When Walgreens had a sale on little photo books over Mother's Day, I jumped at the chance. Using the pictures I took during my stay in Ethiopia, the plane ride and her homecoming, I put together 20 pages of photos and a little story of Abi coming here. I included pictures of her biological family, the nannies who loved her, and our driver, who called himself her big brother.
All this is an attempt on my part to give her a little grasp of her own story, her roots, and the love that Cody's birth mom showers on him that she will never get.
She loves the book already, carrying it around and reading it over and over. She calls herself a "baby" in the book and asks about her shaved head. She remembers the airplane ride, and seeing a picture in the book caused great excitement. She was also thrilled with the picture of her adoptive family welcoming her at the airport, even though she was asleep at the time.
Another reason for the pictures is that she is losing vision. She may not be able to see pictures of her Ethiopian birth family much longer.
Our busy Sunday started when Hubby got up at 6 to put a dish of BBQ beef into the oven that I had prepared the night before. He's been struggling a lot with insomnia lately, so when I got up, I sent him back to bed for an hour or two.
Next on the agenda was helping Little Mister add a layer of papier mâché to his piñata. Then, since I had to be at church an hour early to run the sound board for the worship team, I hopped on Hubby's bike and rode the two miles over there.
After church, we took the BBQ beef over to friends' house. Lunch, singing and board games filled the afternoon, while the kids played outdoors on their wooded property. Curly in particular had a ball playing outdoors among the trees.
These particular friends often have a lot of questions about how I function without normal sight. They want to know how much I can see, and seem curious how I bike, cook, play board games, operate a sound mixing board, wrangle Goombas, teach homeschool, extract a sliver from Abi's finger, play music... I'm never entirely sure how to answer. I just do it. Hubby and I joked the other day about the ubiquitous travel safety advice: "You'd be safer sitting at home and maybe knitting something. Bonus, you can listen to the radio while you knit!" Well, I do enjoy a spot of quiet knitting, but only when nicely sandwiched between lots of other adventures!
Although it was just an average springtime Sunday, it seemed special. Now, at home, with Bean lacking a nap, I'm ready to have a quiet evening, and put him to bed early.
As an unschooler, it feels really strange to say we're "done with school" for the year. Learning doesn't stop just because we no longer have to sit at the computer and mark off lessons. So, I guess I'll say that Little Mister fulfilled all of the state's requirements for first grade.
One of the most common questions homeschoolers get asked is, "Whataboutsocialization?" as if fifteen minutes of hiding from playground bullies at school recess is the only effective socialization kids can get. (Sorry for the snark. Personal experience speaking here.)
The answer, quite obviously, is "other homeschoolers!" We get together with other families several times a week, and homeschooling families usually have time during the school day to socialize, since school work for us can be condensed into a few hours (this becomes easy when you have a class size of just a couple of kids, no need to wait in lines, do busy work, hold extensive review sessions, etc).
We spent all morning with friends playing dress-up, swinging, stringing beads, building things in the sand box, and learning to share. As a bonus, we walked the eight blocks to get there, which is good fresh air, exercise, and was super practice for Abi for Orientation and Mobility, since she wanted to walk by herself without holding my hand. She had to do some clever cane work, because the sidewalks in our town have big cracks in them every few feet due to all the tree roots pushing them up.
This particular family seems a lot like ours in that the older kids attend the local Christian school, while the younger ones are homeschooled. Like us, too, they plan to homeschool everybody next year, mostly for the financial savings. Unlike us, they are moving away, and I'm going to really miss them!
Here's Abi with a Biscuit book. I transcribed it for her on separate Braille paper, and had her practice tracking the Braille with her left hand while she held the print book and enjoyed the pictures with her right. (We will work on reading with both hands, I promise!)
Like any typical beginning reader, she tracked the line with help, used clues like word length and a few first letters to help her remember the repetitive story. She memorized it quickly, as this was only her first day and third time with this particular story. For a pre-kindergartener, she is doing fantastic in her reading skills!
