a flat yard for Fiori and the dogs. While we've been talking about it for a while, we only decided for sure this past weekend but plan to put our house on the market next week so you can imagine we are furiously trying to pack up and get it decluttered so we can get it staged and sold (we hope) quickly.

Never fear, we are staying in the area and are contingent on another house so we do have a place to move as long as our house sells. And while we are sacrificing on space and neighborhood, we are not sacrificing on view.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Go Bears!

For those of you that don't know, I am a pretty big Cal fan and we have season tickets for football. I was pretty excited to take Fiori to her first game but also a little scared as how it would go for an 11 month old. Well, let me tell you she did great and was a total hit with the folks around her.



The game was a blow out and we thought about leaving early but I kind of wanted to see if she could last out the whole game. Check her out - still going with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter...

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Baby's first baseball game

Fiori went to her first San Francisco Giants game on Wednesday. She had quite a bit of fun. The Giants lost by some ridiculous score like 16-5.

I hope this isn't a sign of things to come as today she goes to her first Cal (UC Berkeley) football game and we can't have jinxes attending .

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

One month home

Fiori has been home a month now so I thought I would post some observations as it has been pointed out that I am heavy on the video and light on the prose. So here goes...

  1. When I went to pick her up, the caregivers repeatedly told me that I was lucky and she is so funny. That is totally true. She makes funny faces, loves to make you laugh and is just an all around happy baby.
  2. She is on the small side. She is in the 25th percentile for height and the 50th for weight. She is wearing 6-9 month clothes and 0-6 month old shoes at 11 months of age.
  3. She is very vocal. We tried taking her to family day at a local theater. Big mistake. First, there were no other families there and second, I spent half the movie in the back of the theater trying to entertain her and keep her voice down. She has recently begun saying "hi" while waiving. Cute!
  4. On that same note, she has developed an ear piercing scream that she typically uses when she wants another bite of food. We are trying not to indulge that but it is hard not to when you are at a restaurant.
  5. She has adjusted remarkably well and our bonding seems to be going well. She has so far attached a bit more to me than to Matt which makes sense as I am staying home with her. She has also started developing a tad bit of stranger anxiety which I take to be a good sign as far as attachment is concerned.
  6. She sleeps 12 hours a night. I was joking with Matt that he was getting more sleep during his parental leave than he did before she came home.
  7. In case you didn't notice from the previous videos, Fiori is one hell of a dancer. I can't believe her natural rhythm and how many moves she has. House music seems to be her favorite so I turn it on during the day.
  8. She crawls up stairs and is really trying to walk. We figure she will be walking by herself in about a month. Lord help us.
  9. She is kind of potty trained meaning I can put her on the potty and she will often go both number one and number two. Of course I have to make the decision to do it since she in no way tells me she needs to go.
  10. I think she will be a natural swimmer. We got in the pool and she immediately put her face in the water and flailed her arms about. Must look for local baby swim lessons.
  11. She now loves all dogs and rode on the back of a mastiff the other day. She is OK with horses and I think she just thinks they are really big dogs.
  12. She is fascinated by baseball hats and eye glasses.
  13. She eats pretty much any food we do including spicy stuff.
  14. She is thus far really healthy. We have had all kinds of tests done and so far nothing (knock on wood). No diaper rash, no runny nose, nothing. We have had our share of explosive diapers though, usually at an inopportune time like in the middle of dinner at a restaurant.
  15. She interviews really well. I took her to a day care that had a 20 person waiting list and the owner whispered that if we were interested to let her know right away as she would choose us. FYI, we chose not to go there mainly because they only do full days and I'm not ready to give her up for that many hours.
  16. She loves her Combi car bouncer.
  17. She loved Cheerios (is there any kid that doesn't?).
  18. While she sleeps well at night, she doesn't particularly like naps. I am lucky to get her to take one slightly longer or two very short ones.
  19. Since she's such a great baby, we're really afraid that it is all downhill from here. I'm trying to prepare myself for when she is no longer so great at restaurants, gets really sick, has temper tantrums and days when she just hates the world.
  20. She's turned me into one of those sappy camera-wielding, video-taking, "isn't my kid the cutest?" parents.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Dancing while eating

Still trying to get a handle of what kind of music gets her moving. I thought for sure Lenny Kravitz's Are You Gonna Go My Way would do it. Nope. I think the girl likes House and Techno.


