Friday, May 28, 2010

Some of my Firsts!

This week brought a bunch of first time things for Daniel. First time fun things! He took his first ride in a power wheels monster truck, driven by his cousin Ray. It was to cute. He loved it, he loves anything that moves and anything that has wheels.

it was also our first time swimming! We spend the entire day at Grandma's house in the pool. He loved the water and loves to splash! He doesn't even mind getting his face wet. We just have to watch because he has no fear at all and will just throw himself around in the water!

We are adjusting and doing well here. Daniel is on a pretty good sleep schedule, and yes he does sleep through the night! He only wakes up maybe one time, I go in and pick him up and he goes right back to sleep. I think it is more of an adjusting thing for him, like he is waking up to see if we are still here, once he knows we are he goes back to sleep for the rest of the night. He is also a great eater and some of his favorites are french fries, bananas, chicken tenders, pizza and gerber banana cookies. I love being his mom and it is the best gift we could ever ask for. It makes my morning when I walk in his room in the morning and he is standing there, as soon as he sees me he waves and says hi with that big smile of his. He has also learned to blow kisses so he does it all the time now. Even when we are trying to tell him no! He is absolutely amazing and I am so glad he is ours! Don't get me wrong we do have our bad moments where he cries and we have no idea what he wants but we are working through them and they are not very often. Would we do it again now that we are home? Absolutely in a heart beat!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

1 Week Home

Yesterday officially marked our 1st week home with Daniel and we are loving every minute of it. While we do have some struggles (nap time is getting rough) he is a joy and the most precious gift we could receive. Daniel has adjusted well to the house and us. He loves Carmen our dog, or more like loves to pull her tail (and bite it) and poke her eyes and pinch her. We are working on being nice to the dog! The house has been taken over by a toddler. There are toys in every corner and in the middle of the floor. You have to remove a gate to get upstairs (Carmen is not a fan of this) and the drawers in the kitchen are latched shut. We wouldn't change it for anything. Some of his favorites so far seem to be Mark's shoe (house full of toys and he plays with a shoe), pastini, Imagination Movers on Disney and anything that makes noise! He has already picked up drum sticks and started playing on the floor, this makes daddy happy! He is a good eater, eats pretty much anything we give him except macaroni and cheese. He has sleeps all night, sometimes waking up just once. I think he might just be checking to see if we are still here, if I pick him up he goes right back to sleep. He is very attached to Mark and I already, if we leave the room he is looking for us. He says Hi and Bye and waves when people leave. He also started blowing kisses yesterday. I am so thankful for this gift of this precious baby boy. We are all doing well, it is an adjustment for Mark and I as we are first time parents. Our schedule is no longer our own and we usually have to wait until nap time to get anything done (if we are not napping too). We are still working on a schedule for Daniel. He has bed time down pretty good, 8:00 he is ready and you can tell by him rubbing his eyes. This first week has been a blessing. We have not had any major issues or outbursts yet. Mark was home most of the week so we will see this coming week how it goes because Mark is back to work! We have all ended up sick this week with colds and upper respiratory issues. Daniel made his first trip to the doctor. He did wonderful as long as he didn't have to sit to long. We do have to give him a breathing treatment for the cough and rattling in his chest. Have you ever tried to give a 14 month old a breathing treatment? Not fun at all! He does not like sitting that long. Finally the weather is getting nice so we can play outside. He loves to be outside! Oh and everything is a phone. We are not sure where that came from but everything goes up to his ear and he talks into it. When the phone rings immediately whatever is in his hand is up to his ear! It is the cutest thing ever, he has a huge personality! Here are some pictures from our first week home.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Headed Home

