Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Memories

This is the last year we will celebrate Jesus Christ's birth as a family of 4Boys1Girl.  I can't wait for the lessons she will teach us our family of six. :0) 

painting a gingerbread house

 creating Christmas mice for Santa

dic's side of the family at our house on Christmas Eve.

settling down for a story.....
 santa's mice & milk all ready

 my side of the family for Christmas day.....

at our house.

love the memories.
can't wait for next year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Does She Know? Merry Christmas Baby Girl.

Tomorrow is Christmas eve.  
We haven't gotten word yet about our trip to bring our daughter home.  I have been praying hard...I think I even pray in my sleep.  I don't understand what makes it all take soo long.  I'm frustrated..I'm angry..I'm sad..I'm longing...and my heart hurts real bad.  
But this isn't about me. 
I just need her to know that we will be back.  Are they telling her that?  Does she know?  Does she know that the people she met a month ago are really her mommy and daddy?  Does she know that we love her as if she'd been with us forever?  That we are longing for her just as she is longing to be held and rocked and sung to?  Does she feel God's presence and hear Him whisper that her mommy and daddy are on their way?  To love her forever?

God, please wrap your arms around 'lil sis and comfort her when she's sad and lonely and lost.  Please carry her and hold her when we can't.  Please place in her heart that she has a family that will be there soon and won't ever let her go.  Please, God.  I feel so helpless right now.  I haven't lost my faith in you.  I trust that your timing is rightI pray for all the hurting hearts tonight that they may find  their peace in You. 

(to listen, pause my music in upper right corner)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Waiting.....on Christmas

We are finishing week 3 of waiting.  We are waiting to hear from our agency when we will be submitted for an Embassy date....also to bring our baby girl home.  It's been tough.  We are one of the first 20-30 families in the 2-trip process, so things have run a little lot slower.  And it's taking it's toll, to say the least.  I thought Christmas would give me something to think about.  But in-between picking up gifts for this person and that person, I see or think about what "A" will need when she gets home.  You can tell me to stop thinking about her.  You can tell me that I have too many other things to worry about right now and that I should just focus.  It doesn't work that way....I don't work that way.  She is in my every thought, in my heart.  I know that this is such a great time of year and I should be joyful.  As one of my friends pointed out, this is our last Christmas as a family of five.  I love this time of year for indulging my kids, in the name of Christ.  I do.  This has always been a tough time of year for me just because I can't handle the stress of it all.  I have toned it down and done away with some of the less-important traditions, just to save my sanity.  I'm not sure what else I could do differently and still make it special.  I am doing my best.  I have taken the last few days "off" and I plan to pick up where I left off tomorrow.  That still gives me a week. :0)  And I am going to try to be joyful.  This is a sweet time of year, regardless of the consumerism.  We don't have to be a part of that.  We just do our thing and keep going, we join together and celebrate Christ, we praise and worship......and we wait. 
I am giving it all to the Lord.  
I am keeping my Faith that He has given me.  
I will trust that His timing will be perfect once again....
and I will wait.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Those left Behind.....

If you haven't seen this, you will want to. I have been feeling soo sad about being so far away from our little girl. After I saw this I mourned the fact that I will have to leave soo many behind. Watch and be moved. Be moved into action. No excuses! Do something!

My heart is with a little girl in Ethiopia

My heart is heavy today...and it aches.  I am missing my baby.  She is across the world and I can't get to her.  I thought it would be soo hard to leave her and I am having a much harder time now.  Now that I know that only a few Embassy dates were given this month, which means there will be soo many more families trying to get through next month.  And with there only being one date to get an Embassy appt, it will be a miracle if we get in....which means we won't see her until February.  It's too long.  No child should have to be away from their loving parents....ever.  Now that we've met and we love her that much more, it makes it that much more difficult to be without her.  We were "matched" with her in June and it could be February before we get to bring her home.  That's 8 months.  It's too long.  I'm sad....more than sad. 
Today I am sulking.  
Tomorrow I'll be hopeful. 

Sunday, December 5, 2010

We are HOME...Part III

If you'd like to start at "Part HERE!

