Mama (Anne) & Reese

Daddy (Mike) & Lilly


This book is a MUST read for all interested in Ethiopian adoption.

Melissa Fay Greene

Here's a great video summary of the book by MF Greene and here is the full length version

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Birthday America!

We spent the second 4th of July in a row at the beach with our dear friends, the Brophys. It was wonderful! We traveled with them to Ethiopia in March 2007 to get our kiddos from the Gladney transitional home. Lilly is almost exactly a month older than Ashenafi and we are excited that they can be forever friends and have this incredible connection. Last year the Brophys were hosting Eyerus through Bright Future's Camp and now she is their daughter! Her English has come SO FAR in the 7 short months that she has lived in the US. She is such a doll. We love her. Reese and Lilly ADORE her. She is a special little lady, for sure.
These kids are excited to be US Citizens this year! Eyerus says that she is grateful to be a US "Diziden." Too cute.
My girls are 100% Daddy's girls:
Lilly relaxing on the beach:
The proud daddies:

Lilly and Ash watchin' a little video together: "VV" (TV) in Ash language and "DDD" (DVD) in Lilly language

Eyerus did Lilly's hair (as seen above) in some cute little braids. Eyerus is MAGIC with children. Sarah Marie says that she is like the Pied Piper of Kids and it is so true. She managed to get Lilly to hold still while braiding her hair and she can also make any kid stop crying almost instantly!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hair Styles and Potty Training...

I have only about 3 or 4 hair-dos for Lilly --pony tail, pig tails, some small loose braids, front up & back down/out, or barrette/head band. Nothing elaborate...I am learning. Pig tails are my fav:

I like a side part in the front and then middle part in the back. Like so:
Again, nothing fancy yet, I know. I have a lot left to learn.
The biggest challenge with Lilly and doing her hair has nothing to do with my skills or her hair---it's her absolute hatred of the process! She screams when I come around the corner with a brush or comb in hand. If I say, "Lilly, mama is going to do your hair now." She says very emphatically "MO!" That's NO in Lilly-speak. I am gentle, I swear. I work on one chunk at a time and I carefully de-tangle. I give her snacks, put her in front of a show, Reese sings to her, we have tried it all. No matter what - she screams and squirms and the process is completely exhausting to me. I am hoping that this will get better over time. Maybe Eyerus can do something cute with her hair this weekend when we go see the Brophys for the 4th of July. :)
I absolutely love Lilly's beautiful spiral curls and how it looks when just natural and down.
I think that her hair grows by the minute! It is SO long and thick. A picture does not seem to adequately show how thick and long Lilly's hair truly is because it quickly coils up and looks shorter. I like leaving it out/down; but de-tangling it at the end of a day of it being out is really tough and I do believe hurts her quite a bit then. So, I keep it up in pig tails most days. Here are a few pics with her hair down.
"Peak a boo"
You just want to eat her up, right?
Potty training:
We have begun some potty training (mostly her initiative) and over the past 4 months Lilly has used the potty for #1 and #2 many times now! It is exciting (the prospect of not having to change stinky diapers, that is). She still has quite a ways to go. She was excited at first, and now has entered the phase of complete terror when something actually happens once she sits on the potty. Reese went through the same phases. This round of potty training, we are glad to have a helper who is coaching Lilly step by step:

Monday, June 2, 2008


Okay, so when I do or say something that isn't the brightest thing in the world; I claim that I am having a "blonde moment."

I honestly don't think that I am a typically a ditsy blonde (though you may want to confirm that claim with my hubby).

I mean, I have a variety of characteristics that are not your typical ditsy blonde things: like I am an engineer and I pride myself in my sense of direction when driving, etc...