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Crocodile tears

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Funny Faces

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Men are ridiculous

So this is Matt changing diapers.



At least he is not this bad...

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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Baby's first photo shoot

Not a photo shoot per se but an impromptu session by Matt. He's good, eh? Or maybe Fiori is just really photogenic. ;-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Oh yeah, Brooke Shields is in love with Fiori!


On our long journey home, we ran into Brooke (yes, we're on a first name basis now) on the inter-terminal shuttle at JFK. She was quite smitten with Fiori and Zaela and was super happy to stop for a photo op with our girls. Nicest woman ever; despite having missed two flights already and trying to make her next connection, she stopped for several minutes to play peek-a-boo with little Fiori. She even said our girls made her want to have another.

Brooke, you are welcome to baby sit whenever you want.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Not only does she dance, she also sings. Ethiopian Idol anyone?

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OK, maybe I'm the only one who finds that funny. I guess you had to be there.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Fiori uses her head

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PS - I love my Mino video cam.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

It's not really the end of the journey...

It's actually the beginning.


I picked up my mother, my wife, and my new daughter from the airport today. All are home safe and sound. My mother looked tired from lots of traveling and Nikko caught some bug and is fairly sick. But I'm sure they'll both be back to 100% soon.

Fiori? As advertised. Gorgeous, funny, a talker, not a crier. She's slightly terrified of the dogs and doesn't really know what to make of them yet. (Then again, I'm not sure they know what to make of her either.) But all in all, for the 7 hours she's been home, she's been about as good as she could be.

I'll let Nikko recount the highlights of her trip - but one of them involved Brooke Shields playing peek-a-boo with Fiori in the airport.

Stay tuned...

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Eagle has landed.

Ok, maybe not the Eagle. But after a long, long, crazy, almost-comically ridiculous trip, Nikko and my mother touched down in Ethiopia this morning and picked up Fiori.


The first email arrived about 10:00. All it said was: "We made it. We have her. And she is amazing."

About an hour later I was on the phone listening to my daughter babble "da da da da da da" into the phone. Let me tell you, this girl is going to be a talker.

I'm ecstatic. Nikko's ecstatic. I didn't talk to my mother, but I know she's probably going baby overboard right now. She's finally a grandma. Nikko claims Fiori's only cried once "for about 3 seconds." I'm not counting on that lasting too long. Hopefully she fares well on the plane ride home.

The plan as I understand it is they're taking Fiori for a checkup tomorrow, then dropping off more donations before heading home. Which means I have 4 1/2 days left to get the cabinet locks installed and buy some Cheerios...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Not on our way

So, thunder storms in NYC caused ALL flights going into JFK to be severely delayed. You guessed it, both Lisa (out of LAX) and I (SFO) missed our flight to Dubai. I don't want to recount the details but it was messy and involved multiple delays, circling, fuel stops etc.

To make it all worse, when we got there, there were no more hotel rooms available and we had about 10 hours until our flight left. So we all hop in a cab and head into the city for some eating and sightseeing - at 3 am in the morning local time.

We had a memorable meal at a little diner called Green Kitchen and even witnessed a chick fight with blood and glass throwing (they are serious about their fighting in NYC).

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And then we drove around town and actually managed to cross town and see lots of sights sans traffic. We realized it was a full moon which might account for some of the craziness.

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So now we are waiting at the check in counter for Emirates to get on the flight to Dubai. But wait, the drama is not over. The flight from Dubai to Addis is booked and we're on a wait list. And we have NO idea where our luggage is.

The saga continues.

