Trick or Treat!

I remember last year at this time reading everyone's blogs and thinking, "Next year, he'll be home and that will be us!" Yipppeee. So here it is! Mekonen's first halloween trick or treating!

And what an eventful trick or treating night we had! We took Mekonen to a friend's house, then to grandma's and were off to some more friends before church when we got into a minor car accident. We were at a red light and a guy came barreling into us from the back. We are all perfectly fine. Mekonen was just totally freaked out and crying of course. And get this... the guy hit us because he was brushing his hair and not looking at the light. Then he had the nerve to be aggrivated at Jon when he called the police and said, "My kids dinner is in the car." And Jon was so ticked and wanted to say, "Well yeah, my kid was IN the car you just rammed into." What a night. We never made it to our friends and made it to church just in time.

We had friends give us three different Halloween costumes for Mekonen to borrow. Of course we (okay, actually just me) made Mekonen try on all of them and took his pictures. He was so stinkin' cute and I would laugh so hard everytime I put a costume on him. He was confused as to why I was laughing and then just joined in with his adorable belly laugh, which only made me laugh harder. It was a riot!

Here's our little man as an elephant! Haha.

A lion!!! This one just killed me. It was a little big, but so funny.
Our little lion from the top view. Macy did not like this outfit and kept going after the tail.
The winner: the cow!! Mekonen said he liked this one the most and wanted to wear it trick or treating. :) Hehe.

Macy was not too sure what she thought about this.
At our friends the Johnson's on the big fake cow in front of their barn. :)

Big Cow and Little Cow (and Mommy making sure Little Cow doesn't fall off). Mekonen clearly knows exactly what is going on.
"Trick or Treat Grandma Magz!!!"
Mekonen and Grandma Magz.
Grandma got Mekonen a special trick or treat bag since he can't eat candy yet. So sweet of her!
Inside was one of his favorite treats: teething cookies!!!! He also got new socks and some stacking blocks. Thanks Grandma!

And because we missed the sweetness of these four faces this Halloween, I wanted to post pics of my wonderful nephew and nieces in their costumes. So cute!

Natalie as Tigger and Jane as Pooh Bear!
Jane going down the hall at Grandma Missy's work to trick or treat. She looks very determined.
Natalie at Grandma Missy's work. She knows exactly how this trick or treating thing goes. :)

Little Miss Aderyn as a ladybug. So cute.
The other man who has a piece of my heart: MannyB as a transformer.
The two mini's together: Manny & Aderyn.

So Mekonen's first Halloween was fun, although we didn't do much trick or treating. The few pieces of candy we got at our first friends house were eaten by daddy before we reached the end of their driveway! haha. Poor Mekonen. Next year he can have the candy! :)


10 Months Old

I can't believe it.... my baby is 10 months old already! He turned 10 months this past Wednesday and two months ago today we walked off the plane in Indianapolis as a new family of three! So crazy. In some ways, time has flown by and I can't believe it has been two months already. It seems like Mekonen has always been with us. But other times, I remember how much time we have lost with him. 7 whole months. Wow. That's a lot of time. I was driving home from the store a couple weeks ago thinking about that. I was thinking about how much bigger he feels in my arms when I rock him to sleep and that soon enough, he'll be in a big boy bed and won't need me to rock him to sleep. I walked through the front door, sat on Jon's lap, and just cried. We missed out on so much and I wish so badly I could've known what he was like during all those other months and milestones. But what's important is that he is here now and forever! I can't wait for the day when I can say he's been with us longer than he was at the orphanage. :) Here's a pic of my boy looking like a toddler already. Jon put on his "big boy shoes" and propped him up against the wall. He stands really well in these shoes and he always looks so proud of himself when you stand him up.

10 Things We've Learned About Mekonen for 10 Months Old:
1. He looooooves to be on the move. Once he learned to crawl it was downhill from there. He just goes and goes and goes!
2. He loves to laugh and giggle. It's so easy to get Mekonen to smile and laugh by doing the stupidest things. It's hilarious.
3. He sucks his thumb when he is falling asleep and makes these hialrious chanting like noises to fall asleep.
4. He is super sensory oriented. He loves the way different textures feel, especially the silky smooth edges of his blanket that he sleeps with. As soon as he sees that blanket he gets really hyper. Then he snuggles right in and continually pats it with one hand while feeling the fabric through his fingers on the other hand (while also sucking his thumb. talented). He also loves the feel of different carpets and hard floors. He gets very excited about them. haha.
5. He loves to see his reflection. When he sees himself in the mirror he smiles the biggest smile ever and usually lets out a yell. He also looks at himself in the reflection of the dishwasher and stove everyday. When it gets dark out he crawls to the backdoor and looks at his reflection in the glass. Usually he tries to kiss it.
6. He hates lentils and loves fruit.
7. He makes what we call little chirping noises when he is waking up.
8. He gets very, very mad when you tell him "no" (and truthfully it is so hard not to laugh)
9. He hates car rides that last more than 5 minutes and will make sure you know he hates them.
10. He is starting to figure out that this same mommy and daddy keep coming back to love on me.


