Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Road Home and the Good Samaritans

Starting at 5PM Ethiopian time (3AM PST) on Thursday, October 27th, Isaac and I began our journey home.  We arrived at 6PM PST on Friday, October 28th.

This was two days early because for some wonderful reason, his Visa was issued a day early, the appointments I had made were all on on the Wednesday and there were seats available on all of the flights home on Thursday.  Friday's Delta doesn't offer flights out of Addis, so I was thankful we were able to leave on Thursday!  Also, this gave us two extra days at home with Daddy and Dane before we had to start the medical appointments and then Daddy is only able to take three days off, so that gives us five days as a family!

One of the things I am really not good at is asking for help.  I generally think I can do everything myself.  So this trip was a bit of a social experiment, because I chose to say yes to ANY offer of help that was made.

So I thought I would make a list of the "Good Samaritans" along the way:
  • Mike and Lauren for letting me eat meals with them in Ethiopia,
  • Hareq for shopping for me, taking care of me, and helping me make decisions on the gifts when we didn't have enough for everyone,
  • Mr. Allemu, our attorney, who made sure that all of my requests were met, and that our safety was insured,
  • Tefasa, Mr. Allemu's assistant, for driving us anywhere and everywhere we needed and keeping us secure,
  • Firegent for making sure I had clean clothes, cleaning my room and the guest house and helping Isaac feel more comfortable as he transitioned to me.
  • Regatu for being like a Mom and making sure I got a good healthy breakfast to start the day,
  • Sister B for helping Isaac and I make connections and allowing me to explain how to use the medicines I brought, as well as the medicines she already had,
  • All of the caregivers at the foster home, the security guards, the servers at the restaurants, and the store owners who helped me select items for Isaac to remember his homeland,
  • The KLM agent at the Hilton who helped me move our flights and got us great seats!
  • The gentleman who helped me with my luggage, finding me a seat while I waited for the check in line, getting me to the front of the check in line, and kept telling Isaac everything was okay in Amharic,
  • The customs officials in Ethiopia for letting me go to the front of the line because Isaac is not a huge fan of strollers,
  • The bathroom attendant in Addis for holding Isaac while I went to the bathroom (those stalls are seriously small) and this was seriously the most nerve wrecking part.  It proved to me that praying while peeing is okay,
  • The security officer for helping me through the gate security early,
  • The boarding agent who helped me to my seat on my flight from Addis to Amsterdam,
  • The gentlemen who sat next to me on the flight from Addis to Amsterdam who helped me with everything and didn't complain that a person in the middle seat had a child in her lap,
  • The flight attendant from Addis to Amsterdam that got Isaac a bassinet and let him sleep in it on the floor.
  • Isaac for not crying on this flight, at all.
  • The gate agents who helped me off the flight and helped me figure out the gate for our next flight was across the hall and where we could get a bite to eat,
  • The Amsterdam restaurant server who brought me our food and drinks, even though that wasn't the norm and she was really busy, 
  • The AMS to SEA gate agents that let us through security and board early,
  • The Ethiopian/US Citizen who helped explain to Isaac what was happening on this flight while in the boarding area,
  • The next Ethiopian/US Citizen we met who sat next to us on the plane.  He works for a company I work with and we were able to chat about the oil industry a bit.  Then anything and everything he could do to help with Isaac, he was on it.  For the 10 hour flight.  He's a saint.
  • The funny immigration officer in Seattle who made the two hour wait less painful with his wit, eventually making fun of a grown man who didn't want to wait and be patient telling him that Isaac was more of a man than him.  It probably sounds awful, but it was actually pretty funny.  The guy was being a baby.
  • The customs agent who decided that we didn't need to go through an additional search.  Not that he would have found anything, but we were tired and hungry and it must have shown.
  • The Horizon flight attendants for helping us out to the plane in Seattle, then back in, then back out.  And then when there were four people in the same seat as us, they fixed it and made it so that Isaac and I didn't have to move. Again.
  • The nice lady next to me for taking all of my luggage while I carried Isaac to his Daddy and brother.
  • For Kevin and Dane being right there waiting for us past security,
  • For PaPa Jerry to be there to take pictures when we arrived,
  • For the crowd of people with signs and there to welcome us.
  • And the many, many people who prayed for up to and through this journey.
It's hard to explain how each and everyone of these people made this trip happen, but while I don't know a lot of your names, thank you!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What's the Embassy Like You Ask???

