Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hangin' with Santa

Joanna and Mikias squeezed in a quick visit to Santa yesterday. Mikias thought the whole thing was pretty cool, but he got fairly stoic (see pictures below) when he actually went to meet Santa. It's hard to believe that these could be the first in a long line of pictures if we follow the Karwan tradition. Every year since they were born, Joanna and her siblings have their picture with Santa. The tradition has grown to include spouses and children now so we're all part of it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Sinking in

I'm sitting here listening to Mikias attempt to go to sleep on his first night without a pacifier. He's not "resting comfortably" to say the least. There are almost 20 seconds gaps without crying so we're getting there. We've got to break the habit sometime. There will be so many changes for Mikias in the coming months (new brother, new room, etc.) we though we'd start slow...turns out sleeping without a pacifier is not "starting slow" according to Mikias. We'll see how things go.

Anyway, I wanted to pass along some info about Sintayehu's name that my mom came across last week:

Sintayehu is a poetic name. The literal meaning is "how much have I seen"! It is a kind of expressive name that leaves new mothers wondering when they see their newborn baby. It is a very beautiful name.

It is pronounced Sin - TIE - u.

I actually confirmed the pronunciation when I spoke to the owner of Taste of Ethiopia as I was picking up dinner for us on Friday night. She said I had it right.

Needless to say, we are still super excited (of course) about our new boy. It was a bit of a whirlwind week last week and things are really starting to sink in. We're realizing that there is a ton of work to do get ready for the baby. Most importantly, we need to prepare Mikias' room so he can move and Sintayehu can get the crib. It feels like there is an endless list of things to accomplish before we even get to day at a time. Also, we're trying to work out arrangements with Joanna's work schedule and my work schedule and how it is going to fit with travel and having two children. I think we've got a pretty good plan, it's just a matter of getting it work for us and our family.

As for the adoption process itself, we're now waiting to hear about a date for Sintayehu's court case in Ethiopia. This is the day when the adoption is actually final. I wouldn't anticipate this will happen until at least a month from now...could be longer of course. After that's all final we'll be able to make travel arrangements.

Finally, I want to mention what an awesome age Mikias is at right now. Of course I've thought this every step along the way! He's absorbing (and repeating) so much information. He's really into singing Happy Birthday probably because there are so many birthdays in our family in November & December. I think he assumes that when there are a bunch of people together now that it must be someone's birthday. He even gathers his toys together sometimes to do this...hilarious. But, the best thing by far is something he's only been doing for a few days now. He'll be playing and then totally unsolicited he'll come up to me, hug my leg, and say "I love you, daddy!". I say "I love you too, Mikias" and then he rushes back to playing. There's probably not a better feeling in the world.

Speaking of Mikias, he's finally asleep...and the house is quiet again.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Drumroll please........

We have accepted the referral of a 2 month old baby boy named, Sintayehu. He is beautiful! We received the referral yesterday and have been staring at his pictures and thinking about him ever since.

We have been in this process for over a year and you never quite know what your reaction will be when the time comes. We knew this day would come, but it is still very overwhelming to look at every possible detail of your new child, yearn to touch him and then anticipate all that is to come.

We were so excited to bring Mikias upstairs to open the email with Sintayehu's picture and information. However, Mikias had other plans...the CD's really needed to be pulled off the shelf, the tin box which holds archaic maps surely needed reorganizing, and he would not have a chair on wheels stay in one place! As Benjamin and I read about and stared at our new son, I am pretty sure Mikias looked hilarious running around behind us knowing we weren't paying one lick of attention to him.

We did print off pictures and gave one to Mikias to hold. He said "Oh, Wow!" for one second and threw it back on the coffee table as if he was trying to appease us. We did keep repeating Sintayehu's name and he could only get out the last bit which amounted to "YEAH HOO!!!" So, loving your brother is a learned trait. We've got time for fact, a life time!

We asked our parents to come over late last night for the news and pictures. We didn't tell them anything before they arrived. However, my Mom and Dad brought wine and Jill and Scott brought comfort food. Hmm...have we done this before?

And as if all of that isn't enough...our referral came on the same day as me accepting a new position as Curriculum Director of my school district. You know how you have one of those moments in your life where everything seemingly falls in to place...and then you wake up the next morning with fear in your eyes and an ache in your stomach. One day at a time....

Benjamin has this saying he has used with me repeatedly during the past couple of years..."Is it an Ortonville Day or Africa Day?" Ortonville is the "ville" I work in and when my response is Ortonville it usually means I have had some great moment with my students or feel challenged by my profession in a positive way. When my answer is Africa it usually means my mind was preoccupied with thoughts of a continent for which I feel called to and a country I feel deeply committed to in some strange way.

