Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Scoop on Poop

Well, I'm not sure it's cleared up since it's still terribly smelly. I KNOW, JUST what you wanted to read today! But it's getting better, I think. We just have to wait until its normal. Might be the diet, might be the giardia still, might be the antibiotics for his sinus infection, who knows...

All I know is he now holds his nose and says "Stinky" which is completely hilarious.

And he says "diaper" "up" "Dagny" "Mommy" "Poppy" "Meow" "Water" andall the Amharic baby talk. But he knows what I'm saying most of the time, I think. I asked him to take off his shoes today and he sat down and did, then he took them and put them away in his room. And when I asked him to take off his coat, he did and then tried to hang it up on his hook. So he's getting it!

And today he went to daycare for an hour, since we're trying to ease him into it. I don't plan on going back to work for another week, but I want him to feel comfortable there, so we started now. I was really worried that he wouldn't come to me after an hour, that he'd bond with Rota of Lorraine and forget about me, or he'd be really upset that I left him somewhere with a gaggle of kids. But he did really well, and came right to me when I got there, arms up, saying "Mommy!" which felt really good.

And Dagny stayed without a fuss, and she played with him really well. Here's hoping she can adjust better. She's been so jealous and acting out terribly for the past few days. She's been in a lot of trouble, but we're trying to be understanding at the same time. It's difficult. We'll see how tonight goes. Marc has bowling and so I'll need to put both kids to bed, so she'll have to be patient. Hmmm...three-year old patience...yeah, you can all laugh now.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


Okay, so we went to church this morning so everyone could get a look at the new addition and people were so glad to see him! He played in the nursery with one of us (we alternated halfway through the service) since we had the feeling he wouldn't make it in the sanctuary, and then we had cookies at fellowship. It was very nice, but...

We seem to have a bit of a problem with "indiscriminite affection" in that he'll go to anyone without looking around for mommy and daddy. We were expecting this, so it's not like it's a surprise. Lots of orphans have that problem, since they learn early that they have to be cute in order to get people to meet their needs. So they'll hold their hands up to anyone to get picked up. We had to explain to people that they couldn't pick him up, that he needed to learn to be clingy for awhile before I could encourage him to branch out.

Everyone was fine with my explanation, which was nice since I think it sounded a bit rude. "Hey, no, don't pick up the kid. He has to learn who mommy is first..." Okay, so I used different words, but that was the gist of it.

His poop hasn't cleared up, but we're eagerly awaiting it to. Funny how I look forward to diapers at the moment to see if anything's changed. Well, simple pleasures for mommies, right?

We're having a quiet afternoon of laundry and vacuuming today. I might even get a chance to read a bit of my book. Wouldn't that be a shocker?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Health Update!

Right, so most of the tests are back now, except for the TB mantle, which will be read on Monday.

HIV (both tests) - Negative
Hep A - antibodies present, so he's had it before. That's good, that means he doesn't need the shot because he's already protected.

Stool Culture -'ve got to be kidding. Not only does my poor boy have giardia, he has worms - two different kinds. In fact, they had to call Pediatric Infections Disease at the Mayo Clinic to find out how to treat one of them. Good news is, the treatment is only three days long. Bad news, he's not covered by our insurance yet and it was really expensive. Ah well, doesn't really matter, the price. Gotta get my kiddo well! He took the deworming pill really well, mixed into mashed potatoes which he didn't have to chew. The instructions say we can't crush the pill, because the bitterness could cause vomitting...whoo hoo!

This morning he took his giardia medication without a problem - it's a liquid - and that was good. He just has to take it with food for three days, twelve hours apart. No big deal, we'll get it done.

Marc was wondering this morning how the poor kid is going to react when he actually has a solid poop. He'll probably freak out.

We're adjusting pretty well, though he hasn't really attached to me yet. He'll go to anybody quite happily, so we're working on getting him to understand that I am mommy and he should go to me first. We'll get there, too.

Dagny is terribly jealous. She's acting out a bit, but it's tolerable. It'll pass when she realizes she's a good helper and will get more attention if she's good. Marc has instituted an allowance program for her (a quarter a day) if she helps and doesn't have too many meltdowns. We don't expect perfection, we just expect a bit of an attempt. :D Good luck with that for us!

We went out to town today and visited a craft fair, which was fun. We also stopped at the library so I could get some work for Monday. I go back part-time from home for a week or so, which I think will be okay. I'll go in every morning after taking Dagny to school or daycare, and I'll get the mail and turn in bills and things like that. It'll all get done and Sintayehu will come with me and help. *snort* We'll see how that goes.

It's very busy being a family of four. My parents left this morning, so we're alone (the four of us) and for the past eight hours or so, it's been going quite well. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Did I just catch up?

Hey...I'm writing on the right day!! Whoo hoo!

So this morning Dagny had a haircut and she said she wanted to cut it as short as her brother's (!). We compromised and she got it cut above her shoulders and its adorable! I love it. Sintayehu was pretty good at the hair place, too, and I was impressed that I got both kids out the door and made it to a 9:00 appointment!

After that, we stopped by the museum so Susan could meet him and then stopped by daddy's work, so he could see the haircut and then Dagny had school. We dropped her off and she was so proud of her hair! And Lori got to see Sintayehu in the parking lot, which was great.

I had to go to work for a little while, so mom and Sintayehu sat in the car and watched a bit of a movie, but eventually they came in and walked around while I did my meeting and then we came home for lunch - leftover pasta. Sintayehu took a nap in HIS room in HIS crib for the first time and he slept for 3 hours! And he seemed to really like his room! So Marc and I may have our room back soon, which I'm really looking forward to!

And I got caught up on my blogging, as you can all see. We are adjusting very well. I'm hoping he doesn't get too sad when my parents leave, because I think he thinks they're part of the family and are permanant residents. I'm so glad they're here and have been helping but I'm worried about what will happen when they leave. Oh well, no use stressing out about that now!

I'm coming to understand my house will never be clean again and that there are some things that I will have to just give up on. And I think I can live with that.

