Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Fitzmas

This year has been one of joy and love and we are excited to share the merry with everyone. Baby Fitz number 4 is due to arrive July 5, 2014.


Blessings to you and yours.




Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Feminine Mystique

Given the fact that my clothing palette extends boldly from black to white with numerous stops in grey-- I am not sure where my sweet girl got her feminine flair.   I have never known how to put a cute outfit together and yet my daughter proudly wears a tutu and matching shoes as if her sweet brothers were judging her runway strut. 

Part of my girly-girls' recent hobbies is watching me put on make up.  (chapstick). *

While at Target yesterday on a mommy-daughter date I shopped for golden grahams while she explored the various cards and trinkets in my purse from the comfort of the cart.    A woman walked by and gave me a quizzical/judgmental look-- Deirdre was oh so carefully puckering up and "applying" an OB tampon to her lips. 

I can see the confusion.




*Twice now she has come in to the room to have us admire her shiny face as she had applied half a tube of lip gloss to her entire face.  Pretty. 


Friday, December 6, 2013

I Still Got Him

Football dominates much or our household conversations.   Generally it's about the Irish but it could also be about the specific actions of building a block stadium and which 'guys' go where and why or how exactly one goes to Tokyo.*


James is well aware of the Bears/ Vikings duality here-- He sports both uniforms** and understand a few key players from each team.  Last week we watched the game on tv and I pretended to be interested while also multi-tasking. 

Asked James for the score from the other room and he responded "It's when one team gets the touchdown. That's the score mom."

I am slowly being outed by my kid on my failure to really learn the rules of football-- a sport so revered by my friends and family and one that despite years and years of exposure, I still don't love.  meh.   He's passing me on the specifics of the rules.

So for a few days I was contemplating the end of this power dynamic in our relationship when he asked me to change a fake opponent in one of his block guy games.  The Raisins.

I corrected him that the team is the Baltimore Ravens.  He questioned me in great detail but I held my own.  

Yes,  the Raisins are a piece of dried grape.  The Ravens are an intimidating black bird. 

I feel confident in my response and once again relevant in the eyes of my football worshiping 4 year old.  
 






*James thinks this is slang for a touchdown.  I am not going to touch this one.
** Even though his sports ambivalent mother prefers to think of them as outfits or costumes.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How Stella Got Her Groove Back

Truth be said, it's been a funky couple weeks.

Here are the truths going on here: 1. I thought I was going to get laid off; 2. I was planning on quitting shortly and had many plans to support this action. 3. I didn't like my job.

Where do I have the right to be surprised and hency funky about the situation?  Well, I really don't. Other than,  it was a mild surprise and I didn't have a plan to support it this very minute.

Second truth be said,  I don't transition well.

During my last big life transition I developed a program called Camp Obiwadana.*  This "camp" was my program for coping with a dramatic life change. 

What is camp about?  Trying things with little risk of failure.   Archery? No problem if you sucked, it's just camp after all.  Capture the flag? Sure, I'm not fast but I'll give it a go. 

So in light of a period of lonely and lost I made it my life's policy to say yes to things.  It's not hard to say yes-- but I was out of practice and need of some good old joy. Say yes.  So simple.

Many, many good things came out of that period for me.  I had new friendships that I may not have pursued including trivia nights, pub crawls, day trips and other lunacies.  I went to new countries because people asked me to come and I didn't say no-- in fact, I visited 6 continents that year!   Most importantly, I met my life partner.  Under normal situations, I may not have dated Matt at that time of my life but because I had the 'say yes' mantra going for me,  it developed into a wonderful friendship and love that I managed to not scrutinize and question to it's demise.  And although it seems trite to mention this after discussing the love of my life, I did one final thing that I was super proud of- I rode the damn pirate ship at Valley Fair.**

Living a fearful life is part of my MO.  I am a worrier, planner, analyzer and frankly a real pain in the ass. I have spent years wishing I was more fast and loose but it's just not the case.

Camp Obiwadana seems like a long time ago and now that I am faced with another big transition and one that wasn't carefully orchestrated by me*** I am feeling lost with no counselor, t-shirt or camp dance to pick me up.  I have been off for two weeks and I am not entirely sure what I have done with my time.****  Although I recently came off of maternity time, this time feels different now.  I saw my maternity time as sacred Simon time-- meant for he and I to get to know each other.  Time that had no measurements, goals or deliverable.  The time now, although no less sacred, feels a little aimless.

I am writing about this here because in addition to my worrying, analyzing neurosis, I am also highly accountable.  If I put this into the universe, I am trusting that the grit will be there to create the structure and support to not just 'get through' the next few months but to really thrive.  It's an exciting time and I want to be all eye of the tiger about it.*****

I am working on structure now and am thinking about how to be proactive, powerful and solid in this new little life. So dear internets, keep me in your prayers please so that I can shake this funk and get a little groove back into my day.   We have awesome things in store for the Fitzpatrick family and I want to be ready to jump in with gusto.




*Yes, there was a logo. 
**That thing scared me as a kid and I never had the guts to ride it.
*** Even though it's only a few weeks from one that is carefully orchestrated from me, forgive me for my moment to rant.
****Although I did take the kids to Nickelodean Universe-- going on rides worked the first time didn't it?
*****Eye of the Tiger was my favorite song for years and now Miss Katy has re-made it.  Swoon.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Manipulation Sing Along

I know there are a lot of Daniel Tiger fans out there-- and I just want to make sure parents fully understand the risks of this seemingly benign television program. 




For those unfamiliar with Mr. Tiger,  it's a spin off of Mr. Rogers where Daniel Tiger is takes the trolley to and fro and experiences things that kids are often resistant to do/try.

For example:

Daniel Tiger goes to the dentist
Daniel Tiger tries a tomato
Daniel Tiger attempts baseball-- despite a rather apparent phobia of public failure.  


