Friday, December 31, 2010

It's New Year and Time for a Change

After 3 1/2 years of using Blogger, I'm jumping ship. 

If you're reading this blog you know I made it private quite some time ago.  I had several reasons for doing this, but haven't been completely happy with a private blog.  So after much thought and consideration I am switching over to Wordpress and this will be my final post on Blogger.  Obviously, this means I will need to learn a new blogging system, but so far I see much more possibility with Wordpress.  For example, I can make certain posts private while the blog continues to stay public.  That's a nice combination for me.

I appreciate everyone who has followed me here throughout the years and hope you'll join me at as I continue to share our journey through the World of Weeks.

Happy New Year!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Through Your Eyes

Till I had you I didn't know that I was missing out
Had to grow up and see the world through different shades of doubt
Give me one more chance to dream again
One more chance to feel again through your young heart
If only for one day let me try

I want to see Christmas through your eyes
Want everything to be the way it used to be
Back to being a child again thinking the world was mine
I want to see Christmas
Christmas through your eyes

Friday, December 24, 2010

White Christmas

A white Christmas at the Weeks' home is officially guaranteed!

And a white dog too!

Happy Holidays

Wishing all of you a Very Merry Christmas!!!!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Annual Christmas Light Display Trip

For most of the last 8 or 9 years, we've taken a trip to the Festival of Lights display in East Peoria.   Based on the reaction we've been getting from Lili and Naomi over small light displays they've seen at homes and businesses this season, we knew this light display was likely going to send them into a Christmas light frenzy.  However, because there were so many different displays, they were a bit too overwhelmed to react to all of them, but they certainly enjoyed the show.

Here is a small glimpse of what we saw tonight.  (If you want to enlarge any of the photos, simply click on the photo.)

Obviously, some pictures are much better quality than others and the pictures certainly don't show the true beauty of the displays.  Regardless, I hope you enjoy a little view of the trip.

Happy Holidays!!!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Seriously, It's Been 9 Months

On March 16, 2010 a baby girl was placed in our arms.  We got into a Toyota van with this baby girl and drove out the blue gates of the orphanage. 

Never again would she sleep in this crib

Never again would she have to lay in this same crib unattended while the nannies cared for other babies in the orphanage. 

This baby girl is now an 18 month old walking, running, talking, babbling, laughing, crying, inquisitive, determined toddler who sleeps in this crib, in this room (with more decor on the walls now).

She has grown from this little baby

To this little girl who loves her big sister

And has changed our lives in ways unimaginable.

We love you Naomi and the first 9 months have been amazing!!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First Attempt at Twists

It's not perfect, but I don't think it's bad for my first attempt at something other than puffs.

Now, if I could just figure out how to get her to leave the clips alone, all would be well.

And then Lili informed me that she wanted her hair fixed like Naomi's and Bianca's - Bianca is one of her friends and school.  I got her to agree to two ponies instead.

She added the silly faces and goofy poses all on her own.

Friday, December 10, 2010

First Snow Experience

We had our first measurable snow fall here in Central IL which thrilled Lili tremendously.  However, it was Naomi's first exposure to snow and I wasn't quite sure what she would think.  Pictures can speak louder than words though, so I'll let you be the judge.

And Lili was into making snow angels and simply laying in the snow.

Oh the joys of snow!!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

For several years we've hosted Thanksgiving at our house.  Dave's family would travel from far and wide staying at the Weeks bed-n-breakfast, but that changed this year and we were the ones traveling.  Seven of us in a van traveling all night and arriving in the Dallas, TX area Thanksgiving morning then leaving at 3 a.m. Sunday to travel back home.  Seven people on a trip means more stops and the stops tend to be longer, so total round-trip travel time was 30 hours. 

Of course we always love spending time with the family and this trip was no exception, but it was a much more difficult trip than I imagined.  Yes, 30 hours with 6 other people in close proximity to each other is not an easy trip, but what truly made it difficult was missing Ben.  We were invited to change venues this year because some family members thought it might make Thanksgiving a little easier to bear.  Their hearts were most certainly in the right place and all their efforts deeply appreciated, but unfortunately it actually made Thanksgiving more difficult for me as it was yet another reminder that things were different, things were forever changed.  Not that I didn't already realize that, but not being able to scurry around my own house preparing for visitors and preparing meals gave me much more time to think of what was missing this year.  For me, that distraction would have been welcome, but I've learned that I can't prepare myself for those moments when grief will envelop me and my feelings weren't the only ones that needed to be taken into consideration .  Our entire family has been grieving Ben's death and I'm quite certain that for some, the change of venue helped.

Despite the emotional difficulties this year, there were definitely some wonderful moments.  This was, after all, Naomi's first Thanksgiving and we were able to spend part of the weekend with the newest member of the family, Tsegaw.  It was also Tsegaw's first Thanksgiving and being able to spend a portion of our holiday weekend with all 3 of the youngest family members was wonderful!

The other highlight for me was a trip to Addis Ababa for Ethiopian food.  YUMMY!!!!!  When at home, we're about 2 1/2 hours away from the nearest Ethiopian restaurant so I made sure that we included a trip to Addis Ababa for dinner while we were there.  It was not disappointing at all.

While some of us went out for dinner, the rest made a trip to the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center to see the ice sculpture display - 'A Charlie Brown Christmas.'  Honestly, I heard a lot more about the resort than I did the ice display, but it was yet another opportunity to spend time doing something different as a family and fond memories were created.

