Thursday, November 29, 2007

I love you Baba.

Baba is the Amharic word for father.

Marin never called me Baba. She has always called me Daddy. Last week she started calling me Baba and has called me that exclusively since then.

It was really emotional for me. I may be reading way t0o much into this because our kids are total pranksters and they are always searching for new ways to mess with our heads, but it feels like she is finally truly accepting me as her forever father.

What is it with Stickers??

Last weekend Emmy developed a ridiculous fever - 103 at one point - so I got her to the Doc first thing Monday AM.

As we sat in the waiting room, Emmy was practically comatose in my arms. Same in the exam room. The Doc was poking and prodding her ears, eyes, nose. Took a throat culture. Slapped that freezing cold stethoscope in her back and chest. Emmy was silent and motionless through the entire process - just giving us a vacant stare under heavy eyelids.

So I grab the prescription, bundle Emmy up, and am heading out to the car when Emmy suddenly comes to life. "Daddy. Stop. Stop now." she whimpered. I asked her what was wrong, thinking she had to use the potty. Emmy says "Doctor supposed to give me stickers. Go ask him."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tooth Fairy

Marin lost her first tooth this week. Lower left side incisor. It had been loose for fourscore and 20 years but finally gave out. As the day of reckoning approached, her older cousins schooled Marin in the ways of the tooth fairy.

So D-Day arrives 11/26 at the kitchen table just before dinner. Blood everywhere. Marin with a look of total panic on her face because she can't figure out where the blood is coming from and why it won't stop. Colleen gets that under control with an ice pack.

Fast forward to bedtime, Marin is freaking out. She is afraid of the tooth fairy.
"Why he come in my room?"
"What if he hurt me?"
" Boy or girl? Tooth fairy boy or girl?"
" Daddy sleep with me."

So we finally get Marin calm enough to fall asleep. She wakes at midnight and hollers for me. She tells me how scared she is of the tooth fairy. I pulled the quarter from under her pillow and said "Look, the tooth fairy is already come and gone". I have never seen such a deeply satisfied expression of relief come across anybody's face as I saw on Marin just then.
"He gone Daddy? Tooth fairy all gone? What he give me?"

The quarter was in a ziplock bag (easier to find) and Marin lay there shaking the quarter in the bag for about 30 mins - this look of total amazement and bewilderment on her face. Like "how the heck did the tooth fairy do that without me knowing it?"

The next morning Marin is telling Emmy all about what happened and tossing the quarter from one hand to the other. Emmy sat motionless with eyes wide as saucers. When Marin was finished talking, Emmy said - in a total deadpan - "You're kidding." I thought I would bust a gut laughing.

Marin went on to tell Emmy that she had actually seen the tooth fairy and he looks like a butterfly. Then she made a face like a butterfly (I guess that's what it was). Marin will feel pretty foolish some day when she reads this story.

Marin went to school and told everyone she got five dollars for her tooth. Right. The people at school obviously don't know me very well if they fall for that.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Officially recognized

Today our adoption of Marin and Emmy was officially recognized by the State and Federal governments.

I gotta say, Maine really does it right.

They rent out the Portland Childrens Museum for the entire day, and schedule ceremonies at 15 minute intervals, so they can do up to 40 families a day.

We arrive at the appointed time, are ushered into a room with the judge and clerks, a few questions, a few handshakes, a few signatures, a few photos, and we're done.

Then the kids get the run of the museum for as long as they want, with a refreshment room and everything. No lines, no ugly waiting rooms, no stress............just a really fun and memorable day.

Little Addis

We have a booming community of Ethiopian kids in southern Maine, coastal NH, and greater Boston.

Last weekend we went to a beach house in Rye, NH where several different families brought together a total of 12 adopted Ethiopians, 7 of whom lived at the orphanage the same time as our girls did.

It was amazing to watch them recognize each other and start laughing and playing together. What was planned to be a 3 hour event ran into 5 hours as nobody wanted to be the first to leave.

We did nail painting and braids; crafts and cookies; tag, hide and seek, and duckduckgoose.

A total blast for both us and the girls. It felt like we were back at Horizon House.


People in Maine understand you cannot go outdoors in November without wearing blaze orange. You will be shot by some dumb hunter who thought you were a deer and the dumber jury will say "Victim should have known better" as they acquit the hunter. Happens all the time in Maine.

Saturday Nov 3 comes and the girls want to go outside on the swingset. Leo has plenty of blaze orange, but we had totally forgotten about buying some for the girls. After several moments of fretting, we covered them head to toe in hot pink and hoped for the best.

Now the girls are looking at us like we are wacked. They know Colleen usually puts very strict limits on the amount of hot pink worn at any given time. So Marin finally asks "Daddy. What's happening?"

We explained about guns and being shot. The rifle fire booming off in the distance helped the girls to understand. Now, whenever anybody leaves our house, the girls run to the door and say "Gonna be shoot at?"


People who know us know that we are trying to low key most things so our kids do not get caught up in typical American consumerism. Our kids are so grateful and appreciative of even the smallest gestures, and we want to preserve that for as long as possible.

So we explained Halloween is a day when we dress up in costumes and have a party at Cousin Pete's house. Party was Sat 10/28. Pack the costumes away. Done deal. (ahem.....wrong)

I picked Marin up from school on Oct 31. She bops in the car, all smiles, and says "Daddy. Trick or Treating?"

ME: (thinking she is just parroting and not really knowing what she is sayin) What is that?
MARIN: You know. Go to house, ring door, say trick or treat, give me candy.
ME: (under my breath) crap. she knows.

So I Colleen on the phone and say "She knows". Colleen says "Emmy knows, too." I said "damage control." Colleen says "We'll hit 4 places and the kids will think they struck gold."

So that was our Halloween. We had planned to really low key Christmas. You know - focus on food, family, music, and the spirit of Christmas. Now we're bracing ourselves for the Santa express.