The little guys were such troopers on the flight home. They slept, listened to music, watched TV, colored, looked at books and only whined/cried a little. When we got to DC, immigration took forever and we missed our connecting flight. The boys continued to do great as we got burritos and explored the trains, escalators and elevators that the airport had to offer. I think they got a wrong first impression of America because there are so many Ethiopians working at IAD that they heard Amharic everywhere they went. We really appreciated all the people who talked with them and made them feel welcome in a language they could understand.
Today is the end of Day 3 in America. We're settling into a routine. As much as we can, we are trying to mimic familiar activities and routines from the care center. Our days right now are breakfast, bath (we will eventually switch to the evening), walk the dog, go do an errand in the car, go to the park, snack, play at home, lunch, quiet time/reading, play at home, skype, dinner, bed. For breakfast the boys prefer plain bread and tea. Bath time that is not done in assembly line fashion is a HUGE hit. Walking the dog allows A to show off his cow-herding skills. Going to do errands in the car has been the most exciting and the most stressful part of the day for the kids. Exciting because they get to go in the car (also disappointing to D, because no matter how many times he asks, he doesn't get to drive. His insistence that tiliq neñ - I'm big - is super cute, but not convincing enough). Stressful because it's the one part of the day that opens their world up bigger than the house. We've gone to see the downtown area, to the bakery, the shoe store and the library, and they generally didn't like any of them (though they liked getting new shoes). But I think it's good to spend a little time each day doing these small errands, to build up their tolerance. They like the park, which is large and green and quiet. Playing at home time has been good. They relax then. I think it's good we have one room where we all sleep and one room for playing, because it is the same setup as the care center. At the care center there was nap time, though that has translated to quiet time here. The first day was definitely not quiet - why nap when you can jump off the bed, put lip balm all over your face, try on all the shoes in the closet, put lip balm all over mommy's face, flush the toilet repeatedly, put lip balm all over the faces of people in books. Quiet time on days 2 and 3 was mostly spent looking at books. I love that both boys are very interested in books. Skyping has been another HUGE hit. The boys have been skyping with their cousins and if they could, they would pretty much do that all day. If you can make a funny face, put silly things on your head and wear cool glasses, you are the ideal skype partner for our kids.
Our communication with the boys has been pretty good. T and I are nowhere near being able to speak Amharic, but we know enough that we can ask the boys basic questions and understand their answers, and we can explain what will happen next. For example before the shoe store, we could say, "We will go to the shoe store. We will buy two shoes for A and two shoes for D. How many shoes will we buy? Two. All the shoes are not yours. Only two." (The boys were very good about each getting one pair of shoes and didn't ask for any more shoes but then they saw the umbrellas for sale and it was yinei, yinei, yinei - mine, mine, mine - all over again.) Today T was gone all day and last night we were able to tell them that he had some work and would go in the morning and come back at night. So the little Amharic we have has gone a long way toward giving them some security in knowing what will happen next. Also I think today A and I had a conversation in Amharic about early planes and cars and the Wright brothers and Henry Ford - at least that's how I understood the conversation.
There have been three amazing things that have stood out to me the last three days. One, we have these children in our home. We're going to raise them. They're ours. That is unbelievable. Two, they seem to like us. I have no idea why they would, not that we're not likeable, but who are we to them? And yet all day, it's Mommy this and Daddy that and hugs and kisses. And there is testing of limits, but again, for some unknowable reason, after the tantrum is done, they actually listen to us. And three, they are FUNNY. Sometime unintentionally funny - T and I can't bring ourselves to teach the boys to say "brush teeth" quite yet, not when the Amharic word for toothbrushing is fak and the boys like to loudly announce that they're doing it and they like to do it - and sometimes deliberately, great-sense-of-humor funny, like when D switches between tiliq neñ and tinish neñ depending on if he wants to be big and drive the car or be small and be carried everywhere.
So, three days in, things are going well.