Friday, August 15, 2008

We're off

Just a quick post to say we are heading out soon for the airport on the way to pick up Fiori!! My mother in law is coming with me so I will try to get Matt to post in my absence in case any of you want to know how it is going.

We are scheduled to be back on Saturday afternoon.

Catch you on the flip side!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

This girl better be worth it


Little know fact about me: I love, love, LOVE the Olympics.

For the two weeks that they are happening, I find it really hard to do much else. I stay up until the wee hours of the night watching and I have the broadcasts on TV during the day. I get weepy when I hear the US National anthem and I almost cried with the men won the 4x100 meter relay two nights ago. Actually, I did cry on watching it over again the next day; how sad is that?

I have thus far attended the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics. And I'm not talking "just happened to be there and went to an event" type attendance. I'm talking planned two years in advance, researched events, picked the most likely US medal events and had a jam packed week of constant Olympic sports. I saw several US golds awarded and rode on the local trains with the athletes. It was amazing! For some reason I didn't go to Athens and, well, you know why I am not in Beijing right now. And I will even miss the second half of the Olympics while I'm in Ethiopia picking up Fiori.

Is she worth it? Absolutely! Am I sad because I'll be missing one of my favorite spectacles. You bet.

I've already told Matt we are going to be in London about this time in 2012, Fiori in tow.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Awwwww

Jaclyn is currently in Ethiopia picking up her son and posted this today:

I did get to spend lots of time with Fiori, Alamayehu, Efrata, and Lina. they are all such good babies! They posed for their passport pics and just rested! I held Fiori for the longest time. She was so happy and LOVES Aiden and Minte (her sons). She would get really excited and bounce up and down and make a little snorting sound when I would hold her and crinkle my nose at her!!! So funny!
To steal a phrase from another adoptive parent, I'm so Jealappy (jealous and happy).

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My latest Fiori purchases

So, these just arrived in the mail today.

In light of the recent pictures of Fiori sitting on a potty, I decided to get one and see if I can keep up the good work. I have a feeling that once she is away from the other kids an not learning by example, it won't work as well but I'll try it out. The Baby Bjorn mini potty is only $10 so even if she hates it, I haven't wasted too much and it's worth a shot.



My friend Benta just got a Mino mini video camera. I've been toying with getting a video camera but know they either sit around gathering dust or you don't have them when you want them since who carries around a big ass video camera all the time. Well, with the YouTube revolution, there are now some pretty cool options out there. The Mino is about as small as a cell phone, is cheap and made for taking and posting videos for the web. And it's totally perfect for shooting video at the orphanages when I pick up Fiori.

I am so going to carry it with me all the time. I just wish I had it the night Kona jumped the pen.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Why I haven't started packing yet

I've gotten a bunch of emails from my traveling buddies talking about how far along they are in their travel preparations. They've been filling our forms, gathering donations, creating piles of items to bring, etc. What have I done? Nothing. Want to know why? Because I have a crazy horse.

Get this. I go up on Monday evening to turn her out into the arena for a quick run. She's acting a bit sassy (normal for her). She's running around at breakneck speed, snorting, doing little mini bucks... She seems to be focused on the horses in the nearby stalls although they are paying her no mind. She takes off in another circle, stops short at the fence and then all of a sudden jumps over it.

Well, tries to jump over it is more like it.

She actually a fairly short horse and manages to get three legs over it but the rear left leg gets caught in between the two fence panels. She falls to the ground on her back while she's hanging from her wedged rear leg.



I'm screaming for help as it's late and only two little kids are around. Luckily they belong to Sara, the manager of the stable, and she comes out fairly quickly. She assesses the situation and quickly figures out it will not be easy to get her out since she is on her back and we'd have to lift her in order to get her leg unstuck. And since she is around 1000 pounds, that's none to feasible without some type of winch which we don't have.