You get the idea.

Well our young James now uses the songs from the show to try and get us to exhibit a characteristic advantageous to him.     The other day James destroyed his bedroom while looking for a specific football jersey and was told that he needed to clean up prior to dinner.*   While half-hearted cleaning he started singing:  "Friends help each other yes they do it's true."   He'd pause then look up and try again. "I said: Friends help each other yes they do it's true."

Nice try buddy.



*And possibly try the dreaded tomato.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lil Man


Our baby turns four tomorrow.   Understatement: time flies.  




We are having so much fun with our little family and are so thankful for the grace, humor and honesty that James brings into our lives. 



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

As Fate Would Have It

 The last few months were challenging for me personally.  I was conflicted about my career and life's work.  (As in the two didn't align.)

I also had a lot of personal dynamics at play-- including the adoption of a special little boy.  So for as much as I wanted to be gung ho abut my career, I had an incredible feeling that now wasn't the time.  Priorities are a bitch huh?*

Well, after several month of informational interviews, networking and exploration I am happy to announce two things:
  1. I have better idea about what sort of work I want to do and am on my way to building a career in that area. 
  2. I received the kick in the butt I needed to do it.  I was laid off. **

As my friends and family know-- this was expected.  We often see reductions this time of the year and I suspected that the work my team was engaging in wasn't going to fit the direction of the firm long term.  We have also had significant management overhaul with several new leaders and after a while two and two weren't going to add up to anything other than four.

So this is where the fates come in for me.  Most of the big decisions or changes in my life are the result of some mysterious intervention.***   Sometimes the universe whispers and sometimes it yells.  I am hearing the latter.

So, this is a good thing.  We have some exciting things underway for us personally and for me professionally. (No announcement yet, but be excited, people.)    What is in many ways is a bit of rocky news is actually more of a blessing.

This is ironically the year of faith for us.   Going to put some stock in that one.

More to come people.



*In some senses, I think there is some truth to this statement.  I had an intense desire to make a significant career change but knew it wasn't the time.  With adopting however, you spend many, many months and years thinking that this very awesome thing could happen any minute.  Purgatory.

**My whole team actually.  boo.  It's a nice re-assurance though that it wasn't performance based but more a reflection of a re-org.

***Matt thinks I paid off my guardian angel.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Movember

Matt is following his November tradition by looking like a pedophile.* 

I told Matt that in honor of men's health,  I too will be following a no shave policy. 

Happy Movember/NoSexTember Everyone!


*Coincidentally while working in the ped's ward. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lucy, you say

A couple weeks ago James and I talked about our future family plans.  For the record James would like five more babies* and a dog. 

Now before you get all judgy-- know that we do take his opinion seriously but the tall fitzes will be making the ultimate call on this.

In light of this five babies and another dog conversation. . . James has recently taken the conversation to the next level.  As in telling people about this phantom puppy that is to join our life.**

So let's talk about the puppy.  Lucy.  Lucy is a puppy that is black, white and brown.  She likes to eat hot dogs and play ball.

I don't know where he got the idea for this-  but it's a fairly well formed idea in his little noggin.






*To clarify-- Since Simon, James now believes all babies come from the airport and we can just go pick one up whenever.   If this was the case, the hurdle toward parenthood has been lowered considerably.   

**We'll see. Maybe the airport has a special on puppies too.  Puppies that are toilet trained and past the chewing phase. And do laundry.  That sounds like my kind of puppy.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Face Lift


We are getting our house painted!  It was long, long. long overdue.  We had originally planned to wait until next year so that we could space out our surprise roof and this work-- but we decided to go ahead and do it now so that it would be all set prior to the winter.   (And hopefully, we will have a maintenance free 2014.)   You can see from the color selection,  it's a truly dramatic transformation.
old grey on the left, fabulous new grey on the right
Our life in a fishbowl

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fitz-O-Ween



James originally wanted to be a ghost-- a FRIENDLY ghost.  But while at Target a couple weeks ago pretty packaging and superhero brands prevailed. *

"Mom, I think I found something here that you should take a look at. . . . Wolverine is a nice guy right?"  

Sure is, kiddo.     It's important to note that he is wearing an 8 year old size and he turns 4 next month.

*And there were no obvious friendly ghost costumes.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Simon Walks

The whole family has been eagerly waiting for these first few steps!  Most nights we practice and the two older kids sit on the floor and hold their hands out hoping Simon walks to them.  We have had a couple steps here and there but have seen a jump in control in the last few days!





I consider this lift off-- don't you think?  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Emerging


As many parents know, adding a child to the bunch creates a bit of chaos for some time.  For us-- we added a toddler to the mix instead of a baby which was hard in an entirely different way.*

One of the many pros regarding the adoption process is the great preparation you need to do in order to bring a child into your home.  As I have written before-- it is a much more deliberate path toward parenthood.  Instead of maybe reading "What to Expect." You are mandated to read books, take classes, do online curriculum and more importantly document the pants out of the effort.  Now this is something I have complained about in the past** but in reality it was really, really helpful. 

We had a good understanding of attachment issues and likely set-off's but I don't think I fully realized the specifics of Simon's issues.  For example, I remember spending entire days practicing nap time.  How do you practice nap time?  Well, you put your sweet baby in a crib and read through the bars or play peek a boo so that he doesn't feel abandoned when you try to put him to sleep.  CRIBS ARE FUN!***  As a working mom, I remember my inner dialogue saying--- this is your job right now.  You are having fun in a crib and it's okay if this takes all day. 

