Sunday, August 31, 2008

Our Kids Are Rock Stars

Where to begin? The bad thing about waiting so long in between posts means that there is just that much more to post.

Samuel and I went to his open house on Friday. He will indeed be in Kindergarten this year. Troy and I are pleased with this decision. After discovering just how demanding the first grade curriculum is in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system - including a lot of reading which Samuel is no where near ready for - we feel like this is the best scenario for him. We don't want him to be perpetually behind from day one, and since he has a tendency to give up on stuff without really trying, we worried that he would simply hate school and never really give it a try. He is already facing a big challenge with the language barrier. His teacher, Ms. Counselman, is excellent though and he seems to like her already. After Thursday's assessments, she pulled a bilingual boy named José into her class so Samuel will have an instant amigo. He is very excited about this, and though he hasn't met José yet he was talking about him at dinner tonight. I also met his ESL teacher and found out that she will be meeting with him 3-4 times a week which is encouraging for us.

As for English at home, Samuel has started saying "sorry" in context. He also uses the phrases "Come on amigos, let's go!" and "Oh my gosh!" Of course the twins mimic him.

Yesterday was my birthday! Yay!!!! I love my birthday. It is my favorite day of the year. Having children made the day ten times sweeter though. The boys were really excited all day. The night before during bedtime prayers, Samuel said he was thankful for my birthday (I swear I had nothing to do with this!) The boys gave me a shirt and a skirt that will both be great for work. Troy asked them what they wanted to get me and Samuel told him a blue dress like the one I am wearing in our wedding picture because I look happy - how sweet is that! My husband, who is the greatest husband in the world, made the day equally sweet because he put together a party and bought us tickets to see Iron & Wine in Asheville in November (he has even started pre-arranging childcare).

Then today we finally took the plunge and went to church. We knew today was a special service directed towards families, including the sermon. Also, with people from church bringing us meals, we knew the boys would recognize some faces. They were so good, sat still, and were pretty much quiet the whole time. I thought ahead and took the twins' blankets which I think helped keep them quiet. They of course loved the music. Troy sat with Samuel so he could translate the sermon. The theme of the service was God's Word being a lamp unto our feet. Troy was explaining to Samuel that the Bible is God's direction for our lives and Samuel says to Troy (in Spanish), "But only for me, not for Luis Angel and Daniel." Hilarious! He wants so badly for anything to just be his - even the Word! After the service they were basically rock stars since the whole congregation has been following our story on-line. Luis (our introvert) needed some cuddle time once he started to feel overwhelmed, but there were several people able to speak Spanish to them so I think they felt pretty comfortable. We skipped Suday School (one new thing at a time). However, as a part of today's "Family Sunday" theme, we had our summer picnic after church. This was a great way to further introduce the boys to members of our church family and other children in the church. It was super hot and humid, but they were real troopers. I can't believe how great they were today!

Also, one thing we have started doing is using positive reinforcement. Troy and I are so exhausted from yelling, refereeing, and policing that we thought it was time to take a new approach. So we hung some poster board up in their room and when they follow the rules and listen, they get stickers. So far, so good. We are on the learning curve right now, but there have been fewer time-outs and less yelling so I think we are getting there.

Final thoughts: This weekend has been HUGE for me. When we moved here three years ago, I did so very reluctantly, kicking and screaming. I was convinced that I would always hate Charlotte and forever mourn moving from Norfolk. While I do miss my family and friends from Norfolk everyday, I was reminded this weekend of just how far we have come. Maybe it took going to Colombia for over a month to make me finally call Charlotte home, but I am so thankful for the friends we have made here. I am also beyond thankful for the church family that God has led us to be a part of, we have felt incredibly loved by our congregation since we started attending Providence earlier this year.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

First Day Of School!

Samuel's first day of Kindergarten was today! He was so very excited and we were so very nervous. Troy and I went with him into the classroom to meet the teacher and make sure that I could go over my list of paranoia: "He speaks no English." "If you think he is ignoring you, he can't understand you." "He shuts down when he is overwhelmed." "Did I mention he speaks no English?" Today was an assessment day and he is off until Tuesday. We find out his permanent teacher tomorrow and then go in for the Open House on Friday. According to Samuel, no one spoke Spanish, they watched TV and took a nap. I think they did more than that, but this is what he offered up.

Two Surprise Visits!

So I am a little behind this week, but so much has happened! First off, our week started with a couple of surprise visits and has just been crazy ever since.

Surprise Visit #1: On Sunday we went to McDonald's to go to the Playplace. (Please do not take this as an indicator as to how Troy and I feed our children - we had drug them to a few different stores and wanted to give them a chance to play for being such good sports.) At the said Playplace, Luis got bumped into by an older, bigger kid who he then hit and the kid then hit him back. Troy saw the whole thing, grabbed Luis and then I proceeded to take him out to the van where I could talk to him about what happened when I noticed his mouth was gushing blood. Well...it turns out that at some point during the "scuffle" he finally lost his snaggle-tooth. Yay!!!! We looked all over and couldn't find it, so we assume he swallowed it. He was so sad the whole way home, he just kept sucking in his lips. Troy and I kept rejoicing that it finally fell out. So...the Toothfairy made her first appearance in La Casa de Eisenberger. The other boys were jealous, but we have assured them that their teeth will fall out one day too!

Since Luis is so young to lose his teeth, I am not sure how long he will have the gap, but boy is the gap better than his messed-up, half hanging out teeth! He doesn't seem to mind that they are gone now.

How much is a tooth worth? Only $1 per tooth in our house, BUT we made sure they were the cool, shiny, gold dollar coins. Our kids don't really "get" money yet, so coins are just like another toy any way.

