Thursday, September 15, 2011

Princess Penelope

This little girl rocks!  Seriously, we are having the time of our lives getting to see her personality unfold as we learn more about her each day.

When we brought her back to the Ethiopian Guest Home I headed straight up with her while Dustin and the kids hung back downstairs, to give her a bath, snuggle her with a bottle, check her head for lice, and lay her down for a nap.  She loved the bath - every part of it.  She studied me closely as I massaged soap onto her chubby little legs, arms and tummy.  She played with the stacking cups in the water while I checked her hair.  She didn't make a sound.  She sighed deeply several times.  I laid her down in her pack'n play next to our bed and then laid down next to her and watched her as she fingered the blankets in her crib.  She stared at me - wouldn't close her eyes or look away - just studied me.  And it was as if she was saying, "Uh, ok lady, the drive and bath were great but it is really time for me to get back to my own bed now.  Whenever you're ready..."  Poor sweet girl.  I thought she must be uncomfortable with me just gazing at her - at the orphanage they never stand over a child's crib until they fall asleep... So I crept across the room to the big kids' bunk beds and laid down there where I could see her body but she couldn't see me.  I laid there praying for her.  Prayed that she would get some peaceful rest.  I prayed that she would begin to feel safe and feel the presence of the Holy Spirit as she rested.  Then I got up and walked across the room to check on her, after about 5 minutes... she was fast asleep.  She slept for almost 2 hours.  I set up Skype on my iPhone and took the iPad downstairs so that we could Skype the phone and use it as a baby monitor - worked like a charm.  I went back up before she woke up and when she opened her eyes, I reached out to pick her up.  She didn't reach up to me but she rested her head on my shoulder and felt relaxed as I rocked her to wake her.

From afternoon into early evening she sat on Dustin's lap or mine.  She didn't play much with any of the toys we brought with us. She just sat quietly and observed everything.  Kate cried because she was disappointed that Penny didn't love her - sweet girl had been waiting for 18 months for this little sister and loved her so, so much already that it was just too much for her to bare thinking about - that it might take her sister some time to love her as much as Kate loved her.

We put Penny to sleep that night at 8 pm and she slept, without stirring, straight through until 7:30 am the next morning.  Totally did not expect that!  But I'll take it!  She's been sleeping that great ever since.  Even with the time change back to the states, she has been sleeping and napping like a champion.  I had prepared myself for screaming, crying fits at bedtime and lots of waking up in the night but so far we have had a very smooth transition with sleep.

Day 2 as a DeMaio, Penny began to babble here and there.  Later in the day as we were playing with blocks on the floor, Penny pointed my direction with an excited expression and said, "Mama!".  My heart lept - "What?!  My little girl already knows me by name?.... I was floored... that is, until I turned around to pick up a block and realized that "mama" was not me, but a beautiful caramel and white cat rubbing up against our windows.  Yeah.  Bummer.  But since then, we have come to find out that dogs are also "mama, cows are "mama", chickens are "mama" and birds are "mama" - and she loves them all.

By day 3 Penny was saying "Abat" throughout the day and we weren't sure what it might mean.  We had asked the day before for our translator to listen to her speak and tell us what she was saying and when he had listened to her he very sensitively said, "Uh, she's not really saying anything.  It's more like babbling."

oh... ok....

But this word "Abat" was very clear and just started being said, so we had to go ask again.  What did it mean?  The receptionist downstairs told us it meant "father".  Oh, yeah, sure Penny.... mama is a cow and daddy gets your first "real" word - how sweet is that?!

By the 4th day Abat had changed to Abate and we asked again - is this a different word?  Yes, it was different...  Abate is the term a term of endearment for children to their own father.... melt my heart and wrap your daddy 'round your little finger while you're at it Pen!  Since we've come home and Dustin has headed back to work, we have talked to him on speaker phone.  Monday, when she heard his voice come on, she raised her eyebrows really big and screeched, "Abate!"

And we have now found out that Miss Penelope is not shy on personality.  In fact, she is a total people person.  She has a very expressive face and her eyebrows crack us up as they move and change to show a myriad of different emotions and expressions.

We had embassy on Wednesday in Addis and one of the coolest parts was going up to the counter to give a sworn statement to be Penelope Love Bamlak's forever family - they asked us to raise our right hands and it was so special to have Trent and Kate standing there, raising their right hands right along with us as I cuddled Penny on my hip.  A great memory!

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