Thursday, June 28, 2007

T Minus 44 hours

We leave in less than two days. Crazy! It's hard to believe all these months of paperwork, waiting, reading, waiting, classes, and more waiting are finally coming to an end. I probably won't believe it until we're there and we have Sid in our arms.

We're so excited for the week of vacation beforehand, too. Greg has been working very hard at work, and while I can't claim the same, I have been quite occupied with all the last-minute stuff that needs to be done. We could both use some us time before the next 18 years begin.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Good Old Days

I spent the day today with one of my best friends from grade school, whom I haven't seen in 12 years and probably haven't had a substantive conversation with in at least 16. She found me through and, coincidentally, she's now married to a man who grew up in Denver. She (Sharmila), her husband (Navin), and their beautiful 9-month-old son (Suraj) are here visiting family, so we took the opportunity to catch up.

It's so interesting to reconnect with a person from childhood and realize that, despite the fact that your lives have taken completely different paths, you still know each other at a very basic and deep level. Also interesting how life's webs intersect—I never thought I'd wind up living in Denver, and now Sharmila, who surely never expected she'd end up here either, is considering moving to Denver in the next year. Even if she doesn't end up here, I love knowing that she'll visit her in-laws regularly, and we'll have more opportunities to get to know each other again.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Night Before the Big Exam

We leave for Ethiopia in six days, and the panic is setting in. I have the feeling I'd have in college the night before a big exam—I would have been studying for weeks, but late at night, just before closing the books and turning in, I'd think about all the ways I could have studied but hadn't.

On the CHSFS forum, there's an interesting discussion going on about tantrums and how to deal with them lovingly in ways that promote attachment. The parents contributing to the discussion have such wonderful ideas, many of which come from books I've never even heard of. Now I feel like I should have read these already so I'd be prepared to deal with Sid's grief reactions when he comes home. It seems so important to handle everything in just the right way, and I'm afraid I don't know enough to make the best decisions in the moment.

Of course, my night-before-the-exam panics were usually unwarranted, and for the most part I knew more than I gave myself credit for. I'd take the test and do reasonably well, pulling the answers out from somewhere in the frenzied folds of my mind. Let's just hope this works out similarly, and that when Sid is here I'll have the tools and intuition to know what to do when problems arise. As long as it doesn't turn out like that calculus exam—the one I took one look at and, realizing it seemed to be written in a language I'd never seen, handed in blank—I guess we'll be OK.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mesgana Dancers Coming to Colorado

The Mesgana Dancers, a group of young Ethiopian girls singing and performing traditional Ethiopian dance, will be performing in Colorado this summer.

7 p.m.
East High School
1545 Detroit Street, Denver

7 p.m.
Chautauqua Auditorium
900 Baseline Road, Boulder

Tickets are $20 for adults and $10 for youth age 12 and under.

INFORMATION: 877-884-1520

All proceeds from The Mesgana Dancers of Ethiopia Millennium Celebration Tour benefit Ethiopia Reads, a Denver-based non-profit organization that operates literacy programs for children in Ethiopia, and the Children of Ethiopia Educational Fund.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

My Old Man

Greg's birthday was Friday, so we headed up to the mountains for a weekend camping trip to celebrate his rapid decline into old age. We went to the Poudre Canyon, west of Fort Collins, and Greg spent the days fishing while the girls and I did nothing but relax. Daisy is getting too old for hikes, but we did take some nice strolls that left her thoroughly winded.

Saffron was happy for all the time outdoors, which offered unparalleled bug hunting opportunities. And, of course, that left her pretty pooped as well.

The canyon is really beautiful—lots of jagged rocks, a fast-flowing river that keeps kayakers and rafters busy, and tons of lush foliage. All this makes it a popular destination, and for a while we weren't sure we'd get a camping spot. I think we went to five or six campgrounds on Friday before finally finding an open spot. Next year we'll reserve ahead of time—I had forgotten we could do that.

