Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It's a 3 ring circus! (or maybe 6!)

If you listen really closely, you will be able to hear the da-da-daa-da-da-da, da-daa-da-da-da-da circus song playing in the background. Yes ladies and gentleman, children of all ages, my life is a circus. I can juggle bottles filled with a mix of Ethiopian and Similac formula, while changing a diaper, dispensing amoxicillan, talking with the DFL, and letting the dogs out. I can bake apple pies, while correcting home-work, getting baby toys from the dogs mouth, and changing outfits on a poopy baby. (and no, there is no poop or dog slobber in the pie) I am so stinking incredible, I amaze myself! Okay, or maybe I am really sleep deprived and a little shell shocked by the way my world is happily upside down. I also am wearing my nurse hat again, in my very own hospital...J has some horrilbe strep throat with mouth ulcers and has been home from school since Friday. The babes is running a temp since Monday, but stays quite happy so I don't think it is too serious. Above the kitchen sink is my very own dispensary...amox, phenobarb, magic numbing mouth wash, zithromax, tylenol and motrin...and about a zillion med cups. I am praying that J dog is well enough to go back to school tomorrow for at least 1/2 a day. I need to go shopping for this daughter of mine. Most of the clothes I squirreled away during the wait are too small and too summery. Who'd a thought she would come home needing 12 month clothes! I also really need to get out of the house, to somewhere other than the clinic or the pharmacy. and oh yeah, I think I run a business too...I should maybe get back to that too! At least now I can add Ring Master to my ever changing resume!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The New Normal

We have been home for a week. It feels like sunshine has been a part of our lives forever, yet we are still on a very high learning curve. I love this child with all my heart, mind and soul. There is no distinction between my love for her or any of the boys. "Birthing" her was just as spiritual, emotional, and even painful as birthing the boys. I feel so incredibly blessed. I am loving the new normal...here's a peak:
Waking up to sweet sounds in the crib next to me, with a tiny girl, eyes full of awe that I am still there.

A morning ritual of making up bottles to last through the day and sharing my cup of coffee and paper time with a bowl of mush oatmeal and the squeals of delight from sunshine.

Sitting on the carpet in the living room, playing with toys or playing the kiss and crawl game...(I have NEVER sat on the living room rug before.)

Collecting stray socks all around the house, which has always been normal, but now there are some cute pink lacy ones thrown in the mix.

I can spend an entire afternoon just rocking her while she sleeps, and the laundry and the bills, and the kitchen dishes will wait.

Learning the many faces of sunshine. What means happy, what means sad, what is a fake cry, what is a real cry, what means I love you.

Watching the boys as they love their sister with an unconditional, boundless love that just seeps out of them.

Finally feeling complete. Granted there is debt to our eyeballs, it is a horrible time to own a small business, we have one kid down with strep, and the laundry for 4 children is endless, but I don't care. I am complete. My family is perfect, and I fully intend to relax and relish the new normal.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Ouch baby!

Welcome to America sweet girl...we are now going to expose you to American Medicine...complete with 4 shots, 2 vials of blood, a chest x-ray and a sparkly pink bracelet to make it all better.

Miss Sunshine had her "welcome home" physical today. She did very well considering. She is on the US height and weight charts which is exciting in and of itself! Granted she is only in the 5th percentiles, but she at least made the charts! The MD was incredibly pleased with her attachment, her development, and her overall charming personality! She put her on Zithromax to clear up whatever resp bug still remains...but felt she was doing very well, one week home! We got to hear her cry louder and longer than ever before, which in a weird way was okay too. Overall she continues to thrive, and we are seeing more and more of her sweet spirit every day!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy Sunshine

She is a happy girl! Other than a nasty cough that is inturrupting sleep, she is doing so well. She has done the meet and greet at church, the boy's school, and had an adventure to Target to get diapers. She is now the reining queen of the castle and has her big brothers incredibly well trained (I drop the toy, you pick it up...many many times over) She has the most amazing disposition and only puts up a stink when she is ready to go to bed, or when the bottle runs out and she is sure there should be more.

