Thursday, August 21, 2008

6-Month Post Placement

Today is our 6-Month Post Placement. At least, I think it is. It is 6 months from our embassy appointment. However, it's been more than 6 months since our court date, when Ash officially became our son. And ealier this week would have been 6 months since our Forever Day. And in a few days will be 6 months from the time we brought him home. I'm not sure which day to celebrate! Either way, the fact that he joined our family is reason enough to celebrate! :o)

It is unbelievable that 1/2 a year has gone by already. He has grown so much and is changing every day. I'm so sad to see him leave behind some of his baby traits. (We will be celebrating his 1st birthday in less than a month!) However, it is fun to watch his little personality develop and hear his big boy laugh. I'm sure he will continue to bring us as much, if not more, joy in the future days as he has over the last 6 months!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

CHI Reunion Picnic

Last Saturday, July 12, we attended our adoption agencies' annual reunion picnic. There were so many families there from all of the different country programs; it was very uplifting to see. We had a particularly wonderful time meeting up with some of our blog buddies from the Ethiopia program. There were even three little ones there that we had the privilege of meeting while we were in Ethiopia, before they had been united with their forever families. That was emotional for me! To see them loving on their family members and playing with other was amazing! I felt such a connection to these little ones, who I have held in my heart since the time I first met them, that I was overcome with emotion at seeing them again. God is good! It was really a wonderful day. Here's a few fun pics from the day...

Monday, July 14, 2008


Last Sunday, July 6, we had Ash's dedication at church. My father, our church's founding pastor, dedicated him to the Lord. We also played the Steven Curtis Chapman song "When Love Takes You In" and quite a few of our family members were present to witness the event.

After church, all the family and some of our friends came by the house for a BBQ. The kids ran around the yard playing and we had lots of strawberry shortcake and rootbeer floats! Unfortunately, Ash fell asleep when we first got home from church and missed a good 2 hours of his own party. But, that's OK. He was smiling and ready to go when he awoke.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Active Baby

We now have a 9-month old infant in our home! Ash is army-crawling everywhere and just figured out how to pull up to standing. I discovered this in the middle of the night 2 days ago while he was crying in protest of sleep. I opened the door and there he was, hanging on with all the determination he could muster! He is suddenly very active and ready to go! He giggles easily and smiles at everyone. What a joy he is to have in our arms!

So, I figured it was finally time to start updating this blog a little more. I have some photos of us in Orlando, Florida during our 2-week vacation at my parents' condo. Ash had a blast. He was old enough to enjoy all the activity and young enough to still sit in his stroller and take naps on the go. It was a great age to do everything we did. He really is happy when he's in the middle of all the commotion! That makes a great fit for a very active family of 4 kids : ) So here 'ya go, a few photos of Ash.....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day

It's been quite a while since I've posted. I can't believe how crazy things are with 4 little ones! However, today was my first Mother's Day with Ashenafi in my arms, so it truly was a day for rejoicing! I am so honored that God chose our family for this sweet, sweet little boy. He is more than I could have hoped for...such a wonderful addition to our brimming household! He will be 8 months old this Wednesday and is beginning to eat baby food, cheerios, and biter biscuits. He is coming along well with sitting up unassisted and loves to roll around until he moves quite a ways from his initial starting point. In fact, I've found the hard way that I can't leave him on my bed anymore...ouch! But, he survived the fall, and I've learned that he now scoots backward to get to what he wants : )

Sorry for the lack of postings and pictures. Since I've been home from Ethiopia (10 weeks ago now!) I have been dealing with mono. I did not initially know what was wrong; I was just extremely tired, to which I attributed having an infant that didn't sleep and jet lag from our trip. Then, I got really sick. I thought it was just a simple infection, but the antibiotics didn't help. But, I started feeling better and was just still really tired. Again, I figured it was just dealing with the new addtion and the 20-pound infant I was holding all the time. Then I got really sick again and realized I had been running a low-grade fever for several weeks. I decided it was time to go to the doctor. They, of course, wanted to test me for several things, especially since I'd been in Africa recently. But, they did not do a test for mono. When everything came back negative, I was already feeling better and decided to forego more tests. It was then that I noticed my 8-year old son's glands were huge and he was not presenting with any symptoms, so I took him to the doctor. They immediately did a swab for mono and it came back positive. So, I am sure that is what I was dealing with. But, all is well and I am so much better now. I might actually start uploading photos... : )

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Home for a Month

We've been home for a month now. I can't believe it! This last month went by much faster than the month before we traveled, that's for certain! Ash is growing, eating all the time, and starting to hit some new milestones. Since we've brought him home he's learned to roll to his belly and he's trying to sit up more and more. I started him on rice cereal to see if he would last longer at night without a bottle. It seemed to work the first night, but not so much last night! He's not the best nighttime sleeper! So, I'm still adjusting to sleep deprivation and having an infant in my home again.

The good thing about having an infant in our home again is all the kisses and cuddle time! He is so affectionate and snuggly - I can't get enough!!! His smile is infectious; and, for the most part, when he's awake he is blissfully happy. God has given him such a sweet temperament...what a blessing he is to me and our home!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

First Day in Ethiopia

I won't bore you all with a day-by-day schedule of our trip, but I did think that I could share some excerpts of my journal from our first night and the next day:

Finally, we arrived! Somewhere between all the hours of flight time and losing 9 hours by traveling east, we lost a day! But, we were both feeling pretty good. The monitor onboard the plane said the local time was 7:47 p.m. (which is when we were scheduled to arrive) and the temperature was around 63 degrees.

