Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: Anderson Style

2012. Where have you gone? On this New Year Eve, I have been thinking back to the last year and all of the adjustments in our family. Bringing a 15-month-old into our family has had its small challenges, but mostly it has brought us great blessings. 

It has been such an amazing thing to watch Kokeb transform. From a shy 15-month-old girl to a 2-year-old independent, animated, sneaky, attitude-filled little girl, she has added so much life to our family. She loves her dolls, but she also loves to wrestle and play bad-guys & good-guys with Elijah and Mekebo. She loves her puppy, Mill Mill. She likes to wear anything with pockets. She likes to listen to Waka Waka and TobyMac. 

Instead of rambling on and on about Koki and what her personality is like, I think pictures may tell a better story.

 Kokeb loves to imitate her brothers. They are her buddies and protectors. 

 Eli and Kokeb in Spring 2012 enjoying the last of the snow, with some rain added on top.

 Our final court date in Wisconsin. 

 Kokeb has enjoyed our small farm in the small city. Zee, our favorite chicken, died on Christmas Eve. Sniff, sniff.

 Mickey (Makinley) is one of her best friends (even though they don't like to share dolls).

 Having another girl in our house has been at times, interesting, but she has stolen my heart.

 Kokeb and her life-long friend Bereket at a beach this summer. We are so blessed to have her family just a day trip away.

 Horse tank?'s a pool for three little Andersons during the hot Wisconsin months.

 Kokeb with her Uncle Bart on her birthday/dedication day in August 2012. Look at that smile!

 Kokeb loves her Papa and Grandma. She loves going to their house and hanging out at the farm with them. 

 Kokeb doesn't willingly go to many people, but she also loves Justin and Amanda. They are her godparents and dear friends of ours. Kokeb spends a lot of her days having imaginary phone conversations with them. 

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! We wish you a safe and healthy 2013. 

In my last post, about one year ago, I told you that people were asking us if our family was complete. Well, I guess the answer was no. We have room for one more. 
Elijah, Mekebo, and Kokeb are excited to announce that they will be welcoming a new brother or sister  in June of 2013. 
As always, we Andersons like to keep the chaos constant.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Giggles & Smiles...One Month Home

 My friend Amanda snapped these pictures today. 

"So do you finally feel that your family is complete?"; this is the question I have gotten many times since we have brought home Kokeb one month ago. I do not know if Kokeb will be our last child. But, I do know that my heart is so full of love right now that sometimes I feel like I could just burst. Right now all that I can do is thank God for Elijah, Mekebo and Kokeb. I LOVE being a mother to them all.

Since stepping off of the airplane in December, Kokeb has been a trooper. I am in awe of all of the new things she has had to endure. Some times were tough. From meeting the oodles of family at Christmas weekends to suffering through pneumonia, she has shown us what a trooper she is.

This week she has turned a definite corner in trusting us. Up until this week, I had carried her in the Ergo carrier almost throughout the entire day (yes, my house was a disaster, but I didn't care). Earlier this week she actually let me walk out of the room without crying. She is starting to explore the house on her own. She is giving kisses freely to the boys and her parents. She tries to climb into any box-shaped object (no matter how small). She has the funniest facial expressions. She laughs hysterically. She loves to sled (we found that out today). She walks around with Eli's sword and hits it on objects and says "ah" (the joys of having brothers). She talks on the phone. She can sign "more" and "all done". She can say "Momma", "Dadda", "Papa" and is starting to say "More". And boy does she eat more! She is still pretty shy around others, but I know it will come over time.

So, one month after she has been a part of our family, Kokeb is starting to show her true personality...and it is wonderful. And, once again, we are so lucky to have such wonderful family and friends. So many people have brought us meals and gifts for Kokeb. We appreciate it more than you will ever know. 

Monday, December 19, 2011

Just the Beginning...

What do you do at 4am when you can't sleep? Write on your blog. I think that this will be the last entry. We started this blog when we began the adoption process with Mekebo, about 5 years ago. After the emotional 3 year process to bring home Kokeb, Brian and I have decided that this will probably be the end to our Ethiopian adoption journey. But, every time I have said "never", things have turned out differently.

We left Addis Ababa on Thursday night after a few hours delay due to a malfunctioning oven. Kokeb did wonderfully on the 17 hour flight to Washington DC. She cried for the last hour, but everyone sitting around us were so wonderful and never made us feel bad for having a crying child. She snuggled with Daddy a lot of the time.

 She figured out that in the back of the plane, there were crackers and juice. She wanted to take walks to the back of the plane a lot. The flight attendants all knew her name by the end of the trip.

 She ran in the halls at Washington DC. It took us a while to get through US Customs, but Kokeb officially became a US Citizen on Friday morning (December 16). This is a picture of Daddy walking through the halls at O'Hare. Kokeb slept on both flights, from Washington DC to O'Hare and O'Hare to Madison.

I wish that I had a picture, but there were a lot of special people to meet Kokeb at the Madison airport. Her Nanna Anna, Papa Steve, Aunt Kristina and Lillian, Aunt Kara and Kaelyn, Papa and Grandma Kanis, Uncle Matt, Aunt Pam and cousin Kaitlyn. Of course, Eli and Mekebo were the first ones to kiss their baby sister. She loved riding in her car seat all the way home. Brian and I slept the whole way home; thank goodness for Papa and Grandma who drove us home.

