Sunday, December 14, 2008

Overdue Blog Update

Wow. It has been a long time since I updated this blog. It has been a crazy fall that has included taking Michael to swimming and gymnastics, and many weekend (and weekday) trips to the cities. Most of what I'm writing here is also likely to be in the Christmas letter. So, those that receive it may feel a bit of deja vu.

I'll start off with the question I know most of you probably have: Any news with the adoption? No news, really. We continue to wait for our referral. The adoption agency recently increased the estimated wait time for referrals to 12 months. For us, that would be April. Basically, there has just been a huge increase in the number of agencies operating in Ethiopia. Originally, I had thought/hoped that we would be travelling to meet our 2nd little one by now. We will continue to wait patiently (or as patiently as we can).

For those of you who haven't heard, my mom broke her arm in early October. Since she has been in medical care, the Alzheimer's has caused us concern about going back to live alone. Her condition has been evaluated, and based on the recommendations from that, she will be moving to memory care assisted living about 10 minutes from us. I should have her new address in time for the Christmas letter for those who need it. Sorry, I just haven't had the time to call each one of you individually that I should have called. Can't seem to make the days last longer than 24 hours. Any family or friends that want more info, please feel free to call and I will give you an update.

Michael is just growing and growing. He recently graduated from the "eel" level of swimming. Hopefully we will get him going in Ray in January. Educationally, Michael is working on recognizing more letters, and writing the letters of his name in order. He enjoys his music class, too. We are currently figuring out the whole kindergarten thing. I never new there were so many decisions to make. And most kindergarten is only 2.5 hours a day, how much more complicated could they make it for childcare?

With President-elect Obama getting ready to take office, I am hopeful for the future. I am not referring to the economy or usual stuff. As we move forward as a nation with our first African-American President I have found myself pondering the progress we could make in valuing diversity in our country. I hope that when young children today grow up to be the first (on Mars or to cure cancer or whatever), that they will be simply the "first person".

Playing in the leaves..........


Sunday, September 21, 2008

Q. What is 5 years?

A. The amount of time it takes to build your own deck when raising a child (we started before Michael). Seriously, the deck isn finally F-I-N-I-S-H-E-D! Here is Michael helping to "paint" the deck.

Michael is really interested in helping lately (if only with the things he chooses). He and I made banana bread yesterday. Actually, I think he really did most of it. I measured everything and put it in the pan. It was very yummy, and Michael was very proud!


We went to Jacob's 5th birthday party a couple of weeks ago. Just as the party started (meant to be outside), it started pouring! Needless to say, the party went inside. Here is Jacob openning the wet/dry hand vac that Michael chose for him. He really loved it!

We also got to spend some quality time with our new niece, Sophia. She seems to be adjusting quite well to her new life half way around the world. There is a picture of Pete's sister Barb with her lovely little lady below.

Also that weekend, Michael's good friend Ian came over and spent the evening while his parents had a much deserved night out. The boys enjoyed dressing in Michael's super hero costumes and having and epic battle. We are still not sure why two good guys were battling......


Monday, September 8, 2008

Waiting

Wow, it has been a long time since my last entry. We have kept very busy this summer (as usual). It does help distract from the fact that the adoption agency is now reporting that it could take families up to 12 months from completing the dossier to receiving a referral. I am still hopeful that it won't take that long.
In August, we attended my 20 year class reunion. The reunion committee did an excellent job of planning. The weekend started Friday with a meet & greet at the school (North Community High School in North Minneapolis for those who don't know. No, it shouldn't be blown up.) Saturday morning/afternoon we kept busy attending a BBQ held at Lake Harriett. It was fun to see every one's families.


Saturday evening was the banquet. It included the wonderful singing of Thomasina Petrus, who coaxed Efrem to join in, coronation of new class royalty, a DJ (and dancing), and a remembrance of those we have lost.

On Sunday, many Polars attended church services at Sanctuary Covenant Church in Minneapolis, where classmate Efrem Smith is the pastor. This is Efrem with his wife, Donecia (I think she is a Henry grad, but we won't hold that against her). I believe it is safe to assume that a fun time was had by all. It was definitely fun to see everyone again!

Over the holiday weekend, we took a long overdue trip to the Minnesota Zoo. Michael has always loved the zoo, and this day was no different. We started the day early, and met up with Michael's friend Ian (and Jeff and Jeannine, Ian's parents). The new exhibit was great. I think the highlight for the boys may have been the added water play area (*note to self--bring swimwear, towel next time).

And now, it is getting late. I have to go get Michael ready to (hopefully) sleep like a bear......

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Well, it has been nearly 2 months since my last post, so this is a bit overdue. I am happy to report that we received our initial USCIS clearance this week. It won't make our wait any shorter, but it is a requirement that is now out of the way.