Thankfully, we gave ourselves quite a bit of time to nest at home without too much outside distraction.  I know some people were hurt by the fact that we went into hiding for a while-- and many of our friends still haven't met our new man.  We were cautious about Matt and I maintaining key parenting duties like feeding and diapering which is hard for folks when that is how you can often help a new family most.   For what it's worth--I think it has paid off.  We feel that we are finally hitting a stride.  We are trying some adventures like watching Matt run a marathon, going to the orchard and saying yes to more social things.   Life is fun as a family of five and we are enjoying the experience.  

I have heard that 4 months is a magic turning point with adoption and we are creeping right up on that mark.  I am back at work full-time, James is in pre-school and we have the fall routine underway.  Simon is continuing to thrive and grow.  I do notice from time to time, that he gets a very straight face which I equate to some internal processing.   Unfortunately, he isn't speaking yet so I can't just ask what is going on his head but we give lots of hugs and kisses just in case they are needed.    We have come a long way in the last 3-plus months and are proud at how much closer we have all become.  All in all though, it's fun to emerge from the family cocoon and start to explore more and more. 




*Simon can sleep through the night whereas a newborn doesn't for several months however Simon is fully mobile and can unpack our kitchen in under five minutes.  We are now a SUPER SAFETY household-- every cabinet, drawer and handle in this domicile is locked up.  We had some child-proofing before but our other kids weren't as curious about the contents behind the doors.  We now live in a subtle state of fear. 

**See as I talk out of both side of my mouth.

***This was a common enough game with us that I have noticed that many of the pictures of Simon's first month involve the crib.  If you don't know the back-story, it looks a little like baby prison.  Don't judge.


Monday, October 14, 2013

The Next Chapter

Well friends, I am back at it.  In a couple regards actually.   I am sorry for neglecting the blog. . . .  It turns out that kids are inconvenient.  Especially when it comes to computer time.

Life at the Fitz household is steadily marching on.  

Today is my first day back at work.  I am mixed on this for a few reasons.  I am missing my kiddos more than I thought but am glad to have Gaby back with us.   


Recent milestones:

James and Simon have recently started sporting the underwear on the head look. 
Daisy has started to explore my wardrobe.  She pulls down my clothing from the hangers and tries stuff on. Again-- kids are inconvenient.
We took our first trip as a family of five which was cut short by. . .
The kiddos had lice. . . . *
Matt and my cousin ran twin cities marathon.**
In honor of my friend Lorajean, we did our first square foot garden!  We also ran out of creative ways to eat cucumbers.



*How to know you married the right person?  Try a two-am nit picking session with a bottle of wine.  Matt shaved his head. . . thankfully he was committed to helping me find better options.
**Matt's long run was the marathon in 2012

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

One Month

 ---This special post brought to you by the letter "G"---


It's hard to believe that Simon has already been home for a month.  What a lucky bunch we are.  Things are going really well and everyone has adjusted to a point that I think we can call this the new normal.    

Simon is less enthusiastic about climbing on people which is making James and Osa feel much more secure.  James even commented yesterday that he loves Simon and Simon loves him. The real turning point though was when Simon climbed into James' lap and James was excited enough to call me over to see how he and Simon were cuddling together.  Man oh man is our house a sweet, sweet place to be right now.*

Deirdre continues to hug and kiss Simon ad nauseum.  All is good between those two love birds.  Deirdre wants nothing more than to mommy Simon.  She is often reading to him, changing his diaper or trying to give him a bath.    All these things are pretty rough approximations but it's funny to see this maternal, sweet side emerge.   If any one is interested, Daisy does a daily reading of Brown Bear every morning from her crib.  She holds the book up and shouts BEAR BEAR, BIRD, OOOHH OOOHH OOOOHHH**  Simon sits in his crib as the audience to this very enthusiastic interpretation.   Performances start between 7:30 and 8:00 most mornings.  All are welcome. 

So the letter G--  as in Giardia.  Simon had his appointment at the U of Minnesota international adoption clinic last week.***  Our little guy is doing well-- gaining some solid weight.  Socially and developmentally he is doing awesome as well.  However. . . .

The kid has some rancid GI stuff going on.  It's very common for Ethiopian kids to have this little bug.  I love this kid-- but the foul poo I could do with out.   We are at an all time high diaper  and wipe consumption right now.  We are almost wrapped up with our medicine so hopefully this becomes a thing of the past soon!  



* If you aren't into the parenting thing, the gag factor might feel a little high given the fine line between sweet and saccharin. ;)  
 ** That is apparently the sound that all animals make. 
*** For those of you considering adoption-- I can not recommend the U of M international adoption clinic high enough.  This was such a blessing during the referral process and during our first doctor visit.  They spent almost two hours with us talking about various health issues, social issues and what we should expect in the next few months. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

How to Make Ethiopian Cupcakes

So truth be told, these cupcakes don't have any berbere spice in them---but my kids loved them just the same. 



 


I split the batter into three bowls and dyed them each yellow, green and red in honor of the Ethiopian flag.

Layer the batter in the cupcake tin being careful so that each color touches the paper.  This didn't mean the color was consistently striped throughout but it did create a nice strip effect when the eater first unwrapped the cupcake.  

Ta Da!




Wednesday, August 14, 2013

An Ethiopian Birthday Party


We hosted a birthday party for Simon this past weekend and it was an unbelievable blast.  We are very lucky to have amazing family and friends.  

We didn't want it to be too overwhelming for the little guy so we hosted it as an open house with people coming and going throughout the afternoon and evening.     We have had so many people write letters of reference for us, help with baby-sitting or offer a listening ear during this long process that we were thrilled when they finally got to meet the little guy that is now part of our family. 

The theme of the party was Ethiopia (or EthioKia as James says.)  I made flag inspired appetizers and cupcakes along with authentic Ethiopian hotdogs.*










*We did serve two Ethiopian dishes along with Injera but I wasn't smart enough to get photos of those! 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Happy Birthday Sweet Simon

James woke me up today* with asking to sing Happy Birthday to Simon.  That's right-- it's a big day for us and we are celebrating all day.

