Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 3

Being home has, so far, been a smooth transition. Olivia fits into our family so perfectly! All three kids are in love with her... she is a sweet, easy-going baby, making her all the more easy to love. :)

The only thing I am struggling with so far is finding my stride. Before, I had life with three kids pretty much down to a science-- I knew how to utilize my time and how much time I needed for certain tasks. Now I am trying to do everything with an infant in tow, and am finding myself much less efficient and hours can blow by without me accomplishing much of anything. Add to that the complicated task of trying to nurse a baby who has been bottle-fed most of her life, and you can see that my life (as I knew it) is in shambles.

The great thing is that it's ok, because life as I knew it with three kids is non-existent! Soon I will find a new rhythm with four kids that will be just as great. And I need to remember that this is day 3, not week 3, and that everything takes time. Especially adding a 7-month-old family member and having three of us coming off major jet lag. :)

I want to write a comprehensive post about our trip, but like I said, time is suddenly of the essence and I feel guilty even sitting down to write this post while she naps. So much to do! I will hopefully be checking back in again soon!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Thoughts

I can't sleep tonight. I keep getting up to check on the beautiful brown baby sleeping in the bassinet next to my bed. She is sleeping on her side, one hand tucked under her chin and the other sprawled to the side.

She is so beautiful and so perfect, I can't believe she's mine, ours. I want to soak up all these moments. I know in a few short days we'll be jetting back to the US and have three other adorable munchkins competing for our attention and we'll be jet-lagged out the wazoo and before I know it, 2 weeks will have gone by and I will think... were we really in Africa? Was that really me with the screaming baby, pacing the balcony? Was I really in a home in Addis Ababa, picking up my baby girl forever and always?

I am by some standards a seasoned mom. But find myself at a loss already. I have never bottle-fed a baby before. How do I warm a bottle? How many scoops of formula again? What do I do if she wakes during the night? What did the nannies do? Feed her? Ignore her? Do I wash her pretty curls or let them go for awhile? Can I use regular baby shampoo? What do I do when she gets that startled, scared look. Am I more scary to her than comforting?

I vow in my heart that she will never be left again. She won't cry herself to sleep, or have to wonder if I am coming. I don't really care if I am more scary to her than being left alone. At some point she will realize I'm her mama, and when life gets scary, I will be here. Always.

And I will tell her of the time when she was just a little thing, and her daddy and I took her from the only life she had ever known. She was scared, and she cried and cried and cried. Where were her nannies and the comforting sounds of sleeping with 14 other babies in her room? Where was the loud singing, the familiar jostling, and the dogs barking in the background? And she will laugh, because it will be her favorite story: when she came home to a mommy and daddy and two big brothers and a big sister who adore her to pieces. She will know that we wanted her so much that we flew halfway around the world to get her. And she will be our girl, forever.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

We made it to Addis Ababa! We are staying at the Yebsabi Guest House. It's COLD here, a lot more than I was expecting. I have no idea why I didn't believe the weather reports. I brought 2 long sleeve shirts, and the rest are shortsleeved. I'm sure I'll be fine. :)

Our group of 6 families finally all made it through "customs" and met our drivers last night. Last night we went to bed at 2pm EST and got up at 1:45am EST. Which is actually 9p-8:45a here, so not bad at all! I slept 2 hrs. of the Philly-Frankfort leg and then not at all from Frankfort to Addis, so it helped that I was tired. 

We are going to try going to church this am (if I can get Dan out of bed ;)) and then see what happens. Today is a down day-- our official itinerary starts tomorrow. (If you don't stay over a Saturday night, airline prices double. Go figure.) 

Anyway, the most "exciting" part of the trip thus far has been in Frankfort. They changed our gate, so we had went all the way (through security) to the wrong gate, only to be told we had to go to a completely different concourse. We RAN (literally; I had leg cramps on the plane-- how pathetic is that) about 1/2 mile with all out junk to the other security line, got bumped to the front of the line, got my breastpump bag hand-searched for the 100th time, and then RAN through the concourse all the way to the end (gate B60 if you're ever in Frankfort ;)). They had held the plane, and we straggled on and collapsed. Dan and Abby had seats together in the back, and I ended up sitting (right behind EMPTY business class, grr) next to a really nice AWAA dad who was heading to meet his wife and twin 7-mo. girls in Addis. :)

So tomorrow is our "meetcha" day!!! We FINALLY get to meet our baby girl!!! :D
More later--

Sarah

Thursday, June 17, 2010

This Is It.

Tonight is my last night tucking three cute blonde kiddos into bed.

Last night being a mom of three, in a quiet post-bedtime house.

