Monday, December 31, 2007
I try to write letters to my children on their birthdays to save for when they are older. It's just stuff that describes them at their particular age and what I love about watching them grow up. I had fallen behind on a couple of those, so I accomplished that during my Borders time.
I also browsed through my book called Emotional House. It's good in a zen kinda way. I have gotten a lot of helpful info from it. Just throwing that out there.
Matt and I talked briefly about our past year and all the struggles (moving, adoption, renovating, too much traveling). We agreed that this year we need to focus on our family and home (not House). I'd love to hear routines or ideas that draw your family close or keep the members engaged with each other. Sometimes as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom it's easy to get isolated and not have a clue what's going on with anyone else.
Hudson, our 5yo son, has started answering his own questions when he talks to us. For example, "Mom, do I have my own bike? No." "Do I look like I want to fall asleep? No." "Did I get to play that game? No.?" "Did I get to run errands with dad? No."
Sunday, December 30, 2007
With the New Year fast approaching, I always get this desire to purge all the unwanted things: toys, clothes, clutter, weight, dust. I just want everything stripped down. I can't wait to get the Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving and I can't wait to take it down the day after Christmas. So, tomorrow I'm taking some Personal Time to reflect on the past year and ways to improve the next one. Specifically, I've GOT to come up with some kind of chore system for the kids. As my friend says, "Angel, if you don't have enough time for yourself, then your kids aren't doing enough around the house." I've been intending to implement a chore system for 3 years, but then we move, adopt a child, move again, adopt another child, etc. And I feel like a hamster on a wheel who just can't ever seem to get anywhere. I'm still working on the unplugged plan, too. I bought a great game for Christmas that we all love called Blokus. Look on Amazon.com for it. It has helped us unplug and spend family time together. Some day, when they're all too old to eat the pieces, I want us to get in the habit of having a jigsaw puzzle set up round the clock somewhere in the house. I have lots of lofty goals. :- ) Do not fear, however. I have no intentions of grinding my own wheat and making homemade bread. I tried to make bread once without a bread machine. I could hammer nails with the end result.
The sibling issues are still ever present in our home. Most fingers like to point at Nia, and admittedly, they are usually accurate pointers. Getting her to express feelings is one of our biggest hurdles right now. She just doesn't know how to understand her feelings or express them either. Totally foreign. When we're reading together I'll say how do you think this person feels based on the picture. Then, why do you think they feel this way? How would you feel?
I'll close with a funny about her....when she wants to fry an egg, she'll say, "Ma, please light the fire. " When I turn on the stove eye, she'll look in the cabinet underneath for the fire. When she's done with her egg, "Ma, please off the fire."
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Nia has taken a real love to our dog, Ox. About 7:30pm every night she'll open the back door and say, "Ox is cold. He needs to come in." And in he comes, straight to the boys bed.
Nia is a very hard worker. Today I decided that I couldn't take another minute of the clutter in my house, so I started at the front and worked my way back. Nia joined right in with a great attitude and professional thoroughness. "Ma, I should get the broom?" "Ma, I should dust this?" If my dad was still alive he would've said she worked like a Georgia mule. At supper every night we go around the table and everyone says their favorite thing about the day. Her's was "cleaning with ma." Joy! Joy!
We are potty training Eva this week and Nia is one of her biggest supporters. It might have something to do with the fact that everyone gets a chocolate chip if Eva goes in the potty.
Friday, December 28, 2007
It is a sad day for me professionally. After almost 10 years in the call center business I'm moving on. I just accepted a new position at the company I currently work at. I'm being vague due to random search engines picking up on my company's name and I just rather not draw attention to myself on the wild web.
I have accepted an Account Executive position in our Client Services Division. I will be working with our 2nd largest client. If you know my career it is the company I previously worked for in the wireless industry. Jacob doesn't understand how I can work with my former employer but not for them. He keeps thinking I left my company to go back to the other one. It is great to be working with that company again. I left there on very good terms and look forward to new challenge. The best part of my new job is that I get to play with the latest and greatest cell phones!!!!
Over my 10 years in the call center business I've worked with many great people from a variety of backgrounds; racially, economically, religiously, and sexually. I will miss working with all those who put up with customers yelling at them and yes sometimes me yelling too (ya right I couldn't hurt a flea). In the crazy world of call centers I've been able arrange for a kindergarten class to have a cookie party, get Stephen Baldwin into a certain vehicle I used to work with, get Robert Redford's handler a new cell phone while shooting The Last Castle, and surprise many customers by going the extra mile. On the flip side I've "accidentally" hung-up on customer's who used more foul language and obscene statements than Borat.
I will miss all the lame excuses for reps calling out, some of the classics are (and are all true):
- my cat has a fever
- I ran out of gas and I have a flat tire
- my grandmother Jones died (for the second time that year)
- I was up late working my second job (even though his girlfriend called out the same day saying that she was hung over while parting with her boyfriend -hmm wonder who was the lier)
- I ate Chinese food and have food poisoning
- My electricity went out and I overslept (even though they told me last week they use their cell phone as an alarm clock)
- I ate Mexican food and have food poisoning
- I have a migraine headache (but they could text their co-workers all day long)
- I ate something and have food poisoning
- My car won't start (even though it is a Saturday and someone could take them to work)
- I'm sick and I'm in the process of getting FMLA (aka For My Lazy Ars) for the 4th time this month
- I'm a Seventh Day Adventist and can't work Saturdays (even though she worked the same schedule for the previous 9 months, oh ya and eats meat all the time)
- I'm in jail for the next 90 days for drunk driving. Can you keep my job?
- Last but not least, I ate something that I must be allergic to
How I will miss those lovely calls and the call center in general. One of my bosses used to say that managing a call center is like being a mayor of a small town. He was sooo right.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
The only drawback for Christmas is that now Nia thinks both grandmothers are rich, as well as her parents. "Why you not buy me dat toy?" Compared to the rest of the world, we ARE rich.
Every day is still unpredictable with her, but it's getting better every day, too. This afternoon she played in such a sweet, sisterly way with her 5yo brother, Hudson. She is sharing more, also. We have found that boredom is usually the culprit for Teasing Attacks.
