Thursday, July 23, 2009

Our life in pictures

We have been a forever family for 2 weeks now. I have attached photos of Addis Ababa, the day we met JG, and a picture of my 3 wild kiddos together. I think JG is bonding well to us and although she has been sick a few times I am sure we are giving her immune system a workout! New/First things: She loves to eat meat now, and fruit. She has had beignets and jambalaya and LOVES them both. We are transitioning from formula to milk but we are taking it slowly b/c of tummy issues. She is my constant companion...CONSTANT. We are hoping that once we are in the new house and she becomes comfortable that she will feel safe enough to be happy and play without me in her constant sight/hand's reach. Table manners have been a battle and we have just started to go to battle with sleep issues for the sake of mommy's sanity and back. She has stopped crying for her nannies when she is angry and now cries for "daddy-AHHHHHHH!" Did i mention our girl has a Queen-of-Sheba-sized temper? Tarin says that she thinks she could easily be my biological child:) JG definitely recognizes and answers her name now, can throw something in the trash, loves to clean up her toys and organize them in a very type-A way, loves to smooch Topher, loves chase and looking in the mirror, trying on clothes and shoes, oh, and she likes coffee. She is understanding English better and better, but still loves to sing/babble in Amheric (although truth be told, she could be reciting some kind of political treatise or classic poetry for all i know).

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Hindsight 20/20- Ethiopia in Review-Arrival Day & Yesabi

I've just had to give up on making this flowery since i'm so busy with our new-and-bigger family, the stomach bug that keeps on biting, and the move to the ole DS. I am still processing alot of what i saw and experienced in Ethiopia, so this will be kind of a nuts-and-bolts posts from a been-there-done-that to help my fellow sojourners in Ethiopian adoption.
Sunday- Arrival day:
THE AIRPORT::You may want to exchange some money at the airport. Or you can get David (the AW driver-Et name Dawit) to do it for you. If you allow someone to help you with your luggage you need to tip them. They are very persistant, and they will take American money, so you could tip them with that if you don't want to change money at the airport. We chose to wait inside the airport until all of our AW families had found their bags, and ready to leave. Trust me, you do NOT want to be stuck out in the van with 20 guys fighting to be the one to help with your luggage for 20 minutes. We felt safer than we expected the entire time in Ethiopia, but the poverty is overwhelming if you have not traveled to a "developing" country
YESABI GUEST HOUSE:: We settled in to the Yesabi Guest House and found it very pleasant. The staff is wonderful, facilities VERY clean, and whoa that cook is awesome! DH and i actually weighed the exact same thing (down to the ounce) the day we got home as the day we left:) We NEVER got sick. They change your towels out every day (you get 2 big and 2 hand towels). We brought a washcloth and baby towel from home. They do make your beds and there is a safe in every room. We never figured out how to redo the code on the safe, so we just took the key with us everywhere. BTW: we actually forgot the key one day and left the safe open w/ about 500$ and our cameras in it & when we got back everything was still there. so, it is safe to say that the maids had a lot of integrity.
Good to eat: At Breakfast: the omelets, the pinapple juice, coffee, croissants, donuts. if you eat the cheese, peel/cut off the outside. This is a good time to take your motion sickness pill. Take it. Seriously. It also helped me with the nausea from the smells of smog/car exhaust, and altitude. This is my #1 recommended med for Addis. I handed them out like Tic Tacs to others in my travel group.
At Dinner: There may be one or two options. They are bound to be good. The fried fish was the BEST i have ever had...and i am a Floridian living in Louisiana! If there would have been cheese grits i would have thought i was in heaven! Chef's tomato sauce is so fragrant and delicious...ahhhh! It is on pasta, on chicken, or rice. The portions are some nights a little smaller than some men would like, but we did just fine sharing with JG once we had her. The toddlers & older kids will try to gorge themselves, so prepare yourself for that. I also found that whatever was on our plates somehow mysteriously looked better than what was on JG's plate, so if you have a picky eater you might want to try that angle.
Electricity: You will most likely have electricity every-other-day. We once went 3 days straight with none. They turn on the generator every night, and while cooking. This is when we would run downstairs with Dean's iphone and post to Facebook. The iphone was our key to American communication. It is possible to call home, but it was too painful for me to think of hearing my boys' voice. It is possible to use your laptops, but after we had JG we just collapsed at around 8.30 and did not even try. The internet connection is slow if you have regular electricity. If the generator is on then it runs even slower. Also, when the generator comes on for breakfast, boil your water in your hotpot. You can use this to sterilize bottles, or to mix with the cold water to wash your face/hair in the sink. I took MANY cold showers...Dean took many hot because he is the early bird. We were lucky enough to be in room 103 (first floor). If you are in one of the higher floors i hope you are ready to be winded...that is where you will notice the altitude. There are BEAUTIFUL views (about 300 degrees?) from the rooftop. Great for the camcorder.
Random on Yesabi:: they give you 2 small bottled waters a day. You also have a minibar with cokes/sprite/fanta (shout out to Britney y'all!) and beer and sm/med/lg water. YOU MUST DRINK LOTS OF WATER for altitude! You can get wine by the bottle from downstairs. A doctor traveling with us claimed that the alcohol helped kill the buggies, and most of the group was happy to accept his Rx:) Be careful though w/ the interactions with your drugs (Ambien for example). After we got J-G on wednesday we no longer needed sleep aid and were adjusted pretty well. Earplugs are a must for the nightclub nearby. You should save around 100$/1200 birr for the last day to settle accounts on Friday. Our food/drink bill for 2 adults was 750 birr & we tipped the staff on top of that, as well as the 2 drivers for the week (200 birr/each. A US 20$ would also work if you were out of birr). You will not be able to change back your birr to US dollars, so be careful with that. But if you have extra you could use it for luggage tips at the airport, or gifts for Robel's street kids/ministry.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We are home and alive!

