Thursday, September 29, 2011

What Daddy Does For a Living

We have had a hard time explaining to Beti what her daddy does for a living. He leaves the house at pretty random times (excluding the twice a week college class he teaches), sometimes for half an hour and other times for a few days. He also does his work at home too, so the whole thing was confusing.

Today, all that changed. We think she got it.

When we visit Daddy at work, we sometimes get to eat from the craft food service trucks. That is really fun and delicious.

We watched Daddy hanging around outside waiting for his cue to go inside, and then we watched him on the monitors. We giggled a lot when he looked into the camera and waved right at us and made goofy faces.

The nice sound mixer gave us headphones to hear the action. We listened very intently.

The main face we kept seeing in the monitor played with us for a while before we went home.

We are so over the paparazzi.

Hopefully this afternoon's excursion to a television show set will have put an end to the befuddled look on her face when we say that Daddy is working (and hopefully there will be many many many more sets to visit...).

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Why is our daughter laughing so hard?

Because my oldest friend, the famous Uncle Rusty (friends since we were 13), sent her a package in the mail full of They Might Be Giants magical goodness.

I highly recommend all three: Here Come the ABC's, Here Comes Science, and Here Come the 123's. We can't wait to scour all three over and over and over.

Here is Beti watching her favorite one (so far). This is the second time watching it; the first time, she nearly fell off her chair belly laughing. Thank you, Uncle Rusty!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Golden Child

We sit down to dinner and one child is dawdling instead of eating. This is an ongoing thing for us. We tell the dawdling child to eat or nothing until breakfast. Sometimes this child will eat; sometimes, not.

But inevitably, this is what happens if the dawdling child doesn't eat. The child who is eating makes some easy-breezy remark about how clean his/her plate is already. My response is always the same: "Yep. You're the golden child."

"The golden child" isn't reserved just for who is eating. Anything can prompt his/her appearance. The golden child appears when getting dressed before school, brushing teeth at night, helping out with dishes, etc.

It's never too early to teach sarcasm, right?

The sibling rivalry stuff is still going on for sure, though maybe lessening. It comes in waves, a lot like nausea. The kids have their moments. One of my favorite things lately is hearing them crack each other up. Both of them have definite fake laughs but they have recently been doing things to make each other genuinely belly laugh. Tonight on the way home, it was karate moves in the backseat of the car. I could giggle because I knew they were strapped in and unable to really hurt me or each other.

Sometimes they drag each other around the house by the clothes just cracking up as they do so. They are like two puppies they way they wrestle and roll around.

Then there are the times that they do or say something that cracks us up. Like last night at dinner when Abe was called back to the table after a time-out. He came to the table completely straight-faced and wearing a ridiculous infant sun hat from the dress-up bin. He did it to make us laugh.
Beti has taken to repeating whatever we say, which sounds more annoying than it is. Sometimes it's actually very funny. She will also spaz out at times, falling over laughing at herself or I'm not sure really. But it's funny.

Abe, in another time-out recently, looked up at me as I came to him and said, "Mom, did you know I farted two times sitting here on the step?"

I couldn't help giggling. It's gross, I know. It is. I should have been more stern, but I had to laugh.

Considering the stress we've been under lately, I don't mind fart jokes. I also don't mind the frequent appearance of a golden child. It means that at least one of them is behaving.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

She's like the wind.

See the tall, gangly girl in the shirt with an Ethiopian flag? The girl with the adorable headband and a huge smile? She girl with perfect posture, shoulders back, head up, swinging arms, long stride that makes it look so easy as she passes every other runner on the track?

That's my daughter. I am proud. I have never seen a child run like this, so effortlessly fast.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Every Little Thing

My favorite part of today was being woken up by our four-year-old. I told him it wasn't time to get up, thinking it was two hours earlier. I looked at my phone and saw that it was 9am. I had just slept 10 hours straight. I opened the window, and we got back into bed. The other two were off playing tennis. The rockstar and the princess cuddled in bed for the next 45 minutes, until the athletes in the family got back home. Then we ate their leftover donuts.

But maybe my favorite part of today was when I sat down with a plate of injera, greens, chicken, salad, and doro wot. I was very hungry. I ate my fill. I had just listened to a 17-year-old Ethiopian immigrant tell me "If you don't know how to fall down, you will never know how to get back up." He is a junior in high school and probably the most mature teenager I've ever met. He wants to be a doctor. I have no doubts about his future.

