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.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

It's Fall!

The weather is finally starting to feel like fall in Phoenix! We have been to the park several times, on a few bike rides, and today we spent quite a bit of time playing outside on the bikes, scooters, skateboards, and power wheels car. I love fall!

Yesterday I went to the boys' school for parent/teacher conferences. The teachers had great things to say about both boys. I did hear two great stories from Calvin's teacher that Adam wanted to make sure I wrote down so we wouldn't forget.

1. There is this "bad" kid in Calvin's class named Rowan. The boys always talk about how Rowan gets in trouble every. single. day. They describe Rowan's behavior very dramatically. Anyway, I was surprised when Calvin's teacher said that when she has the kids in her class choose partners, Calvin chooses Rowan over his very best friend, Levi. What? After he did it a few times, she asked Calvin why he would keep choosing Rowan as a partner. Calvin replied, "Because he is bad and I am good, so maybe I can show him how to be good." How sweet. I am so proud of my little guy!

2. In Calvin's class, a girl announced that she was adopted from Korea. A student asked her what adoption meant. She didn't know. Calvin raised his hand and said very matter of factly, "Well, we adopted our sister. Her mommy and daddy couldn't take care of her, and my mommy and dad could. So, uh, we just went and took her." :-) Not very politically correct, but Mrs. VanDeCar said it was such a perfect explanation in first grade language. I didn't even think Calvin knew what adoption meant. I'm so proud that he has developed the self-confidence over the past 1 1/2 years with Mrs. VanDeCar to be able to share these things with the class. Prior to entering into first grade, his answer was "I don't know" to everything. Again, we are so proud.

Wes had a great conference too. His teacher doesn't share as much as Mrs. VanDeCar, but she did tell me that Wes is a great kid. He got 100% on most of his tests and she kept saying, "Nothing to be seriously concerned about here." Um, I don't think you can get better than 100% so I'm pretty sure I'm not concerned at all, let alone seriously concerned. Oh well. She is growing on me, and Wes really likes her. I think Wes was nervous about his conference because that was one of the first questions he asked when he saw me. I told him that his teacher thought he was doing great and that we only needed to work on a few things, and his face lit up and said "Really?" Wes is such a sweet, sweet boy always trying to make his mommy and daddy happy.

Allie is still just as happy as ever. She is repeating so many things we say. She says things on her own like "Thank you (day do)"; "here you go (here doe)"; and she even said "pweas" instead of blowing a raspberry. Pweas only lasted a few minutes before she was back to blowing raspberries. She is learning smaller words every day like ball, truck, brother, etc. but most of it is her repeating the sounds rather than her retaining the word and its meaning. She loves to tell you where the kitty (dee dee) is, and where the doggie (dah dah) is, and always, always, always she will tell you where her cousin Chloe (doe dee) is. She still won't consistently tell you where mommy and daddy is though. :-) Silly girl. Also if you ask to change her diaper, she make a run for it. Then she'll turn around a few feet later just to make sure you think she is funny. I just love to watch how she grows each and every day.

The funniest thing she is doing now is shaking her head "no" and saying "uh-huh" to every, single question you ask her. She can differentiate between a question and a statement, and every question will be answered with a "no". She'll blow a raspberry and say "please" for some more milk. Then I will ask "do you want some more milk?" Shake her head and "uh-huh" comes out. The boys are trying to teach her to say yes. She isn't grasping that concept just yet.

She is also still having issues with eating solid foods. She has stopped gagging and throwing up, but she just doesn't have a whole lot of interest on most days. Other days, she will eat anything you give her (i.e. peel and eat shrimp) I'm quickly learning that it is easier for her to eat off of my plate than to put it on hers. Scrambled eggs on her plate - Yuck! Stealing scrambled eggs from mom's plate - Delicious! She is getting better though, and it is just going to take some time.

Adam has been and will be traveling most of this month so I'm playing single mom. I am so blessed to have such great children that help make this single mom business really easy. Poor daddy sure does miss his munchkins and is always asking for pictures, video, and phone calls.

Monday, October 3, 2011

1/3 of the Way Through

Ever since I wrote my last post about dieting, I have received so many encouraging words. Thank you! Thank you! The very first morning, I wanted to have a glass of orange juice with the boys, and I didn't -- only because I had posted it on the blog. I almost deleted the post multiple times before hitting "publish". I was embarrassed. But I knew I had to do it. I knew I needed the accountability. Thank you, thank you!

So I'm on day 6 of the 17 day diet -- phase 1. (This diet has several phases, all 17 days.) This is called the "accelerate phase" and it is hard. Basically I can eat all the chicken and lean fish that I want to. Unfortunately, I don't like lean fish -- I like shellfish. So I'm eating chicken and salads for dinner most nights. Some nights my plate is just filled with lots of asparagus. (I do love asparagus.) It isn't easy. The first three days I was making a LONG list of the things I was going to eat on Day 18. BW3s, Macayos, Chocolate Chip Cookies, and soda, soda, soda. Days 4 and 5 got easier. I feel stronger. I'm not craving those foods. I'm not craving fast food. I'm craving a more normal diet. I'm craving a weight watchers type diet where I can eat in moderation, but have more variety than chicken, veggies, and water to drink. I think this is a great thing.

I have a long, long way to go, but I'm doing really well on this phase. I think once I get past the first 17 days, I'll be good to go and continue losing the weight at a normal (not accelerated pace). So far, I've lost 4 pounds in 6 days.

Have I cheated? Yep. On Day 3, I had a little bag of fruit snacks after hearing how stressed Adam was about a project with issues here while he was in New York. Without thinking, I just grabbed the 80 calorie bag and ate them standing up in the kitchen. I felt awful. Later that night I met one of Adam's colleagues at Dairy Queen to pick up some things from him. I pulled out of Dairy Queen, drove 1/4 mile, then turned around and went right back into the Dairy Queen drive-thru. (Rob, stop laughing!) On Saturday, I had 6 ounces of Dr. Pepper.

So I've cheated, and I felt guilty. I was thinking "Well I guess I didn't have the will power after all." I was thinking negatively, when I should have been thinking positively. I slipped up, but it didn't set me back an entire night. I just went right back on my diet. And I may have said yes to soda one time, but I have had to deny it on multiple occasions when clients and co-workers have offered to get me one. I walked down to the coffee shop with a friend, and she kept saying, "Come on Sabrina, I'll buy you a soda." Everyone knows I love soda. I hadn't told her I was on the diet yet. She kept asking, but I kept refusing. In the end, she chose to get herself water instead too. I am becoming stronger. It isn't about the number on the scale, it is about moderation. Stop drinking all the soda. Stop eating fast food for lunch and dinner. This first phase is tough and definitely not intended to last much longer than 17 days. But it makes you strong. It's totally worth it. I need this.

I'll report back in another 6 days. I promise this blog won't turn into "All about Sabrina's Diet" -- just the first 17 day part. :-)