Sunday, September 30, 2012

My Wife....

Its not often that you come across someone as amazing as my wife. She is the best Mom any kid could have, she is the best wife a man could have, she is the best friend a person could ever hope for.

While I have always known these things about her, it has really been evident since we have been back in China with all three kids.
She is going from early morning, until the kids are in bed at night. I have not been home as much this semester, so she is doing a lot more on her own. She has taken Preston to Beijing, and then Alyia and Preston to Guangzhou, all with a smile on her face.

She is incredibly talented, whether with her drawing, music, crochet, or even the kids hair. She can learn how to do anything, and do it well. Nothing would get fixed if it was not for her, she is the one that keeps our house running well.

She is always looking for ways to teach the kids better, to give them what they need in a country that may not have it. She is strong when I am weak, and picks me up on those days where everything seems to go wrong.

She is always positive, loving and incredibly encouraging to everyone around her. I am the most fortunate man in the whole world, in that she choose me to build her life and family . I love you so much Renee, and I am honored that I get to be a part of your life!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

K + 1 + baby = AHHH + joy

Homeschool this year looks WAY different than it did last year with Tegan in Kinder and half the year with Preston doing K-4.  The biggest difference is now that Preston is doing Kinder, there is more of a need to "get through" what is on the schedule for the day.  It didn't matter so much with K-4 because the purpose of that was mostly to introduce him to the idea of school and make sure he was ready for Kindergarden.  Also, I never imagined just how much having a baby around would change homeschool.  

It's been quite a ride learning how differently Tegan and Preston learn.  My Kinder lessons from Tegan don't necessarily work best for Preston; so much for all the notes I kept to make this year easier.  I am finding that I have to be much more creative to meet the needs of a kinesthetic learner as compared to one who rather just figure out the facts and commit them to memory (maybe it's the Chinese influence...ha).  I'm enjoying the creative outlet that Preston gives me, but it is a lot more work!

Alyia is still adjusting to her new home, is getting in to EVERYTHING, and still requires my full attention (when Josh is gone).  I'm thinking the cloning thing sounds pretty good right now--one of me for Alyia, and one of me for teaching.  The morning hours homeschool are definitely the most exhausting hours of my day.  

In the end though, I know we'll figure it all out.  I greatly treasure the time that I am getting with ALL of my kiddos and try, sometimes more than others, to find joy in each and every day. 

Tegan on his first day of First Grade

Preston on his first day of Kindergarden

Alyia and her favorite entertainment during school
Tegan proudly doing his first ever homework assignment

Preston acting out Bremen Town Musicians

My sweet angels all posing for a picture

The SUPERDAD that makes sure I keep my sanity

Monday, September 10, 2012

Our Ethiopia trip Wednesday-Thursday

The last two days were just spent bonding with her new family. We played outside,  ate some good food, tried to take Daddy's coffee....

  This was the very first escalator that all three of the kids rode on. The boys had been scared the first time, and so was she. It was an awesome experience for the boys to be able to see this again, and to experience Ethiopia. 

As we said good-bye to Ethiopia for now, both she and Preston feel asleep and slept for most of the flight!

Our Ethiopia Trip Monday-Tuesday

 Once you take official custody of your child, there is not a lot to do. Ethiopia law limits how much you and where you can take your child, so much of the time is just spent in your hotel room, and in the courtyard playing 

As you can see when she woke up the next morning, she was still unsure of what was going on, but her brothers were excited and eager to help her.

Once she got her bottle, everything was right with the world!

She played with her brothers, discovered how much fun bubbles could be, and cuddled with Daddy! Here, Renee accused her of being a Daddys girl, and I think she still is. 

We discovered how much she loved to be tickled, and how much she enjoys a bath.

We gave her and her brothers some injera, the main Ethiopian food. We were not sure what she would eat, but knew she would love this and we were right. Her brothers were also VERY happy to have injera again. 

While you are not supposed to "show off" your new child, you are allowed to go shopping and take them a few places. So we did, we went to the main place all the tourists go, and we actually saw Patrick, he is a parent of an Ethiopia child, and we traveled with him and his wife the first time we went to Ethiopia. He was there on a humanitarian trip, and it was an amazing coincidence to see him. 

She also figured out how to use Daddy's ipad. How kids just know how to do this is beyond me...but she does! All in all, it was a great 2 days. You can really see how she is bonding and adapting to her new life. 

Ethiopia trip Saturday-Sunday

Renee and I were looking back at the blog posts from when the boys came home, and we realized we have not done them for Alyia. So they are late..but here they are. 

After MONTHS of waiting, and a false start or two, we had finally been given permission to go to pick up our daughter. We planned to go from China to Africa to America to China, so we closed our house, and packed as light as we could. We knew we would be buying ALOT of stuff in America, so we managed to fit everything in 3 suitcases!
We took the high speed bullet train from our home in Changsha, to the city of Guangzhou. That city has MANY Africans and had direct flight to Addis Ababa, which we were excited about. We got to the train station in Guangzhou, then rode the subway for an hour to get to the airport. We actually met another African family on the subway, and the girls in that family fawned over our handsome boys! We knew Father was taking care of us, as the second we got to the ET air counter, they opened and we checked in with no problem and very quickly. 

We got all checked in, and then waited for a long time. Finally, about 1:30 am we were bussed out to the plane, we boarded and were on our way!

We arrived in Ethiopia about 7 am on a Sunday morning, and after going to our hotel, getting some breakfast, and changing our clothes we were off to get our daughter. We had the driver take this picture of us, our last one as a family of 4. 
The boys were very excited to FINALLY meet their sister, and they were so proud of her as soon as they saw her. She was not quite as happy to see us though. She started screaming (we would eventually learn this was her scared cry) and the Nanny quickly kissed her goodbye, and we left. 

Outside the gate, we posed for our first picture as a family of 5. As you can see, she is not all that happy, but she recovers well and actually took a nap as I was holding her. 

After getting back to the hotel, we changer her clothes, and gave her the stuffed bear that we had made for her, (her brothers were also given stuffed bears when they got to go to the hotel with us when they were adopted) she stopped her crying and began her attachment to us. All in all, it was a good first day!