Every year we do a video for the kids on their birthday-- Simon's video is special because his first year journey is an extraordinary one.   

Happy first Simon Tirfe, we are excited to share many more celebrations with you.







*As he does every day when he crawls into bed in the early morning.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Overheard

Does it sound like we are sleeping next to a kennel?  *





*Little ones are sharing a bedroom these days.  Today in bed Matt remarked on what it sounds like to hear the babble of two toddlers talking back and forth.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cat and Mouse

Simon likes to cuddle with Osa.  It's not reciprocated.

Poor Osa is struggling to get her 22 hours of beauty rest.   Poor gal is sleeping with one eye open these days.*


* It's certainly love/hate.  Osa's snack allowance has gone way up since Simon's arrival and the 2000% increase of cheerios on the floor. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Date Night

The last few nights have been very special. 

Matt is back at work and since I am spending the day with Simon and the gang, we decided to get James and Deirdre out for some 1:1 time.   (In order to get Matt some extra Simon time, I was the lucky date captain. )


James' date:   James wanted to go to Snuffy's and to see a movie.  We spent a lot of time getting ready-- picking out the perfect outfit and packing the right toys in the backpack to take to the movie theater.   We saw Monsters U which was very funny.


Splitting a hot dog and a milk shake.


It's not very often that your date wears rubber boots and a backpack.  (or cuddles in your lap during the movie).
Deirdre's date: Daisy couldn't articulate her desires as well for her date-- so I made an educated guess.  Shoes!  Daisy has be gabbing about shoes non-stop for a couple months so I took her to DSW to run around and window shop.  She loved taking shoes out of the box and peering at herself in the pint-sized mirrors.   Afterward, we went out for frozen yogurt.
A little big



Simon has been a rockstar the last couple days.  His smile is more and more frequent and he is loving playing with the older kids.  He now pulls from my arms when he wants to get in the action and will go quite a while between cuddling sessions.

He is a joy to have in our life and although it has been only a week- we are already feeling like he has been with us all along. 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chutes and Ladders


Well friends,  it's been a wild 4 days.  I have been meaning to sit down and update the internets on what is going on but it's been tough.  So here it is in a nutshell. . .  we are super busy but we are happy as can be.   

We have had some truly amazing times with our new little guy-- it's so lovely to see his smile emerge and hear the giggle of an increasingly confident dude- Daisy is playing momma and continues to hug Simon whenever she thinks he needs comforting and although James is a little more tentative*- he is also clearly in love with his new little brother. 

The good news-- Simon is strongly bonded to me.  The bad news-- there is only one of me.  It is very rough for him if he loses sight of me and he has a strong preference for my holding him.   Much of it probably stems from the fact that he has had only female care givers through most of his life.

He is growing in comfort which is so positive in many ways--  he has started to play a bit more independently or with the other kids which is great.  Sometimes he gets distracted by the fun, then very upset when he realizes that this 'fun' is going on without me holding him.   We are doing our best to keep him in a quiet environment where he can see me and start to explore more as he is ready.

The last 24 hours have been a lot better for everyone-- Simon and I had a lot of 1:1 time and I could see his confidence steadily growing as he starts to navigate the house a bit more.  His favorite play spot continues to be in my arms but I'll take it-- I love hanging out with him and he appreciates the human monkey gym.   All in all, we are getting our sea legs as a family and with a little more sleep** from last night, we are on the upswing.

Last night we played Chutes and Ladders as a family-- It's odd how Hasbro imitates life.   We are two steps forward and one step back right now but we feel relieved to know that many families have walked in these steps and have emerged just fine. 
Check out the three characters-- James quickly named them: James, Daisy and Simon.



That said-- its been trying at times-- but we are holding on,  learning about our new guy, giving high fives where possible, taking regular naps and starting happy hour promptly at 5:00.  We are all adjusting to this new life and we tall people are doing our best to keep things stable and loving for the littles.***  






*James is a little concerned that Simon is trying to eat him.  aka.  we are a little mouthy right now- but we are working with James to explain that is just what babies do. 
** Two nights ago, we had various children up at 11, 1, 2, 3, and the whole gang up at 4, by 5 we were watching My Little Ponies on the couch and by 6  making a double pot of coffee.
***We tall people are also doing our best to try and stay married at 3:00am.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Finder

Matt sent another message and for the sake of privacy of our little one-- I am editing a little.  It's still a wonderful read.  It makes me feel all over in love with my guy (s) and thankful for the path that has led us here. *

Some updates on our story. All is well. Our hero has his Ethiopian passport with a US visa  and all is clear for us to leave tomorrow night! He ended up going back to the orphanage for a couple nights (for reasons below), and we are again getting to know each other. He is the type of guy that quiets down when he is uncertain or scared, and we are just seeing him open up some. He did have a great time playing with one of the other orphans who was being adopted with him – there were three who have been together through this process for their whole lives, and there is a great bond between them, something we hope to foster in the years ahead. He is asleep now, and cute as can be, not quite knowing the upheaval that awaits him on the flight and in a new land with a whole new way of life. We are planning on going in hiding a little when he gets home to give him some time to know where he is and bond with his new family before venturing out into Americana.

