Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Jingle Bells Ha-Ha

She has her Abaye's piano skills... Counting down the years until he can start teaching her. Right now she's just learning by example, watching him sing and play for her while she eats her meals or snacks in her high chair nearby. (Listen for her to say, "I likin' this song!")

-Kara (Mihret's proud Emaye)

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

From our family to yours...

From our family to yours... May God grant you a peace that surpasses all mortal understanding, in the remaining days of this year and throughout the year to come.
May He direct and guide your steps, and may you feel the joy and certainty of knowing where you need to be, what you need to be doing, and for whom.
May He bless you indeed.

-Joshua Grover-David Patterson, Kara Nicole Vozel Patterson and Mihret Aida Mirjam Demesse Patterson

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Recent Peanut Scenes

Last Sunday, driving to church:

Me: No wonder it’s so cold!

Kara: Hmmm?

Me: Look at the bank sign. Negative five degrees.

Kara: Oh.

Upon arriving at church, Kara attempts to get Mihret out of her car seat.

Mihret: Mama! I cold! I tired! Five!

Apparently, Mihret has not yet learned the word “negative.”


Last night, with Mihret eating dinner and me playing the piano while she eats:

Mihret: Daddy! All done!

I stop playing the piano.

Me: What is daddy supposed to do?

Mihret: Sit!

Me: Okay.

I sit. A minute passes.

Mihret: More music!

I resume playing.

Mihret: Daddy! All done!



I’m playing the piano while Mihret eats:

Mihret: Jingle Bells!

I start playing and singing Jingle Bells.

Me: … laughing all the way…

Mihret: Ha! Ha! Ha!

Me: … Bells on Bobtails ring…

Mihret: Ha! Ha! Ha!

Repeat after every line of the song. And also, sometimes in the middle of a line.


In the tub, I take out a cotton ball and go to clean Mihret’s nose of gunk.

Me: Squink!

Mihret: Mihret do it!

I dutifully wet a cotton ball and hand it to her. Mihret proceeds to clean her nose.

Mihret: Sgweeenk!


Kara and I are coming out of Target after much Christmas shopping. Also, we bought Mihret a whole mess of diapers.

I am putting Mihret in the car while Kara puts the rest of our purchases in the trunk.

Me: Mihret, mama is putting away your diapers.

Mihret: Yes!

Me: Mihret, what do you do with your diapers?

Mihret: I poop in there!

Friday, December 19, 2008

TV for daughter will have to wait a bit longer

....Instead, we play with Play-doh! :)
Four generations of women (and toddler) playing with Play-doh at Thanksgiving. Mihret, Nona (a.k.a. Grandma), me and GiGi (Great-Grandma).
December 15, 2008
Kara Patterson column: TV for daughter will have to wait a bit longer

As our daughter Mihret approaches her second birthday, my husband Josh and I have been preparing for upcoming major milestones, buying potty training seats and the next size of clothing.

Her special day of Jan. 28 was going to be the day we introduced her to television. But we've decided to put that off for a while.

Before she came home with us, we planned to keep the television turned off during her waking hours until her second birthday.

And we've done that, for the most part. At our house, the only program she's seen featured presidential election results, and the only movie she's watched is the video of her birth family from our international adoption agency.

We respect others' choices to the contrary. Mihret has seen snippets of shows at our friends' homes and football games in the background at family get-togethers.

Josh and I love to watch movies together when Mihret's in bed, and we give each other boxed sets of our favorite television programs as holiday gifts.

It's just that we don't want that medium to distract Mihret from her first imaginative play and her fascination with books. Plus, our family time together during the week is fleeting, and we don't want to drown it out with unnecessary outside stimulation and noise.

Like we did when we were young, we want Mihret to someday follow the journey of the Last Unicorn as she travels to the edge of the world to find others like her.

We hope Mihret will laugh when "The Sword and the Stone's" magical Merlin and Madame Mim try to outsmart each other in a shape-shifting battle of wits.

And we're already envisioning some family sing-alongs with Annie.

