Friday, December 28, 2012

Unwrapping gifts and wrapping up the year

What a whirlwind of a year it has been! Almost one year ago to the day, Tor and I made the decision to pursue an adoption and now we have a little girl that I can't imagine not ever having in our lives...and another on the way :)  It has been a year of changes, in which I have learned a lot about myself and just about life in general.  I am so proud of us, especially of Zeia in her adjustment to her new life here with us.  She is a vivacious little girl full of love and bubbling energy.  I can never get enough of her smile, as it lets me know she is happy too.

Christmas Joy!!
2013 promises to be another year of change, and we are bracing ourselves for Baby T as best we can.  I think Zeia will be a great big sister, although I am prepared for her to need patience and time for her own adjustment to the new baby.  It will be interesting to say the least...

Happy Holiday Hugs
We are so fortunate to have such great support from our family and friends.  We are surrounded by love, and wonderful grandparents :)
This year we hosted Christmas dinner at our house, and Nick provided the ultimate spread!  Our exchange student was here with his wife who is visiting from Brazil, and Momoe came through towards the end of the night as well.  It was a great feast, with laughs and love all around.  I think Zeia truly enjoyed her very first Christmas...even if we didn't have a tree.

Some of my favorite Christmas photos

Gingerbread Girl 

1st and only candy cane

Making brown people for the gingerbread house
Gingerbread cottage complete...ignore the falling tree

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Its a Birthday...and a Baby

Last Saturday we celebrated Zeia's 1st birthday with a few close girlfriends.  We also celebrated the new life getting ready to join us....Baby T!  It was an amazing day, hosted by 2 of my favorite people Amber and Vysh :)

I am so grateful for amazing friends and the wonderful support they bring.  Zeia had a great time, and had no idea she was having to share her birthday long as the cupcake was all hers.

My sister even came by!  Simone met Zeia for the very first time, and it was very special to me.  We havn't seen her in months, and it was great to catch up with her and see that she is doing okay.

Princess Zeia is wearing dress that we brought back from Ethiopia, it is the first of 18 Ethiopian birthday gifts that we have for her.  She was be-a-u-ti-ful!   Pardon the nose scrape, someone took their first (and only) fall from the bed earlier this week.

Zeia and her baby cousins Lance and Aya...these 3 steal the show!

Presents for a special little girl...and boy ;)

 I can't believe what a big girl Zeia is becoming!  She looks like a true toddler more baby :)
Guess who is 1 today?!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday is a great day for blogging

It's been a busy Fall season full of love, fun, family, friends, and pumpkin costumes.  I haven't had much time to write, but it has all been for good reasons.  Zeia is a happy girl, growing up so fast right before our eyes.  Her first birthday will be here shortly, and I just want to make sure I capture some of the time leading up to it.  Her favorite thing to do is clap her hands (besides eating) and make noise!  Lots of noise!  Her favorite words are "Dada, mama, nana (banana), and that".  She has a smile that is contagious and her big curious eyes are always exploring the world around her.

Don't worry, we dont let her drink wine :)  We have family-style dinner at the Batten-Bowman residence about once a month, and it is one of our favorite nights.  We learn so many helpful tricks from Auntie Emma - like giving the kids the wine cork to suck like a charm.

Halloween was another fun night, here is Zeia with her buddies Aya and Enzo.  Of course - they stole the show, who can resist such cuteness!!

We spent Thanksgiving at grandma and grandpa's house and it was so much fun!  Can you tell how happy Cal is :)  Nick and Toni made another excellent spread.  Mommy's tummy was just too full of baby to really eat as much as I wanted...but I nibbled all night long.  This has definitely been a year to be grateful and thankful for so many things...our wonderful family and friends, bringing Zeia into our lives, and of course the new life growing with us everyday.

Fun in the sunshine with mommy on a lazy afternoon

I love this photo, she's "reading" a book and looks like a little teenager.  You can't tell, but she was kicking her legs.

Here she is on the very first day of 'school' or daycare in her case.  She attends Kidsland in Berkeley and she loves it!  The first few days were a challenge, but her caretaker Ana is warm and caring.  Now, Zeia actually reaches out to her sometimes and we can tell she is learning a lot in daycare while we are at work.  She is becoming more independent and content with keeping herself busy.  She plays really well with other kids, and is very good with meeting new people.  Yet and still, her attachment to us is very secure and she checks in with us all the time during play and when she is in the arms of other people.  The doctor has reassured us this is a very good sign.

The Many Faces of Zeia...silly girl posing for the camera

Oh...and did I mention she LOVES to eat?!  She is only in the 40th percentile for height, but the 70th percentile for weight!!  Looks are deceiving and everyone who picks her up learns quickly that she packs a lot in that small frame.  As grandma says, she is made of pure solid gold!

Well that's all folks!  Mommy will try to do a better job of keeping up the writing...she promises ;)

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Home at last, home at last!

We made it!

We are finally a happy family of 3 at home together.  I cannot express my feelings in words these days.  It is a combination of happiness, joy, peace, excitement, and a little anxiety.  It is a big change for everyone and I try to remember what an adjustment it is for baby girl most of all.  We have been preparing for this for months and months, but she has not.  Yet and still, this is one strong little girl!  She is so amazes me.  Her smiles never stop (for the most part), and she just keeps enjoying her day no matter what.