In regards Ethiopia, Nana and I spent yesterday going down to visit Simon’s finder. She is living about 200 miles or so south of Addis Ababa.It is a small, poor village nestled in the mountains and overgrown with corn, banana, and coffee plants. It is also the raining season, and our car could not pass on the narrow dirt (mud) roads to her house, so we forded streams (Nana ever the trooper) and hiked up muddy hills in caked shoes to reach her humble domicile.
She is a wonderful, smiling woman who was walking to church one September Sunday morning when she heard a baby cry by the side of the road. The child was wearing a brown sweater (some reports have him also in a plastic bag for warmth). She was scared and picked him up, running to her friends house before heading to the police station. There they estimated him to be about a month old and asked her what his name was (this is a common practice, although odd to me as she could no possibly know the child’s name). She decided to name him Tirfe, as he was saved by God from the wild elements and animals. It is a beautiful name, and very fitting except that it is generally a feminine name. According to the woman, they held town hall meetings and asked around, but no parent could be found. Often, the children are abandoned because of parental illness, poverty, the mother is unwed, or a combination of the above. Over the next several months, efforts were made to locate the parents and to find a possible adoption site within the country. When these proved futile, he was allowed to enter the international adoption sphere, where we just playing got lucky. After seven months in the orphanage in the south, he was moved to the capital. He has been there since, and will go on his first plane ride tomorrow!

As for our discussion with the finder, it was one of the greatest moments in my life. I am still not sure how to deal with, much less describe, the emotions. She and her family were incredibly hospitable and loving. And were so excited to see how he has grown and developed. They seemed so proud of him, and I hope one day to bring him here to meet them. God willing. Sitting in her mud hut with its pockmarked thatched roof, it was easy to recall all of the wonderful things that we have at home. But was struck me more this time was some of the things that they have that we are too often remiss on – namely kindness, openness, spirituality, hospitality, and generosity. I left feeling blessed that this poor, weathered, uneducated farm-woman was such an integral part of our lives, and hoping that this spirit of gratitude continues for some time

* In college I would relate to God through a sunset.  I used to believe that God would give me a beautiful sunset as a way to to say,  Dana, you are where you need to be.  Some see God in a lot of different ways-- I see it as a hot orange, poking out from behind clouds-- casting beams that guide my path.  I haven't thought about this imagery as much in recent years but tonight on the drive home a familiar landscape struck me.  Let's just say Minnesotians-- tonight the sunset was brilliant.

Monday, July 15, 2013

For the Fan Base

Matt kind of chuckles at my little blog but is always suprised at the number of people who keep up with our happenings through it. So-- here you go, a special guest post straight from Ethiopia. These are a series of messages that he sent back regarding our new dude who. . . . drumroll. . . . now has a visa! Simon Tirfe arrives at MSP on Friday evening!! Applause Applause!


Saturday: Mom and I got to spend a couple hours with Simon Tirfe. He has a cold and was feeling kinda crummy (as well as shy) at first, but picked up as our time together progressed. My guess is that we will be kept fairly busy in thre days ahead. So far so good on our trip here. We plan to take him again overnight tomorrow prior to our embassy appointment on Monday morning (and the requisite panic over last minute documents). As of now, the plan is still to return home Thursday night/Friday. Enjoy - we have and cant wait to do more







Sunday: Slow but important day today. Spent the morning hanging around the hotel with the other families, and this afternoon we went to say hi to our kiddos. The great news is that we got to bring him home for the night. We'll be hanging out, reading books, and wiping noses all night. He is still feeling under the weather (it is cold and rainy, winter by Ethiopian standards) but overall doing fine. The internet is very slow and I am having difficulties uploading pictures, but here is one worth sharing. That was the bottle they gave us as we got in the van to leave the orphanage - and yes it is an ND bottle. Let the record show that it was the fates, and not I, who forced things. Tonight he played with some of his adoptive buddies, and had a blast. He is asleep now next to me, sawing logs. So far he is doing great. Tomorrow is our embassy appointment, which is supposed to be a (literal) rubber stamping. Of course that makes it all the scarier. But it is the last administrative hurdle on this long journey. Will share more then. G'night from afar 

Monday: Just an update today. We passed US embassy this morning, which amounts to the last big hurdle for this journey (other than the flight home). He will be a US citizen when we pass through immigration on our return - which I think the hundreds of other Ethiopians applying today at the embassy would be pretty jealous of. Anyway, he is doing well, and we are figuring each other out. Neither Simon or I can make any sense of Nana. 


Much Love from the Fitzes-- state side and otherwise. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Go Get Our Boy

They are on their way! Embassy has cleared and we have a green light to bring him home. God is great.



Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ebb

It seems like just yesterday that I was cheering on our embassy partners to now still sitting on my hands two weeks later.  I sometimes forget that people read this thing until I get asked what IS going on.

Well, here is what we know now-- there were some challenges with getting our finder (amongst others) to the embassy.  We don't know the inner details but it's a little vague.  I am trying not to be ugly American but it's hard when I am very task oriented and darn it- if i don't want to know the inner workings of each and every stage gate.   My type A tendencies aside-- It has been several weeks with very little news.  I am doing my very best to not ask too many questions but it's hard when it's YOUR baby now.

Now we heard that we have an appointment on Thursday and Matt and his Mom are leaving Thursday afternoon for the long journey to meet up with our guy.   The should arrive on Sat evening ET time, Sat morning CST.

I  am not so much frustrated at this point as I am hopeful that we can clear this final hurdle and welcome this little boy into our life.  Matt and Joan will be getting on a plane prior to knowing for certain if we cleared this final step.  Many flights are sold out afterward though and we felt like this process wasn't adventurous enough so we decided to gamble.  HAH. The agency thinks it will be fine-- but it's not like this process has been predictable each step of the way.

I have taken these last few days to nest-- our house could double as a consignment shop-- there are clothes and toys and furniture everywhere-- we are moving stuff around and making room for baby.   Everyone is fired up on this end-- even Daisy has started to talk about the baby.

Blessings to Matt and Joan as they make this great journey on behalf of myself and the rest of the family.  Prayers for the final legal and immigration steps-- that all goes smoothly so they can return in a week as planned (as a party of three.)

Finally, gratitude for all that have supported us in this journey. 


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bennies

I have had a lot of fun lately people.  We will start here:  Reunion 2013.  CSB celebrated it's 100'th birthday. 

