It’s been 8½ months since we wearily, after multiple weather delays, walked off that last plane in Tulsa and jumped in my van driven by my awesome little sis and bro-in-law for the 90 minute drive home. We caught our second wind and were so happy to hug the smudgy little faces of our boys after 3+ weeks. In some ways it seems much longer while in others, it seems shorter…..
Yikes! Guys, has it really been 6 months since my last update?! I’m so sorry for leaving you hanging. But gosh, things just got wild!
In the words of Inigo Montoya “Lemme esplain…. No, there is too much. Lemme sum up”
· I left my job of 6 ½ years so I could stay home with Bertie and the boys the entire summer. It. Was. AWESOME.
· Going to 1 income was a bit difficult, but we made it through
· I LOVED spending the summer with my kiddos – I’ve never been able to do that before
· I started a brand new job 3 weeks before school started (and I LOVE it! Like seriously, 100% LOVE my job. I don’t dread Mondays anymore. It’s amazeballs.)
· School started and we now have a 3rd grader, a 1st grader, and a Kindergartener
· Bertie started Kindergarten and is really enjoying it!
· Bertie had her first birthday party – It was Once Upon A Time themed
· Bertie experienced her first Halloween
· Bertie’s ABOUT to experience her first Thanksgiving and Christmas and we’re all pretttttyyyyyyy excited about that !
So, that’s a speed update! Haha!
Bertie started school and is doing amazing. Her English has come along nicely. She had to be assessed by the ESL (English Second Language for those who aren’t familiar with the acronym) Department a few weeks ago. The lady was so surprised to hear that she’s only been speaking English for 8 months. She’s on a level 3 (she was 1 point away from level 4 which is considered ‘fluent’) and they recommend maybe some partial help to get her over that little hill. She wrote her name as ‘Bertie’ instead of ‘Birtukan’ so she lost points for that. She told the lady “Dat’s my name but my mam call me Bertie not Birtukan” – She knows if we use Birtukan, she’s in trouble. ;-)
She had her very first birthday party and it was Once Upon A Time themed – the kids love watching the show with us. She was especially excited to see Elsa and Anna in season 4. So, Bertie was Elsa for her party. And girl loved every minute of it. And there are STILL sparkles all over my house…. And in KC’s beard. Haha! She also requested injera and berbere for dinner and I happily obliged.
She’s grown SO much these last few months! For example, she got in trouble few weeks ago for throwing a fit. So, she had to go to her room until she could change her attitude. That didn’t work, so she went to bed 30 minutes early.
The next morning, she was in a great mood. I asked her “Are you in a better mood today?” she said “Yup!”. While I was fixing her hair I asked her if she knew why she got in trouble. She said “Because I mad and I cry and I throw fit”. I replied “yes you did. Even after Mommy gave you 4 chances and tried asking you to sit and watch a show with me”. She said “yeah, But I was mad and did nat listen, so I in trouble. But not naw” and gave me a huge grin.
We still have some rough days – mostly days when something reminds her of home. And we are sure to talk about her feelings. We watched Inside Out at the theaters and it’s been so good at helping us talk about emotions with all the kids. But especially Bertie who isn’t always sure. After the movie I told her that it’s okay to be sad, that there are things we’ll remember that will make us sad but to tell Mommy and Daddy so we can help you when you’re sad.
We are blessed beyond belief to still have a relationship with her brother. We email a few times a month. She asked us the other day why we couldn’t adopt him too. It was hard to explain, but I think KC and I did our best. She then asked us to adopt one of her friends from the orphanage. That hit hard.
We try to be as open as we can with her about everything. She remembers so much about her Dad and we’re learning that he loved her and doted on her. She doesn’t remember anything about her mom, so she says “I not so sad she die because I no remember her”. But we try to keep them both alive by talking about them often.