But, now and again I suffer from the condition that afflicts many of us who subject ourselves to expensive highlights in a desperate attempt to return our hair color to the way it looked when we were young and people called us "tow heads." :)

Well, I had a MAJOR blonde moment last Tuesday night and it relates to our adoption:

My husband and I were invited to a 'Gladney Reception' in our area. After speaking with one of the organizers of the event, we decided to attend and were very excited. We were told that it was going to be a somewhat small group (about 60 couples or less; people who are very involved with Gladney & the Gladney Fund, etc...) gathering for cocktails and to meet the incoming and outgoing CEOs for Gladney and many members of the Gladney Board of Directors. That sounded great! This is small because there are A LOT of Gladney families in the area that have adopted over the past decades. We haven't previously attended any local Gladney events, because any free time that we have we try to attend activities with our Ethiopian adoption group, and most of the families there have used other adoption agencies. (Though this is rapidly changing and many families here are having their Ethiopian adoptions facilitated by Gladney also! YEAH!!) The local Gladney events to date have been huge and primarily attended by those who have used Gladney for domestic adoption or international adoption from countries other than Ethiopia. So, because time is precious we thought that the previous ones may not have been as beneficial to our needs for relationships with other Ethiopia/African adoption families. This was our first non-Ethio Gladney only event and we were very excited to learn more about Gladney as a whole!

The event was held at a beautiful house in a wonderful old neighborhood in Virginia (which there are MANY beautiful old neighborhoods out here, one of the reasons that we love the East Coast!). The outgoing CEO (Mike McMahon) and the incoming CEO (Frank Garrot) of Gladney were there and gave us a little talk on the vision for Gladney and future plans. Several of us asked questions, gave comments, etc... All in all it was a very nice evening, and people shared stories and pictures of their kids. Many of the families there had Gladney kids whom they adopted 10, 20, or more years ago and are still actively involved with the Agency! That was very encouraging. The night made me even more proud of Gladney as we were able to expand our horizons beyond just their Ethiopia program and learn about all of the amazing things that they are doing in the US and around the world!

Okay, here comes the blonde moment....

Before we left, we wanted to thank the owners of the home; the hosts. The husband had spoken a little bit during the "Presentation" and the CEO referred to him and his wife and all of the wonderful things they do for Gladney, huge annual golf tournament they organize, etc... I assumed that they were people of importance by these comments, their amazing house, and their obvious connections that allowed them to organize this annual golf tournament at a prestigious country club in the area. But, in DC a lot of people are very well connected and since I do not work in politics, I often don't know who a lot of important political people are in the area.

So, we introduced ourselves to the husband/host of the event, thanked him for hosting, commented on his wonderful house, and showed him pictures of our little girls. The husband was as nice as could be and walked us around to look at pictures of his kids; a daughter now 22 and a son now 17. They are from Texas and adopted them through Gladney at birth.

As we are looking at all of these pictures on bookshelves, etc.. I notice a framed picture of George Bush, Sr and was curious if he worked for the Bush family, or had just met him one time and took that picture. Typically, if people have pictures up of politicians, it is them and the political figure; an autographed picture...something along those lines. This one seemed different and more personal.

The details start to get blurry from here, but the conversation went something like this:

Me: "Did you take this picture one time when you met him? "

Host: Blank stare response. "Umm, no I did not take that picture."

Me: "Are you in politics or just big supporters of the Bush family...?"

Host: Blank stare again. Long uncomfortable silence.

Me: "Do you know George Bush Senior?"



Host: "Yes, he's my dad."

Me: (acting a lot like Elaine from Seinfeld at this point, I believe that I may have said "get out!" ). I am certain that I said, "You're joking, right?" At this point, I think that the room began to spin and my eyes finally settled in on his name tag: Marvin Bush. And, I remembered just having met his 17 year old son, Walker Bush. Hmmmmm... this is all suddenly coming together.

Room spins...and I am certain that I turned bright red at this point.

Me: "Oh WOW, You're not joking, you're the President's brother, aren't you?"

Host: "Yes." (Big laugh....)

Me: red face, sweating, feeling dumb as ever.

I HAD NO IDEA! Maybe it would have really benefited me to be more Gladney-savy. Or, maybe it should have occured to me when he told me his son's name. Walker Bush!!!! That should have been kind of obvious, huh? Honestly, I actually DID know that there were several Bush brothers and one sister, but I had no idea the youngest's name was Marvin and that he and his wife had adopted 2 children through Gladney and that they live in the area. WHAT ON EARTH IS WRONG WITH ME!?!?!? He then told me that actually George W. and Laura Bush had begun the adoption process with Gladney. But, they then got pregnant with the twins. Many of you Gladney families may already know this factoid, though. (BTW-I confirmed this all on Wikipedia. Source of only 100% true information; right?!?!?!?!)