Lucky again that my horse Kona is being relatively calm considering she is in a precarious and dangerous situation. I'm fairly calm only because Kona isn't panicking much. Sara is calm because she is used to dealing with crazy stuff having been around horses all her life. Other folks start arriving and it becomes mayhem. It's like the keystone cops with everyone shouting opinions and trying to shovel, pull the fence out, do something. We're shoving stuff under her to keep fer from slipping more - anything we can find - blankets, boards, a car jack. Meanwhile the vet has arrived and given Kona a sedative.

The vet realized we need to call in reinforcements and calls the fire department. They arrive en masse with sirens blaring and about 15 firemen in full uniform.The vet puts Kona under and tells the fire department they have 10 minutes to get her out. A fireman pulls out the biggest saw I have ever seen and starts cutting into the fence around her. I can't even begin to put into words how crazy it all was. It was like a scene out of some Discover Channel animal rescue show. There's around 10 of us surrounding Kona trying to keep her aloft and the fence from falling over from her weight. As he starts cutting, spark are showering Kona and all of us. In about 90 seconds, he's cut the fence away and she's free.



The good news is that she is alive and didn't shatter her leg. She's up and walking and even bearing weight. The bad news is that we're not sure how much damage she did to the leg but chances are she is going to have a long rehabilitation. I've been having to go up there twice a day to administer meds and wrap her leg so haven't had too much time to think about packing and Fiori related stuff.

Stupid horse.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Seven months later

Here is the picture I took when I was in Ethiopia in December. She was two months old.



When we started this process, things went so fast and smooth. We got our dossier done in a month and got a referral a week later. We thought we might even have her home by March which would have been 5 months from start to finish. Crazy.

As I'm sure you all know, our luck kind of ran out after that and the last few months have been very hard, not because it is taking long in the grand scheme of life, but because everyone else seemed to be passing court, traveling, bringing their kids home... And each week, we thought "this will be the week our luck will change". We were affectionately (and with a hint of pity I'm sure) known as old-timers.

Of course, now that I am traveling in less than three weeks, none of that seems important anymore. What is important is that we are going to bring our girl home soon and she seems very healthy and happy. And...

We just got some pictures from a traveling parent. Can you believe it? She's on the potty. She's only nine months old!

If our luck has returned, maybe they will have her fully potty trained by the time we arrive. LOL. However, from the sequence of events, it looks like they pretty much sat her on the potty as if it were a bumboo seat and left her there for a while. No idea if she went but, heh, it's a start.

I guess one of those potty seats should now be added to our shopping list.

Boy, we are in for a world of surprise; we had planned for a somewhat inert little baby and instead we're getting a mobile, smiling, laughing bundle of energy.

Not that I'm complaining.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Off to the races

We are now in full travel planning mode with a sense of urgency. And good thing as availability is really poor I assume due to the high number of cases that they are trying to process before the courts close in August/September. It sounds like it is mayhem over in Ethiopia with all agencies trying to get their cases heard and approved before August 5th or thereabouts. I imagine a total free for all with all the agency reps standing on the courthouse stairs holding files and raising their hands hoping to be chosen. I'm sure it is nothing like this but who knows. The process is somewhat of a mystery.

The good news is that we have our flights and as of an hour ago, our hotel. We are leaving in 3 weeks and will be back on August 23rd. We managed to get seats on Emirates Air which is supposed to be a pretty kick ass airline. For those that want to torture yourselves, check out their first class suites. No, we are not lucky enough to be traveling that way. I wish! Plain ole economy for us which is actually supposed to be quite nice on Emirates. And we get to fly on the new ginormous Airbus A380 that everyone has been talking about.

My mother in law is coming with me which is great as she is a neo-natal nurse and just the person to have to help with a somewhat terrified new parent. And if Fiori is sick at all (most of the kids seem to have some minor malady), she can weigh in. My mom will be in Thailand and may also fly in for the momentous occasion.

And best of all, the four musketeers will be traveling together. That is to say, there are four of us who have had the same court date and been going through the same ups and downs over the last month or so. Lisa is traveling on the same itinerary, Chris is trying to and Theresa is off a day or so. But we will all be there at the same time to fulfill our pact to share pizza and beers.

