Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011!


We had a great 2010 and we look forward to what 2011 will bring. It was one year ago tonight that Matt and I boarded a plane and celebrated in 2010 as we flew from JFK to Dubai and on to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to meet our son. As I put Oliver in his crib tonight I thought of all the anxiety and excitement of that night and here we are one year later, a family of four, under one roof ringing in 2011 together.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Last Week of 2010

We spent our last week of 2010 with family. My parents, sister and brother-in-law came into town for the holidays. We had a fun week with them. Here's how our last full week of 2010 went...



Flash (the dog) and Chloe ended their bickering and decided to cuddle up. Flash now sleeps each night in Chloe's room and usually in her bed with her.

Chloe sang in a quintet in our church Christmas pageant.

Oliver enjoyed his first Christmas with us.

Chloe enjoyed Christmas. Santa brought her a telescope!

Our white Christmas came a day late. Depending on who is reporting, we got anywhere from 18-28 inches of snow the day after Christmas. Either way, it was a lot of snow and with municipal cutbacks clean-up was slow coming. We went into NYC on Wednesday and it was a nightmare getting around with all of the tourists in for New Year's Eve and the mess of snow still blocking streets and sidewalks.

Chloe got to play in the snow with PaPaw, her Daddy, her aunt and her uncle. (Her mom and her BeBe conveniently stayed indoors with her brother!)

 We had some great family games of Sc*rabble on our i*Pad*s. It was a great way to pass the time while snowed in!



Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy Holidays

We had a great Christmas (photos later) but it's gotten overshadowed a bit by the blizzard that struck on Boxing Day. We got about 20 inches of snow--plenty to shovel and play in!!



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Thursday, December 16, 2010

18 Month Old Today

Oliver is 18 months old today! We went to the doctor this morning for his well-check and he is 32 inches tall and weighs 26 lbs., 14 oz. Developmentally he's doing great and he's getting his two-year molars in on top and bottom!

In the interest of remembering all of this, here's Oliver's favorites and an Oliver antecdote about his speech at 18 months old.

WORDS: go!, car, ball (actually car and ball sound alike, but, I know the difference), doggy, woof, meow, kiss, oww/ouch, night-night, bye-bye, hi (which sounds like "Hoya" or "Hiya" and has a funny story to go with it below), up, mommy, daddy, Oliver (sounds like Aw-wih-wer), nose, hot, no, shoes, toes, what is it?, where is it?, Flash (which sounds like Mump or at least that's what it sounds like to me because its always said in a scream), Lizzie, shirt, monkey (his favorite stuffed animal), sit, bus, bottle (bah-bah).

FAVORITE TOYS: Cars or anything with wheels. He usually has two cars he carries around, one in each hand. Chloe has a whole set of cars that she shares with Oliver (although Oliver believes the cars are HIS). We let Oliver play with the cars supervised and have learned that the cars can only be Match**box and not *Hot* Wh*eels (they have tires that can be removed/bitten off).

THE ANECDOTE: I go grocery shopping in the same store weekly and it never fails that everytime we are in this store, I get asked if Oliver is Puerto Rican or from the Dominican Republic. I always thought people assumed this because of his hair.  But, last week we were checking out and our cashier was Puerto Rican. Oliver kept waving and saying "hi". When Oliver says "hi" it sounds like "Hoya"/"Hola"/"Hiya". Can you see where this story is going? Anyway, the cashier starts speaking Spanish to me and to Oliver. I had to tell her I don't speak Spanish to which she asked, "Why does the baby? Does his Daddy speak Spanish?" Uh, no. Why would she think that I wondered? We checked out and headed to the door where we passed another lady to which Oliver waved and said "hiya". She stopped, grabbed Oliver's hand and said, "Hola bebe!" and then proceeded asking me something in Spanish. I politely told her I don't speak Spanish and she said, "Oh his Daddy must speak it with him!". I told her his Dad was English and Oliver was adopted from Ethiopia. "But he speaks Spanish!" she told me. I told her she was the second person in 10 minutes that told me that and I assured her Oliver doesn't know Spanish. "Yes, yes he does!" she said, "He told me 'hola'"!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The First Snow (Dusting)

The first real snowfall of the year. We've had flurries recently but nothing stuck. Last night we got our first measurable snowfall and though it was really only a dusting, it didn't stop Chloe from wanting to put on her snow pants and attempt to make snowballs.