Mr. Bush was unbelievably gracious and proceeded to show us more pics of his kids. A very proud dad. I kept saying, "I am SO sorry, I cannot believe that I didn't know. We are probably the only people here who don't know who you are, aren't we?" He graciously concurred and said that it was actually "refreshing" to not be known and told me to stop saying that I was sorry. That was probably his way of avoiding saying something very condescending. YIKES.

So there it is. My blonde moment of the year! So embarrassing. Let's hope that there aren't many more moments of that magnitude! :)

On a happier note: I am REALLY impressed by Gladney (AGAIN) and proud to be involved with them. It encouraged us to see all of these very supportive families and see what a great Agency and organization it really is; even beyond the Ethiopia program which we already knew was amazing.

Hopefully they will invite us to such events again sometime! :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Cool Mother's Day Find & Tid Bits on Being a Mom to Our Little Girls

Happy Belated Mother's Day to all of you wonderful moms out there!!!
Here's a cool little 'Mother's Day find' that I stumbled upon this weekend rather unexpectedly. I think all of you adoptive (or prospective-adoptive) moms will love as much as I do:We were in a consignment store near our house and I told Reese that she could grab a book and she just randomly picked up this one called "Little Miss Spider" by David Kirk. The story line is very short and has a cute poem/rhyming scheme to it. It is about a little spider that crawls out of her egg with all of the other baby spiders and she immediately starts looking for her mom; who is not around. She starts asking other bugs and a little beetle (Betty Beetle) helps her look and tells her that if SHE were her mom, she'd be looking for her baby too. Finally, the baby spider almost gets eaten and still no luck finding her mom; when Betty Beetle swoops in to save the day. Betty then asks the baby spider to move into her home, basically implying that she'll be her mommy. The last page says:





What an incredible little story! How random that Reese chose it without knowing the plot!!! Maybe others already know about this book, but I had never heard of it and was very excited to stumble upon it in such a way and on Mother's Day weekend.

Okay, now a few tid bits on our lovely little girls:

I know that boys and girls are wonderful for different reasons, but I honestly have no idea what it is like to be the mom of a boy as we are fully immersed in 'little-girl-world!!' Everywhere I look there are princess books and dress up clothes. There is also A LOT of drama and emotions (I thought for sure we'd have until their pre-teens to have to deal with the emotions but NOPE--lots of girlie drama in this house). And, we love every minute of it all.
A few things that are DAILY occurrences in our house are:


This is basically all day every day. Reese usually goes through a good 5 or so outfits a day. I decided to share a few examples here (see pics below). They really run the gamut from actual dress up clothes (princess or ballerina theme) to just interesting arrangements of clothes that are hers. She is heavily recruiting Lilly into this past-time, and typically likes to throw a fancy boa around Lilly’s neck, or give her a purse to carry, or place a crown on her head. Lilly thinks it is hysterical. :) Reese has become VERY particular about what she wears. Right now, she is going through a "dresses or skirts only" phase and it can be very cute and also very testing at times. She only wants to wear dresses all day long. Even at night, she insists upon night-gowns and not pajamas. Preferably "the kind that twirl, Mama!" This can result in some serious melt-downs when such items are not clean.

daddy's little princesses

this next outfit seems to have an 80's influence to it

I don't think that any of us can begin to understand what she is pretending to be in this 'get-up':
Lilly cracks up at everything that Reese puts on!

this is a true representation of her ever-so-nutty personality

Lilly quickly came in the room with a boa on her neck, grabbed her sequenced purse and took off again! Busy girl, clearly off to some formal engagement.

