Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The kid is a bit strange.

Lleyton's taste in food isn't that of your typical 3 year old. 

Case in point, last Sunday we were out doing some grocery shopping, which many times means stopping for a quick bite at Taco Bell, as that is one place both boys seem to like to eat (and it's cheap).  We wanted this day to be different because both boys had such a good day on Saturday, and the Butler Bulldogs were heading to the Final Four, so we drove the boys to Culver's to get a delightful cheeseburger and some ice cream. 

For those that don't know it, or haven't been, Culver's is delicious. 

So when we pulled up to the restaurant both boys were quite intrigued by the new place.  We told them what was on the menu and although Parker was quite excited, Lleyton was not.  He said the following:

"Cheeseburgers...yuck! I no want ice cream!"

Seriously, he said that.  I was flabbergasted.   What little boy declares that he doesn't like ice cream and cheeseburgers? 

For reference, this is what he doesn't like.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Baby Sister update, or lack thereof

Some of you may have noticed that this adoption blog hasn't really had a whole lot of adoption related posts lately, and there is a reason for that. We don't have a clue what is going on with our current adoption.

Next Monday will mark the six month anniversary of receiving the referral for our beautiful baby girl. Who knew that 180 days later we would be no further along than we were on that beautiful Autumn day last year.

The information we are receiving out of Ethiopia is pretty much non-existent.

Our questions have gone unanswered.
Our requests have gone unfulfilled.

So here we sit just drawing our own conclusions on what may be happening. Over four weeks ago we received a call that said her paperwork should be completed within two weeks.

Two weeks came and went.
No word.
No explanation.

It has continually been recommended to us that we look at other referrals, in essence, give up on this little girl we love and have accepted into our family. The idea of giving up on her without having any information about the prospect of her paperwork being completed is ridiculous. We simply will not do it.

If we were to get information that there is no end in sight and it may take years to process her paperwork, we will make a decision.

We will not make a decision of this magnitude, a decision that will affect our lives and Baby Sister's life, blindly.

Prospective adoptive parents lose referrals each day. It's awful, but it happens.

Prospective adoptive parents do not give up on children they think of as their own each day. It just doesn't happen.

We are upset, wondering what the future may hold in regards to our little girl.

How much longer can we stand to go without any idea of what is going on with our case...days, weeks, months, years?

Hopefully it doesn’t come to that. Although my optimism is quickly waning, there is still a hint of it there. Something was happening four weeks ago to make someone think that her paperwork was almost complete. Maybe that something will still occur, and it just happened to take a bit longer than previously anticipated.

Time will tell.

What I know is that there is a breathtaking baby girl living 7,700 miles around the world from us that we cannot get our minds off of. She doesn’t know who we are, but hopefully she will find out soon.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I'm a soccer dad

Both boys made their soccer debut today.  It remains to be seen whether either boy will become the next Ronaldinho, but each little man enjoyed his time on the field.  Notice I said his time on the field. 

We weren't sure exactly how Lleyton was going to handle his first game, as his attention span is less than that of a gnat.  With that, his time on the sidelines was a bit of a chore.  He isn't one of those kids that is ready to sit and watch his teammates execute the gameplan when he is on the sidelines.  It is more of Sara and I chasing him, keeping him from running on the field, untangling him from the web that he has tangled himself in within the nearest unused goal, running him to the potty, and so on. 

The days of sitting on the sidelines and leisurely watching either boys soccer game are in the distant future.  But both games were enjoyable nonetheless. 

Parker's game kicked off at 9am, which meant I was awakened at 6 by Park asking if he could put his shin guards on.  The temperature was hovering around freezing and the pitch was a huge mud puddle disguised as a soccer field.  Park's team was outplayed from the word go, but that didn't faze him for a minute.  He stuck out his chest and played his heart out.  He was especially effective during his time in goal.  He showed an aggressive and might I say tough side that we didn't really know existed.  With the other team being far superior, he got alot of work while in goal, but he really handled the pressure well, highlighted by a ball he took squarely in the face before securing it and clearing the zone. 

Here is a shot of another very good save.

I'm not sure who got muddier during Parker's game, Lleyton or Parker.  The little man is like some sort of magnet for mud puddles.  The mud, accompanied by the cold temperatures, forced him to the car with Sara during the 4th quarter.  They didn't miss much, as Parker spent the last few minutes of the game on the sidelines. 

Parker's #1 fan before he realized how muddy he could possibly get.