Here's my favorite quote this week: "I was doing the family grocery shopping accompanied by two children, an event I hope to see included in the Olympics in the near future." ~Anna Quindlen
Friday, December 21, 2007
We're heading to Wisconsin to visit Matt's family for Christmas. Nia will most likely freeze her little tail off; it will be in the 20s just about every day. Maybe she'll decide that tights and pants are a good invention. Anyway, we've been letting the kids open one present each day this week to avoid hauling it all up north and risk getting things mixed up with cousins. I have to say, I actually like this idea of one thing a day. You'll never see them so excited about opening socks any other time. I also like that it keeps them from getting overwhelmed with so many things at once. I think this might be the start of a new tradition, maybe saving a big gift for Christmas morning next year and opening the little stuff each day before.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
We need to do more testing to see if she is just a carrier (no symptoms or problems) or if she actually has the virus. The most major concern with Hep C infected people is liver trouble later on. She tested negative for HIV, Hep A, and Hep B.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
"Mom, I'm in here saving the day."
It just reminded me of how God redeems so many of my days when I lose it or don't call on Him first, etc. He saves the days for me over and over. The ultimate Day Saver. One friend of mine was talking about interacting with her children throughout each day, and she said, "Angel, just always try to end the day well, no matter what happened throughout the day."
Have you ever eaten so much red pepper on your food that your BMs burn on their way out? Nia has. Are your BMs red? Nia's are.
Nia's pouting and sulking times are getting shorter (thank God!). I keep reminding her when she decides not to talk to me that she is part of a family now, and families talk to each other. To think that a child has to learn to be a daughter and a sister.....
On a different subject, last night two friends and I had a Christmas Gathering here in the inner city where I live. A friend shared her life story with a group of 40 or so women, and 20 women accepted Christ. Most of them expressed interest in doing a bible study with us in January. Hallelujah!! God loves to Save.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
It's been another hard day with Nia. Whenever I try to have a conversation with her about her behavior, she goes silent, looks in the distance, and pouts. It really tries my patience. I'm just trying to have a conversation with her, communicate lovingly to her, and then she has to go and respond in a &*(%*^@#* way. I took computer and TV away today until she could show me a better attitude. Needless to say, she didn't get much screen time today, which is actually a good thing. I'm still working on the Unplugged thing.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Nia had her first doctor visit today. They drew blood for tests, which required me laying on top of her full-body in order to keep her still enough for the draw. I was sweating by the time they finished. Her doc called this evening to say that some of the bloodwork is already back, and the biggest concern so far is that she is very anemic. More results to come later this week.
The doctor wrote an order for bone testing if we want to get an accurate medical opinion on her age. Her birth certificate says she 11yo, but we will probably "make" her about 8. He seemed to think that age might be closer to the truth.
We're still having some defiance issues. Sigh. I do, however, think we are gaining ground slowly into her heart.
A word about her personality...You can take the girl out of Africa, but....Sunday morning we agreed on a beautiful cranberry-colored dress with sparkling buttons for church. I left her to get ready and she emerged moments before we walked out the front door wearing that beautiful cranberry dress with flip-flops on her feet and a green do-rag on her head.
Saturday, December 08, 2007
Jacob and Clive have their kid's choir performance tomorrow night. Clive stands by his statement after the last practice that "Choir Stinks." Jacob is tired of practice, but for him it's always a party if there's one more person around. Nia has given Eva a new cornrow style. Matt and I took turns holding Eva still whilst she received her new coiff. She's SO tenderheaded. Or Stubborn. Isabel has been moping around the house for 4 days with a low-grade fever. So pitiful, but cute. Hudson, well, he's just Tigger.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
My reason of me writing you this letter it to tell you that I love you but God love you the best. I pray that God will be with you and your family. I want you to please find me a family for me and my brother. I have one brother. My brother name is Seyfou Toe. My best color are orange and yellow.
(I have no less than 50 letters like this from the orphans. Most of them are addressed to "Any Mom and Dad" and they are all asking for families.)
Nia was in my room in Dorm 5, Room 8, but I can not see Nia now. She was a little good girl. When she was going I cry, but one day I will see Nia and her family. Please send me a picture. I am 10 years old. I have one sister and brother. My sister name is Merrous and my brother name is samuel. We do not have mother, but our father is very poor. He don't have anything to give us, so he bring us to this mission for help. Can you please help us? Nia, your friends say hello. May joy be in your new home. Good by.
On the outside of this letter is a note to me, Angel: Please give this letter to any famiily who want to adopt us who love little children.
We have great missionary friends in Liberia who have given us "lessons" in Liberian culture. It's the kind of thing you can't get from a history book, but only from first-hand experience. They said that Liberians only think people are serious if they yell and scream. Otherwise, you probably don't really mean what you say. Well, that explains a lot. Not that I should resort to screaming at Nia, but it helps me understand why she doesn't think I mean what I say. Usually, when I get firm and just a notch or two above normal volume, she begins to obey.
She's starting to read 2-3 letter words, like "me" "see" "eat". She fights doing her reading lesson with me, but I know she feels proud of herself when she reads a word. Since Liberians leave off the last consonants of their words, it's difficult for her to add "d" and "t" to the end of our words. She has a hard time pronouncing them at the end.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
So wrong that someone her age has seen probably more than one person killed. She said she was afraid of police in Liberia. We didn't get around to whether or not she knew the people she saw killed. Someday she may talk about it again.
Anyway, she was disappointed that she had to go to bed when we came home, which led to a pouting session. Unfortunately, she woke up still feeling pouty and started causing trouble with her siblings right off the bat. The morning was spent with her in tears. I hugged, prayed over her, looked her in the eyes and reassured her of my love. Then I kept doing the daily routine.
