Saturday, October 30, 2010

We Are Christmas Warrior's

Please help us raise $1000.00 this Christmas season for this little cutie.

Soon, I will be posting a Chip-In on my side bar, where you can make a tax deductible donation directly to Reeces' Rainbow, to be added to his adoption fund.  

All too often, the huge expense of adopting is the only barrier standing in the way of loving families giving these children a forever family.  Your donation can help make the dream of adoption, reality.

Please keep Reeces' Rainbow in mind when planning your giving this Christmas season.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ben Fact Sheet

I want to record some fun (and a few not so fun) facts about Ben right now.  I'm hoping this will be a way to track his progress over the next several months of him being home, and being part of a family vs. orphanage life.

Come on, let's find out all about me!

Fact 1:  Ben was born on July 19th 2008 in Goris, Armenia, he is 2 years and 3 months old.  He weighs about 20 lbs, and is wearing size 18 month on bottom and 18-24 month on top.  His feet are tiny.

Fact 2:  He is stinkin' cute.

Fact 3: He says "Momma," "Dadda," and "eat" very clearly.

Fact 4:  He knows the signs for "eat", and "more."   He already knew the sign for "eat," we have been working on "more" with him, it didn't take long.  He is a great student.

Fact 5:  He doesn't have too many orphanage behaviors, but teeth grinding, and growling at us when he is not happy with something are two we hope will go away quickly.  Oh, he also sucks on his fingers a lot, and likes to pull hair.  :)

Fact 6:  I think he is having some dysphagia (swallowing) issues, he coughs often with thin liquids, and has difficulty swallowing anything other than baby food consistency.  Definitely will get that evaluated when we get home.

Fact 7:  Reflux is a huge issue.  He spits up often, and has a hoarse voice.  We put him back on Zantac and this seems to be helping a bit.  He keeps sticking his fingers down his throat and making himself spit up, we're not sure if he is doing this because his throat hurts, it's a self stim thing, habit, or attention seeking. 

Fact 8:  He loves bath time.  It's a good thing, because, boy does he need one by the end of the day (see fact 7).

Fact 9:  He is a super sleeper.  He has been consistently sleeping for 12-13 hours straight every night, and naps for 2 hours after lunch.

Fact 10:  He is happy, playful, and engaging.  His favorite toys right now are soft activity books and his soft photo albums.  He loves to talk about who everyone is, and kisses them each in turn.  Also, every time he sees himself in a mirror, he blows himself a kiss.  No self esteem issues here!

Fact 11:  He is walking more and more, taking 5-6 steps independently, and walks quite a ways while hanging on to one of our fingers.

Fact 12:  He loves music, especially playing the piano, I see lessons in his future.

Fact 13:  He is a flirt!  He waves and smiles at all the pretty girls.  Jen, he and Leah will make quite the successful greeting duo.

Fact 14:  We think, he is a healthy, smart, high functioning child with a very bright future. 

Fact 15:  He certainly has a way of keeping us very, very busy!  Thank goodness for fact 9.

Ben's Management Team

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pieces of Armenia

We were treated to a tour of two Armenian monasteries, and a winery last Sunday. 

( I am a little behind on posting updates, Jim and I have been violently ill a little under the weather for the past couple of days.  If we were in Haiti, I would have drug myself to the hospital convinced it was cholera, but alas it was merely a stomach virus.  Ben was slightly confused, what happened to my fun new parents?  Who are these lumps on the sofa?  

Never fear, we have recovered, and are back to our usual spunky selves.)

Khor Virap (means "deep hole") monastery near the boarder of Turkey with a beautiful view of Mt Ararat in the background.  

This monastery was built on the site of a pagan temple after St. Gregory the Illuminator was tortured and kept in a deep hole for 13 years.  Gregory, whose given name at birth was Suren,  was born to a Persian family living in Armenia.  St. Gregory the Illuminator is credited for bringing Christianity to Armenia. 

Sunday morning we woke up to no power in our apartment.  This is us, not showered. :)  Mt. Ararat is a sacred place to Armenians and to Christians around the world.  It is said to be the site where the Noah's Ark came to rest after the flood.  Currently Mt. Ararat is located in Turkish territory, but it continues to be one of the symbols of Armenia. 

After leaving Khor Virap, we stopped at a restaurant (the pic above is not the restaurant!) in the mountains to place our lunch order before heading to the next monastery.  Across the road, these women were making lavash (spelling it how it sounds, I think we spell it with a "w" in the states) to store for the winter.  We were told it would keep for 6-9 months.  Our favorite part was the oven in the floor.  Two women were rolling out the dough, and the third was slapping it against the hot bricks on the side to bake.  It was yummy.