I think this is going really well. I keep waiting for something bad to happen, but I should just count my blessings and go forward, right! So that's what I'm praying God will help me do!

And our family is complete now. And we are so happy.

Be prepared for less blogging now that I've caught up...there are more important things in my house!

March 18 - Poop Day

Dagny came into our room at 7:00 this morning and asked to get into bed with me. I had Sintayehu on one side and Dags on the other and I was really warm and comfortable and about to fall back asleep when...

"Mommy, I'm hungry. So is Sintayehu. Let's have breakfast." So I get up. Cocoa krispies seems to be the order of the morning, so they both get bowls of cereal and I make some eggs for myself. Of course, as the habit goes, they both want eggs, so I end up sharing most of my eggs between the two of them. That's all right. I can eat pop tarts later. Ha.

We lollygag around all morning and I end up not taking Dagny to daycare until 11:00, which isn't a bit deal. Sintayehu fell asleep in the car on the way up to Pipestone, so we just drove around and did some errands and let him sleep. We stopped at the drug store and mom went in, then we went to the grocery store and I went in, then we drove about a bit so he got about an hour and fifteen minutes of sleep.

I had to collect three poop samples today, which wasn't hard at all, and deliver them to the clinic to have them looked at. Hopefully they'll be able to figure out quickly what he's got so we can start treating him for it.

When we were driving home after picking Dagny up, he said her name in the backseat. I couldn't believe it, but that's what he said! "Dagny!" and then he said clearly, later, "diaper." So he's learning fast! It's great.

We had pasta for dinner last night and both kids had huge plates and finished all of it quite happily. They also shared a breadstick! What a nice evening. I'm beginning to believe that I can do this mommy of two thing!

March 17 - A Real Family Day

Dagny woke up a little early this morning, wanting to see her brother. She took him downstairs and they played ball for awhile before she had to get ready for school. She didn't want to go, but she did when she realized she'd be able to tell everyone we were home.

We spent the morning exploring the house, touching everything, looking at things, and just generally getting the layout. I made him a peanut butter sandwich for lunch, but he wanted the potatoes I was eating instead. So I gave him the potatoes and ate the peanut butter. This seems to be a habit.

He didn't take a nap and threw a fit instead. I suppose I understand - there's a lot to see in our house and he didn't want to miss any of it.

He had a doctor's appointment at 2:00 with our doctor and I knew he wasn't going to like it. Dr. Viel said he thinks Sintayehu was probably born in August or so, not in May, but said it's really not that much of a problem. he checked him over and we got the following diagnoses:

1. He has an undescended testicle. Right now, that's not a problem, but if it hasn't come down by his next visit, they'll probably have to do something. If we decide to get him circumsized, the urologist can help us.

2. He's got a heart murmer, but so did Dagny and she grew out of it. Dr. Viel thinks he probably will, too, but they'll keep their eyes on it.

3. He's got bronchitis and...

4. Some sort of parasitic ameoba causing diarrhea (probably giardia). They need to do a stool sample to figure it out and then they can treat he bronchitis and the amoeba together. So no antibiotics until they figure out what's living in his intestine.

That's okay, we'll manage. His cough is already better just from being in clean air.

So we drive up to Pipestone for a bloodtest and put him in his carseat for the first time. I'm expecting a fight and....nothing. He likes it. No problems at all. He got his immunizations (hated them) and a blood test (Even worse) but we both got kisses afterwards so at least he doesn't hate us now! After the blood test, we picked up Dagny and the two of them chased each other around the upstairs shrieking gleefully. they seem to really like each other.

We had stir fry for dinner and Dagny was grumpy about the chicken, but when she realized Sintayehu was eating everything we put in front of him, she started to eat. Good girl! She's being a great big sister! When dinner was over, I went to pick him up and...

poop was everywhere. We had to change him and give him a bath and Mommy had to wipe up the floor. After a few minutes, I hear giggling in the bathroom and I go in and Dagny is giving Sintayehu his bath, with both of them naked in the tub. Daddy is presiding, of course, but Dagny is doing most of the washing. It was so cute.

By that point, we could tell he was obviously in pain from his shots, so we had some tylenol and watched Dancing with the Stars before going to bed. He slept until about 5:30 and then got in bed with me, since Marc had to go to Minneapolis around 4:00 in the morning.

March 16 - Home at Last!

We ended up getting out of bed at 4:50, which was okay since we had packing to do. Sintayehu was actually awake around 4, I think, but he played quietly in his crib until we got up, which was fabulous.

We had breakfast at the hotel and he doesn't like banana muffins, but eggs and bacon were good! The breakfast was really tasty, even if we had to pay for it!

First flight was very short, thankfully, but we had to fix our boarding passes for all three flights, since we weren't sitting together. It kind of sucked, but we managed to change them, so it was all good. While we were waiting for the first flight, we had the gate at JFK all to ourselves (we got there early to check in) and we started a game of soccer with a small ball we'd bought the night before. After a few minutes, another family showed up and their boy, Danny, had a ball as well, so they played together! A few of the other passengers even got involved, casually putting out a foot to kick the ball while they pretended they weren't paying attention. And one old chinese guy just sat in the corner and laughed with enjoyment. It was quite fun.

We didn't have much of a layover in DC, but in Chicago our layover was long...four hours. We got another soccer game going with a little girl named Samiah who really enjoyed it. Again, other passengers sort of got involved, turning their luggage to create a "field." It was fun.

Sintayehu and I also went to a bookstore, where he chose a book for me "Confessions of a Shopaholic." He gave it an excellent babbling review as he chose it off the shelf and, you know what? It's a pretty good book!

The last flight was short again and Sintayehu fell asleep against Marc. We held hands across the aisle and talked about things and I realized I was terrified that I would feel differently about Dagny when I saw her, that somehow the love would have changed. I wondered how she would take her brother and if they would love each other and I was really scared.

I needn't have worried. The second she saw us get off the plane, she ran to us and threw her arms around my legs with excitement. She missed us so much! And she was so happy to see her brother!

