Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas 2011

This year we had an amazing Christmas! I am so very blessed. We were able to spend the week before Christmas with my parents. On Christmas Eve, we spent several hours with good friends eating a Mexican breakfast (kids were in pajamas) and decorating cookies. We also spent a few hours with Adam's parents and grandma as we do each year.

As soon as Wes lost his top two teeth,
I purchased this shirt for him. Perfect timing!

Alemitu pushing cousin Chloe around. Even though it
doesn't look like it, Chloe was having a blast.

At the zoo with grandma and grandpa!

Going down the polar slide at the zoo. Grandma and grandpa paid for
them to go a few times. The boys were yelling that it was the
best day ever after they finished riding. Grandma even went too!

On Christmas morning, the boys woke us up at 8:15 and they ran out to see that Santa had brought them new bikes and Ghostbuster toys. The boys love anything Ghostbusters since we bought them some used Ghostbuster toys on Ebay this summer. Alemitu got a cozy coupe, a little horse, and some other toys. She didn't care about unwrapping any gifts, but she stayed in her cozy coupe and pretended to drive all morning. My sister and her family came over for a few hours, and it was wonderful. After they left, our house was quiet. Alemitu was napping and the boys were playing in their room. I remember how my mom used to say that Christmas afternoons were so quiet as we played with our toys. It was such a beautiful and calm day, and we even went on a few bike rides. The boys haven't stopped playing with their toys, and we even had to ask them to go to bed around 1 a.m. last night. It has been a wonderful Christmas, and we are so very blessed.

Calvin riding his new bike with his Ghostbuster costume on.

When Alemitu saw these horses at the store, she would scream her head off.
She was terrified of the noise. I kept taking her to the store and letting her get
used to the "nice horsey". She loved her horse when she saw it under the tree.

She loves to sit in her cozy coupe. So far, she can go backwards in it.

My new bike!!!! My old bike broke a few months ago, and so I've been riding
Adam's. I am so happy I got a new one for Christmas! Alemitu and I always
ride to the park and the grocery store during the week.

Great Grandma and Grandpa Jones got Alemitu this slide. She has
no fear and slides down it so fast -- over and over and over again

Normally for Christmas we pick a family with my sister and provide them with gifts. This year, we did something different. We are helping a family in Korah (the dump and leprosy colony we visited in Ethiopia). These people really touched our hearts, and so we are providing for a single mother to have her children in day care while she works. This provides two meals for the family, education for the children, medical care, etc. You can watch a video below regarding this program. Because of the support they have received in the past 6 months, they are waiting to get approval to add more families to this program. That is wonderful!

I hope you and your families had a great holiday as well. We love you all!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Alemitu's Hair

After 9 months, I have started to feel like I finally understand how to take care of Alemitu's hair. This week I decided to do something a little more advanced. My goal was to complete the style within 3 hours. NOT including any breaks, it took me over 5 1/2 hours. Including breaks and two trips to the beauty store for more hair extensions, it took 9 hours.

Alemi did great. She has learned to just lay on the floor and rest her head on my legs -- all while watching Care Bears. Today I saw Care Bears over and over and over again. Allie even fell asleep at one point. While I am so sore to the point I want to cry, two good things came out of this. Allie got a great style, and I learned that she is ready to fly on an airplane again. If she can sit all day and get her hair done, I think she is finally old enough to sit still on a plane.

Step 1: Remove last week's style and brush out her hair.

Step 2: Shampoo her hair, and comb it out again. After shampooing, put it in loose braids so it doesn't tangle up overnight.

Step 3: Set up hair braiding station. Fully equipped with 3 types of hair extensions; 4 different products; beads; clips; scissors; combs; bands -- and Care Bears.

Step 4: Start the clock and start the braiding.

Step 5: Take lots of Advil and hope that this style lasts at least 10 days.

Monday, November 28, 2011

State of the Union

We've had a lot going on the past 3 months that I thought I would take some time to share where we are at right now.