What a Boy!

Mekonen is a completely different baby than when we picked him up in Ethiopia. In Ethiopia he was very "chill" (partly because he was so sick), he was very content, very quiet, not really interested in exploring anything. Over the past 2 months of getting him well and nurturing and caring for him, we are watching his little personality blossom, and let me tell you, he is a RIOT.

Mekonen has A TON of energy. He just goes and goes and goes. After two days of having him home, he started crawling and now you can't stop him. He just wants to move! He has all these fun, colorful toys, and he just zips past them, on a mission, to find something else to explore (usually non-toy things he isn't allowed to touch of course).

He looooves to explore. He has sought out every nook and cranny of our little house with much excitement and vigor. Even when he was sick, he'd be crawling super fast and then stop for a second to cough up a lung, chuckle a bit, and off he went again. He is also always making noise. He babbles non-stop and it's very easy to make him laugh and smile. Whenever he wakes up in the morning, or from a nap, he doesn't cry, he just starts to babble and make noises. We call his little noises in his crib "chirping." But then he yells out really loud as if he is saying, "I'm awake!!!!" It's so cute.

He is definitely such a boy! He tries to crawl on top of everything and pulls himself to his knees, and has gotten to his feet when whatever he's pulling up on isn't too tall. He gets himself on top of anything he can! I walked into the room to find Mekonen with the hamper flipped over and him on top of it.

First, like this....
Then, like this....


Sleep Adjustment

Finally having Mekonen home has the been the absolute best! It is better than I ever imagined it would be. Jon and I will often just walk into his room while he's sleeping and stare at him. I just can't believe he's OURS!!!

Before picking up Mekonen, I prepared for some of the worst by way of attachment and adjustment issues so as not to be surprised, but we have been very fortunate that Mekonen has not really had a hard time attaching and adjusting. We have only been home for almost 2 months so obviously, we are still working on the attachment (doesn't come in just 2 months), but we aren't experiencing any huge obstacles. We're still the only ones who feed, change, and do caretaker things, and we are trying to cut back on how much he is held by other people.

I was also worried about how Mekonen would adjust to new caretakers (his mommy and daddy), a new house, a new life, new sounds, new smells, etc. But, he has been doing very well.

The one area Mekonen had the most difficult time with when he came home was his sleeping. After consulting with our adoption group, and fellow adoptive friends, we quickly found that this was a common area that children struggled with when coming home. I will say however, that even Mekonen's adjustment in this issue was not as difficult as some of our friends are dealing with.

For the first month home, Mekonen had a really hard time going to sleep for his naps. Luckily for us, nighttime was his best time. He didn't usually fight going to sleep, and if he did, it didn't last too long, and he sleeps about 12 hours a night, straight through! But naptime was another story. It would sometimes take up to an hour to get him to sleep, and during that time I'd be holding a screaming and thrashing baby who was completely exhausted but would not let himself sleep. Then, once we finally did get him down, he'd be back up about 20 minutes later. This led to a very cranky baby for the rest of the day. Slowly, the morning nap was better and under control with the afternoon nap still being the death of us. After several weeks, we saw improvements and Mekonen was finally not thrashing and screaming, but still not sleeping long enough.

But now, I'm happy to say that he is finally getting into the napping groove, some days longer than others, but he almost never thrashes and screams anymore. As soon as his light is turned off, fan turned on, and he has his blue blanket and is rocking with mommy, his thumb (Mr. Sailfish) goes in his mouth, and he falls asleep. It is precious.

We also learned what is behind the sleep struggles and particularly the thrashing and screaming. The babies were loved and well cared for at the orphanage, but obviously there was not time or enough people to be always interacting and being personally engaged with each baby. So they spent most of their time without much one-on-one stimulation and physical contact outside of feeding time and diaper changes. Then, we arrive, and shower our baby with more attention and stimulation than he has ever had in his life and the synapsis' in his brain are going crazy!!! New connections are being made in their brains that were not there before and chemicals are released in their brains that feel so good to them- finally, someone is nurturing one-on-one the way they are supposed to be. Then comes naptime and they don't want all those feel good chemicals to stop and they thrash and scream to keep themselves awake. Part of it is a fear response too, as they are unsure when and if this is all going to end. It's so sad we just can't tell them and they understand. But rather we have to show them, day in and day out, that we are mommy and daddy, that you can trust us, that we are never going to leave you, that we are always going to take care of you.