Saturday afternoon, while Greg was out fishing, we were hit with an intense but quick storm. There was hail, close lightning, and gut-shaking thunder. The girls and I took it as an opportunity to retreat to the tent and worry about Greg. This photo (below) is from shortly after the storm passed. Apparently worrying is yet another thing that makes these dogs need a nap.

Before we left for the weekend, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to relax because I'd be thinking about all the stuff that needs to get done before we leave for Ethiopia. I'm happy to say I was wrong. I relaxed thoroughly, rarely thought about anything that needs doing, and read almost all of the book Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. I still have about 75 pages to go, so even though a recommendation may seem premature, I'm going to venture to make it. It's the first non-adoption and non-work book I've read in months, and I'm finding it to be completely captivating and so artfully written. Like this:

The good thing about complete darkness is you can lie there quietly and let the other person rethink the smart-alecky thing they have just said. With any luck they'll begin to regret it, or possibly they'll believe you have a magnificent rejoinder in mind but are too well-adjusted to use it.

That's not necessarily one of the more poetic passages, but it's such a simple and resonant observation said in just the right words. It's the kind of writing I wish I could muster.

In addition to the inspiring literature and scenery, we had some delicious meals (is anything tastier than a hard-won cup of campfire coffee in the morning?), good conversation (lots of it speculating about what our next camping trip will be like with little boy in tow), and successful fishing (Greg caught a lovely rainbow—either 9 inches or 9 pounds, depending on who's telling the story). Overall, a wonderful weekend with my overall wonderful old man.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Birth Certificate

We got Sidamo's birth certificate today, with this super cute new photo of him. Look at those eyes! And the pouty lip. Our agency rep met him this past week in Ethiopia, and she says that, although we have no photographic evidence of it, Sid actually does smile.

The birth certificate lists his name as "Sidamo Gregory," following the Ethiopian tradition of using the father's name as the middle name. Has quite a ring, doesn't it?

Our agency rep also asked if we would be able to travel a week earlier, because they had some extra room in the prior week's travel group. As tempting as it is to get to our little guy even sooner, we just can't make it work logistically. Since we're planning to spend a week in ET before our official date, we would have to leave here a week from this coming Saturday. Besides the fact that getting everything arranged in 9 days would throw me into a full-blown panic attack, Greg and I both have too much work stuff to wrap up before we go. So our original date it is—still very soon!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Sid has a cough

We got an update today that Sid developed a cough and wheezing, but he's responding to the medicine they're giving him. Poor little guy. I wish we were there to help him feel better, but I know he's getting very good care.

We also received an updated developmental checklist, which says Sid builds three-block towers (not sure I can even do that), attempts to put on own clothes (Greg's still working on this one),
enjoys picture books, attempts to use a spoon, and has begun toilet training. Oh, and he's sociable.

When the email came, I was thrilled, because the two attached files were called "Sidamo.jpg" and "Sidamo2.jpg." I was sure we were finally getting some updated photos and called Greg so we could open the files together. Big let-down when instead of photos it was a blue paper telling us our baby is sick. But he's on the mend, and we know we'll at least be getting the birth certificate photo soon.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

It's official!

We just heard that Sid's case is through court and we're going to be traveling 6/30 to pick him up. Yay! Our official travel date is 7/6, but we're going to go a week early so we can travel in Ethiopia a bit. We are so excited and relieved. And now that he's officially ours, we're allowed to post his photo. Here he is!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Sidamo update

We received a growth update on Sid today. He has gained another half-pound, putting him at about 21.5 pounds. He's also grown about an inch, both in height and—yikes!—head circumference. The boy's head continues to amaze. I haven't checked lately, but when we last looked at the growth charts, he was in the third percentile for height and weight but, get this, 60th percentile for head size! At least that's one resemblance he shares with me and Greg—ginormous noggins. Hey, the better to solve world hunger with, right?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The big picture

I've been working toward becoming a doula for the past several months, and a few months ago I attended the birth of a woman named Kelly, whom I met through my good friend Becky. The birth was one of the most authentic and enlivening experiences of my life. I'll be forever grateful to Kelly, her husband Adam, and their beautiful son Colin for allowing me to be a part of the most intimate moment of their lives.

