Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My New Reality

Last night I was going to the bathroom when all three kids started banging on the door, yelling Mo-mmm--ee. They were yelling crying, throwing fits when Scott came over and said, "what's going on?" Abegail replied, Mommy in there. Scott said, yea, so. She in there! She in there! Scott calmly replied, she's going to the bathroom. They looked at him like yea, so? He continued, do you think she wants to be bothered now? None of them understood. Of all the things African children who are adopted need, the greatest is love and constant attention and if you're a four year old boy to be held all the time except for when you are taking off your clothes to poop. Sorry to be so blunt, but I have never cleaned up so much poop since my new children arrived and still I cannot get a stool sample for the doctor. What is wrong with this picture? Annie got sent home from daycare because of bathroom issues today. What is a mother to do?
I have learned more about my husband since my kids got home than in 6 years. He is a way better parent than I am. He is more patient, they listen to him, they actually do what he says. He can get them to bed. He doesn't lose his cool. Maybe its just that he's had more sleep than me, maybe he is less obsessed with his 'to do' list, maybe he just understands the wee wee issue better than I ever will.
African children have no concept of saving the environment, everywhere I go there is a TV, a light, and definitely a faucet left on. We get out of the bath sopping wet and get back in and get out and leave the tub to overflow with the water running. It's electricity, are they making up for the lifetime they haven't had it?
Liberian children can yell louder and farther than an entire cheerleading squad combined. I could be at the neighbors with a Wal Mart going up next door and the lawn mower running and still here the sound, Momm--eee!!! I'll say, what? Huh??? We are definitely trying to get them to learn my new two favorite words, "excuse me?" Everything is Huh??? I asked Abegail, "are you starting to understand me better? She said, Huh???? Guess not.
I have my moments where I think, who's idea was this? Why on earth was I so cocky I thought I could do this. I always said it will be chaos. Did I not know what chaos was? Then I have these moments where I think we are getting better, we can do this. The kids are so loving, so beautiful, have so much potential. And then I smell it, more poop on the bathroom floor.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Three Very Different Kids

If you come to our house you are likely to see Annie with a princess dress on, her Cinderella slippers and a variety of accessories with her saying, I want to be a princess. E-man will be climbing on something, saying he has to go pee pee or trying to drive the car and Abegail will be playing a practical joke on someone or imitating how they whine.
The kids are so different and yet they all enjoy each other so much.
Abegail: The other day we were talking about adoption and how you may not look like your family and I asked her, "do you think people know you are adopted when you are with Daddy and me?" And she said Yes. I said how? She said we are black. I said, "what color am I?" She said pink. Abegail is so athletic, she can already swim a few strokes by herself. This from the girl who had never worn a swimsuit before. She always wants to run with me and not just around the block, she wants to go the whole time. I told her she is going to go to the Olympics. She said, "how many planes to get there?" In Liberia, I asked her what she thought America would be like and she said, "I go to school." Abegail can't wait to start school. She gave me a pout when I told her E-man and Annie were gonna go to daycare a couple hours a day starting next week. (Dad may actually get some work done, and Mom may have an hour after work to collect her thoughts) Abegail has the best pout, any time you tell her to go to bed or that she can't take a 3rd shower of the day she gives you that frown. And then she's on to something else. Abegail loves to ask for seconds and has grown to like all American food. Often she'll try something and say, "it's sweet." She is so sweet herself and if she's known for anything it'll be her smile and her giggle.
E-MAN: You've all heard the stories so you probably feel like you know him a bit. E-man is just craving love and all the attention. If you hold Annie, it is he who cries and gets jealous. He wants to make sure he is the center of your world. His most famous saying is, "I want milk." If he's not rolling a truck down the driveway, you can probably catch him wearing Annie's Cinderella shoes. He also loves to push Abegail and Annie in a play car and has had some success learning to ride a bike. E-man is the child who has to turn the pages when we read a story. He follows me like velcro from one room to another and will fight back if his little sister tries to put him in line. He is drawn to women and comforted by them, but Scott is having some success calming him down and getting him to talk about what's bothering him. I never know if the phone is ringing or if it's E-man playing with the buttons. So far the only thing I think he has learned about TV is it has a remote with a lot of buttons that he can push at any given moment. E-man is the kid who will do something he knows is wrong and then look at you out of the corner of his eye with a mischievous little laugh. But he also the kid who has no trouble telling you he loves you and going up to a complete stranger and getting a high five.
Annie: Since the other children have arrived, Annie seems so delicate next to them. Oh, yes she wants to run and slide and hang on the monkey bars, but only if her princess shoes do not fall off and her dress doesn't get dirty. Annie loves having a brother and sister. Tuesday morning she got up before them and said, "you gotta wake my brother and sister up." I said, "honey don't you just want to sit here and drink your milk and watch PBS." No, you have to get Abegail and Manuel up right now. She and Abegail can giggle to the ends of the earth and she and E-man do not hesitate giving hugs. If E-man is having a fit, she'll say, "Mommy, E-man's crying, you better pick him up. Or what is my brother doing?" She has asked if she can sleep with Abegail so I think that is coming, but we need to wait a bit because we always find E-man snuggled up with Abegail in the morning. Annie is very cautious and while the other kids think nothing of holding their heads underwater in the bath, Annie is tentative about getting pigtails put in. She loves to play ring around the rosie with Abegail and E-man. But really she just wants to be Cinderella or watch Beauty and the Beast and then twirl in a big long, fancy dress!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Mom's Back at Work

