Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Last week went by so quickly. The Crain household was thrown into a blender and we all came out barely damaged.

I went back to work last week and while I only work part-time, the first week of school is a full week to get routines going, get to know the kids, and meet the parents. It was so difficult being away from the boys all week. I wasn't getting home until 4:30 or 5 and we were going straight to soccer practice, bible study or some other function. So it was a long week that went by in a blur. Plus add our 115 degree heat and a broken air conditioner, I was not a happy camper.

On Saturday, Sintayehu had opening ceremonies and his first "unofficial" soccer game. It was just a scrimmage, but they were in uniform, there were refs, and the mayor blew the whistle for the start of the game. Sintayehu was on cloud- nine. He had quite the cheering squad, Grandma, Poopa, Grandma Kathy, Uncle Richard and Trinity all showed up to watch his game. When his team scored, he ran to the nearest kid on his team and hugged him. It was really cute. Here are a couple of pictures from the game:

He got to do the kick off so he was super excited
Running for the ball
After the game.

This week I only work on Thursdays and Fridays so life is back on track. The boys behavior was so much better already. Mixing their routine up throws them for a loop which can be very difficult to navigate sometimes.

Sintayehu still loves school. I am proud of how well he is doing. He comes home and starts his homework with minimal hassle. We are working on him completing it and I checking it when he is done. His confidence level isn't very high for math so he wants constant reassurance that he is doing the step correctly. I am hoping by October he can do the lesson and let me look it over after he has finished. Luckily he is loving reading. He has almost finished all 4 "Diary of a Whimpy Kid" books in three weeks. He has about 40 pages left of the last book.

His mother had instilled self pride and effort into him so well. She is a woman that I respect and hope to meet the same expectations. I am so honored to get to know her through them and to raise them with the same values.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Days of School

Sintayehu started school on Monday. He was so excited. I was able to get a few pics before school but I goofed and the battery died after only a couple. I did get video though. It was really cute to see how excited he was. I walked him to his classroom and met his teacher. He immediately found a friend and joined the boys in his class.

When I picked him up he looked hot and tired. He said his brain was exhausted. It was difficult for him to translate so quickly. But he was eager to go back. Each day has gotten easier for him. He understands more and is slowly getting to know kids in his class. He got his first weekly progress report and the teacher said he is getting it. He got excellent on behavior, homework and classwork. He was even excited to do his weekend homework.

We were fortunate in that his teacher has had three students from Africa in the past five years. So his teacher was really excited to learn about another African country.

Dawit is still getting used to the day without his brother. On Day 3 of dropping off Sintayehu at school, Dawit says in a small little voice and a single tear on his cheek, "Good bye Sintayehu. I miss you" Check out the video of their reunion after the first day. *** sorry it's shakey. I was a bit excited myself ***

I am also going back to school next week. It is so hard to leave them. I hate it. I may be exhausted, tired, and overwhelmed; but I want to be the one to see them wake up, get home from school and learn new things. I don't like missing those moments. I am praying for peace and understanding as I return to work.

On a very happy note, our good friends the Doll's had a beautiful baby girl on Thursday. Her name is Ellery Von Doll. The family is healthy and smitten with their baby, and maybe a little sleep deprived. I am so excited for them. I can't wait to meet her, but I know how transition time is needed. So I am patient :)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Catching up Part 2

We had Sintayehu's 11th Birthday party on Saturday. It was beautiful weather. The kids all played very nicely together. Again I was expecting melt downs, especially from the little man but he did really well. Sintayehu allowed him to help and they got along very nicely. It was lovely. Everyone stayed long enough to dig up some dinner and continue chatting. It was great to have family and friends together twice in one month.
Opening gifts

It was a batman themed party
The next day we headed to church and after church we headed up the local mountains for some camping. Nick took this week off to spend as a family before there are some big changes (Sintayehu going to school, Me going back to work, and Dawit spending some days without his brother). It was great up there. The weather didn't peak above 75 the entire time we were there. The boys enjoyed the time up there. They learned how to play horseshoes, shuffleboard, and played some basketball with the "Big Boys" which resulted in some skinned knees. The boys also showed off their soccer skills and rode a horse for the first time. It was great. I told nick we should sell our house and live in a little trailer. And then no one would have to work. We could just spend our time as a family. He wasn't too keen on the idea. But we had a great time.
D-man checkin on his brother


Family photo

Rock Climbing

A great way to carry your drink around the campground without looking like a lush.

Well we got home from camping and I called to get Sintayehu signed up for soccer and wouldn't you know it, he was going to have practice in two hours. So Nick and he ran out to get soccer gear while Dawit and I did some unpacking. We went to his first ever soccer practice and was tired but he loved it. He even asked to go running to build up his endurance. So cute.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Catching up part 1

We have had such a good time lately that blogging has been neglected. But we are starting to get back into the swing of routine. So much has happened in the last month and a half. The boys are doing so well. Their English is wonderful. I can't even tell you how much they have learned. They are my heroes and my inspiration. I can tell you that I will be a very different teacher this year. I am coming at teaching with a whole new perspective. They will have made me a more effective, compassionate, patient, and repetitive teacher.

I am going to break this into a couple of posts. Updates on events, behavior, and how parenthood has changed me.

