Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 4

Everyone slept really well from about 7pm to 6am. (Yes, that includes Zach and me, we’ve been so exhausted!) I took the large bed with the kids and Zach took the twin bed by himself. It felt really good to cuddle up to the boys last night and this morning.

When we woke up we knew we had about 6 hours to entertain them. We are not allowed to take the boys out and about in Ethiopia. Some Ethiopians are not fond of seeing their babies leave with Americans all the time (which you can understand) and walking them around town could be seen as “parading” them. When we were here 2 years ago this was not a problem but over time Americans have not been respecting the culture (they cover babies completely, etc) and it just looks/is disrespectful. We understand this rule but are severely limited in ways we can entertain the boys.

After breakfast we went up to the room in hopes of letting the boys watch a cartoon while we both showered and got ready for the day but the power went up as we were climbing our many flights of stairs. Hmmmm. We did as best as we could but within a few hours Tomas was literally so bored he was cleaning our room. Yes, cleaning our room. Straightening out the shoes, making our beds, etc. So Zach and I bit the bullet and wrestled for the next few hours.

At noon it was time to make up the car and head to the embassy. As we were telling Tomas it was time to get in the car he said, “Car, America?” “No, not yet Tomas”. We wonder what he thinks America will be like? Streets of chocolate? Seats of cheese? :-) We got to the embassy no problem and sat in the waiting area for our names to be called. We were the first group there but after about 30 minutes more groups came. 2 years ago we were the only group the whole time, I think this is a testament to how many more agencies are working in Ethiopia now.

When we got to the Visa window the woman (American) was really great. We had to sign off saying we knew these boys and wanted them with everything we had which was absolutely no problem. :-) She then asked us if we thought there was any fraud in this case. Knowing the details of the boys’ story has made it that much easier to say we have no doubts there was no fraud. We feel very blessed that we can say that with our conscience clean.

Stamp, stamp. “Ok you’re done” she says. And that’s that. They’re Klipschs! We got their original birth certificates and saw their passports, their Visas will be done and able to be picked up in the Holt office Thursday morning.

After that we headed to the Hilton to confirm our flights. We were there for only about 20 minutes but when we were walking out Tomas says something to our driver Tsegaw (Seg-au). Tsegaw starts laughing. “You have a very smart boy here. Tomas says, ‘They took me to America and brought me back to Ethiopia?’” The Hilton is very nice but if that’s his only expectation of America I think we’ll be just fine. :-)

During the day we had a knock on the door and an Ethiopian was there asking for Tomas. He said that Tomas needed to go next door to the care center to the administration. We were a little worried and confused so I sent Zach (having just gotten out of the shower). When Bini and I joined them a few minutes later Zach explained that he walked in to 4 nannies and the head nurse almost in tears missing Tomas. The head guy hadn’t seen Tomas yesterday and missed him, he needed to see Tomas. :-) So Tomas was given sunglasses and lots of hugs and kisses and sent on his way. I can’t tell you how good it feels to know for the last year and a half they have been so loved, so well cared for. God is good for sure, especially in this case.

After the Hilton is was just home for dinner. We gave them their first showers, which they loved. I personally loved lotioning them down, it’s a fun way to bond with them somehow. We decided after that to head to our other travel mates who are bringing home 2 little girls to watch a cartoon before bed. It felt like the longest day ever but when we were about to say it’s bedtime it was only 6:30. Ok, 1 more cartoon. :-)

Zach was in the big bed with the boys this time and me in the smaller. We are just loving these boys, I can’t even tell you. They are so smart, so funny, so beautiful.

So, so thankful tonight as we get ready to give goodnight kisses to the newest Klipschs.

Love to you,

(No pictures today, the embassy won’t allow it so we didn’t even bring our camera anywhere!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Days 3 and 4

Early wake up call this morning so that we could be on the road to Durame by 7am. The trip was to last about 6 hours with most of the road paved. This was the same road that led to Hossanna when we went 2 years ago so I was really excited to get out of the city and see the country again.