Though, she also has bad memories about her life – and she shares more and more with us each day. We try to tell her that we are here to keep her safe and she is trusting us more and more each day. I’m so amazed at how much she has grown in just the last 7 months. We are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were before. Summer got a bit rough, but we made it through. It seems like she’s always been here; like she’s always been a part of our family.
Guys – We are so thankful that we are blessed to be her second family. The weight of realizing that I am seeing her grow up while her first parents are not is not lost on me… We want her to always know that she was loved and cherished by her first family – and we are doing everything we can to talk about them with her. We want her to know we hold a special place in our hearts for them.
And this girl is everything I dreamed of in a daughter and more. She holds her own with her brothers, is sarcastic, funny, bright….. she GLOWS.
She’ll have a light saber fight while wearing a Darth Vader mask and a tutu, and will then make her brothers sit down for tea. Haha!
We are so excited for the holidays. The boys have been explaining Christmas as best as they can. (Just an FYI: we celebrate Christ’s birth but we also enjoy the fun of Santa Claus)
She was skeptical about Santa. I told her that he comes down the chimney and leaves gifts. She laughed her adorable deep belly laugh and said “Jou lie Mam!” I told her “No really! Ask your brothers!” she said “Truth Mam?” (that’s her “okay, time out, let’s be serious and tell the truth phrase”) I said “Yes, truth”. So she took off running to ask her Dad and brothers. Haha! So she’s excited about the food, gifts, and lights.
She has just in the last few months met more of our family – my tia’s and tio’s. She was wide eyed at the amount of people I introduced as family. I told her “Yes, Mommy has booozooo (big) family!” She jumped right in with playing at my cousin’s birthday party. She LOVES piñatas and had her system for gathering the most candy down pat. She dove in the pile of kids scrambling for candy and came out with more than I thought her little hands could hold. Her brothers were definitely jealous.
And the boys you ask? Well, late spring and early summer was a bit hard on them. That was, like I said, a bumpy season. She was starting to trust us, but not entirely so we had a lot of fits. So they were home more than they would’ve liked. But they are both such amazing kids, they handled it so well and understood the reasons behind it.
They love doting on her. They’ll help her with almost anything she asks and they love teaching her new things or explaining things to her. BUT on the flipside, they’re still siblings and fight and squabble. Normally, it winds up being 2 against 1…. Generally Bertie and Caed against poor Ollie. But he’s tough and 97% of the time, can hold his own.
The other day I overheard the boys explaining to Bertie that it isn’t fair that they let her play in their rooms but she doesn’t let them play in hers. She doesn’t like them messing up her clean room. So they came to an agreement that they could play in each other’s rooms but that when they’re in Bertie’s, they won’t touch her most favorite items.
They’re also quick to point the finger when I ask who forgot to flush the toilet… again. They all 3 constantly “forget” and blame each other for their messy shared bathroom. So, I’m asking for grace if you show up unannounced at my house and see the bathroom. Haha!
But they love their little sister. Almost too much. Bertie is starting to get annoyed with the spontaneous hugs that her brothers thrust upon her. Though, one weekend after Bertie did something adorable, Ollie said “Oh I just love my little Ethiopian sister!!” and grabbed her for a hug. She giggled and hugged him back.
These kids….. they will do great things.
So what’s next:
We’re getting into our new normal – going to 3 kids was a bit harder than I thought (time management-wise at least).
We’re enjoying this season right now as KC and I both know something “new and big” is on the horizon for us…..
As for our family, we are happy with where we are. We’ve discussed more kids, but are confident that right now, 3 is it. HOWEVER, we’re both completely open to whatever God may ask of us in the future. I’d totally go for one more, but KC is content with where we’re at. So we’re continuing to pray for God’s leading.
But for now, we’re looking forward to the holidays and are dreaming about a family vacation next year.
And hopefully, now that things have settled down some, I can continue to update you on what our day to day looks like.
Until next time dear friends.
PS: Here are some photos from the last 8 months