Monday, February 28, 2011

Wontons, Spiders, Cameras and Showers

(Quite a title, huh?)

In recovering from our first trip, the jet lag has been quite noteworthy--I can not believe how long it has taken us to get back on schedule!  Most definitely making plans to get more sleep on the second trip--plans including blankets and pillows from home and possibly practicing sleeping with my arms and legs in my chest for good airplane sleeping. ;)

Needless to say, in our sleep-deprived and busy-getting-ready-for-a-baby-to-come-home state of minds, cooking has fallen by the wayside.  It's been a bit pathetic.  But, this week I am determined to do a much better job!  I went to the local "market" and bought lots of fresh blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, cantaloupe and watermelon.  M and T actually screamed in delight and thanked us profusely at the sight of all of that fruit.

I also made a weekly menu--including a meal or 2 to freeze (imagine that!). :)  And tonight we had a first in our house--Chinese Steamed Dumplings!  I even bought a steamer just to make them--another first!  They were actually quite tasty, if I do say so myself. :)

Also on my agenda for the week--eliminate spiders.  So, I kind-of feel like I talk about spiders a bit too much.  I'm not sure if I really just see more spiders than the average person or if I'm just more aware of them.  Needless to say, I take their assault on my house personally. I respect what they do, but I want them to do their job out of my space.  For example, this past week I got out all of Little Girl's clothes (can't wait to be able to type her name.).  They are all stored neatly in clear, nicely stacked bins in the basement.  I had been wrestling with one of the bins and set it aside.  I slid it just an inch and do you know what came scurrying out?  Yep, a big, juicy spider!  Why?!  It's February!  In my clean basement!  On a random, top clean bin!  NO!  (Insert shiver.)

I've been doing some research because I would prefer to do this naturally.  I am supposed to keep brush trimmed away from the outside of our house-DONE!  Vacuum regularly, especially cleaning up webs-DONE!  Spray essential oils--like lemon oil--around the perimeter of the spaces that I don't want spiders--That's my project for the week.  My house is going to smell like one big lemon! :)

And I would love to post pictures of both the yummy dumplings and the bins (minus any spiders), but it seems that our one and only half-way operating camera is quite lost.  I hear that perhaps tomorrow I might find a new one on my doorstep. :)

And if I did have a camera, I would most definitely have to post pictures from my morning.  Because...This morning my sweet friends had a surprise baby shower for us--how cool is that?  Thank you, friends, for all of the gifts and for being there--it means more than you know...  Can't wait to start using everything! ;)  Love you guys! :)

(Also, I've been working on a short "video" of this part of the journey--It will be posted tomorrow. :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sunday Funnies: Fairy Tales

T talking about monsters: "Monsters are real."
M: "No, they're not.  They're just made up--like Fairy Tales."
T: "Oh.  They're Veggie Tales.  They're just pretend.  Daddy, monsters are just Veggie Tales, they're not real."
(Sincerely meaning to say "Fairy Tales" but saying "Veggie Tales"--perhaps because he's watched just a few. ;)

(Reading his favorite nursery rhyme: Humpty Dumpty.  M took this photo--love the look on his face--it's totally saying, "What are you doing?  I'm reading.")

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Book Withdrawal: Infidel

A few days ago I finished reading Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  I could not put it down.  It is a book that has opened my eyes to see another world.


This book is the autobiography of a woman who grew up as a Muslim in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya and Ethiopia.  It is her story of breaking free from the dark aspects of her childhood and her fight to bring woman's rights to her culture (at the expense of her own life).  You can go here to read the blurb.  But this is the short and sweet of why I loved this book.
  • Her first-hand account of her childhood drew me in to her world--a world that is very foreign to me.  A world of great contradictions.  And a world where it is acceptable to beat, mutilate and kill women.
  • I learned more about Islam--again something that I don't know much about.  It makes me want to know more--so that I can understand it better.
  • It's a compelling, modern-day real-life story of a woman whose life is in danger because of what she speaks about--freedom of women and children and men, too.  It's a book that is so relevant in light of what is going on today in world news.