The ride there was terrific. I was so happy we got to see this country during dry season (last time) and rainy season (this time). It is even more beautiful than I remember. The trip surprised a lot of our travel mates because most people think of Africa and think of dessert for miles and miles. Ethiopia is not like that at all. It is green and lush and just absolutely beautiful. Zach took some amazing pictures with the camera but it really is hard to capture.

Passing through Shinchicho was perhaps the toughest for me. This was Tariku’s home village. It was hard picturing our little guy who was probably consuming his weight in pizza at that moment, playing naked soccer with his friends. Or carrying younger siblings on his back. It was hard picturing him running to the car yelling “ferenge” (white man) and waving frantically at the car. But that’s exactly what he would’ve been doing, if he wasn’t dead, if he wasn’t with us. This is a really tough concept to wrap my head around. But I see Tariku’s eyes in all of these kids and it makes me miss him so much.

When we were getting to Durame we were amazed at the view. We were pleasantly surprised at the hotel in Durame. I’d heard such awful things (people told me to think of it as camping) but it was a nice hotel. The bed was definitely hard, we thought perhaps we were sleeping on the box springs, and the toilet didn’t flush unless you poured the water from the red bucket in the toilet. But, it had a toilet, it had a bed, it had a TV and a fridge and ours had a balcony with a view we would pay hundreds to see in the States.

We had time for lunch before meeting some special people. Meals here take fairly long as they make each meal one at a time. Very delicious though. We were all anxious to meet the special people so we struggled when lunch was running late to not press our American anal time deadlines on the Ethiopians.

After we met the special people we came back to the hotel to kind of release a little steam (i.e. drink some St. George’s beer). Zach and I were happy to see another Ethiopian we had been waiting to see was already at the hotel. We talked to him for awhile, which was definitely one of the best parts of the trip.

After dinner we just went up to the room to process a bit. Zach and I had some great moments trying to figure out the toilet (which we didn’t until the morning). Our travel group slept surprisingly well but that could’ve been because of the emotional stuff we had all been through or because we had all taken advantage of Tyelenol PM/Zanax. :-)

Up early again to head back to Addis Ababa. We had split our group with one group (the one who had brought kids from home) in one van and the other group (kidless for now) in the other. Our group (the kidless) had a lot of fun with the driver and media guy. We taught them lots of American things. Their favorite was by far the beef jerky, their least favorite might have been poptarts. :-) After eating the poptart they were begging for water. ;) Mesfin, the media guy, turns and says, “We love this group, we will always remember you.” Mesfin was great at answering all of my questions and pointing out different things about the country, a blessing to be sure.

We got back to Addis and had just a few hours to take showers and prepare our rooms to bring the kiddos back to the hotel with us. Zach decided to lay down and I decided to go shopping. We went to a little bead shop. This shop was terrific. Over 30 women who used to live on the streets now make the stuff in the shop. All proceeds go to them. One of the women was very proud that none of them live in the street anymore, they all have homes and are able to eat finally. I was more than happy to buy lots of goodies from them. :-)

Then, time to pick up the boys. Zach and I were both half excited, half nervous. I remember the first night with Tariku when we had nothing to do but look at him. We had toys, sure, but we couldn’t communicate with him so there was a lot of staring and then giggling. This proved to be true for us and the boys as well. We gave them a few thing, which they hoarded and counted a number of times. Then it was downstairs for dinner. Tomas eats like Tariku, which is to say, more than any little person should probably eat. Binyam barely ate anything but did enjoy the granola bar I gave them when we returned to the room.

Sleep was actually pretty great. We put them down a little after 7 and they had no problems falling asleep. At one point I heard them talking in the middle of the night but then Tomas scooted down to the foot of the bed and fell right back asleep. Everyone slept great until 6am which I think is pretty amazing.

Now to breakfast.

Today we hang out a lot and then head to our embassy appointment which is the final step to the boys becoming ours. We are incredibly excited about this. I find myself wanting to come home now that the boys are with us. They got to talk to our 3 at home and it sounded like everyone was excited. Makes me want us all together so badly!