Adam has moved his business from a studio in our house to a studio in Scottsdale. He is at a place that houses several video production companies. While this was a scary move, it was definitely worth it. He has already seen such a huge benefit to working at the Scottsdale studio. Adam's business is booming, and we are so very grateful for that. At home he has been working with the boys on rollerblading and skateboarding. The weather is great and we enjoy the time outside.

Because Adam no longer needed a studio at home, we decided to move out of our big house and into a house that was much more practical for this. We love it! At school the boys, especially Wes, will write about it in their journal. They are so happy that we are closer to "each uddy" (each other). Allie loves the new house because she can walk anywhere without having to worry about gates and stairs. I love it because it is so much easier for me to maintain. I love being able to open the back patio door while I cook dinner and let the boys play outside on the trampoline and not having to worry about them falling into a pool. (But I also love that we have a community pool we can go to anytime.) I love how the yard and the inside are so much easier to maintain. Adam loves the house because he doesn't feel like he lives where he works anymore. We share an office and the office opens up into our family room, so even when he does do work at home we are still together. We also love that the house is right across the street from our city park. We are at the park all the time whether it is to picnic, play on the playground, ride bikes, or let the boys go into the skate park. We love, love, love this house!
Picture of Adam's office space in September when it was still under construction.

Like Adam, I just moved my business too. I have always been a contractor and just rented my space at different salons. A month ago, I was presented with an opportunity to have my own salon suite. A great friend of mine and I teamed up and opened our own place called The Chair. Our salon is in a building that houses several small, individual salons. I love it there! I love working with Bridget so much, and I love having my own place. My clients love the salon, and that just makes it so much easier. Leaving my last salon turned out to be very dramatic, and so I am so grateful to have gotten the opportunity to go elsewhere.

As for me personally, I am really happy just being with my family. We just spent Thanksgiving weekend in Flagstaff for a little family getaway. It was so very nice to just spend time with Adam and the kids. When Adam showed me the photo that we took in Flagstaff, I just got this warm and fuzzy feeling about how we are a family of five now. Seems silly, but it was just shocking for me to realize that. We are a family of five. On the drive home from Flagstaff, Adam and I talked about how one of the social workers told us that we were a very close knit family of 4. There was such a tight bond -- would we be able to allow a 5th person into our family? I'm a worry wart, and that honestly worried me. I love my boys so much, and I didn't want to have to take away some of my love for them to pass it on to someone else. However, Adam was right when he told me that my heart would grow bigger. Could we allow a 5th person into our family? YES! I can't imagine life without all THREE of my kids. We are now a tight group of FIVE. Life is just wonderful. Whether it is riding my bike to the grocery store with Allie, going to the park with the boys, or watching a late night movie with Adam -- life is wonderful. I cherish these moments and often think about how blessed we are.

Picture of 1/2 of my salon suite. Bridget's station and chair are behind me.

Calvin is doing great. He still loves school and Mrs. VanDeCar. He has a bunch of friends that he runs around with on the playground. Calvin plays football and just enjoys being on the team and able to hang out with this friends. He has taken a big interest into skateboarding, and he will be getting some professional lessons soon. Calvin is so patient and doesn't get frustrated easy, so this type of sport is perfect for him. He still loves to play with his brother or by himself. And most importantly, he still dresses up in costumes EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Wes is just as fast paced as always. The kid just goes and goes and goes and well you get the idea. He loves school too. He always wants to play on the trampoline, wrestle with Calvin or Allie, or play the Wii. I don't need to set an alarm in the morning, but Wes will come in an tell me that it is 7:02 -- and I'm late getting up! Wes is always worried about the time (like his mom), and he also worries about everything else (i.e. putting his folder back into his school back, turning in his homework, etc.) Even though he is super fast paced, he is such a little cuddle bug and full of compliments for people. He is very competitive, and loves trash talking his Grandma Allen when they play games. He keeps track of how many Uno "wins" each person has during each visit.

