Sunday, June 24, 2012
On June 21, Andrew turned 2. My parents (now called Grandmama and Pa) spent 2 weeks with us. They got Andrew a great plane/jungle gym for the yard, and dad put it together with Don and Aiden's help. Andrew loves it! I can't believe how incredible his imagination is at such a young age...he'll say..."Andrew fly ocean" or "Andrew fly park" when he gets behind the wheel! We also play imagination games pretending to cook and eat various things....or pretend tennis...I'm not sure how this compares to other children his age, but I think he's brilliant!:-) We celebrated with a week of parties. The first party was a swim event. Mom and Dad, Bubba and family, Lauren, Don, and Aiden were the Samuels family that came...then our "Ethiopian family" of Daphne and Ben, Melissa and Gizatu, and Vanessa came...and of course Janetta (Sissie) and a few other friends came as well. We had a Thomas cake, ate sandwiches, and swam at the UAB Rec center. The second party was the day before Andrew's birthday. Our neighbor family--Pete and Rhiannon came as well as my dear friend, Val and her family, mom and dad and sissie. We played with the kids, had an Elmo and Grover cake, and Andrew blew out the candles for the first time! He liked it so much, I lit them again so he could blow them out twice (he is 2 after all!). The 3rd party was on his actual birthday, and Lavonda (Aunt Vonda, our neighbor/family) made gorgeous Elmo cupcakes. Not sure if ANdrew is spoiled or not....doesn't everyone have 3 or 4 parties for their birthday?? (forgot to mention the one at daycare too!) Andrew continues to grow and learn. He makes 3 and 4 word sentences....repeats every word or sound he hears....sings lots of songs (Sesame Street Singing With the Stars is a favorite) as well as the typical nursery rhyme/kid songs (Twinkle, Baa Baa, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Bumble Bee, etc. complete with visuals). He is fascinated with the peacock at the zoo and talks about it all the time. He also seems to take a daily inventory of all the people he knows, waking up and calling their names. His memory astounds me. He loves to be tickled. His teachers at school/daycare really enjoy him, and he is learning so much and doing so well there. At home, he is just a happy boy. He continues to improve sleeping....still wakes up for "cocoa" between 1 and 3 but usually goes right back to sleep. (cocoa was cocoa in the winter...now it's just chocolate milk or regular milk). He generally sleeps from 9 to 7 with the one waking in the night. The only other major challenge right now is that Andrew occasionally bites. I wish I could figure out the triggers...because it doesn't seem to always be frustration or anger....sometimes we can just be sitting there, and he'll lean over and bite my leg or something. He has bitten several kids at school (I am mentally prepared for him to get through the entire class--I think it's been 5 kids so far)...never to the point of breaking skin, but still....can't wait til he grows out of that phase. On a sad note, we lost both of our dogs this spring--they were both 11 year old greyhounds. Bridget died of kidney failure, and Bernie broke a leg due to early stage bone cancer. I have always been a dog person...the dogs were my "kids" before Andrew. The house seems so empty without them. I'm not sure how long I'll wait before getting another...but I'm sure we will! Nonetheless, as I sit here next to my sleeping little boy, I think about how lucky I am.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
December 28, 2010, Dad and I went to Enet Alem Orphanage in Addis at 10 am. We picked up Andrew and participated in a coffee ceremony to celebrate bringing Andrew into our lives forever. We shared coffee, popcorn, oranges, and candy with the orphanage director, the nurse, the nannies, and our driver and translator in the courtyard at the orphanage. Andrew (then Anwar) just took it all in. He was quiet and comfortable as I put him in the carrier, and he sat with his new mommy. When we left the orphanage, we went back to the Sadula for a bottle and a nap, and this new mommy changed her first diaper--amazingly, all of this just came naturally (MUCH to my surprise!). After a couple of hours, Alemu picked us up, and we went to the Embassy for the final appointment to complete the Ethiopian part of the adoption. After that, we shared egg salad sandwiches and cokes in the car while Andrew slept on my chest!...and that's it! So spectacular and so normal at the same time! This miracle became a regular part of my life.
One year later, I am still awed by how spectacular and how normal having Andrew in my life is.