It'll be a birthday present for another year.
-Kara Patterson, Post-Crescent staff writer (http://www.postcrescent.com/)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Little Fruitatarian

Mihret wearing tofu, one of her favorite foods.
I understand (from our toddler guides that we've been studying) that as Mihret gets closer to (and surpasses) age two, she'll likely start to become more and more of a finicky eater, and we'll be less and less certain of what she'll eat or not eat. At least until her taste buds settle on what will be her preferences.
So... I pay homage to ten of Mihret's favorite foods, lest they be forgotten for all time...
(in no particular order)
1. Tofu (see above photos)
2. Rice
3. Green beans
4. Pasta
5. Hot dogs
6. Any kind of fruit (we like to call her our little "fruitatarian" as she's been known to eat whole meals full of just fruit) - she really loves cherries, strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, bananas, grapes and applesauce.
7. Hummus
8. Soy yoghurt
9. Snackies, namely goldfish, dried fruit, dried cereal, hull-less popcorn and Toddler puffs
and of course... (she gets these sparingly, but still...)
10. Cookies

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Preserving the precious moments...

Mihret with her new baby doll and her penguin friend at Nona's and Pappa's for Thanksgiving

Just thought I'd take a few minutes and share a few random Mihret experiences. I love interacting with her, and you never know what she'll say next or how she'll interpret a situation or what she'll come up with on her own. She's always been expressive and it's fun just to watch her figure out her world. When she's trying to make a connection, to suss out how something works, she gets a particularly adorable look on her face that we call her "thinking" face. She kind of purses her lips together and looks up and to one side. Two other endearing and distinct expressions that she's had since we can remember are what I call her "Mama Delame" look and her "Grandpa Demesse" look. When she's being quite serious and solemn, she is a miniature of her birth mama. When she puts on her great beaming smile she's her birth grandpa all the way. I think there even may be dimples. :)

Anecdotes from Mihret's world:

We're always telling her, "You did it!" i.e. "You took your coat off by yourself! You did it!" to reinforce what she can do on her own.

Bathtime for Mihret. Josh already put her in the tub so he asks me to fetch him some cotton balls. Mihret hears this, so when I return triumphantly with my find, what does she say?

M: "You did it, Mama!"

We've started having Mihret recite back to us three of our big "get-along-with-your-friends" rules that she has to get down pat: "No biting, no hitting, no hair-pulling." One of her favorite bedtime books right now is a book in a really great series, the Best Behavior Series. The book is called "Teeth are Not for Biting". (Other titles, either on our bookshelf already or will be, include "Hands are not for Hitting" and "Words are not for Hurting.") Anyway, Mihret loves to "read" this book back to us. She loves to look at us sternly and say, "No biting, no biting!" as she does this. We also say "Teeth are..." and she excitedly yells "no biting!"

We've been having some trouble getting Mihret to stay asleep for afternoon naps on weekends, since weekends often find us on the go and she tends to nap in the car if we're doing a half-hour drive or longer in one stint. When we try to transfer her into her crib she often bolts awake and then that's it for that. So we've been bringing her onto our bed (since afternoon nap time on Saturdays and Sundays is when Emaye and Abaye also get naps, and we can't let those go, no way...) and trying to get her to snuggle between us while one of us cat naps and the other sleeps. We kind of trade off so one of us knows what she's doing at all times. So this afternoon, she saw we were tired, and she sat down between the two of us and said, in a nurturing sort of way, "Rub mama back. Rub daddy back." Then she rubbed Josh's back (and my tummy, since I was too groggy to flip over) for a while.

Mihret loves Play-doh, and I have to confess I kind of love it too. Because I had to work a little bit from home this afternoon, I promised her we could get out the Play-doh before her bedtime. She chose the white Play-doh so I started to show her how we could build a snowman. I gave her her own little hunk to work on in the meantime. She rolled out a " 'nake!" (snake) with no prompting and then flattened it into a pancake. Then, she came over and flattened my snowman, which only had two parts to it, poor thing!

And finally... Tonight Mihret was a good Emaye to her baby doll, who looks like her except for the one tuft of hair tied up with a bow. We were on the Webcam with Nona, my mom - something we do every Sunday is talk with Nona and Pappa, my dad, and sometimes Uncle Zack, my brother, since they live in Indiana. So Nona and Josh were talking, and Mihret had put her baby in its carrier, hooked it over her arm and said, "Bye!" She walked over into the corner and sat down with the baby. Then she took her baby out of its carrier, and rocked it back and forth in her arms, with a big smile on her face. Baby went back into carrier, then got a bottle (placed in her carrier, kind of in her ear :) ) and then, the coolest thing ever... we looked back at Mihret and she had her hands folded and was whispering a prayer to her doll. We could hear her say "Thank you.... Amen!" a couple times. Then, if that wasn't cool enough, she reached over and brought her doll's hands together to get her to "pray." More whispering.