At the beginning of July, most of the family headed to Richmond to visit Pete's younger brother Tim and his family. As with any time you get about 17 people together for multiple days there were ups and downs. One thing that nobody would disagree with is how nice it was to see Tim, Cindy, Connor, Ella, & Laney. Some of the fun things we did to keep busy were going to the park, mini-golf, go-karting, 4th of July festivities (minus firework and concert - ugh, the weather), and a mini-birthday party for all the cousins! Everyone appreciated Tim & Cindy's hospitality. Michael cried in the morning because he didn't want to come home, and again when we arrived in Minneapolis because he didn't want to say goodbye to Jacob. He loves all of his cousins so much!

As you can see, we had a stop in Washington, D.C. History fascinates me, and being submerged in it, as in Washington makes me feel very contemplative. We saw one of the Air & Space Museums, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, and part of the Museum Natural History.




Tim, Cindy, Ella, Laney, & Connor.

Michael practicing his Jedi moves.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

This, That, & the Other Thing


Yay, Michael! Tuesday marked the first night of the All Comers Track Meets in Rochester. Michael (aka Dash) finished 1st in the first race of the night. In the second race, he finished 2nd. Pete and I thought that was great, Michael, not so much. He was so sad about not finishing 1st, he would not run in the 3rd race. All is well, though, because he is already looking forward to next week.

It has been an amazing time for the Ethiopia program. At the end of last month, they gave out referrals to 50 waiting families. While this is a blessing for all the families (and bodes well for the length of our wait), it is also terribly sad. It is an indication that because of ongoing draught, families are making very tought choices so that they can survive. Further impacting the ability to survive is the stretched state of the charitable organizations that help feed people worldwide due to the disasters in Myanmar and China. I hope to have some links posted soon for those of you who may like to sponsor a child or make a donation to an organization that serves many people.

there is no me without you Read it. I am not usually a fan of biographies, but I couldn't put it down for long. The author tells the story of an Ethiopian woman who goes from being in the middle class ends up caring for orphans in the capital of Addis Ababa. Throughout she intertwines Ethiopian history, and facts and statistics on the HIV/AIDS crisis that could serve as a distressing call for action.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

On driving 90 miles to church......

Because we have been frequently driving up to Minneapolis to go to church, I have been thinking lately that people must wonder: Why? What could make it worth the extra time and cost? Surely one would think that a family could get the same experience at another church...

Maybe. On the outside of things, there are the obvious reasons for making the trek. It is not lost on either of us that Michael absolutely loves the music (all the time), dancing and art (on hip hop Sundays). Then, of course, I am linked by the fact that I went to High School with the senior Pastor Efrem Smith.

Those things are nice, but would they keep us making the drive? Maybe that is more about Efrem's common sense approach which is a welcome breath of fresh air. His desire for improving North Minneapolis is sincere, as is his goal of racial reconciliation. He is not afraid to call it like it is. This mornings sermon was a good example. He addressed the article in the Star-Tribune today regarding ratio of suspension among black students. I won't cover details, but if you want you can listen to what he said at www.sanctuarycovenant.org .

Even with this, there is something more primal that calls me. It is returning to an area of diversity which was the world I knew growing up. It is the validation that a couple doesn't have to be at the same place in their faith to be in love, married, and happy. It is blending in, not being the "recognizable" family. It is the sense of sameness that we can't offer to Michael everyday. Yes, sometimes there is value in being "part of the crowd".

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Waiting!

We are so excited to share with all of you, that we are now officially "waiting". For those of you who are not familiar with adoption lingo, this means that we are in line for a referral. The wait for a referral should be between 6 - 9 months. By the way, referral is when the agency has a child to match us with and we review the referral and accept or decline it. Essentially, referral is when you meet (on paper) your child. After we receive and accept our referral, we would travel in 2 - 3 months to pick up our child.
Ethiopia, one of the oldest countries in the world, has no history of colonization. Upon independence, many African countries adopted the colors of the Ethiopian flag - green, yellow and red - and they became known as the Pan-African colors.
The yellow pentagram on the blue circle is also known as the National Coat of Arms. It is a symbol of the current government. It is intended to reflect the desire of the nations, nationalities and peoples of Ethiopia, as well as of its religious communities, to live together in unity and equality. What a wonderful goal!

As always, Michael keeps us running (literally and figuratively). We seem to be in the midst of a run of his friends birthdays currently. All the parties have been a lot of fun! Michael is currently in gymnastics and swimming classes. He is anxious to try any sport he can.

We are all grateful that spring has finally arrived. We have started our summer routine of playing outside. Frequently, we race and play baseball. Micheal is amazine (we think) at hitting for his age (he has hit 3 balls into the rain gutter so far, and one almost over the peak of the garage). He is anxious to learn the skills of the "catcher" position, too. We even got to run through the sprinkler for a short time tonight. Talk about a happy time!

Michael got a "car" for his birthday, we just finally decided it was warm enough to get it out. He LOVES the Incredible's, and this costume is 2 sizes too big, but he doesn't care. Here's our little super hero, and his "girlfriend" Kaiden......

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Homestudy Approved!!!