Oh, and in other news, something like five others passed today at our agency. This has been a good week and I hope the good news continues to come for the others waiting to clear court.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our bedroom is now the happiest place on earth

And not for the reason you think so get your mind out of the gutter.

Around 1:45 in the morning, we got a call to let us know that we passed court today in Ethiopia. Fiori is officially our daughter!

Thanks to you all for the support, emails, thoughts and prayers during our long process. And thanks to Grace for sleeping with the phone by her bed and calling us as soon as she heard.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happiest place on earth? Not so much.

We didn't make it through court again. I got a pretty early email message that made it sound like I was the only case that didn't make it through court today (of 6 cases). I of course start FREAKING OUT. What's wrong with my case? Am I ever going to get her? I'm starting to feel like throwing up. The saving grace was that if I was the only one, a couple other "old timers" made it including Lisa who has gone through much more than I.

So I call her ready to congratulate her. She hears the chipper sound of my voice and figures I must have made it. Turns out neither of us have. So now we think we are the only two who didn't make it and both of us are freaking out together since our cases seem to have some sort of link and both of us have been having so much trouble. Grace emails back and says nope, the only cases that passed today were the ones that were scheduled for Wednesday and had been pushed back to today. Ours are now pushed into next week sometime (Monday please).

Apparently a bunch of agencies are getting cases delayed due to an agency named Gladney. All of Gladney's cases were put on hold a while ago because they do a lot of work with an orphanage that was under investigation. So a number of folks have been in limbo for a while. This week they finally started hearing Gladney cases again. Great for them. Bad for us since their cases are pushing our cases out.

So we have a couple of new names for Gladney - Sadney, Badney, Madney. Take your pick, I'm not very happy with Gladney right now. Not their fault and their families have been waiting too but c'mon, we got our referral in December and we finally get our (2nd) day in court only to be delayed again.

On a brighter note, I did have a great day today with my friend Jeannette and her kids at Universal Studios. Totally kept my mind off my woes.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Let's hope the Magic Kingdom brings some magic

I decided to get outta dodge for a few days in order to take my mind off things as we wait for the results of our Friday court date. So I'm going to Disneyworld.


I'm meeting my good friend from Atlanta and her daughters and we are doing the amusement park thing for a couple of days. Should be fun as I love amusement parks. And it's going to be HOT so there may be some pool time involved.

I'm coming back on Saturday morning so I'll either be crazy happy and really, really depressed when I hit the tarmac. For my husband's sake (and my sanity's sake), I really hope it is the former.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Perspective

This was a post from Rhonda to our Yahoo adoption group:
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"I encourage you to stay strong and optimistic. Adoption is not for the faint of heart and I know you all are courageous women! Do not borrow trouble. Get excited about your court date, celebrate your baby showers, enjoy preparing for your child who will soon be here.

If you fail court, well that is for another day and worrying today will not lessen the pain on that day. Do not let Fear rob you of your joy and optimism for today. Be fearless and bold!

Please do not make me break out into "We are Women, Hear us Roar."
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My husband would approve of that message since that is what he tells me all the time, although not quite as eloquently and certainly not with a mention of women roaring.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nope

We didn't pass. All of us that had cases today have a new court date (I think) on July 18th.

It sounds like MOWA asked for something more. I don't know whether we all needed the same thing or not. Apparently, each MOWA officer is different in what they may ask for so it is not like our dossier where as long as you have a list of docs, you are good to go. Some MOWA officers want more stuff or different stuff than others. I guess that is why a lot of people don't pass the first time and do the second time. Hopefully, once they provide the additional documents needed, MOWA will submit the recommendation so we are good to go at the next court date.

Our agency rep just emailed and said she talked to another agency and they had 11 cases continued for the same reason so good to know it is not just us.