Sintayehu fell asleep on my lap in the car and didn't wake up until 4 in the morning. We brought him into bed with us and he slept until 7. It was really quite nice to be home again in our own bed, knowing our daughter was fine and happy to see us.

And the love didn't change a bit, it just expanded.

March 15 - New York City

We landed in New York at 7:30 in the morning, really tired but glad to be on the ground. Customs wasn't bad at all, honestly. We had to show our passports and the paperwork from the US Embassy in Addis to get into the country and it went pretty smooth. The customs agent was in a good mood because he thought my joke about not having anything but a child to declare was pretty funny.

We walked somewhere else to turn in our paperwork and then claimed our bags before going out to the airtrain for a ride to where we could get our shuttle to the hotel. It wasn't that bad, really. Sintayehu loved the train and watched out the window with great interest. The only sad thing was the hat I made him was a bit too small...he's got a big head!

We went first to the Fairfield Inn which is where we had a reservation. See, we thought customs would take longer so we booked a flight out the next day, seeing as Kennedy Airport has no flights that would connect us with a flight to Sioux Falls after 10 AM. So customs in two hours might be pushing it. We probably would have made it, but the hotel was really a better idea.

So...Fairfield Inn. We get there and discover they have no cribs. None! So what are we supposed to do then? They call the Marriott reservation line and we get a room at the Courtyard by Marriott which is across the highway. Everything gets fixed, the crib is guaranteed, and we get a shuttle to the other hotel. It only slows us down by half an hour or so. No big deal, and everyone was really nice. Considering how tired I am, I don't care, as long we've got a crib.

At the Fairfield before we leave, a woman starts talking to us about how cute our son is and that she's left her daughter for the first time and is a mess. I tell her I understand, that we've been away from ours for ten days now and it's really hard. We talk about adoption for awhile and as she leaves, she presses a $20 into Marc's hand for Sintayehu's college fund and blesses us for saving a life. We never thought about it that way at all, but she's probably right. And we deposit that money as soon as we get home.

So we get to the Courtyard and get checked in and the crib gets delivered. The bed is sooooo soft that I almost can't get out of it to order lunch, but we manage. We get lunch from a place called Sofia and it's fabulous. Marc got wings, I got a salad and tortellini soup and I got spaghetti for Sintayehu. The room is pretty small, so we just eat on the floor, watching HBO (yes, we're addicted to TV!). Lunch is tasty and we're tired, so we lay down for naps. All of us sleep about 3 hours and then we realize we've got to get up and do something to try and stay on schedule.

So we get a cab ...well, the hotel calls us a cab and its a mercedes (whoot!) ...and we go to Target to buy the little man some pants and maybe a toy. We get a few pairs of pants, a new pair of shoes, and a cool truck that plays music. I'm betting people on the plane would rather listen to the toy than to screaming, right?

When we got back to the hotel, we ordered Chinese for dinner and Sintayehu loves fried rice and noodles. Again, we ate on the floor and we managed to stay up until 9:30, which was good. We even ordered a piece of cheesecake from the restaurant, but Sintayehu didn't like it. That's okay, that meant there was more for me!

March 14 - The Beginning of the Trip Home

He woke up very happy this morning (so did we!) and we played soccer in the room before going up to breakfast. For some reason, breakfast tasted great this morning, even the corn flex. Gee, I wonder why?

We went down to settle the bill after we ate and I managed to also get an email sent out before the power went out (again) but...not to the YG. So my other adopting friends don't know we managed to get our VISAs and leave. I'll try to call them from the airport, or to send an email before we leave if the power comes back up.

This morning we went out with Robel and bought coffee - 20 lbs of it. It only cost around $50 for that much and now we just have to hope the airports don't think we're smuggling or something! Ha. Our clothes are going to smell soooooo good when we get home. We also bought some last minute must-haves - Rasta caps for the kids, some scarves, and two amharic CDs of popular music, one male singer and one female. Robel picked them out for us and they're very good! I also got two small coffee pots for the kids' rooms and I hope they don't break on the way home.

We had lunch at the Lucy Bar by the National Museum. Here's the menu:

It's a paper cutout of the australopithicus skeleton and I thought it was so cool! I got Sintayehu pasta and kebabs for myself, but he was far more interested in mine, so we shared mine and then I munched a little on his. That's been happening a lot lately...and I'm fine with it.

We went back to the hotel and said a sad goodbye to Robel before taking showers and giving Sintayehu a nice bath. Might as well get clean before we spend two days on a plane, right? It was nice to finish packing, but quite sad to leave. We've grown to like this hotel quite a bit.

Headed to the airport at 4:00 PM and customs wasn't bad at all. We got to the gate two hours before our plane was set to leave, but that was all right. We had to deal with a few tantrums, but since he didn't take a nap, that was understandable. Marc walked him around for awhile and they looked at planes.

He took about an hour to fall asleep on the first flight and I slept a little, too, though not much. They gave us the cutest little backpack for him - it had a puppet, a book (Dr. Seuss!), a funny little stuffed thing you could dress up as an eagle, and an eyemask, just in case. He really liked it. Well, for an hour anyway, then he was sleeping.

He woke up during the layover in Dubai, unfortunately, since it was almost 2 in the morning. Our plane was already boarding by the time we made it to the gate. Our first flight had landed on the tarmac and we had to take a bus to the terminal, then walk to the next gate. (We ended up going through security three times before we got to our next plane....crazy!) Once we got to the gate, they waved me through and then had March wait for a minute. At least, I thought it would be a minute, so I went down to the boarding gate. They were letting the little kids on and a guy came to get me and I told him I didn't have a boarding pass (they were with Marc) so he escorted me back upstairs to get it. Marc was still being delayed, so I got my pass and got on the plane. Sintayehu proceeded to scream for about 15 minutes until Marc joined us. Something about a passport check or some such thing. Anyway, the steward had closed the bin above us so everyone would think it was empty when it had space for our bags, which was great and Sintayehu calmed down once he saw Marc.

He went back to sleep pretty quickly and slept for about six hours. Once he woke up, he played by himself with his toys and I actually managed to watch a movie (The Day the Earth Stood Still) and play with him at the same time. And then he needed a diaper change.