Once we got off the plane, we stood in line for our visa and that took about 30 minutes. Then we went through customs and found our luggage at baggage claim. We waited in line about 10 more minutes to get through security to leave and then we found our driver, Efrem, who was waiting for us with a CHI sign. The airport was not very busy and it did not take long to find the car. Of course, about 7 young men followed us to try to help us with our luggage. Efrem was very stern with them and said only 1 could help. He put our luggage in the car and we had to borrow money from Ephrim to tip him 10 birr, because we had not exchanged any dollars yet.

I have to pause at this point to say that Paul and I both somehow came on this trip without watches. This was somewhat frustrating on the plane, because we didn’t have our cell phones to tell us what time it was and there was just no frame of reference to even guess. How, after all the lists and double-checking I had done, did we forget a watch?

So, we get in the car with Ephrim and his dashboard clock said 3:23. I assumed it was broken and asked him what time it was, he showed me his cell phone and it was 3:37. What? I didn’t understand. Three in the morning? It surely did not take that long to get through the airport! He insisted that was the local time and showed me his cell phone again. OK! Whatever…I was so disoriented now, it didn’t really seem to matter – what day was it, anyway?!

Once we arrived at the House of Hope (our agency’s transition home where the children were and where we would be staying), the baby was already asleep. Ephrim showed us to our room and I noticed the light was on in the nursery so Paul and I snuck in and asked the nanny if we could just peek in his crib. She smiled and showed us Ashenafi. I stood there looking at this precious baby boy who looked so peaceful, sound asleep with his little pudgy arms outstretched, palms up on each side of his head. He was beautiful! I cried! Paul teared up. I put my hand over my mouth to keep from sobbing, thanked the nurse and quietly backed out of the nursery.

We went back to our room and unloaded our luggage. Ephrim took Paul to get some food and bottled water as I unpacked and got our things a bit more organized. As I was settling in, I sat on the bed, overcome with emotion and began to sob. All these months and months of planning and then hours of traveling, finally I was in Addis and had just seen my son! He was more beautiful than any of the photos I had been sent. He was fat and round and his skin was smooth and soft. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on him first thing tomorrow morning.

What really made me emotional, though, was seeing the babies all in their cribs. I couldn’t help but think, “Your mamas don’t know where you are!” I know they were being well cared for and all healthy, but how did their moms know? How did a mother sleep at night not knowing where her perfectly round, sweet baby boy was eating and sleeping? I was torn inside imagining what these babies’ mothers must have lost in order to make such a great sacrifice so that their children could have a better life. It completely overwhelmed me and I was glad I had the chance to be alone to process.

When Paul came back, we sat on the floor and ate strange cheeseburgers from a place called Burger Queen. They tasted pretty good, but we wiped off the lettuce and tomato, just to be sure. The sack of French fries was huge. I think it must have been 3 potatoes worth of fries in each order! We couldn’t eat them all, but it sure tasted good.

We began to laugh as we realized that we were sitting on a floor eating weird drive-thru food at God-knows-what-time on who-knows-what day in the middle of Ethiopia, Africa. Our son, who we hadn’t met was in the room down the hall and we were supposed to go to sleep??? We just couldn’t get over how surreal everything felt!

We finally charged one of our cell phones and turned it on to see if we could get a local time. It was 12:30 a.m., so we set the alarm for 6:00 and tried to get some sleep. I’m not sure how many times I awoke. When I did, I prayed for my kids at home and would drift back to sleep. However, at 5:45 my eyes opened wide and I felt like it was Christmas morning. I decided to go ahead and get ready so I could get down to the nursery as soon as it was appropriate to do so. We waited until 7:00 and then headed down.

Ashenafi was in his crib, awake and playing with a toy. The nanny picked him up, kissed on him and then with tears in her eyes she handed him to us as she said “Ciao, Ashu…Mommy!” She repeated “Mommy” several times as she gave him to me. She looked so sad to see him go. It broke my heart, but I was encouraged that he had obviously been loved and well cared for. We took some photos and both took turns holding him. He looked directly into my eyes and I fell in love! I smootched on his cheek and he got very still and opened his mouth for more kisses. He let me kiss all over his little fat neck and chubby cheeks. I couldn’t believe it! How could I so immediately fall in love?!

When we took him to our room, Paul laid him on the bed and we both played with him for a while. He giggled and smiled and batted his hands at our faces. When he grabbed hold of my finger with a firm grip, I saw him look into my eyes and I felt such a surge of motherly instincts that I melted!

Side note here…When I met the director of the program, Tsegay, I asked him about the time. He laughed and said that in Ethiopia they tell time differently. Well, of course they do!! He explained that their day begins at sunrise (6:00 a.m.), so 1:00 in the morning is our 7:00 a.m. They still go on a 12-hour schedule and then their night begins at sundown (6:00 p.m.), so 1:00 in the evening is our 7:00 p.m. Great! Just wanted to clarify that!