It's just a jump to the left, and then a step to the right...
"Let's do the time warp again."
Time Warp Video...

No, the US Embassy is actually very nice and probably one of the newer buildings here.  It's illegal to take photos, so just close your eyes imagine a nice government building.

Now, look up to the TV monitor in the DMV style seating area and see the movie "Rocky Horror Picture Show." Now try explaining this movie to your attorney and his assistant while holding a sleeping child when he has no cultural reference.

Yes, that is how I spent part of my afternoon.

And in case you were wondering, US Citizens get priority admittance, so while I felt like a schmuck cutting in front of 200 people, I didn't feel bad enough to go to the end of the line.

Current status - Awaiting Isaac's Visa.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

48 Hours - Ethiopian Style

In the last 48 hours, I have (in the following order):
  • Met and befriended a National Geographic photographer (or maybe he has befriended me),
  • Flown over 10,000 miles,
  • Learned some interesting tidbits about Ethiopian politics,
  • Learned how to put on flip flops while wearing socks (it's about force and determination),
  • Unpacked and repacked 4 suitcases,
  • Listened to beautiful music from a local mosque and orthodox church, at the same time, 
  • Reunited with our son Isaac who was warm with welcomes and ready for me!
  • Fed Isaac for the first time!  And it was to the point where he was telling me "more, more" (when before he would look at us like we are crazy to think he would ever eat with us),
We like the fishes 'cuz they're so delicious...

  • Was asked by a woman living on the streets to take her children please (in English, probably the only English she knows),
  • Seen the family from Wisconsin who had a very sick four month old in the hospital when we left trip.  I am happy to say have two healthy children and are here to take home them home! (I'm pretty sure our cases got grouped with theirs and that is why our paperwork moved extraordinarily quick).
  • Took and sent pictures of the children from the foster home who's parents we met when we were here last time.  Their camera has been broken, and as I found out today, Isaac broke it, so they should be better off tomorrow since I have a new camera for them!
  • Spoke with Kevin and Dane and Dane told me he wishes he could jump far enough to get over here to give me a biiiiiggggg hug!

So let's just say it's been an emotional two days, but I am happy to have been blessed with them!

Friday, October 21, 2011

SOS (EEEA) Commence...

After a brief stop in Seattle, it's almost time to head to the airport and get rolling.  This week was VERY busy, including trying to get the last minute items complete and finishing up work projects, house projects and some good family bonding before our entire world changes.  Sorry for the lack of sharing this part of the journey.  Two almost overnighters catching up on work really made it so that I didn't get around to blogging...

We received a wonderful anonymous card in the mail with a $500 check.  I opened it a couple hours after some not so nice things were said/done to me, and I got pretty choked up.  I stand in awe to think of how awesome this person is and how God has blessed us by their presence and at just the right time.  The day before I left.  Since the garage sale we have had several donations that have now made it so the water project will move forward.  I will meet with the attorney's in Addis Ababa and discuss what the best way to handle it.  Clean water seems so simple here, but it's really not across the rest of the world.  We buy water out of bottles, they get water out of contaminated lakes, rivers or non-sterilized rain catcher tanks.  Given the drought in Northern Africa right now, the rain catchers are not able to be used as much, so this leads to finding other sources of water, which leads to more illnesses.  We are so blessed to have the "guarantee" that water will come out of the faucet when we turn or pull up the handle and the rarity that that water will contain a parasite, etc.

All of the support (financially, emotionally, timewise, etc.) that you have provided is helping us to help others, which is what it's all about right?  We aren't here on this planet to become self absorbed and self loathing, but to be a blessing to others.  (Yes, I claim Abraham's promise!)  We feel to blessed to have this opportunity and to be getting Isaac so much sooner than we expected!

So what we would ask for you to keep in your thoughts and prayers are:
  • Dane to know he is loved through this transition and for him to not feel marginalized,
  • Isaac to be able the grieve the losses he is about to experience, but to embrace the love he is about to encounter,
  • For my safety and health during the trip and when I return,
  • For Kevin and Dane to get alone wonderfully and be prepared for our return,
  • For my trip to be fruitful and for Isaac and I to bond, specifically for him to trust me to eat and care for him, and
  • For God to reveal himself to us through the next stages of this process.
Again, thank you all.  I can't even explain the love and support we feel.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

5...4...Tomorrow is 3...