Somehow, during the course of the morning she switched back to Adorable Child. Not sure what happened, but I was grateful for it. It remains to be seen how many more times she will do The Switch before the day is over. I write all of this mostly for parents who haven't brought their older Liberian children home yet. There's no use acting like everything is rosy. It's good to know what to expect. The hardest part is not letting her isolate during these pouty times. It would be much easier for me to let her close herself in her room until she could emerge as a pleasant child. However, for her attachment issues, I must force her to continue to engage with the family with only small windows of time alone. Remember, I'm not trying to throw my child under the bus and give her a bad rep. I'm simply trying to paint a realistic picture of life after bringing home an older adopted child. My other children definitely have their moments, too. For example, Isabel (3yrs) completely went ballistic in Borders bookstore today because I wouldn't buy all the Diego toys. We walked out of there with every eye in the store fixated on the 7 of us.
Nia is quite adept at frying her own eggs, something my other children haven't been allowed to do yet. Of course, she IS the tallest child in our family, so being able to see what's in the skillet gives great advantage.
Monday, December 03, 2007
101 Fun Things to Do with Kids
1. Go on a nature walk and collect different things. Make a collage with those things. 2. Make cookies together. 3. Draw a family picture. 4. Play charades. 5. Finger paint with shaving cream on paper. 6. Make homemade playdough and sculpt with it. 7. Go to a park and swing on the swings. 8. Go to the zoo. 9. Visit a fire station and take a tour (call ahead.) 10. Fly a kite together. 11. Go to a pond and feed the ducks. 12. Plant a garden. 13. Go to story time at the library. 14. Make instruments out of items around the house. 15. Decorate picture frames or outlet covers. 16. Paint with watercolors. 17. Make paper dolls that look like each child. 18. Work on a scrapbook together. 19. Make homemade ice cream. 20. Make a piñata with Paper-Mache. 21. Go on a picnic. 22. Go for a walk. 23. Sing songs together. 24. Make a gingerbread house out of graham crackers. 25. Find a local farm and take a tour. 26. Go play at an indoor playground (at a mall, restaurant, etc.) 27. Play a sport together. 28. Look through magazines, cut out pictures and make a collage. 29. Visit a children’s museum. 30. Make pudding and finger paint with it. 31. Trace the child’s silhouette on paper and let him color it in. 32. Make a card for someone. 33. Let the child help you make dinner. 34. Make a paper cup telephone. 35. Go to a movie 36. Learn more about your state’s history. Draw the state flag, learn about the state animals, etc. 37. Make crafts with Popsicle sticks. 38. Go for a walk after it rains and stomp in the puddles. 39. Ride bikes together. 40. Rent a video, make popcorn and have a movie night. 41. Plan a family vacation together. 42. Go rollerblading together. 43. Write a story. 44. Read a book together. 45. Make a birdhouse or pine cone bird feeder. 46. Make holiday decorations. 47. Have a tea party. 48. Write a poem. 49. Have a backyard BBQ. 50. Play a family board game. 51. Sleep in backyard. 52. Go to a professional sporting event 53. Go bowling. 54. Play hide and seek. 55. Decorate a T-shirt with paints or markers. 56. Make a homemade journal. 57. Decorate a brown paper bag and play dress up in it. 58. Put on a puppet show. 59. Go to a children’s theater. 60. Make a cereal necklace. 61. Play catch. 62. Take silly pictures and print them or get them developed. 63. Blow bubbles. 64. Play group games like mother may I; red light, green light; and duck, duck, goose. 65. Go to a lake and play on the beach or ride in a boat. 66. Go sledding or skiing. 67. Build a snowman. 68. Roast marshmallows over the stove and make S’mores. 69. Play Frisbee or Frisbee golf. 70. Do science experiments together. 71. Go mini-golfing. 72. Make “oobleck”. 73. Go to a museum. 74. Exercise together. 75. Go hiking. 76. Put on music and dance. 77. Have a paper airplane flying contest. 78. Teach child to sew and make a blanket or a pillow. 79. Go swimming. 80. Make a paper plate mask. 81. Build a crystal radio. 82. Play 20 questions. 83. Spend time learning about another culture. 84. Do the child’s handprints. 85. Start a collection together (i.e. Stamps, coins, stickers, etc.)86. Paint clay pots and plant flowers in them. 87. Draw with sidewalk chalk. 88. Go out for lunch or dinner. 89. Go camping. 90. Tell jokes. 91. Make a meal that you can eat with just your fingers. 92. Make smoothies. 93. Draw pictures with your toes. 94. Go to the mall and eat in the food court. 95. Play with a pet. 96. Color pictures in a coloring book or print out coloring pages from the internet. 97. Make a noodle picture-paint uncooked noodles and glue them to paper. 98. Write letters to family or friends. 99. Have a tickle war. 100. Do a crossword puzzle or word search together. 101. Give them a big hug and tell them you love them!
Friday, November 30, 2007
I was just about at the end of my rope today from general stress of having 6 children between the ages of 3-8, one of which is particularly trying lately. I had considered walking out the front door and locking it behind me so the kids would be safe inside whilst I drove away as far as my gas tank would allow. But God had a different plan in mind. I stumbled onto another mom's blog about being unplugged from TV and all electronic games. Wow, I thought. What bliss....except for all that time I'd have to come up with things for them to do. She just so happened to have many resources and suggestions for play. I took her advice and pulled out some boxes, markers, and crayons and just let the kids go to town with it all. I put on Erin O'Donnell's jazzy Christmas CD, and there was peace at 315 Hancock for about one hour. I've wanted to go Unplugged for several years, but it just seems like an insurmountable task. I think we'd all go through some withdrawal for at least a few weeks before we figured out we could read, play games, and even talk to each other. We don't have Xbox, Wii, or other games I know nothing about. We don't even have cable. However, I still find that we all manage to congregate a little too much in front of screens for mindless entertainment. I'm not poo-pooing TV, so don't go there with me.
So what started out with me wanting to bail on my family this morning ended up as an Okay Day. They even played outside together, and Nia finally wore the little brown tennis shoes I bought her. I guess climbing a fence is daunting in soccer slides. She even tried on the tights and leggings I bought, too. Never mind that she laughed her head off (the Throw Back Your Head kind of laugh) the entire time she wrestled with the tights. At least she tried.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I bought Nia some powdered red pepper that lasted about 5 days before she finished it all. She covers her food with it until it's all red. I ate a small bite of food with that stuff and my mouth was on fire for 1/2 hour. My sinuses, however, were cleared for the day.