Hi All,

We had our in home homestudy meeting yesterday, and our homestudy is approved! We also submitted our passport applications. Two more steps down. Next up are immigration forms, dossier, another workshop (on toddler adoption) and we need to start having shots. We would like to get the dossier sent in ASAP so that it can be approved before the courts in Ethiopia close in the summer.

If I haven't said, Michael is really excited to have a sibling. Well, a sister. We have tried to explain it could go either way, but he is quite certain. He will take good care of his "baby". He has allowed that the baby can be as "old" as his friend Jay's sister, Audrey (I think she is the reason he is set on a sister). When the social worker asked where the baby might sleep, he said: "umm, maybe next to me".

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Fun Things.....

Michael recently got a new pair of roller skates, which he loved (thanks, Theo!). Also, last night was the carnival at school, and his class sang a song. I have posted both for your viewing enjoyment!

video video

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Michael's Birthday


Michael's birthday was about 2 weeks ago. We had a party at Jets Gymnastics for Michael and his friends. The kids did an obstacle course, parachute game, and had free play time. Michael's favorite activity was definitely jumping in the foam pit! It was great for me, too, because Jets did ALL the work. One of the best parts of the day was when one of our nieces came up and said "I love this place Auntie".

One more step....

Well, we have finally finished and sent in our "homework". I expect that our homestudy will begin soon. It will be nice to feel like we are moving forward again. For this post's tidbit on Ethiopia, I have populus information. Ethiopia is just under twice the size of Texas, with a population of about 77 million! The average life expectancy is about 50 (slightly older for women, younger for men) :-(. Only about 2.7% of the population is over age 65. There are about 5 births per woman, and about a 9% infant mortality rate. Wow. If we lived to only 50, many of us (in the U.S.) would not see our kids graduate from high school.......

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Why fivemilliondollars?

This morning when I told Pete that our blog site was fivemilliondollars.blogspot.com, he said "Why?". Well, WAAAY back when I started to create this, that was a the big thing Michael was saying. If you asked how much something cost, how much money he had/wanted, etc. the answer was: "Five Million Dollars!"

Why was everything five million dollars? Let me know if you find out............

What else we've been doing...





The past 4 months have been very busy for us. We wrapped up September, and entered October moving both of my parents. Dad moved to Rochester, and mom moved to a new apartment in Bloomington. The sisters-in-law were awesome helpers for my last minute needs.

October found us waiting for all of our application information to make it back to the adoption agency. We passed the time by visiting the Curious George exhibit at the Minnesota Children's Museum. Michael also had a great time going trick or treating this halloween.

November was also a busy month. We were invited to, and attended PAC. Many thanks to Aunts, Grandma, and Grandpa who went out of there way to stay with Michael so that we could attend. All had a great time. After, we spent the night at a hotel and enjoyed swimming and visiting with our friends the Browns and extended family. The week after PAC, we had my side of the family down for Thanksgiving. I made a yummy turkey, but the best part was Pete's awesome gravy.

December, of course, brought preparations for Christmas. It just felt like a big whirlwind. We remember being busy, but it is hard to put our finger on just what it was we did.
And, welcome 2008. As I said in the other post, we spent New Year's Day celebrating Kwanzaa. We hope to finish our homework soon. Michael's birthday is rapidly approaching, and we are already getting ready for that. Four years old. We can hardly believe it!
Til next time....Have a happy and prosperous 2008!


Adoption....and more

After reading Barb's (Pete's sister) blog, I decided that I ought to give this another shot. I really liked her thought on sharing cultural information about Korea while they await their adoption and also what stage they are at.

As for the stage of our current adoption, we are still very early in the process. We have been to the PAC (Pre-adoption Class), and are working on our homework. Once we complete that, our homestudy will begin. When that is approved, we will need to complete a dossier. When the dossier is accepted, we will wait for a referral. Our child will come home 2-3 months after we accept a referral. In short, we have a long road ahead.

For us, I want to share tidbits on African-American culture and a bit about Ethiopia. I hope that this will be interesting information for our family and friends, and those friends who are on the adoptions journey with us.

On January 1st we celebrated Kwanzaa. For those of you who don't know, Kwanzaa is not a religious celebration, but a celebration of African heritage. Many people have commented to me on the fact that many of the African-American people they know don't celebrate Kwanzaa. We will continue to celebrate Kwanzaa to teach Michael (and our future child) about their rich heritage and build the positive self image they deserve. Anyhow, we had a wonderful time. We all tried our hand at making an African or African-American food to share so we ate very well. Some families wore traditional dress. A wonderful gentleman came and taught us about drumming, and how they were used to communicate. Then the children got to drum and play some traditional instruments. Everyone had such a great time, we can't wait until next year!

Now, onto Ethiopia. Ethiopia is a landlocked country on the horn of Africa. It is the second most populous nation in Africa. The capital is Adis Ababa. Ethiopia was the original source of the coffee bean, which remains its largest export. There are 84 indigenous languages (wow)! Approximately 61% of Ethiopians are Christian, followed by 32% Muslim, and the remainder recognize traditional faiths.