Sarah, I see a future for us here if our families ever decide to kick us out!  Do you want to roll dough, or run the oven?

Next, we headed up the mountain to a monastery called Noravank.

Me, at the top of the real stairway to heaven.  Not sure why I came back down.  Seriously, the steps were less than a foot wide.

The outdoor restaurant where we had lunch.  It was beautiful.  Deep in a crevasse with a river running right through it.

The winery was our last stop.  We had a great day.

Ben continues to do well.  He is sleeping better and better each night, and settling into a routine with us.  

Today the sisters had a farewell party for him and the daughter of one of the other families traveling with us.  It was very nice.  The children sang songs, and said goodbye, good luck, we will miss you.  I got chastised by an 8 year old for crying.   I couldn't help it.  Ben received a blessing by a priest from the Catholic Church of Armenia, using a relic from Mother Theresa.  So I guess he received a blessing from Mother Theresa herself?

The sisters gave him a photo album of his first two years, which I know in the adoption world is huge!  Most children from an orphanage do not receive this.  We feel very blessed he has these treasures.

We also received his baptism certificate, yes Uncle Bob, he's Catholic!

They kept thanking us for taking him, one of the sisters pulled me aside and said, "God puts a call inside of us, and we can either say yes, or say no.  Thank you for saying yes."  I don't think she knew how significant that was to our story, and the current adoption campaign circulating about saying "yes."       I'll never forget that moment.

We don't feel worthy of their praise, we are the one's who are grateful for our boy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We've Got Him!

But first,

we interrupt our previously scheduled programming with a message from home...

Now, back to the show...

After a blessing, and an emotional goodbye, we took our boy for his blood test (we'll just forget that ever happened), and then back to our apartment.

First stop, climbing right in the blow up bath.

 Next, he tried to climb in the washing machine.  It was on the spin cycle and must have looked very interesting.  Ben wanted in on the action.

We were laughing watching him hike his leg up trying to get in there.

After a little nap, and skyping the kiddos at home, it was bath time.

I'm not sure who was more wet, Ben or Jim.  The bath was a huge hit.

After bathtime, our squeaky clean boy got ready for bed.  We put him in the jammies that the sisters sent with us.  They were clean, and we wanted him to sleep in something familiar.

The sisters were so generous, they sent all of his clothes with us, medicine, and foods he is used to eating.  We don't have room for everything, and will take much of it back, but we will keep a few items.  They are good transition pieces, and important memories for Ben.

 Ben didn't eat very much today and seemed a little sad at times, but over all it went very well.

And, I think we cannot get home a moment too soon!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Tomorrow Is The Big Day!

Finally, we received the OK to take Ben from the orphanage tomorrow!  We are so excited to get our hands on him for real.  I've been feeling that the bonding process is at a stand still while we only get short visits.  Getting him back to our apartment, and getting him used to us before we get on the plane home will make his trip less stressful.  It will also give Jim, Ben, and I some concentrated time together before heading back to the busyness of our life at home.  Which we can't wait to get back to, BTW!

We miss our munchkins at home.

The sisters will be throwing him a party next week before we leave.  They want to send him off with a bang, and make sure everyone gets a chance to say goodbye.  The sisters are so sweet, and do such a great job creating a family-like environment for these children.   It's very obvious these children are loved.

{Jim and Ben on our first visit, still not sure about what these strange people are up to}

{Today at the park}

{Mommy and Ben, first day}

We received Ben's new birth certificate and the adoption certificate today.  Also, we applied for Ben's passport, which we can pick up tomorrow.  Things are moving along very nicely so far.  Tomorrow is also blood draw day, then embassy physical Friday.

Hopefully the embassy will be efficient and all three families will be done and out of here by the end of next week.

Thank you for all your prayers and kind words, they mean so much to us.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Day 6 in Armenia

Today was rather uneventful.  We were able to visit Ben this morning for a short time.  A virus running through the orphanage is placing extra demands on the sisters and staff, so we decided to give them a break from entertaining us this afternoon.  Ben has a cold and his reflux is flaring up.  Although the sisters say he is much better than he was last winter,  I am anxious to get him home and evaluated by our pediatrician. He is spitting up quite a bit after every meal.  Should make for a fun plane trip home!

{When he is not spitting up, he is a happy boy!}

Our lawyer submitted the application for Ben's new birth certificate and the adoption certificate on our behalf today.  Tomorrow will be spent applying for Ben's passport.  The team here has been wonderful.  We feel very well taken care of.  Our translators have been fun and endlessly patient with us.  

