week 3 in review


Once again I have to say, this has been a BIG week. Some of the highlights of this week as been:

1. You call Joey, "daw-gaw" (sometimes daw-daw) for doggie. I know the "J" is a hard sound to make, so we are pretty impressed. When you see him, you now tend to smile and say "daw-gaw." For the most part, you are petting him nicely.
2. You are continuing to prefect your "motor boat sound." This week you learned how to change the pitch and rate. Plus, you are no longer consistently asking me to do it, you can on your own.
3. You learned to spit. I wouldn't call this a milestone, but it is something you find funny and we are trying to terminate. You do not enjoy us telling you "no" or "koom" (the Amharic word for stop).
4. You finally let us read you a whole story where you smiled when we were done! You also didn't try grabbing the book out of Mom's hands or distract us by pulling hair. (It was Good Night Chicago) Even though you still enjoy making car sounds and "driving" your books around the house. (Such as in the picture on the right. If I get down to your level when you are doing this, you sit up and pose for the camera.)
5. You met with L from TBF for our one month home post visit!!!! She loved you and thought you were absolutely adorable. Plus, I am thinking it helped she has heard a lot about you from your Grandma Kathy and Aunt Kristi at the gym.
6. We changed up your bedtime routine. More on this next week, if it continues to work. . .

Okay, so for the BIG stuff. On Friday, we went to Comer's to see Dr. Gray for the first time. We were supposed to go back on the 16th, but there was a scheduling issue so it was pushed back until yesterday. (In case we never tell you this, Dr. Gray is awesome. He called us from out of country to check in on you while we waited to get you in to see him.) So we got up early to head north to Chicago, your Dad and I were impressed we were out of the door and in the car 2 minutes before we said we were going to be. (Not bad for our first real deadline with time.)

You do not enjoy being taken from your crib when you are asleep. Once in the car, you looked out the window and before long were singing (in your own way) along with the radio. We were not in the car for long before you looked like this.

Traffic wasn't horrible, even when we were in the Chicago area, so we got to the University of Chicago with plenty of time to spare. We looked at the fish in the lobby, stared at the purple monster, learned you do not fit on all restroom changing tables (there were a lot of some whining there), and watched Mom eat a cupcake while you were in your Ergo attached to her. I am thinking you didn't think it was fair. We waited for you to be called back and you made a friend with a little girl from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Back in your room we had to strip you down to your diaper and they took your height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, and several other things. (You are 33 inches tall and 27 pounds, plus some ounces.) We had to leave your room for this, but were told we could wrap you up in a blanket. Failure. Why would we have brought your blanket in from the car? So you waited around in your hoodie until you had your initial exam by nurse Linda and we could put clothing back on you.

Dr. Gray thought you were doing awesome considering your referral paperwork and what we told him about our court trip to see you. We talked about some of our concerns and prioritized a couple of them. Once we were done with Dr. Gray, we went to get your blood work taken.

The child life specialist took us back and was there to help us distract you during it. You loved the bubbles and watched some Yo Gabba Gabba. You would look over at your arm here and there and would then go back to the Ipad. They took 11 vials. 11!!!!!!!!!!!!! You didn't cry. You didn't whine. You were called a rock star by the phlebotomist.

The picture above was after your blood was taken. It didn't show up here, but you were smiling. I didn't know if you smiled because a) you were excited about having blood taken b) you were done having blood taken c) your Dad was holding you d) the phlebotomist gave us the idea to get you a milk shake for being a rock star. It could also be a bit of a combination. . .

We headed back to the car and you were quickly clapping and singing. We left Comer's and headed to a great place. Portillo's!!!!!!!!!! We were not in the car too long before you decided a nap would be good. Which was nice, even though it was 1 pm, traffic leaving the city wasn't the best. I am looking forward to taking you up there on the train or the metro in the future. . .

So your Dad and I had debated, do we go in or do we eat in the car. We went in. It wasn't crowded and we needed a break from the car already. (Okay, it had only been a little over an hour since leaving Comer's, but we needed a break.) Once again you showed us how amazing you are, especially for your first real time for leaving the house.

You highly enjoyed, looking around.

Trying a french fry for the first time. 

Sharing Mom's chocolate cake shake with her.