Let's just hope it all gets solved before the next court date

Monday, June 30, 2008

Back to worrying

Once we finally got a court date, I was able to breathe a sigh of relief and I have had a few relaxing weeks of not thinking too much about the adoption stuff or at least worrying about it. But here we are two days before our court date and all of us sharing the date are pretty much starting to freak out.

You see, many folks have not passed court on the actual day. Seems like more often than not they don't pass. There have been major issues (discovered a sibling in the picture that the family decided to adopt, missing a key piece of paperwork, rule changes...) and minor issues (govt. agency forgot to print out the approval, power outages, judge took the day off...). I hope we buck the trend and pass on the first day. For sanity sake, if we don't pass, I really hope it is something minor that will be corrected in a few days.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blast from the past, aka Jellies make a comeback

I may be dating myself but I remember Jellies well. They weren't quite as cool as Kangaroos but they were the cheap footwear of choice when I was a young kid and came in a variety of soda pop "flavors".

So I'm on Facebook and a banner ad pops up adverstising Kate Spade jellies. I normally ignore banner ads but in this case I just had to look. Yep, sure enough, Kate Spade has a line that includes several styles of jellies. Alas, at $60 (for plastic shoes, yikes!), they are no longer a cheap choice and they also don't come in cool colors like grape soda, 7-up and root beer.

Now I'm remembering all the cool toys I used to play with and I'm thinking we should start a retro toy collection for Fiori. These are some items that pop into my mind. What other toys do you remember?

  • Sit n Spin
  • Baby Alive
  • Holly Hobby oven/Betty Crocker microwave
  • Light Bright
  • Hula hoop
  • Big Wheel/Green Machine
  • Spyro-Gyro

Monday, June 16, 2008

Time off from waiting. Kind of.

It is such a relief to have received a court date. Now I can relax - at least until right about July 1. Then the stress starts again. But it is so nice not to be glued to my phone/email hoping today will be the day to receive news of a court date. I've been dealing with that for the last three months and let me tell you, it is no fun.

I have, however, been somewhat glued to the computer as several traveling families have brought back info and pictures of our little girl. We've been really lucky as we've gotten lots of pictures in the last several months from traveling families so I am able to vicariously watch her grow up.

Couple of things...

1. I'm not one of those people that thinks every baby in the world is cute. To be honest, I think many of them are really funny looking. However...Fiori is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen. Really, I'm not biased. Even my mother says so. :-) But seriously, the camera loves this girl. I am not sure what I think about the industry, but this kid could be great in print ads (I'm thinking college fund, yeah baby). Matt's in the biz - I wonder if he could cast his own daughter in a commercial. Hmmm.

2. She's pretty much been laying there like a (very cute) blob or is always being held and while she's beautiful, she hasn't shown all too much personality. Until now! In the most recent pics we got, she's sitting up for the first time. And there is a good one of tummy time and she's holding her head up and looks strong and happy. Also, in every recent picture, she is pretty much staring directly at the camera and almost always smiling. Everyone that comes back says what a happy baby she is so let's hope that continues once she gets home. Please, please, let that continue.

3. She is a giantess. Well, not exactly but she looks really big compared to the other babies. So while I am sad that she won't get to wear all the cute 3-6 month old outfits that Matt's mom got her, she looks really healthy.

4. Seeing the personality come out has made me really melancholy since we are missing it. So our court date came just in time as I was nearing the end of my tether.

Anyhoo, if anyone wants to see the latest, check out our Snapfish album or if I haven't already done so, send me an email and I will invite you to view.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

All better now


So the call came at 8am. Our court date is July 2nd!!


Since I am planning to go a bit early to either stop over along the way and/or spend some time traveling in Ethiopia, it means we'll be leaving around mid-July as long as we pass court. Because Matt recently started a new job and I need him to take some time off when she gets back, he'll be staying home and my mom will be coming with me. Plus, I'd rather travel with someone who knows a thing or two about infants since I kind of have no idea what I am doing. Matt's mom would be great too as she is a neo-natal nurse but she has to request vacation a year in advance. Drat.

Are you kidding me?