Surprise Visit #2: This one was MUCH needed. Picture it: I am on the phone, Samuel is crying because Daniel has pegged him in the head with yet another toy (when is Sam going to learn to just throw it back at him?), Luis is in his bed crying because he is in time-out for tearing a book, the doorbell is ringing, the dogs are barking... I figured the person at the door was probably FedEx and would go away when all of the sudden, my sister pokes her head in the door and says, "Hey are you going to answer the door?" Yay! Yay! Yay! I have not seen my family since April...My niece (who I like to consider my mini-me, not because she looks like me, but because I adore her and we have been peas in a pod since she was born) has grown like a foot, and my nephew (who used to never talk to me) couldn't stop talking to me! And to see my sister and my brother-in-law (who I equally adore) was like a much needed breath of fresh air. It was just the pick-me-up I needed after a hard week/weekend. The boys seemed a little tentative at first, but before too long, Daniel only wanted Tia Amanda and they were wanting Tio Rico (who is very tall) to pick them up over his head. I cannot tell you how long I have waited to see my children cling to my sister the way that Liana has clung to me. When Daniel got hurt and wanted Tia Amanda to comfort him, I had to smile with pride and nostalgia at the number of times Liana wanted me. It was such a great visit. I could go on and on...

La Familia bonita!

Poor Liana! She is completely outnumbered! Do you see her little foot sticking out? She was totally able to keep up though! Afterall, at almost 9 years old (in two weeks) she is nearly twice as tall as everyone else! I think Ethan was in boy heaven! He loves having boys his age and size to play with!

So, we adults went out for drinks but didn't have a babysitter... That joke will never get old for me. How many kids can you fit in the dog crate? And, why is it fun to lock yourself in the crate? I just don't get it. The boys were so excited to meet their cousins. When our family left on Tuesday, the boys stood at the door with the saddest faces on - Mama too.

Samuel and Liana were inseparable. When we went to the mall, she kept asking him for hugs and they would walk with their arms around each other. It was so adorable. In the car, she said to me, "Auntie, they are even cuter in person."

The boys are very thankful for the two extra dumptrucks that their new family brought! Now each of them have their own. Yes, I wrote their names on them. I have to stay one step ahead and had to anticipate that Samuel would get it in his head to play with all three at one time. Now each of them know exactly which truck is theirs. No crying, no arguments!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What We Do On A Saturday Night (or Dance Party USA)

Who says that we married with children folks can't go dancing on a Saturday night? We had our very own dance party in our kitchen this evening. Check out our boys' awesome moves! We have quite possibly the coolest kids in the world! (WARNING: We are not responsible for any injuries sustained while laughing during the viewing of the following videos.)

video
Do our boys have the moves or what? We were in the camioneta the other day when this song came on and Samuel suddenly exclaimed, "Este es mi canción favorita!" (This is my favorite song!) I think it took both of us by surprise, simply because in all our time in Colombia, we never heard anything but traditional Colombian music - except when we were at Archie's...we did hear Bel Biv Devoe while we were there...hmmm...

video
We decided to go with a faster tune. We aren't really sure of what you would call this dance. Just like everything Daniel does, it is all his own!

video
Samuel is by far our most energetic dancer. The head bounce though makes this dance.

video
OK, so this isn't a dance video, BUT you have to take everything in context. Luis is all angsty from trying to stack the magnetic numbers from the fridge. He got upset and threw them into the hallway while we were listening to a Dashboard Confessional song. It was too perfect not to capture on video. After this was over, he wrote a poem about it on his myspace page.

Friday, August 22, 2008

You Know Urine Trouble When...

We have had a consistent theme over the last couple of days...pee!

Incident #1: Yesterday morning, I woke up after 9:00 AM and thought "Holy cow! The kids are sleeping late...Why are we sleeping so late?!" As I walked in to the boys room a little while later, after feeding the dogs and prepping breakfast (Kellogg's), I smelled the distinct smell of urine and thought "Oh no, Luis, not again." (He had wet the bed a couple of days ago). However, Luis was sitting up, chatting, and ready for breakfast. Not Daniel though. He was laying against the wall, pretending to be asleep. So, I got Samuel and Luis up, put them in front of the TV and went to work on Daniel. It took a couple of minutes to coax him out of bed, assure him that it was OK, and realize that he was SOAKED and WARM. Why, oh, why didn't he get out of bed and go to the bathroom? I really stewed over this all day until it hit me...so we had a talk that went something like this (except in Spanish): Me - "Did you not go to the bathroom because there was no gate?" Daniel - "Yes" Me - "Were you afraid of the dogs?" Daniel - "Yes". I then explained to him that the dogs are in our room all night and all morning. Poor baby, he was terrified because I hadn't put the gate up outside their room and was convinced the dogs were lurking just outside his door. He couldn't wait for me anymore, and he just couldn't hold it.

Incident #2: I took the twins to Chic-Fil-A today to meet a friend and her son for lunch (Troy was working from home and Samuel was not feeling well). The boys were playing in the play place when Luis came running back to our table holding his "boy parts" saying "Mama, chi chi, chi chi." Well, he was shoeless and I wasn't going to let him go around like Brittney Spears. I clearly underestimated the seriousness of his pee-pee dance because as I was putting on his second shoe, the pee came gushing down his leg. Luckily, my friend Beth was very gracious and went to get the "mop guy" while I got napkins, and she even shared a story of a time when her son randomly urinated at an inopportune time. Luis didn't even cry. He just stood there in his wet pants and shoes like this happens every day...something tells me this may have happened a lot in his former life. The best moment was the look on Troy's face when Luis walked into the house naked from the waist down (I took off his pants and underpants because I didn't want the carseat to start stinking.)

Incident #3: The details on this are still sketchy. All I know is that I came home from shopping this afternoon to find Luis in the tub and Troy describing what must have been a horrific scene. Apparently, Troy went to wake the twins up from their nap and found Luis standing at the foot of his bed. His pants were soaked and his pants had extra surprises for Troy. Nice, real nice! We have been over this 100 million times!!!! If you ask him "Where do you po po?" He will tell you "In the bathroom", but he doesn't always practice what he preaches. Needless to say, it would take an entire CSI team to figure out how Luis' bed was not dirty from this. I literally stood in their room, sniffing EVERYTHING trying to piece this together. The only thing I could come up with is that he might have been trying to make it to the bathroom, but it was more urgent than he realized... The joys of potty training.