We took the smaller camera, which is a lot slower than the big one, so we didn't get the smiles that really were there. We go back to see Dr. Gray in two weeks, so we will stop at Portillo's again. We will also take in your blanket when we are at Comer's.



progress on THE Joey front


So first of all, you are just too cute. We used your shark hooded towel for the first time today. You highly enjoyed peeking at yourself over the edge of the tub to the sliding mirror door and then ducking back down.

Today you made progress on The Joey Front. That's right, on your own you petted him without grabbing a chunk of fur. Three days down and there is progress, you also didn't scream at all when you saw him. More importantly, Joey tried to go to bed with you this evening. He was on the floor next to your crib when you were tucked in and had to be asked to leave the room. I am thinking you two sleeping together is something we don't want started. . .



meeting Joey


So before meeting Joey yesterday (Saturday), on Friday you wore this.

Cutie, you love your walks. You love being outside and I love seeing you look around as we walk. For the most part, you are curious during our walks. Sometimes you will clutch at your Dad or I while you are in your carrier, scared. It isn't necessarily because you heard something, you are just scared at that moment and we talk you through it, patting your rump and talking to you. You slowly relax and we continue on the walk.

For the most part, you seem happy at home. You smile a lot, laugh, and giggle. We are so thankful for this. This is not what we were expecting after our court trip in December. You can go from laughing one moment to be so angry your whole body tenses, the look on your face is just one of pure anger, and the sound you make is one of frustration. This does not last long, but does occur a couple of times a day and then you go back to your laughing, happy self.

Yesterday you met your dog, Joey. You screamed for the first hour and a half he was home. Not only did you scream, but you clung to your Dad in the carrier, even when you couldn't see Joey. Joey rocked. He just walked in and found a spot to lie down. In the past 24 hours you are okay with Joey if he:

- is lying down at least 5 feet from you.
-is in a different room.
-is sitting at the foot of the high chair. You enjoy looking down at him.
-lying down and you are moving towards him. You do not like it if he moves and towards you, but away is okay.

You seemed okay yesterday when you realized Joey eats Cheerios as well. You have "petted" Joey a couple of times and both of you seem okay with this. Okay, your lightning quick hands jetted out and grabbed a handful of fur and Joey just laid there.

Here you are trying to climb your Dad, while at the same time leaning over to see Joey.

You finally decided mashed potatoes are good. After eating your potatoes, you saw the tip off for the Ohio State v. Syracuse game. You didn't see a lot of this game, but you saw a bit.

Joey got smart, really fast. He learned last night to leave the room when you start crying. He was in the room when I started trying to get you to fall asleep, but left when the crying started (your crying, not mine). He looked back in when the screaming started, you not me, but decided it was safer elsewhere in the house.

This morning's walk outfits.

Watching preseason baseball with Dad. There is a Paul Konerko jersey shirt under that bib.



a special day


Before I tell you why today is a special day, I need to remind you about last night. On Thursday you got to meet your Uncle Justin and cousins CG and PG! (You met your aunt and the oldest CG at the airport when you got home.) You dazzled them and we think your uncle is pretty smitten with your smile. (How could he not be?)

Now as to why today is so special. It is your BFF's birthday!!!! That's right, today is Joey Ramone's 8th birthday!  

I know you haven't gotten to meet him yet, but you will love him. He has been staying with Papa and Grammie and they tell me he has been getting spoiled. Papa takes him on three long walks a day. I am really hoping he will be okay with one long walk a day after all of that love and care.

Now Joey hasn't ever lived with a kid before, so your cousin L has been over there working with him. I understand Joey is okay with someone holding his tail as they walk together, being used as a pillow, and getting petted not always the softest.

Why is this super important? Joey is coming home!!!!!!! That's right, on Saturday you get to finally see your dog we have been telling you about!!!!! I don't know who is more excited, me or your Papa!



2 weeks


Okay, so technically you have been home for 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS!!!! Wow. So before leaving to get you, one of my friends (Denise) thought it would be funny to install a webcam in our home to see how your Dad and I did once you were here. Really, I think she wanted to be able to laugh at us, along with the rest of the special ed department, with whatever craziness we were doing at the time. Well, Denise didn't get her webcam, but hopefully she will be okay with these pictures since coming home.

