Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Very Merry Clevinger Christmas!

Christmas was super special this year! This was Ian's first Christmas in the USA spent with many friends and family. It was very different from the Christmas we spent just one year ago in Ethiopia. I think that Cortney and I had deeper appreciation for the festivities and opportunity to celebrate the way we do. So many do not enjoy this luxury. We tried to impart that on my nieces and nephews as they opened the abundance of presents stacked high in front of the Christmas tree. It is not a reality for them as it has been for our darling M*. Many times we stood back and wondered what she will think of all this next year. The lights, food, singing, games, toys, trees, ornaments.... Most importantly I wonder what she thinks this year. As she celebrates another Christmas without a family. We know she is happy and healthy and we are thankful that she is in the fine care of Gladney. We know that she loves her friends and caregivers but my arms ache to hold her and I can't wait to be her mother.

Ian played and played...and played with his cousins. He had so much fun and he was so good! He ate tons of food, lots of ice cream at Nana's house and had the world's worst belly ache! It was my best Christmas ever! It was the Christmas I've dreamed about. Watching my son be amazed by the lights and pretty paper. Watching him enjoy our families and play with the train around the tree. This was what I had as a child and just what I wanted for him. other words.

We continue the count down to court. I have not packed or made a list of things to pack or stocked up on things or any of the neurotic things I did last year. I am too afraid of not passing court and facing months more of delays. We always hope that it will not be this way but with international adoption you just never know. We are bracing ourselves for the worst but praying for the optimal outcome.

Happy New Year!

Ian and Papaw playing 52 card pick-up!
Ian and Uncle TT tooting on the flute

My pretty baby

The toy of all toys...the one that made him screech in horror when he had to get off and go to bed...consequently the toy that was parked beside of our bed for 3 days.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

1 year ago today...

I guess every person has little anniversaries that stick out from the normal day-to-day. Things aside from birthday, wedding, holiday, proposal... As an adoptive mom I celebrate things like "Referral Day", "Court Date", and the most wonderful of them all, "In My Arms Forever day". I remember each event that led up to that moment when two very weary travelers, who had braved over 60 hours of missed flights, lay-overs, and airline changes and 10 pieces of perfectly matched luggage, arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was here that one tiny boy was waiting to steal us from the childless life we looked forward to leaving behind. With pounding hearts and tear filled eyes, our in-country rep handed this perfect little person to me, to be with me forever. I stroked his head and kissed his cheeks like I had been dreaming of doing since the beginning of the daunting paperchase. I squeezed him tightly and allowed myself to be mesmerized by his beauty. He was mine. Finally we had him.

Those days that followed were magical. We have watched him grow from a shaky, unenthusiastic infant to a grown up little boy full of life and love. I have spent 12 months toting him around so prideful I could burst. Proud of my beautiful, intelligent son...proud to be his mother.

We are thankful today for the opportunity to know Ian and to be his parents. We never knew what an amazing journey parenthood would be. Making the trek with him has made life very entertaining to say the least! I know each day that God's plans are perfect. Our family has grown and is continuing to grow in the way God planned. I am just so grateful that His plan included letting Ian be with us.

Here's to one year together!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Since when does an 18 month old not need any sleep? We cut out a the second nap, put him to bed later and still for months he gets up at 2-3am and stays up until 5-6am. Once in a while he will throw us a bone and sleep all night...maybe 1 night a week if we are super lucky. He doesn't cry at night. Just screams in delight, claps his hands, jibber jabbers, yells mommy and daddy. You name 3am he is doing it. We try to take turns getting up but really he will not let anyone sleep. Mystery. Today he had zero nap time. No nap. You would have thought that he would just fall over somewhere asleep..nope. He will not go to sleep unless I have adequately rocked, hummed, shook, juiced...ahhh. Sweet sleep...I miss it.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


WE HAVE A COURT DATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! January 27th is hopefully the day our sweet girl will officially become a Clevinger.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

when cousins come to visit

plenty of creative play
two tired boys

Twas the night before Christmas...

This weekend was wonderful. My sister came to visit, we did Christmas shopping (I am finished!!), got Ian's picture taken at the mall with Santa (not so fun for him), and ate at the Ethiopian restaurant with the Breedlove family.

I got a chance to reflect on how wonderful my life is this weekend. I am so blessed with amazing family and friends.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Pretty Pictures

My little cutie in his sissy's room! Reading the paper...