If the third time is a charm, maybe tomorrow will bring a new theme... Here's to hoping!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Can You Believe It Has Been 6 Weeks?

As of today, we have been a family for 6 whole weeks. Somedays this feels like the most natural thing in the world. Somedays we feel like we are in over our heads. But 6 weeks. How crazy is that?! It is flying by! Tomorrow (if I remember) I will post on some of the changes we have seen in the boys since day 1. For now though, my usual jabber.

So, in my spare time (and I may have said this before), I am an avid "blogstalker" - meaning that I like to keep up with other friend's blogs to see how their lives are going, especially those families who have adopted. I have often been perplexed when families return home from Colombia and then all of the sudden they stop posting as much. Well now I know why... There really isn't that much going on, at least there isn't that much going on with La Familia Eisenberger. We pretty much do the same thing day in and day out...Although, I still feel like I am not getting anything done - very odd indeed.

Here is a synopsis of our daily routine:
9:00 AM (on a good day for Mama) - we get up, eat breakfast, change clothes and brush teeth. The boys are usually up before this, but it takes me a while to get out of bed, get the dogs fed and outside, then I have to make breakfast. Meanwhile, the boys are usually causing a ruckus in their room.
10:00 AM - playtime begins (this is also known as fight time, cry time, all around drive Mama up the wall in anyway we can time). Sometimes we go out - like to Target or to visit Troy.
1:00 PM - "Va a come?" "Yes it is finally time to eat." "Mama, los perros?" "They are outside." This is usually followed by a round of questions repeated in turn by each boy, including "what's this?" while we point to everything on the table, in the room, on the porch, etc... And we ALWAYS discuss the state of the dogs (are they sick, are they hot, will they bite us).
2:30 PM - The twins take a nap, Samuel hangs out in the guest room with some books and some toys and I take a break.
4:30ish PM - Wake up and watch some TV
5:00 PM - Papa comes home. The boys get very excited. Samuel squeals everytime he hears the door open. It is really sweet. Then there is the adorable round of "Hola Papa"s.
6:00 PM - We usually eat dinner.
7:00 PM - Every other night is bath night. On non-bath nights we usually take them out to the park or for a walk to wear them out.
8:00 PM - Bedtime.

And then we do it all again the next day. Once school/work starts, this will all change, but for now, this is what we are doing. And this is why the posts are fewer and farther in between. It just seems like we don't have as much excitement now that we are home, and I don't want to bore you all with the drama of Luis pegging Samuel in the head with a "weeble" or the woes of trying to figure out how I am going to get my first post-placement report done in 6 weeks without having an adoption agency. We are very glad to be back to real life, but sadly real life is a little bit more mundane than our "pressure-cooker, hotel life" in Colombia. I do have more pictures though!

Some wonderful friends brought the boys a Tonka Dumptruck and in about 10 minutes I learned the reason why my mom and my grandparents ALWAYS bought me, my sister and my cousin (who is one year older than me) the exact same toys at Christmas. The "camioneta" as the boys call it is now in a hidden location and only comes out for rationed periods of time (as in the order you finish your breakfast is the order you get to play with the truck for 20 minutes each, after that it is a free-for-all). Needless to say, the truck and the blocks from Nana and Pop Pop are a match made in heaven, especially for Luis who spent his entire 20 minutes perfectly placing each and every block on the stack (note the tongue sticking out for concentration).

Oh, and a side story... I am one step ahead of the boys and they think that I am so stupid. I knew I needed to clean a bit today so the boys would be on their own in the loft/now playroom. I also knew that Samuel knew that I was keeping toys, including the truck in the guest room closet, so I moved it to a more secure location. He totally got busted today for going into that closet. He brought out another toy that was in there, but when I asked him if he went in there to look for the truck, he admitted he had. I will never give away my new location!

The alternative to the truck is the weeble firetruck. The same rules do not apply to this one, it is simply another toy to play with while you wait your turn. There is a whole toy box full of stuff to play with while they are waiting their turn... No problem right?

Not if you are Samuel. He was not happy that his turn with the truck was over and that the same rules did not apply to the firetruck.

He continued to pout even harder when I told him that he needed to pick one of their hundred other toys to play with. The problem is that he ALWAYS wants what Daniel has...no matter what it is. He will even go so far as to try to trick Daniel into giving it to him by offering him something else. He can be kind of ruthless and has totally figured out how to outwit both of his brothers. Future Survivor player?

We finally took them to Moe's. OK, we finally took ME to Moe's! Yay! They were sort of confused by their tacos and burrito (Samuel only), but they worked it out. Next time, quesadillas all around!

Samuel begged us to get him a burrito, and then he was so perplexed by it. I don't think he expected it to be so big and he wasn't quite sure of how to eat it. He ended up eating all of his chips and then squeezing all the guts out of his tortilla and eating it with a fork.

Daniel empty his tortilla too. I am not sure if actually ate anything but chips. He was covered in cheese.

This is where I put them to get my housework done. Just kidding, they totally locked themselves in their when our friend Andrea stopped by to drop off a meal for us. They thought it was hilarious.

Anything can be a toy, even sitting in a basket.

Our pastor, Mark, his wife Tara, and their three sons, Walker, Liam and Stephen, also stopped by to meet the boys. Mark and Tara were missionaries in Ecuador so their Spanish is amazing and the kids warmed up to them in no time. The fact that they brought books helped too! Mark read The Hungry Catipillar, in Spanish of course. I don't think Daniel could have been any closer if he were the hungry catipillar, but at least they are kind of, sort of, almost getting the hang of being read to.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Per Nana's Request...

My mom thought the b-boy was cute, but not nearly as cute as her grandsons. So, per her request, I am updating the blog and moving on from my SYTYCD catch-up reverie (go Josh! He was my pick from Vegas!) Besides the boys have been all sorts of cute lately.