I definitely recommend this book. :)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Honey Money

My sister got me a subscription to FamilyFun Magazine--a magazine totally full of kid-friendly crafty ideas.  Loving it!

Anyway, today, in honor of President's Day, I hopped over to this site, festisite.com, highlighted in the magazine, and made some M and T money.  Pretty fun stuff! :)


Sunday, February 20, 2011

T Turns 3: His Sunday Funnies

Yesterday, T turned the big 3!  All day long we said "Happy Birthday!"  And all day long he answered, "Happy Birthday!" back at us.  Apparently he thinks it's a seasonal greeting like "Merry Christmas!"--you know, something you reciprocate.


Okay, so he has made me crack up this week.  Remember "Fire Eyes?"  You know when he squeezes his eyes shut really tight so that he sees red?  Well, when went to the grocery store earlier this week, it was FREEZING!  Crazy kid uses visualizations to help him stay warm.  Across the entire parking lot he squeezed his eyes shut (to make fire) and he opened his mouth wide to "breathe fire."  The face is nothing short of hilarious.


On this same freezing cold day at the grocery store, they gave him a FunDip as a valentine at the checkout.  He was so excited to get a candy valentine--although he has never had a FunDip.  Anyway, when we got back to the car he asked if it was breakable.  Thinking of the little candy stick I said, "Yes."   So then he asked, "Why can we eat glass?"  Seriously, what a funny train of thought. 

So thankful for our little guy and all the joy he adds to our lives. 
Love you, big guy, T!

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Forgotten Post: Day 2--A Letter

Okay, this is terribly out of order.  But because this blog functions as my pseudo-journal, if I don't put this in somewhere, I will totally forget what happened. :)  This is a rewind to last week--the day right before our Court Date.


Wednesday February 9, 2011

(Part of a letter written to our family and friends.)

This morning we went to Hannah's Hope.  While we held Little Girl for probably 1.5 hours, we got to talk with Almaz, the director here.  Almaz is awesome!  We found out a little more about our court date tomorrow and our meeting with Little Girl’s family.  

Little Girl  was so good today--she didn't cry at all!  During the meeting she played with another toy that we had brought and then fell asleep in my arms.  We got to meet with the Doctor there today, too.  She smiled more today for us, but she is still a bit scared I think (poor girl!). 


 

Then we went to an Italian restaurant for lunch.  Ethiopia was briefly occupied by Italy and so there is an Italian influence here.  They all say "Ciao" for goodbye.  Weird to be in an Italian restaurant in Ethiopia in Africa, though.

Then we went to a market to buy a few things.  That was a bit overwhelming.  Lots of shops selling the same things--all of the prices are in Birr (thankfully J had printed a cheat-sheet).  We also got 20 bags of coffee! :)  And a small African stool.

Then we went to Bethaza--the orphanage that Little Girl was at before she came to Hannah's Hope.  There are so many beautiful children there.  It was very touching to visit with them—to help give a bottle, to rub little backs and to sing the ABC’s with them.  Oh, and we had brought stickers to give out at Hannah's Hope but got to give them out there.  Handing out the stickers, J was a super-star--but they called him "mama." :)



Oh, yeah, and the word for “beautiful child” is something that sounds like “Kahnjo lej.”  So J was calling all of the children that.  But apparently “kahnjo” is typically associated with girls. J was calling all of the children that.  And one of the older boys there shook his head at the younger guys and said, “Ferenge doesn’t know.”  Hah—so funny! :)

Then, we went back to Hannah's Hope to kiss Little Girl goodnight (she was sleeping).  And when we got there some of the older children were just coming back from school.  They are loved so well!  One of the administrative staff greeted them each with a kiss and a hug and some concern over a little boo-boo.  Really the genuine love and care here is beyond anything you could ask for (besides a family, of course!). 