Yesterday was an "Africanville" day.... Who am I was a "YEAH HOO" kind of day!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Two already

It's hard for us to believe but Mikias' 2nd birthday was this past Saturday. He definitely seems like he's a little boy now instead of the baby we met in June '07. We had a birthday party for him. It was nice to celebrate with a few family and friends. Unlike last year, I think Mikias was aware it was his birthday. He even sang to himself (and has done so repeatedly since). A few pictures from the day:

Mikias playing w/ his new train

Enjoying some cake!

The animal pack

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Summer and Fall of 2008

I started a post sometime over labor day and here it is Halloween and I am finally getting back to it. Here goes....

The summer of 2008 came and went so fast that I hardly remember particular days. However, I sure do remember many moments. For the most part, the summer was great. I loved having day in and day out with Mikias. Each morning he would wake up saying "outside?" in this voice that made you think he had thought about it all night long. As we opened the blinds to reveal this mysterious place, his excitement grew as if he knew what waited would be the source of entertainment until naptime in which we began the aforementioned routine all over. "Outside" was clearly the winning word for him and would easily sum up his summer happenings.

Through my eyes, summer is where we had time. Time that is difficult to find now that the school year has started. We had time to visit with old friends and meet new friends. Time to be around family often, even sometimes unexpectedly. Time to run, walk, explore, go to the park and bike ride all in the same day. Now that school has started we have adjusted our routine to include work and jam packed fun weekends, all the while wondering when our new little one will enter our lives. More on that later....

In a photo glimpe, here is how our we spent our time.

Playing frisbee at his Gotcha Day Party!

Splashing at a spray park!

Watching a 4th of July parade in Harbor Springs.

Hanging out with his oldest pal, Seth!

Sitting in tractors with Daddy.

Waiting for Daddy to get home from work for more playtime!

Now that the school year has started, Mikias is enjoying his daycare day with all his new friends. Robin is awesome and has aided us tremendoulsy on this work/home/parent balance thing. We have been able to sneak in two fall weekends. The hayride where the familiy picture was taken was 2.5 weeks ago. The pumpkin shot was last weekend. Can you just feel the weather change?

Speaking of changes, you may have noticed a new look to our blog. Perhaps, this is a prelude to a new look our family will be having as soon as this second adoption is complete. After many months of what appeared as no movement or action, our agency has gained some momentum. For the most part, waiting hasn't been as hard because Mikias has filled our time so generoulsy. However, our 2nd adoption's timeline will soon pass our total timeline of our 1st. This is difficult to swallow, but as it did with Mikias, I am sure all of these feelings will erase as soon as we welcome our new little one.

As it stands, when asked, Mikias now responds to the question "do you want a brother or sister?" with "sister" or "do you want a sister or brother?" with "brother".

Either way, we are excited for what is to come...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Gotcha Day Video

I just wanted to share a video I made for Mikias for his Gotcha Day. It highlights his first year with us.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Gotcha Day!

Yesterday was Mikias' Gotcha Day...the day we met one year ago in Ethiopia. What a year it has been! We spent the sunny day together just the three of us.

Mikias was given his first hair cut. Or should I say, buzz? As you can see, the popsicle did not win him over. He did find it hilarious when he was staring at himself later in the mirror.

We also went to the beach where he enjoyed swimming, eating dirt and climbing on the playscape.

We ended the day by giving Mikias one of the 18 gifts we purchased for him while we were in Ethiopia. These animals have sat on his shelf, but he has never actually played with them before.

It was a pretty low key, yet fun, celebratory day. It is amazing to think one whole year has gone by since he joined our family. It's been said before, by others, but we have no idea what we did before we had him in our lives. (okay, maybe the house was cleaner)

That is a small price to pay for a large part of our hearts full.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

May...came and went

Well the countdown to summer has officially started. I only have 2 more exams to write, 180 more exams to grade and 7 more days to do it in! But, that's beside the summer is soon to arrive!

This past May was extremely busy. It tends to be a busier time at school. I was coaching track. Benjamin was/is getting used to a new job, yet we somehow still found plenty of time to introduce Mikias to May in Michigan.

Here are a few of the highlights!

We visited the Detroit Zoo where Ben and Mikias spent some time exploring the polar bear exhibit.

We celebrated Mother's Day with the grandmothers.

We met up with Seth's family at the Lansing Zoo! I love the fact that these boys have seen so much of each other. It is so fun to watch them interact.

We also had a gathering at our house with families who have either completed or are in process of adopting through Ethiopia. All of these families live in the Detroit area. It has been exciting to have a group close to develop a connection with. (P.S. We still love the West Siders, but the convenience of closeness was nice.) I am looking forward to when both sides of the state can get together and continue to keep all of these kids connected .

There were 3 children from Ethiopia present: Zoe, Amilia and little man. Zoe and Mikias were in both orphanages together and are only 3 weeks apart in age.

The thing that has been creeping in my mind lately is how at this time last year we were running around like crazy in preparation to go and get Mikias. So as the countdown continues towards summer, it will begin with a celebration of Mikias' GOTCHA DAY!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Dossier Date 4.28.2008

Our consultant, Chandra, contacted us on Friday to tell us that our dossier had safely made the trip from Detroit to DC, by way of the Ethiopian Embassy, back to GR and will be on its way to Addis on Monday! Thus, making our dossier date 4.28.2008. This date then marks the beginning of the next wait, which is a referral. We are last on the list....but at least we made it to the list!