Alemitu is almost 18 months and is also always on the go. She loves wrestling with Wes or watching Wes try to beat up Adam, but cries when Adam wrestles with Wes. She is still a GREAT sleeper, and I am so very grateful for this! Her two favorite words are happily yelling "No!" or saying "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy" and on and on and on. We thought our 2 1/2 hour trip to Flagstaff would be filled with her constantly saying "mommy". Whenever I look at her as she says it over and over and over again, she just smiles and waves, and then keeps saying "mommy". I forgot to mention, her third favorite word "Pizza!" She thinks all food is pizza, so every breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack she keeps yelling "Pizza!" with excitement as we prepare her food. She says lots of other words too, but these three seem to be her favorite. She recently went to the doctor and she has completely caught up developmentally. The only issue left is her growth. The doctor wants to see her again in a month to do some more measurements. Her bones are showing a delayed growth, but it isn't something to worry about. She IS growing, but it just shows that she had quite a bit of malnutrition when she was little. She'll catch up, but I think she will always be petite. Alemi loves to smile and cuddle, and we are so lucky to have her in our family.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Celebration Day!

Today was an AMAZING day!! All three of my children had really special events today, and everything went great!

Allie was NOT happy anytime we moved her balloon out of the way.

Alemitu's event was her final court room appearance to finalize her adoption in the State of Arizona. We have already adopted Alemitu, but by doing it again through the state then we are able to have easier access to her birth certificate, adoption records, etc. Otherwise we would have to get them from Ethiopia when they are needed. In addition, this allowed us to change her name back to her original name. When we brought her into the US, the embassy renamed her to "Alemitu ADAM Fischer". So we gave her her grandfather's name back, and she is once again "Alemitu Tagese Fischer".

Our paperwork finished just in time to be a part of National Adoption Day. There were about 300 families in Phoenix that came to the courtroom today for their adoption proceedings. There were bounce houses, free food and treats, and even Santa Claus. My mom came to visit this weekend and so she and Jenna's family were able to come to court with us. After we all enjoyed the National Adoption Day festivities, we met with our attorney and then went to our court hearing. I knew this was just a formality as she has been legally ours for 8 months now. I was surprised that we all got choked up during the hearing when the judge said "Your adoption is final." It was emotional, and when leaving the court room Adam said a prayer with Allie for her grandfather, Tagese.

After the hearing, we all rushed back to the football fields. Today was Wes & Calvin's big football tournament. We were ranked #2 in the division, and for the last 7 weeks we have been practicing solely to beat the 1st place team. They have a really good player on their team, and so Coach Justin has worked with the kids for 7 weeks on how to get past this player. We had to win two games to get to the championship, and they were tough teams. We saw the boys win the first game and then Grandma and Grandpa Fischer stayed with them through the second game while we went to the adoption hearing. The second game was intense, and very close -- but the Raiders won again.

It came down to the final game. The game we had been practicing for -- 3 times a week. The team played so hard, and they were so exhausted, but we managed to win by just a few points. At the end it was so intense and the other team was pretty much on the touchdown line and if they scored, they would win. With 2 seconds left in the game, they made a play, but time ran out. The game was incredibly tense and so very exciting. All of the parents were screaming, yelling, and cheering. The parents stormed the field at the end of the game. It was exciting, and I think all the parents have lost our voices. Coach Justin is simply amazing. He doesn't just teach the kids football, he also teaches them to be respectable young men. It was a great, great season. The entire team signed up for next season so I see a lot of football games in our future.
A lot is happening in our life right now, and I'll update in a few days. It has been a busy past couple of months, but they have been really good. I'm looking forward to some family time in Flagstaff for Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Halloween!

We had a great Halloween this year! We looked at tons of costumes, but the boys were adamant about having Captain America and Green Lantern. As for Allie, I chose a Care Bear costume because that is what she watches on television when I style her hair. I picked the Care Bear that I used to have as a kid - Cheer Bear. She loved wearing her costume.