Now we just finished dinner and we're going to take showers to clean up from the day.  It was quite hot!

This place is pretty crazy--lots of signs in English, corrugated aluminum buildings, cattle and goats being herded down the streets, crazy driving, people EVERYWHERE!  But we're loving it! :)



(Some sights while driving today.)


Tomorrow we're going to court.  To pass the judge will need...
1. Us to show up (they ask about 8 yes/no questions)
2. Her birth family to be there
3.  A letter from the Central Authority
4.  A letter from MOWA

She'll check each component off on her "list"--if any parts are missing, she'll reschedule a time to review that missing portion. 

Hope that you're doing well!  Love you!!
~Me :)

(Thank you, Becca, for posting when I couldn’t.  Love you!)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The 32-Hour Saturday (Plus Travel Hints & Tips)

Yep, quite possibly literally the longest day of our lives. :)

It had been a crazy beautiful, emotional, heart-warming, heart-breaking, heavy week.  A week that did not yield much sleep.

On Friday night, after kissing Little Girl goodbye, we headed back out into the city with Solomon (taxi driver) one last time.  It was very different to view the city from "street" level instead of van-level.  We made a few last purchases, promised to bring shoes back to some of the boys we had met on the street and hurried back to clean up and pack for the long trip back home.

An over-view of the longest Saturday ever:
  • Leave Ethiopia at 11:30p Friday.
  • 7-Hour Flight (Dinner and breakfast were served.)
  • Arrive in Germany at 5:30am (local time).
  • 12 Hours of fun in Frankfurt--sleep in airport sitting up, train ride into the city, breakfast in a deserted cafe, relaxed at Starbucks, took a "remarkably unremarkable" bus tour of Frankfurt, lunch at a pub--German-style, back to Starbucks, train back to the airport, more airport snoozing.  Boarded plane at 5:30pm (local time).
  • 8-Hour Flight back to NY--arriving at 7:45pm (NY time).  (J and I switched seats half-way through the flight because Dude in front of me had his seat reclined for the entire trip and kept trying to bang it back further--Dude behind me was tall and there was no way to recline my seat.  It was a long trip back. Only one movie during the entire flight on a screen way up high.  Nice but interesting character in the window seat.  Did I mention that it was a long trip?)
All of that to say, to stay sane, J and I wrote the following light-hearted Hints & Tips from our first trip.

(Remember this was a long flight--so this might be cup-of-coffee worthy. ;)

Hints & Tips
  1. There is nothing quite like international travels to make me feel completely inept in the language department.  In hindsight, it seems completely obvious that it would have been helpful to learn a few common words in Amharic (Ethiopia) and German (Frankfurt).  This became quite apparent to me this morning when I asked to used a restroom and the doors were only labeled with German words (Damen for women, in case you’re wondering.).

Jmill and I are, shall we say, a little more on the reserved side ;), but thankfully we traveled with two other families who weren’t afraid to try new things and to practice Amharic.  One of the words that we used tons each day was “thank you” or “amesegenalehu.”  That one seriously took me until Friday to feel confident saying—the rest of the week I mumbled it so that hopefully it sounded close enough. :) 

Other words that we used:
“Selam” or “Hello”  (literally, “Peace”)
“Ciao” or “Goodbye”
“Buna” or “Coffee”
“Kahnjo” or “Beautiful”
“Kahnjono” or “Good”
“Ishi” or “Okay”
“Aye” or “No”

Oh, yeah, and it’s amazing how when you don’t know what to say, you revert to any language you know.  For me that’s the most basic forms of Spanish and American Sign Language.  I can’t tell you how many times I said “si’” or signed “thank-you.”

The people that we interacted with loved it when someone spoke in Amharic.   J and I are determined to learn more before we go back (We might come back saying funny things like “How is your eye?” or “My name is how are you.” But that’s “ishi”). 