Thursday will be blood test day, and Friday will be the medical evaluation for our embassy appointment.  It's looking promising for us to head home on Saturday, October  30th.  That is if the strike in France does not continue. 

We are hoping Thursday will be the day we spring him from the orphanage forever.  I'm hoping that everyone involved remembers that it's in Ben's best interest to be with his new parents and begin the bonding process.  Personal agendas should be set aside.  While he has received "excellent" care here, there is never a substitution for a forever family.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

We Made It!

We arrived Wednesday October 13th, and met Ben for the first time the next day.  

Our first meeting went well, he came to us right away.  He is a happy boy.

The sisters have been coaching him to say Daddy and Momma using the photo album we sent last Christmas,  I like to think he recognized us from that. 

(We do not have internet at our apartment yet, so updating here has been difficult.)

These pictures are from our first meeting.....

He likes to talk on the phone, ahloh?

He loves getting outside, we have been taking him to the park everyday.  He now knows us as the people who take him outside, so he is excited to see us when we arrive each day.

He is taking a few steps on his own, can stand (KAN-KE-NEE) from sitting unassisted, but it is still much faster to crawl!

Some Armenian phrases we are quickly learning,  TCHEE-KA-RE-LEE (Don't do it!  Stop!)

APRES (Good)

HA-DJOO (Bye-Bye)

ALEE (More)

AWDI (Come here)

We are still unsure which day we will take him out of the orphanage for good, I'm afraid we are in the middle of a power struggle amongst the sisters, so who knows.  We hope it will be by Friday, we are more than ready, but probably not a good idea to get on the Mother Superior's bad side.  They have been wonderful, and will be sad to see Ben go.

Court went well on Friday, he is officially ours!  

The rest of the week will be spent paper chasing, we will be updating again soon.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Wrapping Up Our Week

Since I finally have the pictures off the camera, I'll start our week, with the weekend.

We had lot's of fun with our little visitors on Saturday night.  

I had a new assistant in the kitchen Sunday morning.

Hey, anyone who brings their own electric skillet over, can hang at our house any time.

We then headed over to a local farm for a fall festival.

Everyone painted a pumpkin, visited the animals, and then took a hay ride.

It was a fun 24 hours!

The rest of our week was a whirl-wind of activity.   The anticipation of getting a court date, had us scrambling around getting everything ready.

Between all the chaos inside, and the gorgeous weather we've been having, school was kept to a minimum again this week.

Everyone spent good quality time on the 3 R's.  The girls each turned in 3 very nice, well developed paragraphs.  This skill is getting easier for them.

I've also noticed that the girls are able to tolerate a few more distractions while doing their math.  This was an issue at the beginning of school, any small noise broke their concentration, and lead to frustration.  Now that they are back into the swing of things, their focus is improving.  Good thing, I anticipate there may possibly be a few more distractions in the near future around our house!

On that note, I'm off to get laundry caught up, pack up the kids, plan lessons for the next few weeks, and try not to loose my mind in the process.

I'll leave you with a picture thought:

This girl brings new meaning to the word FEARLESS.

Lord, help me.

Take the Road Less Traveled

Thursday, October 7, 2010

We Have a Court Date!

October 15th!

I know, buddy!  We're excited too!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Some Inspiration While We Wait...

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life.
But those who make their journey home across time & miles,
growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,
are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us
by God's very own hands.
--- Kristi Larson

...waiting that is killing me by the way...

...we should be hearing something any time are quickly filling up...

"Come on people!"

(I think Ben is feeling the same way)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Wrapping up our Week

This week was a bit of a slow school wise, pretty much we stuck to the three R's.  Dr. Robinson would be proud, but I still worry that it's not enough.  

I'm slowly learning that some weeks are just like that, we all get into funks now and then.  The other weeks that we really dive in, make up for the so-so weeks.

I've been thinking more and more about scheduling in short breaks throughout the year.  Might just be what we need. 

Thursday turned out to be a pretty special day, we received great news that we may have court in 10 days!   We should hopefully hear on Monday when exactly our court date is, and we can book our tickets.


Also, on Thursday Jim took the day off to get our fingerprints updated.  That means a trip to the big city. Poor Detroit, all the stress is showing, I hope it can make a come back soon.

Later in the afternoon we took the kids to lunch, and to the apple orchard to pick out pumpkins.  The weather was perfect.

We spent the evening getting organized and packing.

I'm looking forward to finally having a weekend off work.  We are staying close to home, and having some very special overnight guests.   I'm sure I'll have some cute pictures to share next week!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend!