Friday, December 28, 2012

Jesus vs Santa

We didn't really accentuate the Santa thing this year, and are teaching the girls that Christmas is about Jesus, not Santa.  The girls love Baby Jesus and now think EVERY baby they see is Baby Jesus.  One of their favorite things to play with this season was their Fisher Price Nativity Set.  They have "Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus and even the "Wipe" Men"... he he.. so funny, but they are learning.  They also call Mary,  "Mommy Jesus" and Joseph is "Daddy Jesus."  Too cute.

Looking at their "Baby Jesus" book
I also purchased the book, "The Very First Christmas" last year, which was a Hallmark recordable book.  This has turned out to be a favorite for both of the girls because it has both mommy and daddy's voice on it and tells the story of Christmas.  They have other various books about the real meaning of Christmas too.  Those have also been favorites this time of year.

Ellie playing with Baby Jesus 
Faith hiding the "Wipe" Men in the tree
We did have breakfast with Santa and Frosty this year.  The girls were excited, until we approached Santa.  As you can see below, Ellie wouldn't have anything to do with it.  Faith, being her social self, went right to Santa... and then promptly stuck her finger up her nose... ha ha!!  Priceless!  

One thing we didn't get out to do this year was visit a church down the road from us.  They always have a live Nativity Scene.  I love driving through, listening to Christmas music and seeing the REASON for the Season right before my eyes.  Faith was sick this year so we didn't take them out -- but next year it's a must!  

Faith saying she's a little bit excited! 

Waiting to see Santa 

This is as close as Ellie would get

Faith's not so sure!

Our attempt at a Christmas Photo!

Faith was sick over Christmas, so she was super cling-on baby.  Here is our attempt to get a picture of the kids (and me... since Faith wouldn't allow me to put her down). . . . Needless to say... we really didn't get a good shot, but it was fun trying....  Enjoy!!  LOL!!

How is it everyone else has fabulous, wrinkle free, all smiles, Norman Rockwell-looking pictures?  Not possible!!

Snow for Christmas

We were blessed to have a little bit of snow action on Christmas Eve.  The girls enjoyed it!!  

Happy Meetcha Day!

One year ago we were in Ethiopia and met our sweet daughter for the first time.  I cannot believe how fast time has gone by.  It really seems like yesterday that we stepped off that plane in Ethiopia.  I can shut my eyes and still hear the sounds and and smell the smells of Ethiopia.  Oh how we miss it so much.

We are also forever grateful for the wonderful connections we made with other families who where there for the same reason.  So glad our paths have crossed and it's been so fun watching their children grow too.

So what's Miss Elliana been up to?  She is literally talking up a storm -- full sentences, answering questions, reasoning and just doing so well at using her language skills.  She says everything... and I mean everything!!    She's very smart and loves to see if she can outsmart any adult!  She loves pretend play and loves to feed her babies, diaper her babies, cook meals in her kitchen, serve tea to anyone who is interested, and fix your hair.  She's also pretty good at operating an Ipad or any piece of technology.  So inquisitive and always wondering how things works.  Her sense of direction is ridiculous!  By ridiculous, I mean she almost has a sixth sense.  She ALWAYS knows her way around and where we are going by the roads we are taking.  It's crazy... she always amazes us.  She also remembers everything... which can be good and bad ;)  We are praying that maybe she can 'forget' about some of her unpleasant experiences early in life -- and pray that she replaces them with warm memories of being 'home' for the last 9 months!  She is a fabulous sister to Faith.  They are just so cute together and Ellie loves to be the 'Mother Hen' looking after Faith.

It's hard to remember a time without Ellie in our family.  So so glad she's here!

Meetcha Day - December 29, 2011

First Morning Home from ET (March 2012)

Christmas Morning 2012 (9 months later)
So happy to have her home this Christmas!! 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Yay look what I did

Trying out a few new hair-'dos' on Ellie.  These are called piggy-back braids or faux-french braids.   It turned out ok, for the first try, I guess.  Two Strand Rope twist will be next!  Thank you Chocolatehairvanillacare -- I was getting tired of puffs!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

One down... one to go!

We received news last week that Elliana's Giardia is gone!!  Praise the Lord. . . I'm sure the nurse thought I was crazy when I began screaming!  (No -- actually we have many nurses and doctors following both the girls -- and they are as happy as we are).  Faithlynn, however, is still testing positive.  Arrgh!  Faith starts a 2 week re-treatment again (per the recommendations of Dr. Jane Aronson) in combination with recommendations from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  She will be done just before Christmas... then we can retest her (oh joy!).  Thankfully, Faith is not showing any symptoms of Giardia.  Just the positive result.  

I was beginning to think (and am still wondering) if the pharmacy is compounding the medicines incorrectly or if there is a mistake at the lab.  I just can't believe we can't get rid of this nasty parasite, and at about $30 per treatment, per child, times 8 treatments... plus 16 stool samples later... we are spending lots of money on this!!  Not to mention the bathing ritual and diaper changing rituals we have to go through to ensure we do not spread it back and forth.  I'm sure Clorox bleach is loving the Baxter family right now.  Bathing the girls separately with sanitizing and bleaching the tub in between and before, and after... has been a real chore.  We also keep their towels and wash cloths separate and they cannot play with toys in the tub (because then they would all need sanitized and bleached too).  Any comb or cup for combing and rinsing their hair in the tub must be sanitized too.  For the past 8 months, bath time isn't too much fun at our house... it's serious business and takes a long time :)  I'm looking forward to the day when I can throw them both in the tubby together and they can play and splash and have fun. 

Did I tell you we received a phone call from the Heath Department?  Yep, apparently when a child tests positive several times for Giardia, they must investigate.  Once I rambled off all of the medicines and treatments we have used on the girls and the measures we are taking to keep everything uncontaminated, they backed off.  She said I knew more about the parasite than she did!!  LOL... I guess it's just something they have to do to ensure kiddos are being taken care of.

So... wish us luck!  My Christmas wish.... to say good-bye to Giardia forever!  It's one souvenir from Ethiopia we don't mind getting rid of!     

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Conversation with Toddlers

Ellie is almost 2 1/2 and Faith is 22 months. They are getting to the age that we can sometimes exchange a short conversation. They make me chuckle. . .

Conversation #1

Me: girls we are going to Memaws today to eat turkey for Thanksgiving

Faith: tuwkey??

Ellie: Memaw... Turkey??

Me: yep. We are going to eat turkey.

Faith: {pause while she thinks about it}. Ewwww. Gwrose!

(we are teaching the girls about animals -- I'm sure she was picturing a turkey -- feathers and all . . . He he)

Conversation #2

I had gotten some Christmas mugs out for over the holidays and the girls took notice.

Ellie: mommy -- Duckie??

Me: no, that's a snowman on the mug.

Ellie: no-man??

Me: yes a snowman? Isn't he cute?

Faith: yes-man!!

Ellie: no-man!!

Me: ;)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giardia and the "down" side of adoption

 Yep, I haven't mentioned it lately, but both girls still have Giardia. They've been treated 6 times with different medicines, different combinations and yet it still remains. Can I tell you how tired I am of collecting samples? ;( Ugh... I'm so tired.... Luckily, they do not really have any symptoms of Giardia, just the positive results indicating that it's still within their tiny system. Even the doctors at the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia said this is, by far, one of the most extreme and longest case they've had. They are working with infectious disease doctors right now to come up with a plan for the entire family. (Yes, they want to treat all of us -- oh joy). And, I told everyone else in our family, they are responsible for collecting their OWN samples. Momma ain't doing that -- that's where I draw the line.. :)  

Other than the Giardia, the girls are thriving and growing, gaining weight and getting taller and talking up a storm.  They play so well together -- it's so fun to watch and listen to their interactions.  Ellie is still getting services through our Early Intervention program, so she's currently seeing a speech therapist and a behavior specialist. She is very quick to please, so she's doing wonderfully and her behavior specialist has dropped back to only 2 times a month. Speech is coming along too... especially considering she had no language when she came home 7 months ago and she has made huge strides in just the last 2 weeks.  

The rest of the family has had their share of weird ailments too -- lets see... we've had colds, strep, strange heart palpitations, weird viruses, one concussion, and mystery virus I had for 6 weeks that secluded me to mostly bed rest.  Fun times here, but yet we continue to persevere.  We just roll with it...

As we prepared to talk about our adoption journey for Orphan Sunday, we were asked by a few people if we were going to address the 'down' side of adoption.'   I've heard that terminology before, and always wondered what people were talking about -- you know.. life after the airport.  I'm still wondering what people are talking about.  I guess there are people out there who adopt and then think it was a mistake...something I can't really understand...   Don't get me wrong... there's been a time or two that I've thought, "oh my gosh.. this is really hard..." and sure, our life has been super crazy, but I would never change our decision to add Ellie to our family.  I guess all of our appointments for Ellie (and our other 3 kids!!) and our therapies for speech and behavior (mixed in with sports) probably looks overwhelming to most.... not to mention that I'm a working mom who travels one day a week... but I would not change our decision to adopt EVER.  I can only see positive things in adding a sweet little girl to our family and she continues to teach us things (about ourselves) as well as how to put ourselves aside to serve someone else (her)!  

But, craziness and all, we are exactly where God wants us. No, it hasn't been easy, but it's been our experience that anything worthwhile is NEVER EASY. It's EASY to ignore; it's EASY to do nothing and it's EASY to walk away. But, God can't change and mold us by asking us to do easy things all of the time. We knew going into the adoption process that we'd have a season of busy-ness and would probably be looking at some support services for Ellie --- and we are ok with that. And although the waiting period was horrible, it really helped us practice our patience and trust in God -- all things He knew we'd need to effectively parent Elliana.

So, although to the outside world our family looks a little crazy from time to time, (and yeah, I might have missed your birthday... or your get-together) our family is exactly how God created it to be... Giardia and all!! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Sisters share everything, right? 

See Faith with apple . . . 