Now we're home and back into the swing of things.  Lili is back in school two mornings a week and I've begun my Christmas shopping.  We still need to decorate the house and hopefully that will happen in the next week.  In the meantime though, I leave you with some pictures from Thanksgiving 2010.

Naomi's first Thanksgiving meal.  She's a messy eater.

Lili's third Thanksgiving meal.

Lili and Josh watching football.  Okay, Lili playing on the exercise bike and Josh watching football.
Naomi and her cousin Tsegaw.  They are just adorable!!!!!

Fun at the park.  The nice thing about Thanksgiving in Texas?  It was warm enough to go out and play.

Diva in training.
Several attempts were made at getting a good picture of mommy and girls.  So hard getting everyone to cooperate.  But at least we're all looking at the camera :-)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Curly Zebra

There is another hat give-away on Happy Girl Hair.  If you aren't familiar with Curly Zebra, they make silk lined hats for curly hair girls and boys.  I just ordered my first one for Naomi and can't wait for it to arrive.

In the meantime, if you want a chance to win, click on the Happy Girl Hair link and find out what you need to do to win.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Our Little Girl is Growing Up

We have Naomi's last post-placement visit .  Seriously, I can hardly believe that we are approaching the 1-year mark, yet it's true.  On January 8th, 2009 we passed court in Ethiopia which made Naomi our daughter legally.  This means we need to have our final report completed and to Ethiopia by January 8, 2011.  Our home study agency also requires a medical report at this visit so yesterday we were off to see the pediatrician for a check-up.  Although we weren't able to see our regular doctor, the doc we did see was very pleased and impressed with Naomi's growth and development.   She is now 33" tall (89.40%) and 23 lbs 10.5 oz (44.22%) and completely on target developmentally.  You would also assume that after 5 children, I would not worry so much about development, yet I do - specifically speech.  I'm quite certain it is a result of having a child with autism and knowing that children who are adopted can have delays.  I was worried about Lili's speech development until she really started talking well and I'm doing the same thing with Naomi.  My fears were relieved yesterday when I was told she should have a vocabulary of 7-10 words and a lot of unintelligible words.  Of course prior to this information I was asked how many words she knows and I was only able to guess.  So, I began to write all the words she says.

No - she says this with authority
Ni-ni - night night
Me, me, me - something else said with authority because she is competing with big sister
Ho, ho, ho - haven't been able to get her to say Merry Christmas yet
E-i-e-i - Better known as Old McDonald (That counts as a word, right?)
nana - banana
Mimou - Mickey Mouse
Wow - said with a lot of drama

I'm pretty sure I'm missing a couple words, but she is talking frequently saying things we can and can't understand and the doctor got to witness this yesterday as Naomi started conversing with everyone in the room. 

Bottom line is, everyone is pleased with her growth and development.  Considering she weighed 8 lbs at about 2 months of age, I think her progress it's pretty remarkable.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

World AIDS Day

Today is World AIDS Day.  It is a day that has been set aside to spread awareness about HIV and AIDS. 

Like many people, I have been very ignorant about HIV and AIDS.  I understood that I could not contract this disease via casual contact and knew it was contracted through unprotected sex or sharing of needles.  Beyond that, I didn't know much.  Over the last several years, I've learned more and now it's time for me to help end the ignorance and stigma surrounding HIV and AIDS.

AIDS is also something that has touched our family.  My brother-in-law died from AIDS about  9 years ago.  No one in the family knew he had AIDS.  Did he know?  I would suspect he did, but didn't want to deal with the stigma that surrounded a diagnosis of AIDS.  Fortunately, his wife and daughter are not HIV positive as a result, but it is the total lack of education that causes people to stay quiet.  Unfortunately, staying quiet also means fewer people are educated. 

I found some interesting statistics via Avert

It is estimated that 16 million children have been orphaned by AIDS.  Sub-Saharan Africa is the area most effected by AIDS.  Approximately 10% of the people in the world live here and of all those in the world infected with HIV, 68% are in sub-Saharan Africa.  That is an astounding number.

Because Ethiopia is so near and dear to my heart, let me quote some more statistics.

At the end of 2008, 980,000 people were living with HIV in Ethiopia.  530,000 of those people were women and 92,000 were children.  The number of children orphaned by AIDS was 650,000.  One other thing to keep in mind is that these statistics qualified adults as anyone age 15 and up.  Sadly Ethiopia ranked 8th on the list.  Yes, 7 other sub-Saharan African countries have more people infected with HIV, which means more deaths from AIDS and more children orphaned.

A sad reality to all of this is that HIV is completely preventable and for those who have HIV, it's very treatable.  However, lack of education and the unavailability of antiretroviral medicines are killing millions of people every year.  Millions of these people are leaving behind children, also infected with HIV.  Unless these children are given access to treatment, they too will eventually die. 

What can we do to help?

Adopt - Advocate - Enable

First and foremost, we need to educate ourselves and others so we can end the stigma that surrounds HIV and AIDS.  We need to advocate for those living with HIV and AIDS.

For some, adoption may be an option.  Are you able to open you heart, your home and your life to an orphan living with HIV so they have the opportunity to live a full and long life?

Are you able to donate time or money to enable a HIV+ parent somewhere in this world the opportunity to get the necessary help they need?

There is an organization that specifically addresses Adopt - Advocate - Enable.  That organization is Project Hopeful.  If you want to learn more and help end the stigma, please visit their website.  In the meantime, please watch this short video to begin educating yourself on HIV and AIDS.