Andrew is growing up so beautifully. He speaks many words now and will imitate anything you say to him. Lately, he has started calling all dogs "Bernie" (one of our greyhound's name), he can name all of the major Sesame Street characters (although he calls the Count "HA, ha ha!"), ha asks for Grandma and Grandpa ("ammaw" and "pa") and our neighbors Pete and Rhee; he wakes up and wants a ride in the swing ("whee") and to eat CANDY! I just took him out of the crib a couple of days ago and put him into the toddler bed, and he seems to really like it. He is doing well in daycare. He has such a funny personality, and we laugh every day. Now--it's not all bliss--along with how bright and energetic he is, there is a part of him that is becoming more and more independent, and he is sometimes a pretty tough challenge for me! He is into everything, likes to explore and be active, and he's vocal about what he wants! "A handful" is putting it mildly!!
The week before Christmas, I took Andrew with me to the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic in Chicago. I have been attending this conference for over 20 years, and I love it. It was a different experience with Andrew this year. It was so fun to share the grand Chicago Hilton with him...downtown Chicago sites....the music. We also got to meet up with our friends from our first Ethiopia trip--Suzanne and Larry and their son Patrick, and SOPHIA--who was in the same room in the same orphanage as Andrew.
We had a terrific Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza. My mom and dad spent a week with us. Andrew got a rocking horse, a little riding car, a tent/tunnel play house, Thomas trains, Fisher Price farm, Sesame Street neighborhood and people, Elmo singing/playing drums, and on and on. It was a big holiday for him!! He seems thrilled with everything!
This coming Saturday, New Year's Eve, will represent one year home with Andrew! We will have our own New Year's party, complete with popcorn, oranges, and coffee to celebrate a little bit Ethiopian style!
I am so incredibly grateful to be able to celebrate and share the ordinary and the extraordinary of having Andrew home for one year!
Sunday, November 13, 2011
On November 12, 2010, my parents and I were driven to an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where we met my son, Andrew for the first time. I held him, sang to him, saw his smile, looked into his eyes, and fell in love. He was 4 months old, with gorgeous eyes and a sweet spirit that I could feel the instant we met. Yesterday, Andrew and I celebrated that "first day of the rest of our lives" by just spending the day together. We had our favorite Waffle House breakfast, spent a couple of hours at the park--riding the tricycle, playing in the dirt, and enjoying the beautiful 65 degree Alabama November. We came home and took a nice nap before heading down to Andrew's first UAB Basketball game. We just stayed a short time at the game and came home for Oreos for dessert and bed. Just the 2 of us....he is such great company. I am so incredibly lucky.
Monday, October 31, 2011
My little bumble bee!! Although he hated wearing it at first, he got used to it, and the neighbors loved it! We just went to our closest neighbors' houses for trick or treat then came home to give out candy.
Yesterday, we went to a great Halloween party with our single mom/Ethiopian boys group. Daphne had planned great games for the kids and food all with the Halloween theme. It was really neat, and we all had a great time. Our first Halloween!!
Saturday, October 22, 2011
I took Andrew to the Great Pumpkin Patch today and took a few nice pictures. This inspired me to catch up on the old blog here!! First of all--my little boy was 16-months old yesterday. He continues to be absolutely the most beautiful, wonderful, smart, funny, loving kid in the world, and I'm so lucky that he is my son!
In the past couple of months, we've been through some wonderful challenges. First--daycare. Both mom and Andrew have shed a lot of tears during the transition into full time daycare. Andrew cried everyday at drop-off (and so did I!), and the first few weeks, he was so tired at the end of the day that he would basically fall asleep in my arms before we got out to the car! He got sick after a week in daycare, with a 102 degree fever; he got a terrible diaper rash the next week (which he had never had before), and I thought seriously about pulling him out and finding a nanny. However, since that time, Andrew has really grown and thrives at daycare. While drop off is still a little tough, his teachers say he stops crying a minute or two after I leave....and now when I pick him up at the end of the day, he is happy. He's learning so much, he continues to be so social and friendly/outgoing, and I really like his teachers and the care they give him. I feel like we are a team now, helping Andrew to learn and grow.
Sleep continues to be a challenge for us. A normal night is Andrew falling asleep between 8:15 and 8:45, up once for milk between 2 and 3, and then up at 5. I don't mind the up for milk between 2 and 3 so much...but the up for good at 5 is killing me. (I used to be an up-no-earlier-than-7 person). I think he'll grow out of this, but I'm really looking forward to that growth! An ATYPICAL night...but generally about once a week--includes Andrew waking up sometime in the wee hours...and being UP--wide awake and happy. I have taken him for drives trying to get him back down...and even did a Wal-Mart run one night around 2 am just to stop myself from going crazy! On nights like this, if I leave him in the crib to "cry himself back to sleep," he just screams and cries and ends up throwing up. Sleep doesn't seem to come....again--I think he'll grow out of this--can't wait!