I think the most precious moments happen when the camera's not on...


Friday, December 12, 2008

The Sleepytime Formula

One of the things my mother frequently reminds me is just how easy I’ve had it in the sleep department.

“Your brother,” she will solemnly intone, “didn’t sleep through the night until he was three.”

What’s strange is that I actually have memories that relate to this odd little issue. Things like the fact that for a while, every single night they would let him watch "The Great Muppet Caper," which I guess lulled him to sleep.

Perhaps it was the musical numbers.

And there was also the time that I woke up in the middle of the night and noted an odd thing. I was sleeping on the top bunk of the bunk beds my parents had gotten for me and my brother.

My brother, at the time, was still in a crib.

On a small table on the floor, a TV was showing cartoons. Or rather, a cartoon, "Animalympics." Why I remember this, I have no idea.

I do recall getting out of bed, and turning the TV towards myself, and getting back into bed and watching for a while. And I have an even more vague memory of my parents coming into our room, turning the TV back towards my brother, and telling me that the TV was for him.

So clearly, this no sleeping thing made some kind of impression.

Over the years I’ve known many sets of parents to ask (or really, more like beg) each other for advice on the topic of sleep. Mostly along the lines of, “I’m dying here, I MUST sleep, please tell me what you do to get your kids to sleep.”

For that matter, there are whole books dedicated to the topic. I recall coworkers passing around a book called The Baby Whisperer with a kind of reverence, while others inquired in hushed tones, “Did it work? DOES IT WORK!?”

Or, as my nanny friend said when I explained our current predicament: “Sleep is a tough one.”

The thing of it is, mostly sleep has been an easy thing around our house. Despite a huge time change, our little one slept through the night starting about three days after we got home. Then we had some teeth/night terrors/awakening at night issues, but those eventually went away.

And we were finally reaching the next stage, when you stick a toddler in their crib, say goodnight, and let them put themselves to bed. And it was working fine. We’d hear some playing or some talking, for a bit, and then finger-sucking snores.

Until we visited my in-laws for Thanksgiving.

I’m not blaming them for her sudden sleep issues. I’m blaming the unfortunate shift in what was a perfect, well-oiled machine of a routine.

To wit. 7 PM arrives. Bath time. Reading time. Bed time by 7:30-ish.

And during the middle of the day, a little nap to prevent the little one from being overtired.

So, yeah. We went to Indiana for Thanksgiving and things started to unravel.

First she stopped taking a nap. Any attempts to put her down in her Pack ‘n Play were met with the kind of screams usually reserved for being eaten alive by fire ants. There were tears, and loads of snot, which indicated to us that this wasn’t a standard “I don’t wanna,” but rather a “Something is really wrong,” kind of situation.

But the fact of the matter was, by the middle of the afternoon she was totally wiped out. If I sat with her, and held her, she’d pass out in my arms. But the minute I tried to set her down? Screams of terror.

After a couple of days we didn’t try all that hard to get her down for a nap. Either something was wrong, or she just didn’t want to be away from mommy and daddy in "not-home," and either way she’d be back into a routine in a few days. We could deal with a little bit of ornery.

Then bedtime started to become an issue.

With no nap, the kid was WIPED. Holding her for even a minute seemed to put her into a near-coma-like state, right up until her head touched her temporary resting place. Then the screaming started again.

Ultimately, I’d hold her for 30-45 minutes, until she was well into la-la land, and then put her down. There would be minor fussing, but ultimately she couldn’t fight the tired.

We thought this would all resolve itself when we got home.

What fools we were.

The trip back was bad enough. She fell asleep around 7:30 PM, as we were driving, but then woke up again at 11 PM when we got home. Wonderfully refreshed, she was ready to run around. All motions towards sleep were met with screams, and we finally got her to pass out around 1 AM.

Then again at 3, 4 and 5. At which point I just brought her in bed with Kara and me.

We figured the next night would be better.

But we got home late from performing a vehicle exchange with my parents, and she got to bed at 10. And she REALLY didn’t want to go to bed. There was more screaming.

Then came the next day – Tuesday. Back to the routine, finally. Only she didn’t want to sleep.

She finally gave in and passed out around 10.

