Friday, February 20, 2009

One Month and We're Getting the Hang of It!

I imagine most every job comes with it's perks.  For some folks it's cruises, dinner parties, or freebies.  Ryan's job comes with its perks as well.  For example, do you get invited to the new members luncheon at your church EVERY month?  I do.  Do you get first dibs on which VBS class you'll teach EVERY year?  I do.   One of my favorite perks is the unlimited access to all of the newest children's church music.  We have an extensive collection of kids music that we've collected through the years.  Recently, Ryan brought home a new CD.  It's become my favorite new dancing CD.  It's funny, but often those kids songs minister to me in very vivid ways.  The first couple of weeks after Abe came home, when I was sitting on the edge of sanity, one of the songs on that new CD was a huge source of encouragement for me.
So, when I decided to post a montage of our first month at home, I knew I had to use that song.  We've made it through the first month and I do believe we're finally getting the hang of it.   Here are a few pictures of a first month with Abe.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Ups and Downs

It's hard to believe that we've been home almost a month.  Abe is adjusting very well, and seems to be a very content little guy.  We are learning to communicate better and he is so much fun.  He laughs often and loves to "sing" along with music.   
He still LOVES the broom.  I can't sweep while he's awake without him screaming at my feet. Friday I forked over $10 for a toy broom.  It was in the shape of a cow and as soon as I brought it home he smiled.  He pointed to the eyes and said EYES! with great delight.  He then began happily sweeping.  UNTIL I got out my real yellow broom.  Then, he immediately dropped the cow and began pulling on my yellow broom.  Oh, the joys of toddlers!
I must admit that adjusting to a toddler has been much rougher than I'd anticipated.  I guess I'm just not as young as I used to be and I did not realize how independent my other children had become.   I had forgotten what it was like to get to 4 pm and still be in my pajamas wondering if and when I might get a shower.  Truth told, it's been a little overwhelming. Everytime I think the worst of it is over, we seem to hit a rough day.  But, when I get really frustrated I try to take a minute to just sit down and enjoy him.   I know it will get easier soon- it's already getting easier.  It's just hard to remember that when you're stepping in that sticky spot you meant to mop up three days ago.  
Oh well, there's nothing eternal about sparkling floors, right?  In eternity my floors will sparkle-  I feel confident!

Our current prayer requests would be:
Abe's skin.  He still is having this occasional rash thing.  We've had a variety of diagnoses, and we're not sure exactly what it is.  We can get it under control for a while, and then when we think it's gone it flairs up again.  We're on a new medicine and we go back to the dermatologist in 2 weeks.
Our schooling.  It's time for us to crack down again, and the dynamics are still very rough.  I think this is one of my major sources of stress- which of course makes everyone stressed. Please pray for wisdom for me and self-discipline for my children.  When they decide to take initiative with their school work, it helps tremendously!

I'll leave you with a little guessing game about our past week:

Guess who...

Lost their first tooth, battled strep throat, and got his first penicillin shot?


Signed all of her own Valentine's for the first time this year?


Constantly wants to be with Abe and is very excited about the new song she learned at praise team practice this week?


Turned 16 months old, received his greencard, and actually napped in his crib 3 times?


Thought it would be great fun to pile in and exceed the weight limit on the pack and play?


Bought his wife a gorgeous writing desk and chair on a killer sale and then set it all up beautifully as a very sweet Valentine surprise?

(that would be Ryan!)

Did you get them all correct?  I knew you would!  Have a great day!  Christy

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The White Shoes

When you look at this picture, what do you see?  I'll tell you what I see.  I am overwhelmed by those white shoes.  I think of the sweet face of the child that wore them and how proud she was of those shoes.  I think about how she only whispered when she spoke to me and how she clung to my hand while we were there that day.  I think about how I scolded the boys who pushed her off the swing when they thought no one was looking and how she smiled when I lifted her back on and gave her a push.  I wonder if she has a momma coming to get her.  I pray she does.

I have thought about her every day since we returned from Ethiopia.  I thought maybe it was just me.  But then, last night I overheard a conversation between my Ryan and Abby and I knew I wasn't the only one who was struggling with this burden for little H.  So, I decided we just had to know.  We had to be sure that she was going to have a family.  We e-mailed our caseworker this morning and requested that they just check.  Follow up for us and make sure that someone is coming soon.  She assured us they would find out.

I feel sure someone is, right?  Someone has to be.  We can't.  Realistically, we can't.  But, I have to know.  I will sleep better at night knowing.   So, I'll wait to hear what the in-country staff finds out, and I'll pray, and in the meantime, you can pray.  Please pray for little H, with the white shoes.   

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Ethiopia photos

I know I have woven some ET photos in with my posts, but I wanted to share a few more.  So, I made this montage which shows a little more of our trip, from start to finish.  These photos can not possibly communicate the beauty of the people and the culture or the depth of the poverty and need.  So many of my favorite photos are of the children we met there, and I am not allowed to post their faces due to regulations.  However, I thought I'd share some of the other photos we took, in the order they were taken.  Enjoy!

A few last travel notes

Just wanted to take a minute to share a few last travel thoughts with some of you families that will be traveling in the coming months.  These are basically just random thoughts that I thought might be helpful.  So, here goes:


I used Grace's travel spreadsheets for my planning.  Especially the packing lists.  For the most part, I packed exactly what she had listed and we pretty much had everything we needed.  I did add a few feeding type items because Abe was 15 months and he was at that in-between eating stage.  I HIGHLY recommend the Playtex drop-in liner bottles.  I hesitated about buying them, because I knew he wouldn't be in bottles long, but they were exactly right for the travel situation.  The conditions for cleaning and sanitizing were not good at any point of our travels, so the drop-ins were perfect.  Also, I took a set of feeding bowls with lids that we used constantly.  We packed them for going out, we used them for mixing up Abe's rice cereal, they held a variety of snack items on the plane.  They were a must.  I also took Gerber finger snacks and I'm glad I did.  They were lifesavers on the plane.  The milk, baby cereal, and jarred food were all readily available in the Ethiopian supermarkets, but the finger foods were less available.

