Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Liberian Adoptions Temporarily Stopped


Excerpt from the President of Liberia's State of the Union Address delivered last night.

The gross mismanagement of the adoption program (which aims primarily at placing orphans in homes in the

United States), by both Liberian and U.S. personnel in the concerned NGO is the subject of a report by a Special Committee which I appointed for this purpose. Essentially, we have discovered that many of the children in these orphanages are not in fact orphans but children taken from their living parents on the promise of support and a good life in America. Moreover, we found that young children were being sexually abused at some of these orphanages, while others including officials of government, have used the program to extort money from potential adoptors. We have thus suspended the adoption program until laws, policies and proper guidelines have been established and we have asked our concerned friends and partners in the United States to be patient as we try to correct the serious malpractices which exist. We expect the National Social Welfare Policy and National Adoption Act which will be submitted to you during the course of the year, will provide guidance and prevent such abuses in the future.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Grocery Store Emmanuel

We've always said, there's "Emmanuel," there's "Emmanuel without his medication" and then there's "Grocery Store Emmanuel."

Emmanuel's favorite thing to do besides play soccer is go to the grocery store. We really have improved at this over the last year and a half although it is always an adventure. From the beginning, Emmanuel has always insisted on pushing the cart. My best efforts to detour him from this were highly unsuccessful. The first few times he constantly ran into old people. The older and the more disabled the better. I remember one time he ran right into the back of a 90 year old man with a walker. The man was so surprised, the hip Emmanuel had broken was of little concern compared to the heart attack I thought he might have. Emmanuel looked up at him with a smile and yelled SORRY in a very thick Liberian accent at the time. The man went from startled to more surprised and got out, "uh, that's OK."

In the next aisle he ran into a cardboard (who thought of cardboard) display of packaged soup. I was overtired and my immediate response was to laugh uncontrollably, which the manager of the store did not think was funny. Emmanuel has had some of his biggest meltdowns, petrified rock imitations, and go-kart races at the grocery store. I have turned around and lost him in an instant. On one occasion when I couldn't immediately find him again, we were known well enough to have a customer and an employee say, "your son went that way." We have made lots of friends at Cub Foods. One time Emmanuel was giving me a problem and a black man looked at him and said, "I'm watching you." Emmanuel responded like the drill sergeant in the army had threatened him with a dishonorable discharge. The man then gave him a cookie. For weeks I was able to tell Emmanuel "the man" was watching him. He would constantly ask, is that man watching me?

Emmanuel is still speedy with the cart, especially when he gets a little weight in it and gets a running start. But he is much more into helping now than he is into using the elderly as moving targets. He even gets compliments from some of them on what a good helper he is and he makes a lot of friends. What a long way my little helper has come. Oh and we usually have donuts.

Quotes From Abegail:
Abegail and Daddy are discussing who is a faster runner.
Daddy: When my knee heals I'm going to have a bionic leg
Abegail: I think your head is faster than your feet.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Riding Bessie

This is Scott's life. He has to be in this contraption six hours a day to rebuild cartilage in his knee. We got tired of calling it the contraption so we named it Bessie. He is constantly counting to six trying to figure out how many more hours he has to ride Bessie. He is not hard to find. I, on the other hand, have never been harder to find. I am not even trying to pretend to anyone that I am "on my game." In fact I have no intention of being back in the game until the middle or end of February when Scott gets off the crutches. I think I might be back on my game in the summer of 2022. By then I suspect I won't even know what a game is.

The kids on the other hand have sympathy pains. They hop around on one foot imitating Daddy. You ask them to do something and they act like their legs are broken. Then you ask them again and they appear to have gone deaf. They leave things smack in the middle of where Scott will need to hop and act as if they are blind to that fact.

I have, just by coincidence, had the opportunity to spend time with each of the kids individually in the past two weeks. First it was Emmanuel, when the girls fell asleep. I took him to the Y and we went swimming together afterwards. It struck me then how much more we are alike than different. Emmanuel has a very discontent side to him, he is just not at peace and I don't know that he ever will be. He is happiest when he is playing or working on a project by himself. He is definitely happier working toward a goal (with the exception of cleaning the playroom) and loves to be active. He is easily annoyed and gets out of sorts easily. He is my Emmanuel.

Abegail and I ended up going to the mall last week. I had to run errands and I thought it would be good to bring her along. We ended up having a date and eating supper. It is when it is just the two of us that she begins to talk about Africa and this night was no exception. I asked her, "Did you think you would get everything you wanted when you came to America?" Without hesitation she said yes. What a shock it must have been to learn there is a difference between needs and wants.