A few days before Halloween, I took the kids to a local Halloween festival at the Goodyear Ballpark while Adam was in Mexico. We went with my sister and her family. Uncle Zach dressed up as Mickey Mouse (Chloe was Minnie Mouse), and he pulled Allie and Chloe in the wagon the whole night. The boys got to go on some rides and enter a costume contest. We had a great time.

On Halloween night, Mickey Mouse pulled Allie and Chloe in the wagon again. Allie has always been especially fond of my sister, and she just had so much to say to Jenna. We have no idea what most of it was, but every time the wagon got close to Jenna, Allie started chattering away at her. Chloe held on for dear life. She did not trust her daddy pulling that wagon and she had the tightest grip on the sides of the wagon for most of the night. Towards the end, Allie directed her conversation to Chloe and they talked a little bit.

The boys were so excited for Halloween. Wes kept writing about it at school for two weeks leading up to the holiday. There was no hesitation as they went door to door. They even learned to say "Trick or Treat. Smell my feet. Give me something good to eat." They couldn't believe how much candy they got and they were super excited. The fact that they both don't really like chocolate didn't seem to bother them. They just enjoyed collecting the candy and spending time with all of the family that came along.

It was a great night, and we ended it by drinking hot cider on the patio.

The boys pretended that super heroes were doing Calvin and Wes' homework.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My baby girl

A year ago we got a phone call informing us that we had a 4 month old daughter waiting for us in Ethiopia. This was the first picture we saw:

It has been a year, and I have been waiting weeks to write the "It's been a year since our referral" post. However when Friday rolled around, I just couldn't find the words. How do I convey how happy Alemitu has made our family? Tonight, Alemitu showed me the words.

We had friends over for dinner to discuss a new business venture. As we were talking details, my daughter walks around the corner in her Halloween costume. I was in business mode, and then Alemi melted my heart and lit up my face. Her bright eyes and big smiles lit up the entire room - thus lighting up my life. I realized right then that it isn't the vast array of emotions we have felt in the past year that I need to write about. It is simply describing the brightness in our lives because of Allie. I get to see that brightness in all of the little things, each and every day.

This morning Allie sat on the blanket watching her brothers play football. Alemitu was surrounded by her cousin who smiles every time she sees Allie; her 3 year old friend Faith who has renamed all of her own baby dolls "Allie"; and her 6 year old friend Makya who just admires Alemi at every game, practice, and social outing. My daughter lights up the lives of these little girls several times a week -- thus lighting up my life.

On Thursday my friend Hollie came to visit from Tennessee. She could not wait to get her hands on Alemitu, and I couldn't wait for Hollie to see all of Allie's changes. I was overwhelmed with feelings of pride and a sense of comfort. Hollie and her husband Brian, are the only people in the world who know the real Alemitu from as far back as Adam and I do during our first meeting with Allie to our first time taking her from the transition home. They are the only ones who can truly see how much Allie has changed, and how much has stayed the same. Hollie knows Alemitu's grandfather and she can't wait to one day tell Alemitu about her grandfather's kind eyes. Hollie always calls 'Allie' - 'Alemitu' because to Hollie, Allie is and will always be 'Alemitu Tagese'. Hollie knew Alemitu before we decided to keep her full name 'Alemitu'. In fact, they along with my dad, were the people that helped convince us to keep her name. Alemitu lit up Hollie's world during Hollie's short visit -- thus lighting up my world.

On most nights the boys wrestle with Allie. She giggles and makes huge belly laughs as they wrestle around on the floor. At least once a week I watch this go on and I think about how Alemitu's grandfather couldn't contain his excitement when he learned that she would have two brothers. He told us that made him very, very happy. I think all three of my children light up each others worlds every single day -- thus lighting up my world.