Other than that, life is great! Andrew can speak several words, and he communicates with sign language well too. We know: eat, more, all done, bath, ball, sleep, mommy, daddy, baby, kiss, friend...we say bye, can high five and fist bump, kiss, and a whole slew more. He can identify his head, hair, eyes, ears, mouth, nose, feet/shoes, and more. He recognizes songs, sings certain words in a few, and does hand motions to several songs--favorites include The Ants Go Marching, If You're Happy and You Know It, Twinkle Twinkle, Row Row Row, Itsy-Bitsy Spider, 1-2 I love You, and John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt (although I sing it as Andrew Brighton Samuels). He can identify and do sounds of several animals, but the latest favorite is the pig, where he smashes in his (or my) nose and grunts. He's a pretty good eater with fruit at the top of his favorites--although bananas not as much as he used to--grapes, apples, peaches, oranges are up there. He also likes peas and carrots, and he goes crazy for corn. He seems to tolerate meats like chicken, beef, turkey, but he doesn't like them as much as other things. He does love chocolate. He has hundreds of dollars of toys which he enjoys, but his favorite pastime is to empty any drawer or cabinet he can get into--this includes my bathroom, where I'll often find bandaids, bottles of lotion, deodorant, eye drops, and other MORE PERSONAL items all over the house. It's usually funny to me, except after I've already picked those things up several times that day or if I'm trying to get out of the house--which of course, happens a lot! Andrew turns everything he can into a drum...and he's got great rhythm. He can even drum and make sound effects with his mouth and it's pretty entertaining.
At the Pumpkin Patch, we went on a hayride to the patch, and then Andrew got out and ran all over the place, falling in the dirt a million times. He loved every second of it. He would drum on the pumpkins, try to pick them up, and then run/fall/run to the next one. There was also a petting zoo there, and he pet a black pig after oinking at it, and he got bitten by a chicken (no big deal, but he didn't like it)! We also met another adopted Ethiopian there! I recognized the facial features in a beautiful little girl and approached her parents. She's 2 and has been home since she was 8 months old. They live in Birmingham, so we exchanged numbers and hope to include this new family in some of our Ethiopian get-togethers!
We will carve pumpkins together this afternoon! Sure to be a fun mess. Here are a few pictures from today!
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Andrew and I had some fantastic times this summer....but sadly, summer has come to an end. With the first day of classes at UAB today, I decided it was time to post a few things that happened in the late summer. FIRST--Andrew took his first solo steps last week!! I have a short video here of him taking some steps in my office. We also had a nice road trip to Atlanta to eat at an Ethiopian restaurant with our friends (other single moms and their kids). We swam a lot, spent time with family and friends, and simply enjoyed as much time together as we could! Andrew continues to grow up--my baby has turned into a toddler!! Sometimes, I just look at him and tear up with absolute, complete joy, love, and gratitude--I am so lucky that this little boy is my son.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Last weekend, Andrew and I flew into Grand Rapids, Michigan to begin our Michigan road trip! We began with a visit to St. Joseph--right on Lake Michigan--to our friends who were on the first Ethiopia trip with me and my parents. Larry and Suzanne and their biological son, Patrick are great folks! I'm really hoping that we will keep in touch with them and see them regularly, as their adopted daughter, Sophia, is just 2 months older than Andrew and was from the same orphanage as well as the same birth town. It will be great for them to have each other as they grow up. It was so fun to see the two of them together. After a couple of days with this great family, we headed to Battle Creek to meet my good friends Rodney and Dorinda, who live in Ann Arbor. We went to a wonderful zoo there--Binder Park...where we saw a lot of cool animals and even fed the giraffes! The Africa exhibit at this zoo is really terrific. If you're ever near Battle Creek, you should make a visit to this zoo! After the nice day, Andrew and I hopped into the car and drove to Wayland to visit with another adoptive family. Marcy and Doug were on our second trip to Ethiopia (it was their first). They have three biological kids and they adopted two from Ethiopia--Bizu, 7 and Dahlki, 5. We had dinner with their family, played, and enjoyed their wonderful company. What a fun family--I hope we see them again as well. The following morning, Andrew and I went to Adoption Associates-the placing agency we worked with to meet Jane, the Director and Sally, our main case worker.
It was a jam-packed trip...but a really good one....and I must say, Andrew is an excellent traveler! He stays happy and flexible. He is such good company. He makes me laugh and knows how to give and receive love. Even when our flight home got cancelled, and we got stuck in Chicago for an extra night with no luggage and only 3 diapers left, Andrew stayed in a good mood! He makes me a better person.