Sue returned to work today at WCCO and the kids just loved watching her on the noon show today. Sue typically works 4:30am to 12:30. But getting up at 5am to watch her just isn't in our list of things to do yet!!

On her first day back, Sue did a "hot weather" story.

It was a nice surprise for us when Sue got to work this morning to find out that her co-workers had all gotten together and bought us a gift card for over $500. What a nice gesture!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cape Cod Photos

We are home! We are never leaving the house again (at least not until all the kids can carry their own suitcases) ! It's great to be back home. Now to get into a routine a become a real family. I'm back to work Wednesday already...3:30 a.m. will come quick.

Abegail is proving to be our practical joker. She also fulfills her role as big sister well, trying to push the buttons of the little people. It can be pretty funny (to us not the siblings). This post is ending now because bathroom crisis number 45 is brewing.

1. At the Zoo on a dolphin (not real)
2. The first people who came to America came on this boat - The Mayflower
3. Happy 40th Anniversary Mom and Dad
4. Best Buds and cousins at the beach
5. Baseball shirts for Team Turner 40
6. Craft time put on by Auntie Carrie
7. More zoo photos in front of the big turtles
8. That's a cow???

100% American

The initiation is over, now we can move on with life!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New Family Photos

We are so happy to have photos of our FULL family. We took these last night at sunset in Cape Cod. E-man had a better day today, knock on wood. Still naughty but NO temper tantrums. Hopefully we are making progress, just in time to fly home!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Zone Defense

Going from one to three kids has been quite the adjustment for Scott and me. We are so outnumbered! Our days are full of refereeing, wiping up spills, and ruling whose turn it is to be carried. Everyone told us having two or three children is way different than having just one, but there is no way to know that until you are in a constant string of fulfilling needs. I don't think it would be exaggerating to say Scott and I feel overwhelmed most of the time.

Emmanuel has moments where he is so sweet and loves to give tons of kisses and says "I love you" more than any other kid. Perhaps to earn "points" with us? But we are always on guard. Since we have gotten home (a week ago Tues.) he has averaged two fits a day. These fits can last anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours. There's no telling what is going to set him off. Seatbelts are a major cause for meltdowns. He's used to riding in the front seat of a car in someone's lap. Airplane rides result in looooong and serious meltdowns.

We hope we are getting better at knowing what he needs. But I think both children have a deep level of apprehension. How can you not? They barely know us, they are meeting tons of people that we are like, love them, trust them. Talk about being out of your comfort zone! We think some routine at home and structure will be great for both kids. Both kids are having fun doing a lot of firsts.

Last night we went to see the sunset and they had a reggae band and they let Emmanuel play the steel drums. Both kids love water. I think Abegail is even swimming a little on her own already! They also love the hot baths and would stay in there for hours if we let them. We have had no trouble with food except they both love milk and it's given E-man a few bathroom problems but just cutting back a little will help.

We definitely feel like the kids are ours however and for some reason they are just as easy to love as Annie, fits and all.

Monday, July 16, 2007

We're off again!