Nia has moments of moodiness, pouting, and outright defiance. It's very difficult when she gets mad at us and won't tell us why. She just pouts and ignores us. Personally, God must be pouring out extra mercy and grace on me to keep me from tearing into her when this happens. Amazingly, I've been fairly patient (so far). It's one thing when a 3-yr-old won't get out of the car at church, but another when your 8-yr-old won't budge.
Nia has experienced one nightmare that has brought her into our room in the middle of the night with pajamas soaked from sweat. It was the first time she came to us for any comfort. She said that a large black dog was speaking to her and trying to steal her spirit. I asked if she was talking about Ox, and she said, "No. It wasn't Ox." I truly feel that this child is being tortured by demonic spirits at times. Witch doctors and curses are prevalent in Liberia. If we think that America isn't plagued by demons, then we are fooling ourselves. The enemy has us so pre-occupied with TV, computers, sports, fashion, etc. that he doesn't have to be as blatant with us. Anyway, she refused to go back into her room even in broad daylight without me the next day. She now sleeps with a lamp on. We pray over her every night for protection against harm and fear.
In spite of our difficult times, I am blessed that for several mornings in a row she has come into our room around 6am and climbed into bed with us. It gives us some cuddle time that we don't get throughout the day. She still resists our hugs and kisses (ever tried hugging a tree? They don't hug back). God has really been showing me that it's not Nia's job to give me positive feedback or hugs to fill my tank. It's my job to keep loving her (with His help) and to look to Him to fill my tank.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Our other big YAY is teaching her some computer. I've got her on www.starfall.com , which not only teaches her some reading skills, but also gives her a chance to learn how to use the mouse, etc. She's really caught on quick to both.
Tomorrow is the big Thanksgiving Day at Grandmama Peggy's. Looking forward to introducing my family to my daughter.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
That said, tonight she put herself to work in the kitchen. There is nary a dirty dish nor countertop to be found. When asked at supper what her favorite part of the day was, she replied, "washing the dishes." I have the shiniest kitchen sink in town tonight because of my daughter's relentless scrubbing. Thank you, God! If it were not for these moments of blessings, like how she sings when she does a puzzle, I'd be on heavy medication this week. Fortunately, I've only had to partake of a few glasses of wine so far. (Hi, mom. I'm not an alcoholic.)
I think Nia has a creative streak in her that I am eager to see flourish. She has great attention to detail in her drawings and penmanship. Getting to know her is like de-riddling Clues to a Secret Hidden Treasure Chest. A jewel worth pursuing.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I've also given her a little freedom in the kitchen....adding coffee to her milk, etc. We're still hiding the salt (behind the peanut butter, remember?)
Yesterday was a good visit with our friends, The Allisons, who have umpteen number of bio kids and Liberian children adopted from Nia's orphanage. Per their daughter who interpreted for us, Nia doesn't understand a lot of what we say, but she is happy to be here. Whew!
I bought a beautiful notebook to record things that Nia would tell us about her 8 years in Liberia. You know, things she'll forget over time. The notebook is still empty. I'll just have my pen handy when the time comes.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The Pregont clan made their first public appearance today. We went to church
and then tested the waters even more by going to the mall.
The looks we got at the mall were funny!!! Mouths open wide in surprise
type reactions. Then when we met the Allisons who brought 7 of their 13
children; 4 of their girls are from the same orphanage as Nia. It was nice
for Nia to see some friends. It was nice for us to get encouragement from
parents who've been there done that.
It was a cold shoulder morning and afternnon from Nia. She cried all the
way to church because of the dress Angel picked out.
She is doing much better now. What a roller coaster!!! Never dull.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
We've also discovered that Nia is no stranger to a drum. She gave us a small demonstration on the one we brought home from Liberia. She's like an onion that we keep peeling back new layers on.
I was flipping through a toy catalogue we received in the mail and found "NIA" written on quite a few of the babydoll toys and the bicycle. Made me smile because I used to lay in the floor, pen in hand, and mark up the Sears Christmas catalogue when I was a little girl. I guess some things are universal?
She makes this clucking or clicking noise with her tongue sometimes when she wants to say 'no.' I suppose there's no use wasting breath on words when you can just cluck.
I can't remember if I've mentioned her Salt Craving. She adds salt to everything, even pretzels and popcorn. We actually caught her with a handful just going to town on it. She put it in her water, too. I'm certain there's a deficiency in her body that accounts for this extreme craving. We don't have a doctor's appointment until Dec 10. Until then, the salt shaker is hidden behind the peanut butter in the pantry. I write this more for my own benefit when I forget where I've put it, so I can read my blog and find out.
That's pretty much it for today. I'm very well spent emotionally, physically, mentally. I would include Spiritually, except that God has given me special treats these past few days, just for me. Little things that He knows mean something to me. I love how He knows me so well, and how He cares enough to lift my head when I am weary.
Friday, November 16, 2007
A dear friend (Donna Fulkerson) offered to give me a much-needed break this afternoon, which I jumped at! While I was out, I worried how Nia would receive me when I came home. I walked through the front door and she was the first one to run down the hall grinning from ear to ear, with arms outstretched. It was almost like the first time she ran to me at the orphanage. Thank you, God, for this greeting! I struggle between wanting to be both a Friend and a Mommy. I want her to like me (Friend), but I need her to obey me (mommy) and I can't be all fun and games and ice cream and candy all the time. So hard! With my other 5 kids I'm not overly concerned if they like me or if they want to go live with friends. With Nia, I catch myself wanting to please her and win her affections. But God didn't call me to be her best friend; He called me to be her mommy. I have had to remind myself of this numerous times these past few days. I'm having lots of "Help Me, Jesus" Days. It's only with His help that I can even remotely parent any of my children. But this child who probably feels so alone and misunderstood in this new world......And this mommy who longs for a relationship with her...... We both need to be cradled by The Father.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Last night she lay on her bed with tears streaming. Again, no audible crying, but the tears were there. I "spooned" with her for a while before asking if she'd like to come sit with me in the living room. When she agreed, I had to control my excitement! We both layed on the couch with her in front of me, leaning back against my chest. What a GIFT! She ended up sleeping between me and Matt in our bed all night.
