internet marketing The Big Sis Diaries: July 2007

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The Many Faces of Sasha

We went to an nice, outdoor seafood restaurant last night and poor Sasha once again became the victim of my new photo-snapping obsession. She still managed to have fun though, marvelling and waving at the many children and birds, and even getting to pet her first dog!

(Sigh) You have got to be kidding me. MORE pictures????

I'll settle this by just refusing to look at you.

And yet she still continues to take pictures of me. Shocking!!!!

I'll give her my good side...although I'm sick of pictures, I KNOW I'm too beautiful to resist!

Alright, alright. I won't give her my BEST smile, but I'll give her something.

This is getting so old...

Now, really. Aren't you starting to get tired of this?

Well, it's sure starting to wear me out...


Friday, July 27, 2007

One Month Ago Today...

Sasha Eraye became officially ours. She has fully blossomed since then into our special little princess. She's a beauty, so charming (attracting and sustaining the attention of everyone everywhere!) and extremely hilarious. There are way too many stories to recount here- it seems like every five minutes she surprises us in some way. She mimics absolutely EVERYTHING- and I truly mean that; she's so observant that she picks up on things that we normally would never expect her to notice. Yesterday, the boys were pretending that someone was chasing them, or some weird little game like that, and they were running in slow motion, falling, and covering their mouths in shock. Sasha immediately copied them, and when my mom was telling my dad this later, she picked up on what my mom was telling him, got out of her seat, pulled everyone in the family out of their chairs, re-enacted the little skit she and the boys were doing before, and was adamant that everyone do exactly the same. If any of us sat down for a second, she would march herself over and try with all her might to hoist them back up, dragging them back to the middle of the floor with her little hand. It was one of those "you had to be there" situations, but it was so funny the way she right away picked up on the game without anyone showing her how or even paying attention to her at that moment. She's just so amazing. A woman at the diner we went to this morning said, "Oh, you're all so lucky to have her." Couldn't have said it better myself!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Hope You Don't Mind Me Showing Off My Sister!

Okay, these next few pics have a story behind it: Kristian (age 11) was changing and Sasha took his discarded clothes and begged to put them on. We all know Kristian's clothes can often be baggy on him (he's a stringbean) but this is ridiculous!

Sasha and Kristian have such a cute, albeit goofy, relationship. She just adores him!

Here are some I snapped just playing outside with her. Isn't she gorgeous?

This has been a fun summer for us since we very recently got our driveway paved and Carsten got this big inflatable waterslide for his birthday (okay, that was our excuse to get it...but we've all been having fun with it, Sasha included!) Here's a picture of Kristian and a friend of his going crazy on it, with Sasha playing in a makeshift pool in the forefront...the ones below were taken right after the waterslide picture, hense Sasha's lack of clothing. She- like many other Ethiopian kids, as I've seen- for some reason LOVES that helmet!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Today's the One Year Anniversary...

of this blog! I can't believe I've reached this point. The earth has made one full revolution around the sun- more or less- in the time that this blog has been in existence. (You can look at my first few posts, pre-Sasha, pre-referral, and pre-being-on-the-waiting-list, here: It really is hard to believe. I told my mom about my "blogiversary" and she said, "You're kidding! If you asked me to guess how long you've had it, I never would have guessed a year."

I feel like the adage "what a difference a year makes" is appropriate to include here, yet only in some respects. If you think about the big picture, certainly our lives have changed over the past year. I mean, we've added another member to our family, and from Ethiopia, for goodness' sake! Yet at the same time, it's remarkable how completely normal things are and amazing how they're only very slightly altered by having Sasha with us. I never would have imagined I could have thought this the day we first met her at the care center (which, by the way, I promise to finish my post about!) but we all feel like we've had her forever. We've had virtually no problems from her, and she's the biggest ham you could ever meet- in normal and not-so-normal ways! (She does totally random things spontaneously all the time. She's not afraid to, out of the blue, walk around the house with an open-mouthed smile, waving at inanimate objects, and the next second drop to the floor and crawl very quickly and for no apparent reason, always reaching out to pull us down to join her.) She's a complete goofball in every sense of the word, so we couldn't have a more perfect fit for our family. Her spontaniety isn't restricted to odd behavior, though- on a whim, she'll just reach out and hug you or blow tons of kisses at you. She's the sweetest, funniest, most beautiful girl I've ever seen, and I know I've said that over and over again, but she couldn't be better, really. And though each aspect of her has been the best addition to our lives, things move on as they always have, without interruption. Except for her very "actiony" and on-the-go nature, leaving us often exhausted at the end of the day (luckily she sleeps through the night!) she's a quite low-maintenance child. It's never hard to entertain her, and she rarely ever cries or throws big fits and tantrums.