Just for fun, here are some pictures of our little man sleeping. He is ALL-OVER his crib when he sleeps. His crib in Ethiopia was pretty small. There wasn't much room in it for him to really turn around. Then he comes home to this big bed and he pretty much covers every square inch of it in one night.

Here's how we found him one night when we checked on him, his arm hanging out the side. Haha.
We went back in before we went to bed to check on him and this time, found his feet hanging out. Haha.
Then after we took his feet out of the rails, he rolled over and Mr. Sailfish (his thumb) took over. Isn't he so sweet! :)


Why Don't People Get It?

Since being home with our son for almost 2 months now, we have had mostly positive comments from people when we are out. A few times I've had to nicely rephrase people's questions, which is fine, and will probably continue for the rest of our lives. For example, "Are you going to have your own kids?" to which I nicely rephrase as, "If you mean biological children, then yes, we would like to have some biological children as well as adopt again." Usually once I say that, they understand how their phrasing "your own kids" would sound to an adopted child.

But, two specific issues recently have really floored me. The first was a stranger, some lady I didn't even know. She came up to me and asked where he was from. I smiled and said, "He was born in Ethiopia." She said, "His skin is so beautiful." I said, "Yes, it is!" To which this lady said, "Because you know, some of them are really dark." What? Did she actually just say that? I can't imagine the look of shock and disgust that was on my face. I calmly said, "Actually, I have never seen an ugly Ethiopian." To which she said, "Oh, well I didn't mean they were ugly." And I said, "well, they are actually some of the most beautiful people I have ever seen." Then I gathered up my son and walked away. Are you serious? What if Mekonen was old enough to understand that? It still gets me fired up just thinking about it.

This issue has happened more than once since being home, and specifically a few times in the last couple of weeks. People come up to me and comment about the possible love difference a mom would have for an adopted child, and as they say, "her own child." I hate this conversation. I have been in love with my son before I even set my eyes on him. And, since seeing his face, and touching his skin to mine, I have a fierce love for him that no one can tell me is any different than if I carried him in my womb and gave birth to him myself. Even after trying to explain this to people, I have them still arguing with me and saying I wouldn't know because I have no "kids of my own." I just want to start ridiculously questioning their love for their children. One lady said, "Well, it's good that you adopted first because then you have nothing to compare it to." And another lady told me it wasn't possible to love an adopted child as much as "one of your own" because you didn't give birth to him and so are missing the surge or hormones when you deliver that help you love your baby. What? Are you kidding me? Where do people come up with this stuff?

No one, absolutely no one, can tell me I don't love my son as I would if he shared my genetics. This little guy has changed my life in a way I cannot even put into words. I have never experienced a love like this. My heart is so full of love for him I sometimes wonder if I can fit one more ounce in there without it bursting. So if you want to make me really angry and make my mommy claws come flying out, question the kind of love I have for my son and try and tell me that when a biological child comes along, I will love them more. It's not even possible.

Beyond this, it does not make sense for Christians to make these sort of comments (some of these comments have come from Christians). Jesus said that the greatest love is displayed when a friend sacrifices his life for another friend. This is love motivated by a love that is not biologically connected. Jesus said that this is the greatest love displayed! This has nothing to do with blood connection. For Christians, the statement "blood is thicker than water" referring to bio family over all others is actually opposed to the Gospel. Furthermore, a husband and wife can/should have a riduculously deep connection, and they SHOULD NOT be related by blood because that's disgusting and illegal. To assume that blood connection/child-birth creates a superior connection at best negates Jesus on the cross and at worst negates a supposed "Christian's" understanding of the cross.


Our Sick Boy

Our poor baby boy has been sick pretty much since we picked him up in Ethiopia. The first round when we got to ET was a horrendous ear infection with a ruptured eardrum and pneumonia. We got him to the doctor ASAP on returning home and he was put on a breathing machine, steroids, and an antibiotic. It took several weeks for everything to clear. The ear never fully cleared the first time and his breathing continued to sound labored even though his lungs were finally clear of the pneumonia. Our pediatrician sent us to an ENT thinking his labored breathing might be his adnoids or tonsils. Luckily, it wasn't! But they did find that he has stomach acid reflux, so he's now on more meds. My poor little guy.

Here is daddy multi-tasking on giving attention to Macy while giving Mekonen his breathing treatment. Macy gets so jealous when you get on the floor with the baby. Haha. Here's our little guy looking a little stunned while taking his nebulizer. Let's just say we love the lady who made Baby Einstein.
After the first round of sickness, Mekonen got sick again with the same wheezing and coughing. I was worried he had pneumonia again. We went back to the doctor and after a few days it got worse and we ended up in the emergency room last Saturday night. I barely slept for days because I was so worried he would stop breathing. They tested him for swine flu (negative) and did more x-rays. They found out he has a viral lung infection and bronchitis. Back on all his meds again. Poor little man.

