Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Unforgetable Day

More photos!
Most of these are from our trip to Debre Zeyit.  We were able to meet Selam's family (and Hana's too, obviously).  I don't think I have time or the energy to describe our day.  And I want to respect their privacy.  But I do want to say that it was wonderful and terrible and such an amazing honor.  A feast was prepared in our honor and it was delicious.  I couldn't even eat half of it. 
We leave for the US tomorrow night.  The trip has gone so fast.  I miss my family, but leaving is so bittersweet.  It will be very hard to leave it all behind...
Off until we hit US soil (and I get some sleep!) ...

Quick and Dirty Recap - Sun thru Weds

It is 11 p.m. Wednesday in Addis.


I am exhausted.


I am awake, however, sitting by the phone. Hoping that Mark will call by 11:30 when he gets home from work.  We haven't spoken yet and I miss him.  It's been a long time since I've been apart from my family this long.  I miss them ALL.


The phones have been tough here with the power rationing.  Electricity, power and phones have been very iffy – seems like off more than on, although that might not be true.  Never working at a convenient time. :o)  Right now the phones are working (I think and hope!) and the internet "says" it is connecting, but no such luck the many times I tried.  Who knows when I'll post this…


We have had water.  That's nice.  I remember no water last time, which kind of blew.  However, it's COLD.  So I've had a couple of quick hair-washes and barely showers.  Selam braved it today and was chattering.


Oh, that's right – SELAM.


Like anyone cares about anything else.


Well, she's wonderful.  Beautiful and smart and funny and confident – did I mention I'm in major trouble here???  She's been doing so well and we've been having a good time together (and she sure loves grandma too!) but I can tell you she's going to give me a run for my money.  She is a survivor and is just amazing.


We arrived Monday night and crashed.  Tuesday morning we waited (oh-so-patiently) for our agency rep to pick us up and go get her.  We weren't sure if she knew we were coming,  Oh, but she knew!  We pulled into the Layla compound and I barely made it out of the truck before she was in my arms.  WE didn't really get many "reunion" photos because my mom had no time to get the camera ready!  She was wearing the shirt we sent her in her welcome bag and her hair was very intricately braided (by her good friend Fortuna I am told).  But I was just locked on her eyes.  Eyes that filled up with tears as she ran into my arms.


Later I was told she has been counting the days.  Scratching them off on the calendar in the compound office.  I found this very sweet and amusing since Hana has been doing the same thing at home!  Selam found that funny too.


Oh yes, funny.  She's a joker.  She was a bit shy at first but it really didn't take her long to warm up to us – and start goofing with us (sometimes making fun of my poor sense of direction…)  She loves to laugh and is very affectionate.


So far things have been remarkably easy, comfortable.  I know I know – it's obviously a honeymoon phase and I'm not under any illusions that things will be perfect. But some things are much easier than I expected.  Like just being with her.  It doesn't feel awkward like I'd feared.  Just natural and easy.  And the "mothering" part has been going well too, in major part due to the fact that she is pretty easy going – I hear "no problem" a lot.  :o)  I can see our battles on the horizon, but hopefully they will not be many.  And, if I'm very lucky, they will be after we are home!


Did I mention how smart she is?  Because her English is much better than I'd hoped or expected.  She knew a bit when we met her last March, but it's really come a long ways since then.  Honestly, I haven't even been able to dust off the few Amharic words that I do know!  And she can read quite a bit and is always practicing.  Sure, there is a long ways to go, especially in order to function at grade-level.  But you can tell she is just very, very smart. 


Oh, and this Word program just shut down on me.  I'm loving my luck with technology this week!  Glad it actually saved all this crap I wrote or I would've been TICKED.


Is it seriously only 11:14?  Yawn.


What else?