This was an all-college reunion and because of that I had the opportunity to spend time with some friends from classes outside of my own.  What a blessing. 



I have said this time and time again. I have amazing friends-- a fact that I think is a credit to the beautiful institution where we did our undergrad together.  

Happy birthday CSB-- thanks for changing my life.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Go Team Embassy!

We have an appointment for our finders!  On Monday our finder will be heading to the US embassy for an interview.  If all goes well, we will have good news next week and will be booking tickets soon after to go get our little boy!

God is great guys.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our Ethiopian Adoption Journey

I was talking to a friend last night about the process of adoption-- it's long.  Like elepant gestation long.
In summary here is our story.
  • Late 2008--We get married-- prior to marriage we talk about family-- notably our potential family.  We decide to adopt!  You know. . . "someday."

  • February 2009-- We find that we are pregnant with a honeymoon baby! 

  • November 2009-- James.  He is awesome.

  • January 2010-- We find that James' hearing loss is caused from a virus I caught during pregnancy.  This could take some time to clear before we can get the greenlight to go ahead with another pregnancy.

  • February 2010-- is now "someday?"  We start doing informational interviews with local agencies first and have some discussions around international vs domestic etc. etc.   We feel pretty fired up about this-- and committed to growing our family this way.   We also take a lot questions from family and friends about adopting with an "infant."  More on that below. We talk to said people about wait times and paperwork and no-- we are not adopting NOW-- we are starting the process now. 

  •  March 2010-- Research continues.  We decide to adopt from Ethiopia for a number of reasons.   Despite opportunities since then to change programs or explore other paths, we have decided to hold the course.  Ethiopia is an amazing place with amazing people and we felt committed to bringing that culture into our family.  From this point forward, we only searched for Ethiopian programs and found that the local agencies weren't a great fit for our family dynamic.  We choose an agency based in Seattle called WACAP. 

  • April 2010-- We start our homestudy.  In fact, because one of us is more comfortable in excel than in most forms of communication, we built a spreadsheet and decided to complete our WACAP application, Homestudy and the Ethiopian dossier at the same time.  There is a lot of duplication on these papers-- many of the documents are used for 1, 2, or all 3, so it was a kill 3 birds one stone type of thing.  We management folk would call that synergy.*   All in all, this step included 57 documents that needed to get completed-- including some lengthy ones like 2 visits with a social worker, physicals for both of us and James, letters of recommendations from friends and family, several hours of adoption training, criminal background checks and two sets of fingerprints (for two different forms.)  In a nutshell, we could also call this phase the paper chase.  

  • June 2010-- We completed our homestudy and did our initial fingerprints and applications for the government portion. 

  • July 2010-- The government has consolidated their processing centers and one of our primary applications was lost with all the documents.  Lost in the move apparently.. . . We start scurrying to repeat.  To find out  . . .

  • August 2010-- They found the original. . . but now we have two applications and the world of paper shufflers is confused by WHY we have TWO applications.

  • August 23 2010-- We officially join the wait list for the Ethiopia program!!   If my memory serves me correctly-- we are about the 50-60 th on the list for a child of either gender.  At first referrals are moving along very fast with between 5-15 a month.  We are told to expect between 4-11 months for referral.**

  • October 2010-- There are some rumblings about ET making changes to the process. 

  • November- Mar 2011-- We continue to track the rumblings but since we are near the top of the list, we start the dangerous conversations around thinking the adoption could be around the corner.   Adoptions seems to slow for our agency with several months of no new referrals.  Despite this, we still think "any day now."  I could write a book on how thinking "any day now" for multiple years will mess with your head.

  • May 2011-- We have a conversation with our agency about what to expect.  They think there will be substantial delays ongoing-- we talk about our family goals and they suggest that if we want a large family that we may want to consider either starting another program or consider a bio child while we continue to wait in ET.

  • June 2011-- Preggers.*** We decide that if we get to the top of the list we will go on hold until 6 months after the baby is on born. We were 10th on the list at the time for a boy and in the 20's for a girl.

  • Feb 2012-- Deirdre is born! Also awesome.  Still haven't moved much at all but we have a baby to keep us busy while we wait. An awesome baby.

  • May 2012-- Update our homestudy and other documentation as we are now applying as a family of FOUR!  More paperwork awesomeness. More appointments, more fingerprints muckity muck.

  • March 13- 2013-- We get the call.  We were presented with a little guy about 7 months old.  We ask some questions and accept the referral about 1 week later. 

  • May 13--2013-- We formally adopt our little guy

  • NOW-- We are waiting again!  We are hoping to go back the week after the fourth.  We are anxiously checking emails to see if we get anything from the embassy or our agency.  




* I don't know this for certain-- but I am betting Matt is now rolling his eyes with my casual use of the term 'synergy.'  Awesomely enough, they often have slight variations to them aka, notaried/ not notarized or specific form letter vs free form etc.

**Suddenly all the people who thought we were nuts for starting so early seemed to be correct. 

***Irish Catholic.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Long Way Home


Do you remember a while back when we had this awesome announcement because-- Y'all We are Having a BABY!

Well--the time marches on and we have a little news but not a lot of news.   So here is what we know--

May 13- We passed court and in the eyes of of the Ethiopian government, we legally had a son.   The next step was to make sure that the US agreed with the documentation and the what-not.

We were told to expect 6-8 weeks for the embassy process and for us to get back to pick up our little guy-- which if you are doing the math is right around the corner.

Our agency is arranging for his finder to make a trip to the capital, Addis Ababa, in the next week or so (we were hoping for this week but it isn't looking good.)    We are hearing that it is raining a lot in Ethiopia right now and some of the roads are not passable so we are keeping fingers and toes crossed.  Prayers welcome if you are so inclined.