Mom and dad are adjusting pretty well too. Other than a bit of a lack of sleep and a house that may not be clean for several more years, all is well. It is a bit of a shock to the system to go back to the baby stage after being away for 5 years. When we ventured to Target, we forgot a storller and had to figure out what to do with a sleeping baby. Our learning curve is high, but it is coming back quickly!

I really haven't had much time to focus on the trip and all that happened. I am looking forward to having time to process sometime in the next weeks and months.

Here are a couple more pics of Miss Sunshine!

Monday, September 22, 2008

I know all you really want is pictures!

Loading the luggage and saying goodbye to the kids

Arriving in Addis, all the luggage made it! Yay!

Waiting to go and meet our girl!

A tukul along the road to Hosanna..Finally holding our girl! Arriving in DC,

The Rest of the story!

Monday Morning in Africa
It is 6 am. After a very good night sleep, I am ready to go! Today we get to bring Meron back to the guest house for the morning. I am so excited to have her all to ourselves for a few hours and see how she is with us in unfamiliar surroundings. We didn’t get to see her yesterday as we traveled south. That was really hard because once we were back, I so wanted to give her some extra hugs and kisses.

I am in love with Africa. It is not an easy place. The level of poverty is mind blowing and has rocked me to my core. However, the spirit here, the tenacity and the genuine love for life are what make it so amazing. I especially love the children. As we traveled south yesterday, our bus was greeted by children in every town we passed through and when we stopped in Hosanna, we were surrounded by children wanting their pictures taken and then to look at them on the camera. I would love to spend more time here actually seeing more of the day to day life. Our trip is very focused and we are definitely catered to, which is hard and helpful all at the same time. I can see so much out the windows of the bus and experience it all from a distance, but would love to have the time to really sit down and talk with people, hear their stories and their dreams, It is because of this that I know I will be back to Africa to do more, to experience more, to learn more. And somehow in my life back home, I will do something for the children of this country, because they have touched me in a way I cannot easily explain.

A little more about Miss Meron. She is so very snuggly and whether or not she has figured out who we are, she is definitely attached. When we have been with her she has wanted to be held and to stare into our faces and touch our hair.(she has loved running her fingers through my hair and rubbing Eric’s beard.) She doesn’t want to explore too far away from us and will scoot to get a toy, but come right back. She LOVES looking outside and waving. We are anxious to take her outside today. We stood by an open window on Sat and she got the sweetest expression and reached out to touch the air, joy all over her face. The only time we have heard her really cry is when we had to put her down to have her diaper changed by the nanny. She didn’t like that one bit! Otherwise she has been very mellow so far. I am sure the other shoe may drop, but it sounds like she has adjusted well so far with her transitions, so we hope this will be the same. We’ll see how today goes, away from the familiar, and just with us. I can’t wait!!

Monday Evening
The morning was a joy! Meron Shita was so fun to be with. We loaded the bus and headed to the care center. When we got there Ato Girma said “Go get them and come right back “ So we headed into the care center. Meron Shita was standing in the first crib by the door and got a huge smile when we walked in! I scooped her up and she snuggled in for a kiss. Then we said goodbye to the nannies and headed outside. She LOVED being outside and giggled and smiled a ton. We loaded back on to the bus and she took her spot on my lap looking out the window. She liked sitting in my lap, looking at dad the best. She was sweet and chatty and very snuggly. We came back and came to our house to bond. It was sooo nice to have her all to ourselves without anyone else around. She was very chatty and playful, and had fun with all the toys. We got her to take a bottle which was a huge relief. We gave her just 4 oz to start so as not to waste any formula. She downed it and wanted more! So dad made another 4 oz which she also downed. She crawled around some and snuggled more. It was a great start! It started to pour rain right about the time we needed to go to the other guest house to eat. We bundled her up in the moby and a rain jacket and hat and headed out. Ato Girma met us with umbrellas. On the quick walk over in the rain, she fell sound asleep. When we got the house, the nannies where waiting there to feed her. They took that sleeping baby and tried their hardest to wake her up…ending up splashing her head and feet with cold water! She did wake up and they quickly fed her her soup. Then it was back on the bus to the care center. As we were leaving, a car pulled up and said they needed Shita for her embassy medical exam, so I handed off an almost asleep child to a nanny who took her away. Kinda strange, but the last time we will have to part.

