fiddlehead.....every changing, ever growing

fiddlehead....ever changing, ever growing

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Heart Faces: Dramatic Black & White

I Heart Faces - Photo Challenges, Tutorials and Tips
This week's photo challenge is about Dramatic black and white!  Love that!  
This photo was taken on our recent journey to Ethiopia to bring our daughter home.  Not only was this apart of the most emotionally dramatic moment in my life (early March-Hosanna), it is made even more powerful and dramatic in black and white with the way the shadows fall on her face as she prepares the coffee ceremony.  It was a beautiful moment and I hope you enjoy it too.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Signs....that is what I have been looking for.  Signs of bonding.  That I am not a stranger to little Ms. T anymore, even though I know I am not.  You know how when you are really, really close to something how you can miss the signs?   The ones I have had friends point out "Look at her look at you!"  Then I look and say "oh yeh , look at that!"
What I have been looking for are the signs that I am the one she can't live without, signs that she is bonding to me, signs that she knows I am her Mama.   How is it that "I", one who prides myself on being very observant, could miss those signs I have been searching for?   Then I realized with the help of my dear friend, Marcie, that I have been looking for the signs that I am accustomed to.

I have been waiting for that "sign", the big excited,whole body wiggle and huge smile with laugh from Tessa.  Marcie so gently pointed out that what I was looking for is what I know....that I was looking for baby Drew!! This is so true!  Drew is so incredibly expressive and always has been.  As a baby his big smile and wiggly body was ever present when I would enter a room- it was unmistakeable.  No one could miss that!  All the boys had those types of emotional expressions as babies, so I am pretty sure that is what I have been looking for to validate me.  I have been looking for that big obvious sign of love and excitement when Tessa sees me.

What I am realizing is that the signs are there, just a bit more subtle.  It also takes time.  Tessa is a more relaxed, reserved baby than what I have been use too.  Her eyes do like up.  She is looking to me in new situations and with new people.  Finally, yesterday I got a big obvious sign that I couldn't miss.   Ladies from Andy's office came with a Taco Pot Luck, margaritas and gift for all the kids.  (I am so spoiled...It was so sweet of them) I didn't expect it, but when I handed Tessa over to the ladies, she looked at me and was upset and fussy.  It was the first time I had seen "that look" on her face since the first time I met her.  She was wide-eyed and quiet at first and then got really fussy and  Yep, she did and I had never felt so happy to have a fussy baby.  The signs are there.   I am learning, I am tuning in to "her" signs.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I Heart Faces: Angles

I Heart Faces: "Angles"

This weeks challenge is about trying to capture a moment from a different angle...perhaps to give you a new point of view, something new and interesting! Of course, my subject is my sweet girl. From any angle she is just breath-taking. Here Tessa sits on top of her dressing table (where there is a mirror) and I am just below her with one hand on her back on the other on my camera. I catch her admiring her sweet, beautiful self and noticing me. There were so many great shots to choose from (some on the previous blog note) but I kept going back to this one....I love this angle because you can see different angles of that sweet face.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What is right.

I have always thought of myself as a "glass is half full" kind of person. Perhaps I am most of the time, but I think sometimes when I feel stressed I start to lose sight of that half full glass. This is precisely when I start feeling like I am sinking in that glass that my perspective changes. I feel negative, tired, anxious and tend to focus on what is wrong in my world. Obviously, during this transition in our family there is stress and I am trying to juggle many, many things. All by choice, but stressful none the less. So, while I didn't realize it I was seeing things a bit too half empty.

An ever insightful and wise soul friend, Margo, so kindly pointed out to me that perhaps I should look for "what is right".

Instead of feeling frustrated by, disappointed in or overwhelmed by what is wrong. This simple and yet powerful suggestion really flipped the switch in me! What is right...what is right...what is right! Gosh, there are soooo many things that are right! It is so much more pleasant and enjoyable to focus on what is right in my life.

So here goes.