Yesterday was my day to volunteer at Annie's school. I had a great time being around her friends and seeing her day. We've been encouraging her to stand up for herself when she is around Abegail and particularly Emmanuel. Unfortunately it came out in preschool the other day when she told one of the little girls she could beat her up. Who knew anyone was listening to me? She is getting excited for the ballet recital coming up this weekend, she says, "I can't wait to be on stage." Today she joined Abegail and me when we went to buy tap shoes for Abegail. She knew we were not buying shoes for her but she wanted to come because she said, "I can't wait to try on shoes." Whose daughter is this???

Emmanuel has started testing for special education for next year. The closer we get to kindergarten the less confidence I have Emmanuel will be in a mainstream classroom. But there are about 10 hours to the testing so I am hopeful the right decision will be made.Abegail has changed her hair again...this time it was a relaxer at Fantastic Sams. I tried to get a relaxer that wasn't for your hair, but they just looked at me.In a rare moment of Mommy niceness, I asked the kids if they wanted to make a chocolate cake, which they did and did a good job at it. After I put the cake in the oven, I let them lick the bowl and found Emmanuel with his head in the bowl. "Emmanuel, what are you doing?" "Mommy it is so delicious, I have to get it all." He is now using the laundry baskets as hurdles.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Derek Ellerbeck, The Superkid

You might remember reading on the blog that the son of one of Scott's best friends (who was the best man in our wedding) had cancer. We are happy to report he beat it! A benefit was held last weekend in Des Moines and the local news did a story.

Image Hosting by PictureTrail.com

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Abegail Turns 9

Abegail had a nice birthday last Saturday. She had a few friends sleep over. The first picture is of the next morning with pancakes. The kids had fun playing make-up and games and of course eating cake with twinkies on top. Hard to believe she's already 9!
E-man's First Basketball Game
Emmanuel is playing basketball this session at the Y. We thought we'd try something new. He really loved it. Basketball seems to be a much harder game for five-year-olds than soccer. The rules are little lax, they don't call traveling, in fact I think its encouraged. I think the ball wouldn't move if they didn't travel! Emmanuel scored two baskets and is excited for the next game.
Annie's Field Trip
Annie's preschool class went to the Bell Museum Wednesday. That is a museum where they can learn about natural history and animals. The guide was great taking them through how animals hunt for their dinners and protect themselves. They even got to pet a snake and then they got to look around at some of the "stuffed" animals there.
Sleeping like swans
Quotes from Annie: (out of earshot of Abegail)
A: Mommy we both have peach skin and blonde hair. We are just like twins, except we don't wear the same clothes and twins wear the same clothes.
Quotes from Annie:
A: Mommy, how did you get so smart?
M: I will remind you that you said that someday.
Quotes from Annie & Abegail:
Annie: You're the best Daddy in the whole wide world!
Abegail: And your the best Daddy in all of the Americas!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Sue is COOOOLD!!

WCCO put this on their website and titled it, "Put A Reporter Out In The Cold, She'll Get Sassy."

CBS stations in Miami and Los Angeles are airing this very clip on their evening shows!!

There's very little for me to add. I promise not to forget our anniversary this year. I may even have to fork out a little extra for a trip to Florida this year! Sue deserves it.

It's winter in Minnesota
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At twenty-five below

Oh, how I love Minnesota
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut

Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I'll guess I'll hang around
I could never leave Minnesota
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Sleep Over Cake

Abegail's birthday is tomorrow and she's having a couple friends sleep over.  So I attempted a sleep over cake.  Before I started, Scott said, "that's ambitious,"  knowing my artistic ability.  But it worked with the bodies as twinkies and the heads as vanilla wafers.  Hopefuly it will taste good too.  
Scott is hanging in there.  He has this contraption he has to be  in six hours a day to get the leg moving to rebuild cartilige.  So far so good.  Grandma Charlene left early this morning.  We already miss her! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

In the House & On the Couch

Scott's Microfracture knee surgery went well today. He is doing well so far....on to recovery.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Emmanuel's Head Case

With a child with the initials of ER it was bound to happen. But even I am shocked we went 18 months without a visit to the emergency room or urgent care. That was until yesterday.
We attempted to go sledding and ice skating with the Petersons. Janie loaned me and all the kids ice skates. I put Emmanuel's skates on first. But as soon as we got to the outdoor rink he said he wanted the ice skates off and wanted to go sledding. "OK, let's go to the warming house and switch your shoes." But Emmanuel wouldn't hear of it. He wanted his skates off right then and there. I began to change his shoes while he complained his hands were cold. Finally he was ready and off he went.

