Monday, October 29, 2007

Run Like the Wind Grace!

Grace has been doing track this year. Funny choice for a 6 year old, but she's been enjoying it! Today was their big "meet" and she did great! I think she really had a lot of fun. See the video/photos below (she's in the red)


Did you know 200m is pretty far for first grade legs? But she ran the whole way in under a minute! =)

We stayed warm too! (barely!)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

She's Got It!

On Friday night we got our photo of Hana with her welcome bag! She looks pretty confused, but happy. It was so fun to see her in her new shirt, holding the photo album with our faces. I still can't fathom what she is thinking and feeling, but I hope she is happy overall I can't wait to meet both of them!!!

Now, hopefully we'll know our court date this week. At the rate they have been getting postponed though, it may not mean much. But still going to cross our fingers that things go (fairly) smoothly from here on out! =)

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dreaming of a New Family?

It is Friday afternoon here. Which means it is nearly midnight in Addis Ababa. Abenezer and Hana should be tucked in by now, like any other night.

But it isn't any other night.

Hana was supposed to get her welcome bag today. We haven't heard for sure, but that was the plan. So today, our five year old daughter-to-be found out there is a family waiting here in Michigan for her. Two sisters. And she found out that Abi will be her brother! And she could see our photos, put on her new shirt, hug her doll.

What must she be thinking???

Is she excited? Scared? Angry? Thrilled? Perhaps all of the above. Can you imagine how YOU would feel in that situation??? I honestly can't!

I just picture her in bed, with her little armed tucked around her new doll, holding tight to her wishes and dreams. And, hopefully, sleeping a little more soundly knowing that she has a new family, a forever family, that is thinking of her and loving her a million miles away...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Group X!!!!

News! FINALLY!!!

The courts have been open for weeks but there has been very little movement, at least with our agency. Only a few families have passed, lots of rescheduled court dates. And we have been waiting... waiting...

But I called today (because I couldn't take it anymore) and found out that today our case was sumitted to court as part of Group X!!! There are usually about 10 families to a group. Our court date should be between 25 and 45 days from today. If we pass the first time (a pretty big "if" - I'm sort of assuming we won't) then we *could* possibly still travel late December.

I'm trying not to get too crazy. But WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

At least it is SOMETHING! We are one huge step closer to our kids!!! Please wish us luck. Hopefully we'll know a court date soon!!!

Also, please keep our friends the Isaacs in your thoughts. They have been waiting and waiting for their son to pass court. Their first court date was back in August before the closure. We hope they can get little Avi home VERY soon!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

War - Half a world away

No, I don't mean the hot button-political-issue of the war in Iraq. Rather, I am referring to the increasing friction between Ethiopia and its neighbor, Eritrea.

The history between Ethiopia and Eritrea runs deep. One article stated:

Eritreans are proud of their history, even their colonial history. The Italians ruled the country for 51 years. After World War II, when Italy lost its few colonies, the world was not sure what to do with Eritrea. The superpowers stood by when Ethiopia swallowed it whole in 1962, which started a 30-year guerrilla war that Eritreans call “the struggle.” Their heterogeneous society rallied together, with Christians and Muslims, Tigrinya and Tigre (two of the bigger tribes) and men and women fighting together on the front lines.

The Eritreans won the struggle in 1993 and Eritrea became an independent nation. At the time, the country was in ruins, with few natural resources. Its soil was pebbly and dry. But it possessed collective values forged in the trenches and stressing self-reliance that seemed so different from those of older African nations that were corrupt, debt-ridden and torn by ethnic rivalries.

Unfortunately, for both countries, the last fourteen years has been a bitter struggle over borders. Eritrea was forced to deal with some very hard issues and Ethiopia became a landlocked country - a huge disadvantage in Africa. Border disputes continued into the late 90s, specifically over a particular border town. The UN eventually became involved, but Ethiopia ignored the UN commission who had declared the border town Eritrea's. Eritrea has also violated the treaty, sending troops into demilitarized zones. Neither side is willing to declare peace, both alleging that the other is trying to start another war. Both sides sit with troops at the ready.

This conflict would have been a blip on my radar less than a year ago. Now, it raises a number of emotions, not the least of which is fear. Although my children are tucked safely away in an orphanage in Addis Ababa, located in the center of Ethiopia, miles from the Eritrea border, I'm still scared for their safety. And I'm scared that if things escalate, that we won't be able to travel to bring them home, both delaying their homecoming (perhaps by quite a bit!) and denying us the opportunity for a small peak into their lives up to this point.