Today was our embassy appointment.  There was a little drama I was nervous about earlier this week related to her visa approval, but it worked out.  I didn't read the directions carefully enough for the I-600 and, although I was careful to make sure Mark signed it before I left, I did NOT notice he needed to sign in front of a notary.  Freak out on my part!  Fortunately, Mark was able to re-execute and scan to us here in ET and that was good enough for the embassy.  Our appointment today was uneventful and it looks like Selam should be approved for an IR3 visa with no problem (because we both met her before passing court).  Whoooooooo!  That means when we land in Chicago on Saturday as soon as her feet hit the ground she is an American citizen.  (and an extra cheer – one less round of paperwork for mom!)


Hmmmmm…. What else can I ramble about until 11:30?


Ethiopia.  Still wonderful.  Although I feel like I've been very cooped up.  Our agency abides by the government rule that you cannot have your newly-adopted children out and about in public with you – orphanage and guesthouse only.  We are able to walk the short distance back and forth to Layla, but that's been about it.  I miss all the stuff we were able to see and do last year – but I'm glad we had the chance then.  After our embassy appointment she wanted to stay and play with her friends.  I asked if she would be okay if we left for awhile and went shopping – mom and grandma would be back for her after shopping.  I was nervous about this – I hated to leave her so soon, but also hated to leave with NO souvenirs.  She was totally fine with it, so we made a (relatively) quick run out.  By the time we made it back to Layla house to get her, she was waiting for us a bit anxiously, but okay.  I found out later that she actually walked herself back to the guesthouse that afternoon looking for us and then declared "oh, well, I go back to Layla"  The best part is that another family was there with a driver they had and she just hopped in with them and asked to be dropped off at Layla!  I told you she's confident. 


It is now 11:22 and no call.  Yawn.  I only have a few more minutes left in me Mark!!! ;o)


The other children.  There as just so many.  So many great kids.  On Tuesday we ended up pretty busy, back and forth to Layla a few times. We also made it out for a visit to big and Little AHOPE.  We didn't get as much time there as I'd hoped, but I was glad to be able to go back, even briefly.  Selam likes to go back and visit her friends at Layla, but often does not like to stay long. So we have been in and out a lot, but haven't gotten to know the children very well. We do have many pictures though!  I swear Selam took photos of nearly every child in the compound.  Well, maybe that is an exaggeration, but we have plenty.  I hope some waiting families are pleased.  We didn't have quite as much luck with photos of children at AHOPE, but photos in general our discouraged there a bit more and we had bad timing with some of the kids.


Fun surprise this evening.  We had power (yay!) so we watched High School Musical together – Selam has been patiently waiting – and after a while I look over and noticed she was pulling out all of the beautiful intricate braiding her friend had done.  As I had not planned on washing or braiding her hair tonight, that wasn't the best surprise.  But it was fine.  We washed it and conditioned it a bit .  I know she can take care of it herself, but I do want to help and be a mom… still figuring out where those boundaries are in a pre-teen.  She let me and was a good sport. Not sure what she'll want to do in the morning, but we'll figure it out.  She has much more hair than Hana (thickness/texture, not really more length) so I need to try some new products I am guessing….I also would've killed for some great water pressure!  Rinsing that shampoo out with that trickle was painful for both of us (although probably her more than me since she was freezing).


Okay, it's now 11:30.  I'm exhausted – still.  I probably didn't leave quite the correct country code.  Damn.  Ah well.  We'll survive without talking for a week.  At least I was able to talk to Grace briefly tonight.  It was good to hear another familiar voice. 


Now it is time to grab some zzzzzz.  We travel to Debre Zeit tomorrow and although I am very excited, I know it will be a very draining trip for all of us.  Please keep us in your prayers for the next few days and until we make it home.  Saturday seems so far away – and yet far too soon.


Miss you, love you. 


We're Alive!

Power and internet have been quite spotty, so we'll see how this post goes.  I'm shooting for putting up three, but I'll just have to cross my fingers!
Included are some photos but I have no idea what order they will post!  :)  They should be mom and I at the airport, ET from the air, our view from the guesthouse and meeting Selam.
It's been a whirlwind, wonderful trip.  i wish I had time to write more.  But it's been an emotionally draining day, so I'll just try and put up the post I wrote last night and a few more photos!
Miss you all!  :o)

Monday, July 27, 2009

We made it!