So although the waiting process felt like a never-ending, winding road, it's finally come to an end. In the moment, the time felt excruciatingly long, but looking at the big picture, it feels like no time at all. It's shocking that I've been documenting our journey for the past year, and that it extended for a year before that, because now, it's as though she's been a part of our lives for all of my life. This is, of course, impossible, since she celebrated her 18-month (now officially 1.5 years!) birthday 5 days ago, but I'm so, so glad that I'll have the rest of my life with her!

*Today is also momentous because it marks the exact halfway point in our summer vacation. I can't, and don't want to, belive that either! It's also special because the seventh and final Harry Potter book came out, as everyone knows. I'm a little behind- I'm just now reading the fourth- so please no one spoil the ending!!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ethiopian Dancing

Sunday, July 15, 2007

My First Video from Addis

I'm still not sure how much I want to post from our trip, so things may get a little out of order, but here's a video I took of us driving through the streets of Addis Ababa. Don't worry, PLENTY of Sasha videos will come, now that I figured out how to do it!

Oh, and I should add: the voices in the background are Norwegian; my dad is talking to my brother. And the music is Ethiopian- it was playing in the van we were in. The perfect soundtrack!

Friday, July 13, 2007

My First Half Hour Alone With Her and This Is What Happens...

My mom had to leave the house for a very short while earlier today so naturally I was in charge of keeping an eye on the baby. We were playing outside with chalk when I noticed she needed a diaper change- of course, she wanted to take the chalk with her. When we were ready to go back downstairs- Sasha still clutching the bucket of chalk firmly in her hand- she decided it would be oh so hilarious to start throwing the chalk down the stairs. Of course, I tried to make eye contact and told her "no, no, no" very firmly, but I guess it wasn't too effective since the look of pure happiness on her face when she was doing it kept me from keeping a straight face. Eventually I composed myself and told her no very seriously, but she often tests how far she can get away with things and kept throwing the chalk, even though she clearly knew she wasn't supposed to.

I did end up distracting her and took her outside, but went back in when my mom came so that I could explain the situation before she saw the mess and drew the conclusion that I let her run wild in the house unsupervised. Sasha could tell right away that I was "telling" on her, and literally tried to kiss up to my mom by grabbing her face and kissing her on the mouth. She then turned around and tried to hit me. This child, I'm telling you! Naughty, maybe, but certainly crystal-clear in the head!

When she did this, we both firmly told her no and my mom started stroking my face, saying "soft, soft on Susanna" the way we tell her to do with the cats (and usually ignores out of excitement.) She repeated this and then kissed me on the lips, almost by way of apology, but then turned around and pinched my mom. She really tests us to see how we'll react to these things, if we'll punish her or let her get away with it. We have to tell her no, of course, but it seems that she usually then feels guilty and tries to make up for it. If she's physically harmful to anyone in any way, it's either for this reason or because she thinks it's funny- or, even if she doesn't think it's particularly funny, she forces a laugh to convince us that it is (we don't fall for it.)

All in all, though, I can't complain. A SW came a few days ago for a post-placement visit, and she did all the right things: she showed she was attached by refusing to let the SW hold her, yet was independent enough to not cling to us and roamed around the house; she was all charm and smiles, blowing kisses to the SW when she left, yet showed a bit of her flair for drama: after eating four cookies (we do spoil her a bit) and not letting her have another, she threw herself down on the floor and started fake crying. She resisted anyone trying to hold her and take her hand, and turned her back, refusing to look at anyone. It's always so funny when she does this, because we know she's not really mad; she gets over herself very quickly. I definetely can see her becoming an actress!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How Utterly Adorable is This Girl?

I see a Gap ad in the making! (Seriously, though, she absolutely looks like a babyGap poster child, given her cuteness and the fact that she's dressed head to toe in the label! My mom and I keep thinking she'll soon be recognized by a modeling agency...the next Liya Kebede, maybe?)
Pictures don't even do her justice; I have yet to capture the perfect one of her. I don't know if I can though- she's best in person! I'll have to get some videos on here so that maybe you can see a LITTLE bit of her ginormous (just learned that it's a word in the dictionary now, so I have to use it!) personality.

Oh, and I WILL finish that post I started a few days ago- I'm just exhausted at the moment ;-).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sasha Then (Gotcha Day)

I'd always imagine the day we first met Sasha to be, if not magical, very memorable. It turned out to be not at all the experience I pictured, and it left me a little deflated when we returned to the hotel. Of course, the days that followed made up for everything and more!

We met Sasha Eraye (pronounced E- RYE, among other ways, by the nannies at the care center, meaning "vision" or "future" instead of "good sister" as we originally were told) the day we arrived in Ethiopia. The night before, in Dubai, I was almost the whole night vomiting from food poisoning, leaving me exhausted and disgustingly ill the next morning (we had to get up at 5am to catch our flight, and we were still all extremely jetlagged!) Sitting in the airport, feeling miserable, I wanted more than anything to just go home and sleep in my own bed, a thought I knew I'd regret later. I couldn't sleep on the plane and my stomach felt worse for most of it. I felt slightly more upbeat when we arrived and were driving through the chaotic, exotic streets, happy to be in Africa again since it reminded me of Nairobi. When we arrived at the hotel we called the care center, learning that we could go meet her right away if we wanted. I was excited, naturally, yet I didn't feel mentally prepared. My mom suggested that I stay behind and rest so that I was ready to see her the next day, and although I absolutely refused this idea, a part of me wished we all could wait until I was feeling more myself for the moment I'd been waiting for for two years. The weather was rainy and dreary, the area by the care center muddy and far from pristine, and I started to feel a little depressed. When we got there, though, I felt like I was in a dream; walking in and hearing kids shouting, seeing the clothes hanging on the line outside, I just couldn't believe this was all really happening.

A man that is famous at our agency- I think his name is Massi- led us inside and to an empty playroom. He talked to us for a little while and then left; we didn't know where he was going. When he returned a minute or so later, he was accompanied by a nanny holding a baby girl dressed fully in denim- a denim jacket with a fur collar and denim capris with embroidered flowers, and the later infamous pink, too-small sandals. I remember being startled: "Oh my gosh, is that her?" I asked, I think out loud, even though I knew. My parents started cudding and talking to her right away, and I instinctively went over to her. I felt tears welling, which was unlike me- I don't tend to get emotional. It just felt weird. How was this kid supposed to be a part of our family- this toddler, who we didn't know? She cried when placed in my mom's arms, and we were led to a separate, empty room, with nothing in it but a couch. We were left alone, and although Sasha stopped crying, her eyes remained scared and filled with tears. She looked tired, and I felt sorry for her- she didn't ask to be here, with all of these strange people. It was worthless to coax a smile out of her. I wanted to hold her, but also didn't; I wasn't used to her, and she wasn't used to us. She was so adorable and innocent-looking, and younger and smaller than the pictures we were given. Her little head rested on my mom's shoulder as we surrounded her, and her little fingers were stuck in her mouth. We had been asked before if we wanted this moment videotaped, and we were all glad at that point that we'd declined; it was probably the most bizarre situation I'd ever been in, and a huge range of emotions were running through me.

*FYI- I did finish this post, but somehow most of it got erased (I'm ready to sue Blogger!) I'm so upset I could cry- I just spent hours writing a detailed reflection of our time with her. I guess I'll just have to finish some other day...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sasha Now (warning: VERY long!)

Sasha very quickly became the center of all of our lives- in the most positive way possible. I don't even know where to begin in describing Sasha. She is amazingly smart and observant, hilarious and goofy all around, and really, we haven't had any issues at all integrating her into our family. From the very beginning (well, almost) it's like she'd been in our family forever- and I know she felt that way too. We were completely the perfect fit for each other.

Aside from the first few days we met her, she hasn't been the least bit shy about displaying her very, VERY strong personality. She had us all wrapped around her little finger right away; she made it known that she was the queen- but was very intelligent in her methods of getting what she wanted (we've had almost no fussing, crying, or tantrums from her, which I'll talk more about later.) When she wants to go somewhere, she needs to hold the hands of two people. One does not suffice. If my mom is there, one hand has to be hers; the other will be whichever hand she chooses. If I reach out my hand to her, and she has the firm idea in her head that Kristian will be her hand-holding buddy, she pushes mine away and holds hers out to Kristian, even if he's across the room. Then she pulls us to where she wants to go, and if we don't come, she pulls harder. If she wants something, she fully expects us to get it for her. If she eyes something on the other side of the room, she'll sit and point to it until someone gets it for her; if we get her the wrong thing, she takes it and throws it and points again to what she wants. Likewise with eating/drinking, and drinking is the funniest. She'll open her little mouth absolutely as wide as it can go, waiting for someone to put what she wants in it. We call this her "Milk Face" or "Water Face" or "Juice Face" depending on what she's drinking. This goes for all drinks- she opens her mouth wide for her mom's wine (of course we don't give in to this one), or my soda, or one of the boys' glasses of chocolate milk, even if she spots it from several yards away. She's kind of a picky eater, but is very particular about whose plate and fork the food is coming from. In Dubai, my mom and I had a plate of cake, but Sasha only wanted mine, even though they were the exact same thing. She's very headstong in other ways too- especially when it comes to shoes. The first full day we had custody of her, we were changing her clothes and put new shoes on her. As we replaced her beloved, one-size-too-small pink sandals with her brand-new ones, she pushed our hands away, took off the new shoes almost by herself, walked across the room to where the old shoes were, and pretty much put them back on without help. We were totally shocked, both by her strong shoe preference and the fact that, at 17 months, she could put her own shoes on (we don't think, because of this, that she's older; we think she learned this at the care center.)

Also, as we realized later, she's extremely observant and can pick things up right away. It also seems that she has a very acute memory. She constantly exhibits actions and little games and habits that we know she must have picked up at the care center. I mentioned before that she stuck her tongue out at herself in the mirror; also, when we showed her the photo album we sent to her before back at our hotel, she hugged and kissed each picture, which we're sure the nannies showed her how to do. When my mom was showing her Patty Cake, she already seemed to know it. Yesterday, when we were outside, she played this weird little game where she would pretend to take something from my mom, run across the yard a little ways, clap, run back, and repeat it. She's also done strange little things like pretend to pick up imaginary objects on the stairs, stopping, picking it up, going down a few more stairs, and picking up something else. We don't know where this comes from but we think that something must have reminded her of something that she did or saw someone do at the care center.

She picks things up very quickly at home too. One day, she was outside with my mom and I waved to them from my room on the second floor- this probably lasted no more than a few seconds. The next day, as I was walking outside with her, she stopped right under my window and waved up at it, even though there was no one there. Yesterday, Carsten said his finger hurt and my mom looked at it; Sasha grabbed his finger from her and began to examine it herself. When my mom did it again to Carsten later, to see if she remembered, she did; she began to examine his finger again. My mom was telling me a funny story about the way Sasha shivered in the bath and demonstrated it for me, and Sasha, noticing this, pretended to shiver again. We also noticed on the first evening at dinner that she was wiping her mouth by herself and refused help. We have so many examples of this kind of behavior; I think that her mind is just very quick and her memory very sharp, not that she's a baby genius (although these qualities in her aren't bad for getting her into Harvard!)

