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


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


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.