Future scholar

Court date, you ask? "No", I say. Irked, you ask? "Yes", I say. Still no court date and as far as we know at this point we are no closer now than we were when our dossier arrived on 7-7-08.
We are looking forward to spending our first Thanksgiving with Ian. He is truly an amazing little spirit. I know that I am supposed to say those things because he is mine but honestly...amazing. He is saying everything. He will try to say anything at least once. He woke us up this morning standing in the bed singing the theme song to Sponge Bob Squarepants. He isn't allowed to watch that show but apparently it has a nice enough ring to it that he remembered the melody of the song from the few times he's heard it! He loves football...calls it buttball! Anything pertaining to football catches his attention and gets a loud buttball screamed out! Too cute for words. He says crazy things like doctor and Pacey and out, up, down, in, shoes, get the point. His personality is captivating and I guess I never expected him to be his own little person this early. He makes up songs where momma is the only word in the song and it melts my heart. This was the parenthood I was so ready and waiting for. I love this...every moment...even the nights when Ian thinks that morning has come at 2am and we don't go back to sleep until 30 minutes before I have to get up for work!!! Fun times.
Enjoy the pictures and have a blessed and wonderful holiday season.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

a weekend of fun

This weekend was packed with fun! Ian went trick-or-treating for the first time ever and he was a little pro! He didn't seem to understand why we didn't go in all of the houses. Eventually he got the hang of grabbing some candy and leaving! He also got to go to his very first UK basketball game!! He really enjoyed it but again didn't understand why he couldn't play with the ball too!
I wish I had an adoption update to give but even thinking about it at this point is too difficult. Soon, I will talk about the events that have transpired...for now know that we are waiting impatiently for our sweet love to be with us.

Monday, October 13, 2008

From the beginning

One year ago today I was working on a busy Monday and a single phone call changed my life..past, present, and future. With a single sentence a voice on the other end of a phone dubbed us as...parents. Parents to an amazing little adventerous, Ian Parker Surafel. A little boy who was lying on a mattress in front of a foster center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia the first day I ever laid eyes on him. A perfect little face with big brown eyes who looked up at me for the very first time and fell asleep in my arms minutes later. All of these events stem from this day one year ago when I first heard of this 5 month old, 10lbs, baby boy named Surafel meaning seraphin and cheribum from the bible.

If you read our blog you know how much our lives have changed over the past year. Ian has blossomed from this tiny, little, fraile being to a strong-willed, smart, inquisitive, assertive little boy. He steals my heart with every look and re-confirms the power of love with each action. One year of knowing him has brought our family more joy than we could've ever imagined.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Inability to blog

You may have noticed that I haven't updated you on our adoption or shared any cutsie pictures of my precious baby boy. There is a reason. I have resigned from blog stalking, "FBI" watching, sharing, catching up, and anything to do with timelines, time tables, courtdates, etc. I become physically ill at the thought of court being open and our file being out in Never Never Land. My daughter's room is finished, her picture is plastered on every wall of the house, my heart is prepared and we are ready for her arrival. I NEVER wanted to feel this feeling again. My heart racing, pounding, the anticipation of waiting on a phone call and a date that she will officially become ours. I set out to focus on Ian and not think so much about the wait. But Monday, the switch flipped and my ability to wait patiently diminished. So long voice of reason...hello full on panic mode. Pray it ends...soon.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Finally...the Clevingers meet the Bakers!!!

This weekend we got to have a delightful dinner with two amazing people and their stunningly beautiful Ethiopian daughter. Having gone step-by-step through this process alongside this family made this meeting even sweeter. About a year ago we were so excited to find another KY family adopting from Ethiopia...The Bakers. We waited anxiously to receive our I-171Hs and then the tumultuous wait for a referral. We had plans to meet in Addis, as they left and we arrived, however the epic that was our trip delayed us so much that we missed seeing them. So finally, on Friday night, wet met the Bakers and darling Sophia! Ian was a little Romeo at first trying to get an keep her attention. Then he put on a squealing show, stole everything she tried to play with, and ended with some good natured toy throwing! We crawled around in the floor of the restaurant and took lots of pictures of the two of them. It was inexplicably nice to talk to these people. They know our plight. Not necessarily just the adoptive parent aspect, but the new parent aspect. The toddler parent aspect. The interracial family aspect. I am so thankful that Ian and Sophia will be long time friends but I am even more grateful that we finally have the Bakers in our circle to lean on for advice and support during this adventure called parenthood.

This boy knows his way around a computer and a Blackberry!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Dancing baby

Spokesperson for Gold Fish crackers!

He is showing his strong face!

Ian is quite the little dancer these days! He knows its cute so he uses it as a way to divert attention when he is being mischievous!