So, as though that weren't gift enough, Kelly and Adam offered to host a fund-raising party in honor of Sidamo, with all proceeds going to humanitarian efforts in Ethiopia. The party was last night, and it was really wonderful. We were unbelievably touched that Sid's entry into our lives inspired so many people to want to help families in Ethiopia.

Through our adoption process, we've developed a very deep connection to Ethiopia. We've come to learn why there are so many children available for adoption in this beautiful and proud country. Famine, war, poverty, and illness have ravished the country and forced families to make the heart-wrenching decision to place their children for adoption rather than watch them starve.

The fact that we are benefiting from this desperate situation is not lost on us. Let's be honest: We're adopting for purely selfish reasons. If we were looking to make a difference in Africa—as is suggested by the many tilted heads and "you're doing such a good thing!" reactions we get to the news of our adoption—we would have donated the agency fees to humanitarian projects aimed at economic opportunity, health care, and sustainable food and water sources. But like I said, this is a selfish endeavor. We wanted to have a child, and Ethiopian adoption was attractive for a lot of reasons.

It really is difficult to reconcile the feelings of luck and enormous blessing we feel at being given the opportunity to raise Sid with the incredible pain we know he and his family have had to experience in order for it to happen.

One of the reasons we chose our agency is that it takes a big-picture view of adoption—the understanding that adoption is a good option for individual families and children, but it's not a long-term or sustainable answer to orphan crises. It's the old ounce-of-protection strategy: The best way to take care of orphans is to ensure that they never become orphans to begin with.

Here's a link to the programs CHSFS runs in Ethiopia. The proceeds from last night's party (just short of $400) will benefit the Hope for Hossana project.

Friday, June 1, 2007

How do you move?

I'm working on a short article about ways to curb childhood obesity by getting kids moving. Seems in our overprotected, overscheduled, and overstimulated world, kids are starting to take an interest yesteryear's games: hop scotch, jump rope, kickball, red rover—even marbles, though I don't think those can be credited with much calorie-burning. Behind this trend is a growing body of educators and child-development experts (who no doubt harbor a bit of nostalgia for these games themselves) who believe we're depriving our kids of opportunities to explore their imagination, build relationships, and, yes, get moving.

The nemesis in this story is almost always the video game console, so I was surprised to read this NYT article about a game called "Dance, Dance Revolution," a Japanese phenomenon that apparently is now sweeping our couch-potato nation:

Published: April 30, 2007
Schools are deploying Dance Dance Revolution as the latest weapon in the battle against childhood obesity.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Children don’t often yell in excitement when they are let into class, but as the doors opened to the upper level of the gym at South Middle School here one recent Monday, the assembled students let out a chorus of shrieks.

In they rushed, past the Ping-Pong table, past the balance beams and the wrestling mats stacked unused. They sprinted past the ghosts of Gym Class Past toward two TV sets looming over square plastic mats on the floor. In less than a minute a dozen seventh graders were dancing in furiously kinetic union to the thumps of a techno song called “Speed Over Beethoven.”

Bill Hines, a physical education teacher at the school for 27 years, shook his head a little, smiled and said, “I’ll tell you one thing: they don’t run in here like that for basketball.”

It is a scene being repeated across the country as schools deploy the blood-pumping video game Dance Dance Revolution as the latest weapon in the nation’s battle against the epidemic of childhood obesity. While traditional video games are often criticized for contributing to the expanding waistlines of the nation’s children, at least several hundred schools in at least 10 states are now using Dance Dance Revolution, or D.D.R., as a regular part of their physical education curriculum.

Read more . . .

In this age of screen-obsession and crime/injury-paranoia, what are some creative ways that you encourage your kids to get up and move?