Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Celebrating Jesus..6 times over!

Christmas day was filled with a lot of fun, including 6 celebrations and 5 stops... in a 12 hour window. The boys sang happy birthday to Jesus between each stop! Christmas really comes alive with children!

Celebration Number 1: Our House :)

The boys woke up around 8 or so and had no idea it was Christmas. Once they unpackaged their new Cars figures, they had little to no interest in opening anything else.
Their favorite gifts from Santa... CARS action figures... including Mater, which cost his elves only $3.50, but probably five times that in gas driving around trying to find him!
A T.homas puzzle brought P pure delight!

Stockings! Each boy received an O.livia book :) One of P's favorite characters. He sleeps with a stuffed pig (he named Olivia) every nite.

Celebration Number 2: Mamaw's House (Wes's Grandmother)

We enjoyed a delicious lunch and we got a chance to share our joys from the year. Wes gave a beautiful testimony about our time in Ethiopia. Afterwards, we were able to snatch a picture of the 4 great-grandsons together (there is a fifth, baby Oscar, but he was not here Christmas morning.) "Mamaw" has all great-grandsons and grandsons-- 11 boys total for her! Not one girl!
Celebrations Number 3: MomMom and DadDad's House (My parents)

Whew. By this time the boys were on present overload and were a little on the fussy side. B's favorite gift was a watch from MomMom. P loved his new riding boots and the boxes. Each time he opened a gift, he threw it out and said, "cool box!" Then he had enough and declined opening gifts all together.
B's new watch! So proud and oh so grown!
P sporting his new boots and running thru MomMom's house.
Wearing the stickers... this brought back memories from the time we spent with B at the care center in Addis. The kids like to wear the stickers on their skin, not their clothes, or on paper where they really belong! This kept him occupied for quite some time.
Celebration Number 4: DearMa Suzie's House (My God-mother, or as P calls her, Shoo-zie)

Unfortunately, I neglected to take any more pics Christmas day. I am a little angry at myself. But I will briefly descrive the rest of the stops. P napped in the car, but B managed to spend the entire day awake. We enjoyed some time with Suzie and her girls, Ang and Bekah, and Suzie grand-puppies, esp. Bilbo who loved playing with B. We watched the kids dance and sing and laughed together. I think we did all miss Tom. Suzie's husband, Tom, passed away just after Christmas last year, but I am sure he would be glad to know that we all were there to hang out, laugh, and eat delicious food!

Celebration Number 5: Medhanie and Mirihet's House, our Eritrean friends.

Earlier in the Advent Season we wrapped gifts and packaged household supplies for our Eritrean friends with the intent to deliver on it to them on Christmas. Although they are Orthodox and celebrate Genna (the birth of Christ on January 7th), we wanted to celebrate December 25th too! We missed Mirihet, as she spent the holiday with her friend, Teabe, who just gave birth. We did get a chance to see Medhanie and his son, Abel, who is the same age as P! Medhanie was particularly delighted to receive several pounds of spices we brought back from Ethiopia! I bet they will have some delicious food this week! Mmmmm...berbere :) We are so grateful for Medhanie and his family.

Celebration Number 6: Aunt Gloria's House! (By this time, we were running on empty...)

Each year we end the day at Wes' Aunt Gloria's. We eat...again. And the kids laugh and play... all ten of them! Whew. Payton graced us with a karaoke performance. He performed his greatest and most well-known hits, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle, ABCs, Jingle Bells, and topped it off with a grand finale of Raffi's Mr. Sun. This child was born to perform. Every day I am overwhelmed by his spirit and love of life. I cannot wait to see just who he will become as he grows and matures! I hope this lively spirit of his is always a part of him!

As we re-loaded the car between each stop and took a few moments to process, I just kept thanking God for these little boys. Christmas as a family of four was amazing!

Thank you God, for so many beautiful gifts, including Your own Son, sent so many years ago to offer hope to a broken world.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Pre-Christmas Festivities

Although we toned down the gift giving and such this year and tried to focus more on the Spirit of Christmas, the season was still filled with holiday festivities. We spent a day in West Virginia with Wes' immediate family. It was a relaxing day and the boys had a great time with their cousin, Bryden!

An attempt at a family portrait.
The boys cheesin'. They were so happy and eager to play with their new radio flyer toys from Ganma and GaGa! I need to clear out the basement some so they can enjoy them a bit more during the winter months.