We don't really have anything to report on the adoption front. The courts are closed and scheduled to reopen the last week of September. We will keep our fingers crossed that we get a court date and travel plans before Christmas. My optimistic side is absent these days. I try to remember that the blessings are the children not my time lines being granted. I was able to send two care packages to our little darling this month. I look so forward to getting some new pictures of her and finding out if she was happy. I know that knowing about us could possibly be taking a toll on her. As children leave the place she is now I worry that she may wonder why we aren't coming. In the letters I send her I tell her that we are trying very hard to get all of the paperwork together. It is a process that is difficult for many adults I know to understand much less a precious child waiting for parents. Where oh where did my positive attitude go??

We are trying to keep busy and doing a great job at it. Playtime around here is 24/7. Ian is trying to get over a nasty little ear infection and runny nose. I think it is mostly allergy related but I dread the coming months of winter sickness.

Ian is doing and saying everything. He is a total mocking bird so you have to be careful about what is said. If I am on the phone griping about something he walks around the room acting like he is fussing at someone. I am teaching him bad habits! Oops! He knows who we all are now and freely points everyone out in pictures. I finally get my own title now. Before I was either Sissy or Daddy. Thank goodness he throws me a bone every now and then! Ian is still sleeping in our bed. He starts every night in the pack and play (since the crib is all the way upstairs and down a hall) and about 1 am he wakes up (completely if I don't hurry) and wants in our bed, wants a cup of juice and wants his mommy to snuggle him up. I have learned to do things in my sleep that I never knew possible and not even remember that I did them until I find evidence the next morning. I have learned that intermittent sleep is better than no sleep. I have learned that the kitchen is a long way from the bed...come prepared for war. I have learned that Ian's back has a spring in it that prohibits him from laying in bed and going to sleep the easy way. I have learned that it isn't bedtime until I have broken a sweat, spilled juice all in the bed, and jiggled my leg until the muscle revolts in fatigue! I have also learned that if it can electrocute, fall on, or otherwise harm, it must be a fun toy, why else would mommy run and shriek every time I get near it?? My day is about keeping him alive and assembled. I am learning the joys of parenting a toddler boy. What a joy this child brings me and what a blessed mother I am. Enjoy the video.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Thankful for the many blessings

Loving the view but needing a nap (note the favorite blankie that used to be mine)!
Don't forget me! Yipee!
All tuckered out after the Wacky Bear experience=)
Mommy and her sweet boy!

Where do I start? Bad news first. Belay informed Natalie that our dossier will not be ready to submit to the courts prior to the closure. That insures a Nov/Dec travel. This makes us very sad that we most likely will not be with M* on her birthday. The waiting will be very difficult but we are understanding of the immense amount of work the in-country staff is doing to help SO many families be united with their children. God's timing. Apparently He has something in store for us or our sweetie girl in the meantime. So we wait and pray.

The good news. I am thoroughly entertained by a world class comedian, actor, singer, musician, and A number one ham! The fabulous, amazing, Ian. He keeps my cheeks sore from smiling and laughing at the quirky little things that he never stops doing! Cute baby story: Last night I got Ian out of the tub and wrapped him up in a towel. Cortney was getting ready for bed in the bathroom. As we left the bathroom, un-cued, Ian says, "Bye Da-Da". He is 1, when did he start speaking in sentences??? Appropriate rhetoric at age 13 months? We were both laughing so hard and Ian started fake laughing because he wasn't sure what was funny! Amused I tell you...thoroughly amused!
We got an update on our sweetie girl. She said that she was a little scared about the adoption and to tell her family that she loves us. We also got her sizes and she is oh so small. Cortney's good cooking will put some much needed weight on her quickly I am sure. Since we were in the Smokey Mountains this weekend we got to do some serious shopping for our little darling. I went nuts! Girls stuff is wonderful! I loved each little outfit I put together and all of the accessories! It was kind of like some much needed therapy! Then I brought all of the clothes home and put them in the closet that will not be used for at least 4 months=(
Ok, so there is the update. The good, bad and not so ugly. I am counting my many blessings tonight and praying that God will love and keep our daughter, displaced by many miles. I have to admit that this is the feeling that I most dreaded of the whole process. Preparing the dossier is tedious, time consuming process but at least it takes your mind off of the fact that you have a child 9000 miles away.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Reading baby and why won't my book close?

Seriously Mommy? Put the camera away=)

I think the video I have uploaded shows the benefits of reading to even the youngest of babies! We have always read to Ian and in the beginning a book was judged most on taste but now we are starting to look at content!!!

Last night was the first night since we came home that Ian slept all night without waking up any and in his own bed!!! I got up at 4am so startled because he was still asleep in his own bed! I ran over and checked to make sure he was okay then with a big smile stretched out in my bed! It was a good sleep for all of us!!

I tried taking pictures of Ian in his little Ethiopian outfit the past two mornings. He is less than amused by my photo shoots and tells me off while I'm chasing him around snapping pictures. I am inspired by the recent photos on the Breedlove blog. She does such a good job of capturing the true essence of her subject. I have always tried to get that picture that really stands out above all the other million snapshots I run around taking! I think 50% of my problem is me but I have to give some discredit to my camera...time for a new one!!!