So first this is what we have been up to.
In July we had Dawit's Birthday party. We were expecting total meltdowns from both of them and to our surprise, they were both patient and extremely well-behaved. We were blessed with the presence of many close friends and family. We tried to keep it a kid oriented party; so we invited family and friends with kids.
Blowing out his candles.
So excited for his car.
After his birthday was done and over with we started getting Sintayehu ready to go to camp at forest home. He was up there for a week. I wasn't comfortable with him spending the night, even though a very close friend was up there with him. So we dropped him off at 7:00 in the morning and Nick picked him up around 9:30 at night. On Wednesday, Nick went up as the male counselor and he was able to spend the last two nights up there. He loved it. I am not sure how much of the biblical message he understood, but the social aspect was wonderful. He was able to hang out with 300 kids that were the same age. He had to make choices, be responsible, and make friends. The experience was priceless and he made memories and bonds that helped him feel more welcome in the US. He realized he had commonalities with these kids even though he has grown up with a completely different background.
The hike to their tent.

Straight into the pool
Meanwhile, Dawit and I had a very busy week. We went to the water park with a great friend and her two kids. Dawit is right in the middle of their ages. It was 113* that day and even the water felt hot. The kids had a great time and it was wonderful to be able to have some time with another adult. We also went to the circus, where my camera died, but Dawit was amazed the entire time. His eyes were big and the smile was huge. All of the kids around us were asking for glow in the dark necklaces Dawit wanted the motorcycle that they were riding in the globe.
My silly boy with his peanut butter sandwich.

Yes, we are sitting outside the park eating because we are CHEAP. They want $7 for a hotdog...CRAZY!
It was Nick's Birthday while they were at camp so Dawit and I made a cake and a birthday banner for him. We had a delicious dinner and the boys behaved very well all day for Daddy.

That following weekend we went to Camp Pendleton to camp with some great friends of ours. We had so much fun. Their were three families and the kids all got along great. It was a great time. It was some much needed connection with other families. We are so thankful to have the Brownings and Harris' in our lives. They fill our cups when they are low. Every family needs a few great people in their lives to help you keep going. They are ours. The kids swam in the ocean, flew kites, kayaked in the bay and we all went to see Toy Story 3. And of course, there were the campfires, where trivia, stories and jokes were being told. And the trip was topped off by a dolphin show in the waves not more than twenty feet out.
Kayaking with the crew.

Kids at Pizza Port in Carlsbad.
We celebrated my dad's birthday when we got home on Sunday. It was nice to swim and relax and of course, eat a delicious meal. It was a great evening and my whole family was there which is hard to do these days. The boys had fun playing in the pool with the family and my dad seemed so happy to have everyone home for his birthday.

The next day the boys and myself were treated to the aquarium of the pacific by the Rosenbaums. They are this amazing family, who also just grew their family through Ethiopia, that live close by and are friends with very old family friends of ours. It is amazing the connections being made. We had a great time. Our boys enjoy their boys so much and little Ruby is just a little princess. I am praying that a deep friendship will develop with this family.
Sintayehu loved the seals. He told me he wants to swim with the seals for his next birthday. Dawit was in love with the "Scudda divers" I can't wait to break out our equipment and let them try it in the pool.
Feeling the sting rays and sand sharks.

Sintayehu's profile and the jellyfish.

He loved watching all of the animals.
We enrolled Sintayehu in school last week. He is so exited. He brings it up several times a day. He was assigned a teacher and we tried to find his classroom but was denied access to the campus. Oh well, I think we might go check it out this weekend just to get some jitters and anxiety out. We got all of his school shopping done except for some clothes that he needs. He has grown so much in five months. 4.5 inches and 16 pounds. It's no wonder his legs hurt.

Last weekend was Sintayehu's "11th American Birthday". His real birthday is March 14th but all of the legal paperwork says August 7th. This is quite a big deal for a kid, but that is for a later post. We started the celebrations Friday night in Los Angeles. We went to Little Ethiopia and let him choose which restaurant he wanted. We can highly recommend Rosalind's and the Merkato. Meals by Genet is a little pricier and has more of a European flare to it but the food is delicious. But he wanted to try a new place so we went to the Little Ethiopian Restaurant. It was small but the service was excellent as well as the food. They all doted on our little men. After they found out it was his birthday they brought out a full birthday cake with 11 candles and some Ethiopian coffee and chai. DELICIOUS!!! You have not had good coffee till you have had freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee. The men sitting in the bar each congratulated him and gave him money with their handshakes. He was excited. The people are beautiful and there are few better activities than listening to the comfort of the boys speaking in their native tongue. It is a warming feeling, and I feel privileged to be part of it. We gave Sintayehu an Ethiopian drum for his birthday that we bought while in country. When Dawit asked to play with it, he said,"yes, but be very careful, this is very special to me." It brought tears to my eyes to hear the excitement and gratitude in his voice. We were also honored to have two of the three grandmas with us on this trip.

The family meal.

MMMMM... Chai "pronounced shy"

My Love

The little drummer boy. They both had a surprising amount of rhythm. (You should see them dance. People will blame us for their lack of skills :) )

Well that takes us up to last weekend. I will finish tomorrow because I am exhausted.
And just because it was so funny to see all three of them in the little blow up pool. Right after the final World Cup Game.