Friday night we started to head home about 6:00 Ethiopia time. We got all our stuff into 4 bags so no baggage fees yeah! The airport wasn't to bad to get into. We checked all our stuff in and then had to wait for a couple of hours. Daniel did not like this waiting. He wanted to run and play and we would not let him. About 1/2 hour before we were suppose to board a man came to see our tickets. He then proceeded to tell us one of us had to come with him because there was something in our suitcases they needed to look at. Great! Mark went with them meanwhile Daniel fell asleep and all I could think about was great how am I going to get our bags and him on the plane if Mark isn't back. He was so fussy! Mark had to go with this guy basically behind the scenes to where our baggage was waiting to get on the plane. Turns out there was our converter, my curling iron and the drum Mark bought that looked odd on the screen when xrayed. Mark made it back before we boarded. We ended up getting the bassinet seat on the plane which was nice for the 4 hours that Daniel slept of the whole 26 hour travel time! He did not want to sleep on the plane so when all was said and done Mark and I ended up being awake for about 48 hours total. On the plane Daniel taught himself how to scream. Loud ear peircing screaming and not upset or mad screaming it was I am having fun playing screaming! Crazy! He would scream and then laugh. I am sure everyone on the plane loved us! Our plane ended up leaving Addis late and then when we stopped to refuel in Rome we left there late. So when we got to DC instead of a 4 hour layover we had about u45 minutes. Just enough time to get something to eat (not plane food) and then get on the plane. Daniel slept through the 40 minute flight from DC to Pittsburgh. It was so nice when we got to Pittsburgh we had a welcoming committee. My mom and dad, RJ, Chris and Little Ray, Marks mom and dad and my grandma and grandpa were all waiting to meet Daniel at the airport. The bad news, our luggage didn't make it on the plane in DC so we had no suitcases! I guess if they were going to get lost coming home would be the best time and not getting into Ethiopia! The car ride home was not to bad either. I figured he would scream the whole way home in his car seat but he didn't. It helped that we stopped at McDonalds and he got french fries! Mark and I wanted Iced tea so bad since we could finally drink the water! When we got home the house was filled with cards from the CRASH kids and volunteers and food everywhere. Marks brother Jon and Lucia and Isabella were here to visit us. It was overwhelming to see the love and support when we got home. All the food was wonderful and there were two great big signs out front welcoming us home. Daniel adjusted quickly. We put him down and he went from room to room playing with the toys and pretty much now runs the house! Here are some pictures from the plane and welcoming home:

Coffee Tour

Friday was our last day in Ethiopia. Daniel once again showed us a new side to his personality. He is in to everything! Good thing is he loves the baby carrier as long as he is facing out and can see everything. Tonight we will begin our journey home but first we will go to the coffee factory. The coffee factory was pretty cool. There was just bags and bags of coffee beans in a warehouse. We actually saw them roasting our coffee. We brought a ton of it back with us. When they handed us our bag of coffee the individual bags of coffee were still hot. When we got back to the guest house for lunch T was waiting with the best gift ever. Our passport for Daniel and his paperwork to come into the USA. It was so wonderful to have that paperwork in hand. One step closer to having our baby boy home. After lunch Daniel took a long nap while we packed. Let me tell you it is so nice to be able talk normal and pack things moving things around and turning lights on and off with him sleeping in the same room. He is a great sleeper and still sleeping through the night! We are so blessed to have this baby boy in our arms. Here are some pictures of the coffee tour.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thursday in Ethopia

So this morning we got to sleep in! I was excited even though sleeping in was like 7:00. I did find out if you do not get up before 6:30 to take a shower you might as well plan on not taking one or taking a freezing cold one. I opted to not take one this morning. We went to Kids Care orphanage to see it, take donations and play with the kids. This is where Daniel came from. The nannies and some of the staff remembered him. The kids there were so excited to see us. they all got suckers and sidewalk chalk, hackisacks and some played with bubbles and jump ropes. It was fun to play with them. They are all so cute and very smart. I met this one girl who I played ball with for a long time, she is there with her brother and she had to be about 7 years old. she was showing me how she can write her name in english and all the pictures she could draw and then write the word for what she was drawing underneath. I so wish I could have just brought her home with me, her brother too. After the orphanage we went to lunch (I am really appreciating the high chair right now since they do not use them over here). Always an interesting time with Daniel. He really opened up today and is starting to show more of his personality. He is testing the limits already. He likes to throw his toys across the room and watch me while he does it to see what I am going to say. He no longer likes to sit still in the car either since here you just hold hte child on your lap they don't use car seats (really appreciating that one too). But he is still as sweet as ever and I am so glad he is getting so comfortable with us. He has a horrible cough, so glad we have a doctor appointment on Thursday! After we came back for a nap we went to see Mt Entoto. This was interesting since you literally drive up to the top of this mountain. On the way up you can see the house made of sticks and mud, lots of people wandering around and the ladies that are carrying huge loads of wood on their backs down the mountain to sell. Mark got some pictures. When you get to the top of the mountain you can see all of Addis Ababa. It is really a beautiful sight. It would have been even better if it wasn't raining. We took a tour of the museum and saw the first church of Addis. It was so sad to see all these kids waiting to come up to our window to beg for money. Mark gave a couple granola bars to eat. It breaks my heart that these children go through this. After the mountain we came back and Daniel and I went to dinner. Mark wanted to lay down, he was not feeling good. Probably all the exersion playing with the kids and lack of water! Tomorrow we will go on the coffee tour in the morning and then we will come back and pack up. Daniels visa should be here by 3:30 and we will be on our way to the airport around 6. While I am sad to leave this beautiful country I am so ready to come home where things like the hot water, electricity (it goes out every night between 6-10) and internet are available all the time. I also really want some chips and salsa without fear of getting sick! This will be the last post from Ethiopia. Tomorrow we are on our way home!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Embassy Day