If you have a girl, and aren't into the Fancy Nancy book Series yet--this is a MUST! They are so cute and have quickly become Reese's favorite books. There's 'Fancy Nancy'-the original book, 'Fancy Nancy & the Posh Puppy,' 'Fancy Nancy-Bonjour Butterfly' and more. They are great. The only draw back is that now every time we leave the house Reese wants to be fancy too and wear some outrageous earrings, necklace, hair bows, anything "fancy' that she can find! It is a lot of work to be so fancy.

Many of you may not know that I am actually a grandmother to many, many of Reese's "children!" Reese has a million stuffed animals, dolls and teddy bears and she has named them all, keeps track of their favorite clothes, favorite toys, favorite place to sleep, potty trains them, takes care of them when they are sick, etc... At any given moment, you walk into a room, and there is inevitably a "baby" there taking a nap, at which point Reese will reprimand you for "waking up her babies." They are also dressed in clothes (usually from Lilly's dresser), wearing a diaper (or panties if Reese has potty trained them; which she is always working on), tucked into a blanket, and accompanied by favorite toys. Here are some examples of just a few of my 'grand children' that I found around the house in one day alone! My sister says that it is "a lot of self-imposed responsibility for a 3 year old!" This is true. Even Reese sometimes says, "Mama, I have SO MANY babies! I am very busy" We indulge her by buying gifts for her build-a-bear (Beary) and we sometimes celebrate the babies' is a bit out of control! Ahhhhh, the imagination of a little girl. :)
This is "Abby and Aidey" with their favorite toys. Reese says that they are "comfy and cozy" in this box.

Here are Chester and Bunny. Bunny recently moved onto to "panties" from diapers, her mom was proud. The trick here is that as Reese changes her babies' dirty diapers, she literally throws away the "dirty ones." This is very frustrating as we don't really like the idea of throwing away unused diapers; so we have to be stealth in intercepting them on their way to the garbage! :)

no introduction needed for these napping kiddos

Reese dug out the old bjorn to carry "Kelley" around for a while, she said that it was easier because her "arms were tired."

Here we see lion wearing Reese's old is nice for her to be able to pass down her old clothes to her children :)

That's all for now....

Thursday, April 10, 2008


On March 22, 2008 we celebrated little Elizabeth Alem (Lilly's) adoption day. 1 YEAR!!! I cannot believe how time has flown. Why is time passing faster and faster? I felt like time started to fly when I got out of college, started working, then later got married. Adding a child made time go a bit faster (though the first year of Reese's life went kind of slow; probably because it was SUCH an adjustment) and now--honestly a month goes as fast as a minute! I want to hang onto every precious second and yet it is going so quickly. What a year, Lilly is nothing short of a miracle in our lives.

Some additional recent pictures:

She's a ham! Here she is riding her little bike:She has come a LONG way since we first met her in Addis Ababa over a year ago. The first six months were tough in many ways. Wonderful, but tough. I think that now looking back I am allowing myself to realize that last year was a bit exhausting. Adjusting to 2 kids was in some ways easier than the adjustment from 0-1 kid, but the craziness kind of crept up on us! I keep trying to do all that I did before and realize that I just cannot. That said, we are so amazed by the wonderful, charming little girl Lilly is becoming right before our eyes. Reflecting on the first year: Overall, our adoption experience was SO amazing. The hardest thing in the beginning was her apparent fear of abandonment and her somewhat constant screaming. YIKES! We could not hand her to anyone or even sit her down in a room b/c she would scream and cry. She wanted to be held constantly...and she was a big baby; hard to hold all day. :) She hated being babysat by anyone, and would cry and cry at the thought of us walking away-even just across the room. Don't get me wrong, we were excited that she clearly attached herself to us so well. We prayed for that. But, we did not expect the opposite to happen where she'd really seem to be afraid that she'd be left. :( She'd scream to get things (probably why she was the chubbiest baby in the orphanage/Gladney home). I am not talking normal baby crying and whinning; we knew all about that routine. This was pretty extreme. Like her face would turn red; and she would YELL.