As you can see, the longer we go with news about court, the more I can find to freak out about. =(

Monday, October 15, 2007

No News ... Is Just That

Well, I knew we wouldn't have a court date immediately upon the reopening of the Ethiopian courts (which occurred last Monday) but hoped we would have some information by now. But alas, not just yet. In all fairness, our rather [relatively] last minute decision to adopt Hana added a slight bump in the road of piles of paperwork. But mostly, things just seem to be moving at an African pace (which means exactly as fast or slow as the Ethiopian government feels like moving right this second, which could change at any moment). So, trying to stay calm and keep myself otherwise occupied.

So that is why I haven't posted much in the last week - it kind of sucks to post... nothing. But then we realized we never posted a photo of Hana's welcome bag!

This is how she will find out she has a family! Not only that, she will find out that Abenezer will be her brother! Oh, I wish I could be a fly on the wall... We are sending a camera so hopefully we'll get some pictures from that. But we'll see. Still haven't seen any from Abi's camera (somtimes they make it back, sometimes not). But a very exciting thought. She is really old enough to 'get it' and I just can't wait for her to know! The bag should go over with someone from our agency in a week or two so maybe we'll have a photo by the end of the month? That is something to look forward to!

Until then, we just wait. Sigh.

For those of you who know my great friend Natalie from college, check out her beautiful new son! Elliott was born last Monday afternoon and mother and baby are doing great! I can't wait to meet him!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Something a Little More Lighthearted!

Okay, so I have been going CRAZY today, just hoping for news (preferably good news) about court dates, timelines anything. And nothing. SO. In order to take my mind off of it, I'll play a little game for your amusement.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet & current car)
Devin Taurus

2.YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (fave ice cream flavor, favorite cookie)
Mint Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter (How is that gansta-y?)

3. YOUR “FLY Guy/Girl” NAME: (first initial of first name, first three letters of your last name)

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color, favorite animal)
Yellow Dog (heeheehee)

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Anne Saginaw

6. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name, first 2 letters of your first)

7. SUPERHERO NAME: (”The” + 2nd favorite color, favorite drink)
The Kelly Green Diet Coke

8. NASCAR NAME: (the first names of your grandfathers)
Peter Neil

9. STRIPPER NAME: ( the name of your favorite perfume/cologne/scent, favorite candy)
Tommy Girl York Peppermint Patty (that's a long one)

10.WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (mother’s & father’s middle names )
Kay Paul

11. TV WEATHER ANCHOR NAME: (Your 5th grade teacher’s last name, a major city that starts with the same letter)
Bates Birmingham

12. SPY NAME: (your favorite season/holiday, flower)
Christmas Lilac

13. CARTOON NAME: (favorite fruit, article of clothing you’re wearing right now + “ie” or “y”)
Apple Button Down-y

14. HIPPY NAME: (What you ate for breakfast, your favorite tree),
Cereal Weeping Willow (seriously - who has a favorite treet?)

15. YOUR ROCKSTAR TOUR NAME: (”The” + Your fave hobby/craft, fave weather element + “Tour”)
The Quilting Thunderstorm Tour

Okay, kind of bizarre, but it was a nice distraction! Feel free to participate on your own blog or in the comments section!

It Wasn't My Problem ... Until Now

There is some really disturbing news out of China this week. I read about it here, on a blog written by an Ethiopia woman married to an American living in China (the blog is a great read!) but more of the story can be found here.

The long and short of it is that last week, the Beijing Police, or affiliates thereof, came down to a street frequented by foreigners and rounded up every black man they could find under the pretense of an "anti-drug operation." Many of these many were badly beaten. Victims included tourists and expatriates, including the son of the Grenadian ambassador.

The arrests and beatings were conducted in the middle of the street in front of many witnesses. There was no attempt to hide the brutality.

That is just a brief story - the links paint a more detailed, and disturbing picture.

Don't get me wrong - this is not something I would have EVER condoned. Had I come across this article a year or two ago I would have been disgusted. But it wouldn't have touched home for me the way it does now. It would've been sad yes, but not really 'my' problem. A fleeting thought, and then gone.

But now...

What if that was MY son? Fifteen years from now. Enjoying an evening out with his friends while studying abroad? Beaten and arrested because he is black.

Or, scarier yet, is realizing that same situation happens every day here in the U.S.

How do I protect my kids? How can I shield them from such racism - racism that is still alive and well and rearing its ugly head daily in the 21st century. How do I make other people care enough for this story to be more than a fleeting thought? People just like I was a year ago. How can we make everyone see that THIS IS EVERYONE'S PROBLEM. You may not be black. Your children may not be. Heck, you may not even know anyone who is black. But do you want to raise your kids in a world where it is not unexpected for people to be arrested and beaten simply because of their color?

