Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Growling and kisses..oh my!

Zeri had a rough week last week. He has been displaying typical 16 month old boy behavior...hitting, throwing tantrums, grunting/growling (not sure if that's normal-ha!:)), and crying all the time. My boy wants to be outside nonstop! If I don't take him out he will throw himself on the floor and cry. When someone comes over or leaves he cries and throws fits. He just likes to be out and about.

Over the weekend Jeremiah and I realized that Zeri doesn't cry or throw as many tantrums when Jeremiah is around. Zeri is happy when it's just Jeremiah and the kids. When I walk in he starts crying and throwing fits. I don't give in to him (I know that's what you were thinking!:)), but I think he displays this behavior because I'm the one he has really attached to and meets most of his needs. Jeremiah is an amazing daddy, but I'm the one who is home with him all day right now. So, that's why I'm meeting most of his needs.

Even though we had a rough week last week I am so thankful that I'm off with my kids! I had the most special moment with Zeri today! I was crawling after him  and we both stopped in the hallway. I looked at him and said a few times, "I love you sweet boy." Then he crawled over to me, got down in my face, and planted a HUGE kiss on my lips. He got up and smiled at me. This makes all of the hard times worth it. As an adoptive mom this moment is one I will never forget. I spent many days thinking about when my son would attach to me and this kiss showed me how much our relationship has grown over the past many weeks. I'm thankful that Zeri feels attached to me and that he feels comfortable lovin' on his mommy!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Rejoicing in God's perfect timing

So yesterday was a tough day. The kind of day that you could go to bed crying or just go to bed laughing at the craziness that happened throughout the day. I decided to go to bed laughing because I knew that today was a new day and it would be better than yesterday.

 Today I woke up to Zeri talking in his crib (this never happens..he usually wakes up screaming!) and it put a smile on my face. Have you ever had one of those moments that you wish you could freeze in your mind forever? That is what my morning was like today. We didn't do anything extremely fun today or ever leave our block, but that is what made my morning so wonderful.

 I kept looking at my kids and just rejoicing in the fact that they are mine. I am one lucky lady to get to spend my life with these two kids (and my amazing hubs!). We played outside today and then went on a walk. I pushed Zeri in his car and Olivia walked next to me. While we were walking Zeri reached out to grab Olivia's hand. She smiled, took his hand, and walked a little closer to him. We walked around the block like this while I was trying to hold back my tears. When we got home I squirted them with the hose and then they played for a bit in the water. You should have heard the laughter coming out of their mouths-priceless. Zeri kept clinging to Olivia and cracking up when the water would hit his face. When we got back inside my kids sat at the table while I made lunch. They were making each other laugh by doing silly faces and again I tried to hold back my tears.

Just a little over a month ago Zerihun was just a face in a picture to Olivia and now he is her playmate, her friend, and the person who makes her laugh more than anyone else in the world. When she is sad, he comes over to her, gets in her face and babbles, and does something silly to make her laugh. He wants his sister to feel better. When Zerihun cries, Olivia pats his back and hugs him. Olivia wakes up and the first thing she says is, "Is Zeri up? I want to see him!" She runs out and wraps her arms around him. He squeals with delight and gives her a hug.

If we didn't follow God's call to adopt, then these two would not be together. Throughout our adoption there were days when I asked God why it was taking so long for us to be matched with our child. I cried and prayed that God would bless us with the perfect child for our family. Olivia asked God to give her a brother who was funny. We waited so long for Zeri and it's so amazing to see that God took care of us. HE knew the entire time that Zerihun was our child and brother. As I looked at my kids (and for the 3rd time!) and tried to hold back tears, I just silently thanked God for taking care of us. God was probably laughing at me every time I came to him crying because he knew just how perfect Zerihun would be for our family. HE knew that I needed to wait on HIM and not try to control things. HE knew that Olivia needed to grow up a bit so that she could enjoy being the big sister and accept Zerihun into our family. God knew that we needed Zeri in our family just as much as he needed us to be his family.

 So, I might go to bed crying tonight. Only tonight it's not because of a stressful day, it's because my heart is so full of happiness and joy.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A much needed update!

It's been awhile. I know you are all just waiting by your computer for me to update my blog (ha!), so here goes a quick update.
Our happy little boy!