So I'm sleeping with my cellphone beside my bed in case of an early morning call with court news as I know Grace will call as soon as she hears something.

6:40 am (which is earlier than I normally wake up) the phone rings and I am immediately fully awake and excited. Pick up the phone, answer it and there is no one there. I check caller ID and it is a blocked number and not Grace's.

What kind of a cruel world is this?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Friday, June 6, 2008

No news yet

Despite my pessimistic outlook, I was really hoping to have news of an actual court date this week. Well, seeing as it is now 2 am in Ethiopia, I don't think we'll be getting any news today - boo. The four of us in my agency that were filed together have a bet going on which day we would get notified of our court date. Since I chose today, I've already lost. :-(

The bet was local beers and Ethiopian pizza when we go to pick up our kids. I'm not quite sure though how it works with four people in on the bet - does the winner buy for everyone or does everyone else buy for the winner? Who cares, I'll happily buy for the whole restaurant if it means I'm in Addis picking up our baby girl.

We have another bet going on which day will be our actual court date. We've all chosen within the range of June 30-July 7 although I'm secretly hoping it will be earlier. Hey, you can't fault a girl for hoping!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Minor update

Still no actual court date but we did get confirmation that the papers were filed. Yeah!! Hoping for the court date this week but with the power outages, holidays and flash floods, I wouldn't be surprised if there is a delay in getting a date.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Light at the end of the tunnel??

Well, I just got a call from the agency and they are filing our papers tomorrow. Yep, you heard it first here. Tomorrow. I can't believe it. I'm still a bit stunned. And to be honest, until we actually get the court date, I'm trying not to get too excited.

OK, who am I fooling. I'm totally excited.

We got our referral around Christmas last year so have been waiting 5 months for this news. Yippee. Probably will hear about the actual court date some time next week but I am estimating traveling to pick her up during the second half of July.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

There's some hope for America


So my staunchest Republican friend has gone a wee bit green. She has vowed to stop using plastic bags and told us all about Neela Bags - cool reusable bags to take with you on your shopping trip. I suppose it also helps that the company was started by a friend of hers but, hey, whatever makes you go green I am fine with.

Now I typically use paper and have been meaning to buy some reusable bags but I am against advertising for stores so have not been into the Whole Foods or Safeway branded options. But I love Neela Bags as they just look so cute. I got them a week ago and have already used them several times. Sadly, they are also about the most fashionable thing about me these days.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Pre-holiday weekend craziness

I'm sitting in my house lamenting another week gone with no news of a court date. So a plane starts circling overhead. Turns out it is a Highway Patrol plane and it keeps circling for the better part of an hour. It is joined by another plane and a few helicopters and a ton of sirens can be heard in the background. Soon enough, the neighbors all start sending in messages on our Listserve about police activity, drawn guns, police blockades, etc.

Seems I'm watching a news drama unfold. Someone just emailed that there was a kidnapping with a shooting and that there are two armed men on the run in the hills around my house. Yikes.

Seems the air support has finally moved off so I am wondering if it is safe to leave my house now.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sometimes this country makes me sick

We are adopting from one of the poorest nations in the world and yet we live in a nation where the rich seem to be getting richer (and stupider) by the minute.

Case in point, the Fleurburger 5000 hamburger that is now available at the Fleur de Lys restaurant in Las Vegas. The 5000 stands for, yep, you guessed it, $5000.

For a single effing hamburger!

OK, it does come with some fancy bottle of wine and a certificate proving that you had the burger which, honestly, anyone should be ashamed to show around.

To put it in perspective, that is more than 31 times the per capita gross national income in Ethiopia ($160). And since 23% of the population lives on less than $1 per day, at least 13 people could live for a year off of what that one burger costs.




Who eats this stuff? I'm thinking the grossly rich Russian billionaires who are probably the same people who eat the world's most expensive dessert, sold by New York eatery Serendipity 3. Alas, this dessert is no longer available due to the shut down of Serendipity 3 due to rodent and fly infestations as well as 100 live cockroaches found on-site. Funny. Maybe the cockroaches are the ones making the dessert, ala Ratatouille. Then it might be worth it. Kind of. Maybe not.