Parker had quite a nice cheering section consisting of Sara, Lleyton and myself, Pop, and three of his daycare teachers came out to support our Park as well.  Thanks to Josie, Rachel, and Allison for being so good to our big man.

Here is the man himself after the titanic struggle.  Obviously he took the loss very hard.

Lleyton's soccer schedule started at 2:30 with a quick practice that was followed by a 3 o'clock game.  He didn't really grasp the concept of the game, as he spent almost his entire time while on the field shadowing his coach.  When I say shadowing, I mean shadowing.  At one point the ball came rolling near the two of them and the coach scurried to get out of the way, Lleyton did the same.  Wherever the coach ran, Lleyton ran.  He could have ran to his car to grab something and Lleyton would have been in his back pocket.  Once we got the point across that he should go after the ball, he got a couple good kicks in and turned to us with his arms raised high in the air as if he had just kicked a game winning goal.  It was very cute. 

Pictures from Lleyton's much anticipated debut:

So Day 1 as a soccer dad is under my belt. 

Was it relaxing?  Far from it. 
Was it enjoyable?  At times.
Are we looking forward to doing it again next week?  Absolutely.

You might think the boys would have been exhausted after such a day...wrong.  They were bouncing off the walls this evening, but we did get them settled down (distracted) enough for us to be able to intently watch the Butler Bulldogs advance to the Final Four.   Actually, Parker watched the game with us while Lleyton occupied himself in the playroom, making us cookies and stews in his kitchen while watching Toy Story. 

Here are the boys wrapping up their very busy day by laying on the couch watching Parker's beloved Cats.


Sara's alma mater, the Butler Bulldogs are going to the Final Four!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Washington got one right

The much maligned bill that President Obama signed into law yesterday did have one very good element, which was extending the adoption tax credit through 2011. This tax credit has played a huge roll in allowing Sara and I to adopt both Parker, Lleyton, and sometime down the road Baby Sister, so we are very happy to see that it has not only been extended, but also improved.

Here is a statement that was released today from the Joint Council of International Children’s Services:

Joint Council is pleased to confirm that the Adoption Tax Credit (ATC), which was scheduled to expire in 2010, was extended for one-year (through December 31, 2011). The highlights of the ATC are;

• The maximum credit was increased from $12,150 to $13,170,

• The ATC is now retroactive to January 1, 2009. This represents a potential increase of $1,000 for adoptive families.

• The ATC was made refundable. If a family has no tax liability, the IRS will refund the amount due.

The extension of the ATC through 2011, was passed as part of the health care reform bill which was signed into law by President Obama on Monday, March 22, 2010. There was some concern that the ATC would be included in the reconciliation process, however we have confirmed that it is not part of reconciliation. This means that the ATC is law until December 31, 2011.

Joint Council along with many other advocates and adoptive families have long advocated for making the ATC permanent. We applaud Congress and the Obama administration for the extension and continue to call for a permanent tax credit.

The ATC is a critically important element in finding permanent families for children in the U.S. foster care system and the children of our world, who live without permanent parental care. The ATC makes adoption a viable option for many families who may otherwise be unable to afford to adopt. We again applaud the extension and improvements to the Adoption Tax Credit.

As much time as I spend watching Fox News and agreeing with most of what is said, I must say that it is nice to see that Washington got this part of the bill right (not sure what it has to do with a healthcare, but we will take it however we can get it).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Parker's Question of the Day...this one made me think

As we go about our daily lives, which regularly includes stopping by the grocery store to pick up something for dinner, or running through a store to grab something that we think the boys would look good in, Sara and I try to use as many moments as we can to teach the boys how fortunate we are to be able to do the things we do each day.

One of those moments came this afternoon as Sara and Parker were out shopping for clothes, as each boy has grown quite a bit this year and Sara had received a 30% off coupon for The Gap and Old Navy, so there was no time like the present to go take advantage of some good sales.

While they were talking, Sara explained to Parker that there are many people in the world that are hungry and don’t have the money to stop by the grocery store to pick up something to fulfill their hunger.

Parker thought about that comment and looked to Sara and said, “Why they no go catch a fish and cook it?”

Sounds simple.  Sounds like a solution to a problem that almost certainly existed during his years in Ethiopia.

There is so much that I can learn and take from that comment.  Life hasn't always been easy for him.  With that being true,  I am always trying to learn from Parker through his experiences and try to become a better steward of the good fortune that I have.  It's sounds easy to do, but too often I find myself settling back into the comforts of the life that I lead and losing sight of how others live and how I could be making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.