What do we do?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Big News ... Maybe?

So, as most of you avid readers know (all 3 of you), the Ethiopian courts have been closed now for approximately two months. So, since that was the stage we were at with Abi's adoption, nothing much as happened.

Well, other than that whole going-to-adopt-Hana- too thing. ;)

But, things are starting to shake up again. Word on the street (and the "street" being a rumor from our adoption agency) is that courts will be OPEN starting Monday. Whoooooooooo!

What does that mean for us? Who the heck knows???

Unfortunately, it seems that Hana's paperwork is not fully gathered, approved, etc. Therefore, we wait. Once her portion of our file is set, we can submit both her and Abi's paperwork to the courts. We are still hoping to be filed this month and heard next month. But traveling by Xmas is looking more and more impossible. Sigh.

BUT thanks to the lovely cyber support of many new friends, I'm trying to take it in stride. The courts ARE opening and that is progress my friends! And, what I'm hoping is, that no matter if we travel in Dec, Jan or (God forbid) February, I will hopefully travel with an adoptive family I have come to know, at least electronically. So, it will come in time. Meanwhile we wait and prepare and miss children we have never met...

Please keep your fingers crossed that we get a court date soon!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. I tried to add an image to this post by searching "Ethiopian court" on images on google. Unfortunately, most did not make sense or were offensive. Sigh. So, because I wanted SOME picture, I just put in the U.S. Supreme Court. =)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Why Ethiopia?

I saw the following exchange on the Isaacs blog, but it was actually taken from the Long's. I guess it really just sums up, for me, one of the many reasons we are adopting from Ethiopia:

Max: "Mom, in Etopia we don't wake up our mom to go potty in the night. We just go by ourselves."
Mom: "Why don't you wake up your mom?"
Max: "Because we don't HAVE any moms."

(My stomach dropped and the reality of my sons' past hit me again. I picked him up, gave him a huge squeeze, and said...)

Mom: "In America you can wake up your mom."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Oh Baby! Our Little One is ... One!!!

It's true! Big Al's birthday was Sunday. She is now the big 0-1. CRAZY! Just hard to believe our little baby is already a full year old. Saturday night Mark and I just sat and talked about what the last year has brought to our lives. New jobs, new family dynamic, new outlook on life, the world...

Our dreams for our family have changed so much - and just grown exponentially. It is amazing what you think you can do if you actually stop and ask yourself!

So, if all goes well, in just a few months we'll go from a typical American family of 2.2 children (Okay, just 2 - but if you count the pets that is at least another .2) to a family of 6 (for those of you challenged in math, I am counting Mark and I at this point). Another way, that has us going from 1 to 4 kids in less than 18 months! And yet, all of us couldn't be happier!

But back to the lady of the hour (week?) - little miss Alice. What a year she's had! She started out a bit crabby, not going to lie. There were some rough colicky weeks. But the truth is, Ally is just very determined, focused, and goal-oriented little gal. If you were a non-moving blob who couldn't control a thing about your life and you had all of those attributes, you'd be crabby too! Yet, even with those loooooooong nights, she still had us all wrapped around her little finger.

And boy, once she got mobile (rolling) things sure changed! She is now the happiest, smiliest baby ever. She LOVES LOVES LOVES her big sister and her Claire Bear, Wally, and Poncho (in that order). Mom and Dad are alright too. She gets perfect strangers to stop and do a double-take on a daily basis - who can resist those blue eyes? Or that grin?

She's not walking, but she will be soon. She just hasn't made that a goal yet. She is perfectly happy crawling everywhere and getting into everything. But once she does set her mind to figuring something out, you can just see the gears start turning! It won't be long!

Ally sure is special.

Enjoy the random photos from her birthday! She absolutely LOVED the ice cream and cake (in that order) and the toys weren't so bad either! It was a lot of fun.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Life Lessons

Okay, so I usually don't get into forwards. But the following was a cute one from my friend Amanda. Among the humor is a good life lesson, though it is obviously a bit sappy! =)

Life Lessons:

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do.

Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember four simple rules to be happy:

Free your heart from hatred - Forgive.
Free your mind from worries - Most never happen.
Give more.
Expect less

NOW ...........
Enough of that crap. The donkey later came back, and bit the farmer who had tried to bury him.

The gash from the bite got infected and the farmer eventually died in agony from septic shock.

When you do something wrong, and try to cover your ass, it always comes back to bite you.

;) Happy Monday!