The plane ride went way better than we expected. Zerihun was happy as long as he was on me. I absolutely love holding Zeri (and waited oh so long to hold him!!) but holding him for over 13 hours on the flight home was a little too much. He slept off and on in his bassinet (we were able to get bulkhead seats!!) but literally clung to me for the remainder of the trip (which we calculated was over 13 hours). I couldn't even go to the bathroom or stretch my legs without him crying. But..we were just thanking God that he didn't scream or throw fits on the plane. As long as he held on to his mommy, he was a happy boy.

This could possibly be the happiest moment of my life. We had both of our babies in our arms!!!

Our first week home was rough..just like having a newborn. He woke up at least 4-5 times a night screaming and many nights we couldn't get him back to sleep for hours. I remember us both being up with him from 1-3:30a.m. multiple nights. There were days when he wouldn't take naps and he would be up from 6:00a.m.-7:00p.m. straight and then wake up again at 10:30p.m. He wouldn't let Jeremiah hold him or really touch him without crying. Therefore, I was the only person who could meet his needs. Jeremiah did everything he could to help out, but Zeri only wanted me. Every night we had to rub his back, sing to him, or rub his face for hours to get him to go to sleep. Also, Zerihun came home with Giardia. It's a stomach sickness that many kids from Ethiopia come home with and it's basically just horrible diarrhea multiple (and I mean multiple!!) times a day. Zerihun has been on medicine since we brought him home, but he still has it. We are praying it goes away soon. Anyway, we were pretty out of it the first week home. Having two kids is way different than having just one 4 year old!:) Olivia was incredible. She is such a sweet big sister!

My parents had planned a vacation for our entire family to celebrate my mom's retirement. They had this vacation planned for about 2 years and we felt bad telling them we couldn't go. Plus, we thought it would be nice for Olivia to receive extra attention. We went back and forth about what to do and decided to just go for it. Zeri wasn't on a great schedule, so we went to Hilton Head with my fam. This was our second week with Zeri. I know some people are thinking we are crazy for taking him on vacation, but it was fine. It was nice for Olivia to feel special and have many people pay attention to her. Zeri received many shots right before left for HH. Our first day there we noticed tons of bumps on him so we took him to Urgent Care. The doctor said that she thinks he had some sort of reaction to the chicken pox vaccine and that he was fine-phew! I was extremely nervous that he brought home a disease and that Olivia (or another family member) would get it.

Playing with his aunts and loving life!
 Zeri woke up at all hours of the night on vacation. The last two nights there we decided to let him cry it out and the last night there he slept through the night. When Olivia was little we were fine with letting her cry it out because we knew she needed it. All the books/articles we've read on adoption say not to let your child cry it out because they'll think you are abandoning him/her. It's so hard to know what is right for our child. Zeri loved being around my family. They were so wonderful because they knew they couldn't hold him, feed him, love on him (or meet any of his needs), but they played with him. It was nice because Olivia was able to be out on the beach with my family while we were inside with Zeri. One afternoon Jeremiah stayed inside during Zeri's nap while I played on the beach with Olivia. It was amazing! It was nice to get out of our house and just relax on the beach. Don't get me wrong, there were definitely stressful times. But..we were in a huge beach house, with my wonderful family, and we had our son home! The really stressful part of the trip was the flight home. Our flight was supposed to leave around 5pm on Saturday evening from Savannah, Georgia. It ended up being delayed until 9:00pm and then we missed our second flight to Peoria. Luckily, Delta gave us a free hotel stay. We got to our hotel about midnight and had to be back at the airport at 5:30a.m. Sunday. Our poor kids were so tired! Overall, it was a fabulous vacation and I'm so thankful for my parents who put so much time, energy, and money into the trip!

Bike ride while in Hilton Head...Zeri was not excited about this.
On Sunday we were happy to be home. It's been nice getting into a new routine and things have been going really well! We are letting Zerihun sleep in his pack n' play in our room (this is where he slept when he came home and we didn't want to change his room again!) and we are actually sleeping in the living room. We realized that Zerihun wakes up to us being in his room. I KNOW that all the adoption books say to sleep in the same room as your child, but it just wasn't working. Zerihun has slept through the night every single night since we've been home!!!:) He has been going to bed around 7:00ish and sleeps until 6:00 or 7:00!! Woohoo!! We feel like different people!:) Nap time is still a little off. Sometimes he takes really great naps and other times he wakes up after 30 minutes. I've been letting him cry it out and he usually goes back to sleep for a bit. As long as he's sleeping through the night I am a happy mommy!