But, that was then and this is now. It makes me SO grateful for how she is today--which is honestly one of the most loving and happy little girls that I know. People comment all of the time on how sweet, warm and happy she is. She kisses everyone; including every dog she sees, every picture of ANY animal or baby, and other kids as well. She walks up to strangers now and puts her arms up to be hugged. AMAZING!! What a transformation. That said, if she wants something--you'll know because she hasn't lost the ability to make her needs known :)! We kind of went through months of screaming "detox" and would wait until she smiled or said a "happy word" before giving her what she wanted. That was tough but made a HUGE impact, as she is all around more calm.

We love her personality SO much. She compliments our little crew perfectly. On Lilly's adoption day we had a little cake and family party for her and I asked Reese what her favorite thing is about having a baby sister and she said "playing with Lilly; laughing with Lilly; loving Lilly." WHAT? That is SO stinkin' sweet. I did NOT tell her to say that. She LOVES her sister. Don't get me wrong, they fight too-they are true siblings afterall. It is basically the same fight every day: Reese grabs something from Lilly; Lilly screams; Reese yells back in response; Both cry. Repeat again and again. But, when they aren't fighting--they like to hold hands and make each other laugh. Lilly tries to do whatever Reese is doing. They LOVE taking baths together and splashing and they love rolling around on the floor and tickling each other. They also love playing dress up together.

Here is a little video for my dear friend Mwende's little girl who just turned 4 last week. This is a tiny preview of Lilly's singing skills, but she is being overshadowed by Reese in this video. I will write another post on Lill'y AMAZING musical talents. For real, I think that her bio parents must have been singers. This girl has about 12-24 songs that she can hum the entire way through. She started this skill around her first birthday, at which point I thought that it was a coincidence. But, she'd repeat these same songs throughout the day; and not miss a beat or a nuance of the song. It is very impressive. Okay--back to Mwende's video, this is for Aiden. Hope she enjoys. Cannot wait to see you this summer, Mwende. Love and miss you tons.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A few of my favorite (Ethiopian) things....

My #1 favorite Ethiopian thing is of course our little Ethiopian princess, Lilly (shown here doing some gymnastics with her big sister and her bunny):

But, I have a few other favorite Ethiopian things that I thought I'd share:
(1) Favorite Ethiopian Children's Song:

All of you Ethiopia-lovers out there will definitely enjoy this great Ethiopian kid's song on the Putumayo CD "African Playground." It has kid's songs from all over Africa, but amazingly, the Ethiopian song (Hoya Hoya) is honestly the best one on the CD. (Okay, maybe I am biased, but I really think that it is the best one on the CD). Over the past few months, it has become one of Reese's favorite songs. She always asks for me to play it for her! I ran it by Eyerus this summer and she knew all of the words, so it must be legit---a true Ethiopian kid's song! You can hear it by playing it on this little music player:

(2) Favorite Ethiopian Runner:

Yes, there are many Ethiopian marathoners, but undoubtedly the currently most well-known is Haile Gebrselassie. He is arguably the best long distance runner ever and he set a new world record in September at the Berlin Marathon. That's amazing. Then, his time is INCREDIBLE: It was 2hrs, 4mins and 26 seconds. That' s 26.2 consecutive miles at under 5 minutes (4:44 to be exact) per mile! That's a ridiculous, full out sprint for the entire time! A lot very decent runners couldn't run 1 mile that fast, let alone 26 of them. That's seriously crazy. But, what is most amazing to me is his personality and attitude about it. Reportedly, after setting the new world record he immediately called Paul Tergat, the Kenyan who previously held the record, to apologize for setting the new world record. Haile says that they are friends and that he felt bad for taking the title from him. I think that this just kind of illustrates the personality that we have seen in so many Ethiopians -- very humble, kind and sweet.
(3) Favorite Ethiopian Driver-Tafesse!! Who else? (We actually like one of the other Gladney Drivers, Anbes, very much too.) But, why we are so amazed by Tafesse is that not only was he SO sweet to us while we were in Addis, but he recently sent us Christmas gifts via Nick and Sarah Marie when they returned to Addis Ababa to pick up Eyerus. He sent a T-Shirt for each of our daughters, a beautiful scarf for me, and a cool key chain for Mike! How amazing! (Special thanks, of course, to SM and Nick for taking these back from Ethiopian for us).