Today was our Embassy Appointment day. Last night was great, Daniel fell asleep in my arms around 8:30 and did not wake up until 6:00 this morning! He took a bottle and went right back to sleep for an hour with Mark. Then we ate breakfast and left for the Embassy. We were there for quite awhile since there were 7 families all together. I was a nervous wreck since they ask you quesitons and we still don't know all that much about his background. It was no problem, T was there the entire tiime in case we had an issue. We were the second family to be called into the appointment. Then we just got to sit and hang out and wait for the rest of the families. He is officially ours, we will have the Visa in hand on Friday when we head out for the airport! I can't wait! He is so good. He showed us his personality today more than yesterday. He was smiles and giggles. He is ticklish under his arms and loves to bounce on the bed. He will eat about anything you put in front of him. He has pretty much been eating off of my plate the entire time. We had pizza tonight he will get along well with us, he loved it! For lunch we went to Lucy's it was really good. Daniel did well he played with his trucks and ate 2 rolls. He is so good we couldn't ask for a better baby! Well I have to go put a precious baby to bed. Tomorrow is orphanage day, I think we might try and only do one. We will see!

Gotcha Day

We woke up this morning so excited for today. Today was the day that Daniel would come home with us forever. I had some anxiety of how he was going to do leaving the transition home since it is the only home he has known for the last year. They nannies were all kissing and hugging him. It takes a special person to be a nanny there. They get so attached to these kids and then have to watch them leave. Especially the ones that are there for a long time. I thank God everyday for those ladies and the care they have given to my son. Anyway, we ate breakfast then had to sort out our donations and pack our very first diaper bag! We all met in the lobby then and went shopping. This was fun, there was so much stuff and so reasonably priced. It was quite interesting the shops were kind of like what we would call a plaza back home but not as developed. They were small and you bartered for the prices (not a fan of this). Our driver David did most of that for us and told us what was a good buy and what was not. Once we were done we were standing outside the shops waiting for other families and the kids started coming up selling gum and tissues and asking if we wanted our shoes shined. It was kind of overwhelming for me because there were a lot of them. Then all of a sudden these 2 ladies came up yelling something with a stick and all the kids ran. We found out these 2 ladies worked with the shops to keep the beggars away from the shoppers. Mark did get his shoes shined by one little boy. He did a great job, even got some of the paint off of his tennis shoes. Another little boy told Robel that he thought he had met Mark before. How funny! Once we were done shopping we were all ready to go. We came back to the guest house and ate lunch. Excellent cook here at the guest house. Then it was time to go. When we got to the transition home we took pictures first of the care packages we brought. Joanna, we love Hope. She is so sweet and fun. And yes we got her to smile and we got her laughing and pulling marks hair on video. I am trying to send you a picture but internet here is not cooperating. Once we were done with that we got Daniel forever. He only fussed for a second. No screaming or crying! We changed his clothes and his diaper (first wonderful surprise). The best part was when we all loaded up in the van and drove away with our kids. Daniel loved the car ride, he kept peeking around the seat to see what was going on, sticking his hand out of the window and playing with the window latch. When we got back to the guest house we played for awhile on the floor and then he just bent in half and fell asleep on my leg. We all three then went in and took a nap. It was so wonderful to wake up looking at my baby boy. Dinner went really well too. He ate 1/2 my rice at dinner and a bottle. We think we figured out that his belly is so bloated because he is always eating. After dinner we gave him his first bath. He was a little unsure about this. I can't wait to bring him home and give him a bath where we can control the temperature of the water a little better. Then the best part of my day putting lotion on him, putting him in his sleeper, wrapping him in his blanket and he fell asleep in my arms. There is now a baby boy sleeping in our room as I write this. I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings. He is the most precious gift from God. I can't wait for you all to meet him. Tomorrow Embassy appointment!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Meetcha Day Pictures