We are definitely surviving and making it work (we plan to catch up on Project Runway next). I take the boys on field trips to make the weekday mornings pass - we have gone to the Y, Target, Papa's work, Northlake Mall and Chic-Fil-A. At Chic-Fil-A, I found out that the owner was in Bogotá at the same time that we were and he has been to Colombia several times. One of the managers gave the boys balloons and spoke Spanish to them which lit up Samuel's face. He loves having people to talk to. In the play place at the mall, I met a wonderful woman named Frances, whose husband is from Cali, Colombia. She is amazingly bilingual and a nanny to a little boy named Brock who she is teaching to speak Spanish. She gave me a ton of helpful hints and a list of places to take the boys to keep their Spanish skills up to speed in the long run. I am hoping to meet her and Brock for a playdate in the future.

In other news, we found out that Luis' front teeth are jacked because he was apparently running and fell down. This is according to Samuel who declared that "Luis Angel is always running." When we take them for their medical exams next month, Dr. Douglass will refer us to all of the specialists we need, including a pediatric dentist and pediatric opthamologist for Daniel's lazy eye.

Over the weekend, we took them to the NASCAR Speedpark. It was pretty fun. If I can figure out how to get the pictures out of my phone, I will upload them to the blog. The best part of the day was the little go-karts that the kids drive themselves. Picture Samuel who doesn't speak English and has never driven a go-kart incredibly excited to drive one for the first time all by himself and having no idea what the guy just told him to do. Needless to say, it was a rocky start, but he caught on and Troy and I were beaming with pride while the twins stared in envy. I think the other children's parents were a little frustrated that Samuel kept bumping their kids or holding up traffic when he crashed into the wall. I could hear them laughing, and all I could think is "you really shouldn't take your kid's life experience for granted." I know I have said it before, but I am going to say it again...I want to make sure that everyone is listening...our sons have not really been exposed to anything. Pretty much everything we do with them is a new experience for them - whether it is learning to drive a go-kart or dropping Luis down a spiral slide after making him think I was going to slide with him (don't worry he loved it and we did that about twenty more times). The cool thing is that it is Troy and I getting to push them on the swings, drop them down slides, comfort them when they come off a ride screaming (Luis), restrain them during story time because they have never been read to, and teach them how to play "Cooties". As challenging as it is, I think that both of us would say (when we aren't sleep deprived or being pushed over the edge) that parenting these boys is a dream come true. La Familia Eisenberger ROCKS!

Other improvements on the homefront: This morning, Baxter went into the guest room where Daniel was in bed (don't ask) and Daniel simply cried, he didn't scream. Troy bathed the boys tonight and somehow convinced Luis to tilt his head back, close his eyes, and he didn't cover his face with a towel - and there was NO crying!!! I am so jealous. I asked him to show me how do this on the next bath night. Troy has returned to work and I haven't quite lost my mind just yet. At dinner tonight, Samuel kept saying "Mama, mile...casa de patito." He has been saying this to me for a couple of days and tonight I finally got it, he was pointing to the bird house out back! But quite possibly the best news of the day that only a parent can appreciate, Luis pooped in the toilet of his own volition - no prompting, no questioning, no insisting. This was followed by me and the boys celebrating with high fives and jumping in the bathroom! Ahh...the joys of parenting!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Monkeys Are Cute, But...

OK, I know I am just now catching up on TV, so I am a little out of date with this post, BUT...This kid might just be a little bit cuter than my boys in their monkey towels. And that is saying a lot! This little kid rocks...sorry niños, but your gonna have to learn to be b-boys if you want to impress Mama!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

What A Week!

Can you believe we have been home for a whole week today? Troy pointed that out to me this evening, and it really astounded me. One whole week! Boy do I have some catching up to do for you all!

So, what have we been up to? Well, we have been working out our daily routine complete with three meals, naptime and baths every other night. We have gone on a couple of outings to Target because where else would we go! We registered Samuel for kindergarten on Tuesday and he is beyond excited - he can't stop asking when does he go to school. Troy went back to work yesterday (which turned out to be the longest day of my life as I tried to figure out how to entertain and communicate with mi hijos all by myself). We are basically just trying to get back into the ebb and flow of everyday life. The suitcases are still packed. I just keep washing the same few outfits over and over for the boys. We are trying to catch up on bills and touch base with family and friends. Hopefully, before I return to work on September 2, we will find something that sort of resembles order and organization in our expanded household.

The dog situation has seen some improvement. The boys are still terrified to be in the same room with them, but they are tolerant of the fact that the dogs live in the house. They often call them to the gate, and today Luis actually took Sylvia her rawhide after I put her in her crate as we were leaving the house. He couldn't figure out how to get it between the bars, but I figured it is the thought that counts.

They continue to ask what different objects are in English, though they never use the English word. Although, yesterday when I sneezed, Daniel said "Bless you!" I about fell out of my seat with delight and immediately told him "Muchas gracias!" I am trying to remember to use both Spanish and English when talking to them, but I barely remember to use English for the most basic of things anymore anyway.

Tonight we had some really special family time. We have an incredible park very close to our house complete with numerous sports fields, so we took a couple of soccer balls and began "Operation: Wear the Boys Out". It was a lot of fun and we learned some new things about their personalities. It was just great to get out and play as a family. The best part was toward the end when Daniel finally started to get the concept of playing with other kids and he and Luis started to share a ball and kick it back and forth. This is huge because Daniel is not very good at sharing anything, ever. It is really hard to describe how amazing these little "milestones" are.

Well, I know this is long, but I have a ton of pictures for you too from the past week! Enjoy!

The boys waiting to board the flight in Bogotá. The twins are both clutching their blankies, and Samuel looks so contemplative. He was so serious that morning - it was as if he knew this was huge, but didn't know how to express it.

After screaming and crying on takeoff, Daniel fell asleep on my lap for quite a while with a lollipop in his mouth. I took the lollipop out before I thought to take the picture.

Luis on the plane.