Basically, I love a lot of Ethiopian things...

Monday, January 14, 2008

World's Worst Blogger

Okay, it’s official. I am the worst blogger. I cannot believe that it has been since August when I last posted. I started posts many times and never finished. I have a million excuses (no time being the biggest issue-with 2 kids, full time job, family, friends, etc…I can never find any free time at all)…but, everyone is busy, right? It’s not a good excuse, I know. I am going to commit to posting blogs more frequently in 2008; no excuses. Quite honestly, I got a bit overwhelmed with the blog world for a while and felt like I could not possibly keep up with all of the amazing posts, reading other’s sites, etc… and it started to stress me out. Pathetic, I know. Then, it isn’t my main means of keeping in touch with family and friends from out of town and so I ended up having to choose between posting blog updates or sending pictures and updates to others out of town who don’t/won't read blogs regularly. But, this will become a place where I post pix and direct family and friends, even if it means learning something new for them. Some good old peer pressure from my Oklahoma bud, Amy, got me back on track! :) Thanks, Amy...I needed it. Here are a few pictures from Christmas of our lilttle ladies:

And one from around the house with Lilly. In this one, she is excited that she is about to be fed. This girl LOVES TO EAT! So, some important milestones that occurred this Fall/Winter:
  • September: Got Lilly's ears pierced! I was stressed about it, but it turned out to be a non-event. She is so tough. We LOVE her having earrings. When she got it done, even Reese said, "Oh, look so CUTE!"
  • October 1st: Lilly began walking! This was 1 week shy of her 14 month b day. *This is a month a head of when Reese starting walking. From this day forward, Lilly began to RUN around, she never went back to crawling again.
  • November 30th: Re-adoption/Adoption Finalization Court Date!!! Yeah! We had the nicest judge in the world. He kept going on and on about how he loves overseeing adoptions. He said that in doing Family court rotations it can be so overwhelming to always see families being torn apart, having to intervene in custody battles, etc… Adoption is the one thing that brings some light to his job. He was GREAT! He let Reese sit in the judge’s chair and push some buttons that make “white-noise” in the jury’s box. That made her day. FYI- We did this part without a lawyer. It really wasn’t so bad. More paperwork, of course, but not too bad at all.
  • December 31st: Received Lilly’s new U.S. birth certificate! Very exciting. There was one small mistake on the birth cert, and that is that it has me as being 21 at the time of her birth! I was actually 31…but, I think that I just might go ahead and leave that mistake on there!
  • December 31st: Spent the day on New Years Eve in the Social Security Administration office applying for Lilly’s social security card. I HIGHLY recommend going to gov’t offices on days like this because they are SLOW and the lines are SHORT. Since most people don’t have this day off from work and only take off to do fun stuff with family, no one wants to sit in the SS administration office. So, we took advantage of that and were in and out in about 45 minutes!
  • January 7th: Received Lilly’s social security card in the mail! YES! This was causing me anxiety because we would really like to be able to claim her on this years’ taxes (2007) since we spent most of the adoption money in late 2006 and early 2007. However, to do that we either need a social security number or adoption ID number (and of course have to have the adoption finalized in the US). One helpful hint for those in a similar situation (your child came back on an IR-4 visa), you do not need to wait for the Certificate of Citizenship to get a SS number. The SS administration just registers that the adoption was finalized and puts the child in as a permanent resident. Then, once we receive the Certificate of Citizenship we can go back and update her citizenship status. Whew! That was a relief.

We attended a gathering with the local Ethiopian adoption group last Saturday! It was huge. There are so many new families in the process, waiting, or with their children from Ethiopia. It is great to see the group grow. The event was at the local Ethiopian Cultural Center. It was busting at the seams and so we need to probably have these at bigger places next time. But, the local group had some girls do dancing, artwork, etc… I am looking forward to using this center more to connect with Ethiopian culture and grow closer to the Ethiopian community that is so huge in our area.

Wow-now that I have started posting again, I already have so much to say. I will definitely post again in a day or so with more pictures.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Birthdays, Beach Trips, Busy Summer Days...