Me focusing on....what is right, right now in this moment.
* Our sweet girl, home at last and happily napping in her crib
* My healthy babies, full of laughter, love and smiles
* A safe, warm, beautiful home to embrace our family
* Amazing friends and family supporting us....calling us, emailing us, visiting us
* Dinner is being delivered to my house every Monday and Thursday. Tonight is carmel french toast. Yummy.
* Andy has taken a half day off to be with us. yeh! He is wonderful
in so many ways.
* Our silly dog...he makes me laugh and always wants to snuggle
* It feels like spring! I can see the daffodils starting to peek up!
* The sun is out and that always lifts me up!
* There is mint chocolate chip ice cream in my freezer and I am not sharing
* My new diaper is fantastic, cute and will keep me organized
* Cecil, our old cat just rubbed my neck....looking for love.
* Tessa's curly, soft hair next to my cheek. Her little body in my arms. Her funny sounds and smile that lights up a room.
* I am surrounded by love, love, love. I know it and I feel it.

There are so many things going right.....I am staying on the "right" path.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Heart Faces: Bundle Up!

While this blog has mainly been focused on our adoption, and rightfully so, today I am indulging in my love of photography for the "I Heart Faces" photo challenge.
I Heart Faces - Photo Challenges, Tutorials and Tips

I Heart Faces: Bundle Up!
To enjoy a "snow day" is to be all bundled up and ready to embrace it!
I love this shot of my son, Judson because when I look at it I see his whimsy.
I see his free spirit and love for being ever present in the moment...
it reminds me to do this myself.

Our sweet girl

Our Sweet Girl

Friday, March 12, 2010

The new normal

It has been a week at home tonight. Being at home with the kids in our space has been wonderful. But we are trying to find the new normal....I am trying to find it. It is taking a little time, which I think is understandable and not unlike the first days after bringing a baby home after birth. Thank goodness Nana and Pops have been here to catch us during the rough moments. The moments when the little people are testing me....every part of me.

This week I have relished in having extra hands and assistance around every corner. I have been just plain spoiled by it. We have had Nana & Pops here for a whole week...and I may not let them leave. They have really been helping us transition. Making sure everyone, including me were getting their needs met. How amazing are my parents! Thank you Mom and Dad, I love you so.

We have been surrounded by love. Friends visiting and showering us with love. Dinners at our door. Play dates and a sleepover for the boys. All the love coming our way is amazing. This community we live in is one in which people reach out, they celebrate with you and want to help support you as a family for the long haul. I love it and know that this small town, while not perfect, certainly has perfection because of the people in it and in our lives.

Next week I will "be on my own". I know I will be fine. I just need to dive into the routine, figure out the kinks....make sure I am up early in the morning to get ahead of the rush, have a routine after school to handle homework and dinner. The new normal will feel normal eventually. In the meantime, I just really want to soak up this very special time and getting to know Tessa. I want to try and brush away the chaos when it creeps up and then remind myself "when someone is their least lovable they need love the most". We will push through and get on the other side to the new normal.

Have you seen our beautiful sweet girl today? My gosh, she amazes us all. She seems like she is adjusting to all of us beautifully. She seems comfortable, happy, secure. Her eyes and smile tell me she knows I am her Mama. The boys make her so happy. Tessa loves to watch the boys and loves it when they play with her. Tessa is such a joy. Is this really happening? Sometimes I can hardly believe it. You know life is good when you have to pinch yourself....even in the chaos of it all!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Growing Pains

Today the growing pains in our family felt really real. It wouldn't be honest to sugar coat this experience, I haven't before and I am not going to start now. Even though a part of me wishes there wasn't anything to sugar coat. Like any major change in a family, we are feeling the effects of our family's growing pains. That feels like the best description for all of us.

Andy is back at work and very busy. He has a lot to catch up on after being gone for over a week. His work is so demanding and yet he is also trying to be as present as he can here at home. The boys are all showing different effects of our long absence and our new addition. It seems like whatever negative behavior was present before has been magnified 10 fold! Jack Jack is still strong-willed 3 year old. He is now the big brother, but at moments would like to be the baby at times. One moment he is being a big boy, and proud of his new status as big brother and then next he is sucking his thumb and holding a Tessa. This seems normal enough to me. Judson and Drew are both so excited about Tessa being home, but I think it was hard for us to come home and have another child to focus on. They are all craving attention and at times are seeking it through negative means. Tessa is doing really well. I think she has an amazing ability to take all of this in and still seem happy. Gosh, I hope she is.