Zerihun is SUCH an amazing child! He is super chill (most of the time), happy, hilarious, and loves to snuggle with me. I have tears in my eyes as I type this because I just feel so blessed. He was meant to be our child. There are people out there who have asked me, "Do you think you'll love him as much as Olivia?" and hands down my answer is yes. I love this child more than words can describe. It's amazing to think that if we didn't follow God's call then we wouldn't be the parents of this incredible boy. This little boy who yearns for love, who makes silly faces like his daddy, who sings with his sister, and who is the perfect addition to our family. It's obvious that our Zeri has anxiety about being left. He never wants me to be out of his site. He will be playing, look at me, and crawl over to me just to lay on me. This happens frequently throughout the day. If I leave the room he starts crying. If I hug his sister or his daddy, he starts crying. I'm so thankful that he's attached to me. I'm thankful that he trust me enough to let me in and to let me love him. He is desperate for a consistent person to meet his needs, a person who will love him forever, and a family. I cry every time I think about the happiness that radiates from his little face when he sees his sister. It's so neat to see the bond that has already formed between them. Also, Zeri has started throwing some temper tantrums this week. It's usually after we come inside because he wants to stay outside or because I won't let him go into the kitchen. He loves food and could eat all day long. I'm trying to help him understand that he can't eat all day long!:) Temper tantrums are normal for this age, so I'm also just trying to help him work through these tantrums without making him feel abandoned or that I don't care about him.

I could go on and on about how much we just love our Zeri. Please know that things are not perfect, there are definitely stressful times still, and that it will still be awhile before we feel normal. However, God has blessed us beyond words. We can't imagine our life without Zerihun and it's just been 3 weeks.

While we do feel that Zerihun has attached to us, we are still working to improve the attachment. Zerihun still needs to know that we are his family and that we are the only ones that will meet his needs. Therefore, we are not letting anyone hold him, feed him, or snuggle with him for awhile. I know this is not normal and we are just thankful that you understand. He's had so many caregivers throughout his life and he needs to understand that Jeremiah and I are here forever. We aren't leaving him and that we will meet his needs. Thank you for your support and we promise there will be a time when you can hold our precious boy!

Big sissy said to me today, "Mommy I am so happy." I asked her why and she said, "I am so happy that Zerihun is home with us."

Olivia makes Zeri laugh like no other.
 *Thank you to everyone who has made food for us the past few weeks. Even though Zeri is not a newborn, bringing him home has definitely made life a little more hectic:) It's nice to not worry about cooking right now!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Embassy and the second day with our son

