Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Our Little Scholar

Recently I wrote this on Facebook...

And I meant it. I mean... call it a #PetPeeve but it drives me nuts!


That Facebook status jumped into my head as I sat with Meron through her homework the other night.


She was working SO hard...


I wondered what I would do if she worked super long and hard and got her PhD and then wrote stuff for public consumption that was ripe with errors in grammar...


She's really cute and all - but I think I'd have to call her out on it!

Keep up the great work Meron! You are doing awesome (grammar errors and all!)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How Many Clowns...

How many clowns does it take to fill up a drop-top Volkswagen Bug?


Apparently just two in this case!


You would never in a million years guess that 2 weeks ago these two had NEVER LAID EYES UPON EACH OTHER...

God readied their hearts in such a perfect way.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

1986

I am a HUGE hip-hop head. Always have been. Always will be. I grew up on it and then grew tired of it as it became WACK. But it was more like a big brother gets tired of his little brother - cuz there was always love for it.


I even had a short stint as an MC in a hip-hop group. We put out two albums, did a bunch of live shows and generally had a ton of fun. I look back super fondly on those days...

Telling people ya dig hip-hop does one of two things. Either they are like "Yeah - I dug the Beastie Boys too!" or they go the flip route of thinking ill of you. My all-time favorite might be being told that my listening to hip-hop caused people to medically suffer. I still laugh at that one...


I had a bizarre beard, ridiculous hair and a jacked-up attitude. But we had fun. I ended up with good friends with names like Ynot, Mister Moody, O, C-Note, Dirty Jargon, Jahah... all family to me.

So when Jahah said he was doing a throwback album - one reminiscent of the good times - and asked us to hop on a track with him - it didn't take long to come up with an answer.

And then of course Meron and her friends got to make the video fun...



I give props to Hip Hop so Hip Hop hooray...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mickey Mouse Head Bop

Meron and Mebrate were having some afternoon chill time while watching Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and they put on a little dance show during the theme song.

Mebrate's little giggle at Donald Duck is awesome - she does that EVERY time she hears him talk...



Loving these moments... keep 'em coming!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Answered Prayers

Two years ago - when we started the process of adopting again - we started praying pretty regularly about our daughter who was out there somewhere.

Then about a year ago when we got our referral we were able to start praying for her by name. And then... when things started slowing way down - we started praying specifically that God would make up for this missed time with our girl by working directly on her heart.

We asked Him to mold her heart - to make it known to her that she was a Hoffman - so that when she got home she would just seamlessly fit in.

Well...


Acting nutty!


Cheesin' for the camera...


Pretending to "sleep on demand."


I think she fits right in pretty well as a younger goofy Hoffman.

God is faithful and He cares about prayers.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Headlocks, Love and Kisses


Hunker down Mebrate - I think you're in for a lifetime of this!

Your big sister loves you!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Week Report Card



So a full week has gone by and we're ready to give a report on how things are rolling here at Camp Hoffman. You can see the grades above and we'll break it down for ya here...



BONDING
Wow. This has happened quick and has been incredible. Now - to be fair - she did spend almost two weeks with Laura in Ethiopia. But holy cow - she has bonded with both Laura, me AND Meron in such an incredible way.

She is very concerned with where Meron is when she's not around - especially when it gets close to things she isn't too fond of (see also: BEDTIME). She will come equally to me or Laura and shows a TON of affection. Overall - we couldn't ask for a better bonding experience. I think she is starting to understand that we're here for good and we are going to protect her, feed her, love her, etc.



EATING
She really is doing pretty good. She will watch Meron and follow her lead on ALMOST anything. I say almost because she might be the only toddler I know who doesn't like macaroni and cheese. Well - yet at least.

My first morning alone with her she tried to convince me to give her a bowl of syrup.
(don't worry - I didnt!). But now she is eating tons of fruits, some beans, some meat, applesauce, COOKIES (big hit) - she's pretty much eating what we eat - no special diets for her.

Oh - and she has learned to say "Yummy in my tummy!" when she likes something...



SLEEPING
Okay - so we gave her a C up there - and trust me - that is GREAT right now! If we were grading last week that would have been an F-. But she has made SUCH an improvement.

At first -we couldn't even ACT like we were going to leave the room without the saddest face and the biggest crocodile tears rolling down her cheeks. Wait too long to pick her up and shrieks and sobs followed pretty quickly. Middle of the week we were on an air mattress in her room. Did this two nights and then moved out to the couch. Spent a few nights like that - being quick to respond when she woke up startled or scared and now we are here - her lying peacefully while we leave the room. She has also learned not to scream but to gently say "Mommy! Daddy! I need you!" across the monitor and we are there in a snap.