This morning was sooooo hard. It was one of those awful Mommy mornings. I just didn't have any tools left to use in my Mommy tool box when all the kids around me both needed me and were defying me. My saving grace right now during this transition is that I have my parents visiting...more like rescuing us from eachother. Their presence is giving me the time and space to figure this transition isn't an easy one. We will get there, but it is going to take some time.

There are moments when my worst fears creep up on me. Is Tessa o.k. with everything here and who we are? Will she love me? Am I hurting my boys? What did I do? I can answer each one of these questions in different ways depending on the moment. This really isn't unlike moments in the past when we brought home a new baby, but this time the kids are older, more complicated and there are just more of them.

I am exhausted. I am grateful. I am trying to stay afloat. I will stay afloat. But it isn't without support from my family, my friends helping me find the new normal. I know the new normal has the potential to be amazing....this is everything we have worked so hard for and hope for. It is just going to take some time, love and extra patience.

Home Sweet Home

Our travels were long, long, long...but we couldn't wait to get home. Tessa did great with all the flying and new surroundings.

It was a wonderful homecoming with a surprise

from Omie & Opie (Andy's parents) and Oma (Andy's grandmother) after our arrival! They were so excited to meet Tessa!

Here Jack shows Tessa his "I'm the Big Brother" t-shirt when he meets her! Too cute. My parents are here to help us adjust and to get to know Tessa.

And our first family photo together. We are so grateful and happy to be home at last, together.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I will....I will

I will keep every bit of this journey with me. I will. I will keep the joy, the beautiful memories, the pain & sadness and the hope. I will keep
the hope for a better day for Ethiopia. I will. I will.

But at this point in our journey we are feeling VERY ready to go home. Wednesday we spent about 4 hours at the U.S. Embassy here in Addis Ababa. The wait was LONGGGGGG for all of us, but probably even more so for people in our group with toddlers and older children. Here we were interviewed by officials to be sure everything with our adoption is above board. Of course, it is as CHSFS may sure of it. We also process the paperwork to get Tessa's ET
passport and US Visa to enter the USA. There was a glitch...and they said that our passport was not going to be ready until Friday morning. What?! We are flying out at 11:50p.m. on Thursday. The whole group had a little panic about it. But, they said, "We will try out very best to get the passports ready for your children". That is the most we can ask for as they are Ethiopian passports for the children. If we end up not getting them I suppose there will be one more ET blog post, but I am trusting it will all go through.

I trust it will go through...I trust.....oh please let it go through! I want to go home now! now! now! O.K. Little outburst there. So, patience has never been my best quality. (Mom you can stop laughing now!) I really think I am improving as I grow older, but find my impatience creeps up on me and then makes me feel anxious. I am impatient for constant electricity. It will go out at the guest house for a day very commonly and you are left in the dark, with cold water (no water heater). I am impatient for my bed and the comforts of home. You know that feeling you get we you are away and you can wait to be in your own space, your own bed, with all the things that make life easier and just comfortable? That feeling is in full force right now for us. And believe me, I know this feeling is a luxury to have.
To top this impatient feeling off I am missing my boys terribly. I feel like I am carrying this anxious, guilty feeling around being so far away from them and wanting to get home to them. I think the last time I had this feeling was when Jack was born and was hospitalized for 5 days in Madison. I felt so far away from Juddy and Drew, and it was only 45 miles. Now it is thousands of miles and feels even more intense...although that shouldn't be a surprise because everything with this adoption process is intense! Every report from home tells me they are doing just fine. All the preparations I went through paid off. They love their babysitter, Brianna, who is beyond words fantastic in every way and I couldn't trust her more. So, logically...and like Andy...I shouldn't have these feelings, but I sure do despite all of it.