Okay, ladies, I know we're supposed to cover those little penises, but I totally forgot it might be loaded. I took his diaper off, turned around to throw it away, and he proceeded to pee all over the airline toilet. The wall, the sink, the counter, and the floor...I used up half their paper towels cleaning up the mess! Marc thought it was hilarious. I think it is, too, now that it's over!

He took another nap before we landed and I watched another movie "City Of Ember." Pete Juvinall is right - the ICE entertainment system is fabulous. I could choose whatever movie I wanted, play games, watch TV, and it was all just for me, I didn't have to share it with Marc or anything.

Since this flight was 12 hours, it didn't end until the next morning in New York...see the next post.

March 13 - The Day of Reckoning

So, this is the day we are waiting for. What does God have in store for us? Will the Embassy see us? Will they make us wait until next week?

This morning we were woken by a blowout. Not a tire, a diaper. In fact, the smell was so bad, we had to open all the windows. Be prepared, families following after...these diapers are stinky!

We also discovered this morning that a rattle can be made from an empty water bottle and a packet of macaroni (not cooked, obviously). This entertained him for the next few days and the noise it makes is really not that bad! Totally worth bringing the macaroni in the first place.

We can tell, though, that he's probably not about to be three. He's more like two-and-a-half, which is fine with us. He's not that sturdy, though he's doing pretty good, and his motor skills aren't bad at all. We ARE learning some Amharic from him, or at least baby-Amharic. "Anto" means "Give it to me!" and "Anti" means "Here, I don't want this anymore." Well, those are probably very loose translations.

We've noticed he hoards his food and will eat as fast as possible, shoving anything into his mouth to make sure no one else can take it away. When I realized what he was doing, it almost broke my heart. He just expects me to take things away from him, which I will never do. We learned a new game today together. I say "Show me" and he opens his mouth wide to prove he's swallowed so I'll give him more food. It works and it was easy to learn!

Marc tells me to mention the licking. The kids lick things to make them theirs and he says at the Transition home, some of the kids licked him. he thought it was weird at the time, but it makes sense. They wanted him to be theirs and no one else's. Almost enough to make me cry again thinking about it. These kids are so desperate for homes.

So at 10, the driver picked us up and said we were meeting Robel at the Embassy, but we'd have to wait in the car until he came and got us. Okay, we can do that. So we sat for a few minutes until we saw Robel come out and wave to us, gesturing for us to get out of the car and come in. It worked, they're going to see us and issue a VISA!

We go in, checking our IPODs at the door, showing our passports, and drinking from our open water to prove it's water. And then we're through and up the steps to the VISA room. We wait for a bit for the officer, who interviews us for about a minute, then hands us some papers and tells us to wait for twenty minutes and we'll be done. We got the court transcripts for the adoption and in a bit less than twenty minutes, we have a VISA.

We can go home!! A huge weight is lifted off our shoulders at the thought of being able to get on that plane tomorrow to come home to Dagny. We've missed her so much it hurts.

We went back to the hotel for lunch, because Sintayehu needed a nap. We got him down for about an hour and a half and Robel said he'd meet us about two to go visit the orphanages. I made him macaroni and cheese in the hotpot before we left and he ate the whole bowl and really liked it!

We delivered prayer bears to Kids Care Orphanage, which was nice, but we didn't see any of the kids there. We only spoke to a few people in the office. That was all right, we didn't have a huge amount of time, though it would have been nice to have a tour, even if Sintayehu had not come from there. This is a picture of the front gate:

Lots of the homes in Ethiopia have gates. Drivers honk and someone opens it from the inside.

We took the dolls that Nancy Thompson made for us to Gelgela, which is where Sintayehu came from. We are so glad we went. We were thinking maybe we shouldn't go, since it might bring back bad memories, but he seemed okay and we got to see his bed and meet the manager, who told us a wonderful story about how the orphanage got started. This woman has so much love and so much charisma it was amazing.

Here is a picture of Sintayehu's bed at Gelgela. It's the second bed from the left, painted blue. The guide said we could put him in it for a picture, but I didn't want to do that. It would have felt weird.

And we took a picture of a young man by the gate, who was wearing an Obama shirt translated into Ge'ez!

After the orphanages, we were supposed to meet Robel at Antica for dinner, but he was very late. We'd already ordered our pizza by the time he showed up, though it was good and he had a few pieces. Very tasty and Sintayehu liked it, too.

When we went out of the restaurant, though, the driver was gone. AND...cell service wasn't working, so we couldn't call him. We waited on the front porch of a coffee shop for about twenty minutes (and met a New Yorker there, which was funny) but the driver still didn't show. Robel ended up calling us a cab, which took us over a lot of back roads to the hotel, probably places we wouldn't normally have seen. In the dark, Addis looks even more foreign than when the sun is up.

We found out when we got back that the Spanish couple whose baby was so sick managed to get an emergency VISA and they were due to fly out at midnight. We said our goodbyes and wished them well. The other families have to wait until next week for the Embassy to see them. Their program doesn't make appointments for them - they have to take their chances.

On the way to the room, we bought a piece of chocolate cake from the small cafe to celebrate. The cake was pretty bad, but it was the thought that counted!

March 12 - Crossing Our Fingers

I forgot to mention that yesterday, the power was out from noon until about 6 pm. Walking up five flights of stairs at 8000 feet above sea level (for a midwesterner) is really really hard. Add a thirty pound child into the mix and it just gets more fun...My legs were so tired.

Anyway, this morning we woke up a little early, around 6:45. We had a nice steam bath for Sintayehu and then mommy and daddy took showers. Of course, we ran out of hot water. Oh well, I survived. Just got a little chilly is all. Here's some pictures of our hotel room:

The bathroom - you can't see the shower, but it's to the right. It was a nice bathroom, honestly. And the shower was not too bad (I'm a shower snob, so that's saying something!)
This is our living room. Marc is helping Sintayehu look out the window, so that's who you see. There's a small fridge and a cabinet around to the left and two chairs and a couch, as well as a TV that didn't get good reception on any station except CNN. We're really tired of CNN.
This was the bedroom. The crib is to the right, but you can see we had a king sized bed. Of course, it was very hard, but it was clean and once you fell asleep, it wasn't so bad. Three rooms were luxurious.