Having Parker and Lleyton in our lives has given Sara and I the unique opportunity to see how other people live throughout the world.  Having the good fortune to be able to see the things we have seen isn't something that I take lightly, it is something that I want to use moving forward. 
Thanks to Parker's comment, the task of trying to make a difference seems much more manageable.

Identify a common problem, formulate a simple solution.

Thanks big guy.  Keep the questions coming!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Parker's new hairstyle

Saturday morning at 8:45

Saturday morning at 9:45

Parker's hair had gotten to the point where he really had trouble putting a baseball hat over it, so that led us to the spur of the moment decision to have most of it cut off. 

I think he looks quite handsome with his new do (but of course I thought he looked quite handsome with his old do as well).

In case you somehow didn't notice, he has some dandy looking permanent teeth coming in.  Not sure where they are all going to go if they mimic the size of the new front tooth, so stay tuned to see.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Introducing Parker to baseball

Parker began his baseball career this evening, as he had his first practice.  Is he going to be the next Eric Davis or Bip Roberts?  That is yet to be determined, but I will say that he is much better at catching and throwing than he was 3 weeks ago.  The highlight of the practice came during a base running drill (by drill I mean having each kid run from home plate to first base). 

I will openly admit that I haven't spent much time teaching the young man about baseball and rules associated with said sport.  So everything was very new to him. 

During the drill, Parker sprinted down to first base, but he failed to step on the bag.  After he had turned around and was on his way back to home plate where the rest of his teammates were, one of the coaches called out for him to run back and touch the bag. 

So what does he do? 

Without hesitation, he turns and quickly runs back toward the bag before abruptly stopping just in front of the base as he proceeds to bend down and ever-so-gently touch the bag with his finger. 

How's that for listening and following instructions...

Parker had a great time at both soccer and baseball practice this week and he is very excited about suiting up again next week for another couple evenings of developing and honing his skills. 

Watch out world.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Questions keep coming, if only I had answers

Parker's inquisitive nature is not subsiding (thank goodness).  As I wrote the other day, he is really into pots of gold and rainbows right now, thanks in large part to his Kindergarten teacher and St. Patrick's Day. 

Which leads me to his latest Question of the Day:

My mom and dad are coming over this weekend and watching the boys while Sara and I head off for a night in Nashville with a couple of friends.  Parker and Lleyton are looking forward to the quality time with Grammy and Pop, as it usually involves plenty of fun.  So this morning as he was getting ready for school, I asked Parker what he would like to do on Saturday with Grammy and Pop.  He thought about it for a second or two and flashed me that very cute wry smile that he is so good at and quietly said,

"Can we go to the end of a rainbow?"


I love that kid.


BONUS Question of the Day:

This one was from awhile back, but it is certainy worth sharing. 

We were driving to school and Parker started talking about Heaven and God.  He wanted to know if his Daddy in Ethiopia had met my grandma in Heaven. 

Then he went on to ask about God.

Parker: Daddy, God can see everything?
Me:  He sure can.
Parker:  How?  He has alot of eyes?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Let the games begin...

Parker had been very eagerly awaiting his first soccer practice, so much so that he had a little trouble sleeping the night before his practice. He called me into his room yesterday morning at about 4:15am to ask if he could get up and put on his soccer clothes yet (practice wasn't until 6:00pm).

Needless to say, by the time I picked him up from daycare yesterday to make our way over to practice, he was very excited, and Lleyton was almost as excited himself. 

And so it begins, our days of following our own routine and having the boys in bed by 8pm sharp and having our weekends clear for whatever we choose to do are behind us, as Parker will also start baseball practice this week as well, and he and Lleyton will both be putting their athletic skills on display each Saturday starting in a week or so. 

Note to self:  Alert our favorite Mexican restaurant not to worry, as we will have to find another night to enjoy their delicious food and drink.  Parker's baseball practices are on Friday evenings.   

These changes are by no means a bad thing.  In fact, we are hoping they are going to be very good for the boys.  Although I was dealt a bit of a surprise last night when Lleyton's soccer coach called to touch base with me and informed me that his team is made up of kids ranging in age from 3 to 6.  That is certainly not what I had envisioned, but nonetheless we will move forward and see how he likes playing soccer with the big boys (we are concerned it's not going to be as enjoyable for him as we were hoping).