Hopefully this works! I will post more pics when we get home!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Meetcha Day!!!!

Today was the day we got to meet Daniel. The morning started off crazy with me jumping out of bed thinking we slept through it all, the travel clock was not ticking anymore and I jumped out of bed grabbed Marks watch and thought it was Noon (we had to meet downstairs at 9:30) it was only 6:30 am I had the watch upside down! We had breakfast with the of the families then we hung out for awhile. Nervous and excitement were definitely setting in. After breakfast was the paperwork party at the Hilton and lunch. This is where we found out that Daniels birthday on his birth certificate was 12-19-08. Quite a shock since we were figuring from paperwork around end of March! Once that shock wore off we finished all our paperwork and had lunch. Then it was time to take the drive to the transition home. We all had cameras ready to get a picture of the infamous gate! We were so excited and anxious and the feeling of this is happening set in! The families went in alphabetical order so we were third in line. When it was our turn we stepped up to the steps and the nanny carried Daniel down them. I can't even explain the emotions when she put him in our arms. At first he was so unsure, he started to throw himself backwards to get out of my arms! This is typical since he has known these nannies for a year as his only caregivers. He warmed up to us pretty quick as long as he didn't see the nannies. We had a consultation with the doctor to go over all his medical records. In meeting with the doctor he confirmed that his birthday was February 22, 2009 not December 29, 2008. It was a mistake in translation of dates on one of the forms. This lined up more with what we were thinking and his development. We got to play with him and feed him a bottle. We had a couple of meltdowns which is to be expected but he seemed to calm down quickly when Mark held him. We did figure out that he loves Gerber Banana Cookies! We are definitely saving some of those for the plane ride home! We got to meet Daniels favorite nanny Serawit. She came right before we had to leave and she brought him a traditional Ethiopian outfit. She put it on him when she changed his diaper and we were able to take pictures of her holding him and one of all of us together. He is obviously very attached to her, as she is to him. Leaving was hard but knowing that tomorrow he will be with us forever made it easier. His own forever family. After the transition home the girls went to the spa for manicures. This was nice and relaxing after the emotional rollercoaster we were on all day. The boys stayed and hung out at the Guest House. After that we got to go for a traditional Ethiopian dinner complete with traditional dancing and music. It was extremely good. We have lots of video and pictures we will post when we get home. I can't even put into words the feelings and emotions of today. I thank God for this precious gift He has given to us and I thank him for the work he is doing through the nannies when these children are not able to be home. Tomorrow he is ours forever! Our lives have truly been changed forever!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Day 3