Breakfast was ala carte instead of buffet, so we ordered scrambled eggs for all three of us and "Corn Flex." Ha. They looked and tasted just like corn flakes, so I'm assuming it was just a typo. It was pretty funny, though. And the milk is whole - eeeewwww - so I didn't use very much of it. Sintayehu ate everything we put in front of him, faster than he probably should have.

Since the internet was still down (how frustrating) we went back up to the room to play. Robel was going to come about 10 and we were planning on descending on the Consulate. Once Robel showed up, he let us know we needed to wait for Duni to call, so we sat in the lobby and waited. The call came, and it wasn't good news. Our fingerprints are still not at the Embassy, and without them, we can't get a Visa for Sintayehu. At this point, unless the Embassy takes pity on us, we're stuck until next week. Visas are not processed on Fridays so we start to panic a little.

I think Robel was embarassed (though it wasn't his fault) and I feel sorry for him, since I know we weren't good company that day. We were really upset, though we had to find something to occupy our time. We went and visited a coffee factory before lunch and it was really very cool! We saw the process from start to finish and learned that beans are exported unroasted to other countries, with the language of the importer screened on the bag. We got to walk thgough the room with the machine that sorts the beens through several sieves to get a uniform size, then into the picking room where the workers sit along conveyor belts and pick through the beans by hand. This is the machine that sorts with sieves.

And after all the beans got sorted, they got roasted. This is the roaster below, which is next to a grinder.

The factory smelled SO good. There were large tubs of roasted beans in the room and once the lids came off, the smell wafted through the room like it was sent by heaven. But we couldn't buy any coffee that day because the power was out, so we didn't get to see the machines working, but I think that was better. Had they been working, they would have been LOUD.

We went to lunch at Metro Pizza, which was very tasty. Sintayehu was a pain in the butt, but he was tired so what do you expect? We took him back to the hotel for a nap and he screamed for an hour and a half. I'm not kidding, I watched the clock. And HOUR and a HALF of screaming. It was amazing. We finally let him out without napping.

At 4:00, I called DHL and they informed me that a package was delivered to the Embassy at it our package? Hopefully! So that made things a bit brighter. We just have to hope now that the Embassy takes pity on us and processes a VISA on a day they normally don't so we can leave when we're supposed to.

So we decide to go to dinner at the Lime Tree and guess what...Mr. Tired and Cranky Pants falls asleep in the car and slept the entire way through dinner. We had pasta and steaks and they were lovely, but my alfredo sauce was pink because of the Berbere spice they put in EVERYTHING! We got a cookie to go and woke up the snoozer and fed him cookie in the car. It worked enough that we got him home awake and played for awhile before going to bed.

I also had a long talk with Duni, which made me feel better. I know they're doing what they can, we just have to pray for tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

March 11 - First Day All Together

We slept okay last night, believe it or not. He's got a big cough, but we're hoping we can get a doctors appointment and get some medicine to clear it up before we get on a plane.

A few useful things: bring kleenex, lots of it. And nasal spray. I've been using nasal spray every day and it's keeping my nose pretty clear and I don't have the nasty boogers that come with pollution - for me anyway. A small warm-mist vaporizer would have been nice, but since I couldn't fit it in the luggage, it didn't come. Might want to make room for that next time.

I thought maybe we didn't have enough toys, but I think we did a good job now that I look at it. We took five matchbox cars (came home with three), a coloring book and crayons, a stuffed fish, and the purchased soccer ball. I think more would have been overwhelming and he seems to like the cars most of all. He calls them "beep-beeps" which is very apt. All the cars in Addis honk. In fact, driving in Addis is like playing Grand Theft Auto on the Playstation. There's a lot fo honking, a lot of near accidents, and people drive on whatever side of the road they feel like. You think I'm kidding? Nope. I was glad to sit in the back so I couldn't see the next deathtrap coming. I just pretended nothing was happening and placed it all in God's hands.

We let him take his beep-beeps to breakfast and MAN, this kid can eat! He had cornflakes, scrambled eggs, potato rounds, and some injera. Oh and toast and orange juice. It was quite amazing. I had no idea small things could eat that much.

After breakfast, we went back to the room to play and wait for 12:15 when we were supposed to go to the Embassy. He let me clean and trim his nails, both hands and feet, and didn't seem to mind it at all. In fact, he enjoyed it. Maybe I've got a kid who will get pedicures! Marc put a movie on the DVD player, but Sintayehu wasn't really interested. He just wanted to play soccer.

We got a call about 11:30 that our fingerprints were still not at the Embassy, which meant no appointment for today. Hopefully we'll get in tomorrow. So instead of heading for the consulate, we manage to get a doctor's appointment to see about that cough.

I almost wish we hadn't gone at all. The doctor didn't give us any medicine and sort of read us the riot act about giving things to him since he was under four. At the time, that sounded reasonable, but we found out later he gives medicine to other small children, he just didn't give it to us. We're wondering if that's because we are American and rubbed him the wrong way. I dunno...he's the transition Home doctor and i'm sure he's very capable and I'm glad he's there, but I really sort of wished we wouldn't have gotten an appointment. We'd have been no worse off if we hadn't have gone.

After the doctor, we did some grocery shopping and got small cups for him, peanut butter, crackers, and more water. He doesn't want a sippy, he wants a regular cup!

Then we went back to the hotel and made some calls to Senator Klobuchar's office in Minneapolis. Maybe she can help us get an appointment at the Embassy. A woman named Caly is helping us and will be sending information to the Embassy in the morning, along with a letter from the Senator. Cross your fingers.

We went for dinner at an Italian restaurant called Makush. It was great! They brought a special appetizer just for Sintayehu, some sort of rosemary french fries, which he really liked, and dinner for four people, along with dessert, only cost about $35. And it was very good food. I rodered the lasagne and it didn't taste like lasagne in the states, but it was still very good.