It's 7 a.m. in ET! We made it safely yesterday/last night. All our
flights were on time. Our flight into Addis had a delay in landing
due to a thunderstorm, but nothing too bad. We were very fortunate!

I was so tired that when we got to the guesthouse, I just could NOT
figure out the phone or the computer! But after a pretty decent
night's sleep, at least I was able to hop on the internet.

We actually have water this morning (yay!) so I better run and grab a
shower. Hopefully in just a few hours we'll have Selam with us!!!!

Can you tell I"m excited??

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Leavin' On a Jet Plane

I'll be back Saturday. ;o)

Can't believe it's finally here! So excited to see our girl again and (finally!) bring her home!!!

Please keep us in your prayers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Email test - just want to make sure I can post in ET!!!

What Else Can We Squash Into This Week?

Currently on hold for the pediatrician. I totally forgot to make an appointment for Selam when she gets home! Oh, and all the other 4 are due (or nearly due) for well-child visits too. My goal is to have this all done before school starts. And hair cuts. And probably a teeth cleaning or four?

August will be great fun.


Friday, July 17, 2009

Lies, Nerf Guns and Tears... Oh my...

Sometimes parenting really sucks. :o(

We've been having a lot of talks about lying and telling the truth around here lately, especially with a certain kiddos. It is very frustrating for me as lying is at the top of my parenting pet peeve list. I KNOW there is a basis for these lies, and most of the time I understand that. More than the majority of the time, it is simply a survival instinct - I don't want to be in trouble, so I'll throw someone else under the bus. Or simply deny deny deny. But sometimes it is about stupid little things too. Those almost bother me more than the big stuff because I often don't catch it.

Which makes me wonder what else I'm not catching...?

Today we had a bit of a flip for the main culprit in our house. There was a dispute over nerf [arrows? bullets?] for their nerf guns. Both children were adamant. I wasn't going to try and guess so I took the guns away for the time being. The result? One kid shrugged and watched TV. The other is in her bed sobbing. :o(

Now what to do? It's fairly obvious which child was probably lying (although no guaranties). However, this also seems like a prime opportunity to showcase why lying is so hard on a family (i.e. how is mom supposed to trust you when you constantly tell me how you are "so serious" regardless of whether you are telling the truth).

It breaks my heart to hear the crying. I feel like I'm failing. How does this show support and unconditional love? Yet, how else can I communicate the confusion, hurtfulness and danger of lying? It's not a fair choice.

[While typing this post, said child came downstairs, sad as can be. We hugged and now all the kids are playing outside together. I know this wasn't the last of the issue, but we'll just have to muddle our way through this. I wish there was a REAL parenting manual. Or maybe a "restart" button.]

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


So, I didn't even want to post anything on here, because I didn't want to let myself worry. But now that I have the all clear to travel on the 26th, I'm letting myself breathe a sigh of relief.

Confused? Sorry, I'm tired. :)

A couple of weeks ago we started hearing rumblings about MOWA closure. I wasn't too worried - after all, we were done with them right? WRONG! I forgot that MOWA has to write a final letter for our file before the embassy appointment. It's pretty much a rubber stamp at this point, clerical in nature. But we just were not sure if MOWA would have the letter done before they closed for training or not.

After all, if it could go wrong, it would happen to us right?

But our agency was able to confirm this week that our letter is in fact DONE and we can proceed for a July 29 embassy date as planned.

(big sigh of relief being exhaled...)

Now, I should seriously consider packing eh?

Uh oh...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

2 Weeks from Today...

... my mom and I will be on a plane.

Headed to Addis.

To bring home my girl.

Can't wait.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Bead Machine

[don't forget to check my "life" blog - someone had a birthday!]

My mad hair skills are improving. After over a year, I finally braved the world of ... beads! So fun! :)