Sasha is seriously the funniest kid I've ever seen. As one of my brothers claimed yesterday, she's like a Walking Funniest Home Video. Kristian has wanted to keep the video camera on at all times, wanting to submit a funny video of her to get a trip to Los Angeles and $10,000. I wouldn't be surprised if his dream came true, since she does funny things ALL the time. A lot of this stems from her observation, since she tries to do everything we do; Kristian was doing a funny dance yesterday and she copied it almost exactly. She also does really random, unexplained things; yesterday, she tried to feed me paper clips, and when I wouldn't open my mouth, she demonstrated with her own like parents do to babies when they want them to eat. She does so many funny things that I really can't think of them all now, but I will just say that her smile (which she releases VERY often, and sometimes for no reason, the one with her eyes closed and beautiful teeth showing next to my profile to the right) is absolutely contagious, as is her laugh. She begins to scream and laugh hysterically when she sees someone from the family approach her unexpectedly, like when she and my parents picked me up at my SAT class today. She also has a game with my dad that she has to play every evening, where my dad approaches her slowly and she runs away, shrieking with laughter, into my mom's legs. It makes it so much cuter that she yells "Papa!" when she wants him to play, the only word that we're 100% sure she knows (she says Mama, although we're not totally sure she connects that to her mom, and attempts to say kitty and peekaboo though they don't sound totally like the actual words. She also repeats sounds we make and the way we say them; my mom, the other day, yelled out for Kristian outside, and she repeated it in the same way, although she doesn't connect the name to her brother.) We're working on the talking, but given her otherwise strong areas of intelligence, we're sure she'll catch on.

The best part is that she absolutely is attached to us- all of us. She knows that her Mama is the primary caregiver and naturally turns most to her if she's there, but if she's not, she's completely happy with my dad, me, or even one of the boys holding her or taking her by the hand. Today, for example, when my mom was out and my dad was working from home, Sasha woke up from her nap- way too early- and I went in to get her. She wanted me to hold her right away, even though she resisted my trying to get her back to sleep. I took her downstairs, sans tears, and held her hand as she walked around the house before deciding to take her on a walk. She was fine in the stroller as I walked her around the neighboring streets, and when we went inside to watch Teletubbies (which she loves, unless she's particularly restless and eager to move around, which she often is) she leaned her head on my shoulder. She likes to sit on my lap and play with me, but she'll only let me exclusively take care of her if my mom's not there (if she is, she wants us to play with her together.) She absolutely lives in the attention we give her 24/7, and when she sits, she wants to be in the middle of two people (once, my mom was sitting next to her and I was sitting next to my mom, and she pushed my mom away and, in the space she left, pointed at the seat and looked directly at me.) We fear a little that she might be a bit too spoiled sometimes; she came up with a new idea that if she doesn't get what she wants, she'll throw herself on the floor and just lie there (better than kicking and screaming, I guess!) She's also very well-behaved. She does hit people/the cats sometimes, but only when she's excited; this is followed by a fit of giggles. She never does it to be mean, and it's never as a result of her anger. Of course, we tell her no, but when she shows us that gorgeous smile, it's hard to keep a straight face. Still, she understands that it's wrong. She laughs to see how we'll react, but if we don't laugh with her, she stops right away. Sometimes she even shakes her finger in a "no" gesture; we saw nannies at the care center do this to kids when they did something wrong, and we know that she remembers this and is reprimanding herself for what she did.

Sasha has been absolutely amazing; she's perfect all around. Already I can't imagine our life before her!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Here's My Montage!

I fixed it! It's at the very bottom of the page.

Friday, July 06, 2007

LOTS and LOTS of pictures!!!!!!!!

Okay, I know that I have yet to post about our trip (I'm truthfully kind of avoiding it because I know that I have SO MUCH to write about and I don't know where to start!) but I had a lot of fun with the camera today so I thought I'd post some (okay, a lot) of pictures! Can you tell that I'm the proudest big sister in the world???? This first set of photos is called, "Fun in a New Green Dress After Nap Time, Eating Pasta and Being Silly" (okay, not the best title...any suggestions?)
"All right, I give in. You got my tummy!"

"I'm cute? You really think so?"

Biiiiiiiiiiig hug!

This is her very coquettish look...she'll be swarmed by boys in high school (if not pre-school!)

She approves of her new shoes (surprising, given that she's VERY particular about shoes...I'll have to tell the infamous Sasha Shoe Story later!)

