Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Faces We First Saw A Year Ago

These are a couple of our referral pics that we got June 1, 2009. Jacee at four years old. Charis at 3 months old. Then, Zemenesh and Tackelech. What treasures.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Jacee Is Five

Jacee turned 5 on May 12th. We celebrated with a Diego party this past Saturday. We invited her good friends Macey and Brantley and their families. Of course, there was no way Grammie and Papa would miss this special occasion. And we had the rare treat of having Aunt Brenda and cousin Trey here as well.

Here are some other recent pics of our little goosehopper.

She and Charis both sleep with their eyes open sometimes. As you can tell, it's not quite time to remove the safety rails.

On her birthday, May 12th.

Just being Jacee.

Urban cowgirl. Complete with sunglasses. Carnival at HyVee.

Mother's Day Tea at preschool.

Davi's school field trip to Loritzen Gardens.

Simply gorgeous.

We feel so blessed to have this sweet five-year-old in our family.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Charis -- Walking and Other Progress

Well, it's official. Charis is walking now. Okay, she only takes a few steps before falling down, but it won't be long before she's staying on her feet. David's best friend Tony happened to be in town when Charis took her first steps on March 19th. He actually got to see them before I did. Here is some video footage:

This happened on the day Davi got to have her first sleepover--4 friends stayed over. Oi, my girls are growing up.

In either January or February, Charis got her first tooth. Actually, she got a top and bottom tooth simultaneously. Then about a week later, she got the matching top and bottom tooth. She now has four on top and two on the bottom.

She's still a little thing. At her doc appointment on Feb. 15th, she was 17 lbs. 10.5 oz, and 28.25 inches tall. So cute.

We are also seeing a lot of progress in Charis as far as attachment is concerned. She has started resting her head on our shoulder when we hold her. She has also started letting me lay her back in my arms sometimes, rather than having to be upright. She's beginning to relax and cuddle a little more. I'm taking advantage of the opportunities she gives me.

This sweet baby is such a joy. I can't imagine our family without her.


Monday, March 29, 2010

Jacee -- Grief and Growth


The other night before bed, Jacee and I were having another discussion about how she will be with us forever and we won't be giving her to anyone else, etc. We have these conversations a lot. She loves to know (based on the smile she usually has on her face) that we would be very sad if she ever went away. We reinforce that she and Charis are our family and that they are here to stay. However, on this night, she got a little teary-eyed after I kissed her good-night. I asked her if she was sad, and she nodded yes. I asked her why, and as the tears started falling, she said with a broken voice, "Tesfanesh." That is the name of the big sister she and Charis left behind with their birth mom. She had a decent cry as I held her for a while (until she had enough being held) for her older Ethiopian sister and her first mom. I can't even imagine what that feels like. What loss these girls have endured.

Davi came up a little later, and I told her about Jacee's cry session, she went and tried to console Jacee. Then, as Jacee slept, she wrote this note from a tooth-fairy-like fairy named Jessica Princess (that's the name Jacee always uses when she plays dress-up):

Dear Jacee I hope you feel better. I feel bad for you. you might see tesvanash and your birth mom soon
Love Mgical Jesica princess
here is a qurter

It was complete with stick figures (oh, and a quarter). On the back it said:
I love you Jacee
I love you Jacee
birth mom

Usually the girls are up-and-at-'em first thing in the morning. But the following morning I found them like this in Davi's bed:

Although I feel so sorry for Jacee when she's hurting, I'm also thankful to see her showing more emotion. She's starting to feel free-er to cry and tell us what is wrong. Her stoic demeanor that we've seen when something is wrong is diminishing, and she's communicating more and showing emotion. We've also seen a lot of progress in showing affection toward us (hugs, kisses, "I love you", etc.). We're all feeling more and more like family.

Other Progress

It's fun watching Jacee grow and change. She's having to learn so much educationally and physically, but also culturally. When we first put her in preschool in November, she would roam around the room looking at things and had no concept of waiting one's turn. The other night, it tickled me to see her standing in a single file line at the restaurant to wait for her balloon animal to be made. She is so patient and sweet.

Her cute little accent is all but gone. Every now and again she'll still roll an "r" like with "kangadoo." She lost her language within about six weeks of being home I think. Now if we say a word that she used to use she has no clue what we're talking about. Sad, but I'm thankful God made a child's mind so able to cope and move on.

We've all heard how children who have been in institutional care often have tendencies toward eating too much at a sitting, hoarding food, etc. Jacee has never been like that. In fact, it's like pulling teeth to get the girl to eat. There aren't many things she likes to eat. Spaghetti has always been her favorite, and she loves going to "Olies" (Fazollis). She does try new things, however, and is getting used to new textures and tastes.

Last doctor visit (2.15.10), she was 39.25 inches tall and 31 lbs. She's outgrowing her clothes :)


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jacee, Our Little Goosehopper

I realized as I looked over the previous posts that most of the pics of Jacee portray her as being quite serious. I also think back to the perception we had when we first met her at the transition home and when others met her when our care package was delivered. This is not the Jacee living in our house. She is energetic, cheerful, kind, sweet, and hilarious! There is a lot of laughter in our home, and Jacee is a perfect fit. She has a great sense of humor. And we never hear a little girl giggle out of her, only a deep gut laugh that is so contagious.

She is also not at all shy like we thought. She walks into a room with such confidence (or maybe not knowing any better) and just gets involved with whoever is there, adults and kids alike. Other children love her. She'll often grab their hand and say, "Let's run!" and off they go. She has a way of bringing energy and excitement to a group. She has many friends. She's always ready to try new things (well, except food--I'll save that for the next post).

The other day, Jacee said to David, "Daddy, you silly goosehopper." I think she may have confused silly goose and grasshopper. Whatever, it cracked us up. Goosehopper has now become a term of endearment around our house. You'll often hear someone walk into a room and say to whoever is there, "Hey, Goosehopper!" Yup, that girl has definitely made her mark on this family. We wouldn't trade her for the world.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Charis -- A One-Year-Old!

We celebrated Charis' birthday on February 12th. That first year goes by fast enough, but when you get your baby as a six-month-old, it just flies.

Charis really enjoyed herself. Davi had some girlfriends over from across the street, and Charis loved all the squeals and laughter that came as she opened gifts. David had taken Davi & Jacee to make a build-a-bear for her. They named it Charis Bearis.

Of course Grammie and Papa came over. It's so nice having them in O-Town.

Mmmmm cake. Nuff said.

Happy birthday, Sweet Charis! We love you so much!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Dress-Up is Back!

Davi had all but given up playing dress-up before Jacee and Charis came home. When Jacee first arrived, she didn't "get" the whole dress-up idea. I mean think about it. She came from a place where she may have worn the same clothes every day, and we show her a tub of clothes that are just for playing. (When are we Americans going to realize how rich we are?) At first, Davi would put something on her, and Jacee would get a look of disgust on her face and let us know she didn't like it. It seems she thought that's what she would be wearing for the day (the girl hates wearing dresses, by the way). But now, she's in full swing with the dress-up thing (especially the dresses...since they're temporary). And Davi has jumped back into it as well. It's so funny. Davi, being much bigger now at 8 than when we got the clothes, looks a little, shall we say, skanky. And Jacee's favorite item is a Snow White wig that has seen better days. The two of them together are hilarious!

Sometimes dress-up goes to the next level: ice skating competition. Davi usually has her roller blades on when I'm (Gina) working in the kitchen. It gets quite interesting when Jacee joins in and Charis is crawling around on the floor. No major accidents yet. My desire for new flooring is held in check with the nice skating surface 1980's linolium provides.