This trip was life-changing.  Not only did we meet our child and get to hold her for the first time, but we had soo many experiences in just a few short days that will stay with me for the rest of my life!  And sometime soon (hopefully) we will be told of our second date to return.  It is looking like January 24th could be a possibility if our agency can get all of the paperwork together before then.  We are praying that this is it. :0)

 You wanna hear the juicy details about the court hearing?  WELL.....we were prepared with respectful, dressy clothes to honor our judge, the country  of Ethiopia, our daughter and her birth parents.  We got all of our info in line so we wouldn't disappoint "her highness" with the wrong answers.  And we showed up on-time.  Well, close to on-time. :0)  I don't think anything ever happens in a specific amount of time in Ethiopia, and everyone will remind you of that.  Our driver obviously didn't get the message.  We were due in court at 9:00 and our driver came to get us about 8:45...hardly enough time to cross the city.  If I felt car-sick any day, this would be the one.  He drove soo fast and furious I thought I might lose it.  

You see in Ethiopia there seem to be no rules either.  If this car needs to get from point "A" to point "B", it will get there, even if it cuts in front of other cars with a split second notice.  And the other driver will just honk his little horn--"beep, beep", and they wave at each other politely and move over.  I learned after the second, maybe third day that these weren't the mean honks that we get back home, where you see "the finger" from across the way.  No, these are courtesy honks, which seem to say "excuse me, I'm to the left and you are too far over" and the wave means, "oh, pardon me....I didn't see you there and I would LOVE to move just a tinsy bit to let you through".  Seriously.  That's how it is.  And it works.  It seems chaotic and it makes me sick, but it's functional.  It really is.  Only a couple of times did we see a little fender-bender.  And once we had to be "untangled" from a mess of cars all going their separate directions, but there was no way to get out.  If only we had soo much respect and love for each other in America.  
And patience. we showed up at the court house past 9:00 a little worried that perhaps we were passed over, but it was very quiet for awhile.  (FYI, there are no pictures allowed inside/outside the courthouse or government buildings)  Then people started to come in.  I think their lawyers got the memo saying that 9:00 really meant 10:00.  Cause she really didn't even start until then and even 20 minutes after that people still poured in.  It was a fairly small room, with the judges "chambers" being like a filing/storage closet.  I guess I some how had the vision that we would actually be in a court-room of some kind...not soo much.  This really did make it easier to settle the nerves a little though.  We had been told by families before us that there was no need to stress about anything and it all happens very quickly.  But there is always the worry that the judge may decide to ask us the dreaded question "How will you handle identity issues when the child is older?"  That's the one I was soo unsettled about.  I mean, I have ideas of what we will do, but to explain that to her before she rolled her eyes when my response was too long.....well, a little nervous about that.  So...after a good half hour to hour later we were called in with our lawyer and we sat against a west wall, with her on the North end...not even facing each other!  Wow!  And she spoke ever-so-quietly...especially with all of the noise coming from the other side of the door (not all adopting families were as respectful as ours--sadly, and they were hushed several times by the court-clerk).  She asked a series of about 6 questions like, "Have you met your child before court today?, Do you still want to adopt this child after meeting her?,   Do you have other children and are they happy about this adoption?, Will you try to keep her culture a part of your child's upbringing? (this was the only time it wasn't YES or NO....she said ""This is very important that she keeps her culture"".)  And then the best part of all.......
"Then she is yours".  
Tears welled up and fell and Dic and I hugged.  I can't remember how we got from one room to the next...I was floating.  I never imagined it would ever happen!  All-in-all it took about 60 seconds, and just like that it was over.  We were officially the proud parents of a little girl...a beautiful little girl!  Our lives would be changed forever.  We hugged the other adopting family and headed back down to the van.  With tears still going we exchanged hand-shakes and hugs with our lawyer and driver (he dressed up soo nicely for our hearing--soo sweet).  And off we went.  As he played "God is Good, All the Time" on his radio. 