Wow, the countdown is on!

Lots accomplished this weekend!
  • Drop of books at The Book Parlor, and say hello to Casey!
  • Opened up the secret entrance into the boys room (the front closet opens to their closet and then into their room.  So the "passageway" is open!
  • Move the furniture around so that Isaac has his own dresser.
  • Straightened up the laundry room
  • Straightened up the guest bedroom and went through the toys and brought a bunch into the playroom!
  • Shopping for the items on "the" list
  • Weekly E-Mealz shopping trip
  • More shopping to get {almost} the last items on the list
  • New pants for Dane, that boy just keeps growing!
  • Date Night
  • Celebrate Uncle Mark's debut on the front page of the local paper!
  • Consolidating our clothes into one closet
  • Moving Patty's clothes back to the other closet because the bar in our master bedroom broke
  • A trip to Goodwill with a truck full of donations
  • Clean the deck
  • Clean the garage
  • Decide on gifts for the caregivers, Necklaces from StrangeFire Studios, made by the aunties!!!
  • Take the last items from the garage sale (wine glasses) to the neighbors, as they had asked for them
  • And the normal...Dishes, Laundry, Family Time, Reading, Cooking, Cleaning...

Dane had an ultra exciting weekend at Aunt Laura and Uncle Ryan's, staying the night Saturday night and then on Sunday going with all of the cousins and Grandma and Grandpa on a train ride to Metalline Falls. He was so tired, but he still helped with the baby proofing and putting a way of a few last items.

The last "big" project left is  cleaning my office. Well that and finishing up packing.  I'm indecisive on which bags to take, so until that is decided, I am on hold.  You would think with all of the traveling I do, this would be just a little more work, but as it turns out, it's WAAAAYYYY more work. 

With three days left, I am confident that all will be completed at home.  This week, well let's just say the fire is going to be turned up at work...Pray for me to keep me work-life balance fair for all.

Friday, October 14, 2011

T-minus 6 Days and Counting

Today was crazy.  But Awesome.
  • Work, lots of work, feeling the intensity of being gone for my leave on short notice is going to do...starting to wish I was a little less important at work.
  • Got my nails done.  Very girly thing, but for whatever reason having shiny toes makes me smile.  Hopefully it entertains toddlers for about 30 hours straight. ;)
  • Took Dane to dinner at the Ethiopian restaurant in town, Queen of Sheba.  The gal who owns it was extremely gracious and we talked about things I should buy and bring back for the little man.  She is from Awassa, which is a little further out than the orphanage Isaac was at.  She was surprised and happy to hear of the orphanage in this area!
  • Got the Chicco Stoller in the mail and tried it out.  Yes, in fact, this is the best stroller I have ever and/or will ever touch.  A must have for those who are traveling with toddlers.
  • Called Delta because they were supposed to issue paper tickets for Isaac and I don't have them.  Well, as it turns out, they can't issue one way paper tickets in the US for international travel TO the US for a person traveling on a non-US Passport unless I pay for roundtrip tickets (fun fact that I am sure I will use every day from here forward, lol!).  Then when I get home and he gets a US Birth Certificate, we get a refund for more than the difference of the ticket prices.  Go figure.  As a result, they are upgrading me and we are saving more than $300.  Yeah, I could stand to do this again.  My only "cost" is needing to arrive to the airport 15 minutes early to be sure I have time to pay for the tickets and the time I spent on the phone.
  • Found out the Seattle airport has a storage company that will hold baggage for a small fee.  For whatever reason, it was $400 cheaper for me to fly from Spokane to Seattle on Thursday and Seattle to Addis on Friday/Saturday.  So, I have to check my luggage out and then back in.  This was very time intensive in Amsterdam last time, so this way, I pickup my luggage, pay ~$15, pick it up in the AM and check it back in.  This will allow me to take the train to my brother and his girlfriend's apartment in Seattle and not have to "lug" all of that luggage around.  Most of it is return supplies for Isaac and donations for the orphanage and foster home, so I won't need it while I am there anyhow.
  • Beginnings of packing...So last time I had wanted to be very meticulous about what was packed where, etc. etc.  But it ended up Kevin did most of that packing, so it was all put in the bag, but not very organized.  I took the time to pack Isaac's items and to get the donation items together.  Let's just say I am very happy with the Rick Steve's travel cubes. :)
  • And then there was the list of items that need to be purchased.  Thank heavens it is much shorter this time!  Well that list is now ready to roll, and I'm just waiting to take action!  Dane and I have a shopping date early tomorrow AM.
  • Kevin prepared for the class he is giving the x-ray techs at work tomorrow AM.  It's something they only trust him to do and it saves the company money.  I'm a little bummed that one of the three times a year fell on our last Saturday as a family of 3, but I'll get some Dane time, so it'll be good!
  • Add to that spending quality time with the boys, and today is pretty well AWESOME!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