 And while Chloe played in the snow dust, Oliver ate a mini bagel with cream cheese--that's what big sister had and that's what he wanted too. He ate it while he watched Chloe in the snow. (Mom didn't really think through the repercussions of this breakfast choice until it was too late).

I'm off to clean the doors and couches of cream cheese....

And, before I forget, its a big day around here--Chloe's six and a half years old--you know how kids at this age take these milestones very seriously. Chloe's been looking forward to this for a long time. It's also Chloe & Oliver's Nana's birthday (as in the annually celebrated one). Happy birthday Nana!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A NJ Birth Certificate for Oliver

Oliver's NJ birth certificate arrived in the mail today. Next step, filing to get his certificate of citizenship and then his passport.
Oliver playing with our favorite puzzle board--locks. Its about only one of a handful of toys that will hold his attention right now.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Starting Them Young




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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Visiting Santa

We went to the mall today to get Oliver's Christmas stocking embroidered (how sad is it that I have a stocking with Emma Claire's name on it and not one with Oliver's name?) and we also visited Santa and Build-a-B*ear (how'd that happen? I got hoodwinked).

Its amazing how jaded kids can become so quickly. In B-A-B, Chloe pointed to a stuffed animal and declared it was LAME! "Where did you hear that!?" I asked. "Oh, I just knew it," she claimed. Right. I know exactly where she heard it---SCHOOL. Yes, kids certainly learn more than the 3 R's at school. It's a blessing and a curse.

Then, when we were in line for Santa, Chloe asked, "Why does some man want to dress up like Santa Claus? Is this his job?". I told her it WAS the real Santa Claus and that she better be nice or she would certainly end up on the Naughty List. Seriously, its like she went from sweet toddler to teen angst and she's only six! I'm beginning to understand why some parents choose to homeschool.

Anyway, Oliver was mesmerized by Santa. It took about 10 attempts before we finally got him to look at the camera and not at Santa's beard and glasses. Somewhere on attempt #5 Santa told the photographer to hurry up because Oliver was "squirly" and he would hate to put a baby on the Naughty List. Chloe laughed and told Santa Oliver should already be on the Naughty List.


I realized today that it was one year ago in Ethiopia that Oliver officially became our son. Our court date for our adoption of Oliver in Ethiopia was November 30, 2009. Of course, the phone & internet lines went down in Ethiopia and our attorney in Ethiopia couldn't relay that we passed court until later in the week. We were in limbo for a while and our agency thought that we were missing something in our file but as it turned out, it was another family's file and not ours. We had to wait almost a week to find out we passed and even then our agency didn't know the correct date of our court date. We only found out when we went to Ethiopia and got all the court documents that we did pass court on November 30 and were officially & legally the parents of Oliver.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving in our family is about giving thanks and celebrating time off from school, work and the daily routine of life to spend time with friends and family. Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday because it is the holiday that holds my fondest memories. Its never been about big sales and rushing out to get the Christmas shopping done. I like to cruise into the holiday season, so my Christmas shopping is completed usually around the 2nd week in November. Its a habit I have gotten into and one that works for me. So, this weekend we didn't shop but we did eat and spend time with family and friends.

On Thanksgiving day, we took it easy. I began preparing some of the dishes for our Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday night. I spent some time on the phone Wednesday and Thursday to my father, picking his brain for my grandmother's stuffing recipe (it's all about the stuffing folks). On Thursday, we stayed in our jammies until mid-morning (ok, I think I stayed in my pjs until I saw our dinner guests arriving and then I made a mad dash for the shower). The kids played and we watched a bit of the parade (No, we don't brave the crowds in the city to see the parade in person. Perhaps when Oliver is older.). We also discovered a bit of tv that grabs Oliver's attention. He loved watching Victory by Design story of Ferrari. He loved watching the cars and hearing the fabulous Ferrari noise. (I mean, seriously, he's growing up in the house, with Matt for a father. Is this surprising that this would be the only tv he would pause for?)



Our dear friends, Bryan and Sue, came over to share Thanksgiving with us. We enjoyed a great meal that proved Ina Ga*rten knew what she was talking about when she said kosher turkeys are the best--there's no need to brine them and they come out moist indeed.