Today is Sunday. Last night our suitemates arrived The Farris's. It is so nice to put a name with the families you read about on the yahoo group. Very nice new friends who are getting a baby boy. Yes we will have 2 boys in our suite very soon 6 months and 1 year. Should get really interesting. Today we got up early and had breakfast with our new friends the Farris's and the Shorts. After breakfast our friends the Sullivans (who I have been talking to online for a couple of months) arrived (crazy interesting journey to get here) and then we were off to a church service at St Matthew Anglican Church with the Farris's and Shorts. It was such a beautiful service. You don't realize how universal christianity is until you are in Africa reading from the same bible and singing the same praise and worship songs. We sang Shout to the Lord. People were there to listen to the message and praise God, not to complain about if the temperature was right, there was no air conditioning, if the piano was to loud, it wasn't you could barely hear it over the singing. Unlike many of our church's back home today where we worry about material on the surface things and not the real reason we go to church every Sunday. After church the whole congregation went out to the lawn and mingled and drank tea. We talked to people from Great Britian, Austrilia, Congo, Ethiopia and America. So many people from different countries together worshiping the same God the same Creator. After church we went to lunch with some missionaries who are living over here helping local hospitals distribute medications and help set up after school programs to help teach social skills. We had plans to go to Mt Entoto today but the rain moved in so we would not have been able to see anything. So we will hopefully get to go another day. Instead we hung out with the other families that arrived so far there are 5 of us here and I believe 1 more on the way. We all had dinner together and then went up on the roof of the Guest House and hung out for awhile. It is so nice to finally get to meet and talk with the other families we have been communicating with for so long. We have made some great new friends today. Tomorrow is the big day! We get to meet Daniel! Pictures will hopefully be up tomorrow. We can't believe it is finally here. We have a paperwork party in the morning, then we get to meet our son

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 2

Today was a much better day and I am happy to report - NO FEVER! About 2 hours after breakfast it finally broke while we were out running around and I feel wonderful! So we finally actually got to leave the room. We hired a driver Abraham, he was very nice and stayed with us the entire time. It is definitely an experience to drive around over here, we wouldn't be able to do it if we wanted to. There are not street lights, stop signs or anything. It is kind of like just beep your horn and go! Cars go pretty much where ever they want to go. People just walk in front of the cars without looking and the cars don't really stop for people, they just beep the horn! We saw our first glimpse of how severe the poverty is in this country. There were shacks on the side of the road that were literally just 3 metal walls and a metal roof. People sitting and living on the side of the streets everywhere. We did have 2 young children knock on the window of our car as we were driving asking us to buy gum. They could not have been more than 6 or 7 if that. There are dogs everywhere just walking around (and yes they are still fighting and barking all night long) and random donkeys and goats on the streets. We did see one man waiting for a ride or something with a lamb hogtied. We were not really sure if the lamb was still alive, I am guessing not. Our first stop was the National Museum. We had a personal guide for all the exhibits in the museum, which included skeletons and skulls that were over 4 million years old. Also lots of artifacts for alters for different religions in the BC times, as well as lots of Ethiopian history through paintings, royal thrones, wardrobes and weapons. Mark enjoyed it very much. The paintings were so interesting. Ethiopian artists have a way of distinguishing themselves based on the eyes of the characters they are painting. In the religious paintings if a face is only seen from the side showing 1 eye this person was considered a bad guy (something I learned from the tour today). An example was the painting of the last supper where Judas was shown with his head turned and only one eye visible. Our next stop was the Lion Zoo. This was kind of different. You could actually walk up to the cages the lions were in and be about a foot from the lion. If you wanted to you could reach your hand in and touch them. No one was doing this! We took pictures of Mark with his head down by them. One of the pictures the outside fence was not there. He wanted to pet it, I did not think that was a good idea! There were also baboons here. Some of the men around the cage were making noises at them and the baboons were going crazy and screaming back, opening its mouth showing all its teeth, then it would charge at the fence. It was funny only because we were a little further away this time. After the Lion Zoo was the Addis Ababa Ethiopian Studies Museum on the campus of Addis Ababa University. The museum used to be a royal palace. It contained many historical artifacts from past emperors and rulers of Ethiopia as well as traditional musical instruments. Mark bought a traditional ethiopian instrument that is similar to a banjo and a drum. Next stop was lunch at the Blue Top. Excellent food! We had little pieces of bread with salsa/tomato stuff. Mark had a pepper steak that he loved and I had spaghetti. Much better spaghetti than the night before. It was a very nice day, we enjoyed learning more about the country and meeting the people. They are very proud of their country and loved to teach us about it. Everyone is so nice and friendly and more than willing to help. More adventures tomorrow!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Day 1