So here goes nothing, Parker is now playing two sports, Lleyton one, all the while we are anxiously (not so patiently) waiting for any word on Baby Sister.  At least we will now have a couple of soccer games and a baseball game to distract us a bit from our constant thoughts about our little girl in Ethiopia.

Here are the boys last night.  While Parker was busy trying to get to know his teammates, Lleyton obviously spent plenty of time in the many mud puddles that could be found on or near the soccer field.  I guess this is what happens when Mom misses soccer practice b/c she is out of town for work.  Worry not, I did all of the boys' laundry myself.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, as the boys were getting ready for school this morning Parker was teaching Lleyton about finding pots of gold. They had pretty good luck finding them, as here they are celebrating finding their imaginary pots.

Shortly later, Parker gave the little man a big hug and said, "Look Daddy, Lleyton is my pot of gold." What a good big brother he is.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Lleyton's Career Day

Yesterday was a day the boys had been waiting on for quite awhile, Circus Day. The Ringling Brothers are in town and we could not miss the chance to take the boys, as it is our thought that one day Lleyton may very well travel with the circus.

Lleyton's lack of fear, accompanied by his incredible athletic prowess could make him a viable candidate for few of the acrobatic positions we saw yesterday. One of the interesting tidbits that we learned during our trip to the circus was that one of the groups of acrobats and the Tiger Tamer all hailed from Russia. There must be something in the water in that part of the world that leads folks to that line of work, which helps explain a little part of Lleyton's personality.

Here's the boys and Sara getting geared up for the show.

The excitement was palpable.

Here we all are eagerly anticipating the second half of the show.

After watching some of the gravity defying moves the acrobats pulled off during the course of the show, I know Lleyton would like be part of the team, but I am going to have to put my foot down about that career choice. I just wouldn't be able to sit in the audience and watch.

So if you are keeping track, mark CIRCUS off of the list of possible career choices for our little man. Sorry Lleyton.

Our favorite part of the show:

Parker - Tigers
Lleyton - Elephants
Sara - Dogs
Me - (although it bordered on inhumane) Tigers

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A new low for Indiana Basketball

Indiana Basketball hit a low point the other night, and it had nothing to do with a loss they suffered or a recruit that went elsewhere. It had everything to do with a conversation Parker and I had in the car.

It went like this:

Parker: Daddy, don't be mad...don't be mad...don't cry...don't cry...I don't like Indiana. I like UK.

Me: Why don't you like Indiana?

Parker: I don't like teams that stink. I don't like Indiana. I don't like the Lions. I don't like the Steelers. I don't like Seahawks.

Obviously a few kids in his class have been brainwashing him, as he has no idea who the Lions or the Seahawks are (maybe he has an idea, but he doesn't know they stink), but that's not my issue with this whole scenario. My issue is that he likes UK and thinks Indiana stinks. He can even tell you who his favorite player is on UK (#11).

I guess I have my work cut out for me now. I must somehow get him to like IU, as I don't know if I can live with someone whose favorite team is UK. Not that there is anything wrong with people who like UK, I just grew up not liking the Wildcats, and now here we are living in the Commonwealth surrounded by Kentucky blue everywhere we go.

The deck is stacked against me, but I am thinking that a trip or two to Bloomington and maybe getting Parker on the floor at Assembly Hall (and a T-shirt, of course) could certainly help my cause. Wish me luck.


Despite how difficult it was to hear, and equally as difficult as it was to type, this was another good example of a question or comment of Parker's that was just too remarkable not to share.

Hope you enjoyed it more than I did.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Parker's Question of the Day

Parker's propensity to ask question after question has been well documented. Some of them are just too good not to share.

Today's Question of the Day:

Parker, Lleyton, and myself drove down to the Lexington area this evening to visit with some friends who were celebrating the one year anniversary of meeting their little girls in Ethiopia. On the way down, Parker fell asleep for about 45 minutes. Upon waking up, we had the following conversation:

Parker: Daddy, what you do when I was sleeping?

Me: Lleyton and I listened to some music.

Parker: What kind of music did you listen to?

Me: Country.

Parker: What country?

Me: A little Rascal Flatts, some Kenny Chesney, and a bit of Zac Brown.

Parker: Why you no listen to America?

Me: (Briefly thought about what he was asking, and then laughed out loud while quickly dialing Sara to relay Parker's latest Question of the Day.)