But actually, here it is. My favorite part about today: We were driving on the freeway with a song I like playing. Our daughter asked me to turn it down but instead I turned it up. Then I turned it up again. She realized what a good song it was. We exited the freeway. The next song was Bob Marley "Three Little Birds." I reached behind me and put my hand on the rockstar's leg. The athlete's hand then covered mine. It was a long light. I turned behind me and we all sang.

"Don't worry, about a thing. Cause every little thing is gonna be alright."

Tomorrow morning I board a very early flight to a funeral in my home state in the South. It will be my daughter's first time without me. I've prepped her the best I can. She says she doesn't want me to go, that she has a ticket so she can come too. But I know she'll be okay. I know she will.

Tomorrow, I get to smile at the rising sun. The three birds at home reminding me of their message, a melody pure and true.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Disarming Fear

We have gotten so much good advice from other parents who have adopted older children. One of the best things we've heard was this:

"Playfulness disarms fear."

One night this week, Ted was teaching a night class, so I was the one putting the kids to bed. We did our usual routine of bath, pajamas on, video, snack, teeth-brushing, bathroom, upstairs, in bed, tell a story, sing a song, kisses, goodnight.

All was well right until the end. Beti didn't want me to leave. She is getting more and more comfortable with falling asleep quickly and on her own but this night, maybe because Ted is usually the one who does this part of the night-time ritual, she tried to cling to me. She poked out the bottom lip (oh, she is so good at this) and looked like she was going to start the tears.

As true of most six-year-olds, she has some drama-queen tendencies, so we're still learning which tears are real and which are the ones pulled out in a power struggle. I sensed that these were the real ones. I hugged her tight, kissed her forehead, told her I loved her, that all was well.

The just clung tighter, asking me not to leave. I crouched down near her, snuggled her, and told her how important it is for her to go right to sleep since it was a school day for everyone the next day: for her, for her brother, and for Bang Bang.

She immediately stopped whimpering. She stared at me blankly.

"You didn't know that our cats go to kitty-school after you leave for kindergarten every day?"

She smiled hugely.

"Yep, they love kitty-school as much as you love school."

She started laughing, real giggles (not the fake kind she also uses in power struggles).

"Mom, Chitty and Buddy go to school too?"

"Oh yeah, they've both been going for a long time."

At this, I kissed her head again, told her goodnight, and as I walked out of the room, she was still smiling. She was asleep within a couple of minutes, hopefully dreaming about our cats wearing backpacks and doing math problems.

Bang-Bang, our therapy-cat.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Us Two

"Let's frighten the dragons," I said to Pooh,
"That's right," said Pooh to Me.

"I'm not afraid," I said to Pooh.
And I held his paw and I shouted "Shoo!
Silly old dragons!"--and off they flew.

"I wasn't afraid," said Pooh, said he,
"I'm never afraid with you."

It isn't much fun for One, but Two
Can stick together," says Pooh, says he.

"That's how it is," says Pooh.

--A. A. Milne

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Ethiopian New Year

What we'll be doing tomorrow, just on a smaller scale. On a hot Oregon day. Shoulder-shimmy, anyone? Maybe it's the late night, but this video just made me want to cry.

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Tomorrow is our daughter's first full day of school. We agonized over where to put her and the short story is that we pushed to get her out of our local school (one of the best in the city) into one that is more diverse. There was a lot of thought that went into this decision, many conversations with parents with families like ours, lots of reading and research, and when we finally decided, we felt relief.

Then we had to push to make it happen. The school we got her into had a waitlist of 21 kids just for kindergarten. While not the best in the city, it's still good enough that 21 families want their kids there. We found a sympathetic secretary who made a call. I wrote a letter and then hand-delivered it to the central office. Two days later, we got a letter saying she was in.

We gave that secretary today a thank-you note and gift certificate to our local coffee joint.

This morning was B's half-hour assessment with her new teacher. It went fine. She could do everything the teacher asked of her, including addition and subtraction. Afterward, I let the kids play for a pretty long while on the school playground. We walked to our car to leave with Beti running ahead on the sidewalk.

She stopped in her tracks and gasped, then yelled for me. Our girl has some drama queen tendencies, so I shrugged it off. Then I got closer and saw for myself: in the hour and a half we'd been in the school, our car had been broken into, the passenger side window completely smashed and our gps stolen. Glass was everywhere. I had no idea what to do.

I was at first worried about the glass. Then I was worried about our daughter being freaked out by this and maybe deciding she was better off in Addis. Turns out she quickly got over the shock of our car being "broken" and was really worried about the bag of lipgloss and nail polish she got for her birthday that she'd left in the car.