At this point, we are hoping to travel the week after the fourth or soon after to pick up Simon.  We aren't sure if both of us will go on this trip.  I had a lot of heartache over leaving the kids behind last time so we are still contemplating.  Both kids now have passports-- so the options in my mind include all four of us traveling over and coming home as a party of five or Matt and one of his parents traveling over and me staying back with the other littles.

 I am leaning toward the second option* since I know we will have opportunities to go back with Simon down the road once the kids are a little older.   We will see though-- we are keeping our options open.

Communication from the embassy has been very good and frankly a stark contrast to the communication we received prior-- they are very specific about what each step and document is being reviewed.   We get emails every time our paperwork moves from one step to the next-- unfortunately those emails don't come frequently enough! 

Our little guy is still living in the agency's local care center- WACAP house.  We did receive a picture last week and updates on his measurements.  He is gaining weight well and is progressing well developmentally.

*I think taking Deirdre on a flight that long would be akin to cuddling a badger for 15 hours straight with the key entertainment being the hair of the poor person who sits in front of us.  Both our kids have flown many times but it is still a very long flight for young people-- especially when the focus should really be on our youngest on the way home. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Daisy, Our Delicate Flower

Something funny happened to baby girl in the past two or three weeks-- for lack of better words, she got opinionated. 

We spent a long time thinking about walking, then contemplating walking and then navigating walking.  It's odd--because once James starting to think about walking, there was a determination about mastering that skill.  It was about 1 month between cruising to toddler "jogging".  

There is a theory that kids work on walking or they work on talking-- but they don't necessarily work on both at the same time.  Daisy had a different path to walking-- she took two steps for about four months but didn't have a tremendous interest in taking that third step.   Now if the above theory nets out-- it meant that she wasn't progressing on the talking front either. 

I'll be honest, Matt cringes a little when I pull out the "well, people say. . . " theory of medicine but Daisy was pretty tough for a while and I think a lot of it came down to a lack of empowerment.  She wasn't able to communicate or go where she needed or wanted to go--  we had a lot of temper tantrums for a while. 

How three weeks can change a girl.  We have mastered walking and have a desire to be understood.  AKA. Her new favorite activity is bellowing.  Girl hasn't yet learned volume control

Say Nana

NAAANNNAAAYYY

Say Daddy

DADDDDDDDDAAAAY

Say Freedom

FREEEDDEEEAY

May I present our daughter. William Wallace.





Sunday, June 9, 2013

Cloudy

Life in Minnesota has been cloudy lately-- both personally and literally.   On a personal note, I have come down with strep- which is my third course of antibiotics this season.  Boo.  I'm over here enjoying my weekend by catching up on episodes of Scandal and pounding smoothies.  I can't seem to catch a break health wise-- I have been sick on and off since last fall.   What gives?
 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Chillin'

Things have been keeping on in a pretty mellow manner around here.  We are still waiting for any sort of update on our little guy.  It's a different kind of wait now-- but one that we are growing pretty used to.    Now we know his name, know him, see pictures of his adorable little face all around our house, and talk about him routinely with our other kids.  But he is not here and we still know very little about when he will actually come home. 

I do have some degree of frustration over this fact-- I really thought that once he was legally ours we would be getting more updates on him.  I struggle in the fact that I am probably acting like an entitled American--  but damn if I don't want to know if my kid bonked his head, got a boo-boo on his finger or has a tummy ache.  I want to know what he had for lunch and what toys he is playing with--  More importantly, I want to know that someone is loving him up.  These are questions I ask of our caregivers when our kids are with someone else and they seem fair.    To date, we haven't received any updates or pictures since we were in Ethiopia.  ugh.

We have two steps we need to clear before we can go back and get him-- after court, the ET government needs to finish their paperwork and make sure that medicals etc. are in order. If I understand correctly, this is a three week process generally. (We are currently at or past the three week mark)

Then those documents will go to the US embassy, where they will do their own research and immigration documents.  Once the embassy has completed their work, we will get notice that we have been granted an appointment which is our all clear to book travel and get over there.  This process generally takes three to four weeks but can be as soon as one week.

I feel a little whiny complaining-- especially after how far we have come in the past three and a half years- but geez, this slog of a wait continues!  I have heard that adoption waits are a little like the amnesia of childbirth-- after your child is home you forget about the pain! 

I'll let you know.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Blue Door

We have wanted to paint our front and back doors for a while-- actually, we need to paint the whole house, but the door seemed like an easy win.

Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it was the influence of the preschooler at Home Depot.

But in the words of James: "it's really, really blue mommy."

Indeed.


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spa

James painting Mom's toes

Let the record show that although the angle makes it look like we aren't wearing pants, it's not true.*


*For one of us.  We are going through a big nudey phase.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Best Decision We Have Ever Made

Heck of a claim-- right?

Well, today the nanny started and holy smokes, this is a game changer. 

I had some hang-ups with the nanny-- it's the same hang up I have with the personal trainer, the house-cleaner and the lawn service.  It's more expensive and my scrappy self has a hard time with the luxurious feeling.*  (I also thought there might be some social benefits for our kids being in a group setting.)   However, I practically skipped getting out of bed this morning.  It's amazing and I am kicking myself that we didn't do this earlier.

Things we didn't do in the dark hours of the morning:

  • Change diapers
  • Get dressed X4
  • Make breakfast
  • Negotiate tooth brushing
  • Pack a diaper bag
  • Pack extra clothes for day care
  • Discuss the fact that the snack was put into a snack CUP and not a plastic BAG. Wait-- did you say you wanted a big graham cracker and your graham cracker broke in two as we moved it from cup to said bag?  Big you say?  BIG?  BIG, BIG CRACKER?  Baby, don't cry. It tastes the same.  You need to brush your teeth.  I am serious.

