Andrew and Mommy

Andrew and Mommy

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Together Forever Day

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

November 12

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

Happy Halloween!

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

16-months old and growing up fast!

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

Some happenings in the past month....

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

Our Michigan Road Trip

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.

Introducing....Andrew Brighton Samuels!

Today, we had our official re-adoption here in Alabama. Even though Andrew has legally been my son since the adoption in Ethiopia on November 18th, Alabama requires an additional legal process in order to get an Alabama birth certificate. It felt like a formality to me....but I guess it was necessary to change his name from Anwar Rhondasue Samuels!! We did take a few pictures of the event....of us with the Judge and with our lawyer.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, my baby boy!

We celebrated Andrew's first birthday today! Grandma and Grandpa are here for a visit, and they helped make it a really special day! First, we went out to lunch and then shopping so Grandma and Grandpa could buy Andrew his own chair for video-watching! We found a cute Mickey Mouse Clubhouse rocker! After we came home for a quick nap, we met friends at Habaneros for dinner and then came back home for birthday cake. You'll see in the pictures that the cake was a smashing success! After the cake, we opened presents, and Andrew played with each of them! In all we had about 20 friends--neighbors, babysitters, friends from work, and single mom group friends to help celebrate the day! I felt so lucky to have such a wonderful support network for my little boy. Throughout the day, I often thought about our first meeting, bringing Andrew home, and how much has changed since he has been home. Honestly, I can't even really remember life before Andrew! This little boy has truly made my life more meaningful, more beautiful, more memorable, and so incredibly full of love! I love him so much, and I love being his mommy!

Andrew is now walking while holding onto things--me, furniture, etc. He has a lot to say too! He imitates sounds and uses expressive vocal inflections while gesturing or pointing with his hands. He plays hide and seek! If I crawl, he follows me, and I will hide around the corner waiting for him...when I say "boo," he jumps and startles, but then he busts out laughing and wants to do it again! He eats everything, especially loves all fruit--even really sour things like limes! He is learning how to kiss properly (instead of biting my lip off!), and he is such a happy baby!

Happy First Birthday, my baby boy!!

Friday, June 3, 2011

11 months old and getting more mobile every day!

Andrew started crawling like crazy a few weeks ago. He is so strong...and fast! Last weekend, we went to see Grandma and Grandpa at the beach in South Carolina. Andrew loved spending time with his grandparents (and I sense they enjoyed it too!), and we spent a couple of days at the beach. My little boy has no fear! He headed straight for the ocean....ate a few handfuls of sand along the way....and crawled right into the waves! We had a great time. Here are a few pictures from our visit with Grandma and Grandpa, our cousin Aiden, the beach, and even a funny shot from an old fashioned crib in a hotel from earlier in the month.

Andrew is pulling up to standing too...and his preferred mode of transportation is to walk with me holding his hands for balance. He grows so fast!! He continues to have the most outgoing and friendly happy...and brings joy to all he meets!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Single moms and awesome Ethio Kids dinner!

Tonight, we went to Daphne's house. She and Ben, Melissa and Gizatu, Andrew and I, and Vanessa (who is just starting the adoption process) had a great time together. I'm so glad that we have each other and that our children will grow up together. Andrew watched and listened to the "big boys" and started imitating them while they played. Ben and Gizatu play so well together--it's fun to hear them and watch them. The moms got a chance to catch up with each other and even to eat dinner! Melissa made yummy lasagna, and the rest of us pitched in with a dish too. What a great group of gals and kids!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

...and so it begins....

some 10-month old pics

One of my former students is a professional photographer in Atlanta. She was in town visiting her parents a couple of weeks ago, and we met at the Railroad Park where she took a few pictures for us!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

My first mother's far, I have played on the floor with Andrew, given him breakfast, done his laundry, and now, I'm watching him take a nap! Being a mom. He is absolutely the most beautiful boy in the world. I am so lucky to be his mommy.

Andrew--I love you up to the sky.....and for all yesterdays, todays and tomorrows!

Happy Mother's Day to all of the wonderful moms in my life--my own incredible mom, my sisters, aunts, cousins, nieces, friends, and fellow adoptive moms! We share the bond of motherhood and of making the world a better place through our children!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Three months home!

This past week, Andrew and I celebrated our 3-months home anniversary! We spent the whole day together, going to the park, shopping for new clothes, playing on the floor, singing, dancing, jumparooing:-), and we ended the day with a chocolate milk toast to honor the day! Here are some self-timed photos made before bed on March 31, 2011--3 months home!

I can't believe it's only been 3 months! It's hard to remember life before Andrew!! He makes me laugh every day (and I make sure to make him laugh every day too!). He's growing, trying new foods, and getting more mobile. His babbling is adorable--he can say "da," "ma," "ba," "ya," and "na." He wakes up happy every day! I love every day with my beautiful son.