If you can believe it, we are traveling again. It is my parents 40th wedding anniversary and a year ago they planned a family trip to Cape Cod. No time like the present to get to know the East Coast. Both Abegail and Emmanuel loved the ocean and the beach. Then Abegail participated in her first baseball game with the family. The traveling has been a bit harder on Emmanuel. We are having a tough time with long out of control temper tantrums that no one can calm him down from. Hoping for a better day today. Abegail has proved to be quite the athlete and really goes with the flow!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

What's that thing?

You mean it washes the dishes for you???

Friday, July 13, 2007

Our Video-This is What it's all about!

Here is a portion of the DVD that we will be sending out to anyone who may be interested.

Note to Martu and Makie's parents....I misspelled "Makie" a couple times in this video. It will be correct in the final version.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New Friends, Talking to Old ones!

1. Bath Time- We LOVE bath time, but skin gets very dry, doctor recommended Eucerin
2. Nothing like cuddling up to a big truck! Kids nap for several hours in the afternoon, they are exhausted with time change, all new stimulus
3. Emmanuel talked to Gift yesterday he told her he loved his room and asked when she was coming to see him. Unfortunately she lives in PA, but we'll make a reunion happen!
4. We tried to wake Abegail up but she was sleeping, they Abegail and Gift have an appointment to talk tonight.
5. Abegail and Emmanuel met the Peterson clan yesterday, similar ages, instant friends!

List of Staff at the AFAA House for Families

For those of you who are traveling, we thought it might be helpful to have a list of the staff members at the house. Sometimes its hard to understand their names, but if you see it written its easier to pronounce
1. Linda-Foster Mom
2. Marie (pronounced Mary) Cook
2. Churuchuma-Foster Mom
3. Jessie-Big Boss! Handles paperwork, used to be Foster Mom and teacher. Loves the kids, the kids love her!
4. Samuel-Driver
5. Evely-Caseworker
6. Patience-Foster Mom
7. Elizabeth-Foster Mom
8. Ophiah-Foster Mom
9. Patricia-Foster Mom
10. Juit-Foster Mom?
11. Princess-Assistant
12. Mark-Housekeeper
13. August-Laundry
14. Saye-Security Guard
15. Atau-Security Guard
16. Abaroth-Field Worker
17. Nadime-Jessie's Right Hand woman, also works with kids

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Adjusting Well

We are home and so happy to be here. We have had a string of visitors and phone calls. The kids have done awesome meeting everyone. They have really made themselves at home. Loving all the toys they have! We are still working on getting them the correct size clothes. Today we went to the doctor and got them checked over. They both are in good shape. We are so fortunate. They got a plethora of shots and blood drawn which didn't go over well with either of them, but they are now resting, so they will be fine I'm sure. We went to the supermarket yesterday. They seem to be taking all the changes in stride. Of course their favorite part was riding in the cart! Emmanuel seems to have calmed down a little. It probably helps we are not on our 50th hour of travel. He only took the bathroom sink apart once and flooded the bathroom and basement once. We are however working on the correct way to water the flowers. (not with your pee pee E-man)!
Overall the kids are very resilient

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Mechanical Difficulties in Philadelphia

Yes, it happened again. Mechanical difficulties kept us overnight in Philly. The good news, this time instead of asking us for money the airline paid for our hotel in New Jersey. The kids were exhausted but hanging in there. I don't know how you are 7, travel 40 hours to several different airports in total culture shock with people you barely know and never complain once, but Abegail managed that yesterday, amazing. As for Eman, while after a lesson about taking things from gift shops and breaking things in stores, we've decided to keep him! Good news, both kids have new philly T-shirts. We are scheduled for a direct flight to MPLS this a.m. We are hopeful!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Couple more things for AFAA Families