The weekend of the 18th my mom's extended family gathered to celebrate at a local barn. The kids got a chance to meet Santa and hit pinatas and just have good time! It was a great chance to catch up with some of my family.

These pics are from my cousin's blog. She did a great job capturing the moment! B sat on Santa's lap with cousin Kathryn.
B stashed tons of candy. I found at least twenty pieces in his pockets. Payton even took a turn hitting the pinata.

As we got a little closer to Christmas, the boys wrote a letter to Santa. It was pretty easy because as I suggested a few items (like chap stick and candy and matchbox cars ), and that is what they said they wanted! Somehow I think they will have higher expectations next year, but we still want to keep it simple.

The stockings were hung.... the night before Christmas! ( I ordered B's stocking, but it did not come until just before Christmas so I did not want to hang the rest of them up without his. Anyhow, when it got here I realized I ordered the embroidering in a different type than the others...grrr... oh well.)
Santa did come... and brought each person one gift. We are trying to let the kids enjoy the "magic" of Christmas, but all teach them that excess, is indeed excess, and we we have more than enough. To help them understand this concept, we took gifts, including some of the kid's toys, to one of the local Eritrean refugee families we know. It was a blessing to us to share with this Christmas season with them.

We also hosted an annual chili dinner on Christmas Eve after church. We were blessed to have our families there. P and B posing with their grandparents - MomMom and DadDad.

We also added ornaments to the tree as B thought each branch needed one. I was waiting to finish decorating the tree until we had one special ornament that I ordered. P has a bunch of "baby's first Christmas" ornaments and others he has received over the years so I wanted B to have something special too. I ordered the ornament below from s.hutterfly. B loved it! He was so excited to put it on the tree!

Finally, we were able to visit a live nativity...complete with camels. The boys loved it and seemed to begin to understand the idea of Baby Jesus and the celebration of his birth. They talked about baby Jesus quite a bit and sang happy birthday multiple times on Christmas. B sang too, but I am not sure how much of what he said he understands. He is soaking up English soooo fast!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

It's just... different this year.





I am not a scrooge. I promise. In fact, I normally decorate a ton for Christmas. I love it! I have 30 plus department 56 village pieces, 3 boxes overflowing with ornaments, wreaths, 5 nativity sets, and more. But this year, my heart was not prepared to decorate or celebrate the Western, material, Christmas traditions. Heck, it hardly wanted to buy or accept gifts. Visiting Ethiopia changed me. It changed Wes. It changed our family. Well, Ethiopia itself did not, but God used our experience there to mold these selfish hearts of ours. I definitely think we have some serious survivor's guilt right now, but all that extra stuff of the material Christmas just did not seem important this year. I know that B's friends at the orphanage will not be getting Christmas gifts this year. I know that the surviving members of B's birth family will not either. I know the millions of children in places like Ethiopia and Haiti will not even have clean water or a meal on Christmas. The money spent on gifts should be helping these children and families. It can do so much more than buy a plastic toy or a holiday decoration. As I watched my kids, including one that just two weeks prior had no concept of ownership or toys that beep and flash and sing and talk, rip open their gifts at the family gathering this past Saturday, I was embarrassed. Not by my children's behavior, they were super-stars thru the 8 hours of marathon partying. I was embarrassed by our (as in Americans in general) excess. Don't get me wrong; I loved watching my kids faces as they opened new toys, especially B who had never had this experience before. Moreover, I love that our extended family welcomed B so heartily with very thoughtful gifts. But underneath my smile as they dug into the gifts, my heart ached for all of those kids around the globe missing out on a tradition many American children take for granted because they are busy trying to find clean water and a little food to eat. Perhaps it was this underlying thought that brought tears to my eyes when I received a special gift from my aunts. They handed me a water bottle and on the inside was a slip of paper informing me that a donation had been made in my honor to provide clean drinking water for life to someone in Ethiopia. They gave each person (in our VERY large family) a bottle and the same information. My eyes teared up. I wish I had thought of something so meaningful to share as gifts, but what a great way to honor B and his first home. I can't wait to explain to him what his great aunts did in his honor. Amazing.

This Christmas is different in many ways. And although my house lacks the decor and finishing touches that I once consumed my holiday hours, I am loving this Christmas season. I never imagined B would be home in time to celebrate. And just as they celebrated the arrival of a Child on the first Christmas, we too, will celebrate the arrival of a special child. Both of these children were gift from God. One, a tiny Babe who saved my soul. And the other a four-year-old delight to remind me of the Greatest Gift and the hope He promises.

