Thursday, August 28, 2008

Africa-There and Back! I am not actually updating the blog...I have half a dozen posts in the pot, but not entirely written. We are doing really good. Life is full....Anyway, here are the pictures from the trip. The montage is rather long, but it chronciles the entire trip. Enjoy! Watching it now is very emotional for me. I can't believe where I have been and where I am now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Now we (really) are 6

Where to begin?

Well, we are home! Most of you know that..and have made contact with our new family. We are so humbled by the out pouring of gifts. We have been showered with awesome girl stuff, books, clothes, meals and so much more. Thank you very much.

We are going into our 2nd month in full swing. Both the girls are in school. Genet is actually taking a pre-school class 2 mornings a week. We are hoping that this will help her get up to speed. She also has kindergarten in the afternoons. She loves her teachers and is beginning to get the “hang” of doing school. She is learning to sit and move in a group. She is learning to count, sing songs, and recognize letters. Bizayehu is in 2nd grade and doing well also. She is learning simple math and her letters, colors, shapes and how to be a friend. Things are so different for these girls. While they may know much of this already. They know it in a different language and sometimes in a different context.

The days are full and overwhelming. It is more than just having 4 children. B and G need so much right now. While they have great receptive language, at times I feel like I am not understanding their needs. At times, I just smile and nod. Having B and G splits the time between Ben and Abel more than in half. Ben is pretty self reliant and autonomous with school and outside activities, but Abel still needs us hands on more…It is a huge challenge to not let his needs get lost in the shuffle. We all fall into bed at night exhausted and spent.

I have to say that I think that B and G are incredible. They are strong and brave. I don’t know how they do it everyday. I don’t know how they get up out of bed and trust us. I don’t know if they even get that this is forever, and not just another stop. They are generally good natured. They are busy, love to play with dolls, and to color, jump rope, play on the trampoline, they love the boys and want to jump on them all the time. Both the girls are adapting to our food well. They eat everything we do without a complaint. They do have preferences, like G-she loves Ethiopian spice that she put on everything! Our family has started to eat mangos after a visit to the store and them getting exicted about them. Again, I don’t know how they do it! I know they miss their own food, but they also love some of our American food too.

These first months have been challenging for us. I think that I romanticized adoption a little. It is not exactly what I expected, and I am learning to change my expectations. I have to say that I think that my challenges have more to do with me and my emotions than the girls. One thing we struggle with is G’s fits, or “storms”. We are not sure what exactly sets them off. They last from 20-30 minutes and are full of screaming and flailing. They usually occur at bedtime and she is back to normal in the morning. But, they are exhausting. We are on pins and needles waiting for the next one to happen. In my head I completely understand her need to vent. In my heart though, it kills me. I know it is hard for Tom, and Ben and Abel. It is draining and very emotional. I can go through them without emotion on the outside with G, but inside, it is hard. Afterwards, we are all spent. I think it is hard because this hasn’t been part of our lives before. We are not used to it at all. I joke that I am such a good mom when things are going good….but when things don’t, I sort of second guess my abilities and feel bad. ( update--these have gotten better... not sure why--not trusting that they are gone either, but grateful for the reprieve!)

I try to give myself a little break though..we haven’t been home even 2 months yet. I think our family will look vastly different in another 5 months. When the girls get a little language and can ask for help, or explain their needs better.

We went to the dentist the other day. The girls were awesome. They let the hygienist poke and clean their teeth. There has been some questions about G and her age. She is tiny-tiny. She doesn’t look 6 or act 6. So, we thought maybe she was really younger. Well, her 6 year molars are all the way in. So, she really is between 5 and 6. It is comforting to know this.

Anyway, for what we have undertaken I think we are doing well. Pray for us. Pray for wisdom, for patience, and for grace.

Things that are different in our home

1. We use a lot more toilet paper.
2. We go through boiled eggs like butter.
3. We have pink and sparkly shoes that clomp through our house.
4. We have more laundry and it is stacking up in various places around the house
5. I am slowly learning to do hair.I am resisting it though....
6. I find beads all over the floor.
7. Viggo chases G's light up shoes around the house.
8. I am behind at everything
9. B spoke her first complete sentence 2 weeks ago.
10. My house is a mess—all the time.
11. We go through a lot of food.
12. We are emotionally exhausted.
13. The girls are VERY VERY smart.
14. We think they really like being in a family.