Unfortunately, Oliver didn't make it through his first Thanksgiving meal. I don't know if he was planning on doing some Black Friday shopping, but he was out at 4:15 p.m. and didn't wake up until 11:15 p.m. when he took a bottle and was out again until his regular waking hour. I would like to say it was the tryptophan in the turkey, but he didn't even make it that far. I think it was the excitement of the day--having his sister and daddy to play with and Bryan and Sue. He enjoyed himself, it just wore him out!

On Friday, we spent most of the day at home until we went to dinner at our friend's house. Chloe and their two boys played and watched Star Wa*rs and the adults spent the evening herding Oliver away from pestering the older kids. It was a great evening with great friends.

Saturday was a low-key day. We ran some errands and hung around the house working on the remote controlled cars. This is Matt and Chloe's favorite past time now. In the afternoon we had pizza and watched the Razorbacks beat LSU. GO HOGS!!

Sunday was another low-key day. We went to church and raced the RC cars afterwards. Matt made his famous turkey curry with the leftover turkey and his sous chef, Chloe, assisted him.
Making turkey curry.


The line-up of cars--there are two BMW M Roadsters (Matt had the larger, real version  before Chloe's arrival) one which Matt made and one which his father made for him. The car in the center Matt made many years ago. Its a Formula 1 reproduction RC car. Unfortunately, it had an accident (like it got ran over when a six year old, who shall remain nameless, ran it under the tire of her mother's large SUV as her mother was backing up said SUV. It can be repaired. We think.) shortly after this picture was taken.
Ready to race.

Driving the course. 

Oliver chasing the RC cars. He's holding a smaller, slower RC car that he managed to capture.

Chasing the bigger RC cars.

Hey, this car is not moving and is easy to capture. Unfortunately, that car doesn't belong to us!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Re-Adoption Day

It's officially official---we re-adopted Oliver! His New Jersey birth certificate should be on its way. I am so relieved to have it all complete!

We went to our county courthouse for the big day. Our county had a big party in honor of National Adoption Day, complete with a cake and clowns. They even gave us a disposable camera to snap photos, a mommy/son stuffed bunnies and the book Guess How Much I Love You. There were 15 other families also adopting/re-adopting. We found out from the paralegal that walked us from the party room to court that each county in NJ tries to out-do the other counties and have the most adoptions/re-adoptions for National Adoption Day. That revelation put a little tarnish on the day, but everyone in the courthouse was very nice and very excited for everyone. Regardless of motive, they made a special day.

When we went into court, I was holding Oliver and he wasn't pleased with that. The judge kept insisting that I put him down and let him and Chloe play during the proceedings. I think the judge came to regret that suggestion. Oliver ran through the courtroom like a tornado, grabbing at every wire and balloon in the place. The proceeding was recorded and I am fairly certain that our hearing is incoherent as Oliver was screaming and smashing the balloons into the microphones.

Here he is, the newest citizen of the U.S. and who is officially now Oliver Matthew Abdulhakim....


 The family in court. The balloons survived.

With the judge who presided over our case.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Star Student

Chloe was named the "Star Student" in her class. She came out of school today with a BIG sheepish grin holding her certificate. I know she was proud but if you ask her why she got the award she will tell you it's because she is the only one in class that doesn't misbehave! I think there's a little more to it than that.


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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Seventeen Months Old

Oliver is 17 months old! I can hardly believe that he is approaching a year and a half old and our one year anniversary of the day we met is fast approaching.

A friend told me the other day that Oliver is a little boy now. He's no longer a baby. He was running around the playground, desperately trying to get Chloe and her other six year old friends to play with him. He didn't want me to help him up and down the slide. He wanted to run with the big kids.

I am certain that I must burn 1000 calories a day chasing after Oliver. The photo above couldn't capture his personality any more. The picture was taken during the children's photo shoot last month. The photographer pulled out a stool for Chloe to sit on. Oliver thought it looked like a fun toy to climb on and thus this photo was taken.

