Sunday, May 30, 2010

Learning Language- Words

I wanted to track Sweet M*'s English, so I decided I would post it occasionally so I can later look back at his progress. I think he is doing pretty well. He understands a lot and he can say new words daily. So far he has learned to say... I love you, please, thank you, more, all done, yummy, yucky, fast, car, airplane, helicopter, good morning, sleeping, dragon, mickey, goofy, baby, cooking, cold, hot, glasses, later, carpet, outside, inside, up, mommy, daddy, water, park, dog, cat, help, 1...2...3...4, a...b...c...d & no. If anyone has any suggestions on helping kids learn English please share them with me. Thanks!
I forgot he can also say hello (thank you Megan), good bye, splash, wash, shirt, pants, jacket, jump & yogurt.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ethiopia Days 3 & 4

Ethiopia Days 3 & 4
(Hubby and Captain in front of the Guest House Door)
(Good Bye Coffee Ceremony at the WACAP House)
(Learning how to blow bubbles)
(He felt so cool in mom's glasses)
(Laughing with mom- a first)
(Daddy and Sweet M*- he loved it on Daddy's shoulders)
(Out with the Travel Group at the Cultural Dinner)
(Lots of Yummy Ethiopian Food)
(Traditional Ethiopian Dancing)
(Captain slept through the WHOLE thing... dancing, loud music, horn and all)

We mainly just hung out at the WACAP house on our 3rd and 4th days in Ethiopia. Sweet M* learned how to blow bubbles and he would go to Captain when he needed help. He would also allow Hubby or I to console him when he got upset and it was the first time he was actually sad when we had to leave. That made it really hard to drive away and I felt like I really needed to take custody at that point. But, we still had our big trip to Awassa to visit his original orphanage, so I had no choice but to leave him.

On one of the evenings we went out to the Cultural Dinner and Dancing. I think that was one of my favorite moments in Ethiopia. The food was delicious and we were able to see some of the coolest dancing ever. They can jump, shake and do some things that don't seem humanly possible (or at least without breaking your shoulder or neck)... but anyway it was really fun. Captain was so tired though that he slept right after he ate. It was so loud inside the restaurant, but he slept like a baby.

I noted in my journal how safe I felt in Ethiopia, and I wanted to make sure I mentioned it so any families learning about the process or in process reading my blog. I know when we began the process to adopt we were nervous about the travel, and I imagine others behind me may have the same sort of feelings. I cannot say it enough... I am SO glad we decided to both travel and bring Captain. The people are so nice in Ethiopia, and they were always willing to go out of their way to help us wherever we went. Yes there is poverty, yes there are people sleeping on the streets. But, I honestly felt much safer walking the streets in Addis than I do in LA or New York. I would encourage anyone in process that may be nervous to be BRAVE. You will not regret your experience In Ethiopia.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ethiopia Day 2

Our 2nd Day in Ethiopia
(Captain and I on the street outside the Guest House)
(Yes more soda... oh well.)
(Traditional Hand Washing before a Meal)
(Injera, Tibs and Shiro = YUM!)
(The Super Star Kick... inside the transition house gates)
(Getting to know each other)
(Mom loves the cuddle time)
(Dad's Turn)
(He thought the Rocket Balloons were Hilarious)
(These two were buddies right away- they are still very close)
(Images of the city on the way back to the Guest House)

The second day in Ethiopia was fantastic. We woke up to birds chirping and freshly made avocado juice. Ha! But, really the juice was pretty good once you add the lime slice like they tell you to. After breakfast we were taken to the Ethiopian Cultural Museum which I loved!!! We hired a guide to take us through and I was so thankful we did bc I loved listening to all of the history behind each piece. The museum is very different than at home bc everything is just right there within arms length. It was amazing to see all of the artifacts and learn some history. Lucy was on display in the U.S. so we just saw the replicas, but I didn't care. After the museum we ate lunch at a traditional Ethiopian restaurant. It was delicious. Hubby and I decided that our restaurants should start to offer the hand washing it just felt so good to have freshly washed hands at the table... okay my hands are normally clean before I eat that just sounded bad. But, for whatever reason it just feels better the way they do it ;)

After our meal we were taken back to the WACAP House. On our second meeting we witnessed Sweet M* speaking his language and we were able to hold him close a few times. It felt so good to really hold him close finally, but it is hard to explain exactly what it felt like bc we just didn't really know each other yet. This visit was really long which was great, but I remember being really ready to take custody (so I thought) bc it was just difficult to hang out for so long with out comforts of drinks or snacks etc... Especially for Captain. By the time we arrived back at the Guest House we were very tired and hungry. We grabbed some Italian food from the restaurant down the street and then stopped by the internet cafe to call Cuddlebear and Belle. It felt SO GOOD to finally talk to them again. It was so easy to communicate when we were in Dubai and this was the first time we were able to talk to them since we had arrived in Ethiopia and it was much needed. They were doing fine.. but it was me that really needed to hear their voices and know that they really were okay.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mystery Morning

Mystery morning... Where are we going???

Okay all set up... good seats, warm blankets and donuts
But, wait... Where are the Hot Air Balloons???