I will be posting pictures and the story of my trip soon...when I can!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Deb has landed and met the girls

This post is from Tom, Deb's husband. I just hung up the phone after a call with Deb. Her flight was very long and she sounds both physically and emotionally exhausted.

But...she met the girls and had them with her right then. She says they are very beautiful.

Heck, I'll just shut up and paste in the email she sent to me and our boys:

I am here! All is well, and I have the girls! They say hello! they look very cute in their new clothes...they are very cute. They are also very quiet. We go for a medical visa apt tomorrow and then probably to the Hilton for some swimming.

After a very long flight, I am feeling pretty good. I slept a lot due to Tylenol PM. I was very nervous, and still am. I wish you were all here. It would be a lot easier.

The sights here are incredible..extreme poverty right next door to grandeur. There is a lot of construction going on, and they do it mostly by hand, and with wood poles. I will try and take alot of photos...I can't even tell you how awesome and sad this is at the same time.
I am slightly terrified, but I will keep it together!

Please pray for Deb and our daughters! The girls are very shy so far--who can blame them? Pray that, in spite of their language barrier and their fear, they somehow connect deeply. I think this is harder for Deb than she imagined. Please keep her in your prayers.


Friday, January 18, 2008

The weather outsite will not be frightful!

When I get to Addis on Monday, it should be in the mid 70's during the day and mid 40's at night. Not a bad way to spend a week! This will be my last post for awhile. I may be able to post from Addis-I will try. I am so excited for this adventure! If you think about us, please pray...for strength, understanding, an uneventful flight and trip. And if the trip is eventful, the patience to get through it! Thanks for all your support!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Packing for us

Well...I am nearly packed. I have a few clothes in the dryer that I want to bring, some letters to include, but I think I am near done. Here is a pick of everything I am bringing.
This includes:
Roll on
1 set of clothes for each person (in case luggage gets lost)
1 set of Jammies
1 jacket for each person
1 set of medications ie, antacids, ibuprofren, etc.
1 set of toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, soap, nail clippers, bandaids, antibiotic ointment , shampoos for the girls, hand santizer,
4 pairs of croc style shoes--don't know their size
1 complete set of copied paperwork--just in case
10 or more wrapped gifts that will be given to the girls on the way back
stickers, beads, candy toys, coloring books, crayone
Several small garbage bags and ziplocs for whatever..garbage etc.
Checked Luggage
18 gallone tote: see below
Plus a large ziploc full of letters to be delivered to children and workers at Layla
Large luggage
6 sets of clothes for each person, including undies, socks
Swim suits for each...extra because I don't know the sizes for sure.
Hair dryer
comb, brush
complete set of medications (see above)
complete set of toiletries (see above)
Lice treatment ( although clean--they do live in an orphanage)
Adapters and converters
alarm clock
comfort food
mac and cheese
trail mix
pnut butter
top ramen
Girls' Back Packs
I will give them their backpacks when I see them.
lip gloss
writing board
My Purse/Backpack
3 books
several magazines
lip stuff
hand sanitizer
some meds

Brilliant Idea?

I took over about 75 pictures of items from our home and around where we live, punched holes in them and put a ring through the whole lot...I hope to use them on the way home to famiarlize the girls with American words, and so that when they get here things will seem sort of familiar.
Danielle also spent and afternoon with me compiling a similar set that will help us communicate. It has things like a picture of our car, to signify that we will be leaving, or their backpacks, to signify that we are going to school. They look cool anyway...who knows if it will help!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Team Carlson

You have got to vist Team Carlson. The link is on the right side bar. You will laugh out loud. This is the family who lives a few blocks down the street and I am hoping our girls like each other!

Packing for the masses

Here is what I am packing to take to Layla House. AAI said that Layla House needed socks for girls and boys, dry erase markers, glitter, glitter glue, and needles for ball pumps. I am also bringing 200 Tootsie Roll Pops and enough beads, pipe cleaners and ribbon to make beaded crosses. It isn't a terribly creative craft, but I have one that Abel made about 6 years ago that hangs in my car. It is cute and easy to make. These items will go into an 18 gallon tub and secured with zip ties. If it gets searched, I will have more inside so that I can secure it again.