Yes, we are home. Yes, we are alive. But 4/5 of us have had (or have now) what we are hoping is just a stomach virus. DH & I had cipro left from our around-the-world adventure and are taking it just to be safe. So, sorry about the lack of pictues and i hope you understand that i may be a little distracted to answer the phone. JG is adjusting well and we have had some funny little situations that i can't wait to tell my bloggy friends about...but for now i need to get back to Lysol-ing the house.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Daddy's girl:)

Meeting JG....Our Ethiopian Monday

Our Ethiopian Monday in bullet points:
Not much sleep, the Ambien has not worked well.
No electricity=no hot water=hairy legs.
Paperwork party- I made LOTS of mistakes, and had to borrow an extra
form from almost everyone. My nerves were shot!
Lunch at Lucy Bar & Grill. Beautiful! I had pizza and DH had
curried Lamb/rice. No, not a typo. The food was great.
Driving to the Transition home everyone was so nervous!! There were 2
families adopting their first child, 3 families adopting siblings, and
4 adopting one child, like us. We were videoing the city and the
other van passed us and everyone was yelling out the window like crazy
at us. Our van-full was laughing and egging them on with cameras
rolling. When we saw the men with big machine guns we got a clue that
we were NOT supposed to be videoing in front of that area. Whoops!
The 9 families met their children in alphabetical order (we were
second). But, everyone was boohooing after the first family met their
baby boy for the first time.
We could hear what we hoped was not JG crying at the top of
her lungs from inside. They tried for several minutes to calm her
down, but to no avail (Gracie's gotta have her beauty sleep like
mommy!). We met her and it was scary, peaceful, exciting, and
beautiful all at the same time. I had to take pix for another family
and passed her off to Dean who was able to calm her down. After about
45 minutes she did warm up to us. She loved the cherrios/apple snack
we brought and the elmo phone ("mo-blay"). Funny that one of the few
words she knows is for cell phone. Coincidence? She loved the pix of
the boys, and I think she said "bubby" when she pointed to JP.
We watched her eat spaghetti and drink from a cup, and after she was
cleaned up she held her hands out to go to us. She even looked at
DH and said "abba!" The kids call all of the nannies mommy, so we
are going to have to work on that. She seemed affectionate with the
nannies and would kiss them on the cheek. She held our hand and
showed us around her yard and we played a little soccer with her
(Barry, she's gonna be awesome!). She gave us good eye contact toward
the end, and she can walk down stairs pretty confidently, holding our
hand. She also pointed for things and hand-led us…like to sit down or
show us flowers. She loved watching the older kids played and enjoyed
a sucker. She is teething. She seems healthier than we expected, and
bigger too. At the end she would rest her body on ours so that she
seemed relaxed with us, and when we had to take her back and said "
bye bye!" she cried. It was hard to walk away (as fast as possible),
but we felt satisfied knowing that she felt attached to us enough to
be sad, and that tomorrow we will have her forever.
The girls got massages and manicures while the guys relaxed at the
guest house. Nice!
We enjoyed a traditional Ethiopian meal complete with: feeding one
another (it's tradition!), wonderful music and dancing (including me
and 2 other moms in our group), coffee and popcorn.
There is more to say, and not enough word about what we have experienced so far.
Random: The children in the TH are beautiful. There were definitely
some big babies and I could hear the school aged kids learning. There
are some amazing kids there! I recognized the Korson's oldest
daughter and Ava. Kara- she is stunning. You will be blown away when
you see her in person. I look forward to taking pix for all our 4
families tomorrow.
I need sleep. Love to JP and T!!!!! We miss you so much!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