I already miss all those kids. Parents, you will all be pleased at your children. It's funny just with a glimpse of the albums and then getting to know the kids, God really does pick our kids. Jessie told me every child in the AFAA house right now has a family, except little Emmanuel Tamo, the boy who is disabled. That is great news. Hopefully the next few months will be filled with families picking up their children or welcoming them home. A&E leaving the AFAA house was hard on the children. They had been there over a year. Jessie tried to explain to them their turns would be coming but it is harder to be left than to leave. As excited as you all are for your children, I was surprised that the children are just as excited if not more about their new families. They have such anticipation. They all want to know what state they are going to. I spent a lot of time at the globe showing them where all the states from Kentucky to NY to NJ to MT to UT were. So fun.
The other thing that amazed me in Liberia were how many people thanked Scott and I for taking A&E when they saw us with them. When we were coming back from missing our flight Friday night both of us were really low, thinking what have we done, is this all worth it? And then the cab driver said, you american? We said yes. He said your children Liberian? We said yes. He said thank you for taking them to America. It's funny how God puts little things like that in your life to keep you going. Besides that I can't tell you how many people asked me about AFAA, what they had to do to get in. They either had a friend or a relative who no longer could take care of children. The big thing, everyone was concerned about sending their children to school. I had such reservations about adopting children when a father was still living and well, but after being in Liberia, "I GET IT." The other third world countries I'd been to had a level of wealthy people. Not Liberia, almost everyone is poor. Even people WITH jobs asked me for food. Life is just hard. It rains a lot, it's muddy. It's hot. Even our 140 dollar a night hotel was not a US 140 dollar a night hotel, more like a 40 dollar a night hotel. Don't get me wrong, it was an oasis in the middle of Monrovia and awesome to have internet. But the electricity went off several times a day, along with the one or two tv stations that would come in. They supply soap and towles, no shampoo, mouthwash, coffee maker etc. Toilet paper is used for everything, even as napkins and towels to wipe your hands with. Not having running water absolutely sucks. Most people don't have it. That means pouring water down a toilet if you have one and at the AFAA house with dozens of kids that means several buckets of water because not everything is an easy flush. There is just no way to feel or get clean without running water either. One of the biggest thing for me, it appears there is not a single washer or dryer in the whole country. I asked the Reeds on the way to Liberia if they had one and they don't even have one. That means everywhere you go there are clothes on the line and they are usually still wet if not out in the rain. Life is hard. They are making progress. One day on our way to the AFAA house we all had to pull off the side of the road. The president was going to work. People generally like her and think she is doing a good job. But there is a lot to be done and Liberia may never be the country it was before the war. We found many of the businesses that have come into the country are run by Lebanese people. We have no idea why.

I am so looking forward to being home with a new appreciation for my life and American life. I hope to get photos and DVDs out to everyone this week, BUT bear with me. Please e-mail me individually if you have questions. I hope I can answer them. Of course I cannot post without some random pictures, if you want to see the photos bigger just click on them. The first is a letter Abegail wrote to us. Many of the kids wrote letters to their parents (I will be sending them) so Abegail did not want to be left out. The second is Samuel, AFAA's driver. He drives us and waits for all of us and even took us back to the airport on Sunday. Third, I'm talking with the kids. Then Mary and Jemama watching a video. I thought it was so cute how Jemama had her legs crossed like a lady. Then my troublemaker Eman wearing my glasses and Abegail reading. Hopefully my next post will be from HOME!!

We're in Brussels!

We decided to get to the airport in Monrovia about 4 hours early yesterday. It worked. We made it through immigration, the 3-4 "security" checkpoints, and a couple "E-Man" melt-downs.

Yes, "E-Man"...Emmanuel's nickname at the AFAA House and it's quite appropriate. He made a few trips into the ladies' room and mopped the floors with his backside for awhile...BUT WE MADE IT ON THE PLANE!!

We're in Brussels now and into the 3rd hour of our 7 hour layover. We'll fly into Philly this afternoon and onto Minneapolis/St. Paul tonight! We're so excited.

We're just starting to experience some of the new things Abegail and E-Man will now encounter on a daily basis. The escalator was new! And the "moving walkway" though the airport terminal tripped us up a couple times. Those "Big Planes" out the windows are a huge hit! But hardly enough to hold E-Man's attention for more than a minute or two......and then it's off to the races and we're running away laughing at us as we follow him. Perhaps we'll stop chasing and it won't be as fun!?!?

We're hoping he's still with us by the time our flight leaves.
Here are just a sampling of the things we've had to say to E-Man in the past 24 hours:

Please don't put your hands in the toilet.
Please don't jump off hotel desk.
Please get off the TV.
Please point your pee-pee OUT and not UP.
Please come back. Again.
E-Man, that's the ladies room.

We'll post more later....but for now, thanks for your prayers and support. We'll be home soon. God willing.

Scott, Sue, Abegail, and E-Man