To say that Oliver is into everything would be an understatement. Our house is babyproofed and then some. But, of course, that doesn't stop Oliver from pointing out things that need some attention like---
  • hiding any plug or cord of any sort in the house. Do you want that lamp plugged in Mom? No, I don't think we need light in this room! Want to recharge your laptop Daddy? No, I don't think so. 
  • hiding all cell phones and cordless phones. We just love to pretend we're talking on the phone and press those numbers. Don't give him a toy phone! Puh-lease, he knows its not the real thing---no one is on the other end asking, "9-1-1, what's your emergency?". And there is nothing more exciting than practicing for discus throw with Mommy's i*P*hone.
  • the need for toilet locks. Oh, the melodic tune of a toilet being flushed 400 times a day. Just shut the bathroom door many would say. Yes, I did that and it worked until Oliver learned how to open the door.
  • keeping the iP*ad safely out of his reach. There is nothing more Oliver loves to do than seek out the iP*ad after he's caked his hands in some sticky snack. Did you know the touch screen becomes disabled if the screen becomes crusted with food or greasy finger print marks?
We love our little guy and he does keep us on our toes. He's a bright little guy too. He has said his first sentence, "What is it?". He runs all over the house showing me things now and asking what it is. He asked it Saturday night after I gave him broccoli for the first time. He held up the broccoli, asked "What is it?" and then threw it to the dog.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Note to Self:

Next time we purchase a house, pay more attention to the types of trees in the yard. Don't get trees that drop their leaves at different times in the fall. You'll be raking every other day!









Friday, November 12, 2010

Happiness is...

discovering your mom restocked your dress-up chest with Halloween costumes she got on clearance at the big box store for 75% off!










Note: I got the kids 7 dress up outfits (El*mo, Da*rth Vad*er, Captain Rex, a ninja, a pirate, a motocross rider, and black-suited spidey) for ONLY $12! Chloe was so excited!!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Our Mini-Break

There is a lot of irony in driving 10 hours so you can get in a car and drive all day around a racetrack. But, sometimes you have to drive a long way to have lots of fun.

Matt's Pors*che club rented out V*I*R for the weekend and we ALL decided to go thanks to the NJ teacher's union that provided us with three days off from school so they could attend a convention in At*lantic C*ity. We loaded up and headed to the Virginia/North Carolina border bright and early on Thursday morning. We picked up Matt's Por*sche pal, Paul, and his racecar and were on our way.

Chloe was fantastic on the long trip. She watched movies and slept most of the time in the car. Oliver, well, he's not one to sleep in the car. In fact, the car has the opposite effect on him. He stayed awake the entire drive, happy most of it, but when you are 16 months old and refuse to nap in the car and stay awake for 12 hours straight...well, you can guess what kind of mood that would put him in.
Oliver, not enjoying his car seat so much.

The racetrack has accomodations, but they book pretty fast and we missed out. The racetrack sits in tobacco farmland, with two sizable towns both 30 minutes in either direction, one in Virginia and one in North Carolina. When I was searching for places to stay, I was able to stumble on a house rental on a lake in North Carolina only 15 minutes from the racetrack. It was also priced comparably to the area hotels. It was a done deal for the long weekend.

Tobacco drying. This was the farm down the road from the house we rented.

Matt and Paul raced Friday & Saturday and had their fun cut short when the CV joint came loose on the car after the first run Sunday. With no replacement part, the guys couldn't keep driving and we decided to head home on Sunday instead of Monday morning.
Tech inspection on Thursday evening, after we arrived at the track.


Of course, what do you do with children at a racetrack? Well, we looked at the cars...

And we watch Matt race. Well, some of us did anyway.

And we goofed off a lot.

On Saturday, we got adventurous and went farther afield. I had suggested we go to some civil war sites, but Chloe nixed that idea pretty quickly. She wanted to go hiking. I wanted some scenery. Oliver, well, he shares his opinion pretty loudly, but its usually incomprehensible. We decided to go to the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was COLD!!! We had to stop and buy some gloves and hats.

At an overlook. The city of Roanoke, VA is in the background.

We went for a hike off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The kids and I even scouted out a possible summer vacation spot. We also enjoyed the southern hospitality and cooking. Chloe finally had to ask a cashier, "Why did you call my mom sweetheart?". Chloe also pointed out that my Texas twang got a little more country too. She came back with a new, favorite word..."GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOD!". She giggled everytime she heard someone from the area say it. She thought the long, drawn-out O's were hysterical.

Though our trip was cut short, it was still a goooooooooooooooooooood one!


 
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