Sunday, May 27, 2007

I wanna be the one in control

Frequent readers of this post know that one of our favorite family routines is Marin blessing the meal in her native Amharic. The children at the orphanage in Addis cover their eyes with their hands when they pray (important to remember this fact).

Sometimes Marin will hold us hostage at mealtime by refusing to say the prayer, and Emmy is not old enough to know the prayer, so we just coax Marin along until she says it.

Yesterday Colleen was fed up with Marin so Colleen started to say the blessing in English. Marin ran over to Emmy and whispered in her ear (Marin whispers at about 90 decibels) "Emmy. Mommy prayer. Don't close eyes. OK?" It was Marin's form of a hunger strike, I guess, and she was dragging her sister into it for solidarity.

Too hot, Baby

Friday afternoon was our first really hot day, about 96 when I picked the kids up from daycare. I had the AC in the car blasting full bore. That wasn't enough for Marin.

She was in the back seat chewing me out like there was no tomorrow.

"Daddy! Daddy! Too Hot! Too Hot!"
" Daddy need tissue. Wipe head. Wipe head!"
"Daddy open door" (we're on a highway at this point)
Daddy! Look at me. Shirt is wet. Shirt is wet!"

And the look on her face was priceless. Something like "If I could only reach your throat right now you better believe I would choke the very last breath from your miserable life, you SOB"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Oh won't you staaayeeeaaaay (jackson Browne)

This morning I went to wake the girls.

Meron was already upright in bed. She took one look at me in my suit and said "Stay! Daddy Stay. No working. Stay". And then she started crying.

I had this totally mixed emotion of:
(1) Happy. because Wow! She really enjoys spending time with us as a family and we are doing a good job of bonding.
(2) Bummed. Because I would really like to spend the whole day with them, too.

Luckily next weekend is a three day weekend.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Our kids way over respond when they know or believe someone else is sick.

For example, at school, if a teacher or kid they like calls in sick, our kids will cry and be bummed out all day.

After talking with other Ethiopian families that experienced similar things, we have a theory.

In Ethiopia, people die when they get sick. Even a common cough, to which we do not give a second thought, is often tuberculosis or some other killer in Ethiopia.

So for us, sick means I'm a little under the weather. For our kids, sick means you're gonna die and I'm going to face another loss. That's why they react so powerfully.

Rat me out

I get home last night and Meron is all excited to see me, in a devious sort of way. She waves me to bend over so she can whisper in my ear. She says "Emmy school po-potty fellante" (Emmy accidentally peed her pants at school today). Then she giggled and danced a jig.

Kids can be so mean. I hope Meron does not grow up to be a mean girl. She's pretty enough and smart enough to be really good at it.

Button Pusher

Emmy is a pro at discovering people buttons, and then just pushing it endlessly.

At day care, Emmy met a little boy (Brady) who she thinks is fond of Meron. So Emmy starts in with "Meron naughty". Sure enough, Brady stands right up for Meron. "No she is not. Meron is a nice girl. I like her".

Big mistake. Emmy practically puts herself into a trance with her incessant monotone chant of "Meron naughty". Brady was having a triple heart attack in his zeal to defend Meron's honor. While Brady is flailing and sputtering, Emmy just sits as calm as the eye of a hurricane, expressionlessly staring at Brady, secure in the knowledge the teachers will not let Brady hit her, and taunts Brady with "Meron naughty".


Our kids are doing really good at practicing their English, but sometimes they mix words in the funniest ways.

For example, last night Meron was looking at the pics in a National geo and telling me what they were. She came across a particularly beautiful photo. She says "Daddy, daddy, Look me. This picture is delicious!"


There are still so many things our kids have never seen before and don't understand.

Colleen was putting on nylons while dressing for work the other day. Emmy was observing. She had never seen nylons and wanted to touch them. So Colleen let her. Then the questions began.

"Why? Why you do that? Why, mommy? Why?" How do you explain nylons to a two year old who doesn't speak English?

Colleen chuckled and commented "millions of women ask that question every day".

Bottoms up

The other morning Colleen was snuggling with Emmy and giving her love. Colleen was kissing Emmy in appropriate places, and naming them before she kissed them.

Face, Nose, Ear, other ear, hand, finger, thumb, etc. It was bonding and helping Emmy to learn her body parts.