As I type this she is asleep in her room by herself - noise machine running, baby doll snuggled up and stars projected on her ceiling. I wouldn't say she is a fan of bedtime - but she has shown tremendous growth in both her self-confidence as well as her confidence in us.

And can I add this - she is potty trained. Full-on, all-out potty trained. Like - big girl panties all day and all night. Not a single accident. Oh.... and she has been that way for a YEAR! Holy big girl Batman...



COMMUNICATION
Well - this has just been flat out fun. The girl is like an English language sponge. She has absorbed so much of it that communicating with her has not really been a problem at all. It almost seems magical how she knows so much of it.

But she'll still rattle off a paragraph or two in Amharic to ya. My favorite is when she did it once to Meron and Meron listened all intently and then looked staright at her and said:
"I don't know what you are saying! What does that mean sissy?"
This was actually one of the areas I was worried about - but all that worry melted away the first time I was driving with her and Meron and I heard her say from her car-seat in her sweet little accent:
"I love you guys!"
Heart... melted.



BEHAVIOR
Whew... two things going on here. This little teeny tiny girl has some adult-sized stubbornness in her! And the other thing is this - its clear and obvious she was in a group child setting with little or no discipline. That's nobody's fault - those caregivers did the best they could - but this little one is used to pouting and crying to get her way...

And unfortunately for her - we don't roll like that at Camp Hoffman. Just ask Meron. So Mebrate has gotten to see Meron in timeout a few times and has even had a couple of her own. She's just so smart... she totally gets it. She comes running out of timeout for the hugs and kisses we always chase those with - and she has apologized and has been incredibly good and quick at modifying her behavior.

We've shown her a TON of grace too because we do realize the circumstances she has been under - but we also believe that some structure and discipline are very helpful in creating the environment that these kids actually desire. And it's been missing - so we're slowly but steadily bringing it back in. I have full confidence in her around this stuff - shes just shown us how smart she is so I know she'll get it...



PETS
So - apparently 80 pound canines aren't kept as pets in Ethiopia! Poor girl was TERRIFIED of our geriatric golden retriever. First night she was just buried her head in our chest and would barely come up for air.

So we have had to do some creative gating of the house - but man - she has covered some serious ground. I mean -we've gone from me thinking we broke her for good by her just seeing Clay to tonight - when on her own (while being held) she reached out to pet his head.

She has come a super long way in a short amount of time - and given all the other adjustments she is having to make - I have to say I am pretty proud of her. Clay - no worries my man - you'll be back to snoozing at the top of the steps in no time!



PLAYING
Seriously - I am pretty sure the girl was a professional player in Ethiopia. She can play with the best of them. Her imagination is fun and she loves to dress up, wear Disney princess shoes and lots and lots of beads.

She is perfectly content playing by herself but I think she loves it even more when her and Meron get a good play session on. Not only does she play well - but she has slowly learned the art of picking up her toys too. Now if she can just teach Meron.



LOVE
She has a ton of it. She squeezes so hard when she hugs us - she'll pat our backs like we pat hers. She gives kisses and says "I love you!" in her precious little accented voice. Bottom line - shes got a lot of love. It amazes me - given her circumstances and what her tiny little body and mind have gone through over the past 2 years - that the power of love is so strong that it can defeat everything else.

Oh - she has some mourning to do - and we'll be right there by her side through it all - but I am confident her love level is gonna have her riding high through all of that. I love her love.



BONUS REPORT: BIG GIRL... A+++
Meron has been nothing short of incredible as a big sister. For having to deal with not just a little baby sister - but a toddler able to do everything you can (and some things you can't) - Meron has shown a tremendous amount of love, caring, sacrifice, faith, strength... I could go on and on. I am SO SO proud of her and the big girl she grew into almost overnight. I love her, her mommy loves her and her little sister ADORES her. Big fat kudos to our girl for doing such a kick-butt job.


There ya have it... one week down at Camp Hoffman as a party of four - and we're LOVING it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mebrate Meets Swimming Pool


Mebrate and Meron got to hang out with some of our best friends today at their neighborhood pool...


It was Mebrate's first time to a pool so while sister and friends flung themselves through the air...


She hung out on the steps and practiced the fine art of "Chillin'"


Chillin' can be tiring work apparently.