Someone posted on our local Ethiopia adopt Yahoo group that she was interested in adopting so she could "save a child'. She got a number of polite but emphatic responses that if that was her main reason, she might want to consider donating to a charity rather than adopting. I didn't respond but if I had I would have told her that an adopted child loses a lot by coming here - language, identity, culture, links to biological family. And she will be coming to a country where eating a $5000 hamburger is celebrated. Not that I'm saying you shouldn't adopt or her life won't be better. You just have to keep in perspective that America is not the Holy Grail and there are things about our culture that are really not that great.

Monday, May 12, 2008

DNA helps map 100,000 years of human migration

And they trace it to...drum roll please...Ethiopia.

From an article in the LA Times:

Scrutinizing the DNA of 938 people from 51 distinct populations around the world, geneticists have created a detailed map of how humans spread from their home base in sub-Saharan Africa to populate the farthest reaches of the globe in the past 100,000 years.

The pattern of genetic mutations, to be published today in the journal Science, offers striking evidence that an ancient band of explorers left what is now Ethiopia and -- along with their descendants -- went on to colonize North Africa, the Middle East, Europe, southern and central Asia, Australia and its surrounding islands, the Americas and East Asia. A second analysis based on some of the same DNA samples corroborated the results. Those findings, published Thursday in the journal Nature, demonstrated that the greater the geographic distance between a population and its African ancestors, the more changes had accumulated in its genes.

For the full article, please click here.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

OK, this brought a tear to my eye. It was published in the Adoptive Families email so many of you may have seen it but just in case...

To All the Moms I Know...

We are sitting at lunch when my daughter says, casually, "Do you think I should have a baby?" "It will change your life," I say, keeping my tone neutral. "I know," she says, "no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations.

"But that's not what I meant at all. I want her to know that becoming a mother will leave her with an emotional wound so raw that she will forever be vulnerable. I consider warning her that she will never again read a newspaper without asking, what if that had been my child? That every plane crash, every fire will haunt her.

I think that no matter how sophisticated she is, becoming a mother will reduce her to the level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "Mom!" will cause her to drop a soufflé or her best crystal without a moment's hesitation.

I want my daughter to know that everyday decisions will no longer be routine. That a five-year-old boy's desire to go to the men's room, rather than the women's, at McDonald's will become a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity will be weighed against the prospect that child molester may be lurking in that restroom.

My daughter's relationship with her husband will change, but not in the way she thinks. I wish she could understand how much more you can love a man who changes the baby and who never hesitates to play with his child. I think she should know that she will fall in love with him again, for reasons she would now find very unromantic.

I wish my daughter could sense the bond she will feel with women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice, and drunk driving. I hope she will understand why I can think rationally about most issues, but become temporarily insane when I discuss the threat of nuclear war to my children's future.

I want to describe to my daughter the exhilaration of seeing your child learn to ride a bike. I want to capture for her the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time. I want her to taste the joy that is so real, it actually hurts.

My daughter's quizzical look makes me realize that tears have formed in my eyes. "You'll never regret it," I finally say. Then I reach across the table, squeeze her hand, and offer a silent prayer for her, and for me, and for all of the mere mortal women who stumble into this most wonderful of callings. This blessed gift from God...of being a mother.

-Dale Hanson Bourke

And then when I sent this to moms I know (including ours), this is what my wonderful mother in law wrote back:

i truly can't wait for you to put fiori to bed for the 1st and even the 100th time, to hold fiori and kiss away her tears, her little boo-boos & to share in her smile when her daddy comes home from work and you have both been waiting at the window. you will come to find that sharing every-day things will be magical and will bring warmth to your heart and a smile to your lips. FOR that is the magic of a child's love. it paints our universe a joyful color all it's own.that truly will be your happy mothers days !!