As for Ox, well, that will just take time. She doesn't know he'd tear a stranger apart for her if he thought Nia would be harmed. So many things in this process have reminded me of how God wants to give us good things, but we so often settle for mediocre or even less. Ox is scary to her, but he would protect her with his life. Leaving the familiarity of the orphanage to come with strangers to a world of total differences, all for the sake of being part of a family.... So much trust.....
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Someone came to re-braid Nia's hair because most of her African braids had fallen out. I noticed that tears were running down her face while she sat there. No crying, just tears. Then, of course, my eyes welled up, too. I just got down on eye level and held her. Told her it's okay to be sad, to miss her friends, to miss her familiar food. She never said anything to me and didn't return the hug, but that's okay. I knew eventually emotion would have to come out somehow. I'm sure there's enough tears stored up in her heart to fill a tank. Hopefully, as she learns to trust us and gets more comfortable having a family she will open up gradually. I ended up calling a friend who adopted a teenager 2 years ago from Nia's orphanage. I asked the teen to talk to Nia and reassure that everything will be okay, it just takes time. The phone call seemed to help for now.
Please whisper a prayer for her today, and for me to know how to love her well during this HUGE life transition for her.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
I just wanted to make sure I'm not presenting an overly rosy view of adoption, and thought I'd comment a little on how I'm feeling about things.
In many ways I feel more like an auntie or nanny than a mommy. There's so much to teach her. The list is endless. I figured out today that she can write her name, but she can't read. Not a lick. It helps me know where to start with homeschooling. Don't know about math, yet. But schoolwork aside, there's just so much to teach about practical everyday things. From using a toilet that flushes to taking a bath. She insists on standing up in the bathtub and splashing herself with the water. BRRR!
Anyway, if you've seen Anne of Green Gables, you'll understand when I say I feel more like Marilla. There's a girl in my house that I don't know, but desperately WANT to know. I'm trying to give her some space to trust us and learn how to be a daughter. Being a sister is coming easy for her.....she's already helping Eva get dressed and holds her hand when we are in a parking lot. Our other children are unknowingly modeling family behavior for her, and I suspect much of what she learns will come from observing them. In the most insecure place in my heart, I want to know that she's glad she came home with us. She's still self-protecting, which is understandable. I can't even imagine the bravery it took to board an airplane with us. It's this same kind of spitfire and courage that has probably kept her alive these many years.
So, I'll just end by saying that adoption is a big commitment. It's a terrifying leap of faith. It's a journey of trusting God to lead me and give me wisdom. It's more about the child, than about me. It's not about trying to do something noble. It's all about what God wants to do through this experience to show Himself off. He wants to Be Big in our lives! He wants to Be Big in MY life.
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Nia got her hair braided with extensions on Friday. It's the equivalent of an American girl getting her first pair of earrings. Such a long-awaited for event for her. After 5 hours of sitting for her braids to get done, she finally emerged a beaming little girl.
A few things about Nia.... She's still not talking, only to answer Yes or No. I'm sure she's more than overwhelmed. Still, I'd like to hear what her voice sounds like! She really doesn't need to ask many questions since Isabel (3yrs) has given her the low-down on being part of the Pregont family and living in America.
She endured many Firsts on the way home....escalators, automatic faucets in airport bathrooms, toilets, flushing, airplanes, spaghetti, pizza, chocolate cake (which did not go over well), magna-doodle, play-dough, and on and on and on. She approaches all new foods with much caution and trepidation. Sweets are not high on the list, which thoroughly confuses me, having been quite the conisseur for years myself. Apparently, it only takes a mouse-sized bite to gain her approval or be rejected forever. Favorites so far include chicken, rice (of course), potatoes, chicken nuggets, french fries, apple juice, hot dogs, and any/all forms of bread. Rejects include muffins, chocolate cake, milk, veggies, fruit, corn, salad, spaghetti.
I forgot to mention this story on her first night with us....We were laying in bed and she was playing with a pink teddy bear that Isabel had sent her. The bear had a bandana around its neck, which Nia promptly untied and made into a Dew-Rag (sp?) for the bear's head.
Another funny....I told the boys that they needed to talk slower to make sure Nia understood them. So, when Clive wanted to show her where Aunt Stacey kept the toys he said, "Nia.......... Come..........Here.........." He cracks me up!
Anyways, she is sleeping soundly in her new bed. We are trying to keep her from freezing to death since she's not used to the colder weather.
If you're still ready our blog at this point, you are to be commended. We will probably put a few more posts on, as well as some pics.
her 5 siblings- Jacob, Clive and Izzy. Izzy hasn't stopped talking since we
arrived. Clive keeps saying "Nia doesn't talk to us much." This is true for
the whole trip.
Nia was a great traveler. She slept and played with her toys. We got through
Immigration and Customs easily.
We finally had good movies on our flight. Evan Almighty had me gut laughing.
As I type this it is 10:08am CST and we just stopped at a Starbucks in
Maryville, just South of Chicago. We are still on schedule to arrive between
6pm and 7pm.
I almost forgot that I can now use credit cards. Dang what happened in the
Middle East while I was gone? Gas prices are crazy. It is $3.19 a gallon in
Friday, November 09, 2007
Angel just showered her and now she is back coloring. Still not talking much.
Oh, by the way we did meet the birth mother yesterday. The birth mother also wants to say good-bye to Nia today. We have mixed emotions about this. Nia saw me downloading a picture of her mother and said "that's my ma." We asked if she wanted to say good-bye to her and she does want to. I just asked her again to be safe. Granted she is so young I'm not sure if she would be honest with me.
We are excited to be packing our bags this morning. Our flight leaves at 6:50pm tonight.
Going to eat breakfast and have coffee.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
We have her, she is sitting right next to me coloring in her coloring book. We have her VISA and Immigration documents. I can now sleep knowing that we have what we need to bring her to America!!!