Yesterday, we drove up to CdA to see Miss A. She was in town for a short amount of time before she headed back to the midwest, where she's living and working right now. She was thrilled to see Bean, and gave him some presents that she'd saved for him.
Miss A with her folks. They were glad to see Bean too, and were amazed at how he'd grown.
Bean wanted to go down and play in the water. I was worried that it would be cold, but it was lovely, and the kids all got wet and had a great time.
Miss A wanted a "mom" name for Bean to call her. Since we have so many grandmas, most of the common ones were taken, but we came up with a fun one together: Mimi.
I was glad we could see her on Mother's Day weekend, but after leaving Abi in Addis Ababa last year while we waited to bring her home, I have a lot better idea of the grief that Miss A has to endure every time she says good bye. I know some birth moms choose not to visit for that reason. Saying good bye is just so darn painful. Miss A chooses to keep visiting so that Bean knows that she loves him and that he was not abandoned by her. I feel grateful that she does this for him; at the same time, visits are difficult for everyone. They're painful and emotional for her, a little awkward for me and uncertain for Bean. Still, I feel strongly that they are the right thing to do.
With Bean visiting Miss A, Abi had all sorts of questions about her past. Why can't she get presents from her birth mom? Her questions re-opened all the grief I feel about the sad story of her past, and I really struggled emotionally all weekend.
I tried to enjoy the motherhood praise swirling around me, but the grief I felt over my adopted children and some hurtful comments from my own parents last year made today more sad than happy for me. Even with forgiveness, there is still hurt and grief, and some things run too deeply to heal without scars. Thankfully, Hubby and the kids understood, and instead of making a big deal, Hubby gave me some pink carnations and let me take a nap.
In reflecting on Mother's Day, and watching my silly sons play on the couch, I am extremely grateful for my children, and grateful for the blessing they are to me. I think I understand Abi when she just can't quite manage to be happy on a holiday, though. Sometimes, the good things in life come along with sad things, and that is okay.
I can't believe the school year is already drawing to a close! It seems like yesterday that we were worrying and praying about whether to send Abi to preschool or not, and if it would harm or help our bonding.
Well, as previous posts have shown, Teacher Marnie blew our expectations out of the water! Abi thrived there, and it has been a fantastic year. I'm so grateful to my friend Arla for driving us there twice a week too.
The other day, Abi's preschool class took a field trip to the local gymnastics center. I'd hoped to see Bean interact with the gymnastics equipment, because he's unusually strong for a little kid (he can do pull-ups, and sit-ups like nobody's business, can run fast and jump high, and loves to be active). Although he has a lot of talent, the field trip showed me that we need to wait a while until he has a little longer attention span to learn a structured discipline like gymnastics. For now, free play is just what he needs.
The field trip was a blast, though. Hubby and I both went. I don't remember ever going on a preschool field trip before, although I've been on plenty of trips with homeschool groups before. Bean and Mister both got to go too, and both had a great time. Even though Mister is six, he is not particularly gifted physically, so the three and four-year-old activities suited him just fine.
Today was Ethiopian Orthodox Easter, so we celebrated by wearing "Yeh bahel libs" (traditioanl clothes) and having a coffee ceremony and big Ethiopian feast at some friends' house. My friend B's mom was born in Ethiopia as the daughter of missionaries, so we chatted about the culture and enjoyed the food together.
I did a coffee ceremony for them, and they LOVED it! I also wore my ugly glasses, which shows great personal growth, I think. I didn't get a headache, but my eyes are really tired.
For the feast, my job was to provide injera. I was really nervous, making injera for someone who grew up in Ethiopia and ate the real thing a lot. Happily, she loved my injera! Yay!
We all pitched in with recipes, and ended up with seven different kinds of "wat" and "alicha" (stews) as well as cheese and a delightful honey mead. All of us ate until it hurt.
The kids, who take the cultural happenings for granted, just had fun running around with each other, screaming their heads off and enjoying the lovely spring weather. Hubby and I had a wonderful time, hanging out with friends and enjoying the new-to-us ancient culture that we've discovered along with our beautiful princess.