T-Minus One Week...

A church meeting tonight
Go through open work projects
Keep going through checklist, open items and more
Trying to get lots of sleep
Trying not to stress
Spending lots of time in prayer
Spending as much time with big brother (Dane) as possible
And ready to begin S.O.S.E.E.A.A.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Weekend, Scmeekend

Scary Pumpkin Skeleton, held by World Renowned Wrestler Dane Michael Hendrickson
The accomplishments over the weekend were minimal compared to the rest of the week, but it's strongly outweighed by Patty's very much needed 20 hour nap!
But we were able to:
  • Get both vehicles back in the garage (just in time for it to start freezing here!),
  • Take care of some ministry work at church,
  • Contact some grandparents who aren't electronically connected to let them know we are going to get Isaac,
  • Put the door stop back on the front door that has been broken since 2007!!!
  • Talk to another adoptive family that is looking at going with the same agency and had some questions on the process and how things worked.
  • And best of all, spend some quality time together!
 And then today, Patty went to the doctor and got clearance to fly on the 20th, along with six prescriptions. A trip to the pharmacy, well actually two that were funnier than snot (yes, snot).  And some more work accomplishments.

This next weekend Aunt Laura and Uncle Ryan will take Dane overnight and then Grandma will take Dane on a train ride in the morning and then come back and exhaust us with all of his exciting news of the weekend.  And of course, we will get to spend some time together without the kiddo which will be a nice break from Phineas and Ferb (although lately, I've been turning it to PnF when I'm all alone, so I guess there's a risk we might be watching it then).

I'm not counting the days until I leave, but instead the days until we come home, so we are 20 days from Isaac's gotcha day, the day he becomes a US Citizen, the day we have all been waiting for.  I feel like I need an "American"playlist on the iPod to play for him as we are walking through the customs gate in Seattle, as I am sure the person there will probably not give him the "Welcome to the USA" that Mommy would want for him.  And if he's crying too loud, then I can listen to it and pretend he's enjoying it too. :)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Busy as a Beaver...Or a Crocodile as Dane Likes to Say

More and More and More....That's what it feels like:
  • New Mirror for the F150, oil change and troubleshooting on issue
  • Made a GREAT stew!  Everyone ate it without complaint!
  • Lots more work-work accomplished and a big project is winding down!
  • Kevin had 2x as many patients as a normally busy day, 4 of them new patients!
  • Made a fun project with Dane that is a game too.  Seems kinda like he makes up the rules as he goes, but that's okay.  It's fun.
  • Purchase the stroller and final decor (including bedding) for they boys' bedroom (this was painful, as I had to make sure I got the best deal on everything, and probably spent 10 hours over the last two weeks on searching upon searching)
  • The boys put the train set back together in the playroom.
  • Taught Dane some things you can and can't do with little brothers.  (Yes to putting weird socks on them, no to spitting in their eyes - You're welcome Paul) ;)
  • Camera for the Foster Home arrived!
  • Laundry supplies arrived!
  • Bought supplies for orphanage at Spokane Discount.
  • And re-prioritized list of things to do before we leave.
  • I'm working on ordering photos to put in the frames we have had for a while and finish up some decor around the house I have bought, but never put up. 
Tomorrow's agenda includes some big items on the list, and we hope to take Dane to eat at the local Ethiopian Restaurant and explain to him how the food tastes different and how this will be what Isaac is used to and what all of our food will seem like to him (strange, flavorful, and sometimes hurt a boys tummy).