When we pulled up at the orphanage she had my Red Sox hat on. She was carrying a little plastic wrap bag of pepper. The hat the pepper was all she wanted to take with her. We went to her room and kept asking her if she wanted to take anything home her her. "No, Dah noothin." As Americans we can hardly believe that living in a place for over 5 years and you have nothing to take with you? How free is that!?
Nia talked to her brothers and sisters and grandmas tonight. Isabel talked to her non-stop, I took the phone and Isabel was still talking non-stop not even aware that someone else was on the line, then said, "Okay. I'll talk to you more when you come home."
It really is like having a daughter who speaks a foreign language. She doesn't always understand us. She is sooooo quiet. She ate spaghetti tonight, but we are not sure if she liked it.
angel here. Picking Nia up at the orphanage was harder emotionally than I imagined. Right before we left, her friend just stood next to her and started to weep audibly. That's when I lost it. Nia just looked at the ground and dabbed her eyes with her shirt. It was very, very difficult to leave those kids.
When Nia took me to her room I asked what she wanted to take home with her. Nothing. I asked again to make sure she understood. Again, nothing. So she left that place with only the clothes on her back, flip flops on her feet, and Matt's Boston Redsox baseball cap on her head.
Her hands rested on our legs the whole ride home, and her eyes were glued to the scenery. She said nothing and showed hardly any emotion other than an occasional grin. It's a little awkward now that we are all 3 in our room. We're trying just to go about our business and not make her the center of attention. Nobody feels comfortable with other people staring at them. I was able to ascertain that her favorite color is red, which makes sense she's clad in red from head to toe.
Just as I'm typing, Matt got a call that the birthmom is on her way here. More to come later today.....
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
The cynic in me is just waiting for a request for money, but I have hope that this is just a mother who needs reassurance of her daughter's welfare. We'll keep you updated.
The next two days we are in search of a drum.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
We are sitting on the porch feeling the cool breeze, watching the lightening, and listening to the thunder roll. This is the first time we can remember not sweating. When you are here you manage sweat like you manage your email inbox- it is always there, sometimes you get a break but it always comes back and most the time in a mass onslaught. Not to mention sweat, like your email, builds up overnight and makes you wish you never woke up.
I don't know about you, but all the tension around the Visa appointment has been exhausting. I know many of you are living vicariously through us and we appreciate you joining in on our journey. We can all sleep better tonight :-)
Times like these make me question why Angel and I put ourselves through this, wouldn't it be easier to do nothing? I don't blame most of you for asking the same question of us. I feel right now like you feel after a good workout- tired, exhausted, hurting, but you also feel good about what you did and that is bettering yourself. I know we've bettered our family for adding Nia to it, and I wouldn't change a thing.
Rest assured we aren't pursuing another adoption in the near future (aka Eva in college). We are putting the proverbial vasectomy on adoption for the Pregont's. The next chapter for adoption with Angel and I is to help families choose adoption and to support them through every facet of the process.
Both Hands Ministry is a ministry that helps orphans and widows. They will be working with us to help raise money for the costs associated with this adoption. We are excited what this will do for us, but even more excited what it will do for families who allow the cost of adoption to prevent them taking the step. To see a video about Both Hands, go to http://www.fellowshipnashville.org/content/media/personal_stories.aspx and choose the "Putting Faith in Action with Both Hands" video. More to come on the blog about our Both Hands Event.
Lastly, as we were going in to the Embassy with Nia, a Liberian man using crutches because he had one leg, asked if we were adopting her and taking her to America. We said "yes." He simply said "thank you." A very sincere thank you. Life in Liberia is rough and not easy. It surprised us that he wasn't jealous, but that appeared very happy for Nia.
Above is a picture of the newly renovated football (aka soccer) stadium.
This is the market/mall that I posted about before.
I may or may not have a picture of the former war lord's house?! I hear it is illegal to take a picture, so there is no admittance of guilt here, just a possibility of a picture that may or may not be able to be viewed from a certain Canon PowerShot SD400.
The consular brought us all into a small room, asked a few questions, did a few formalities, and said, "Come back Thursday for her Visa. She's such a pretty girl...looks like her new mommy." Matt and I nearly fell apart right then and there. Almost as if we've finally exhaled after 18 months of holding our breath. She's ours!!!! It's done!!! Nothing to do but pick up the Visa, then we'll fly out on Friday night.
We had to let her go back to the orphanage, but looked her firm in the eyes and said, "We'll come for you on Thursday. Have your things packed." The children for all 3 families interviewing today had traveled since early this morning to come, which meant they missed breakfast. I passed gum 'round to all 8 of them and broke up 2 granola bars. Just like the loaves and fish... God please let this food go farther in their hungry tummies.
Nia doesn't talk much, hardly at all so far. We're hoping she opens up more as time goes by. She has an infectious smile, which speaks volumes. She probably has mixed feelings of being elated to have a family, yet sad to leave friends behind who will probably never have a family. We can't wait to have her here with us, give her a good scrubbing in the shower and feed her til she can't eat any more.
Here's where God took me this morning when I was the only person awake....Nehemiah 4:14 Do not be afraid of them. Put your minds on the Master, great and awesome, and then fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.
Monday, November 05, 2007
Tonight we visited the Mercy Ship. Go to mercyships.org to find more about them. Quick and dirty is they provide medical care and other outreach things to poor port cities. We got hooked-up with a denist on board from a family in our church and they hosted us for dinner. We took a tour of the ship, it was a little city, it even has a STARBUCKS!!!!! I had a double latte so I'll be up late tonight :-)
The cool thing is the denist lived in Nashville so we are planning to get together when they are in town at the end of the year. It is crazy the small world moments we've had here in Liberia. The missionary wife, Nancy, lived in my home town in WI and were best friends with people in my home church, and her twin sister lives in the same small East TN town that my mother-in-law lives in. Crazzzzyy.
OK, my latte is really kicking in. Doubtful that we would get much sleep anyway, very excited, nervous about tomorrow. By this time tomorrow we will have a better understanding if we will be able to bring Nia home.