 A few little items I'm really glad we packed:
  • Extra ziplocs- especially the gallon size
  • Plastic formula container (worked great with the powdered milk too.)
  • Slipper socks for all of us (all of the floors are tile or wood)
  • A variety of small toys- especially the bubbles and the ball
  • Bibsters (disposable bibs)
  • Washcloths 
  • Travel size clorox wipes and kleenexes

Items I wish I'd packed:
  • More socks for Abe.   He went through about 3 pairs a day and they got filthy.
  • More long pants for Abe.  The weather there was much milder than I'd anticipated.  I packed too many summery clothes and a spring weight was more what we needed.
  • Disposable dishcloths (the kind with the dish soap in them.)
A few final travel thoughts:
  • We flew Emirates and we had a great experience.  I highly recommend using them if you can and the forced layover in Dubai on the way there was great.  We arrived in Addis fairly rested and ready to meet Abe.  The equipment was in excellent condition and the crew were ultra professional and caring.
  • Use your driver as a great resource.  Our driver was wonderful.  He educated us on the culture, took us to the best restaurants, markets, etc., helped us exchange money, picked up water and other items, and overall he was our lifeline for the week.   
  • Realize that your experience will be different than how you have pictured it.  The process is constantly changing and things may not go exactly as you have imagined.  The Gladney in-country staff juggles a lot of responsibilities.  No two travel groups are going to experience the same exact things.  For example, we have no video of our first meeting with Abe.  I thought someone would be available to video because I had seen so many other videos, but that was not the case.  We had to choose either video or photo because there was only one set of hands available.  There were a couple of other small things like that which I had to get over in order to enjoy the moment.  
  • Take time to enjoy it all.  You will get tired and it is all very emotional.  But try hard to soak it all in.  Take photos, video, and linger when you can.  You'll be glad you did!
I guess from this point on, my blog will be more about my family and less about my adoption journey.  We invite you to continue checking in or even to e-mail me if I can help any of you other adoptive parents.  I know I had a gazillion questions when I actually had the travel dates on the calendar.  We look forward to blogging about our wacky life as we continue this transition from 6 to 7!

Coming up for air

Thought it was time to update on life at the Campbell Circus. I must admit, it's getting a little easier everyday. I think I've adjusted my expectations and we're trying to just enjoy this adjustment time with all the challenges it brings. I would like to say that I'm embracing the chaos- but I just don't embrace chaos very well.

Abe is certainly charming his way into all of our hearts a little more each day. He is very funny, quick to smile and abundantly mischevious. He is also brilliant and he is quickly learning what works and what doesn't. He makes me laugh many time each day and sometimes when I look at him, I still can't believe he's really here and that those sweet cheeks are really available for me to kiss all day long!

His vocabulary consists of the words light, eye, hello, and no. I know, these are the 4 most useful words in the English language, aren't they? Every toddler needs to know the word light!?! It's funny though how he uses it. Whenever he is being scolded, he catches your eye, gives you a big grin, and points to the nearest light while saying the word. It's as if he is trying to distract us from the correction process. It took me a couple of days to quit falling for it because I was so excited that he was using the word.

He doesn't do toys or naps very well, so we are not exactly sure how to fill his days. My to-do lists have been significantly trimmed down, and I am still rarely completing them. During the day, we all take turns "Abey sitting" so that all of us have a turn to do something productive. This basically consists of someone being his shadow to keep him from hurting himself and vandalizing the property. He will sometimes engage in play for a few minutes before he is off and running again. He is very busy and so far he's figured out most of the childproofing we've tried. Cabinet locks serve only to slow him down for a few seconds. Fortunately, he is beginning to respond to some boundaries and the word "no" now holds some meaning for him.

The kids are doing well with him. They are amazingly patient and loving. He is not quite as smitten with them as they are with him. But, I keep reminding them that he has had to watch out for his own interests over the last 6 months and it will take a while for him to understand how a family works.

I must admit, that it's been a little hard coming to the end of the adoption process. It's a delight to have Abe home, that's for sure. But the "process" has been such a part of our life for the last year that it seems a little odd to not have it there. It's kind of like planning a wedding. I remember after we returned from our honeymoon and I felt a little lost. I was glad to be married and relieved to have the big day behind us, but the planning and preparations had been such a part of my life for the previous months, that I had to find a new rhythm for my days. That's a little bit the same with the adoption. I know that a new normal is coming, we're just still looking for it!

I'll leave you with a few photos.

Our "new to us" family of 7 ride.  We were so excited to come in under budget with all the features we had decided we wanted.  Once again, the Lord provided!

You talking to me?!?

Couldn't stay awake any longer!

My THREE guys 
(yes, Abe has pj's, he was just sporting his Kidztown pride at that moment!)

The smile that melts my heart

Monday, February 2, 2009

One of the best surprises of this adoption journey has been some of the people we've become acquainted with and some of the stories we've been privileged to follow within the adoptive community. One of the most incredible families we've encountered has been the Wolfe family who brought home 3 teenage siblings this past fall. They were the family who took our package to Abe, and they have an amazing testimony. Their story is truly miraculous and inspiring.
If you have a few minutes and you are at all interested in reading their amazing story, follow this link. I promise, you'll be blessed. You can see some great video footage of the people and places that Ryan and I experienced on our recent trip. And, if you look closely, you can even see a photo of our little guy at the end of the video! Enjoy!