This is our first supper at home thanks to the Freys! They were kind enough to stop by Chic-Fil-A on the way home from the airport for us so we could just focus on getting the boys home.

Troy was awesome on our first morning home. He let me sleep in while he got up and got the boys breakfast, then got them dressed. Muchas gracias Papa!

The boys absolutely adore Nana, Pop Pop and Tio RJ. We had a great visit with my family. I think Daniel especially is a total "Nana's boy". Sorry E, you may have some competition when we visit - or should I say sorry Mommy, you may have two boys constantly following you around saying "Nana, Nana, Nana..." You won't have any peace whatsoever!

Tio RJ had these 80s glasses that the boys thought were very fun! And they just love to ham it up for the camera!

In Troy's words, for those who are keeping score, Baxter and Sylvia - scary, letting your brother lock you in the dog's crate, not so much.

The park near our house also has a wonderful playground. This is our fearless Samuel climbing. On a side note, our van is the blue van in the bottom left.

Because the twins have to do everything their big brother does, Luis (who is not so fearless) decided to climb the same ladder as Samuel. Needless to say, I had to put down the camera and climb with him right after this pic was taken.

Daniel has gotten so brave on the slide. He can now slide without needing either of us to hold his hand or stand at the bottom!

The best part about our park is that Mama and Papa can play too without worrying about the police or security telling us to get off of the equipment!

Daniel might be feeding the dinosaur, I am not really sure. This is one of those things (like the cars at the arcade) where he wanted to watch everyone else, but was not willing to actually try the ride himself.

Bathtime has gotten so much better now that we have a bathtub again, and one that is more their size at that! Look at that smile on Daniel's face - who would have thought it possible? They both still cry when I rinse the shampoo out of their hair. I have deemed it inevitable.

There really isn't anything cuter than our three monkeys in their monkey towels! Perfecto (as Daniel would say!)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Desperately Seeking...

...childcare!

I know this is not a traditional format for finding someone to babysit your children, but we are desperate in the short run. I will be conducting a more formal search in the very near future, but if there is anyone out there in the University City (or Greater Charlotte) area who could help us out every once in a while (or knows of someone else that could), we would be eternally grateful! We are willing to pay!

Thanks!

P.S. More pictures and true-life details are forthcoming in the very near future!

Monday, August 11, 2008

GUEST BABYSITTER - Brett Favre

So we are home now if you don't know that. Andrea has a post below outlining our first few days. In an effort to keep the blog interesting long after we have left Colombia, here is the first guest babysitter post in which we describe encounters where celebrities come watch our kids for the night.

GUEST BABYSITTER - BRETT FAVRE
Brett - Yeah, I think I'm ready to come back. I know the last time I said no more babysitting, and I cried. But there's just a desire to compete, to watch the kids. I'm ready to come back. Are they upstairs?
Troy - Yeah. Okay, We are going to see The Dark Knight since we are now one of the 9 people in the US who haven't seen it. I have however seen the first 20 minutes of Cars 62 times.
Brett - I love that movie. I mean I really don't like it. It's awesome. I dunno...I may change my mind.
Andrea - There's mac and cheese in the fridge.
Brett - I love Italian food. Reminds me of the time I spent 4 hours at the Olive Garden. 30 minutes to decide Smoking vs. Non-Smoking (smoking...I'm a gunslinger)....then booth vs. table (I went with table). Then I finally decided on the chicken parm. When the waitress brought it out, I told her I wanted spaghetti and meatballs, when she came back again I told her I wasn't hungry and wanted to sit in a booth in non-smoking.
Troy - Okay. Whatever.
Brett - You can count on me. I'm a great leader.
Troy - When you're not throwing interceptions, right?
Brett - You're just a bitter Seattle fan right?
Troy - Yup.
Brett - Have a good time.

Later...at the movies....

Andrea - Can I get nachos?
Troy - Sure...hey is your phone ringing?
Andrea - Yeah...hello?....oh really....i see....but then who will?...okay.
Troy - Brett is quitting?
Andrea - Yeah, he got a babysitting gig in New York. Don't worry, he got someone to fill in. Some nice girl named Erin I think.
Troy - Sweet.  Let's go watch something violent.

Things Could Be Better...

Well, I have to be honest...things could definitely be better. Although we did have a great (if all too short visit) from Nana, Pop Pop, and Tio R.J. this weekend, the boys' adjustment to their new home has been rocky at best. We are trying to fall into a routine which will help in the long run, but Samuel is consistently cranky and Daniel seems to be hitting more frequently again.

The single biggest, and most disheartening, challenge has been with the dogs. When I brought Baxter home on Friday night, the boys all screamed so loudly and for so long that we had to put them to bed early because we could not get them to calm down. Sylvia came home on Saturday. We have since blocked half of the house off for the dogs so the boys can have the upstairs and we put the dogs outside for meals, however, the boys continuously call the dogs to the gate and stare at them (and now taunt them) like they are at the zoo. It is really frustrating for Troy and I. Our dogs are like our children too. They were our first "babies"'. Anyone who knows us well, knows that we spoil and pamper them to the point that both of our 60 pound "babies" sleep in our bed with us. While we are trying to be patient with our actual human children, we are also very selfishly hoping that we can help them overcome their phobia as quickly as possible.

The one thing we are trying to hold onto is remembering just how much change the boys have been through. Samuel asks to watch Discovery Kids everyday despite the fact that we tell him several times a day that there is no Discovery Kids here. Poor boy. Also, the language is confusing for all of them. They are now on the other side of the fence. We just know the adjustment will take time, and I think that if we could get some real rest, or just a real break, we might be able to have more patience with the children and each other.

On the upside, we did have a touch of normalcy for the first time since being home. Last night, after the kids went to sleep, Troy and I sat in the loft watching TV with the dogs curled up on the couch. It was truly peaceful and relaxing. I finally felt like I might be able to get some rest once we get our routine down. I will post a couple of pics once I find the camera. We aren't sure what we did with it...