Angel and I finished our first books of the trip. With sporadic internet connection, no TV and no children to care for, all there is to do is read.
Many of you may be wondering if we've seen Nia again since Thursday. We have not. It was a hard decision. Saturday and today (Monday) would have been the only days we could have gone to the orphanage. It is an 1.5 hour trip through some of the worse roads I've ever seen. Also, when we left Nia the first time she was extremely sad and I felt like she didn't believe we were coming back. To leave her two and three more times, knowing that we can't say with 100% certainty that we will be taking her home, is tough. We long to be with her, and know we will see her in the next days. By Tuesday we should know if we can take her home. This waiting is heavy on the heart, full of fear of the worse, and feeling like this counselor will see some fault in us that will cause her to deny the Visa.
Know we wait till our trip to the Mercy Ship.
Sunday, November 04, 2007
MAn oh man i cant tell you haow many timesw this blonde headed friend of yours has tried "blogging" to you.... i feel like i am finally hugging you somehow!!!
wait a minute, while i dry my eyes, and blow my nose ok then... we will gladly be the recipients of ANY letter titled to "any mom and dad"!!!! maybe we can just buy that big ole church on meridian st and start our own fee free adoption mission!!!
angel. i cant even imagine the holy spirit collision you and nia had!!!! praise the LORD for arms to hug. noses to smell their stinky little bodies. ears to hear them cry, and laugh. and the holy spirit to share!!!!
matt. keep on bloggin. it sure makes this an awesome, as close as we can get to sharing, experience.
see you in a week!
Emil and/or Jo Justian
Triple Cross Ministries, Inc.
Tonight is the music in the air is some Afri-Pop. I swear all the CDs are burned copies because every hour or so the song starts to skip. Neadless to say we wear ear plugs to bed. Oh yah, another 10am sleep in!!!! It is great.
Hope all is well in the states, I'm now going to quickly see if my Packers and Titans won today and if my Badgers won Saturday.
Late this afternoon the Sheppards took us to the beach. Most of it was populated with UN people and crew from Mercy Ship. There's something about seeing the crashing waves of the ocean that puts you in your place and makes your problems seem not so big at that moment. There is such a stark contrast between this beach/ocean and the trash-laden sidewalks in town. I don't understand it, but Liberia is really beautiful in terms of palm trees, beaches, natural resources, etc. But the city itself leaves much to be desired. Lots of trash on the streets. In fact, another irony to me is seeing women dressed to the hilt in their traditional African "suits" and high heels walking through trash in town. The Liberian culture dresses up whenever they leave their house (men, women, and children). They are a beautiful people.
Tuesday we go to our Visa appointment, please pray that all goes well.
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Angel woke up around 9:00am and yours truly woke up at 10:00am!!!!!! It was great, no guilt at all.
I went upstairs to the Sheppard's home to have my coffee and granola. Angel, Nancy and I sat around and talked about parenting, the stickin' thinkn of needing to please others, and a host of other topics. It is so great to see the Sheppard's humility. They have every right, in human terms, to be proud of serving Liberia for over 20 years....for working the refugee camps during the civil war, for raising 5 great kids while in Africa. They are thankful, not proud...it is a great reminder for me. I so want to please others. It is easy for me to get prideful when people comment about our adoptions. The truth is, there are many times I wanted to stop the adoption because it was too hard emotionally, financially and seemed the logical thing to do. After seeing my daughter, there is no doubt she is meant to be a Pregont. She is meant to be my daughter.
Otherwise we are reading our books. On weekends the power is off most the day. Will post tonight.
Friday, November 02, 2007
Sorry it took so long to post today. Had internet issues and am just now able to connect.
Today was one of many days of waiting. We met with the leader of ACFI to say hello. We hung out by the ocean for a little while, and then toured downtown Monrovia via taxi. In the year since I've been here a lot has changed. They now have gas stations where people go inside the store to pay, most gas stations are young men by a pump with gas in glass containers.
The change I noticed right away was that put a huge wall around the cemetery with locks on the gates. Last year you could literally see casket on top of casket, yet people would still bring their loved one there. The Chinese have come in and built a huge soccer (football) stadium and are in charge of fixing the roads- it is about time. I won't get political, but how convenient for the Chinese to get a good foot in the door of a country who is rich in natural resources.
We have enjoyed catching up with the Sheppards, the missionary family we are staying with. We had good discussions about the culture and impacts of a society with very few older men. Liberia is the 4th lowest male life expectancy in the world. The radio and billboards talk about men not raping women. The radio is constantly talking to parents about not abusing their kids, and sending them school to allow them to have an education and a childhood. I do see progress and right now that is all you ask from a country who experienced such a long civil war and who is just now getting more foreign aide to build their infrastructure.
Lastly, we showed the Sheppards our videos and pictures of Eva and they just cried. They nursed Eva back to life. Eva came to them being 9lbs and 15 months old. It is great to see people experience the fruits of their labor; for missionaries this is rare because they do more planting than reaping most of the time.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
Nia held our hand and gave us the royal tour of the orphanage. I felt like Cliff Claven from Cheers because everyone gave me letters to take back to the US. Some letters were addressed to specific families, many were addressed to "any mom and dad." Many many children asked us to find families for them.
I will post some pictures soon, electric is soon going down for 3 hours.
Embassy was closed today, so looks like Tuesday we will be going. Today is Thanksgiving Day.
As we drove away, our last glimps was of her waving good-bye wearing my Boston Redsox hat. Chris Martin, if you're reading, I need to have OPT send me another one :-)
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Poor Angel looked like a wounded dog most of the trip. She was pretty motion sick the entire time in the air. Angel had more fun at the metal detector area in Brussels. She forgot to take her ear rings, belt and watch off, so the alarms went off. She played so innocent I had to laugh. Apparently it is a new rule that when you set the detector off they also search your bags. Well our little traveler had more than the allowed zip lock bags. Fortunately this lady liked Angel and let her go.