Jeremiah and I feel so blessed to be both Olivia and Zeri's parents. We miss our Olivia like crazy, but we are thankful for this special time with Zeri.
 Jeremiah and I are having a tough time sleeping at night (wild dogs barking, Muslim chanting throughout the night on the loud speakers, people screaming at all hours, and just the normal traffic noise outside). Luckily, Zeri did not have a tough time sleeping last night because he is used to the noise. Zeri slept from 7:30pm-7:30am! Jeremiah and I were laughing because we woke up way before he did and we were just waiting for him to get up.
 When he woke up he didn't know where he was and we think he forgot who we were. He started whimpering and it was sad to see him so scared. We fed him a bottle and then he was his happy self. Throughout the morning we played, read books, and hung out until 9:30 and then we put him down for a nap. He went right down without crying. Around 11:30 we woke hi up, fed him lunch, and then our driver picked us up to attend our Embassy appointment.
 There was a long line at the Embassy but they let us cut because we had a baby. We went through security and then waited for our names to be called. Zeri just snuggled with me the entire time. He watched everyone and was just super chill. Our appointment was at 1:00 and we were called up around then. Normally you are asked many questions, but they just asked us one and then told us we we were done. Whew!
 After the appointment we went back to the guest house, had lunch, nd then Zeri took another nap from 2-4. We had to wake him up again from his nap. He is definitely a Cox because he loves naps like we do-ha.
 When Zeri woke up we played with his little friend Bereket and his family in our room. Zeri was totally showing off for the other family. Zeri likes to make us laugh. He scrunched up his face and makes this adorable funny face when he knows he is being cute or silly.
  After Bereket's family left we ordered up spaghetti for Zeri and a small pizza for us to share. Zeri chewed down on the spaghetti. Once we were done with dinner we gave Zeri a bath, read some books, and then fed him a bottle. He started crying when we put him down for the night so I held him for a few minutes. Then we put him down and I sang him a song. Our sweet boy fell asleep within 5 min.
We had an absolutely wonderful day today! I forgot to say that Zeri started calling Jeremiah "Dada." When Jeremiah walked out of the room Zeri would look for him and say "Dada." When Jeremiah walked back in Zeri would look at him and sayit again. Precious!!
Tomorrow we are having lunch with our sponsor family (she asked if she could come have lunch with us and meet Zeri and we couldn't tell he pr no). Then we are hanging out at the guest house until about 6pm. Our flight leaves Addis around 10:00pm tomorrow night. We can't wait to be home!!!!
Please pray for a few things....
-Jeremiah and Zeri both have stomach issues. Z had really bad issues all day long.
-We requested bulkhead seats on the plane which means that we would get extra room plus a bed for Zeri to sleep in on the 17 hour flight home. We called today and they said we,don't have a bulkhead for the flight home. Ugh. We even paid a bit extra to get this seat for Zeri. We only bout a lap ticket so he doesn't have his own seat. This could be a super long flight. Please pray that we can get a bulkheads seat tomorrow.

Have great night!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gotcha Day!

Jeremiah and I arrived in Addis on Tuesday and spent most of the day with our sponsor family. It was nice to see our friends again. I will post more about that visit another day. 

Today we woke up excited, but extremely nervous about the day. When we saw Zeri in April he cried most of the time we were with him. We were prepared for him to do the same thing today. Honestly, we had the lowest expectations possible based on our visit last time. Jeremiah and I hung out at our guest house all morning and then around 11:45 our driver picked us up to take us to the Thomas Center. We thought we were just going to meet with the doctor to Ali about Zeri's health. When we walked in the head nurse brought down 2 bouquets of flowers for Erika (mom from Indy) and me. Then a few of the other nurses walked down the stairs chanting and clapping while holding our boys (the boys were wearing matching outfits!). Zeri started crying immediately, but little Bereket did not. The nurse handed Z off to me and he screamed for about 20 min. But....then he stopped!!! He grabbed ahold of me tightly and just snuggled up with me. It's was definitely an answer to my prayers. I held him for about an hour and then they came to get us for the doctor visit. The docot said that Z is perfect and the nannies said that Z is hilarious and loves to joke around. After the visit we took him into his room for a nap.
Erika, Kirk, Jeremiah, and I went went out to lunch and then we went back to the Thomas Center for their goodbye party. The nurses brought Z down and he cried for a few minutes. Then the older kids came in dressed in their traditional Ethiopian clothing and they started singing sings for us. They sang for about 30 minutes and then Abdissa (pastor) came in and gave a brief message to all of us. Gather that we were given coffee and some treats. We ate and the older kids sang a few more songs. Then Abdissa ave us a traditional outfit for Zeri and just thanked us for allowing Zeri to be a part of our family. 
 During the coffee ceremony Zeri sniffles and cried off and on, but eventually he just laid his head on my shoulder and almost fell asleep.  Jeremiah and I went up with a nanny to change Z's diaper and then she handed him back to me. HE DID NOT CRY!!! Yay! This was huge! When we returned he was calm for the rest of the ceromony! 
 When we left the Thomas Center it was very e optional for the nannies and us. They kept kissing Zeri and hugging him. Some of them had tears in their eyes. They truly loved our little boy and he loved them. I forgot to add that during the ceremony Abdissa gave us a time to talk and we were able to talk to the nannies and tell them how wonderful they are and how much we appreciate them. 
As we drove back to the guest house Zeri just looked around and he even tried to grab some of the cars. Zeri ended up falling asleep on me and it was heavenly.
When we got back to the guest house we gave Z his first bath and he loved it. Then we fed him dinner, played for a few minutes, and then we gave him a bottle. We also had a poopy diaper that got all over his pj's and our blaket....but that was the worst thing that happened today, so we are good. Jeremiah sang Zeri a song and then we laid Z down for bed. He went right to sleep. What a good boy!!! 
We love our little boy so incredibly much! Please pray that our trip continues to go smoothly and that tomorrow he will be just as calm! 