Last time I'll drive home from the lake with a girl behind me and two boys in the back.
~~
Next time I tuck the kids into bed, I'll be the proud mama of four munchkins, including one beautiful brown baby who we can't wait to get our hands on.

Tomorrow we drive two hours to Philly, fly 8 hours to Frankfort, then 7 to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and next Friday we do it all over again in reverse. Next Saturday I'll be home and tucking four beautiful children into bed, and I'll get to do it again all summer long. All year. For years. How great is that?

I can't believe that our 19 month journey to adoption is nearly complete. We are almost done. So close. 
~~
We will have internet access at the guest house where we'll be staying, so I hope to catch a few minutes here and there to update on how the trip is going. If not, I will definitely post all about the trip when we get home! Thanks for all your thoughts, prayers and well-wishes! We love you all!!! :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Wow...

Well, the past few days has been quite the adventure. I was on a girls' weekend with two friends from St. Louis, when I got the call that Dan was being hospitalized back here in PA with unknown heart issues: irregular heart rate, chest pain and fever. Initial medical guess ranged from pleurisy to a pulmonary embolism to a heart attack. The outlook for our pending ET trip wasn't good. I quickly cut my trip short and flew home to be with Dan and the kids. And after lots and lots of testing, it turns out that he is in great cardiac shape, and that all this was due to a "perfect storm" of an asthma attack, a mutant H1N1 flu virus, and stress. Goodnight!!! He has one more EKG tomorrow, just to make sure they didn't miss anything, but otherwise he is cleared to go on Friday! Thank you Jesus.

Dan's mom arrives Friday around 11:30 and Dan, Abby and I leave for Philly at 1:30. (Not a lot of overlap!) We're praying that they have a peaceful week without us. We've never left them for close to 8 days before, so this will be a new experience for everyone!! And, I found out that some other parents from our agency will be flying the Philly-Frankfort and also the Frankfort-Addis leg of the journey with us! Exciting!! There is wireless internet at the guest house where we'll be staying in ET, so we're taking the laptop to hopefully have spare time (haha) to keep you all updated while we're away!!

Three days and counting! :)

Thursday, June 10, 2010

WE GOT THE CALL!!!!!!!

Today I was at the BC lake play area with my kids and a friend and her kids, when, upon one of my many daily compulsive cell phone checks, I saw I had MISSED A CALL from the (703) area code!!!!!! Horrors!!! Of course I IMMEDIATELY began listening to the voicemail, and it sounded like Theresa (our interim travel coordinator) was simply introducing herself, when suddenly she added.... "and I have some great news for you so if you could give me a call back..." at which point I abruptly ended the voicemail and hit redial... at which point I was connected to Theresa and got the big news firsthand! The embassy has finished their investigation, and we are cleared to travel and bring our baby girl home! We are taking my younger sister Abby (she's 14) with us, who will, along with her new tough-as-nails camera, be documenting our trip in picture and video! We have a call in to the travel agency to book our tickets... and we will be leaving for ET in nine days! YES!!!! I CAN'T WAIT!!! :D

Hang on, we are coming for you, sweet baby girl!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book Review: Bringing Up Girls

This was, I think, the very first book I've read by renowned author Dr. James Dobson! (I'm not sure if that's a good selling point or not. ;))

Anyway, I had no idea what to expect when I started this book, but overall, I was pleased with it. It covered, in Dobson's friendly, conversational style, many aspects that go into raising healthy girls, and while much of what he writes about seemed to be common sense (to me), there were several chapters that I read eagerly, happy to be gleaning more information about these complicated little creatures we call girls!

I especially loved his charm-bracelet story by the girl who saved herself for her future husband. What a great idea! I plan to give Hallie (and Olivia! wow! :)) similar bracelets of their own one day... if finding bracelets in that unique style is not too difficult!

I appreciated all the research Dr. Dobson went through for the writing of his book. Although sometimes reading the research behind the topics got a bit dry, it is good to know that his thoughts are based on quality research and not just ideologically driven.

Reading this book (and seeing how much of it I could mentally check off as something we are already doing or are planning to do with Hallie and/or Olivia) made me very grateful for the (mostly! ;)) grounded backgrounds that Dan and I come from. Unfortunately, not everyone has the opportunity to get off on the right parenting foot with the solid parenting that we have had in our lives. I recommend this book to anyone raising girls-- Dr. Dobson addresses a lot of good points with grace and humor, and I think you could definitely not be any worse off in your parenting for having read this book!

Book Review: I Am Hutterite

This memoir by Mary-Ann Kirkby describes her growing-up years in a conservative Canadian Hutterite community, and her struggles and insecurities in the transition to the outside world, once her parents left the community when she was 11. 