  1. Noise-cancelling headphones are awesome on the flight!  You can barely hear engine sounds or crying babies.  And (with 2-prong adapters) they are great (clean and comfortable) for the in-flight movies and music.  (Ours were Kennsington--$30 Amazon.)

  1. Protein or Granola bars are a must-have for a few reasons.  For one, they are great to have on hand if you’re up late because of the time change and you get hungry.  Also, there are some days that you may be able to stay a little longer at HH by “skipping” lunch and having a bar instead.  And then they are also helpful to have to pass out to children that you might meet at the market or while sight-seeing.

  1. An extra pillowcase (or two!).  The hotel is awesome…but a pillowcase (or even a pillow) from home would make it even better. ;)

  1. Note to self to bring an inflatable bathtub for our embassy trip (thanks for sharing this idea SB!). 

  1. The food at the hotel is really quite delicious (personally :).  The free breakfast buffet is different every morning.  The coffee--A-MAZ-ING.  The Ethiopian food is very good (I got the tibs twice).  But the pasta dishes are my favorite! 

  1. Internet access is slow and unreliable, but there IS Internet access!  Facebook, Skype and email usually worked…although sometimes quite sluggishly.  But, I could not view any blogs or post to my blog at all while I was there.  So I emailed my “posts” and pictures to Becca to post for me (of course, now I have to erase her memory because she has my password. ;)  

  1. Our Kindles ruled.  The battery life is like one whole month.  J and I are each reading a few different books at once-and not having to take up any luggage space with the actual books was fantastic (not to mention much easier on our backs).  They also play MP3’s.  And J downloaded all of our travel documents, referral documents and maps—we used all of those things while we were here. 

  1. As aforementioned, I can get a bit anxious when flying (mostly during take-off, when the engine seemingly randomly decelerates and when flying over large bodies of water, say for example, 6 hours over the Atlantic Ocean).  But this song that I heard at the conference right before coming here, totally gave me peace and perspective.  I told J that if he saw me pulling out the music, he could know I was having “a moment.” :) I really only felt momentarily anxious a few times, but that song is definitely burned in my brain. :)



  1.  We took our backpacks everywhere.  Besides just normal travel stuff like hand-sanitizer, bottled water and notebooks, we also brought along stickers for the older children and baby toys/rattles and picture books that we used every day with the babies and then left there on the last day.

  1. Cameras.  Bring extra cameras.  Both our video camera and main camera stopped working while we were there.  Thankfully we also brought along our “old” camera that M uses—not the best pictures, but pictures nonetheless.

  1.  Definitely build in extra time for figuring out the airports.  The Frankfurt airport is GIGANTIC and confusing—try to make a connecting flight in less than an hour and the adrenaline rush will keep you awake for hours!  At the Addis Ababa Airport (or “Bole”), most flights tend to leave and arrive at night—making it quite busy.  And there are at least 3 security checkpoints and a visa checkpoint and check-in—all of which have lines.

We laughed because for so much of our week, especially at the airports, we felt like we were pawns in a game where we didn’t know the rules.  Sometimes we watched people being “sent back to go” for not filling out a form correctly or for standing in the wrong un-marked lane.  With just an inkling of what we were doing, we moved up and down stairs and escalators, followed forever-long corridors, rode on trams, trains and busses, and went through various and assorted checkpoints (with the added bonus of having to remove belts, watches and sweatshirts with little notice before quickly scooping them up and throwing them back on to get out of the way and sometimes even having to repack whole suitcases within minutes that had originally taken a considerable time to pack). (Wouldn’t the “Airplane Game” make a fun family game night?) :)

(And that wraps up our Hints & Tips for now--thanks for "listening." :)

Mostly we are left with just an overwhelming sense of joy and gratitude for such a phenomenal trip.  We can't wait to go back...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Saying Goodbye

On Friday, our last day, we got to "sleep in" a little longer.  Then we packed bars for lunch and went to HH for the day.

