Thursday, July 30, 2009

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. 


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