So generally you are not a fan of stuffed toys. You seem to really like the ones that make noise. AWESOME. There has been an exception, Yoda. Yep. You are really into Yoda. I think it is the ears. Plus, how can you not like Yoda? He is full of wisdom. (Your Uncle Spencer had a Yoda that was like a Magic 8 ball when he was younger. Lots of good wisdom comes from a fortune-telling Yoda.) Your Grammie's friend Lynn game you Yoda. I think your favorite part of Yoda was when you realized you could throw him. After throwing him, you would then crawl to get him and throw him again. At the same time, maybe you were not throwing him. Maybe Yoda was using his Jedi-like moves to go from one place to another and his mind tricks to get you to follow. . . I am thinking you enjoyed throwing him.
You LOVE wearing hats. So like your Dad. Right now you are touching your head, when you want a hat and say something that sounds like "atz." Once you have one on, you like to pull it down really low over your eyes. You do not always like it when we say we want to see your eyes, but most of the time you seem okay with it. Here you are ready to cheer on Ohio State in the first round of the playoffs. Your Dad's friend and co-worker, Lynn, got you this super cute OSU sweatshirt to wear for the big event. (She thought it would be slightly cooler, but thanks you for bringing the warm Ethiopian weather home with you.) So we wanted to be sure to get a picture or two of you wearing it, while it fit. Did I say it was super cute on you? Post photo op, we put an OSU bib on you to wear until you went to bed.

 I don't think I can stress enough how super cute you are. One thing you love to do right now is say, "Ta-Da!" and throw your hands in the air. We change your diaper, "Ta-Da!" We put you in the carrier, "Ta-Da!" Dinner? Hat? Playing with a toy? Getting your picture taken? Listening to music? Yep, they are "Ta-Da!" moments. My favorite is when you pull yourself up to stand and tell us it is a "Ta-Da!" moment. Even when you sit back down and do it again, for another 5 minutes. It is okay, they are "Ta-Da!" moments. We so did not think you would be standing at this point. You can have all of the "Ta-Da!" moments you want.

You really like your food. You get so excited when you see your milk or some type of food. (Today, you ate one of those rice cookie things that dissolve in your mouth and liked it! You are not a fan all of the time of puffs and you DO NOT like the yogurt-like puffs. You have a great gag reflex with those. . .) You love to peek out behind items. Doorways. The sofa. Your Dad. Here you thought it would be fun to lean to peak out behind your Dad while he was feeding you in the living room to look at me.
 This picture is for your Uncle Al. Why you ask? The Batman shirt? Nope. It is for your Uncle Al because you are wearing camo pants. In this particular picture you can't really tell they are camo pants, but it was the best one from this session. These pants were a bit of a debate when your Dad and I were in Carter's. You know I am not a fan of camo, but I am sure there was some compromise between the camo pants and some other outfit. . . At the same time, I am sure there will be more camo in the future, as much as it hurts me to write that. You really liked your Batman shirt you are wearing in this picture. Throughout the day you would look down at the logo and pat it with both hands, smiling. I am foreseeing more comic book inspired shirts in the future. Wait, there are some in your closet, waiting for you to grow into them.

Okay, here your Uncle Al can see the camo pants. I am not sure why the Batman shirt is up on your belly so much. It does fit. So these are the shoes I bought you at Von Maur that were such a great deal that do not fit. You really liked playing with these shoes Charlie. Your Dad and I think it is because they were a bit "reflective" with the silver parts. You kept turning this shoe around in your hands, with a smile on your face and laughing now and then. So we need to get you shoes that fit and are reflective. Until then, you have these awesome shoes. . .

You have R2-D2 shoes! That's right, the droid who guards your library is also on your shoes! In addition to these great shoes, you love to play with caps. You enjoy them so much, we have to make sure you can't see them during or after a feeding. Otherwise you want to play with it instead of drink your milk. I know, a cap is a lot more fun than milk. You highly enjoy just turning it in your hands, playing the dropping game, and banging it on whatever is close by.

