Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The trip over

Okay, so I'm starting with the trip over because there's not a whole lot to say and I'm hoping by tomorrow I'll be inspired to delve more into the details of our time in Addis.

Sergio and I were originally going to spend 3 nights in Rome when we were supposed to leave in May, so when the time came to book our flights and we were going to be flying out of JFK we decided to fly in one day early and spend the night in NYC. (Not exactly Rome, but at least it was one night alone somewhere)

What we wanted to do while we were there was take some self guided walking tours through different neighborhoods but it was WAY too hot and humid to just be out walking so we had to change our plans. When we went to NYC a few years ago the one thing we didn't get to do was eat some good food, so we made that our goal for this trip. We went to a Cuban Restaurant the first night, then ate in Little Italy the second day and of course had some yummy New York pizza too! In between eating, we went to the Empire State Building and Times Square Friday night, then to Battery Park (just to look at the Statue of Liberty) and walked around China Town and Little Italy a bit on Saturday, being sure to stop into any air conditioned building we could find! Here are some pictures of our trip.

We flew out of JFK to Dubai Saturday night. It was the flight I was dreading because it is 13 hours long and a lot of it is over water but God is so good and faithful and I barely had any anxiety aside from the takeoff and the anxiety I did have was about a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 which for me is a miracle. The flight went by pretty fast and before I knew it we were landing in Dubai!

We got in around 7:45 pm and the plan was to go straight to the hotel our travel agent had supposedly booked for us, but just like in NY there was a slight change in plans. We got into the airport and found out there had been an oversight and a hotel had not been booked for us or one of the couples we were traveling with (Paula and Ryan). We were supposed to get a hold of our travel agent and have her call to arrange things but it was a Sunday morning in WA and we couldn't reach her. Then we found out that because Sergio was traveling with a Mexican Passport he would have to get a visa in order to even leave the section of the airport we were in. We didn't know if it would be worth it because at that point we didn't know for sure if we would be able to get a hotel to stay at so the couple we were with decided to go to a different part of the airport and see if they could find some help. After quite awhile of waiting for them to return, a man from the Emirates Airline counter we were sitting near walked over to me and told me I had a phone call. It was Paula telling me that she was not being allowed to come back to the part of the airport we were in! At this point it was getting late and I was not that comfortable with staying at the airport all night so we decided to book a hotel ourselves without our travel agent. First we went to the visa counter so that Sergio and I could go through customs and meet Paula and Ryan to book a room somewhere, but when Sergio was called up we were told they would not give him a visa unless they had proof we already had a hotel booked. So I ended up having to leave him, go through customs by myself and find Paula and Ryan, book the hotel and then have them fax a letter to the visa counter. They questioned him for quite awhile but finally gave him a visa (it cost 230 US dollars!) and a very friendly man met him at customs and showed him to right where we were all waiting for him. The hotel was beautiful and clean and although we couldn't sleep we did rest and shower before returning to the airport at around 6:00am.

At the airport we were reunited with the second couple we were traveling with Julie and Mike. Their hotel had been booked properly through the travel agent so we hadn't seen them since getting off the plane the night before. The flight was short, only about 4 hours and when we landed I honestly felt like I was in a dream. It looked like Ethiopia but I didn't feel like I was half way across the world. It felt just like being at home.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

We're Home!

I've been wanting to blog but honestly I don't even know where to start. Maybe it's because there's so much to say, maybe it's because I'm exhausted, maybe it's because I have 7 children now, two of whom I'm having to constantly teach things to all day long. Things are going pretty well all things considered. In some ways they are better than I was thinking they would be while we were in Ethiopia but I am fully aware that we are early in the game and things could be way different in even a week from now.
A friend emailed me this picture of Mateo and Leul from the night we first came home and I thought I better post it, but I really don't want to say much about how we're doing now until I've gone back and blogged about our trip. Hopefully soon I'll be able to post some day by day entries of what it was like, and I'll add some pictures too!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Leaving on a jet plane!

I've seen that title on so many other blogs and have been waiting 10 months to be able to say it for myself! Okay so it's 1:00 in the morning, we are leaving in 3 hours and true to our nature, we aren't packed all the way yet! This will not surprise anyone who knows us. It looks like I won't be sleeping tonight so I'm hoping that means I'll sleep well on the airplane.
It still seems completely unreal to me that I am about to fly all the way to Africa (I always told myself I could never do that) and will return with two older children. Those two beautiful kids I've been staring at in pictures since Dec. imagining what sweet little angels they must be :) are actually going to be home with me soon!
There are so many of you reading this that have been right there with us along this journey and are just as about excited as we are! Thank you all for your love, your advice, your prayers, and your help. Leul and Hana will be blessed with so many people who love them.
We are getting into Seatac late Saturday night the 26th and any friends and family who'd like to welcome us can join us there. You can either call my house or email me (my oldest dd will be checking emails), for the flight number and time.
The next picture you see on this blog will be of us with our kiddos!
Please keep praying for peace, and safety and health. Also that we will be able to meet with the kids' bio families.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Big Thank You!

We finally started packing tonight! It's been on my to do list since we were supposed to leave in May so I'm very relieved we are actually getting it done. For tonight we are just packing up the donations for the orphanages, which as you can see from the picture is not a small task. I want to say thank you so much to all those who donated supplies! Most of the donations came from my neighbor's son's baseball team, people I have never even met!

Here's a list of what the children in Ethiopia will be blessed with:

20 pens

5 dry erasers

145 dry erase markers

168 pencils

8 24 packs of crayons

55 sticks of deoderant

12 toothbrushes

3 tubes of toothpaste

910 bandaids

8 instant cold packs

100 tootsie pops

39 books

2 puzzles

6 small bottles of bubbles

7 toys

7 onsies

4 baby hats

1 Baby Bjorn

and 4 bras!