Of course, the irony hit me. We'd agonized over and then pushed to get her out of the "good" school (that is 99% white) and into the school in the "sketchy" neighborhood, only to have our car broken into on her first day at school. Had we made the wrong choice? Should we have stayed in the "safe" district where most of the kids show up on their first day wearing brand-new Hannah Anderson dresses instead of hand-me-down and yard-sale purchased clothes (like some families we know, cough, cough)?

The break-in experience certainly left a feeling of yuck about today, but you know, we're still excited about this school year. Her teacher told us there are four other kids of color in her class. For the city we're in, that's that bad. People want to be in this school. We are still committed. I've filled out the PTA membership form. We know that this break-in could have happened anywhere.

So tonight, her clothes are laid out ready to be put on in the morning (capris a hand-me-down from friends and the pink top bought by me and Goodwill over a year ago). Her hair is done, only needing to be retouched in the morning. Both kids are asleep, probably the earliest bedtime ever, and I've got this stuck in my head.

Good days ahead. No need to worry, my girl. I will always guard your lipgloss.

while you slumber
in case you ever wonder
if a summer breeze just brushed your cheek
know its me

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Now We Are Six

Now we are six.

Our daughter is six years old.

She got a tiara from her grandmother, my mother. She wore it all day, with one short break because the combs were hurting her head.

Ballet flats until hopscotch.

The feather boa came on for the short walk from the front door to the car, then off since no one could see her inside the tinted windows.

She pouted because she couldn't sleep with her make-up bag of nail polish and flavored lip smackers, a gift from a sweet neighbor.

She jumps into rivers.

She teases and antagonizes her little brother.

She pushes the cart around the grocery store and asks nonstop for items but never complains much when she hears 'no'.

Sometimes she hears 'yes' if it is a pack of birthday balloons, balloons which she blew up and tied curly string on to give to friends at her party.

A friend watched her today for a couple of hours while we went to work. The last half hour, she was asking about us, when we were coming back, anxious. I was glad. Maybe she is now expecting us to always come for her.

For her birthday, she requested hotdogs and strawberries, so we had both, along with strawberry cupcakes. We played pandora's Michael Jackson station (her favorite artist) and got "Let's Get it On" and "Sexual Healing" during that hotdog dinner.

During her short party, towards the end, she came to me with outstretched arms, asking "up please." She clung to me. She wanted kisses. She didn't want down so I held her.

Then she played hopscotch with friends. It was her first time to play.

She jumped into it. With gusto. Shoes off but her tiara back on her head.

Friday, September 2, 2011


Our kids are both moving up to the next level of swim lessons.

(Ted cringes at his "blah-blah-blahing" in the background)

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Being in the thick of things, I have little to say.

Life right now is a roller coaster. More accurately, our daughter is a roller coaster. This is to be expected, and we are, of course, letting her have her emotions. But it leaves me at the end of every day with few brainwaves for writing things down.

There is one incident I could try to recount, though I think I'd rather forget it. It involves a woman at a park who was letting her unleashed dog run in the kids' play area, though this is clearly against park rules. My daughter is terrified of dogs and won't play as long as this dog was running around.

After half an hour of my child clinging to me on my lap, I politely and apologetically asked the woman to keep her dog in the off-leash area of the park since my daughter was so afraid. I even let her know how nice I'm sure her dog is.

"Well, you know the best way to let your kid get over her fear is to let her be around nice dogs."

(Never mind that this woman is breaking the rules of the park by letting her dog run free. And don't you love unsolicited parenting advice from rule-breaking park goers?)

"Yes, I know this, and we plan on doing this but she is from Ethiopia where dogs are often used as guard dogs and not pets per se, so if you please wouldn't mind keeping your dog in the off-leash area..."

At this point, the woman got, shall we say, huffy. She told me that she was trying to watch her kid and her dog and couldn't really go to the dog-area without her kid.

"Oh, I know, that's hard. I totally understand, but see, my daughter can't play as long as your dog is running around. And honestly, you're breaking the rules of the park by letting your dog go free."

"See? You're not asking me, you've been telling me this whole time."

"My daughter has been here only three weeks. You could try to be a little understanding."

At this point I walked away, shaking in anger and sat down next to my friend who proceeded to take up the cause, raising her voice at the lady, telling her how she has a kid and a dog she takes to the park all the time and how she respects the rules of the park by tying her dog up in the kids' area.

It was nice to have my friend there to yell at the woman.

She kept her dog there unleashed for a few minutes ("out of spite" as my friend said) and then got lost. Sometimes, people act like jerks. That's about as deep as this post gets.

Serenity now.