 So we have learned you love music! We knew this when we were in Ethiopia for our court date back in December, but it seems this love has grown! (BTW- I can't tell you how many songs we sang in country to keep you happy on both trips.) You have a favorite song, "Battu" on your African Playground CD. As soon as you hear the intro you start squealing, dancing, and clapping your hands, on beat. Your Dad and I know most of the words to this song, even though the words are in Yoruba. Here you and your Dad are celebrating St. Patty's Day by listening to the Dropkick Murphys. You highly enjoyed the bagpipes on this CD as well as pounding the rhythm on the coffee table. So you know, your Dad has promised to take you to Boston to eat McGreevy's. . .

Did we say you enjoy hats? You really enjoy hats. In addition to listening to the Dropkick Murphys on St. Patty's Day, you wore this hat. This hat your Dad and I searched all over. We had been searching for this type of hat since before our first trip to Ethiopia and we finally found it about two weeks before our Embassy date.

One of your favorite toys. . . Why? I can only assume because it makes noise. So there is a seat you can sit/stand in and it goes around the center round table. You highly enjoy the pressing down on the frog so the balls go around and around. The dragonfly is also a favorite. What I enjoy though is when you look at your reflection in the mirror and then try to look under the center table to see if the little boy in the mirror is still there. So you are walking around the center table, using the connected seat, but you only do this backwards. Yep, you walk backwards, never forwards.

So here you are with your car. . . The introduction of the car.
 Deciding it was pretty nice, especially when you get to ride around the house in it.
 You are still trying to figure out the wheel and horn aspect of the car.

Charlie, you love cuddling with your Dad or "DaDa" as you call him. You two are wearing matching shirts here.

Your favorite time of day? Bath time. I am not sure it shows up enough in this picture, but you love to splash in the tub. You can really see the water spot on the left shoulder of my shirt. Usually I have to change my shirt after bath time due to how wet it is. 

So we tend to take at least one walk a day. So far we have been to the park, the grocery store, and most importantly the bakery. This is right after your first taste of the best cookie in the world. It was a Mrs. Jone's sugar cookie. You loved it! You also seem to enjoy your BOB stroller.

Okay, so I think this shows pretty well what we have been up to your first two weeks home.



more Homecoming pics


Your Aunt Kristi took A LOT of pictures of your homecoming. So here are some more to share with you. . .

This is your Aunt Kristi. She is SUPER excited to have you home. You are her first nephew. Her family is responsible for your South Paw on your bookcase in your room.  They also got you your first White Sox hat. We have discovered you LOVE hats. Your White Sox hat has been worn on all of walks since getting home. Here you are sporting your Bulls hat.

I know you don't look to sure of him here, but you are gonna love your Uncle Spencer. L can tell you about all of the great stuff he has taught her. Your Aunt Meg might not agree on the definition of "great" but you two will have a lot of fun together.

My boys.





A week ago, today, people gathered to welcome you home. It was late, after 10 pm, but family and friends (aka your fan club) met us so they could see the amazing boy we having been talking about, forever.

They waited as they saw others turn the corner and go down the ramp. They heard other passengers tell them, "They are coming" so they could see this.
They cheered when they saw you. They cheered when you were introduced to them. You are so loved Charlie.
380 days since you were first placed in an orphanage, you are home. You are loved. You have family who loves you and is so excited to get to know you.

A cousin who is only slightly taller than you and so wants to teach you to "give elbows." 

A grandma, cousin, and uncle who will take you for pizza, teach you flips, and take you fishing.

A Grammie who makes you quilts.

 A Papa who will teach you about trains, planes, and cars.


Parents who will love and support you. 

So many people who care about you. Some were there, some were not, some were able to avoid pictures. Charlie you have many people wanting to help you grow up to be the best man you can be. 

We love you Charlie!

Mom and Dad 


Wednesday and the trip home


So we all gathered in the lobby of the Riviera waiting for Almaz to bring the documents which would allow us to bring you home. She was supposed to come at 11 am, but we ended up waiting. I am not sure what time she and Danny arrived, but while we waited, we took some group pictures. At some point on Wednesday morning, you discovered your Dad wears hats, so you wore his hat during a lot of the wait. Six children, five families, waited in the lobby. It was amazing to have these families there with us. I feel honored getting to witness the growth of their families and to see the love that filled the lobby.

When Almaz arrived we relocated to a conference room in the basement. She talked us through the trip home, the importance of not loosing the envelope, your passport, and the court decree which although could be replaced, can't really. We talked for a bit, I am not even sure about what anymore, then said our good-byes to to this incredible lady who helped us bring you home. Words do not express the gratified I feel towards her and those who work with her at Hannah's Hope. Charlie, you were loved there. How can a Mom thank someone for loving and caring for her son for a little over five months?