Thursday, August 07, 2008

We're home...

...need I say more?

Today was a long, long day, but it will end in nearly the best way possible: with all of the Eisenbergers (minus the pups, of course) asleep in our beds. Hooray! I am very much looking forward to it and hoping that I can keep my worsening cough at bay long enough to let me fall into a deep sleep (despite the fact that I am truly panicked because we don't have bed rails on the twins' beds and they are bound to roll out onto the floor tonight).

Highlights: We were able to get seats together! All the boys wailed on the flight out of Bogotá until a nice man gave them lollipops to help calm them down. Daniel fell asleep on my lap, then fell asleep against the window, then both twins fell asleep through the landing (praise God!) Luis spilled his entire cup of OJ on me, so I spent most of the flight to ATL sopping wet and smelling real good! No one cried at all on the flight to CLT from ATL. None of the boys complained about having to ride in their carseats.

On the way home, we put the iPod on shuffle and the boys kept asking for more songs. As we drove past the Charlotte skyline, Modest Mouse's "Float On" came on and Luis started clapping along. The boys were so excited and "ooohing" and "aaahing" about the city (their ciudad nueva), and I told Troy that should be our theme song. "We'll all float on OK...even if things get heavy." It just somehow seemed to fit. The past five weeks (...er...four years...) have been some of the most challenging of our lives, but there we were driving down I-85 with our long-awaited children in the back of our minivan. We survived! We made it through infertility, the paperwork process, living in a hotel room for five weeks, and so much more.

When we pulled into the garage, and got out of the van, the boys were so tentative. I have never seen Daniel move so slow or cautiously. We had told them all day, it is OK to be nervous, it is OK to be scared, this is a big day. Within moments though, they were running from room to room, touching stuff. They love their room and bath room. They were very excited about their toys and cars. Several of our friends had decorated the house with balloons and a banner, so the boys were more excited about the balloons than anything else. For me, to have them here, running around, is beyond words. I know I am sentimental, but it did bring tears to my eyes. Our children are very real, and they are here, in our house! It is unbelievable. Watch out America! You have three new citizens! How cool is that?!

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Jumping For Joy

video
I let the boys jump on the bed one last time before we depart. Enjoy! It really never gets old...for them or for us.

Hasta Luego Colombia!

Today was our last full day in Colombia. Nothing bittersweet about it! We are ready to go home and the boys are ready to go to casa nueva. The day started off a little slow because all I wanted to do was pack, so it took us a while to get out the door. All I can say is once we got out the door, WOW! what an adventure.

We wanted to do something American to celebrate our trip to America - so we set off to find the Hard Rock Café. Well, it wasn't where we thought it was, and we ended up walking about thirty blocks to this mall only to defeatedly catch a taxi and have the driver take us in the completely opposite direction, far past our hotel. Once we were there though, it was worth it. Troy, Samuel and I had burgers, and the twins had chicken fingers. Everyone was happy to be filling up on fries and greasy food. Troy and I bought t-shirts. We then caught a cab back to our hotel because Troy had to meet Jaime to go pick up the translated paperwork. I thought I could finish packing while the boys went down for a nap after their epic walk. Apparently they cannot nap after drinking Coca-Cola. This was the first soda we let them have, and it was a great lesson for us. After our missed naps, we caught another cab and went back to the aforementioned mall for ice cream with the Uhlenbrock family (see Brian and Penny's story under our "Other Adoptions" section). Catching a cab back to the hotel was a little tricky, but we made it just in time for dinner!

The sweetest part of the day was getting ready for bed. We had Q&A about mañana and let the boys ask whatever they wanted to ask (the big question is what color will the planes be). We looked at pictures of the house, the dogs, their room, the Western Hemisphere, etc. We talked about being "una familia siempre" (a family always) and that seemed to really make them happy. This was followed by mucho besos! Daniel is so cute because he grabs your cheeks when he kisses you. I don't know how much they truly understand, but they did ask a lot of really good questions. Tomorrow is the big day!


Walking to the mall, the boys decided that Papa was way cooler than Mama and everyone wanted to hold his hand. He is working on ordering a prosthetic third arm so that no one feels left out.




Yummy! All I wanted was some comfort food!


Note to self: Coke + Child = Lack of Nap = No Down Time for Padrés


I think the twins both ended up with more ice cream on them than in them. That is pretty typical for most of their food.


When Samuel walked out of the ice cream shop with this cone, I immediately shot Troy a look like "That was the worst idea ever!", but he did really well and none of the scoops fell off.


Uhlenbrocks + Eisenbergers = Awesomeness!!!! Back row: Penny, Brian, Andrea and Troy; Front row: Laura (3), Rosita (2), Daniel, Angela (3), Luis, and Samuel. It was wonderful to meet other Americans in process, and to meet the parents of another sibling group.


Troy's treat to himself and farewell to Colombia was to enjoy a Cuban cigar and a good Dutch beer. It was a tribute to the international flair of Hotel Halifax!

Adios Colombia!!! Charlotte, we can't wait to be home!

In 24 Hours...

...we will be at the airport! Yay! No I didn't wake up early just to write this post. I think I am just so excited to be so close to going HOME!

Not long after finishing last night's post I was able to resolve everything with Delta, and they were able to get Troy and I on the flight for no cost (which is good because that is why we purchased the special "adoption" tickets to begin with). The only hitch now is that they can't seat all of us together, as in one of the children will be sitting by themselves...Again, my children are 4 and 6, this is not an option. I will be discussing this with the ticketing agent at the counter tomorrow morning - or perhaps Troy will depending on how much or how little English they speak. At any rate, barring any unforeseen hindrances by weather, baggage system failure or the Dharma Initiative, we should be in Charlotte 36 hours from now.