Just the day before, one of my best friends, Becca, got her referral--so I popped in to give her little girl some love. :)  You can read her pretty cool story here.

We spent the day with Little Girl in her room.  Playing with all of her cute little roommates.  We hung out through playtime, bottles, naps and bathtime.  The day flew by.  Just as she was falling asleep in my arms for her second nap, it was time to say goodbye... ugh...  I knew it was coming.  There was just one last kiss before handing her back to her special mother...  So hard...

Sweet Girl, grow big and strong while we're gone.  We don't have the words to tell you how much we have loved spending this week with you--and how we long to have you home.  We miss you.  We are so thankful that you are being loved while we're not there--even though we wish that we were the ones who could show you love each day.  We love you, Little Girl.  Aching for the time when we'll be together again...


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Officially Becoming a Family of Five!



Thursday Feb 10, 2011

I woke up a bit on the grumpy side this morning (the lack of sleep is catching up with me ;).  But it was our court date—and that’s a pretty big deal!

Right before breakfast we scrambled to get our questions ready for Little Girl’s family.  Then we went down to the restaurant (more yummy donuts) before heading off to court.

The court is maybe 30 minutes or so away and it is a crazy city-drive.  There is the most amazing interplay between vehicles, people and animals on the streets.  Cars and people everywhere!  But very little honking and for some reason, while we seem to almost bump into cars in every direction and it looks like we’re going to get crashed into every second, no one is stressed and in fact no one bangs into anyone!  I don’t know how it works, but it’s amazing to behold.


The court house is just an ordinary building among many other buildings in a city area.  We climbed 4 flights of stairs (very good exercise on a normal day, extremely good exercise when we’re at 8,000 feet above sea level) and then gathered into a small class-room sized room with chairs around the perimeter.

This was a big moment.  This is the place where her birthfamily testifies that they are willingly giving her up for adoption because there is no other option, and where we say that we unconditionally accept her as a forever child into our family.  That is huge.  And deep.  Something that if I really try to wrap my mind around that makes me want to just sob at the depth of the mix of emotions involved. 

But I didn’t want to cry (too much).  And so I tried to not think too deeply, while remaining very focused on the significance of the morning.

So, the chairs around the room were completely filled with birthfamilies, adoptive parents and interpreters.  Somewhere in that room was Little Girls birthfamily.  After surreptitiously glancing at the faces around the room, I spotted Little Girl’s eyes, and her skin color…it was her family…

They went in first and when they came out we went in.  The judge asked us just a handful of questions and then told us that once she made her ruling, Little Girl would forever be a part of our family.  We would hear later if we had passed.

We all went back outside to the van—the adoptive families and birthfamilies.  Her family pulled us aside and gave us a big, warm hug.  We rode back to HH together.

In those first minutes in the van, I felt so unworthy of the gift we were being given.  I felt my inadequacy of being the perfect parent.  I felt like there was no way that I would be able to walk this journey well if I rely only on my own strength and wisdom.  And just as I was thinking that the driver turned on “Open the Eyes of My Heart, Lord” (in English).  It so beautifully fit…

When we arrived back at HH, we immediately had the privilege of meeting with her family—to share photos of her, to give them the letter we had written with our hopes and dreams for Little Girl and to ask any questions that might help us tell Little Girl more about her family.  It was very emotional, very holy, very blessed.  With great confidence we will be able to share how dearly and deeply loved Little Girl is. 

It is very hard to describe the powerfulness, gratitude and humility from that precious meeting.

Just before coming back to the hotel from lunch, we found out that we had passed court.  Little Girl is officially a part of the Miller Family!  Wow…


….

We spent the afternoon with Little Girl in her room.  Her personality shined!  We can not wait to be able to bring her home—hopefully within the next month or two.  (We’ll be waiting for an Embassy date.)