Thankful for friends who have just welcomed our girl right in to their circle like she was one of the family!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Peekaboo With Sissy








"I see you sissy!"

I could watch them play ALL day!

Airport Video

I know a few friends and family couldn't make it to the airport to celebrate Laura and Mebrate coming up the escalator with us so here's a little video of my girls arriving home...

Sunday, August 21, 2011

His Fast Work


It is CRAZY for me to think that just a few weeks ago Mebrate was living in an institutionalized setting. The caregivers did EVERYTHING they could - we're so grateful for them and the good work they do. But it's still no life for a child.


Only a few short days removed from that setting and she was playing in a pool at a friends first birthday as if she didn't have a care in the world. Splashing, pouring, laughing...


And loving it!


All under the watchful eye of a big sister.

When invited in and given the freedom to work - it's amazing how fast God can move mountains.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

We're Going To Africa...


In the middle of playing today, Mebrate gave her baby doll a bath and then proceeded to have us tie her on to her. Meron quickly followed suit...


Soon enough they were "packing for their trip" and when asked where they were going the answer was a loud "AFRICA!" When you ask why Meron yells "To feed the babies!"


I'm not sure what these two ever did without each other... seriously. Two peas in a pod.


What one does - the other is quickly copying.


I absolutely LOVE that playtime at our house involves Africa, fundraising, mission trips and tied on babies.

I have some cool daughters...

Friday, August 19, 2011

Built For Each Other

People told us. They said "Man - wait til you see the two of those girls together - it will blow your mind."

People were right. Meron and Mebrate fell right into the "big sister" and "little sister" roles seamlessly. It is so cool to watch.

Oh - don't get me wrong. It hasn't been all peaches and cream here... just ask Clay - our beloved geriatric golden retriever who can't get anywhere near his favorite chair. Or hang around at bedtime. Or naptime. Or anything involving closing her eyes.

But during the day - when it's time to hang out with her big sister - all is right in her world (and ours!).


Meron has risen to this occasion in a strong and beautiful manner. She is easily the most important part of this puzzle.


Mebrate is looking to her for EVERYTHING and in some of her saddest moments she has been known to just whisper to herself "Meron" in her sweet little accent.


The beauty of it all is that Meron has no idea how critical she is in this transition. I think that's how God intended it to be. Make the child the most important player - because they won't try to make much about themselves or their importance. They won't over-analyze.


They'll just do what big sisters do. Protect their little sis. Play with her. Teach her. Kiss her. Hug on her.


And ya now what? I think it's working. We're WAY further along in areas than I thought we would be (including Clay - Meron's love for him can not be hidden and Mebrate is getting the picture...)

It has been nothing short of pure joy watching these two girls together...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Thank You Granny!


Granny headed out today after spending a week here trying to help us get settled and prepared for what our new normal is going to be...

Thank you Granny for all of the help (Laura and I actually ran together 3x!) - but more importantly - thank you for all the love you poured out on our girls!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

In The Details

God sets the lonely in families. I believe that. And not just because Psalm 68:6 says so - but because I have witnessed it here in my own home and the homes of many of our friends. But I don't think He stops there. Not this crazy God of details that we have gotten to know...

I think He cares so much about the "lonely" and the "orphaned" and the "least" that when He sets them in families, He works out all the details so they just fit right in. Perfectly.

Today - as we were hanging out - I heard a tiny little Ethiopian-accented voice calling out in a tone that was barely above a whisper:

"Dah-dee! Dah-dee! Look, Dah-dee!"
Followed by intense giggles and uncontrollable laughter...

I turned to look and saw this...

Our girl - barely home 48 hours - has bared her soul to us - she has just shown us all of her and in that has allowed us to catch a teeny tiny glimpse of what God saw as He made her for this moment. And today - it was her sense of humor shining through.

It fits right in with all of us - her mommy, her daddy, her big sister. We're all a bunch of goofs - and we know it. And we embrace it. And today - she did too.

As a matter of fact - the most serious person in the household today WAS the big girl. Meron had her first day of chapel at school - and she looked ADORABLE.

No worries though... she came home early, changed into some Puma shorts and a t-shirt and proceeded to be the goofiest big sister anybody has ever seen.

I counted my blessing a lot today. A lot.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bubbles of Joy

Bubbles seem to have a way of bringing out the joy in people. I mean... admit it. If I blow bubbles around ya - you'll likely chase them, swat them or try to catch them. You know you will. Bubbles are magical like that.

The ones on our porch today did not disappoint!
















Two girls - smiling and full of joy - thats what today was all about for me...