I can at times become weary of answering another of Parker's questions, but it always seem at that instant he comes up with one that makes me yearn to answer another.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Recap of a good day (minus the bloodshed)

On top of cleaning out the garage a bit, we put in a very full day today. It was the first day of really nice weather this year, so getting the boys outside was certainly a priority.

We started the day by swinging by the local barber shop for kids so that Lleyton could get his hair cut. We had been experimenting with letting his hair grow out, but that experiment couldn't go on for another day. Here's why...

Before haircut:

After haircut:

The haircut was certainly the right decision.

Next, we ran into Cincinnati to pick up some injera from our friend Endgada. It was a very interesting visit, as along with English, Endgada speaks the same language that Parker spoke in Ethiopia, but he was not interested at all in conversing with her in that language. He said to me, "I don't speak that anymore." I wish it wasn't the case, but Parker has probably lost most of the language he grew up speaking. That is something we can't avoid, as there just aren't many people around that speak that language, but we have and will continue to make it a point to keep the Ethiopian culture in Parker's life, and visits to see Endgada are a great way to do that. And it doesn't hurt that Ethiopian food is so delicious.

This afternoon was nonstop action, both good and bad. When Lleyton woke up from his nap, he was very excited about getting to ride in his Jeep. He has been asking us all winter when he gets to drive his Jeep. Sadly, his excitement only lasted about 100 feet before Parker accidentally drove the vehicle into a street sign causing Lleyton's poor little nose to smack the windshield, which induced some pretty significant bloodshed. Worry not, our little man is fine and after a quick bath he was cleaned up and ready to proceed with our day of fun.

Due to the tense moments immediately following the accident, I decided against snapping any shots of the scene, but just picture Tiger Woods' Escalade up against that tree he hit on that infamous night in late November, as it looked similar to that.

I was able to catch a shot of the happy duo just feet before the accident occured.

Please notice two things:

1. How excited Parker is to be behind the wheel.
2. How Parker has no idea where he is going, hence about 10 seconds after this was taken, the accident occured.

Parker's driving privileges have been suspended indefinitely.

After the cleanup we took the boys to a sporting goods store and bought them both baseball gloves. If day 1 is any indication of future baseball endeavours, we could have one major leaguer on our hands.

Step aside Roy Hobbs, there is a new Natural.

On the other hand, Parker's baseball talent is a little more raw. Today was his first day of learning the game, so we are hopeful that under the tutelage of an experienced baseball coach (not me), that talent will become a little more refined.

You can see from this photo, there is some talent there that is hopefully soon to be unearthed.

Aside from the bloodshed, today was a very good day. Nice weather helps with that, but it is also such a pleasure to watch Lleyton and Parker together. As Sara reminded me this evening, a little over two years ago we didn't have any children, and here we are today with two of the best boys in the world.

Kids really are colorblind

This morning as I was cleaning up the garage a bit, I came across a very cute picture of Parker and Lleyton's cousin Tanner that was taken a few years back. I brought the picture into the house to show it to the boys, as they are both big fans of their cousin.

Since the picture was a bit dated, neither boy recognized Tanner, so I asked Parker who he thought the picture was of.

He said, "Is it me?".

Friday, March 5, 2010

Next task: Work on toughness

With the warm weather that is forecast for this weekend, we are planning on getting the boys outside and start introducing Parker to baseball. Starting in the next month or so, Parker is going to be playing both soccer and baseball. Lleyton is also going to be playing soccer, which is going to be very entertaining to watch as well.

Tonight at dinner, Sara was talking with Parker about practicing playing catch. He asked what they were going to play catch with. Sara told him they would be playing with a tennis ball. Parker's reaction was priceless and concerning at the same time. He said to her, "can we please play with a softer ball, tennis ball too hard, someone going to get hurt."

Obviously, in the midst of all of our hard work helping Parker master the English language, we haven't had a whole lot of time to address toughness.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Who named the States?

Parker and I were listening to the radio yesterday evening as we drove to a meeting in our neighborhood. Over the radio came a news report that peaked his interest. I don't remember exactly what the story was about, but the name New Jersey really intrigued Parker. He asked why there isn't a state called New Kentucky. It was a good question that I didn't have a good answer for.

He asked me who named each state. I told him that I wasn't sure and asked him who he thought named each state. His guesses were:

1. God
2. Barack Obama

I laughed out loud at the Obama guess. Who knows, by the end of his term in office, the President may have tried to rename a state or two. He did campaign on change.