In the afternoon, we toured the Sipra MCH center. It was amazing to see all they are doing without much to work with. Then we toured the CHSFS school. It is a beautiful schoool and Eric and I made a commitment to send them supplies etc. Then we went to the ET history museum. For a non museum loving girl it was not too exciting, but it was quick. Then we faced a very long drive through insane traffic back to the guest house. After a great dinner of pizza, we came back to our guest house to pack up for tomorrow. We get the kids right away in the am, and then we go to the Embassy. It has been a long time since I packed a diaper bag…but so fun. We cleaned up our room and got all the baby gear arranged…cause tomorrow baby girl is ours!!!

Didn’t sleep well last night. My brain was torn between home and here. I am really missing the boys today. I need to hug them and inhale their scent. I miss then so very much!

Today I become a mother to 4. WOW! I am looking forward to having the next two days to focus on Meron and figure her out a bit more before we hit 17 hours on a plane together!! It is Embassy this afternoon and then she is ours!!! Can’t wait!

It is6 am, and I am watching my sweet pink-footie pajama’d girl sleep. She is perfection! Yesterday was a long day, but wonderful all the same! The Good Bye ceremony at the Care Center was wonderful. She was very, very loved! She was brought to us dressed in a traditional dress in blue and white with a big bow on her head. She immediately searched us out andzeroed in as soon as she saw us! She knows we are hers! After the party, it was a quick lunch then off to the Embassy. It was crowded, but went off without a hitch. One more step done! We were able to confirm flights and reserve a bassinet for the way home. that will be a huge help! After all the running around, we came back and just hung out. She pooped out of her first outfit, had a bath, pooded out the next outfit, had a change, then snuggled into sleep. She woke up for a bottle, took it,then fell back asleep and is still sleeping now! Wish I could say the same for myself. I think I heard every wiggle, cough and turn she made all night!

We are hoping to hire a driver later today to go and finish shopping. Can't come home empty handed! We'll prob also start to pack because tomorrow we go home!!!

How can I be so in love already?? Little miss continues to be amazing. We have had a few good cries...she has a horrible diaper rash and diarreah which isn't helping! But, after a few good snuggles she is great. She started saying mama today...she has had daddy down pat since the get go. She is so fun, animated, andsilly. She is going to have so much fun entertaining those boys at home!

We are almost packed. Meskala is ready to clean the room, so we need to move the suitcases out. We are hoping they are all under weight! I am hoping I have enough outfits saved out for little miss...we are big on blow outs! Also seems to have helped that we moved up a size in diapers...thank goodness for the left behinds of other travelers!

This is prob the last post till we are home, then I promise pictures!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


Hello!! We are home, safe and sound and completely jet lagged. Sunshine is absolutely perfect. She is the happiest, most fun, silly child I have ever met. She is fully attached (esp to mom) and so far isn't too overwhelmed by all the brother attention! (I have never seen elementary school boys so excited to bathe a 1 yr old in my life!) The flight home was great, except that our party animal preferred to chat with all the people on the plane rather than sleep. Stinker! She traveled so well. Other than a horrible diaper rash and a cough that is being treated she is healthy and happy. I have a couple of other posts to put up and tons of pictures...once we get a little more settled I will get to those up...but in the in between, just wanted you to know that we are home, exhausted and elated!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Saturday Morning in Addis

It is just after 5 am. The call to prayer is echoing and the birds are just starting to sing. I was so tired last night that I went to bed at 8, so now at 5 I am ready to start the day. Today will be another full one. We start at 9 at the office then head to the care center. Today we have a team meeting and get to meet with everyone one who has been caring for Meron until now. We will get to see video of her time here as well. This afternoon we will go to AHOPE (another orphanage) and then do some shopping. This evening we are going to venture out with John and Melanie and go to Metro Pizza for dinner. It will be great to get out and walk the streets some. Other than the walk from this guest house to the one that serves meals, we pretty much have been confined to the bus.