Allie loves to talk on the phone. When Adam travels, Adam always gets to talk on the phone with his little girl. She will have a long conversation with him, and he'll sit and listen even if he can't understand a word she is saying. Alemitu lights up Adam's world -- thus lighting up my world.

On Friday morning, I went through my normal routine: Put Alemi in her carseat. Start the car. Turn the music up a little louder. Then look in the rearview mirror to watch my daughter dancing and singing. It's the simple things, but it makes me start my day off with a big smile. Allie lights up my world every single day.

We are constantly stopped in public places by people telling us how beautiful and expressive Allie is. She lights up the world of strangers, family, and friends. I can't imagine our family without her. So many people talk about what an amazing thing we did by adopting her. In fact, some of our good friends really talked about that this weekend and they even gave me a special bracelet that says "beyond" as a reminder that we have gone beyond what is typical to do something special. I'm so humbled by their sweet comments and it brought tears to my eyes, but it is me who feels blessed. I am the one that feels lucky. You want to know why? Because Alemitu lit up the face of her grandfather. Her grandfather, Tagese, loved his little granddaughter. He was so proud of her. It was written all over his face. Alemitu lit up his world from the beginning. She lit up the world of her nannies. We never taught Alemitu to have this spirit -- it is a gift from God and she has had it since birth. I don't know much about Allie's first 4 months, but her grandfather's face said it all. She lit up the world when she was born. And it is me, her adoptive mother, that is blessed to be able to have brought her into our family and be a part of her glowing and growing life.

If you want Allie to bring a smile to your face, click on the link below to re-watch the short video Adam made in February after we met our daughter for the first time. I guarantee she will light up your life today.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Break

The boys were on fall break this week, and we had a blast. I think I'm more sad about school starting back up than they are. Time is just flying by. I can't believe we are already talking about Christmas lists and making our plans for the upcoming holidays. Although with temperatures back up in the 100s, it doesn't feel like the holidays are approaching.

This week we had playdates with a few friends; went to the zoo; went to the park; went to Makutu's Island (huge indoor play place); went roller skating; and ended the week with a big cookout with friends. By Thursday Wes was so exhausted that he took two naps on the couch. That never, ever happens. It was a great, great week!

As for my diet, I stayed on track throughout this crazy week. I ended the first 17 day phase with a total loss of 9.6 pounds!! I'm thrilled. Today was my free day (there is a huge soda on my desk right now), and tomorrow I start the second 17 day phase which is a little easier. I'm hoping to lose 6 pounds. This will be a shock to those who know me well, but I didn't even have ranch dressing on my free day. The thought of dipping food in ranch seems pretty disgusting and overindulging to me right now. My free day consisted of a cheeseburger for lunch, and cookout food/dessert this evening. I'm stuffed! Phase 2 here I come.

Here are some pictures from this week:

Wes at the zoo. He fell down from this pose and hurt himself. Calvin then asked if he could try, um, sure thing buddy as I sheepishly looked at my sister knowing I'm winning "worst parent of the year" award. Calvin didn't fall -- and then I let Wes try again.
Alemitu and cousin Chloe at the zoo.

Wes and Calvin with friends Denali and Dalton

Makutu's Island - I read a book for 4 hours while the boys played.
I had to beg them to take a break and eat some lunch.

Calvin's friend, Santino, was helping him learn to skate.
Wes loved skating, but he liked to stay in the middle and was cautious. Calvin took skating extremely seriously (like he does his dancing), and he went around and around and around. He was not intimidated, and falling down over and over never bothered him. He just kept going. By the end of the day, he told me he was so good at skating, but his skating involved running on his skates around the rink. I'm still so impressed with both boys for not once getting frustrated.

The boys LOVED skating. They are begging us to take them back ASAP. Adam suggested buying them rollerblades for Christmas since we live across the street from a skate park. Wes and Calvin have already asked for skates about a dozen times in the past 24 hours, and they don't understand why we won't just go to the store and get them.

Allie enjoying a cheeseburger.

Wes' second couch nap on Thursday. Crashed.