Bob the bulldog is suffering a bit....well, suffering is not the right word at all, especially after witnessing what real suffering is here. Let me rephrase. Bob the bulldog is spoiled. He is use to me being home full time so he can follow me around, go outside when he wants, get lots of snuggles throughout the day. If Bob only new how dogs live here. Well, he never will and all he knows is doggy luxury. So, because he can't yet be trusted in the house at 9 months old, he has to be caged up during the day while Brianna is at work. Most dogs can handle this, but I th
ink it is making Bob a little crazy and then he jumps on the kids and nips at them to play when he gets home, which probably gets him in trouble. Isn't it silly that I am also concerned about my silly little dog? I see this. So, my friends in Monroe have come to the rescue. Our friend, Joe, who is the master of all trades, has picked Bob up for a little R-n-R of his own. I am giggling about this a little, but also glad for Bob and the fact that we won't come home to a crazy dog. ;)

We have had all kinds of time with Tessa, but have felt a little cooped at the guest house since she has been in our care the last couple days. We are not allowed to bring Tessa anywhere in public. It isn't really a rule, but is highly encouraged because it is so culturally inappropriate. From an Ethiopian person's perspective, I imagine seeing an American walking around with one of their children may feel disrespectful for the obvious reasons.

Having all of this time at the guest house has provided us with lots of snuggle time for Tessa who seems to need it. It is a lot of change for her in every respect. At a week old she has been in the care of CHSFS and has rarely left her nursery or her nannies' side. She is now crying for us when we set her down because she just wants to be held close. Perhaps she is scared. Perhaps we are making up for lost time. Perhaps that thumb that is in her mouth constantly has been her only comfort. I can't really know for sure, but everything she is doing seems natural with the changes and the bonding process. She is also a smiley girl. How that smile hits you! That will likely be her weapon of choice in all situations! Mostly, I am trying to relish in the alone time, which I know is fleeting, despite my anxiety to get home.

We are scheduled to leave Addis Ababa in 16 will be a long journey home, but I will feel so much better when we are on our way. I am trusting the passport issue for Tessa will be resolved. I trust. I am hopeful that our travels will be peaceful. I hope. I can't wait to have our family all together. I can't wait. I will carry all of what Ethiopia has shown me in my mind, heart and soul forever. I will. I will.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

At Last Photos of Tessa

Yesterday was a day of smiles from ear to ear. After visits at the care house with Tessa, we were able to have alone time back at the guest house where we are staying. It has been so difficult to not photograph our sweet girl, but at last I was able to embrace my inner shutterbug. Here are photos of playtime, nap time and snuggle time.

I always hoped that bonding with Tessa would be as natural as with our boys, but you just don't know until you are in it. I can tell you that it has been just as natural, the love overflows. Just like the first few days of getting to know your newborn. You are figuring out their schedule, likes and dislikes. We are doing all these things. It is natural, beautiful and a dream come true.

In the afternoon we brought Tessa back to the care center for her last dinner, her last night sleeping in the nursery before tomorrow! It was difficult to bring her back, we just wanted to continue our snuggling, but this is the transition they have established and I think it works. Then we were off to a little touring and a visit to the Ethiopian National Museum (photos to follow). It was important to see this side of Ethiopia. This area of Addis Ababa is metropolitan, there were government estates & buildings, schools and university, and corporations. There seemed to be many more professionals and students on the side walks and less desperation. While I knew intellectually that this side of Ethiopia must exist I hadn't yet experienced it or been able to see beyond the devastating poverty. And yet it is still so difficult to reconcile how both can coexist simultaneously.

Today was another day of smiles from ear to ear....a very special day, because it was our last trip to the care center. Tessa spent her last night in the nursery last night. We felt so excited knowing that today Tessa's care would be forever given to us, her forever parents. There was the most wonderful celebration awaiting all of us. Tessa, and all the children, came in with their nannies carrying them, all dressed up in their Ethiopian outfits. All that followed was so touching. The nannies dearly love these children and it is always bittersweet to say farewell to them. There were prayers in Amharic and English as we stood in a circle around the nannies with our children. Tessa was looking right at us, sucking her thumb...her favorite thing in the world. They gave us wonderful, personal cards, made handprints and said good-bye. What was so very touching is all the older children at the care center participated and watched this celebration knowing that one day in their future, it would be their turn. They sing their songs to all of us with their excited, joyful voices.

We are relishing in our little girl, her sweet smile and spirit. There is also a part of us that is now anxious to get home and be together as a family...we can't get there soon enough. Juddy, Drew, Jack....we miss you soooo much and are thinking about you every day! We will be home Friday! :)

Thank you for visiting the fiddlehead report!