Today we plan to wear the boys out by walking a lot, or at least that is what I told them last night. They are so adorable and wound up. They would not go to sleep last night, and they were absolutely giggly. Every time I would go in to tell them that they needed to settle down, Daniel would say "Mama, beco, beco..." which sounds sort of like this word that we have outlawed "pepeco"** which means "stinky feet" (we are trying to get them to be nice to each other.) So, Troy came in and we were asking them to tell us what "beco" is and it turns out that it is how Daniel pronounces "beso" which is "kiss" in Spanish. So we had a short, giggly talk about how kisses from mom and dad are good because we love them so much. It was really fun! And it was really sweet because they were all asking for kisses. It had never occurred to either of us that they have probably never been loved on as much as they have for the past four weeks, and I, especially, grew up in a very affectionate family.

**So, we have told them that if they call each other "stinky feet", they will get in trouble (whatever consequences we have available at the time) and they are not to use that word. Well yesterday, Troy said Daniel was laying on the bed, with his foot up to his nose, saying "pepeco, pepeco!" What are the consequences for using the word in context?

Prayer Requests: Safe and happy travels for all. I am trying to pack more incognito this time so as not to upset the boys (and their tummys). They know we are going "en un avion" at some point and are excited, and that we are going to our "casa nueva". However, we are certain they don't really know what that means. Samuel is still showing us that he is reluctant about all of the changes that have and are taking place. Please pray that none of the children have to sit alone on the plane. Also that none of our flights would be delayed. Oh, and this may seem silly, but this is huge for me, please pray that they car ride from the airport to home won't be an issue when we strap all of them into their carseats for the first time ever.


Yesterday we hung out at Parque 93 in the morning. The boys had a great time trying to make "castillos". Not exactly sandcastles in the sand, but we will wait until we get to the beach for that. At one point, we had mama's foot and most of their legs buried. It was pretty awesome oppossum.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Ever Get That Sinking Feeling

***UPDATE: No Delta Representatives were harmed during the creation of this post.***

You know we couldn't get out of here without one more glitch, right? Well, we have the boys visas and that went smoothly. Troy goes back to the embassy tomorrow to pick up the translation of the birth certificates, sentencia and abandonment decree which is a new requirement for citizenship that we don't totally understand (except it is more pesos out of our pockets), but whatever...While Troy went to the embassy to pick up the visas and the boys were napping, I was busy packing away. However, I just couldn't seem to get rid of that nagging "we only have two days left, this is too good to be true" feeling that I have in the pit of my stomach. Turns out, my woman's intuition is right...again.

I am on the phone with Delta right now. I just found out that when Troy called to switch the tickets last weekend, the incompetent person that he spoke to put our four and six year olds on the flight all by themselves and did not change our tickets! So in Delta's eyes we have missed our Sunday flight and they are telling me that we may have to pay a change fee. [insert string of American obscenities] They are the ones who made the mistake. I am not paying them anything. If DirecTV thinks it heard an earful when they incorrectly installed our DVR twice, I feel sorry for the next pseudo-English speaking South American Delta rep that gets on the line with me. Sorry, but we cannot miss that flight on Thursday!

***REAL TIME UPDATE: The woman just came on the line to tell me that I am moments away from receiving my confirmation number. Does this mean I don't have to pay anything else? Stay tuned...***

Monday, August 04, 2008

27 Days Down, 3 Days To Go

Our visit to the embassy was this morning! Aside from having to wait for a couple of hours in an overcrowded space with three small children, this step was fairly easy. Since the paperwork is my area of expertise, Troy had the challenge of entertaining the boys. We took coloring books and crayons which helped, but the twins are a little OCD and like to stack things that do not stack (like round crayons) which led to crying spells and stares from onlookers. What the onlookers don't know is that when the OCD crying spells begin, there isn't much comforting we can provide nor is there much we can do to stop the stacking. Here is your rock and your hard place: 1) let the boys continue to stack stuff that cannot be stacked and let them cry out of frustration or 2) take away the stuff that cannot be stacked and let them scream hysterically because you have taken their toys - it is a toss up really. Tomorrow, Troy will return to the embassy at 3:30 PM to pick up the visas and that is the last step in the Colombian process. Hooray! All we will have to do is wait for the the flight home!

Yesterday, after breakfast, we decided to seek out a flea market that Ines had told Troy about. On Sundays they close Avenida 15 to cars and open it solely to pedestrian traffic, so we decided to go for a walk. It was fantastic. There were walkers, runners, cyclists galore. The flea market ended up being much farther than we could hoof it, so we took to a side street and hailed a cab to take us the rest of the way. The market itself was pretty amazing. It was not your average American flea market junk. This was quality hand-made goods by artisans from towns all over the country-side. We ended up buying a few things that we knew we could pack, including a new bag for Mama that will go with my "everyday" shoes. Then it began to rain so we hailed a cab to bring us back. It felt great to be out and about and free! Plus, the boys love being in a taxi, and once we are home they won't get to do that anymore. We spent the rest of the day just hanging around Hotel Halifax.

Oh, and I must mention here that last night was bath night. It was slightly better. Daniel did cry the entire time, but neither he nor I screamed hysterically and at the end he even gave me a big kiss. Sweet boy!

In sad news, and news of the "can our trip get any weirder", we found out this afternoon that our adoption agency is closing. This will not have any bearing on getting us home and settled in the U.S., but Troy and I do have many questions as to how this effects the next steps in our process. The adoption doesn't end when we get home, we have to file reports on the boys every few months for something like the next two years. Also, this announcement effects the jobs of people that I have personally come to know and love through this process. Please pray for them, particularly our caseworker Sarah Huaman and the Colombian Program Director Raul Velez Velez, during this difficult time.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Divercity (a.k.a. Disaster City)

***SPOILER ALERT: For anyone looking for a post on the bright, sunny joys of adopting and parenting and parenting adopted kids, you might want to skip this post! There won't be any sugar coating today!***

Oh and this is going to be a long one because it has been a long (and I stress long) couple of days!