 After court we were taken back to the Care Center where our little miss was patiently awaiting our arrival.  By this time she knew our faces and voices and they say she asks for us.  She came down the stairs wearing the sweetest little striped dress and a hair-bow that one of the other moms let her keep.  Little angel.  But this day we could tell she was different.  She was tired.  All of the kids seemed to be tired.  Late party?  Hard night?  I don't know, but she was not the little girl we had spent time with before.  All I wanted to do was put her out of her misery and take her to bed.  She went through the motions with us throwing balls and bouncing balloons.  I even tried to pick her up and rock her, but I think she was worried she would miss something.  I just wish we had learned more Amharic prior too.  We pulled out our list of words, but I wished at that moment I could speak it fluently for her sake.  I asked many times for the words to express myself, but phrases are very difficult.  Uggh.  So I just sang.  She loved it and smiled.  I know that's one thing that will be my saving-grace when she's all out of umph on the plane ride home.  She loves music.  

Soon enough it was time to say goodbye and we took her up to her room for a nap.  Our last time we would see her for a couple of months.  She gave us both big hugs and kisses and crawled into her bed.  I wish I knew how to tell her we would see her again....that this wasn't the end.  That this goodbye wouldn't be forever.  That one day soon we would be together, as a family.  That we would love her just like her birth family did, just like her nannies did.  That her mommy and daddy love her to the moon and back already. 
I wish there were a way to 
get her to understand that soo many great, new things would
be happening very soon.  We will be back.  Oh Lord, please don't let her heart 
be broken one more time thinking that we were gone for good.  Please keep us in her heart.  Let her know that the pictures we left behind are of the people who will take care of her for the rest of her life.  Tell her we love her when we can't.  Is that too much to ask? 

I miss her more now than ever.  But I wasn't broken-hearted that day.  I knew that she was being cared for with love, in abundance.  She loves the people there and she tells them so...I heard it.  I don't worry because I know she is in a great place.  But I miss her.  Dic misses her.  The boys miss her.  We pray that it won't be long and she can fill that void in our hearts.  
~She is the missing piece to our puzzle, 
and we our hers.~

 My Baby Girl.....soon.

Friday, December 3, 2010

We're Home-Part II.......The People of Addis

For Part HERE!

We were in Addis for five full days, unlike many couples who passed through for 2 or 3.  We did this on purpose because I knew my body couldn't take the long flight, the adjustments to time change, etc, and then back on another long flight again.  The other reason being that if we were going to fly across the world we were going to make the most of it.  You have to know Dic and I never go anywhere together...alone.  SO......every morning I woke up and said, "I'm going to take a walk around the neighborhood today to meet some of the people".  And each day brought something new.  I went through a series of emotions while we were gone--it seemed like we spent 2-3 weeks there.  The first full day the guys took a soccer ball (that Lori & Eric brought for a donation) and went outside the gates to play with some boys.  People started to peek out their doors to watch and I asked if I could take their pictures.

  They all seemed to love it--playing and posing.  But one lady (about my age) stepped outside her door and asked me who I was and why I was taking pictures.  I told her we were visiting the guest house and I was just having fun with my camera.  I immediately felt as thought I had offended her.  And of course, this was NOT my intention.  Later when I was discussing it with the staff at the guest house we wondered if maybe she was hurt that I hadn't asked to take HER picture, but it came out a different way.  Regardless, I had been rubbed the wrong way.  I went from taking shots freely from our balcony to hiding my camera.  It's really hard to explain unless you've "been there", but I didn't want to upset anyone else.  Who did I think I was gallivanting around like a tourist with nothing better to do.  I should be trying to fit in as much as possible, and this way didn't seem to be making me many friends.  From then on I was more selective about the pictures I took and where I took them.  Always making sure that I had befriended the people before waving my camera around.

a view from our roof-top

a look inside a compound, a home

 With our donations I brought lots and lots of clothes for kiddos.  Our agency is really only needing them for ages 5-10, so I packed them up.  But I had a huge amount of baby clothes and wasn't sure where to take them.  Dic and I became close with the staff at the guest house and I asked the women there if they had babies.  They told me they had sisters who were in need and I asked them to come up with a list of sizes.  I'm pretty sure we got them all decked out for awhile. :0)  But I still had infant clothes without a place to go.  The last day we were in Addis, most of our friends had gone home.  I decided this would be the day that we took our walk around the neighborhood.  I was determined to find the babies that I could hear crying from our room at night.  Our new friend Balynesh from Jemimah found a young girl who had a very small baby and she came for the remainder of my stash.  She was soo delighted and it made my heart melt.  They showed us where she lived, basically outside our gates, and we were able to visit and bring her and her family some other items from the store.  Turns out she was one of the girls I had photographed earlier in the week during the soccer game.