This year there will be very few presents under our very first artificial tree, sparsly decorated with only 15 or so of my 200 plus ornaments. (We are die-hard real tree-ers, but P's asthma made it necessary for us to go faux.) The only other elements in our house the scream holiday are the two small nativity sets and advent candle. The rest is still boxed. And it will stay there for now. This year my heart understands Christmas with a new meaning and expectancy. And well, it's just... different this year.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

HOME!








You know that overwhelmed feeling, whether it be work or house cleaning or writing a paper or... well, you get the point. That is kind of how I feel right now. It is too overwhelming to even think about starting to document everything. I have so many adoption-related posts running thru my head right now: dealing with grief, attachment, older child adoption, adopting out of birth order, parasites, sibling relationships, diet, schooling, ELL, and the list goes on. Every time someone posts on our agency's discussion board, I have something to add or questions to ask the veteran parents, but I rarely do. I am exhausted. But oh so happy. My boy is home. We've had challenges (grief when leaving his friends, dealing with the very cold temperatures, scared of the horses, mild medical issues) but overall the transition has been amazing and wonderful. Bunte is a joy. He very slowly coming out of his shell and I cannot wait to see the flower of child still waiting to bloom. Right now, the first outer petal is beginning to peel away from the stem, revealing just a hint of color. And I am pretty sure it is red, his favorite color. I cannot wait to see what is revealed when this flow is in full bloom and just how gorgeous this child will be. I have 3 more days of work and then I can take my FMLA leave and I will be home with him until March 7th. I am so excited to have some special time with both of my boys.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

9 Days



remain until we are a family of four living on the same continent. Words simply cannot express the gratitude in my heart today. Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ethiopian Birth Certificate

Today we received our sons NEW birth certificate. This may not seem like a big deal, but it makes everything feel so much more real to me. We are now recorded in Ethiopia as Bunte's mom and dad. The other beautiful part of receiving his birth certificate today is that it means Wes is on track -though not confirmed- to travel for his embassy appointment on December 1st! In addition to his birth certificate, we received our Visa 37 confirmation from the embassy and Bunte's adoption decree issued by the courts! Our son's legal name (as it is printed on his Ethiopian documents) is Bute Wesley Kite. It is customary for Ethiopian children to take their father's first and last name. We are one more step closer to bringing this boy home! Please keep praying for Bute to have a negative TB test (that is pretty much our last major hoop to jump through)!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Scary Giraffe?




Payton had a great time getting 'eats this year! I am sure everyone was terrified of this scary giraffe! He was oh so cute!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Crown

Our Beautiful, Smart, Creative, and Kind Son, Bute!

Showing Bute his new family.
A kiss for Mama :)
All smiles! This is my one of my favorite pics from the trip!
First encounter with Daddy. He was a little shy and averted his eyes.
Required proof (newspaper) for IR3 visa at embassy in a few weeks! Also take note of Bute's pipe cleaner crown. We made these with him the first day we met him and then after court his Dad shared with us that his name means "my crown." I cried. How amazing is that! Bute is my crown and his birth father's crown! ANd I think he knows it... :)

I still cannot believe this is real. Like really, really real! I am legally a Mama to two. I just wish I could have them both in the same place. I cannot describe my joy and heartache thru this week's adventures- the sights, sounds, smells, everything associated with this trip to Ethiopia for court. It is just too much... court was more emotional than I imagined. Immediately my mind wandered back to the waiting room at the hospital in Atlanta two years ago and the nerves and excitement and fears of that day, except this time all of those emotions were multiplied and complicated. This time I had to watch the pain in the birth families' faces as they made a decision that was the best for their child at this time. It is not an easy decision. Adoption isn't just a happy thing, there is also loss that comes with adopting, both for the child and the birth family. But then I was also privileged to watch the birth families smiles as they saw each adoptive family come out of the court room crying as well. While they ached, they were delighted to see hope and opportunity for their children. We experienced all of this with Bute's (we are changing his name slightly when he returns home to Bunte) father. We even had the opportunity for all of us to meet together at the care center after court (Wes, me, Bute, and his birth father). The images of this day will never go away. I just cannot write what I want to express and most of the emotions and stories of this week will be Bute's alone...

Maybe I will be able to write more clearly once I am home. For now, back to waiting at the airport in Frankfort...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Trying Not to Freak Out...

about leaving my boy. Seriously. I need to get over and I know that once I am Ethiopia I will be very distracted, but right now it just makes me sad to leave my sweet boy. When we leave on Saturday I will spend my first nite away from my son. It is a little ridiculous that I am this upset about leaving him. I would say that I am the one with attachment issues here, not Payton. Anyhow, the only other nite he spent away from me was the nite he stayed with his birthmother at the hospital. I know Payton will be good hands while we are away, but it is always hard to let go.