From there we went back to our room rested, packed, bathed you for the last time in Ethiopia, and got ready to leave. We met the C family in the lobby at 7 pm and left for the airport. Getting through the first security check point was so much easier this time. Insulin pump? They really didn't do anything. It was the amount of coffee we were taking out of the country that gave us problems. It took some convincing, but we got it through and got in the line for Lufthansa. We were probably the fifth family or so in line and waited for them to open. For the trip home we had booked three seats, so we could have a little more room. (Plus we didn't think it would be comfortable to have you in our lap the whole time.)

While checking in, I asked the desk guy to be sure we were together. He said we were. We went through customs, for some reason that is when I first checked the tickets. We weren't together, your Dad was four rows behind us.

So we went to the customer service desk. Even with me crying, they "couldn't" help us, we would have to wait to get to the gate desk. To say I was upset, would be an understatement. Plus our tickets from Frankfurt to Chicago had us in three different spots on the plane. We tried to email our travel agent, the computer wouldn't connect to the internet. We went through security and our gate. We waited for the gate agents to come to ask about fixing our tickets. It was the same ladies from the customer service desk. They still "couldn't" help us, but a supervisor was coming to talk to me. I asked if it was possible to page the person sitting next to the group of two tickets, I was told they couldn't do that. The supervisor never came.

While waiting at the gate we had to change your diaper. As a note to future self, there are no garbage cans after the second security gate. The ladies working the gate desk did not enjoy my response of "he wasn't wet then" when asked why we hadn't changed you before the security check. 

We boarded the plane. Once on the plane, I put you in the seat where we were assigned and your Dad and I just stood waiting to see who else was in the row of four. Eventually a passenger sat in the other aisle seat. We celebrated knowing the seat next to the group of two was a single ticket. When he came, we asked if he would mind taking your Dad's seat instead, we told him it was an aisle seat. He asked if he would have to sit next to the baby if he sat in his assigned seat. We said he would. He took us up on our offer.

Charlie, you rocked that flight. While waiting for take-off, you sat there clapping your hands and singing. You fell asleep during take-off. You LOVED the screen in the headrest before you. You slept. We slept. We jumped to check on you every time we heard a baby. It was never you. At the end of the flight, the lady across the aisle gave you the "Best Baby on Flight Award." I know this isn't a real award, but you earned it.

In Frankfurt we deplaned and found a customer service desk. She got us three seats together. We took the train to the correct terminal and went through security. We waited for our flight. While we waited, you crawled on the floor, played, and were just cute.

I know you got the "Best Baby on the Flight Award" from Addis to Frankfurt, you didn't get that from Frankfurt to Chicago. It could have been worse. It could have been A LOT worse. You rocked take off, but before lunch was served you got a fever and a little crabby. Of the 9ish hours, it was only for about an hour or an hour and a half, but it wasn't fun. The flight attendants on this flight were wonderful and really made sure we had everything to try to make you happy. (Plus, I think they felt bad they gave us hot water to make your bottle, twice. Even when it cooled you wouldn't take it. You really don't like to have a warm bottle.)

 Once in Chicago we went through immigration, were we made the lady cry because I was crying, collected our bags, and got in line to hand off the envelope. We waited with the C family for the last time here. We were done before they were, hugged them, and left to recheck our bags. From there we learned went through security again (after getting your Dad a boarding pass, since one wasn't issued for him in Addis) and found Stanley's Kitchen and Tap. Your Dad wanted to eat here the after the first trip, but we didn't have time with our layover. What was supposed to be a 9 hour layover turned out to be only a 4 hour one, but we still had time. You did great for your first time in a highchair and didn't really like us saying you couldn't have our burger and fries. (BTW- GREAT burger, especially after eating Thai and Indian on the plane.)

After Stanley's we found a corner for you to play in and eventually you saw your first Bulls game on TV. Charlie, I think your Dad was a bit disappointed you fell asleep while watching your first Bulls game.

At the same time, you slept until we landed in P. You woke up in time for me to change your diaper and put you in the carrier to meet some of your fan club. . .