 As we walked further we came upon a family sitting in front of their house and they giggled and pushed their children to come say "hello" to us.  They were very reluctant.  We headed back to the little store along the way (you usually find these down most roads--convenience stores) and bought some bread (these nice loves were 1 birr each--1 huge bag of bread about $.70 US dollars) to give.....and a couple of suckers to let the kids know we were friendly. :0)  We came back, asked permission to give, and the children were all smiles.  The mother made the baby boy come kiss me.  It made my day.

 We walked and walked and I never wanted to stop.  Greeting people with "Hellos", "Salem", and giving bread and bananas when we saw the need.  The people were lovely and gracious and I felt God working in all of us.  This was the best day of our journey.  

A sheep-owner posing for a photo.

Seeing the love, the need, the contentment.  It was an amazing way to end our trip.  And I want more....of the people.  I am excited to go back and just "be" in the moments.  Always keeping in mind that we may not be received so favorably all the time, but knowing that we gave something of our selves and received soo much.

The store outside our gates.

  It's incredible that our journey doesn't have to end there, although it would be a great ending.  We get to do it all over again, and even more, in a very short period of time.  What a lovely thought.  

More amazing people.....

 Workineh (our host) & Isias (our driver)

 Dic & Workineh (we absolutely love him!)

 "Our Girls"

 Our sweet cook who put on this coffee ceremony for us

 The Jemimah (sounds like Jem-i-mah...not the maple syrup) Guest House

Our gates-keeper (yes, the guy who spooked us the first night :0)

more to come on baby "A".........
to see Part 1 of our story, click HERE

Thursday, December 2, 2010

We're's the story.......

Back from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where we met our angel of all angels and went to court to become her parents.  It was amazing in every way and the coolest thing is that we get to go back!!!!!

 I will admit, I dreaded the traveling with every ounce of my being.  I have never traveled well; be it across the state, or across the country.  But surprisingly, I did alright!  My hubby bought me some homeopathic drops recommended by a pharmacist.  I dabbed a few drops behind each ear before lift-off and stuck some gum in when taking off and landing.  Magic.  But flying across the world does cramp-up the body just a tad.  Sleeping wasn't easy, so exhaustion set in quickly.  I think we figured it took between 26-28 hours total with stops in Minneapolis, Amsterdam, and Khartoum, Sudan before landing in Ethiopia.  We were one of three planes that had to circle the air for a good time, so I did eventually throw up when we landed. Sorry, TMI?  We didn't purchase our visas through the mail as most had done so we had to stand in line for about 11/2 hours.  We were drained.  The rest of our travel group just boogied through the immigration line and out the doors where their driver was waiting.  We were scared to death when we realized we were on our own, in a city of 3 million, without a driver.....or directions to the guest house.  You know you have amazing friends when they send the driver back to get you!!  We almost kissed him (well, I did anyway).  He said, "You're late."  ummm yes, we know.

We went from busy streets to unknown (and dark) roads.  We didn't speak, but were both thinking at every stop we were about to be ambushed.  And then we turned into this big, metal gate....the driver honked twice, and it was opened by a man covered from head to toe.  We thought for sure we were dead.  I dug my fingernails into my hubby's leg.  Not until we heard our friend, Brian's voice did we realize this was all part of the plan.  He said we both looked gaunt as we exited the van.  Let the journey continue!!!!

Let me just say right now that I am soo grateful to have had such great company while we were there.  We had traveled with Mariah & Brian, our friends whom we met through our Home Study group, and it was soo great to finally get to see the faces and personalities of the people I've been in touch with through our agency's Yahoo group and on Face Book.  We had a blast.  It just wouldn't have been the same without them.  We realized this when they all left to go home and we were there alone. 