We came back to the hotel to sleep and our plan is to go to the Embassy in the morning and throw ourselves on their mercy.

Of course, now that I write this, that isn't what happened, but you'll just have to keep reading.

March 10 - He Comes Home with Us!

This morning, before we get to go and get Sintayehu at the Transition Home, we go shopping. Robel goes along with us, since I think he was worried we'd get taken and, since there's only one family, he can afford to cater to us a bit. We learn to bargain and made some fun purchases, like a dress for Dagny and a shirt for Sintayehu for a picture when we get back, a basket, a couple necklaces, and two wooden giraffes for the kids to have in their rooms. We have a good time and don't spend that much money, actually.

And then Robel decides to take us to lunch at a place called Dreamland, which is about an hour outside of Addis. The drive in the car is a bit of a problem, since you have a choice of rolling down the window and dealing with the pollution (there's a LOT - no catalytic converters on these cars) or leaving the windows up and dealing with the heat. It's a hard choice, actually. When we get to Dreamland, we can see why Ethiopians would like to go there - it's a crater lake in a dormant volcano and the seats for the restaurant are high enough up you get a great view.

As much as I enjoyed looking at the lake itself, I don't think the trip was really worth it. The food was okay (the Hilton was better) and it was so far that we could just have been spending more time at the transition home instead.

As it was, we didn't get to the home until 4 in the afternoon and Furtuna was just leaving so we didn't get to spend any more time with her. One of the other nannies helped us hand out our care packages. I can't post pictures of those kids, since those are for the families to post when they pass court, but it was a wonderful few hours. They were all so excited about their things and had such a good time and I just felt great handing everyone their presents! They were so happy!

We had gotten a soccer ball for Sintayehu in the morning and it was the best present ever. He was standing out on the grass with us while we took pictures and, all of a sudden, we heard "Papi! Papi!"

Sintayehu was standing behind Marc with the ball and trying to get him to play catch. It was amazing, hearing him call Marc papi so soon.

Between taking pictures for families, the two of them played catch with the soccer ball and it melted my heart.

We only had a few hours and then we got ready to leave. Sintayehu began to scream hysterically when we went to put him in the car. I think he knew what was going on. One of the men who was there began to cry a bit, too, and I think they two of them had formed a good bond. I started to cry, too, and I honestly wondered if we were doing the right thing, but once we got into the car and started moving, Sintayehu just buried his head against my shoulder and fell asleep for the ride back to the hotel. Don't ask me how he managed that since the ride was so bumpy, but he did.

We decided to order room service for dinner rather than going anywhere and I think that was a good thing. Sintayehu hid in the bedroom, though Marc got him to play a bit with his matchbox cars and crayons. We had to lure him into the main room with pieces of bread and I ended up sitting on the floor by the bed feeding him spaghetti, which he ate quite willingly. He just didn't want to come out of the bedroom.

Once he ate, he was a bit more willing to do things. We got him naked and gave him a bath. He liked it, but he didn't like washing his hair. I know that sounds weird, but he didn't smell like my kid (he still doesn't yet) and I really wanted him to. Once the bath was over, there was a ring of dirt in the tub. We'll try for his nails in the morning.

Bedtime was actually really easy. He laid down in his crib and went to sleep after about twenty minutes of playing with two cars and a stuffed fish. He has a bad cold, so he's snoring, and he fell asleep with a matchbox car clutched in each fist. Adorable.

I doubt I'll sleep (but I do) and we end up sleeping for almost 11 hours.

I know they do the best they can at the Transition home. The kids are given medical care, food, clothing, and shelter, and there are so many of them that individual attention must be hard to give. And it shows. I can tell in how he interacts with me that he expects me to take food away from him (like the other kids) or toys and it'll take time for him to get used to the fact that I won't do that.

We've had a very overwhelming day. And now we're a family, for better or for worse.

March 9, 2009 - Meeting our son for the First Time!

Allright, I know I'm late and I know you guys were waiting. We had no internet connection at the hotel from Tuesday until Friday so I made outlines to write my blogs from when I got home. So they'll all be posted today and you'll have to read them all at once instead of one at a time while I was over there. Sorry about that! I hope they're just as much fun, though!

This is actually a continuation of the previous post, talking about the rest of that Monday.

Health update on Stephanie: I still have intestinal problems. I know it's not the ET food, since I started having trouble in New York. Must be stress. At least, that's what I hope it is.

Robel picked us up at the hotel about 11 and we met Duni at the Hilton and did our paperwork, which was remarkably easy with only one family. The food wasn't too bad (which was nice after last night) and we discovered exactly why families can't stay. I guess I didn't quite understand it until Robel explained it. Foreign dignitaries stay at the Hilton (you'll see why) and because of that, the Ethiopian government does not want adoptive families staying there because it might give the wrong impression. Lots of white people with black kids could look bad to other countries, even if the rules are very strigent and there's very little child-traficking that occurs. The government just wants to preserve Ethiopia's image. I can understand that, but the Hilton was really nice...

After lunch (we could hardly stand it) we went to the Transition Home for the first heart was pounding so hard I began crying when we first drove through the gate. We walked through the home, led by a nanny, to the toddler room where all the kids were lined up in front of the fireplace and I was so completely overcome, I didn't even recognize our boy at first. He was a bit fussy since he had just ogtten up from a nap and didn't want to talk to us at first, but after a few minutes, a nanny led him over to us and we got to spend our first minutes together...

We had about a half hour with him, just us. He had a piece of comb and really wanted me to comb his hair, so I did...

And once we had a bit of time with him, they let the other toddlers into the room. You know that lady who has fourteen kids under the age of six? We felt like her! All of a sudden, there were small children crawling all over us, clamoring for attention, stealing toys from each other, and wanting to touch us. It was overwhelming and I bet, had there been more families, it wouldn't have been quite so terrifying. And I say terrifying in a nice way, really. We spent about three hours with all of them together and I got some GREAT pictures of the toddlers in groups, but I can't post them here, since not all of them have referrals yet, so they don't have families.