Even her sleep is going well!  We are actually quite shocked, and very happy, that she is basically sleeping through the night for 11-12 hours with only 1 wake-up for a bottle and then she is right back to sleep.  For our part, Tor and I have read all the favorite sleep books and absorbed advice from our fellow new parents.  We dont even have to drive around the block with her to get her to sleep ;)

Last week we had our first playgroup, and it was a blast! The parents and the babies all had fun in the park and at Rebecca's house.  The bonding is going well, and she played very well with the other little ones.

Aya, Enzo, Zeia, Teddy, and Lance

Cutest expressions ever

Sharing nicely

The ladies of the playgroup

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Better Days: Adventures of Mommy and her Mini-Me

This past week has been amazing in so many ways.  Zeia and I are having the kind of mommy-daughter bonding that some never get, especially at this age.  No job to leave to in the mornings, no distractions...just 100% mommy attention.  She seems to be enjoying all of our time together and I am glad to be here with her.  It has been a little lonely at times, and Tor will be joining us this Saturday night.  I am really excited as this girl is a LOT of work.

Everyone in Ethiopia has been really welcoming and sweet, especially here in the hotel.  Everyone wants to hold and love on Zeia.  It means a lot to me and I am very happy to be spending some extra time here and not just pulling her away to the U.S.

Here are just of few of my favorite shot from the week:
Ready for the U.S.

Fight On Baby

First bath from mommy

Relaxing with a foot propped up on the crib

Friday, September 14, 2012

First day back together: not so sure about "mommy"

Zeia has grown up quite a bit in just 2 weeks.  She was tired when they brought her in and I really think she is attached to the nannies.  She seemed okay for me to take her but there were nowhere near the smiles from our visit last month.  We played for a few minutes and I could tell she was tired so I fed here and let her focus on my face as long as she could.  She was out in 5 minutes or less.  She slept face down on my chest and we both rested on the couch since of course I was the only visiting parent.  After about an hour, she woke up 50/50.  she didnt recognize where she was but she was happy to be in my face and started playing with my mouth.  We had tummy time, and she seems frustrated that she can't crawl yet.  I pulled out the favorites, the mirror block was still fun to her but not like last time.  She was more interested in being held, hitting things together, and looking at the plant.  She still made good eye contact but it did not result in immediate smiles :(

(the attached photo pretty much sums up her thoughts on the visit, although she is still pretty darn cute even not smiling) lol
How long are you here this time woman??

Overall, it was a good visit.  I put her on her back to put socks on and she started to cry right away.  So - although not as smiley, she is still interested in attention. It is taking some getting used to on my part.  She played with the wrapper from the banana crackers I brought, and was more interested in putting the crackers in MY mouth than hers. I think she was trying to tell me she wanted certain things by slapping me on the shoulder while staring at them?  I dunno, it was a lot to take in over just an hour.  I am sure nothing is wrong, but there is an adjustment period that seems to be needed so maybe it is good I am here early.  It seems we will need to re-bond for sure because she is starting to really be comfortable in what is familiar to her...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Heading back

It looks like all the paperwork is all set to be submitted on Tuesday! The application for Zeia's VISA as well as the private investigator's report are all ready to go and so am I.  I will be returning to Ethiopia this Friday to check her out of the foster home and wait for our exit interview with the Embassy.  Fingers crossed everyone - as of now I am traveling without an Embassy appointment in the hopes that it will be scheduled quickly.  Let's hope I can bring her home quickly :)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Court day (delayed post)

Who's happy?!

Today was the big day…or at least another big day.  We woke up around 3:30, a little later than the day before.  For breakfast, the chef prepared fried vegetable and meat ‘samosas’ that were delicious.  Soon after, the drivers picked us up around 8:30 for our 9AM court appointments.  We drove about 20 minutes or so through the city, in a light rain.  One we pulled up, the driver let us out so he could park and we headed into the building.  The security guards made patted down the men, and seemed put off when I unzipped my jacket preparing for the same. Apparently women can sneak things into the courthouse J

There were a total of (4) families with our agency, and we all met up in the waiting room with our lawyer, Mr. Alemu.  The room was packed, and we heard that this was the last day of court before the rainy season closure…we just made it!  When it was our turn, we all went in together and sat before the judge.  She looked over our passports and paperwork, and then the questioning began.  Basically, she asked us all the same questions at the exact same time and we all answered together:
1.    Do you have any other children?
2.    If so, have you told them about the adoption?  How do they feel about it?
3.    Have you seen the children yet?  How much time have you spent with them?
4.    Do you know any other families that have adopted from Ethiopia?
5.    Have you been learning about Ethiopia so you can teach your child about their culture?
6.    Do you realize that this adoption is final and irrevocable for ANY reason?
7.    Do you still want to adopt this child?

It was on this last question that my eyes teared up…there are no words strong enough to answer this and convey how much we want this.  She looked over the paperwork one final time and then brought out her stamp.  

“Congratulations, you have all cleared and the adoptions are approved” and just like that she made us parents J

Destination: Berkeley, CA

Monday, August 20, 2012

Meeting you for the first time...the day my life changed

Words cannot express how we felt on this I will just let the photos do the talking.

A happy family of 3!

Mid-morning nap

Mid-afternoon nap...right after her first taste of solid foods

Who can resist that face?!

Daddy's girl?  We shall see :)