Our dossier is in Ethiopia as of yesterday. It will spend the next few weeks getting translated into Amharic. In the meantime I am trying to put together a photo album with all of the things M* may see when she gets home. I read somewhere that it is good to send photos of everything so she can get familiarized with her new home even before she sees it in person. Hopefully there will be some families traveling before the shut-down and maybe we can send it by one of them if they aren't already overloaded with stuff!!!

Until next time...enjoy the video of Ian reading his book and figuring out why it just won't close!! I probably should have helped him, but it made a great video watching him figure it out!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Moving right along

Our dossier is in transit to Addis Ababa and is scheduled to arrive on July 7th. At that point there is nothing we can do except wait. Unfortunately, I anticipate our travel to be in Nov/Dec due to the rainy season and usual backlog of cases after the government closure. I am prepared for this and I am trying to enjoy the final months of our family of three!

Ian is doing so many things now. I was watching some old video today while uploading this video and I was amazed at how much he has changed in just 1 month. He is so much more steady now when he walks and he is repeating and mimicking every single thing he sees. He is such a little chatter box!

I have been reading some books on older child adoption and I catch myself being very naive at times. I have never parented an 8 year old child so I guess I just don't really know what to expect. Our social worker was very persistent in making certain that we are aware of all challenges we may be up against, but I keep thinking how it just won't be like that for us. Don't get me wrong, I know that she will probably have many issues with boundaries and defiance. I also know that grief and loss cause a whole host of issues. But in my mind at the end of the day I picture her being loving and happy to be part of our family. Check back in 6 months and I may be singing a different tune!

For now, enjoy this video of Ian admiring a picture of his sister-to-be. Be amazed at my nearly 13 month old son acting like a big boy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Best Worst Day

This is the day that tried to break me down. It all started at the brink of a new day...12am. I was sitting on the couch catching up with a friend whose ailing father is in ICU when I hear little squeaks of cry come across the baby monitor. I run into the bedroom and scoop my little bundle up out of the pack and play and crawl into bed with him as I do every night. However, Ian had a different plan for the night. He was awake...wide a-freakin-wake! So until nearly 2 am I rocked and cajoled my little pumpkin trying to use my special mommy powers to persuade him into sleep. Nothing doing. After two hours of playful slaps, not so soft kisses, and swift kicks to the head (all inflicted upon the poor, unsuspecting parents!)...he slept. My alarm started shrieking at 6:20am and I jumped out of bed and hopped in the shower. I am always late meeting my sister to drop Ian off but I was determined to be on time despite my 4 hours of sleep. Then the phone rings and it goes something like this...

Brother-in-law: Linds

ME: Jamie has a stomach virus (I knew this because she has three kids, 2 of whom had a stomach virus last week)

Brother-in-law: Yep

ME: Gulp..

Why did I gulp you may be asking? Because I knew that no one else was going to be available to watch Ian today and I was pretty sure that I couldn't call in sick because without a pharmacist the pharmacy would be closed for the day. So I call my boss and explain that I need to use one of my 16 personal days because of this situation. He politely tells me that we don't have anyone to come in and help me, so...I am just out of luck. Then I do what any daycare fearing mother does...take Ian to work! For 9 hours, until Cortney got off work, Ian worked with mommy at the drug store counseling patients and eating popsicles! I was sooo nervous about how he would do since he is the squirreliest of one year olds! He greeted customers, made their wait times a little more interesting, engaged in several games of catch with the balls he got off the shelves, and amused the heck out of our staff! At the end of the day I was thankful to know that he isn't quite as rotten as I thought and wow is he fun to be around!

You would think that it is over, right?

When Cortney got home I called and asked him to check my email even though I really wasn't expecting anything only to find...a letter from M*!! Natalie said that before she could even send our letter and picture that Ryan (Gladney in-country representative) had sent her a letter that M* had written. M* didn't know the specifics about us but she did know that she has been matched with a family. The letter was incredible. I needed to hear each word that she wrote. She put many of my fears of her not wanting or accepting the situation, to rest. I was very worried that she would be angry about getting a new family or that she would not want a new family. I understand that at some point she will probably have me eating my words, but she seemed really excited about everything! I have read the letter many times already and looked at every detail. I am thankful for this gift that we have been so blessed to receive. Somewhere this little girl is thinking about her family in America and all of the greatness that she associates with this ideal. Knowing that she knows makes this all seem very real. It also makes the wait just a little more miserable.

Get the bowl off my head!

Our family photos...the last piece of the dossier! See ya dossier!