We have a very large group this week. Lots of families have brought their children with and there are some other relatives along as well. Meal times are very crowded, and the bus is full to overflowing. The long ride to Hosanna will be interesting. Although we miss out on some of the comradery of hanging out with all the families in the bigger guest house, it has been really nice to have the chance to get away to our own quiet spot. And I think it will be esp nice once we have Meron here with us, less overwhelming!

Good Evening From Africa

Well, she is perfect! We had a wonderful first meeting. She was standing in the window waving when we came into the care center. Then we came up to the room she was in and she was all smiles and waves. She is very petit, and oh so sweet! She has long eye lashes and the sweetest little dimples. She is pretty attached already to mom and she is getting to like dad's beard. She is very snuggly and likes to look out the window in her room. We got to spend almost 2 hours with her in the morning and then went back this afternoon. She was very happy to see us come back. We are quite in love and can't wait to have more time with her tomorrow! She definitely wanted to only be with us, and didn't want to be put down or be too far from us. She has a bit of a rattley cough and several of her room-mates have had pnemonia we are praying she stays healthy! She loves "sammies" kisses and giggles when you kiss her feet. We got to feed her this morning. She had a BIG bowl of a thick creamy soup. She chowed most of it down. It is amazing to watch the nannies feed and care for these kids. They truly love them. She doesn't have very strong leg muscles yet, so that is something we will work on. But boy can she snuggle! She just sort of melts into you! She seems younger than 1 to me and definitely still feels very much like a baby. I have a hunch she will flourish with a lot of love and attention.

Good Morning from Africa!

It is just 6am. The grey light of dawn is just beginning to shine. It is raining lightly. The air is full of bird songs, barking dogs and the call to prayer. It is quite beautiful. I have been awake since about 4…just too excited to sleep any longer!

The flight over was relatively easy. Long, and a bit cramped, but a very smooth flight. Landing and getting through customs was easy and quite pleasant. We Americans could use to learn a few lessons in kindness from our African friends!

We met up with 5 of the couples we will be sharing the week with. There are only 3 of us adopting babies, the rest are adopting older children. We are a diverse group, and it will be fun to get to know each other better.

The drive to the guest house was amazing. Addis proved to be a very vibrant and dynamic city even in the dark of night in the rain. It was a wonderful assault on the senses as we navigated bumpy roads, dodged people and cars, and watched so many sights all around us. I think for me it was love at first sight!

Our guest house is wonderful. We have a nice room with a balcony. We are in the older guest house which is around the corner from the main one. There are just 3 families staying here, along with 4 volunteers who are new college grads, here to teach English. We got unpacked and settled in quickly, then it was time to sleep.

I slept great until about 4am, when the excitement over rode any practical reason to stay asleep. I will meet my daughter in a few short hours. I will finally hold her in my arms, kiss her sweet cheeks and inhale her smell. My almost 2 year journey is almost done, and the adventure of a lifetime is just beginning!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Now I'm Counting Minutes Instead of Days

I woke up this morning in Africa! How cool is that? I'm certainly not in my big, old rambling house this morning. The sounds, smells, and scenery are quite different from my usual Friday morning.

Our trip went well. We arrived in Addis about 8:00 p.m. last night and had no problem getting through the airport - visas, money, and customs. We checked into the smaller of the guest houses and are sharing it with two other couples and four college-age volunteers who are here long term. During the night we heard lots of barking dogs and then at 5:00 we heard the Muslim call to prayer. We got some sleep but everyone was awake around 4:00 a.m., so we chatted and anticipated the day ahead.

We are now getting ready to go meet Meron. I can't stop grinning, my tummy is tumbling with butterflies, and my heart feels like it might burst in the next couple of hours.

More later....

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

We're Really, Really, Really Going!