Tomorrow night J and I leave—and we leave with a piece of us here.  But we will go to our house to get a place prepared just for her, a special place at HOME.



(Fun little detail from the day.  Our video camera has been giving us troubles for some time.  We wanted to record the meeting with her family so that she can see them talking and sharing about their hopes and dreams for her someday.  On the way back to HH for that meeting our video camera WOULD NOT work.  Ugh!  We literally prayed that it would work for the meeting because we know how special that recording will be for her.  Don’t you know, it worked for that meeting time only and hasn’t worked again since.  So thankful! :)


Wednesday, February 09, 2011

"Falling in Love"

Tuesday:

I woke up to the sounds of cars and trucks laden with goods zipping past our window and a beautiful view of a field full of goats, donkeys and people.  I shook my head in disbelief—we are actually in Africa! 

We were going to Hannah’s Hope to meet Little Girl for the first time.  It completely didn’t feel real. :)

We met up with the other 2 families here with us for breakfast in the restaurant downstairs.  I had a mighty delicious Ethiopian “doughnut.”

Before we knew it our driver arrived to take us to HH.  Just as we were settling down to take in the views—people everywhere, half-constructed buildings with wooden stick scaffolding, and random groups of animals all around, we pulled onto a dirt road.  And then just like that, we pulled up to the famous black gates. 

I took a deep breath—in just a few moments this dream that we have had for so long would be coming to fruition—wow…

As we walked through the gate we saw groups of little babies out in the courtyard (was she there?).  And then after meeting a few of the administrative staff and before there was time to comprehend all that was happening, there was a little group of women carrying in the brown chair that we have pictures of Little Girl in—and there she was.

Oh…, so beautiful

(And did we cry? :)  Ahh…it was breathtaking to see her little face in person.  I definitely quickly blinked back tears when I saw that it was her.  But I didn’t want her to be scared by the crazy crying “ferenge” (white person). :)

Sweet Girl cried when we first held her, but was quickly comforted by her “special mother”—something that is so good because it means that she’s forming healthy attachments with the people who are loving her everyday and that we are right now strangers to her.  After a bottle and falling asleep, I held her for a long time while she napped—humming a lullaby and kissing her soft curls.  Love.

We put her in her crib to finish her little snooze and went outside to play with the older children there.  They are simply gorgeous!  They clamored into our laps, covered themselves with stickers that we brought (thanks, Sarah T.), and loved looking at a photo album with pictures of M and T (for Little Girl).

Funniest thing—they thought that J’s hair smells terrible!  So funny!!  They rubbed their hands through his hair and then made yucky (yet, sweet) sour faces when they smelled their hands.  Hilarious! 

Oh, yeah, and they love watches.  Especially watches that beep.  Unfortunately ;), in their quest to make J’s beep, they also keep accidentally pulling off his arm hair!  Again, hilarious!

After her nap, we took Little Girl back outside and she just snuggled in our arms.  She is a tiny little 7-month old. :)  And she just lights up when she sees her special mothers and the older children.  They call her “conejo” or “beautiful.” 

At 2 o’clock we came back to the hotel for lunch—yummy Ethiopian food and the strongest cup of coffee! 

We were able to finally get on the internet and have a little bit of rest (sleep is still elusive), before heading out to the cultural dinner.  More amazing food and incredible dancing.  Okay, the dancers have shoulder movements that don’t even seem human!  And the women swing their necks and gorgeous hair like (admittedly, this word isn’t a word that necessarily brings to mind things of great beauty, but it’s a movement that’s so hard to fully describe and I think this word kind-of works) num-chucks. 

At then end of the day, these are my thoughts.

What I am most struck by today is how stunning the people are.  Their eyes, their smiles, the way that they carry themselves—it’s strikingly beautiful.  I am definitely falling in love with this place.