Well, this summer is flying by. The girls just both celebrated birthdays in the past 2 weeks---Reese turned 3 and Lilly turned 1 and life just gets more fun every day! We got back last week from our second beach trip just for a little while before taking off again for another trip to...where else? The beach. This past trip was with family. My (Anne's) brothers and sisters rent a house every year together at the beach, the 8 of us (yea, i have 7 siblings--4 sisters and 3 brothers) and our spouses (if applicable) and kids! it gets a little rowdy! we have SO much fun together. Some people think that it seems kind of weird that we like to get away for a whole week together in the same house every year, considering the fact that we all live in the same area---anywhere from 10 minutes to at most 45 minutes apart and we see each other very often. Sounds crazy to some, but it is great fun for us! We have done it each year since we lost our mom to colon cancer in 2000. We are a very close family...(we also lost our dad 8 yrs earlier to leukemia). Anyways- the beach was GREAT--the pics above are Reese and one of her cousins on the beach one overcast morning and below are some other shots with the fam and in the pool at the house we rented. Reese and Lilly were both given a few incredible birthday parties. Both sides of the family threw them parties. Can I just say that we have the BEST family ever? They love up on our kids SOOOO much! Reese had a princess party (2 actually), as she is really into dressing up now--especially like a princess. I will have to post pictures later of what dress up around our house looks like--some of the outfits she designs are WILD! She had cinderella on her cake and plates, etc... and forever she has called her "cinda gorilla." We just think it's so funny that we have yet to correct her. so, everyone in my family now says, "cinda gorilla." We're pathetic, I know. Interesting note on the health/adoption front: we noticed about a month ago that it appeared as though Lilly's thumbs do not straighten. (They are always bent at almost a 90 degree angle). So, i took her into the doctor and our pediatrician (whom we love) was not in that day and the one available to see us is fairly new. Anyways- this new pediatrician referred me to get an x-ray and said "i have never seen this before!" (Just what you always want to hear from a doctor, right? that this is the first time they have ever seen a condition. Way to put the parents at ease, doc.) So, off we went to get x-rays. getting a little girl/baby to hold her hands flat for like 5 x rays of each hand is NOT fun. (especially when your hand cannot be in the way holding hers down). We had to tape them to the x ray table over and over again to get each angle---she was traumatized. Then, we were at the beach when the results came back and when i read them they basically said"x rays indicate that there is a bend at the blah blah blah joint in the thumb." Thanks but no thanks! Duh, we knew that there was a "bend in the thumb"--that's why we took her in! basically, the x ray was USELESS. Our pediatrician then saw her and said "no big deal, we see this every so often, you just need to see an orthopedist. You really didn't even need to have an x ray for this, as it is not really a bone issue." Once again- the x rays were USELESS. so, we went to a pediatric orthopedist and he said that he has "trigger thumb." It is not common, but not super uncommon. typically it isn't seen in BOTH thumbs like with her, but he thinks that it is likely a congenital birth defect. Since I didn't actually see her at birth, I cannot verify if it was present or not. here's the sad part...looks like she has to have surgery. :) Poor Lilly--- she will have to be completely anesthetized. local anesthetic won't work. I have never even been anesthetized and now our little girl who has already lived through too many traumatic events for a 1 year old will have to be put under for surgery on both hands! :( We'll need lots of prayers for that event. Not scheduled yet, I am still researching before agreeing to it. Anyone heard of this or had to treat it? Well, onto better info: tomorrow, my dear dear friend from Chicago is arriving with her husband and two kids who are the EXACT same ages as our two little girls-3 and almost 1. They are staying a week and I am SO excited. Mwende (my friend) and I lived together for 3 years during graduate school in Chicago. We spent like every moment together because we had the same classes, same friends, same apartment and often spent like 18-20 hours a day studying and doing research in the engineering building at we were sleep deprived for several years and insanely stressed out, but we managed to have some of the most fun together ever (probably because we were a bit delusional). I am convinced no one else on this planet could have lived with me through those years but her. I cannot wait to spend time with her and have our girls play together.