Today was pretty uneventful. We stayed in our room and I slept the whole day. My fever was all over the board. I am hoping tomorrow is better. We talked to another couple here who said they felt the same way their first day here. So far since about 2:00 this morning the fever seems to have broke. It sucks being sick and so far away. Mark was worried he would have to figure out where to take me! We did walk down the street to the Zebra Grill for dinner. Mark really liked his spaghetti with meat (what kind of meat we are really unsure). I had spaghetti with tomatoes, wasn't a fan of it. I have a feeling I am going to be living on granola bars for the next week! I did have some eggs this morning but they didn't seem to sit to well, they were scrambled but they weren't the normal yellow color like at home. I am not very adventurous with food! There is a school outside our hotel and it was so sweet seeing all the little kids in their uniforms outside singing Mary Had a Little Lamb and counting in English very loudly! The streets here are pretty muddy, especially today because it rained. It is kind of strange when we walked to the Zebra Grill on the side of the road were about 5 dogs curled up under the trees sleeping. It is strange to me because we don't see wild dogs at home. These must be the dogs that are howling and fighting all night long! Well it is about 4 in the morning and I should try and get some more sleep. I think I am all sleeped out since that is all I did today! Hopefully we will have some pictures from our adventures tomorrow to post!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

We Are Here!!!

We have safely made it to Ethiopia! 24 hours of travelling and 17 of it on 1 plane. It wasn't to bad we tried to sleep alot. We met the Trevinos in the airport in Washington DC so it was nice to have someone to go through customs with and figure out the whole visa thing and changing money. We had no problems at either airport. We even got lucky as we were checking in our bags in Pittsburgh and didn't have to pay the baggage fees! That was totally a God thing. We are now checked into our hotel thanks to Robel and we are ready to relax. It is about 11:30 here so we are going to try and get some sleep and catch up to the time change. We will see how that goes. We will try and update as much as possible but the internet connection here is a little slow. We can't even get on the blog so we will continue emailing Laura when possible with updates, as long as she doesn't mind!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Packed and Ready to Go

We start our journey in 10 hours! I can't believe this day is here. We have been so blessed to have so much family and friends and even people we don't even know supporting us on this journey. We are finally on the last leg. We head to the airport tomorrow morning at 9:30. Our flight leaves at 2:00pm for Washington DC and at 8:30 we will board our plane to make that final leg to Ethiopia. 2 years plus we have been on this adoption rollercoaster. We will finally hold our baby boy in 6 days. In 11 days he will be home. I was talking to my cousin tonight and she said to me "the next time you walk in your house you will have a kid!". I haven't even stopped to think about it. We are about to receive God's most precious gift! A child, a child we have prepared for, a child we have wanted for so long and most of all a child we have prayed for. We knew when we started this journey that this was a complete and total God thing. He was in control, timing and all. And He is finally bringing the best gift we could possibly ask, wish or want for, our baby Daniel. What will that first meeting be like? Will he smile? What will he smell like? Will he wrap his little fingers in mine? Will he play with us or will he be scared? Will he like the food we brought for him? Will he sleep through the night? All questions only God knows the answer to. I can't wait to get the answers!

This week has been crazy, packing, shopping, cleaning and more shopping. I think Walmart knows me by name, I have been there every day. We have officially packed 5 bags and 1 tupperware tub. Not quite sure how we are going to get these through the line with just two of us but we will manage. 4 bags of donation items,2 carry on bags, 1 purse, 1 bag for Daniel and somehow Mark and I are sharing a bag. I think this is the first time ever that we have shared a bag to go somewhere other than over night! Here is a picture of our luggage pile minus the bag Mark and I are sharing:

I also want to thank everyone in advance who is helping make this less stressful for me (slightly OCD). From taking us to the airport, picking us up, mailing bills, taking care of emails from AWAA while we are in the air tomorrow, taking care of the dog, staying at our house, making sure there is food when we come home, etc. We love you guys and couldn't do all of this without you. I can't wait for you all to meet Daniel!

Love ya, the next post will be from Ethiopia! (as long as internet is cooperating)Hopefully!

Monday, May 3, 2010

48 Hours

In 48 hours we will be on a plane headed to Washington DC!!!!! This time next week we will have already met our baby boy!! I can't believe this is happening finally. Bags are almost packed, all the shopping is done now to clean the house.

Oh and I am officially done working for 3 months!!!

Ethiopia here we come.