Also, we were able to FaceTime Olivia and it made us cry to see her reaction to Zeri!,, she had th biggest grin on her face. We miss our sweet girl! She's having a great time with her Gee gee's house.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Olivia's first dance recital

  This past weekend we had Olivia's first dance recital. She had a rehearsal on Friday night and two performances on Saturday. Olivia can be very shy, but she absolutely loved being on stage. Seriously..she kept asking if she could go on again. They turned the lights off when they little girls walked out on stage and when the lights turned on Olivia had a huge grin on her face. It didn't go away the entire time she performed. While we watched the other performances Olivia stood up, danced, and clapped. We left after her performance, but she begged me to watch the rest of the dances. My parents and sisters came to the Saturday evening performance. It was so neat to watch Olivia up on stage because I used to dance when I was younger.

Tara was Olivia's dance teacher. I coached Tara's cheerleading squad when I first started teaching in Mahomet. 

Brooklyn and Olivia

We love our girl!

She was trying so hard to make me laugh with her funny expressions-it worked!

Olivia's first dance class

Olivia, Aunt Kacy, Mimi, Bapa, and Aunt Kelsy

Still waiting...

   When we were first submitted to Embassy I thought it would be 2-3 weeks before were given clearance. After talking with our case worker she said it could go really quickly and that it could be only a week before they cleared us. Therefore, I've been checking my e-mail throughout the night and just waiting for "The E-mail!" When it hits 8:00a.m. then I realize that my wait is over for the day (because Ethiopia is 8 hours ahead of us) and then I start the anticipation all over again when I go to bed that evening.

   I know..it's so silly. Before I started this process I would probably think someone acting like me was crazy. I'm pretty sure Jeremiah thinks that.:) It really is like I'm 9 months pregnant and just waiting for labor to start. I feel the exact same way I did when I was pregnant with Olivia. You always wonder when it will happen and if you will be ready for it to happen. I'm so ready. Well, okay I still have a ton to do to prepare our home for Zeri's arrival. But, I would hop on the plane tomorrow (if I could) to pick him up. My heart is just not complete without him being here with us.

 On another note, I think my son will have more hair products and brushes then I'll ever have. I've been researching (thanks Jennifer, Brandy, and Jessi for your input!!) by talking to adoptive moms, reading numerous blogs, and researching online for the best hair products and brushes to use on Zeri's adorable curls. I still have two more products to purchase and then I'll be good to go.

  Please just pray for our case. Pray that the Embassy can get ahold of the police officer right away and that they can clear our case the same day. Please pray that airline tickets are available the day we need to leave for Ethiopia. I've been looking at airline tickets and they are SUPER expensive right now. Last time we spent around $3,000 on tickets and this time it will be at least $8,000! AH! I tried looking into other airlines and those were more expensive and one even quoted me $15,000 for our tickets. No thanks! So please just pray that it all works out!

 Even though I am a crazy woman during the night, I feel extremely blessed to have this time off with Olivia. When I told her that we were starting our "Mommy-Livi Days" this week she started dancing around the house chanting, "Mommy-Livi Days-yay!!" We've had 2 special dates this week and I just treasure this one-on-one time I have with her. I'm trying to stay home or hang out with just Olivia as much as possible because I know these Mommy-Livi days are coming to an end soon.
 We just know that God has the perfect time for us to bring Zeri home. Now that I'm done with school it's hard to wait, but I know it will be perfect because God is in control.

 I was talking to one of my friends about Zeri's room last week. On Sunday she asked me to come out to her car because she had a surprise for me. Below is what was in her car and when she handed it to me, I just started crying. Thank you Brynn for this awesome wall decoration for Zeri's room! We are SO very blessed to have MANY fabulous friends who have supported us along this journey! :)

Yesterday we received a new picture of Zeri. He is growing up so fast! He needs to come home now!