Gaby, who is our new personal savior showed up today and I pointed to the sleeping children and headed out to the door to my meeting.   She is super awesome and we are thrilled to get her!  I have popped upstairs a couple times today and she has been reading and doing crafts.  It's awesome for everyone-- and because her hours flex around Matt's schedule, we have built in some weekend, weeknight time off for me.  WHOA.

Oh the freedom.**


* Luckily, at three kids, it's a break-even between group day care and a nanny.  At least, that's how I am justifying.

* I did not appreciate personal freedom enough in the early stages of my career-- when the only thing I had to get out the door was get dressed and brush my own damn teeth.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Re-United and it Feels so Good

James:

"I say, I love you. . . . Then you say. . . I love you too, James. . .

(pause)

Then we are all done with that."


Tutorial from James

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Back in the US

After we passed court, we went out for coffee with our travel friends to celebrate and then to a nice dinner.  Our flight left Ethiopia at 1am that evening and we flew to Istanbul for an extended layover.

Istanbul is amazing.  AMAZING.  I have seen quite a few European cities-- and this may top my list.  Amazing food, amazing scenery and amazing arts.   I will post some pictures and details in the next few days.   love.

We are now in DC with Matt's family.  We went to the Preakness yesterday-- which is the second race in the triple crown.  It's an interesting event in that all walks of life attend-- there was a centerfield concert* that is dirty, mucky with drunken porta-potties. .. .  drunken everything really. . . and then there is the grandstands with people dressed to the nines in hats and bow ties! (no porta-potties).  Great people watching!  I am not one to use a horse race as a way to prop up my 401k- but I did enjoy the  occasional $2 bet based off the scientific process of cool name, or great bib color.  A day I will never forget!




*The concert featured Pitbull-- who as you may know does many duets. . . tough concert for Mr. Bull-- since he in essence raps along to karoake monitors of famous people singing.  

Monday, May 13, 2013

From the Mountain Top


We are thrilled to announce that we have another son. 


Simon Tirfe Fitzpatrick






After a three year wait—Over seventy-five legal documents and forms, two rounds of fingerprints, a daughter, and immeasurable anxiety-filled nights- we finally made it to court. * 

In the end, we have a boy.

Looking back, we have waited far longer than we have ever anticipated- but after meeting our son, we both feel that this curious, silly, mischievous boy was meant to be a Fitzpatrick.  We are over the moon with how life has turned out and the graceful ways God has brought our son into our lives.

Please continue to pray for the Fitz family that we are able to get an embassy date and get back to ET to escort Simon Tirfe home.**






*Which as it turns out, was fairly anticlimactic.
**  The latest indication that we are looking at 4-8 weeks until we are home as a family of five.  For the time being,  we will continue on as a virtual family.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day

Today was a little bittersweet-- Sunday is the staff's day off so we weren't able to see our kiddos.  But it was a great opportunity to take in more of the Ethiopian culture.   Our guest house, while comfortable  and generous- feels a little secluded from the rest of the city.   Our travel mates and us hired a mini van to take us around some of the local sites: the national museum, Entoto mountain and the Piazza.

We started our trip with checking out the national museum to see Lucy, a 3.2million year old female pre-homosapien.    She's petite-- looking like a long evolutionary line to the Fitzpatrick clan.

We traveled up to the top of the Entoto mountain to visit the first palace of Addis Ababa.  There was a beautiful village surrounding the old palace along with a church and a museum.  (Also a great view of the sprawling city.)




Tomorrow we head to court to (fingers crossed) adopt our children.  Our kiddos will not get to come home quite yet though.  We are hoping for the final paperwork hurdle to clear with the US embassy in the next 6-8 weeks so that we can bring them home. 

Being separated from James and Daisy and new bud was tough for Mother's day.  I was also thinking about our little guy a lot as well since he will soon have two Mother's in his life.  

Ethiopian art often represents Mary in its icons-- seeing these beautiful symbols through the city was a great reminder of how special a day Mother's day is personally, spiritually and for the identity of our little ones.  So much gratitude tonight especially for the birth mother of my youngest son. 

Also gratitude for my sweet mothers-- Patty and Joan 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Big Beautiful Day

Folks, today was awesome. 

After a great night of sleep, we woke up tingling with anticipation-- today is the day we have dreamed about for three years. 

I haven't written much about the referral process in the past- but in my mind it is a little like agreeing to marry someone whose profile you have seen on match.com.  We did feel an instant pull toward the picture and description-- but it's still words and a photo-- so different than the reality of a real, living little boy.

I was nervous-- nervous that he wouldn't like us and nervous that we wouldn't feel a connection with him. It's a big leap to go from pixelated images and orphanage processing paperwork to a little guy in your arms. I just kept thinking about faith throughout the entire morning.

Our adoption advocate in country came to pick us up at the guest house at 11:00 or so and we headed to the orphanage. We wove our way through some pretty congested traffic for thirty minutes or so, taking in the sights and sounds (and fumes) of Addis, but in the back of our minds there was the constant anxiety and anticipation of the boy at the end of the trip.  

 

Once we arrived at the orphanage, we got a quick tour of the meeting rooms and common spaces.  On the wall of the reception room there were dozens of photos of families.  It filled my heart with so much joy to see all those lovely families coming together. 

While looking at the pictures, we heard a nurse come up and suddenly there "he" was.  He stared at us for a couple seconds from the arms of the nurse but pretty quickly came over to us.  There were a lot of tears as we held him for the first time.

People say that words can't describe what happens when you meet your child-- an overwhelming sense that God has brought you together in a divine way-- I can't tell you how true this was for us. 

We spent the remainder of the morning playing with our little guy and marveling at all he is-- joyful, mischievous and on the go.  He explored my necklace, my hair, Matt's stubble, and our faces.  There were giggles, raspberries and so much gladness.  So glad to be with him and hopefully the first of our many, many adventures together.