I attempted to get Annie ready. When we finally came out with our skates on, Emmanuel was sitting at the bottom of the hill, with two Dads, crying. I tried to walk over to him in my ice skates and promptly fell on my behind. When I got to him, they told me he had fallen and hit his head pretty hard. I took him to the warming house and he already had a goose egg on his head. He cried and cried and said he wanted to go home. I got him in the car and as I was driving home he immediately started to fall asleep. I'm thinking of all the things that could happen from "swelling in the brain" and how am I going to explain "sledding accident" to his African Papa.
Janie's kids later told us what happened, "he hit the big bump on the sledding hill, fell 4 1/2 feet in the air on the back of his head and slid the rest of the way down the hill on his head." OK, that sounds significant.

After two hours he was still crying and his head was still big so Scott decided to take him to Urgent Care. Long story short, E-man should be just fine. We just have to watch him and not allow him to go sledding or participate in activities where he could hit his head again for 7 days. I don't think E-man is too excited to go sledding again anyway. He is a true African at heart and isn't a fan of the cold or these winter sports.

Abegail and Annie did have fun, and Abegail did great on the ice skates.

Quotes From Emmanuel:
Out of the blue the other day, while he was playing catch, E-man threw the ball over Annie's head and said "My bad!!" He may be African at heart but he has the American lingo down!

Man of the House
Scott and I attempted to talk to the kids about his surgery and what was going to happen and how Grandma Charlene was going to help them. Scott told Emmanuel, he'd have to shovel the driveway now since Daddy wouldn't be able too. Emmanuel decided he now would have to be the Man of the House.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The Real Reynell

One of Emmanuel's goals at his special school is to make friends, to think of how his friends feel, and to call them by their names. Every time his teacher visits we talk about how Emmanuel is doing. And several times I would hear Emmanuel say he likes to play with Reynell. I was wondering who was this boy, and what type of child was he that he and Emmanuel got along so well? Did he really exist?
After hearing Reynell's name a few times I asked Miss Laura, what she thought about E-man and Reynell getting together outside of Washburn. She thought it would be a good match as she said. So on Wednesday, we had Reynell, his mom, and his sister over to our house. It turns out Reynell's mom had been thinking the same thing. She told me Reynell, who turned 6 the day after Christmas, would tell her that E-man was his best friend. And as we got to talking, E-man and Reynell have a lot of the same goals at Washburn.
Reynell is a beautiful little boy with a smile to die for. He did awesome playing and at times I wondered why he was at Washburn. Emmanuel can have those moments too, where people think I have overreacted and E-man is not really as challenging as I say. During the play date, E-man, well he is still recovering from Christmas. But I think it was a huge step to have a friend of E-man's over, not one that has become a friend by association of Abegail and Annie.
Reynell's mom is raising the kids mostly on her own and her 9 1/2 year old daughter, who is also beautiful and loving, also has special needs. It's at this point when I look at my own life and say BUCK UP! There are always people with more on their plate no matter how squeezed you feel.
Happy New Year
I started the New Year on a good note with a nice story at work. I would love to have a New Year's resolution to only do good stories, but since I have ZERO control in that department I will just relish in the fact the New Year started off right.
A Minneapolis doctor was on a flight from Amsterdam to Boston after attending his 25th medical school reunion in India. During the flight the attendants called for any doctors who may be on board. When Dr. Raman came forward he found a woman from Uganda in her early 30's on the verge of giving birth. It has been 20 years since he had delivered a baby, he works locally as a radiation oncologist, but he said it was like riding a bike. Yea, tell that to the mother who had been in labor for five hours already. Yes, you read correctly. Dr. Raman says looking back he noticed a woman getting on the plane in Amsterdam with a friend and her three year old daughter. He says she looked like she was at the end of her pregnancy and was moving slowly onto the plane.
You see, Susan, was a resident of Boston, a well educated woman who had a productive job. But she was not a U.S. citizen and if she had not gotten back to the U.S. before her baby was born, the baby wouldn't have been a U.S. citizen either. So for five hours she sat in extreme pain without making a sound, just hoping to land before the baby was born and go right to the hospital. Until Sasha decide over Canadian airspace that she could wait no longer. And within ten minutes of the call of help, the healthy baby girl made her first appearance at 6 and a half pounds.
Dr. Raman says it was a thrill for him to deliver the baby, especially when he is mostly dealing with the end of life as an oncologist. Here's the story:


And just to prove we don't take ourselves too seriously in the news business...here's my all time favorite year-ender for 2008.


Scott's cousin Loren sent this to me at 6:45 this morning. I replied, "what in the world are you doing up so early?" He replied, "I had to get up to watch you, if you were on later I could have slept in." Now that's dedication.
Here's to good news in 09!