Kokeb is adjusting well to her new surroundings. The Christmas tree, lights, brothers, new bed, different food, and a lot of new faces. 

Yesterday she was excited to go outside. She loves getting on her hat because she knows that it means we get to go somewhere. She liked walking through the snow.

Here she is giving her big brother, Mekebo, a big smile.

Elijah is getting really good at changing her diaper. He also wanted to try feeding her last night. He did a great job. 

I love this yogurt! Kokeb is full of silliness. She talks all the time and makes silly faces. 

Eli had a chance to feed her? Well, make way for big brother Mekebo too!

Kokeb is really good at going up the stairs, not so good at getting down. 

I can't express how blessed we are. I am so happy to be waking up in the middle of the night, changing diapers, feeding a baby, making bottles, and of course, getting some big sloppy kisses from the most beautiful girl I have ever known. Sometimes you wonder if your heart is big enough to love another person...but my heart is pouring over. I know Brian feels the same way. 

We are not only blessed because of Kokeb, but this journey has made us realize what wonderful family and friends that we have: from my parents who watched the boys while we were in Africa, to all the people at the airport, to all of the clothes from Aunt Pam, Aunt Erin, Terri, Jody, Kelly, Ingrid and Melissa, to Ruthie who also took a turn in watching the boys, to the wonderful tote full of goodies and clothes from Amanda, to Dan and Sheila who warmed up our house for us, to Paco who let us stay at his house before we left for Africa, to all the people that donated money and other items for the orphanages, and to everyone who have been praying for us. Of course, we owe a big thanks to the people at Helawi Orphanage who took such wonderful care of  her for the first 15 months of her life. Mulu and Birtukan will forever be a part of Kokeb's life story. We are forever grateful. 

And of course, without my wonderful husband, who calmed me down daily during this process, I couldn't have done this. I am so blessed to have someone like you who wanted to go through this process with me. I think we make a pretty good team! I love you.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Last night in Ethiopia

Kokeb slept from 7pm last night until 6am this morning. The nannies told us she woke up at around 3am to have milk, so we were awake anticipating her waking up, but she never did! Today was a relaxing day. We had the whole day to get into a routine and hang around the Guest House. We took a lot of walks. Kokeb loves being carried in the ergo carrier. She had her first taste of ice cream and loved it. She eats anything...tomatoes, mangos, carrots. She is definitely taking advantage of us and we let her. She wants to be carried all the time! She already has us wrapped around her little finger. She has the funniest expressions. She wrinkles up her nose. She also started talking a little more. Another tooth popped through during the night, so now she has 3 on the bottom and 4 on the top. Some of the workers at the Guest House braided her hair today. The only difficult time that she has is before naps/bed. She cries and looks at the door like she wants someone she knows to come in. I can't imagine the thoughts that are going through her head. She took a 3 hour nap this afternoon. She is a tosser and a turner. She hates her diapers being changed. Tomorrow we pick up our final paperwork and head to the airport at about 6pm ET time (9am US time on Thursday). We can't wait for her to meet her family and friends. Eli and Mu- remember the book that we put together of pictures of our family for Kokeb? Whenever we show her the pictures of the two of you she gets a smile. I think she already knows that you are two special boys. Remember, when you see her for the first time, she may be really scared, but she will learn to love you both. We will call you on Friday morning when we arrive in the US. Tell Papa thanks for fixing our door. We miss you both a lot. Don't forget...we will have to bring Koki to see the lights when we get home!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My cup runneth over

Sweet baby girl is asleep. It is 7pm. What a day. I think I spent a majority of the morning crying. We were able to meet and talk with one of Kokeb's special nannies. We learned a lot more about her. Then the Helawi Foundation Orphanage had a farewell ceremony for Kokeb. I won't go into specifics, but it was amazing. She has a very special family there...they all love her as if she were their own. I do have to say, the very cutest thing was Kokeb passing out popcorn to everyone from the basket during the coffee ceremony. She just waddled her way from each person to the next.

We then went to the US Embassy. This went very smooth. Kokeb was a trooper. She loves traveling in the van; wait until she has to sit in a car seat!

She normally naps about 3 hours in the afternoon, but today she probably only got 40 minutes total. She fell asleep in the van and during a neighborhood walk. She is warming up to us. Today her smiles were abundant. She played with us and held our hands as she walked. She LOVES being held. She even pretended to talk on the phone.

Tonight after supper (which consisted of bananas and peach applesauce because she spent about an hour this afternoon in pain from being constipated) I gave her a tubby. It was an event. Does she ever have the hair! Tomorrow I get to take a hair braiding class, but I am not sure it will help me or not. I have never known how to braid. Oh goodness.

Brian walked with her to get her to sleep. We will see how the night goes. The nanny says she wakes up at about 3am to have milk. She is an early riser, usually before or around 6am. Oh man, the Anderson house is about to be rocked.