And Little Girl.  So tiny and scared in our arms.  Yet, also so beautiful.  I can’t believe that we will have the privilege of being her family.  The weight of her baby body, her gummy smile and delicate fingers and toes are enchanting.  She is so lovely.  It will be hard to say goodbye for this little while when we have to leave on Friday…



What a beautiful day… 

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

We're here!

Hi!  This is Becca - posting for Gini (she could not get it to send through blogger!)

Today we chased the morning and followed the night into Ethiopia.

We left NY at 10pm on Sunday night and landed in Ethiopia at 9pm on Monday night.  We traveled by plane for 15 hours.  8 hours to Germany.  7 hours to Ethiopia.  A one hour lay-over in between.  But, I wouldn’t call it much of a lay-over.  Maybe more of a run-around!  One hour to get from one end of airport to another and through security again is not so much time! :)

As we flew here from Germany we saw the majestic alps juxtaposed by the mediterrean see followed by the vast sands of the Western Desert of Africa.  Gorgeous and desolate.  We saw the sun set over the Nile River.  Then we noticed the sparse villages of light just before the surprising metropolis of lights of Addis Ababa. 

We met up with the other couple who is traveling with us in the Visa line at the airport.  So fun! Collected our bins—all 5 made it safe and sound!  (We left one behind in case we would have had to pay for the any bins over 4—thankfully we didn’t—it was such a smooth process!)  And then all headed to the Riviera Hotel by van.  We cleaned up and toppled into bed. :)

I just woke up to a most beautiful view out our window.  A vast field full of walking people and grazing donkeys.  And a busy road of cars and trucks.

In just one hour we are leaving here to meet our little girl for the first time.  It still feels so surreal.  I can’t wrap my mind around the reality that we’re actually here.  But love it!

Before I forget, this is completely random, but quite unbelievable.  Apparently in Austria they make crackers that look just like J!   I was laughing so hard I was having trouble taking the picture. 

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Just waiting for the plane!

This feels so totally surreal.  We are just waiting in the airport for our flight to ETHIOPIA! No Way!

A few hours ago I flew back from Atlanta--from the a truly awesome weekend of meeting some of the coolest moms whose blogs I've been following for such a long time, learning so much about what to expect along this journey, and even picking up some great hair-care tips for little ones with dark skin.  (Oh, I so loved meeting so many of you! And I'm so excited for what each of your futures hold. :)

So, J met me at a more "local" airport and then we drove over to JFK.  We leave tonight around 10 and should get into Ethiopia (via Germany) sometime tomorrow afternoon this time (night time there).  Then on Tuesday morning we will meet sweet little girl for the first time!  How crazy fun is that?!

(BTW, I'm thinking this time change might just be the sleeping schedule I have dreamed of for so long. ;)  I am so much more productive late at night--I usually go to bed after midnight.  As you can imagine I get pretty tired in the afternoon.  Well, the afternoon here (the time I always wish I could take a long nap) is nighttime in Ethiopia.  I can take the longest "naps" I've ever wanted to! ;)

The next time I post will be from Ethiopia.  Can't wait to share the experience! :)

On our way!

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Theme Weeks: Body Week

Had such a fun night walking around with M and T on top of the snow in the dark (well, mostly walking on top--I, of course, fell through a couple of times.)  The shoulder-high fence that goes around the pond next to our house is seriously only up to my knees!  Now, they're finally all tucked in and well kissed. :)  Can't believe what the next week holds!

To help keep myself updated, here's what we were up to last week: 

For school I know that M and T are going to need to know basic body parts.  But there are some things that we just don't talk about very much--like our palms or wrists.  During "Body Week" we revisited those concepts.

(When I told them that it was "Body Week," T thought I said "Bobby Week."  And because he used to call himself, "Bobby," he wanted to know if I was going to call him "Bobby" all week.  Crazy guy!)