I was expecting this book to be along the lines of "Stolen Innocence" by Elissa Wall (previously of the FLDS)-- full of tragedy and human suffering. It surprised me with it's non-condemnation of the Hutterite community lifestyle, and it's open admiration for many of their traditions. I enjoyed the book, especially once I got going. At the beginning I found Mary-Ann's history of her grandparents lives somewhat dry. Also, her use of the German-based Hutterite language throughout the book, especially the more frequent usages in the beginning of the book, disrupt the flow of reading and become merely a nuisance to be skipped over while reading. Overall I enjoyed the book and found it an interesting read.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Stream of Consciousness Post (but aren't they all?) :)

I talked to our social worker today. She said that she was really surprised that we hadn't gotten "the call" yet, (the one saying we are done our embassy investigation and cleared to travel) but that possibly because of the Memorial holiday (which some Ethiopians apparently take time off for as well), our investigation hasn't been officially closed. She said we should absolutely be expecting to travel on the 19th so... we are! Two weeks from tomorrow, we're coming for you, baby girl!

I have planned a girls' getaway weekend with two friends, which is next weekend! I am very excited about getting away for a few days before we go get our baby girl.... mostly because this will be my first ever mom's time away, and also because I  know I won't be getting the chance to get away again for a long time! And also because when I get home we'll be (hopefully!) just 6 days from ET! Woooo! (And also because it will be fabulous to spend time doing nothing but exactly what I feel like doing at any given moment!!) What a concept.

I am loving my garden this year. I have planted (with the kids' help, of course) broccoli, sweet yellow peppers, carrots, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, peas, beans, pumpkins, basil and (tomorrow), summer squash and zucchini will join the crew. Will's personal addition was sunflowers. Not the small kind, but the giant 6' tall kind. Natch.  Additionally, my perennial bed is doing so well! It has made leaps and bounds since its modest beginnings last year. It's silly, but I love going out and dead-heading and poking around and well, just standing and beaming very maternally at my pretty plants that are just growing so bountifully. Pathetic, I know. But I don't care. :)

Today when I got the mail there were several Priority Mail packages from other adoptive families for whom we're taking care packages over to ET. There was also a Priority Mail box from one of my friends in STL.... strange, I thought. What could she be sending me?! Turns out, it was a lovely package for Olivia-- a beautiful dress, and a headband with a big pink daisy! And, she included matching daisy clips for Hallie and me, which we promptly modeled and tried on different sides of our heads... and talked about how we only have a few more weeks till we can, all three of us Block girls, wear our daisies together. It was my first "new baby" gift for Miss Livi Lou, (besides from my mom, of course) and I was (and am) so thrilled. Thank you, Mindy. You made my day! :)

Our community has this fun little summer tradition where on Friday nights, families gather at the beach by Bear Creek lake in an impromptu, neighborly, bring-your-own-pizza picnic dinner. The kids eat pizza and run and laugh and swim and play ball while the adults stand around and socialize and keep a general eye on the younger ones. It is a fun and relaxing way to usher in the weekend, and when we drive home in the dusk, with dirty, tired, happy kids, I'm reminded of just why I love summers in Bear Creek so very much!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are We... Aren't We... ??

So our social worker told us a few days ago that if we're going to be traveling this Saturday, we should have THE CALL by today or tomorrow. So we're halfway through this two-day waiting game... if they don't call tomorrow, we will be expecting to travel in two weeks, on June 19.

In other news, Will and I only have about two days of official school left till we wrap up 36 weeks of Kindergarten! Dan and I are going to take him out for dinner to celebrate. I am so proud of the way he has tackled school this year! Not only has he memorized 26 Bible verses (with references!) and the poem "Trees", he can read at a 3rd grade level and works hard at every subject we tackle. His hands-down favorite subject is Science. (It is a pretty fun science curriculum, I must admit...) His and Hallie's books for next year arrived a few days ago and Hallie is sooo excited about starting school with Will in the fall. She has been sitting down with us the past few days, pulling out her new books and begging to "do school." Ahh if that would only last forever! :)

This adoption travel limbo-land we are in is a bit frustrating at times. It's hard to plan ahead AT ALL, not knowing if we'll be here next week or not, and not knowing really anything until right up until the last minute! I am trying hard to remain flexible, take a big-picture view, and not stress about the details. I am a pretty good last-minute packer, although I haven't tried it on an international trip in awhile... and then I have to pack for the baby too! I should probably just do that now so her bag is ready whenever it is we end up going.

So. That's it for now. I'll be sure to update as soon as we hear anything!!