No worries. The kids still had a blast!!!
This morning we set off on a mystery morning adventure. We jumped in the car still wearing our pj's, picked up some donuts and headed out to the wineries to watch the hot air balloons. The kids had no idea what we were doing or where we were going, and they had a blast trying to guess. Once we found a good spot we parked and hopped into the truck bed and fed the kiddos some donuts. They LOVED it!!! Only problem... there were no hot air balloons out this morning. No worries though with 4 kiddos there is always lots of laughter.

Day 6
(In front of the airport after arriving in Ethiopia)
(First sights while driving to the Guesthouse)
(Our view from the Guesthouse)(Captain enjoying his Coca Cola he LOVED the Amharic writing on it)
(Our first coffee ceremony- this one was at the Guesthouse)(Walking into the Transition House)
(First time meeting Sweet M*)
(He showed us the goodies from the gift bag we sent him- he is wearing the shirt we sent)
(Enjoying a ring pop with Captain)
(We also sent a card that played music and had our voices on it- he LOVED it)(Hanging out with the boys)
(One on one with mom)

Our first day in Ethiopia was surreal. I had seen all of the images on blogs and facebook and it was so strange to really finally be there. I tried to video and photograph everything bc I wanted to be able to look back at the memories someday. Our driver was very sweet and he got us to the Guesthouse safely. Driving is very interesting. There are almost no lights and everyone kind of just pulls out and drives when they want to. They use their horn to communicate. At first it was a little nerve wracking but by the end of the trip I was used to it.
The Guesthouse was very clean and much nicer than I had anticipated. The staff was so accommodating. We arrived on a holiday so we immediately were treated to the coffee ceremony we had heard so much about. There was also some injera and doro wat, which was delicious- YES we were really in Ethiopia!!!
We unpacked pretty quick bc we were told in just a few hours we were going to visit M*. We were hoping that we would be able to see him, but we weren't sure if we would be able to bc we were not scheduled to visit with him until Friday (it was a Tuesday).
The van pulled up and we hopped in. I loved just looking out the window. I was trying so hard to soak it all in. There were children walking in their uniforms home from school. Little markets and street vendors and open fields with goats. I recognized the green gates and when I saw them my heart sank. It is hard to describe the way I felt. I was excited, nervous, sad and happy. It had started to rain on our way over and the power was out at the WACAP House (Transition House). When we walked in to the tiny front room there sat 3 kiddos. Sweet M* was so much smaller than I had anticipated and the only reason I recognized him was bc he was wearing the shirt I had sent him in his welcome bag.
He immediately began to show us his items inside the bag. Then he started to play. He was excited... a kind of nervous excitement. He enjoyed playing with Captain and he LOVED opening and then re-opening the card we had sent. It played Michael Jackson's "I'll be there" and it had the 5 of us saying "We love you M*" and it was his favorite thing.
It was a VERY good day. It was so fun to be there with our son. I think I had a mile wide smile the rest of the day. And, I couldn't wait to get back to the internet cafe to post the news.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Days 3-5

Dune Crashing, Camel Rides and Dinner
(In the Dunes during a break from the craziness below)
(Scary tricks... I thought we were going to die)
(More Crazy Dune Crashing)
(After the sun started to set they took us to this camp for dinner)
(The Middle Eastern Cuisine was Yummy!)
(Captain Crazy got a henna tattoo)
(Then he got another... the first was a butterfly and he needed something with more muscle)
(Father and son watching the belly dancer)
(Captain getting kisses from the camel- they were actually very nice!)
(the camels not the kisses)
(We enjoyed the camel rides- still part of the Dune Crashing Adventure)
(Madinot- the hotel was linked with ours and they had shops and restaurants)
(Captain LOVED that he could get a kids meal in Dubai)
(Standing in front of the Full Ski Hill with a Chair Lift inside the mall)(Atlantis Hotel Aquarium)

Dubai was a lot of fun. My favorite thing that we did while we were there was the Dune Crashing Adventure. We used Arabian Adventures and I HIGHLY recommend them!!! They picked us up drove us to the dunes. We met up with about 20 other nice new tahoe trucks and they let our some air from their tires and we drove through the dunes for about 45 minutes. Just a note... Captain and Hubby started off in the very back seats and both got sick. I was fine and I was in the second row. I would recommend being picky about where you sit. We ended up at a really cool camp that was set up for our dinner. Captain got a henna tattoo, we watched the belly dancer and rode camels. The funny thing about Dubai is the pricing is all over the place. But, I think this only cost about $70 per person which was well worth it.

Our hotel was actually owned by the Sheikh Mohammed... and it was connected to 3 resorts. we enjoyed being driven in the golf cart over to the Madinot... it was gorgeous and had a Souk (which was a bunch of stores and restaurants). They also had a coffee shop that we loved especially because it was nearly impossible to find anywhere that served breakfast for some reason. We also visited 2 insanely huge malls while we were there. One had a huge snow hill complete with a chair lift and the other had a full size ice skating rink, aquarium and underwater zoo. Our last day there took a cab (which is very affordable and easy in Dubai) to the Palm Island and walked through the Atlantis Hotel.