More later. Much love to you!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Another update...more pictures!

Day 2

This morning Zach and I went with another family to a shopping centre. We decided against going to the National Museum again since we’ve been before. It was nice to be able to go shopping and think about the gifts we were getting and the people they would go to as opposed to our last shopping trip in ET that was so cutthroat we just started throwing stuff frantically in bags. :-) Our driver we hired gave us a really awesome tour/running commentary on the country on our way to the centre. Most of it we knew already but his language was so colorful (even explaining the reason why boys and girls are given their Christian names at different times-because Eve was to blame for the fall of man and thus women wait longer for their Christian names…they also, in case you didn’t know, have menses and childbirth because of their tempting ways). :-)

After the shopping trip we came back and both fell asleep, we seem to be struggling a bit more with the altitude this time around. Going from the flat plains of Iowa to the mountains of Ethiopia is harder on this body than I remember!

We just got back from hanging with the boys. To be quite honest, it’s exhausting. This is because we are all in the same room with the other kids in our travel group and so everyone is running around distracted. It’s really hard to hang with the boys when there’s so much else to do! We did notice that they kept coming back to us, which we think is a really good sign. Tomas, at the beginning of our time, wants nothing to do with me. He shrugs his shoulder at me and only gives Zach love. But I take him away from everyone else or read a book or wrestle him and by the end he has no problem holding my hand and sitting on my lap. Binyam appears to have fallen in love with us. One of our travel group peeps said “Binyam has the best personality of all the kids, I think.” I think he’s on to something.

Both boys are just supremely smart. I taught Tomas how to take pictures and he sat on my lap for quite some time taking his own pictures, a photographer in the making? Then he looked at the back of the camera and knew just how to play the pictures back to me. He then identified everyone in the picture. Tomas loves seeing his brothers and sister at home. The way he says “Dailah” melts my heart.

Though our time with them is fun and exciting, we are looking forward more to the time we will have with them in our hotel when we can come back into our room and just start the parenting part of this. Zach described our time in the care center with them as a play date, and that’s an appropriate description I think.

Tonight we go to the Crown Hotel for the cultural dinner and dancing. Though we’ve been there before we plan on going again because it’s terrific authentic Ethiopian food and just a fun atmosphere. Plus we have a better camera this time around (thanks Frank) and hope to get better pictures of the dancing.

We are starting to miss the kids and look forward to Tuesday when we have the boys in our care. We plan on calling home then so the kids can talk to the boys.

Tomorrow we leave for our trip south to Durame. We are looking forward to seeing the countryside of Ethiopia again and meeting various people who have touched our hearts. We will be staying the night in Durame so no blogging tomorrow.

It will be a long day tomorrow but one that typically makes the entire trip worth it.

Love you Trysten, Tariku and Dailah!

An update from Tesi...with pictures!!!

Day 1

Woke up to a breakfast of French toast, terrific rice and an egg/peppers combo. So good. Oh, and lots of coffee. I had forgotten how great this country is when it comes to it’s “buna”-coffee.

After breakfast we were off to the Holt offices for orientation. Too hard to sit still when we know in an hour we’ll be meeting our babies. In fact, I’m not quite sure what they said in that whole meeting.

Finally, time to meet the boys. At the care center they have the families sit in chairs surrounding this large area rug. On the area rug they put a few stuffed animals. The plan is to have the child/ren come to the stuffed animal in the middle and then the adoptive parents (APs) get to look at them and then say, “He/she is ours”, something to that affect. We were about last in line so I snapped a few precious pictures of the APs first meeting with their babes.