My cup is running over. My heart is full. She is a perfect part to our family. I can't wait for my family and friends to see her. Yes, she probably won't smile at first, but she is full of them deep down. Two more days in Ethiopia, then we head home. 

Jill said the internet is too slow for pictures.  BOO! :)

Monday, December 12, 2011


You would think we were first time parents. We were so tired last night, went to bed at 10:30pm, but both of us were wide awake at 2am. We talked in the dark about what we thought Kokeb was going to be she has changed. We played silly games on Brian's blackberry and I read the book The Help (thanks Mom, I love it). We left the Guest House at 9am and dropped off some papers at the CHSFS Office. We met Martha and the lawyer who have been the ones working this whole time on Kokeb's paperwork. They told us how Kokeb's case was very difficult. We expressed our thanks many times over. Then we headed over to Helawi. We brought a mega load of donations. They were THRILLED! They loved all of the formula and loved the pajamas that Pam bought. We had at least 10 containers of Big Cow (imagine like 4 normal formula cans in one), 8 cans of Bebelac for the infants, tons of diapers (disposable and cloth), a case of tylenol, augmentin, and vitamins. It was like Christmas for them. They were so appreciative. Thanks to everyone who donated...I wish you could have seen their faces light up. After handing in our donations, we walked up to Kokeb's room. One of her favorite nannies, Mulu, was holding her. Of course Brian and I were sobbing even before we saw her. Amazingly, she did not cry. She came to me without a fuss. I didn't think she had changed as much as I had imagined. She showed off her new talent...walking. Because of her large abdomen, she waddles like a 42-week pregnant woman. It makes me laugh just thinking about it. Amanda, she was wearing a 6-9 month dress. Ahhhh! We spent a lot of time outside with her. She can crawl up the stairs. And her bottom lip, well, you will have to see it for yourself. That girl can pout. We left around 11am and went to a presentation about the humanitarian projects that CHSFS is doing. Brian and I were excited to learn that they have been working in the very rural area that Mekebo's birth mother lives. They are just finishing a hospital there. Of course, we had to ask about volunteer opportunities. It sounds like what we have been looking for. After lunch, we headed back over to Helawi and woke Koki up to bring her back to the Guest House. She enjoyed the van ride, but was very sad when we reached the Guest House. She didn't cry much, but she looked sad. By the end of the day we were able to get a few smiles and some little words out of her. We tried playing with every toy and even blowing bubbles, but not much luck. She wants us to hold her all of the time, and of course we oblige. She has 2 bottom teeth and 4 top teeth. She was chewing on her fingers; must be getting some more in. Tsion, one of the managers at Helawi told me that they have been praying every day that Kokeb's family would come to bring her home. I told her that I had thought that the staff at Helawi was praying that Kokeb would stay and we were praying that we could bring her home. We are exhausted tonight. It is only 7pm, but it won't be long before I am asleep. I am actually surprised that I could write this. Sorry if the sentences don't make sense. Hope everyone is well. Tomorrow we have our farewell ceremony, Embassy appointment, and we take Kokeb into our care for good. Eli and Mekebo- We can't wait for you to hug your sister. We told her all about you. We told her that you won't wrestle her though. Are you being good for Papa and Grandma? Make sure you sleep in your own beds! Love you and we will see you in 4 days!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saint Mary Day

We have always wanted to attend a church service in Ethiopia, but we have never had the chance...until today. It was amazing and each minute I kept pinching myself to make sure I was really experiencing such an amazing thing. Our driver, Solomon, picked us up at 7am. We traveled about 40 minutes to Entoto Mountain in Addis. He explained that today was a very special day, Saint Mary Day. This happens two times a year (Jess, what is the chance, huh?). We drove to the top of Entoto Mountain to attend church (Kiddus Raguel) at the oldest church in Addis Ababa. There were people singing and dancing all over the streets in Addis. People swarmed through the gates to the church. We never entered the church building because the service took place outside of the church. We even were blessed by the Prince of the church. We left the service about 30 minutes before it ended...and we had already been there for 2 hours. The chanting, dancing and rituals were amazing to watch. We had no idea what was being said, but the people were clapping and bowing and singing. Brian did take some footage of the service. Mom, I just kept thinking how you would have loved it. We will come back again so you can experience it. After the service we were able to see the Saint Mary Church and Museum. This is where the Emperor Menalik lived and was buried. Our driver also drove us through the Merkato. Holy smokers. I have NEVER seen so many people in one area before. New York City has nothing on the Merkato in Addis Ababa. It was breathtaking. People were selling everything you can think of. We came back to the Guest House this afternoon and took a nap. It is 7:30pm here now (on Sunday) and I think I better stay up pretty late so that I actually sleep tonight. Tomorrow is a big day. We get to see Kokeb and bring her to the Guest House in the afternoon. Maybe tomorrow night we will post some pictures. The internet has been working here which has been nice. We talked to our boys yesterday and they sounded pooped (Thanks for watching them Ruthie! I hope that they refrained from Bad Guys/Good Guys). I am sure they had fun with Macy too! Mekebo and Elijah- We love you! Did you listen to Melissa and Sarah today? We will be home in 5 days with your sister.