As my mom sends this blog I am winging my way across the Atlantic to my daughter. The day finally did come! We said teary goodbyes last night after dinner (well, teary for the adults - not so much for the kids who seem to be doing just fine!) and left the boys in the hands of Nana and Papa. We drove to my in-laws, repacked one more time and slept pretty well. After a nice slow morning they took us and our bags to the airport. My mother in law said we looked like pack horses!

We came in under the weight limit on all four bags and no one challenged the weight of our carry ons. Off to Washington DC and Dulles Airport. We took a very deep breath once we were airborne. It is real. We are really going. Baby Girl, here we come!

We arrived on time at Dulles, met John and Melanie and had a wonderful pizza dinner with lots and lots of conversation (big surprise!) We called home and talked to the boys and Nana - everything is going well there - so we are off - missing our boys but knowing they are having a grand time.

We will arrive in Addis about 11:00 a.m. Thursday morning your time. With a heart full of anticipation .....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Social Report and we are off.....

We got the social report today and wow is she perfect!! She is just beautiful and is supposedly the sweetest and most calm baby in the bunch ! She is not walking yet, but loves to crawl around and bang toys on the floor. I am sooo excited I can hardly stand it!

We give kisses and hugs to everyone and will post soon! I am off to finish the last minute packing etc!

Monday, September 8, 2008

T minus 1 day and counting....

It's Monday night. Just tucked my big boys in for what may be the last time before we go. We are planning to leave for the cities sometime tomorrow night, but not sure what time. They are all holding up pretty good. The oldest is actually having the hardest time tonight I think. So we have had lots of good hanging out time tonight!

Tonight we are going to finish the packing so tomorrow can just be for last minutes. I have a hunch there might be lots of those!

I am making a promise to try my hardest to blog while we are in ET. The internet is a bit fussy, but I will try my darndest to keep everyone posted about everything going on. My mom will be posting for me, so she may add a little editorial comment here and there as well!!

As for our return, we are going for a small contingent at the airport. We don't want to overwhelm this poor girl...and we will have been traveling for a dog of a long time and will be soo very anxious to see our big kids! I promise to share the moment in the blogosphere!

Once we are home, our number one job will be to integrate Sunshine into our family, and help her come to trust and know us as HER family. To that end, we will be the prime care-takers for quite a while. Initially, we will be the ones to hold her, change her, bathe her, feed her etc. We won't be leaving her with sitters, or putting her in the nursery. We have to revert back a ways to that newborn stage, meeting her every need, developing a strong attachment, nurture will be kicking in to high gear, as we get to know her nature! We would love help with the big kids, meals, etc. But know we aren't trying to keep any of you from loving on sweet baby girl, we just have to teach her who her family is!

It is really real..the reality of all of this still hasn't completely sunk in. Wonder when it will??!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Sunshine sends her love!

I got the best e-mail in the world tonight. A traveler who was in ET recently got to hug my little one. She said she was crawling around and very smiley and chatty. She said her cheeks are nice and filled out and she was just lovely! Oh now I can't wait to have her in MY arms!!

We are almost packed. Now we play the suitcase shuffle and get all the suitcases under the 50lb weight limit. The next two days are going to FLY by. Tomorrow there is lots of shop stuff to finish up as well as a little more house to clean as well as a grocery run and a trip to the MD to get my final shots (oops, forgot that I guess!) Then it is our last night at home. I still get pretty teary thinking of leaving the boys, but I am soo excited to see Meron. I know once I am on the road I will be fine.

Okay, lots left to do before I sleep. More on what you can expect from ET tomorrow!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thoughts at 4 days and counting...

It is fairly early on a Sat am. My house is very quiet as the boys are enjoying a morning of sleeping in. I am a mixed bag of emotions. On the one hand I am soo excited I am giddy. On the other hand, I am nervous, sad, and full of mama worry. I didn't think it would bother me to leave the big boys. They are in great hands and I know they will thrive. And I know once I am on the plane, I will be fine too, but in the mean time, I have a bit of a pit in my tummy. I want to snuggle them just a little more, kiss on them just a little more, enjoy every last moment of our family as it is before things turn upside down and inside out. I feel this huge need to memorize every little bit of them, and imprint it on my brain, so it will carry me across the world and back. I know when we return, we will be changed, they will be changed, and life will have a new normal. So today as I finish the long list of to -do's, extra snuggles will surpass everything else, and hopefully the mama tears can remain tucked inside my eyes!