This was the living room and toddler sleeping area where we spent some time. See how many cribs are in there? No wonder he doesn't like sleeping alone.

Anyway, after a few hours, we left to go back to the hotel to get cleaned up to go to dinner. Since Robel wasn't feeling well and Duni was quite busy, Futuna took us to Yod Abyssinia for a traditional Ethiopian meal. And let me just say, we didn't like it. The Berbere spice they put in everything made Marc feel rather ill and I just don't particularly like injera. Oh well, we tried. The restaurant was fabulous for the entertainment, though, so we enjoyed ourselves even if we hardly ate anything.

This is a picture of the dancers doing a traditional tribal wedding, which was very entertaining.

We went back to the hotel about 9:30 or so to go to sleep. They delivered a crib today and its at the end of the bed. I'm scared out of my mind since tomorrow, he comes back to the hotel with us. Will he even like us? Guess we'll find out!

Something I learned: Do NOT go anywhere without toilet paper in your pocket. Wipes, kleenexs, anything. There wasn't any toilet paper in the Transition Home bathroom (Robel says this was an oversight) and I had the problem at several other bathrooms, too. They have little sprayers to clean yourself off, but when you're sick, those do no good. Put the TP in your pocket when you get there and keep making sure it's still there!

A note: The guys unloading our luggage at the airport thought the Susan Parr luggage tags were awesome. One of them was already using one as a badge and one of the other guys begged one off me. I gave him one and he was so proud! Someone should ask Susan if you can have more luggage tags and take them just for the guys at the airport. He didn't want a tip, he just wanted my luggage tag!

Monday, March 9, 2009

First Night at the Hotel

These are some words of wisdom for those who follow after. By the way, who DOES follow after? We're just wondering what time they'll get here on Saturday, since we'll still be here!

The matresses at the hotel are just a thin (three inches) pad over a box spring. They are quite hard (In fact, Mom, I think the mattress at your house is more comfortable...hahahaha). If you like hard mattresses, you'll be in heaven. If not...well...the couch isn't much better. :) We'll get used to it, I'm sure. We still slept for 11 hours last night since we were so tired. Took melatonin about twenty minutes before bed, like the doctor recommended, and it seemed to work, too. Also, we've been taking the low-dose aspirin and drinking lots of water and so far no problems with the altitude.

Bring PB and Jelly with you! We, unlike some of the families, did NOT like the restaurant for dinner. In fact, neither or us could eat what we ordered. If we'd have ordered the spaghetti, we would probably have been okay. I'll keep you posted on that.

If you bring a power strip, remember to bring a converter to change a three-prong plug to a two-prong. We have the power strip, but no converter, so it's useless. Oh well.

IPOD speakers would be really nice to have, so if you have them, I'd bring them.

There's a hot water tank over the shower that's about 30 gallons or so. Both Marc and I took hot showers this morning and we didn't run out, which was nice. If you take really long showers, though, you might want to alternate who goes first. Otherwise, you should be fine.

And it's really nice to have toilet paper we brought with us. They provide it at the hotel, of course, but it's quite thin and not the most comfortable thing in the world. A few rolls from home would be a good thing.

So we've had breakfast this morning and it was quite good. The chef made us some scrambled eggs and they were really tasty. In addition to that, we had fried bananas, a fried dough round that was similar to a cake doughnut, fried potatoes, corn flakes (milk was a little warm) and some fresh pineapple. It was good, which was nice considering last night.

Last night, I ordered Ethiopian Tibes, which was a beef with peppers and a green chili sauce, which sounded really good. It came with injera. Marc ordered kebabs with a vegetable rice. He couldn't even take more than a bite of his and said the meat tasted off. I took a few bites, but it tasted pretty nasty. So we begged off, told the staff we'd discovered we were far too tired to eat (they were quite concerned about us not eating) and went back to the room where Marc had a milky way bar and I had a cereal bar. We were worried about the breakfast, but it was very good.

Today we meet Duni and Robel in about an hour to go to the Hilton for paperwork and lunch and then to the Transition HOME!! We'll finally meet our boy today!

Did I mention already there are three Spanish families here adopting? They're here for 10 days and they have four boys between them, a one-year old, two four-year-olds, and a seven-year old. They'll be here all week, so there will be other families around, even if it's hard for us to communicate that well. One of the men speaks some English and I speak a smattering of Spanish, so we got a bit of a conversation done this morning (thanks, Dora the Explorer).

I'll try to write more tonight. I'll blog before I go to bed, about the home and about the dinner they're taking us to later at Yod Abbyssinia.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Safety First

Okay, I debated leaving this out, but it's too funny. No other family that's stayed at the Addis View has mentioned it and I think they MUST have looked in the drawers, but...

We looked in the drawers for a bible and we found....strawberry and banana flavored condoms. Now these could have been something that a visitor left behind, but remember I said we changed rooms? We found the same (well, not exactly) condoms in both rooms, so it must be an amenity the hotel offers. What with the nature of AIDS in Africa, I'm not surprised, but strawberry and banana?

Hope you're at least grinning, if not laughing out loud. Talk about something unusual.

We're here!

All right, there's a LOT to blog about today. I am sitting in the lobby of the Addis View hotel and it is a lovely day. But let me start with Friday night.

Security was relatively painless and checking in was easy enough that after we got our bags on board, we got some dinner and went back to the Oasis lounge to eat.

We boarded our plane to Dubai at 11:00 at night and it was a HUGE plane. Pete is so right, the entertainment system is fantastic. I fiddled around with it for awhile and then realized what I really needed to do was sleep, so I managed to get a bit of shut eye and faded in and out until about 7 in the morning, New York time. Not bad, not bad. They gave us eye masks and dimmed the lights in the cabin (complete with stars on the ceiling) so that we could all fool ourselves. Our seat mate was a nice guy who was flying on to India the next day. It was good to have someone nice sitting there, considering I was stuck in the middle.