The first day we went to the Holt office for an orientation on their expectations and went over our child's information.  This was a quick visit and we were off to meet our little "A" for the first time.  As we walked up the steps of the care center my heart felt like it was going to pop out of my chest!  We were asked to leave our shoes at the door and sandals were provided to wear inside.  What a beautiful, colorful place!  I was really impressed.  We all sat in a row in some rocking chairs and waited for our kiddos.  I was video-taping for our friends as they met their little guy when I realized that "A" was being escorted down the steps.  It was such a quick thing and I scrambled for my camera/video camera.  I think I may have even passed off our friends' camera to Dic, as if he didn't have anything else to do! Ha!  She came walking down the stairs holding hands with her nanny, wearing a boys' long sleeve Gap shirt and pink leggings.  If one of the Holt staff wouldn't have said her name, I wouldn't have recognized her.  When we received pictures we only got shots from the waist up.  I had no idea her legs would be soo long.  Turns out later that, although she is taller than we thought, her pink pants were tight and short and made her look much bigger than she really was.  Anyway....her nanny brought her right to us and she gave Dic a big 'ole hug like she had already met him before.  I sat on the edge of my seat with tears waiting my turn.  Once she wrapped her arms around my neck I didn't want to let go.  She held me tight like she already knew I was her mama.  Our baby.  Finally, we get to hold our baby!!  What a blessing.  What an honor.  What an incredible gift from our God. (I have goosebumps just thinking about it). Her skin against my face was silky smooth and her eyes big and bright with those lashes.  Oh my gosh, her lashes!  And her hair is quite a bit longer than her referral picture that we received 6 months ago when it had been shaved at intake.  It is very soft, but really thick.  Lots of the kids had little curls here and there, but "A" had a full head of tight curls.  I was dying to touch it, but I'll wait. :0)

(sorry for the teaser :0)

We have been told for months that because we would not be able to bring them home our first visit, they would be introducing us as visitors...playmates, I guess.  This was also reiterated at the orientation.  They asked us not to refer to ourselves as their parents and to remember that we were only visiting/viewing our child.  The nannies called us by name and would tell our little gal to give Mommy and Daddy hugs/kisses.  All women in their lives are known as Mommy....I think this is a cultural thing. but Dic was called Daddy plenty of times.  What else would they call him?  I couldn't see any other way for them to go about it.  She definitely knows we are her parents.  The second day Sister Martha said she asked if her family would be coming.  And when we gave her the photo book I made, I had labeled everything/everyone by name....including Mommy & Daddy.....brothers, Cole, Zachary, Luke in English and Amharic, so she would hear it when her nannies read it to her later.  We just went with the flow and let things work the way they were suppose to.

look at that little footsie!  we traced it to get her size right

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It's Time To Go!!!!

We're are leaving for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia tomorrow morning.  Full swing of things as usual with getting kids to school and heading straight to the airport.  Lots of feelings right now.  My youngest guy is having a harder time letting go of his Mama for the first time ever--he's seven.  The other boys have only been away from us one other years ago.  I know they are in the best of hands while we're away and I thought of a few fun things to be given to them every couple of days.  But I think the fact that our friends are coming with their 5 kids to play...all week...with the Wii.....well i think that will help. :0)  I am excited to get on the plane and let go of all responsibilities for a week.  Oh, and then there's the fact that we get to meet our baby girl!!!!  YAY!!!  What a sweet thing!  I'll share her with you all when we can.  Hopefully we'll have her home the first part of January and we can do just that.  Until then, your prayers and blessings are very much appreciated.  God has the reigns!!  Love that!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Through the eyes of little "A"...........

I took pictures around the house to put in her photo book that we will bring to her.....leaving in 4 days.  Although the outside is not soo pretty now that winter is coming, this is the cleanest you'll prolly ever see the inside of my house (boys at school). :0)  Sneek peek at what she will see, inside and out, when she comes home.
the front:

the playset--
and poor yard trampled by horses.... 

back patio and deck.....

view from front......

view from back...

laundry/mud room....

 family room....


 dining room....

living room....

kids' & guest bathroom....

A's & Luke's room and new bed 
(that of which has no new bedding...yet).....

brothers' room..... 

mommy & daddy's room...... 

master bath....

and her loveable puppies--Phoebe and Smoke.

Hopefully she will recognize everything when she arrives from the picture book and have less of a shock with all of the "newness".  We are all soo it's hard for me to breathe.

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