We started by drawing a person on the giant chalkboard.  And this brought back a funny memory.  In a momentary digression, once upon a time, when I was doing an internship as a speech-language pathologist working with a very cool group of high school guys with special needs, we were doing a creative writing unit about describing monsters. I thought it would be a good starter to draw a basic body on the board.  Current myself can see this coming a mile away, but past self had to learn the hard way. :)  What do you suppose the first answer was to "What is a part of a boy?"  Uh-huh--I got that answer.  Oh, good stuff. :)

Back to last week.  We learned about digestion--and this pop song is a pretty big hit around here.  I give you fair warning, it does indeed show ALL of digestion.



And, we checked out our bones.



So, good week. There has definitely been quite a bit of discussion about what happens to the foods that aren't so nutritious or that our bodies can't use--good to know, huh? :)

Okay, Goodnight!!  We'll try to keep our blog/facebook updated along the way! :)

Packing...the bins overfloweth!

We have sincerely been blown away by the donations by neighbors, family, co-workers and friends.  Check out our dining room table a few nights ago.


The mountain of diapers!  Truly awesome!

These are the bins full of diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, bibs, baby wash, toys, rice cereal, scrubs and lots of other baby items that we'll be taking with us.  J and I had some good laughs trying to pack and weigh these bins. :)  That's 300lbs of goodness!  How cool is it to think of all the little babies and children that this will touch? 


Thank you all so much for your overwhelming generosity.  We are so thankful...

Okay, my bags are mostly packed.  I have all of the lists ready for Nana and Pop (schedules, medical forms, menus, phone numbers and even a "where to find it" list. :)  I'm going to go play some games with M and T.  Try to sleep.  And then at the bright and early hour of 5:00am Becca and I will be off to Atlanta!

(So, we are definitely each able to bring 2 of those bins each--because it's a "humanitarian" flight, we should be able to take a 3rd each--but there's no guarantee until we'll there.  It should be an adventure working that all out. But good! :)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Leaving...the tears overfloweth :)

A Confession--if you haven't heard, I'm not a huge fan of flying.  I know some people LOVE it!  Right now I'm not one of those people--but here's to hoping that I will be! :)

And for the plane-lovers, I know this might sound a little crazy--but it is one of my little rough spots to overcome.  There is nothing quite like a flight away from the people I love to make me face my own mortality.  A bit dramatic, yes, but I think that the perspective that comes from it can be helpful. :)

Anyway, I've been feeling sentimental (I come by it honest, right Mom and Dad?) around here for the past few weeks.  A good thing mostly--out of that comes extra patience (not always, but more often than not--right, J? :), a few extra snuggles and taking the time to really hear what M and T are saying.

For months I've been collecting little gifts for M and T to open each day that we're away.  Last night I wrote a little note for each one of them to open with each gift (that's 18 notes if you're counting :).  Then I bundled them together with a daily count-down note.  Fun!




Then after that I totally soaked through the sleeves of my shirt as I wrote that just-in-case note for them.  Ugh.  So, my thoughts on this.  There are very few for-sures in the life.  But I do know that someday I will indeed die.  I really hope that it's when I'm an old, old woman surrounded by children and grand-children and great-grand-children. ;)  Anyway, but in case that's now how the future looks, I would love for M and T and any other children that join our family along the way to have some special words written just for them.  I want them to know my hopes and dreams for them (not just in their memories of things I say to them) but written down so that they can always know my heart for them.  And to know what a privilege I count it to me their mommy and how proud I am of them.  Having that done feels so good!  Whew! :)

All of this said, I am feeling surprisingly more excited than anything else.  I mean, what better reason to fly?!  Hardly feeling apprehensive at all--yay!  :)

Oh, yeah, and besides the whole facing my fears stuff, there has also been the emotional weight of putting together a photo album for little girl's birth family and then writing a letter to give them full of our hopes and dreams for her as well as expressing our almost incommunicable gratitude for the gift of the honor of being her parents  (J actually took that task on).  Thankfully all of that is done now, too.

Alright, enough of the sentimentality--today I move onto really packing!