See Faith sharing her slobbery apple!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October Fun

October has kept the Baxter family busy, as usual.   We attended many football games to watch Colton & Dylan play, went to a zoo, attended 2 parades and even went to a princess birthday party!    This weekend, we will be celebrating Orphan Sunday at our church with a program and movie on our journey to bring Ellie home.  If you are local, we'd love to have you.  Contact me for information.
Sitting like a Princess

Catch me if you can! 

Showing off her new boots! 

Sitting for a split second!

That's our girl -- football in one hand
and a purse in the other.

Autumn is here

Checking out the weird fuzzy worm

Sitting with mommy

Pretty princess

Not-so-happy Princess 
Heading to our first parade

Our 2nd parade 

Watching the parade with Colton and Delaney
Last home game for our boy (this year)
Silly Dylan hijacking Ellie and Faith's car.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Potty Talk

Ellie getting a deep-condition treatment
Ahhh.. the mother of 2 toddlers (and 2 teenagers) is wonderfully busy, beautifully challenging and sometimes a total hoot.  I caught myself saying things that I had to laugh out loud about, literally.  I had to start writing them down. 

Faith "hiding" in a trash can
No... I'm not swearing, (although some days I'm tempted)... The title Potty Talk comes from the fact that most of my little phrases have to do with bathroom items and issues.   The girls tend to get into trouble if the bathroom door is left open or while I'm bathing them.  I find myself saying thing that just don't sound right after I say them.... all while listening to the giggles of two little girls knowing they are doing something they are not supposed to be doing. 

I find myself saying things like: 

  •  Ewww don't put that in your mouth
  • No Faith, that's Dylan's toothbrush 
  • Bye-bye poopie
  • Ellie, get outta the's yucky and we don't eat it! 
  • Get back here, naked girl!
  • That's a brush for the toilet, not your teeth.
  • Ewww.. who pee'd on the rug
  • No... we don't stand in the potty (potty-chair).
and one that's probably said daily . . .
  • Oh my goodness... What a mess!  

I can only imagine what the neighbors think!!!  :) 

Friday, September 14, 2012

FDA Drug Safety Warning for African/Ethiopian Children

We are thankful to be able to work with the International Adoption Health Program at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  During our visit this week, we were notified of a serious health warning for African/Ethiopian Children.

The FDA has released safety information relating to the use of codeine for pain relief, particularly after tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy for obstructive sleep apnea.  There have been 3 deaths in young children and 1 life-threatening respiratory depression following typical doses of codeine.  These children had evidence of a genetically inherited enzyme that converts codeine to morphine more rapidly and completely than usual.  The scary part is the prevalence of the gene in African/Ethiopian children is 29% verses 1-6% in Caucasians, African-Americans and Asians.

You can read the complete study here: ( )

If your doctor hasn't yet notified you of this, please make sure this information is entered into your Ethiopian child's medical file.  Our doctor advised us to NEVER give Ellie codeine for any situation/reason.  Maybe someday we can get genetic testing to see if she has the (enzyme) gene, but in the meantime, I plan to enter it into her file as a fatal drug allergy to ensure she is never given it, even in an emergency situation.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I cannot believe today marks ONE YEAR that we first saw Elliana's precious face.  September 9, 2011 is one day we will never forget.  

Referrals were pretty much at a stand-still and we were feeling so distraught over not having a referral yet.  We had waited for this child since November of 2009 when we first began the adoption process.  I remember thinking if we didn't get a call by noon that Friday, we were out of luck for getting a referral.  God showed up that day in a big way when we received a call at nearly 3:00 p.m. and our case manager began her sentence with... "I want to tell you about a little girl. . ."    Melt my heart!    

Ellie was 14 months old when she was referred to us.  She had been in the orphanage for nearly a year . . . waiting for final paperwork so that she could be referred.  She was considered 'too old' for couples who were interested in an infant... but perfect for our family, since Faith was about 7 months old.  I wonder about her paperwork hold up, etc., but then I remember God had this figured out WAY before we did!  We were so incredibly lucky to have gotten pictures of her from the time she was 3 months old -- all with our referral.  It's amazing to have those pictures of her -- especially for her baby book I'm working on.  

Faith is 19 months old right now and I am almost reduced to tears when I think of her being in an orphanage, without a family for this entire time .... Ellie was 20 months old when we brought her home and she had never had a family of her own.  But, to see her now, you'd never know it.  In just 5 months, she's come so far.

When we first visited her in December of 2011, we were told she wasn't social, didn't speak and preferred to be alone.  We were also told she really didn't like to play with her peers, was selfish, and seemed to be depressed.  We were told to have her hearing checked because they thought perhaps she may have hearing problems, which would explain why she wasn't speaking at almost 2.  Most of the pictures (although adorable) showed a very sad, very shy little girl who never smiled.  We knew when we met her, our journey was going to be far from easy, but we knew this was the little girl who God chose for our family.  

September 2011 Referral Picture of Geneme (Elliana)
July 2012

But can I tell you something . . . you should see her now.  She is speaking, she is singing, she loves playing with her peers, she smiles from ear to ear, loves to be where the action is, and she is super smart.  She just needed a family -- someone to love her -- someone to believe in her -- something and someone to call her own.   She is our daughter and she is forever.  

And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.   Matthew 18:5