Anyway, for those of you thinking of traveling, I would HIGHLY recommend Emirates Air. Their service was great, the food was very yummy (yes, they proved the stereotype of terrible airline food completely wrong) and the people were so nice. When one of the stewardesses found out we were adopting, she brought us a huge bag of puppets and coloring books (which I then forgot on the next flight...darnit) and made me cry. It was so wonderful.

When we arrived in Dubai, we hitched a ride on the shuttle to the hotel and checked in, then decided to grab a quick bite to eat in the restaurant. We grabbed a couple bananas and then hired a cab to take us to Mall of the Emirates, where the ski slope is. We walked around for awhile and watched the skiiers and even had some ice cream. And Dad, the lemon custard ice cream in Dubai is the best I've ever had. We went back to the hotel about 11:00 or so and tried to sleep, but some guy was making lots of noise in the hallway so we didn't get that much.

We got a quick breakfast this morning, then it was off to the airport once more for our flight to Addis Ababa. As we packed up our stuff, we realized we'd lost our camera the night before, so we ended up having to buy a new camera at the airport. Oh well, if that's the only problem we have, it's no big deal.

In the holding area at the airport, we met a single mom and her friend, on their way to pick up a little girl through Hannah's Hope. Hey Sunday!! I hope your time in ET was absolutely fantastic and maybe we'll meet up in the states sometime. It was nice to talk to another mommy-to-be about the weird thoughts we were both having.

We managed to stay awake in the plane by watching James Bond and in no time at all, we were flying over the coast of Eritrea and into Ethiopia. I could see it from the air and I choked up several times. This wild beautiful country, where my son was born, seems so amazing, even just seeing it from the air.

Customs was pretty easy and it didn't take long to get all our luggage (which all arrived!) and find our driver to the hotel. Once there, our first room had two twin beds, which sort of upset me since I'd like to be in the same bed as the hubby. Luckily, they agreed to switch us to another room, which also was a better room. 504, for those of you coming after. It's got a good view. Finagle your way into it. :)

Marc took a short nap while I exchanged some money for birr, managed to send an email, and asked for a hotpot. You've got to ask for them if you don't have one in there. No signs of bedbugs at all, though the beds are really firm. If you like that, you'll be happy.

At about 2:00, I called Duni to find out if there was anything we could do and she told us to call Alazar for a driver. We did and we got a GREAT (not suicidal) driver to pick us up at 3:00 for a trip to the National Museum (tickets were 20 birr) and Trinity Cathedral (Haile Sellasie's burial place). The museum was not what I expected, but since I'm a museum person, that's not surprising. Lucy (the fossil hominid) is there, though currently she's visiting Seattle so we just saw a replica. Yes, that's right...the ONE thing I REALLY wanted to see in ET (beside my son, you sillies) was in the US. *snork* How's that for silliness.

We got a tour of the cathedral, which was great and made me feel quite humble. The tickets were 60 birr for both of us, but completely worth it. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and the conversation was very informative. While we were there, they had prayer time and opened the holy of holies, where the replica of the tablets are kept. The altar is covered in silver and was given by Haile Sellasie, who is also buried there in a huge granite tomb. I would totally recommend that tour to anyone who has the time.

We also stopped by a store for bottled water, so I think we're set. Tonight we plan on eating in the hotel restaurant and tomorrow we meet Sintayehu for the first time! I hope I can sleep!

I think I might be taking a sleeping pill later...I'm exhausted, but there's so much going on I don't want to miss anything.

By the way, Addis weather is lovely. It about 70 degrees and the sun is shining (of course) and it just feels nice to walk around outside. Tomorrow, of course, I'll remember to put on sunscreen.

Signing off until I manage this again!

Friday, March 6, 2009

From NYC


We had these nice plans of watching movies while we were delayed in NYC before getting ont he massive Airbus 380 that will take us to Dubai. Unfortunately, the world conspired against us.

I could not sleep last night at all. I've had terrible butterflies in my stomach for a few days now and those made me have to get up every twenty minutes or so to pee. And if that weren't enough, I was just managing to calm myself down (about 12 midnight and we had to get up at 3) when Dagny started to cough, a croupy kind of cough. So I took her into the bathroom for a hot steam and then rested on the couch until it was time to get up. No sleeping got done at all, both for me and for Marc, so we are exhausted.

So we get to Sioux Falls at 4:30 AM and check in our bags. I had these nightmares that they would charge us hundreds of dollars for those shoes. Not quite...the shoe bag weighs in at 77 pounds. The limit is 100, so we were still good. We paid $205 in baggage fees for United, which isn't as bad as I thought it would be. Our flights were on time, well-executed, and we got to NYC at 1:30 or so, and all our bags made it safely through.

Well, we've got hours to kill before we can even check in, so we found a place to store our bags, had lunch, and then went in search of a place we could rest for awhile that wasn't a food court. We found the oasis lounge on the third/fourth floor of Terminal 4. They charge $35 per person, but it's worth it if you have a long layover. The chairs are comfortable, they have nice bathrooms with showers, a business center (with computers, which is where I'm writing from) and a library area with couches AND they have free food and drinks, including a large selection of teas and bottled water. We're thinking of watching a movie, but we will probably both fall asleep in front of the DVD screen. Of course, that might not be a bad idea...

With all the nervousness, I've made myself sick to my stomach. I've taken a bit of medicine and I'm hoping it passes before we get on the plane to go to Dubai. And I'm really hoping I can sleep on the plane. I think I'm going to try sleeping on my own and if that doesn't work, I'll take a unisom and hope it doesn't affect me like the ambien did last time I tried it.

This might be the last reliable internet connection I have, but I'll make every effort to post again.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

We're GOING!!

Okay, so we're finally leaving. We leave tomorrow morning at 6:00 AM. We will see seven airports before we land in Addis Ababa at noon on Sunday. We're taking a few movies to watch on our layover in New York, which will be nine hours.

I have taken pictures of our suitcases and eventually, I'll post a packing list so you can see just how insane I am.

I'll try to post something from Ethiopia, but if not, you will all just have to wait until we get back.