We met two dads from Cleveland who are each bringing home 4 kids!!!! Yes, there are people with more kids than us. I believe this makes 10 kids for each of the dads. I had to separate Angel from these two guys so she wouldn't get any ideas about more kids :-)
Monrovia's airport was chaos as normal. Again I had 5 men trying to carry my luggage to the car.
Angel is in bed and now I'm going to join her, it is 9:30pm Wed night here. We are tired, but I think a good night's rest and we will hit the town tomorrow. We called our agency today and they said no embassy visit tomorrow, but on Friday to process the visa. Let's see if this really happens. I so want to believe this will happen. We will go and see Nia tomorrow or Friday, not sure if we can wait til Friday to see her. The bad part is that the orphanage is about 1.5 hours away.
I'm missing Eva especially right now because I'm at the house where I first met her. Where I spent 10 days getting to know my little girl.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
My lovely bride made things fun during check-in. She decided to ask the check-in lady if her carry on luggage "is my carry on too big?" Mind you, we knew this piece of luggage was too big to begin with but thought we would try to get it through.
So, the lady goes over to the tiny tiny luggage template and says it is too large.
No ladies, I didn't show self-control and promptly said "why did you ask that, we knew it was too large!!" They were going to charge us $110 to check that bag. Fortunately my lovely bride packed a smaller suite case inside a larger one (why she did this I have no idea). We quickly re-arranged our luggage and off we went to the metal detectors.
There we both lost our drinks. Come on- H2O will never explode anything. Angel hasn't flown as much since the travel regulations got strict and was very put out to lose her water, forcing her to pay $2 at the aiport for another.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Liberia is classified as an “Anglophone” country. Despite its 15 active tribal languages, the official language of the country is English. This makes it easier for us to work here, obviously because we did not have to learn a completely new language upon arrival. I said it makes it easier, but understanding the Liberian version of English is not always easy, and even after two years sometimes it is impossible. Being the amateur linguist that I am, I’ve been able figure out what is behind this difficulty in understanding my native tongue when uttered by many Liberians. It is not simply a matter of accent. First, and most obvious to the listener, is in the way Liberians pronounce many words—the end of many words are left off. “House” becomes “haw”, “dog” becomes “daw”, “serious” becomes “seria”, and so on. Sometimes even each syllable in multi syllable words are deleted, so “redlight” might become “re’li’”, “everything” is “e’ry’tin’, or ” kool aid” is “koo aye.” To complicate matters significantly, Liberians use different English words than most North Americans choose. For example, “reaching” means “leaving” as in “I’m reaching to my hou’,” “finish” means “to be out of something,” As in “the rice is finish,” or “flog” instead of “beat,” as in “My brother tol’ me he wou’ flog me.” Finally, Liberians finish many words randomly in “O,” as in “fini-o” for “finish,” or “daw-o” to give “dog” a little more panache.
Therefore when you combine words pronounced differently with word choices that are different than what you’ve lived with all your life, you get sentences that are just a little beyond reach until you understand both the usage of the word and the pronunciation of all the words in the sentence. So, putting these factors together, we might have the following sentences—see if you can figure them out:
1. “Trokon carry mah own sef pla’ toe to hi’ hou’.’” (Literally, “Trokon carry my own self play toy to his house,” or “Trokon took my toy to his house.”)
2. “Dea’ ca’ be sweeo.” (Literally,” Deer can be sweet-o,” or “Venison is delicious.” )
3. Leh ca’ta’ eh sleepi’ bah da’ pi’ hou’ (Literally, “the carter it sleeping by the pig house” or “The carter (a clothe pad used to cushion the head when carry things) was left out all night near the pig pen.”)
4. “De ro’ he wah a bri’ one and dryo.” (Literally, “The rogue he was a bright one and dry-o,” or “The thief was light-skinned and very thin.”)
5. “Leh pum’ eh spoi’. Le’ carry de jeep to tow’ fo’ new pah.’” (Literally, “The pump is spoiled, let’s carry the jeep to town for new part,” or “The pump is not working, so let’s take the 4wd vehicle into town for a new part.”)
6. “Boieh! Boieh! Boieh!” (Literally, “Boiled egg, boiled egg, boiled egg!” which children shout as they carry hard boiled eggs for sale on the street.)
7. “Unca Bah, I juke mah foo-o. Plea’ pu’ plasti’ on mah cuh.” (Literally, “Uncle Bob, I juke my foot. Please put plastic on my cut,” or “Uncle Bob, something jabbed or poked into my foot. Please put a band aid on my cut.”)
8. “Eneh, i’ yaw wais’ wateh on ma’ trouseh, I weh sureleh blow yaw mouf.” (Literally, “Enoch, if you waste water on my trousers, I will surely blow your mouth, “ or “Enoch, if you dump or spill that water on my pants, I will certainly punch you in the mouth.”)
9. Deh worsha’ weh fi’fi’. We gettin’ yaw puh-lenti!” (Literally, “The worshop was fine, fine. We getting you plenty,” Or “The workshop was very good. We understood you very well.”)
10. “Whi’ ma’, plea’ buy suh’ re’ oi’ fruh me. One hundreh LD.” (Literally, White Man, please buy some red oil from me. One hundred LD.” Red oil is palm nut oil; LD is Liberian Dollars—in this case about $1.80 US. )
11. “Sis Renita, I cuh’ to spe’ to yaw.” (Literally, Sis Renita, I come to speak to you,” or “Sister, Renita, I dropped by just to say hi.”)
Not everybody speaks like this, but these phrases reflect a large portion of the people with whom we live and work each day. Some people, such as government or business leaders speak very similar English to me, with only what I call the attractive “African accent” distinguishing us. Others speak a version of English so different in cadence, inflection, pronunciation, syntax and vocabulary as to require interpretation. Most children are harder to understand than adults. In our neighborhood, English is a second language to Bassa for many, and a significant minority speak virtually no English. So getting to understanding each other always takes a little extra time, even for simple things. Bu’, we ah tryin’, sma’ sma’, wid dis talkin’ ting he’. An’ soo’, we wi’sureleh be gettin’ e’rybodeh puh-lenty clea’, an den’ we ha’ a googoo ti’ togeddeh.