I'm thinking it will seem like a million times busier every day with two busy little boys, but I can't wait!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nesting, eh?

It feels like I am nesting right now...So many things on my mind to be done, this deadline quickly approaching (two weeks exactly until I take off), and accomplishing a ton!

It's 51 degrees here today and 72 in Addis.  I'm thinking Isaac's going to need a coat right away!

Today's list, for your viewing pleasure:
  • Car's 36k service + battery check + oil change + alignment = good to go!
  • Major progress at work!
  • Some reports for church complete,
  • Go through and sort ALL of the kids clothes, shoes, etc. downstairs and FOUND...
  • Halloween costumes, shoes, blankets for the orphanage, hats, bottles, toys,
  • And lots and lots of memories thinking of Dane wearing those clothes, oh man...
  • And the best part, is that they are now all organized by size, in bins, with the smallest on top and largest on bottom, so when we need them it should be a quick change out!  I thought I had done this when I put them away, but it appears that I may have been really tired when I put his clothes away!
So Isaac's first full day in the US, he will either be a bumble bee or cookie monster...just depends on his size. :)

It's beginning to look a lot like October.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Today's Accomplishments

  • Clean my work desk
  • Get the truck recall taken care of (have to return for the mirror, boo-hiss)
  • Check in with the Adoption Agency
  • Get an update on Isaac's health
  • Mail packages with pictures to Grandmas
  • Pull out 18 month toys from the basement
  • Look/find shoes and coat for Isaac in our basement.
I also successfully made dinner, went to Egger's for meat, finished two books, worked, breathed, saved Dane from his brilliant idea of putting soap in his eyes, cleaned the kitchen and didn't have any panic attacks.  Yes, that is success!!!

Yesterday's Accomplishments :)

  • Dane's annual pediatric appointment
  • Isaac's first pediatric appointment
  • Isaac's first dental appointment
  • My hair cut appointment
  • Truck recall/oil change/mirror replacement appointment
  • Car <36k appointment - Goodbye warranty. :(
Used Carter's website to determine the clothing size Isaac is wearing
Went through 18 months clothes and pulled out the clothes to take there
Updated list of items to take
Put together packages to mail out
Sent the list of requests to the adoption agency for the trip, and
Had a margarita to celebrate the accomplishments of the day!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Phineas and Ferb

Things done today, outside of work, meetings, dinner, breakfast, breathing and showering:
  • Make a list of things to do and prioritize
  • Power of Attorney written, copies made - Check
  • Schedule air duct cleaning - Check
  • Review documents to take to Ethiopia - Check
  • Freak out (a little more than a little) - Check
  • Family Fun Time - Check
 We just figured out how we are going to get everything done in time...
"So stick with us, 'cuz Phineas and Ferb are gonna do it all"

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Special Operation Swift Espresso Eclipse Extraction Addition

We got THE call, we can now go pick up Isaac!!!!

I was reading a blog of another couple who adopted from the same foster home and they started naming each step toward bringing their boys home in terms of special operations, so I decided I would hop on that bandwagon.  It often seems like a special operation with all of the planning, paperwork, sign off, coordination, etc.!!!  Each of the names of the operation were used to describe real special ops involving Ethiopia over the last fifty years by the US and/or the UN.

A few weeks ago in church, we were taking about what types of jobs people are "called" to vs. getting a job etc.

So when we "got THE call" I had to laugh a bit.  We are still ironing out the details, but Special Operation Swift Espresso Eclipse Extraction Addition (SOSEEEA for short) is in full planning mode.

Isaac will be home in time for the next widely celebrated holiday in the US.  In fact, his first full day in the US will be Halloween.  Hopefully we don't have any scarey trick or treaters.

We can't explain how or why, but the Embassy completed their investigation approximately 5 1/2 months early.  No one here is complaining, in fact, we are pretty ecstatic.  But of course, that will make for a very busy next 2 1/2 weeks as we prepare.  We almost have the boys' rooms ready to go, the fridge is cleaned, we have begun shopping for the items the foster home and orphanage have put on the list as needed, so the only thing we might be behind on is sleep.

Anyhow, thought we should share the good news!