Surprisingly though, Mekonen is still a happy little guy, and pretty pleasant, even when he is sick. The picture below was on one of the worst days, and if Mekonen just sits on my lap like this, you know he is really sick.Mekonen isn't completely better yet, but he's hopefully on his way! I hate when he is feeling so sick. I love how they said he needs "quiet play" while he is sick with a breathing issue. Quiet play? Right. Have you met our son?


Pics of My Boy

Here are some pictures from the first several weeks at home. Mekonen is such a joy. He smiles and giggles so freely. I find myself kissing and hugging him constantly. So much so that sometimes he gets very annoyed at it. haha. He is growing like a weed! He's been gaining a pound a week for the last three weeks and has grown 1 1/2 inches! He is busting out of all his clothes! I love, love, love, being a stay-at-home mommy and wouldn't change it for the world. It is better than I ever imagined.

Mekonen and his bathtime lizard. He looks a little confused.
Cute little onesie from my friend Dani.

Mekonen in his little swing. It took several days for him to warm up to the idea. He was confused by it. Kind of just sat there with no expression. haha. Now he loves it.

That dimple melts my heart. I kiss it all day long.

Mekonen has discovered his tongue and sticks it out all the time. Haha.

Making silly faces with mommy.

Jon and I use dinnertime to read the Bible together. Now that we have started our family we will keep to the same tradition. Here's daddy reading the Jesus Storybook Bible to Mekonen. This is an awesome book by the way. A complete must-have!

Mekonen with his little red bandage after his routine blood draw at the International Adoption Clinic. They took 9 viles of blood and he didn't even cry! Just sat there, very curious. What a trooper!!

That massive dent in his cheek makes me want to eat him! haha. The belly laugh that accompanies this face is the most wonderful sound on earth.


The Cousins Meet Mekonen

5 days after we returned from Ethiopia, my cousin Art got married. We were so excited that Mekonen was home for the big event and would get to meet his cousins and extended family. Jon and my sister's husbands were all in the wedding so we all went to Ohio for the weekend.

Growing up, and still today, we are the closest with these cousins (Art, Jess, and Jenny). We spent pretty much every holiday and birthday together growing up, and watched each other venture out into all that God has for each of us. These cousins love our kids as if they were their own and that is so special to us. They all call them Uncle Art, Auntie Jess, and Auntie Jenny.

Here's Manny and Mekonen. The only two boys on my side. Manny could not contain his excitement over finally meeting Mekonen. He had been waiting for him for so long. Everytime I saw him over the last year he asked where Mekonen was. Manny was born in Guatemala and during our adoption process he asked if he and Mekonen came from the same birth mommy. So sweet. When Manny walked into the hotel room and saw Mekonen he ran over and put his arm next to Mekonen and started yelling, "We match!!! We match!!!" He was so excited to have a cousin with skin the same color as his. All weekend, he would go up to Mekonen and pull his pant leg up or the sleeve of his arm and stand their in awe comparing their skin. Another time he ran in a circle yelling, "We have the same skin!" Manny wanted to kiss Mekonen every five seconds. It was so sweet. So here's a picture of my two best boys.
All the cousins on the Castro side! From the left: Natalie, Mekonen, Manny, Aderyn, and Jane. Finally, all together!
The hotel had a pool and of course the kids spent every possible minute in it. Manny would jump into the pool, get out, and run over to Mekonen and give him big wet kisses. Then jump back in the pool and repeat. Haha. This is such a sweet picture of Manny, but obviously Mekonen wasn't quite as cooperative.
Mommy took Mekonen in the water. Clearly, it was too cold for me. Mekonen wasn't too sure he liked it.
Daddy got him to smile though.
Ready for the wedding! Mekonen was sporting pin striped pants (orange, blue, and white) with an orange vest and button down. The vest made him look HUGE! haha. What a little pumpkin.
How the photographer wanted our picture: the new parents. Mom-Dad. Haha.
It was a night wedding so Mekonen was conked out most of the evening. We didn't want to miss out on the dancing, so Mekonen just joined right in. He loved it. :) Uncle Art (the groom) with two of his girls: Aderyn & Natalie Auntie Jenny running behind Jane, making sure she didn't get run over on the dance floor. Mekonen's demeanor most of the night.
The three best boys in my life.
The last morning before we all left we tried getting pictures of all the cousins together. This was a hilarious endeavor. From the left: Natalie, Aderyn (who insisted she get to hold Mekonen for the picture), Mekonen, Manny, and Jane.
Grandma and Grandpa Jack with all their grandkids!
It was so sad to say goodbye to everyone. It's so special seeing all the kids together. We look forward to the holiday season and spending lots more time with each other.