On Sunday I found out that our previous set of childcare plans would not pan out (my friend that was going to watch Payton/house/dogs/horses fell and broke her arm and cannot care for Payton now.) I started making a ton of phone calls and piecing together a new plan for Payton. Whew. I think it is (mostly) arranged. Now I am working on house/dog/horse sitter arrangements.

We are not really packed AT ALL! Which has me freaking out! However, I now have a rough sketch of my lesson plans so I am finally starting to calm down on that end (tho the papers will NOT be graded when I leave.)

Wes got his last three shots today and paid up on all of his vaccination not covered by insurance(yellow fever/typhoid/etc). It was a hefty $196 worth of shots. I am still waiting to hear back from my insurance company.

We have ordered a photo book for Bunte and I am going to make him a mini-poster of our family tonite. We were not going to tell him who we are, but several families that returned last week said that the older kids and nannies tell them as soon as you get there. So I guess when he meets us the cat will be out of the bag. I have a lovie, small truck, a stuffed animal, his picture book, a picture of us on string for him to wear, and poster (all to fit in a one gallon bag!) We can only give this to him ourselves if we pass court next Thursday, otherwise we will leave it with the nannies! Please pray with us! If all goes according to plan, we are slated for a November 17 embassy date. I would have never imagined that our date could be this early! AMAZING! This is VERY hopeful thinking, but God has worked miracles so far, so I am not going to place a limit on His faithfulness now.

I cannot believe that in one week I will be able to hold my son in my arms for the first time. What an amazing feeling! My mind is so overwhelmed that I cannot even begin to describe everything I am feeling right now. So, with that...I am off to *start* packing and pray that the plane does not crash (I HATE planes).

If you are the praying type, here are some specific requests:
1. Safe travels for Wes and D.
2. For Payton to adjust to all the transitions while we are away.
3. For the birth parent to safely arrive and testify at court (needed to pass court).
4. For all of the paperwork to be ok'd during court (needed for us to pass).
5. For Little B's heart to be safely guarded and prepared to meet us (and then for us to leave again).
6. For us to process all of the sites and sounds of Ethiopia so that we can share in Little B's culture and remember it well for him as he grows and asks questions.
7. For our health- we are well vaccinated, but we want to enjoy the moment of meeting B, not be so sick that we miss out on the joy.
8. For the other children at the orphanage who are waiting on families to not grow hopeless, but live happily as they wait on their forever families (btw, if you have ever considered adopting, our agency has over 15 waiting boys from ages 1-9 that need homes!)

WHEW!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ouchies


Yup. We are all vaccinated! Wes and I got our travel vaccines for Ethiopia. I received the immunizations for Hep A, Polio, DTap, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Meningitis. Wes was updated with all of those plus chicken pox. His mom could not remember if he had them or not. Our arms were sore for at least a week!

Payton went to the doctor this week for his two year old check up and they gave him Hep A, Polio, and the MMR.

Hopefully we will have some protection against anything we might be exposed to in Ethiopia.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Going Private by Request

As of tomorrow, this blog will be temporarily private. Our agency has suggested that prospective adoptive parents to do to ensure that we are not violating Ethiopia's social media laws in any way... until then... please keep praying for us. We leave for our court date in just about one month (it was moved up!) If you would like a password for this blog, email rundmk1 at aol dot com or go to www.shadesofus.wordpress.com for updates.

Thanks! Sorry (for my two loyal readers... shout out to you, Beth ;)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday, Sweet Payton!

Today we celebrated our son! We both took the day off of work and took Payton to the "Depot" for lunch (an old train station with a caboose outside!) and then to his favorite toy store. Payton played hard and picked out a new train set and a train book for his birthday. Payton ended the day with an egg-free cupcake (and he said the work cake for the first time... it just occurred to me that he has not been exposed to it much because of his allergy, so it was a very meaningful word to learn today. It repeated it over. over. over.) We topped it off with some of his new skin care products from Carol's Daughter (reviews to come after we use it on P for awhile). It was so fun to have a day just for him. I spent much of the day thinking about Mama C today and wondering what she was feeling today. I still have such admiration for her strength and I am so grateful that she gave Payton the miraculous gift of life.