In an ironic twist, we met Karen and Patrick soon after receiving our pictures of Mikias. They are in Ethiopia meeting their daughter right now....just as our packet arrives!

I have tried to talk with Mikias about bringing another child to the US from his home country. I explain that he will have a brother or a sister to play with. So far, his only response is "apple". (Sorry, Gwyneth, we will not be following your lead...)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Out of our hands

Well, our dossier documents are now out of our hands and on their way to Washington DC for authentication at the US State Dept and Ethiopian Embassy. I mailed everything out this morning. It's a little nerve-wrecking putting all those documents in an envelope. I can't help thinking how much it would absolutely suck if they were lost in the mail. Of course there is some consolation knowing that we've done this once before and everything worked out just fine. Actually, I have to admit that it was pretty easy getting all this in order because we had done it before. In all, we had 21 documents that we collected, had notarized, and then had authenticated. Check out the picture...pretty impressive. I wish we would have taken a picture like this the first time around. This was my second chance so I couldn't pass it up.

Hopefully, at this time next week the completed dossier will be back in our agency's possession and will soon be off to Ethiopia! Then the wait begins. It's strange how it seems like everything is moving so fast this time around but in reality the process is slower. It must be because Mikias is distracting us from obsessing over this adoption.

This afternoon the three of us headed to the Earth Day Expo at Oakland University. It was pretty cool. Joanna and I have been there the past few years and really enjoy it. Mikias' favorite part was definitely the African dancers that performed. He was totally entranced for about 20 minutes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Serious Motorboat

A video from a couple weeks ago...I had to post it

In other news: Joanna and I are close to sending our completed dossier off to Washington DC. Tomorrow I'm going to the Office of the Great Seal (not to Lansing this time) to get all of our documents authenticated. Now they do document authentication at some Secretary of State offices and luckily there's one two miles from my work that offers the service. For Mikias' adoption I drove (twice) to Lansing to get this done. Anyway, if everything goes well our dossier will be in the mail on Saturday.

Other than that...just enjoying the nice warm weather and looking forward to the weekend.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Spring Break and The Golden Ticket

This past week I did not have school as it was spring break. Of all the "spring breaks" I have had, this was one of the best. I had solid days just Mikias and I.
We took advantage of the great weather and I was reminded of how much Mikias loves the outdoors. Good times!

On Wednesday, we received our I-171H for the second adoption. This is known as the golden ticket in the adoption world. It does not get us a trip to a Chocolate Factory. In fact, it is a stamp of approval that says the US gov't feels we are able to "furnish proper care to an orphan as defined by section 101(b)(1)(F) of the immigration and nationality act". I feel so much better knowing that we have this declaration. We needed this same paper for I am guessing this time was just a double check. :)

What this does allow us to do is move forward with the second adoption. I am excited. We are taking the next couple of days to finalize our dossier and off it goes. At that point, our hands are off and we will be back to waiting for a referral. WOW!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Hard to believe it's been a year

This past Friday was the one year anniversary of the day we opened our referral and saw the first pictures of our little boy. What a year it has been! It's amazing how much he's grown and it's hard to imagine what it was like before he was in our lives.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Frozen at One Year!

So, apparently we have been on hiatus from the blog world! Can I blame it on the fact that I would love to freeze the age of Mikias on any given day? Oh, he is so much fun!

Aside form hibernating in this winter wonderland, things have been well. Christmas was wonderful. The highlight being my niece, who was 3.5 at the time, taking Mikias and introducing him to Santa as "her new baby cousin who came all the way from Africa!" This was a totally unprompted comment. So cute!

We have been enjoying winter. Mikias has gone snowshoeing, downhill sledding, on a toboggan ride on a frozen lake. We participated in a library program. He has visited Gigglebeans (a huge playroom for toddlers), been to Chicago (where he watched traffic for at least 20 minutes) and has seemed to enjoy his daycare. His latest tricks include repeating everything we say, sticking his hands in toilets, screaming at the top of his lungs while folding in half when he is doing something he is not supposed to be doing (aka...sticking his hands in the VCR door and getting stuck...often). Life is good.

We are STILL trying to balance the work, home, kid, life thing. Some days are good...some days...well you know. All in all, these months have been good.

Our adoption 2.0 (Thanks, Kubiks) has been moving along as well. We decided to adopt again through Ethiopia as we caught wind of some rule changes that might affect us. It is interesting how life takes you on a path in which you might not have "planned". It has been exciting to watch the developments in the Ethiopia program as many more families have brought their children home.

We are at the point where we are collecting our documents for the dossier and waiting for the golden ticket. The adoption world knows this as the I-171H!

Included are some snapshots of Mikias enjoying the last couple of months.