So, we are in Bogotá and we are definitely feeling in between homes. We miss Charlotte of course, but we miss the comfort and friendly faces of Pereira too. Don't get me wrong, we are glad to be on the last leg of our trip, it would just be great if we could have accomplished everything in the comfort of our El Cortijo home with our familiar friends and food (yes, this one will involve my weird food issues). I spent most of yesterday crying, I think from exhaustion and hunger. The food here at Halifax is just plain different, and if you like everything just plain (like me), then you are simply out of luck. Troy has had a splitting headache today due in part to the fact that his brain is about to explode from constantly having to think in two languages. So this trip is starting to take its toll on us.

Friday
Yesterday morning (pre-crying spells) we went exploring. There is a parque just a few blocks from the hotel that is surrounded by restaurants, so we took the boys for a walk to get out some of their energy and let them play on the playground. It is such a treat to have a park so close by. We also have this at home and I now know how valuable it is going to be.

The day ended horribly though with the worst bath night in the history of bath nights. We don't have a bath tub here, so we had to shower the boys with a hand-held nozzle which they are not used to. I made Daniel go first, which was so stupid on my part because he freaks out easily, but I thought Luis would be far worse. He screamed the entire time and since I was already pretty much on edge I ended up getting really upset with him which upset him more. He wouldn't let me get the shampoo out of his hair and after much commotion, constant screaming on his part, I finally just covered his eyes and turned the nozzle on his head. Needless to say, the poor boy was completely panicked, freaked out, upset, confused, etc... He was still crying hysterically ten minutes later when I put Luis Angel in the shower who was also crying by this point. However, within two minutes Luis was splashing around having a grand old time. Samuel even asked Troy if he could take another "bath" when he was done. The whole time I felt completely horrible because I was not only mad at my child for being afraid and crying, but then I made him more afraid than he already was. To add salt to my wounds (and this is why I don't deserve to be a mom) when I sat down on the bed near Daniel after Luis' bath, he got up and gave me a big hug!

Saturday
This morning the boys woke up at the crack of dawn and we could hear them just giggling away in the other room. They clearly think that being able to wake up without Mama and Papa is a hoot. I would think so too if their ruckus didn't wake me up!

After breakfast, Jaime came to get us to take us to Divercity. What is Divercity, you ask? Well, it is this really brilliant concept where kids can go and "work" and earn "money". There are something like 60 types of jobs they can try out - including firefighter, construction worker, cashier, detective, and more. They get costumes at each station and when they have completed their task, they get paid, then they can take that money and buy prizes with what they have earned. Sounds awesome, right? I thought so when I read about it on the Boyachek's blog. Well, we got there around 11:00 AM only to find out that they were having a special party for the newspaper (who is a sponsor) and that they wouldn't be open to the public until 1:30 PM. So we decided that we would return to the hotel, get some lunch and come back.

For lunch we went to Archie's (sorry Brian and Penny, I have been dying to go to an Archie's for weeks now). The kids got to make their own pizzas which was so adorable. They got chef hats and aprons and were covered in flour. It was just too cute! The service wasn't great, but the pizza tasted divine! We made it back to the hotel just in time to meet Jaime again for the second time to go back to Divercity. Troy asked "Are you sure you want to skip naptime?" Of course, it's Divercity, it is going to be awesome!

So, we get to Divercity and the line doesn't look too bad until a man in a "construction outfit" points out that it is broken in half and wraps all the way around the little glass wall in the mall...Well, we waited for about 45 minutes just to get to the cashier. Then we were directed to another line that was about 4 times the length of the pay line (how is that possible!?) to get into the actual park. Luckily, that line moved very quickly, and Daniel only threw one fit in which he refused to move and I had to carry him kicking and screaming ("no big deal, he'll be fine once we are inside"). Once inside though, it was full on chaos! Kids running everywhere, some scary looking wolf thing nearly made the twins cry, and for the first time I started to admit maybe this isn't going to be awesome...

I could go on and on, but to make a long story short, I will say this: Divercity is really a place where you go and stand in line for hours on end...well your kids stand in line and parents aren't allowed to stand with them even if they are four, are criers, and are terrified of everything - which we didn't know until we had already paid. It is a place that is really cool in concept, but a little off in execution. There is nothing to do for the smaller kids. Samuel had a blast, but he only got to be a fireman because the line was so long we didn't have time for anything else. The twins were just too afraid to even try anything and they were exhausted from all the walking. At one point, they were laying on the astroturf in this fake park across from the fire station. I knew someone would probably step on them, but I didn't feel like fighting them on it so I just let them lay there for a while. In short, Divercity was a bit of a disaster for us.

That being said, I take every single day here as learning experience, from baths where my son is begging me to bathe his brothers first to family outings that fall way short of fun. Our children have not been exposed to a whole lot of stuff, including having to stand in line by themselves for an hour in order to be firefighters for five minutes. Every day brings mini-victories and to me that's what counts, that is what I take with me.


When we first got to the park the boys were more excited about the sand than anything else. What will they do when they get to go to the beach for the first time?


Playing with the kids has been the biggest treat. I think I like pushing Luis on the swing more than he likes swinging.


Me and Daniel looking at each other through this bubbly thing. He makes some pretty funny faces, but mostly he just needs to know you are there.


Samuel is so brave. He will try any of the equipment just to see what it does. That means one of us needs to be nearby!


In order to get Daniel out of the sand and up onto the playground equipment, we had to tell him that this tunnel was a cave. He immediately started yelling for his brothers, "Carlito, Luis Angel! Venga! Una cueva! Una cueva! Venga aqui!" I told Troy that it is all about how you market it!


The hermanos enjoying the cueva! Isn't my spanglish awesome opposum!


Yay! Comfort food! We treated the boys to ice cream and the twins didn't really eat theirs. Very weird! Maybe they have weird food issues too!


At Archie's making pizza! It is just so fun to watch the little chefs.








At Divercity, Troy was actually able to get Daniel to pose in one of those head cut-out things. How cute is he?!


Samuel makes a very handsome firefighter!


This picture pretty much sums up Divercity. Here Samuel and I are waiting in line to take "money" out of the ATM to go spend it on little prizes.