Suddenly Emmy says "Mommy, bottom. Mommy kiss bottom" To which Colleen replies not. Then Emmy says "Why? Why? Why?" Colleen just starts laughing uncontrollably.

Finally Emmy says "Gross??" We don't know where she learned that word.


While I was away for a few days business trip, Colleen's Mom bought the girls a little nerfy style baseball and bat. When I got home, Meron could not wait to tell me about it. So I'm politely listening while she rambles on excitedly.

Colleen says to me "why don't you throw her a pitch?" and I gave her this look like "as if".

Meron smacked the ball so hard it ricocheted off three walls in the playroom. 5 pitches, same result. I could not believe it. Meron just stands there grinning all proud of herself and saying "Daddy, high five, Meron good job!"

Colleen told me her father threw about 50 pitches and Meron hit almost all of them with authority. Unbelievable. We know there were no baseballs and bats at the orphanage. The kids would have beat the stuffing out of each other.

Meron's schooyard accident

I pick up Meron after daycare. She is in a corner of the playground all ashen and withdrawn. As I approach her, she begins to cry. Real waterworks. Turns out she had tripped and skinned her knee and was feeling very bad about it. I gave her some love, got her pepped up, and buckled her in the car for the ride home.

I got on the cell and gave Colleen the heads up. Meron was great in the back seat. Singing and telling me stories.

As soon as we arrived home, drama queen kicked in. What a show she put on for Colleen! "Mama, hurt, hurt, Bleeding, Bleeding, Don't touch, Don't touch, need icy, need icy" It was Oscar worthy.

The best part is when we asked her to walk from the den to the kitchen for dinner. She said she can't walk, and she started hopping on one foot. She was hopping on the foot of the same leg she had injured!! It was too much. Colleen and I burst out laughing. Meron, realizing the gig was up, got even more upset and started yelling "Not funny! Not funny!"

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Firrst day back at work

Colleen's FMLA leave ended on Monday. Ever since last Friday, she has been running around like a crazy lady all stressed out about how she was going to balance everything and be ready to transition back into her job. It has taken a toll on us all.

So I take the kids to daycare and as soon as we get inside the foyer they just go crazy. Running around in circles, flapping there arms, shaking their heads, and babbling nonsense. It was like some coked out witch doctor doing a rain dance or something.

When they finally paused to catch their breath, I asked them what they are doing. They said "Mommy doing go to work".

First Skunk

Yesterday we were riding to work/daycare and Emmy complained she was "tookoos" (too hot) so I cracked some of the windows to cool her down. Shortly afterward, we passed a freshly killed skunk.
You know how that smell just kind of smacks you in the face and makes you gag? So I looked in the rearview for the kids expression. Meron's eyes were watering and she said "Mendayo?!Daddy Mendayo?!" (What is that?)
Emmy started making up a song about P.U. P.U. and holding her nose.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Emnet Combat

She's only two and a half years old, but the girl is brutal. I've seen her in action and it looked like she can inflict pain, but last night I was the victim.

While I was sitting, Emmy casually walked up beside me and blasted the heel of her hand under my jaw while yelling "Chin up!" It totally caught me by surprise. You just don't expect such violent power, decisiveness, and coordination from a little girl. Just as I was about to scold her, she seized the palm of my hand and pinched the fleshy part. She has these tiny razor sharp nails so I saw every star in the galaxy as I screamed. She smiled sweetly when I screamed and looked around to see if anyone else was enjoying it as much as she was. When I grabbed her wrist to pull her away, she punched me in the crotch with her other hand. I swear to God it was like fighting a Ninja. She anticipated my every move and had a very well placed counter move already in motion. Colleen was just howling with laughter. Meron had this look of amused disbelief on her face. Something like "Wow. I wonder if I could do that?"

I pity the first kid at school who steals Emmy's lunch. I'll probably have to defend her against manslaughter charges.

Meron Rides a Bike

Well, actually it was a trike. How do I know? Meron told me.

When I got home yesterday, Meron rushed the door and said "Daddy, Daddy!! Meron. Outside. Bike. Good job." Colleen translated that Meron learned to ride a trike outside at school today. She even got a certificate of achievement. Meron was so proud.

So tonight I dug a couple of old trikes out of the garage overhead and let the girls pedal around the driveway. They are so cute. They had a ball.