Friday, September 5, 2008

So much to do, I am accomplishing nothing!

I just sat down and made the list of all lists, to be checked off over the next 2-3 days. I have so much to do. Why am I sitting here blogging? That my friends is called panic...elation...exhaustion...and a big ole case of reality setting in! And blogging about it gives me time to hopefully put it all in perspective!

I was hoping to be done at work today, be able to walk out, confident all was great. Wouldn't you know it, the credit card machine decided to have a permanent error. This is not a good thing in retail! So needless to say, I will be chasing that around tomorrow. Yieks.

Home is good, packing is going pretty well. Still no social report, which is kind of disappointing, but we have a few days left. (holy crap...we only have a few days left!)

Tonight we are taking the evening off, and enjoying the HS football game, (cross-town rivalry tonight!) getting a good nights sleep, then hitting the ground running, and I think running until we head out of town on Tuesday night. Yowzers....time is gonna fly!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

3 Cheers for Clear Mascara!

Oui! Today was the first day of school. The morning that I sent my sweet little B-man off into the hallowed halls of education. He was ready! With a juicy 5 yr old kiss and a quick hug, he was in line, backpack in place, singing the school song. And I was tearing up.

The 3rd grader had a tougher time, with a few tears in his eyes. Not uncommon for my sweet, sensitive one. But he put on a brave face and went to join the big kids on the playground. The 5th grader had planters warts treated last night. He was hurting this am. I felt soo bad for him, because he was trying to be the ultra-cool 5th grade dude, and he was really hurting. We're hoping the motrin and mole skin kicked in!

After hanging out with the other rather despondent mommies on the the playground until we really did start to look foolish, I headed to my car and lost it! I had my Sunshine Adoption mix in and it was playing Child Of Mine by Carol King. Boy did that start the water-works. I didn't think it would be so hard today. But B-man and I have been joined at the hip since he was born. He has been my side kick, my right hand man, my snuggle bud. Last night as I tucked him in, he reached up for one huge hug. "Mom, we better snuggle good cause tomorrow there won't be time" Oh little man, there will ALWAYS be time for snuggles.

The excitement of all that is to come is building every moment. Hoping for a social report in the next day or two...today is one of my last days at the shop for a bit. Needless to say, my mind is elsewhere this day...in Africa, in Roosevelt Elementary...with ALL my babies!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


It's like the night before Christmas, the first day of school, the feeling you get when you have your first crush...all rolled into one. How am I ever going to make it another week??? Yesterday I was beginning to wonder when or if this feeling would come. I was overwhelmed, and stressed with all there is left to do. But this morning, I woke up to a beautiful sunrise, and as I rolled over, there was Sunshine's picture staring at me with that look of "when are you coming, already!!" and my heart just burst with joy. I am traveling to Africa to get my daughter in 7 short days. This child I have waited a lifetime for is almost in my arms. I am giddy, giggly and as my son said, "mom you're acting kinda silly today!" So right they are. Silly with joy, showered in blessings, and overcome with thankfulness! Alleluia!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

One week and counting!

Wow! A week from today, we will getting ready to tuck the kids in one more time, then hitting the road. It is so amazing to me!

We had a pretty good weekend. Sat was get stuff done here, Sunday was church and a trip out of town, Monday, I was out with some sort of tummy bug. I am praying no one else gets it! I laid low all day and feel much better today. Just glad it was this week and not next.

It's a big week. E started classes this am. Tonight is teacher conferences, tomorrow, our youth choir at church kicks off, Thursday school starts and my baby goes to kindergarten, and then it is the weekend again! And amongst all that, I have to work, finish packing, and start cleaning...this week is going to fly by!

Nothing much more to share yet. We are hoping for our social report on Sunshine, full of pics and her likes, dislikes and schedule. I can't wait to see some new pics...hopefully a smiley one!!

Off to conquer the day!!