Her Titanic re-enactment: "I'll never let go, Jack!"

By far my FAVORITE picture of her. It completely shows her personality in a way words can't!

What can I say about this shot? She's just too darn adorable!

"Give me that camera!"


Here she looks like the traumatized person in a horror movie (Do you think she has a Sixth Sense?)

"Why, thank you!"

Her first model headshot. 17 months isn't too young, is it?

Just being silly!

Where is my big brother going and why isn't he taking me?
"Now how many pieces do I have left? I better count so I can savor each one!"

Whatever that thing is that I see over there, I need not worry: I have a fork and I am NOT afraid to use it!

"Stop tickling my tummy! You're making me feel self-conscious!" (She knows how much I love to do that- tickling her, I mean.)

"Wait, what?"

She lets go of this bottle under no circumstances! (Unless it's for petting cats!)

This second set of photos is called "Chasing Cats." She has such a funny relationship with our kitties. The first day we got home, she was deeply terrified of them; when sweet, little Coco calmly walked by her when she was playing, she screamed bloody murder and jumped two miles, leaping into my mom's arms. When we showed her that cats are really nothing to be afraid of and demonstrated by petting them, she allowed herself to get closer to them but became really scared when they moved in any way. Now, though, she is absolutely obsessed with them. If she sees one, she points and flaps her arms violently, screaming baby nonsense, of course scaring the cats away. She then grabs one of our hands and pulls it to indicate that we should follow her; she then runs in her funny, dance-y way (she kind of sways from side to side and pumps her little arms by her side very quickly- it's absolutely the cutest thing I've ever seen. The nannies told us that she had a very unique walk, and they were so right! I really have to tape it and post it here; it's completely worth seeing!) At first, we had trouble with her being very rough with the cats; she would grab their fur and try to pull their tails (the cats, impressively and very shockingly, were very patient with her.) After many times repeating "soft, soft" to her and showing her how we gently pet them, she's caught on. Every time she sees one, though, she abandons everything she's doing and embarks on a cat chasing adventure. Oh, and she has this very strange but amusing-to-watch game involving them: sometimes she sees one and slowly starts toward it, but when she gets halfway there she stops, bursts into peals of hysterical laughter, runs back to where she started, and repeats it again and again. It never fails to amuse her.
"If I lick the glass, do you think the kitty will come?"

"In the lamp, maybe?"

"Let me GO! I think I see one!"

"Be honest: does this outfit make my tummy look big?"

I'm REALLY proud of myself for getting this shot! Isn't it classic??

"Olly Olly Oxen-Free!"

That Darn Cat!

"Oh man, there is no WAY you can escape now!"

"Ooh, I see you!!"

"So close, but yet so far! Let me try Fifi instead."

"One down, one to go! I'm off to get your sister now!"

The poor thing is exhausted!

Soft, soft... (as we all always have to remind her!)
"I'm getting outa here!"

"Oh, you're not getting off that easily!"

Warning: consult a professional hair dresser before putting your precious locks in the dangerous hands of a 17-month-old!
Sasha has overall adjusted beautifully. I'll write a post later on her development and our experiences with her in Ethiopia, but I have to just say that honestly, I've NEVER seen a kid her age with this much personality. This kid is the funniest person I've ever met (yes, I'm comparing her to my friends and my uncle!) She is very determined when it comes to what she wants (more on this later) and she has the weirdest sense of humor. We can just be walking along outside and she'll just drop to her knees and start crawling for no reason, and she frequently, out of the blue, tilts her head back and emits a gorgeous, genuinely happy smile. Today, I was sitting with her, and she decided to open her arms wide and leap into mine; she got off and did this again and again and again. She also decided it was hilarious to bite her baby doll instead of hug and kiss it the way we showed her to do. She also has the adorable habit of waving and blowing kisses at anything and everything, and, without us doing it first, sticks her tongue out at herself in the mirror! Yesterday, in a parking lot, she just walked over (we were supervising, of course) and hugged a car. She also, today, after fake-crying to get attention, reached her little hand up to my mom and rubbed her eyes. This kid cracks us up constantly; I'm still in awe of how blessed we are to have her!

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