If you could see behind that hood, he is all smiles!!! 7 year old, Dagmawi (Jayden) loves to play outside with the neighborhood kids. The first day home, he was sledding with the whole crew!
Even 2 year old, Tariku (Wesley) loves the snow and regularly pulls his coat off the hook and looks for his boots to go outside.
We are all doing great and I am somewhat amazed at how smoothly the transition has been. Yes - there are some tough and awkward moments, many simply because of the language barrier. But we are slowly and surely establishing a new family routine and the boys are responding well. Jayden has asked about school every day - asking means he taps himself in the chest and says "school"? He was fine with our answer of "no - not today" until Emme and Maea went off to school.
So - we went to visit his classroom and school on Wednesday. The kids greeted him with warmth and enthusiasm and he hugged his teacher. He has been assigned 2 "classroom helpers" (Sophie and Aiden - two mature 1st graders that are eager to assist and care for him until he gets on his feet) so that he can have regular help in getting things figured out. Everything is new for him - from drinking fountains (his first experience he wanted to put his mouth right on the nozzle and even after a few attempts and demonstrations, he still doesn't quite have the hang of it), to milk cartons, to recess, to lunch trays, etc. After several conversations with his teacher, Mrs. Waite, and the principal, we have decided to start him in school on Monday, and he is counting down the days on the calendar.
Everyone at the school (K-5) is aware of Jayden and we have lots of watchful eyes and helping hearts at the ready to make his transition as smooth as possible. He is so excited! I did not plan to start him in school until after Christmas and I am just amazed at how quickly he is adapting to our lives. He just wants to fully immerse himself in everything we do and just be a normal kid!!! On Monday, he will get on the bus with Maea and she will help him at his locker and get him firmly planted in his classroom. After school - Maea will dismiss a little early so that she can meet him at his classroom, guide him to his locker to get his coat/hat/boots/mittens/backpack and get him on the bus with her to come home.
Tariku (Wesley) is also doing great. We have certainly had our share of "battle of the wills" - and it has been imperative that I win them. The first day we laid down for a nap, he was so tired but absolutely refused to nap. He sat up in his bed, with his eyes barely open and bobbing from side to side, for 2.5 HOURS before he finally gave in to sleep. I sit in the rocker across from his toddler bed and for some reason, he actually stays in his bed even though he is wailing for me to pick him up - but he stays put. The next day it took 30 minutes, the next day 5 minutes, and yesterday it took all of 3 minutes. Today - he actually pointed to his bed when I said "nap time" and willingly laid down and closed his eyes!!! And when he naps - he naps soundly for 2 hours and needs to be woken up.
Our first night home, he fell asleep on the drive from the airport and didn't wake up until morning. I couldnt leave him in a strange room in a strange bed, so he slept with Jay and I that first night. I don't mind having a "family bed" for awhile if it helps him establish comfort and security. He is so excited to go to bed at night. I think it is one of his favorite events of the day. He climbs up on the pillows and curls himself around my head and pats my face until he falls asleep. A few times during the last few nights, he reaches for my face and then kisses my cheeks while whispering "mamamama" in the dark.
We had doctor appointments for the boys on Wednesday morning. A full battery of blood tests and the TB skin test. Obviously the boys have been through this drill a few times because Jayden (Dagmawi) shivered at the sight of the needle but didn't make a peep. Tariku (Wesley) cried for just a moment while they did the full blood draw from a vein in his arm. TOUGH KIDS!!! So far - TB test is negative - Yay!! And now we just wait for final verification on the Hepatitis screenings. My expectation here is that this will be negative too. I also had to do the "poop scoop" with Wesley so we can verify that he no longer has the water-borne parasite Giardia. He tested positive in Ethiopia 2 weeks ago and did a full round of antibiotics, but we are testing again to be sure before I can let anyone else change his diapers.
We have a busy weekend - my brother and sister-in-law are here visiting. Jay's parents are driving up today to bring our 15 year old Golden Retriever home, and to meet their new grandchildren. Bob & Kate Hutchinson are visiting later this afternoon. We have missed them so much since we parted at the airport. They feel like family after spending an amazing week together in Ethiopia. Sunday we will go to church to catch the Christmas play. I think the boys will be fascinated! Then Monday - School for Jayden!!!!
I still plan to blog about Saturday in Ethiopia and our trip home. I will hopefully get to that later this weekend. THANK YOU for your prayers and your encouragement, dear friends and family!!