Thanks again to all who made this possible!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

He Passed!

My husband is on his way to becoming an American citizen! He passed his interview and will be scheduled for his swearing in ceremony once we return from Ethiopia! Praise God!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The news we've all been waiting for!

Sergio and I are thrilled to announce we are leaving Friday the 18th to pick up Leul and Hana!

We will spend one night in NYC before heading on to Dubai where we will also spend one night due to a 13 hour layover. We'll arrive in Ethiopia Monday the 21st around mid morning, go through customs, dump our stuff at the hotel and then go to the orphanage to get the kids!

We are leaving Ethiopia Friday night and will arrive home late Saturday night after 7 months of waiting to have them home with us!

God has abundantly blessed us in so many ways with our travel dates and I wanted to share some of them with you all.

First of all Sergio and I are getting a night in NYC. We'll be there for a little over 24 hours which is the same amount of time we had when we went there a few years ago and we got to see everything we wanted then, thanks to my obsessive planning and scheduling! This time we are just going to relax and enjoy the city. Okay we might not relax, but we will definitely enjoy the city!

Second of all we are flying on one of the nicest airlines out there right now, Emirates Air. They have all new aircraft, really good maintenance records (which is a big deal for me!), roomier seats and are supposed to really cater to kids having over 600 movies and games available to watch and play! When we were originally going to go over in May, I wanted to fly Emirates but at the time tickets were way too expensive!

Third, the route we are taking is supposed to be a really good way to go. We will have a 13 hour flight from NY to Dubai which I'm not doing cartwheels over, but once in Dubai we will get to spend the night at a hotel courtesy of the airline, wake up and shower and only have a 4 hour flight to Ethiopia. I have heard from many traveling parents who have taken this route and they have all said how nice it is to arrive in Ethiopia refreshed, rather than arriving after flying straight there. The electricity and water are not too dependable in Ethiopia so I am very glad to know I will at least get a shower on Monday morning!

Fourth but probably the biggest blessing I will share is that there are two other families from our agency traveling at the same time. I have gotten to know both the mom's online as they are both Christian homeschooling mom's. They are both adopting boys close to Leul's age and one of the boys even shares a room with Leul! I am happy we will all be there at the same time but what I'm really thrilled about is that we have almost all the same flights! We will be meeting up in NYC and will fly over together and fly back as far as NY with one family and as far as Seatac with another! This is nothing short of God's blessing and provision! He knows I need some prayer partners on those flights with me. It seems unreal that only last Dec. I turned down Sergio's offer to go to San Diego for our anniversary in order to avoid the 3 hour flight and now I'm facing 47 hours of in flight time withing a week's timeframe! I am so thankful God put my two friends on the same plane as me because I can almost guarantee that without them, Sergio would be asleep by takeoff and I'd be left to fight the fear alone!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

My little warrior is 5

Mateo's birthday is the day after Olivia's, so today my little guy turned 5! This was the first time I didn't cry when one of my kids turned 5. 5 just seems like such a big deal to me, but we were way too busy having fun today, it left no time for tears! We woke up early and after eating Trix (Mateo's pick) went to a nearby theme park. After 6 years of going as a family, I finally decided to leave 2 kids home with a babysitter. Our 3 year old is just too young and tired from yesterday to make the $30 worth it and our 10 year old daughter who has autism really really does not like being in public places and is usually pretty unhappy when we go out. So for the first time I didn't have to stand with the stroller and watch as the rest of the family went on rides, I actually got to participate! I'm not a big ride person, I get dizzy on the carousel, but I did get to go on some rides that didn't spin around and also got to go in the wave pool and down the waterslides with Mateo! We were there for 8 hours which wasn't nearly enough for the kids but plenty for me! After taking the babysitter home we had an icecream cake and opened Mateo's presents. Right now the kids are downstairs watching tv. Yesterday we went to Target with some birthday money Mateo got in the mail. He chose a dvd that had 13 episodes of superman and batman. Little did I know those original cartoons are not suited for young children. Mateo returned it to me today telling me he was giving it to Daddy because it had the "S Word" (in our house that's "stupid") and kids shouldn't say the "S Word". I felt so bad that he had spent his birthday money on it that I stopped and picked up Scooby Doo on our way home tonight and that is what they are watching right now! Mateo so fulfills the meaning of his name which is "gift of God". Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for him. He is such a tough and brave boy, but he is also my biggest cuddler. He actually told me the other day he didn't want to grow up because he doesn't want to stop being able to cuddle with me. I told him he will always be able to cuddle with me, his wife just might not like it too much! Hmmmm, I think I'm starting to understand why I sometimes sense some competition coming from my mother in law!

My baby is 3

Olivia turned 3 yesterday, I can't believe how fast time goes by! This was the first year she was really old enough to know what was going on and she had a great day. In our family the kids get to pick a birthday breakfast and dinner. Ever since I banned sugar cereal from our grocery list that is what the kids choose on their birthday, which works for me because that means I don't have to cook! Olivia picked Lucky Charms and all the kids enjoyed them! Then I took Olivia to her first movie. She was beyond excited that she got to have popcorn and soda and actually sat quietly smiling through the whole movie! It was so cute. In the evening we went to a local park and had a barbeque with our immediate family. There was only 20 of us including all the kids which is about 1/4 of what there usually is. This was our first birthday party where we didn't cook authentic Mexican food (which takes way too much time if you ask me!) We went all out American style: cheeseburgers and hotdogs, potato salad from Costco, watermelon and chips. It was so low key, it was great. Even my mom commented on how I actually looked like I was having a good time! I am so so greatful to God for giving Olivia to our family. She is full of life and spunk and we all get such a kick out of her.