Wednesday. Out at a gathering, slapped her into some jammies and drove home, and tried to get her to bed with a minimum of fuss. She finally gave in around 10.

Then I went to my old friend The Internet.

Thursday, we set her in bed, but didn’t walk out right away. We took turns rubbing her back, and in Kara’s case, singing to her. Finally, we got “permission” to leave after nearly an hour of this.

Which was still too long, but showed some improvement.

Only it got worse on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, as bedtime again stretched to an hour and a half or two hours.

I think I’ve found the formula now, though to be honest, I thought that I had it last week, and I’m putting it here in hope that it might help some other suffering parent to deal with the toddler who will not sleep, or is afraid of sleeping, or is perhaps just a little crab-monster.

I should note, first of all, that bedtime is still taking MUCH longer than I’d like it to, even as we’ve started the routine earlier. Last night, after a late start (about 7:15-ish) it took about an hour to complete the entire routine. But it’s better than three hours.

Second note: The “secret,” such as it is, seems to revolve around calming the little one into submission.

Here’s what we’re doing.

First, we moved the start of bedtime back. Or rather, we’ve been trying to, but it’s been a busy couple of weeks and our time frame has been a bit off. Regardless, instead of starting at 7, we’ve been trying to get going around 6:45.

Run the bath. Take the bath. Allow some time for playing.

Take little one out of the bath after about 10-15 minutes. Dry child, put on new diaper, put on lotion and jammies.

Planet Bed. For a while, we were trying to do, say, one book, and then have Mihret look at her “Ethiopia Book,” which has pictures of Ethiopia and her birth family in it. But her interest, which was high for a few weeks, has now scaled way back.

So now we’re doing two books, and reading them once or twice depending on interest level.

Then we do prayers, and mama gives hugs and kisses.

Then I take Mihret into her bedroom, shut the door, and grab one of her blankets off her crib. We rock in the rocker for a while.

The rocker seems to be the major key. When we were setting her in the crib, she would either ask for rocking or ask us to rub her back for a long, long, long time. And when you’re bent over a crib, it’s even longer.

Plus, the minute we thought she was down, she would suddenly pop up, making the continued rubbing process even more painful.

But rocking is low-key and pretty easy.

After five minutes, I tell Mihret that we’re going to her “pillow.” Because we put a pillow in her crib, because she’s old enough, and sleeping without a pillow is no fun. Plus it gives her a nice, soft focus point for sleep.

At this point, she usually lies down on her pillow in a kind of crouch, with her legs tucked under her. I put the blanket(s) over her, and rub her back firmly.

The “firmly” is key to the process, I think. Whether it’s because it feels better or is more reassuring or because it feels like she’s getting some time at a spa, I don’t know. But I do know that if I don’t rub all that convincingly, she’ll sit up and either say, “Hi, daddy!” or “Daddy, rub back!” and that means she’s not sleeping.

So, firmly.

After a while, she will un-tuck her legs and lay flat on the mattress. Which means that she’s really getting down to the business of sleeping.

Then, more firm rubbing. Another three or four minutes.

Then, slightly softer rubbing for a minute or two.

Then I stand in her room for another two minutes without moving. This is sort of boring, yes, but having spent several nights thinking I was in the clear, then walking towards the door, only to have Mihret pop up and get upset, which meant I had to start the process ALL OVER AGAIN… it’s worth the two minutes.

Then I walk out.

So far, this has worked three nights in a row. Let us hope this trend continues.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Counting Down the Days Until Our Peanut is Two

I recently added a birthday counter to our blog for Mihret. It's counting down the days to her second birthday on Jan. 28, 2009. Due to the way our blog is configured, it fit best at the very bottom, so to see it, scroll all the way down to the end of the page.

Check out the counters you can make at http://www.lilypie.com/, from birthday counters and adoption counters to wedding and anniversary counters. There's even a "Trying to Conceive" counter, although I'm not even going to pretend to understand how that one works. (I wish we had known how to access these during our adoption process... filing that mental note away for next time. :) )

For some nostalgia... Here are a few pics of Mihret right around her 1st birthday last year.

Mihret visiting our home library...

On top of her Abaye's shoulders, one of her favorite places to hang out ...

And in her Emaye's lap, trying very hard to give Emaye's Newsweek a bottle.

Time flies so fast. Pretty soon we'll be putting up 2-year-old pictures.