What do people do?

Our first Barbies!
As I was strolling through Target looking for ethnic Barbies...It struck me how hard it must be for families who have children of color. I just couldn't bring myself to buy a white Barbie for the girls' first Barbie from us. This is not to say that every one they have has to be their shade of beautiful, but really...I want to at least balance it out! These are the Barbies that I found. I had to get two of the same because literally--that is all I could find. Weird. Does anyone know where I can find an Ethiopian Barbie? Oh... and the make-up! Wow! At least they are wearing clothes that cover up. These are ballerina Barbies.

What I'm afraid of-

I am afaid of a lot of things. It's not easy to admit, but heck...I am willing to be vulnerable at this time in my life.

I am raw--

1. I am afraid of meeting the family of the girls.
2. I am afraid that they are going to be terrified of leaving with a stranger.
3. I am afraid that I won't be able to get their "blackness".
4. I hope that I can learn to do their hair.
5. I am afraid of their fear.
6. I am a little afraid of raising girls.
7. I am afraid that medical issues could come up.

Things I think I know that I am using to try to fight the fear--

1. God is with me.
2. I have a wonderful supportive husband
3. I have great boys who are kind and helpful.
4. I have friends who are waiting on the sidelines to help.
5. I think that I can learn to do hair---
6. I know some sweet girls who are excited for our girls to come.
7. In my head I know that any one of us could have medical issues.
8. I know others who have done this exact thing and they are making

I think I can...I think I can......

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Turn off the radio to your right and enjoy. I took all the photos we have of the girls and put them in this slide show.


I can't tell you how thankful we are for all of your support and encouragement.

I was good at the beginning about getting back to all the emails that you have sent us...I am officially behind. The cool thing is that I have saved every one. The chronicle will be fun to show the girls as they get older. They will be able to see and understand the expectancy of all of you. I won't be able to respond much in the next few weeks, but please know that I cherish each email that you send. If you want specific info, I will, of course, respond to that!

Humbled and overwhelmed-

Thank you to all (Hillis Fams) who have sent me notes, bought us flowers, given us kid hangers...alot of them.

We have been the recipient of wonderful hand-me-downs from the Walle's and the Johnson's. I went through them in awe. There are clothes that will fit them now, until past size 14. We have clothes to start out each size that they grow into.

Susan and Jen took us out to Queen Sheba this weekend and treated us to an authentic Ethiopian meal. We had a wonderful time...the food was awesome.......I don't know how I (camera happy me) forgot to bring my camera. I did find a picture online from a family that went to ET and really...the food looked pretty much exactly like this.

If you notice that lining the plate is a bready thing. That is Injero. It is a traditional yeasty sour type bread that is eaten with the meal. Here is a picture of how it is made. I have been trying to scan in the wonderful letter that the girls sent us, but have been having problems. It was so cute.

Here is a portion of the front.

Here is the back.

There is sort of a theme running here....I wonder if the girls didn't really know what to say and resorted to Jesus! It was so precsious to get this on Christmas Eve. There were a few coloring pages also. I guess coloring is universal!

I will post again soon. Perhaps pictures of my packing adventure.

Counting the cost

I bought the tickets!

I will be leaving Seattle Jan 19th at 11:05P

arrive in Dulles at 6:48A Jan 20th

leave Dulles at 9:30A

arrive in Addis at 8:35A Jan 21st

I will be coming home Jan 25th leaving Addis at 10:15P with two girls


arrive at Dulles at 7:50A Jan 26th

leave Dulles for Seattle at 12:55 P

arrive Seattle at 3:45 p

If you look closely and do the will see that I am going to be wasted...I am a little nervous about the almost 5 hour layover in Dulles. What am I going to do for 5 hours?????

cost for 2 visas~700.00

cost for week stay in Addis inclusive ~1500.00

cost for airfaire to Addis and back for me-1878.30

cost for airfare for Genet and Bizayehu to come home-2223.40

two little girls leaving Africa and coming to America where the only thing that these countries have in common is that they both start with an 'A'.--priceless