We made it to Ethiopia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We are at the guest house. DH slept like a baby last night, me, not so much. i got slightly confused because DH's iphone tricked me into utter confusion, and i got up, got totally ready, and then wondered why our wake up call didn't work...uh, cause it was 5 PM in baton rouge, but i thought it was 5 AM in dubai (it was 1 am). I won't make that mistake again!! The hotel that Emirates puts you in has comfy beds, and pretty good is confusing trying to get your hotel vouchers, but we'll know better when we return in a few days. Business class was AWESOME! on the way from Dubai. Hot towels, blueberry crepes (Hi Topher!), comfy sleep masks and seats that totally recline. I was totally relaxing with Norah Jones the whole time:) There was a man seated behind us whose laugh totally reminded me of Grandpa D! Which also made me think of JP...and made me miss his amazing belly laugh. The guest house is nice and we have met the pritchetts, the dragoviches and jacksons and T our AWAA driver/guide. We have not totally unpacked yet, and it still seems unreal that we are here, and that we will hold JG for the first time tomorrow!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Not Long Now!!

We are at the gate in Dubai and waiting to board our final flight into Addis. Emirates has been great to fly on,and we got bumped up to business class. Please keep up your prayers. Love you boys!!!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Houston to Dubai

We are about to board our long flight from houston to dubai. love to my boys!
Comments on the emirates flight:!!!! movies. food was good! things i would do differently: 1. they fed us dinner right away but we had already taken Ambien to try to adjust to Dubai time...whoops! 2. Always wear shoes to the bathroom. Enough said. 3. Make sure you have your earplugs for the plane OR tune into the CD that is "sleep music". i didn't figure this out until later. Overall, it was not nearly as bad as i thought it would be.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Packed and Ready!!!!!

So, it's been 23 months since we applied to America World to adopt. Wow, how time flies- NOT! We're not quite ready to leave our boys behind and not quite ready to board a plane for 2 1/2 days, but we are more than ready to bring JG home. I posted the following one day before we recieved our referral:
Ten things I want you to know: (for our JG)
1. You were loved before we met you, before we saw your sweet face and there is nothing you can do that will make us love you less.
2. Yes, I have received children out of my natural body…and I love them with an astonishingly strong love. I have birthed you with no less tears, no less longing, and no less joy.
3. Adoption was not a second-choice for us. We had this purposed in our hearts from long ago…you, my dear, are the answer to a fourteen year old girl’s prayer.
4. I will say it again. You were not our second choice. You are the princess that your daddy slayed dragons and fought for.
5. Sometimes you will feel lonely and sad for your birth-family and land, and that is okay. We are happy to listen, cry with you, and dry your tears. Your sadness will not break you, and it will not break us either.
6. We will never give you up. We will never give you away. Never. Even if you beg us.
7. Your skin may not look like mine, or daddy’s, or your brothers’….it is the most perfect shade of brown! You were painted by an artist who is more brilliant than Monet. You are an impression of your Father’s glory.
8. Your mommy & daddy are not perfect. I eat anchovies on my pizza, and daddy’s feet stink. We do not expect you to be perfect either.
9. I pray that you will live a life full of joy, full of love, full of faith. Life may not go as you would have planned, but I hope that you can sing along to the melody of God’s song for you.
10. We want to see your face soon. We want to hold you close, gaze into your eyes, to smell your hair, to see you smile. We will wait patiently.
Wow, these words seem ever-more real now. Bye bayou-I'm off to cooler weather!
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