Then it was our turn. The nannies led Tomas and Binyam down the stairs; Binyam was slower so the first person we saw was Tomas. I think I started crying when I heard Zach say, “Ohmygoodness, it’s them”. So surreal to see these boys in the flesh. Zach and I immediately got down on our knees and moved towards them. At that time Tomas ran and jumped into Zach’s arms and Binyam hesitantly came into mine. We did the ole’ switcheroo and Tomas tackled me with probably the biggest cheek kiss I’ve ever had and a “Hello mommy, I love you” (clearly prompted). :-)

We had just 1 precious hour with them so we tried to soak everything in. What we learned that first hour about Tomas: he can sing the Barney song, which is annoying when American kids sing it, totally cute when Ethiopian ones do. :-) Tomas understands an incredible amount of English. He doesn’t really speak it well, or use it but when we talk and hand gesture wildly he almost always comprehends it. Also, he likes to laugh when he speaks Amharic to us and we clearly don’t know what he’s talking about. We also realize why another travel group nicknamed him “Mayor Tomas”; boy does he have a run of the place! Walking wherever he wants, entering rooms and then just leaving. The head nurse pointed to one toilet and said, “That is kids’ toilet”, she pointed to another toilet in a different room, “and that is Tomas’s toilet”. So if that tells you anything…One of the first things he said to us was, “My family, America, brother Tariku”. Meaning, “my family is here, let’s go to America so I can see my brother Tariku”. It was precious. He was excited to go get the photos we sent him and point out each family member. He struggles with saying Trysten but has got Tariku and Dailah (and of course mommy and daddy) down pat.

Binyam, oh Binyam! He was just really shy at first. He didn’t say anything for the first 45 minutes we were there, probably. We would play with him and then when he clearly wanted us to do something we would say, “Say ‘please mommy’” and he would just lift his eyebrows (how Ethiopians say “yes”). After a bit of that he finally learned he’d get it sooner if he spoke and started to talk. This opened the floodgates and he could soon be found mumbling, “Please mommy” to himself and then giggling. Binyam/Bini fell down and started crying at one point so I scooped him up and just kind of rocked him while walking around. Until this point he would have his body kind of far from me if I held him. After a bit of walking he slowly let his chest fall on me, then his arms went slack and then finally he rested his head on my shoulder. It was a super sweet few minutes. After that, he was a cuddler, running and climbing onto my lap. When it was time to leave he kept looking back at us with his puppy dog eyes, hard to leave that one!

Lunch at the hotel and then off to do more paperwork at the Holt office (more paperwork!). After that, finally we get 2 good hours with the boys.

Tomas during this time would stray less, and stay longer with us. I ticked him off once (we brought water bottles for them and he lost his so just grabbed the closest kids’ and I made him give it back) and he tried giving me the silent treatment. I pulled him on my lap and when he made eye contact with me I just gave him a quick command “ishi (it’s ok), sami mommy (give mommy a kiss)” and then he liked me. :-) He clearly prefers Zach, always going to him first. Thankfully Zach is good about pointing him towards me too. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that Zach can throw him in the air and I, despite all my hard work in the gym, find him to be too heavy. He is tall, but I think Trysten is still taller. The head nurse described Tomas as “easily distracted” and Zach and I would have to agree wholeheartedly. He reminds us so much of Tariku that I called him Tariku at least a handful of times, jeesch. He hesitated a bit when we were leaving but, for the most part, I think he is enjoying his last few days as king of the castle. ;)

Binyam went right for us this time. Cuddled onto our laps and stayed around us the whole time for the most part. If he went to get a toy he would bring it back to us (unlike this morning when he would just wonder off to play by himself). He kept dragging nannies over to “introduce” us. Binyam talked nonstop and would try to get me to understand him with all his might, poor guy. The head nurse described Binyam as “full of concentration” and, again, she was right. He could stay with the same toy the whole time, unlike his brother who cycled through a good 200. :-) You can constantly see the wheels turning on this one. Binyam has an incredibly infections laugh, at one point he and I were laughing so hard we both had tears and I have absolutely no idea why. There’s a decent chance he just said, “I can’t believe I got a crazy-woman for a mom!” Whatever it was, it had the both of us on the floor holding our sides, a precious moment amongst many precious moments.

At about 6:15pm we headed back to the hotel for the night. I am writing this at 8:30 our time and Zach has been asleep for an hour. :-) I will not be posting this until tomorrow, but I want to write it all down while it’s still fresh.

We just talked to the kiddos at home. Trysten told me he prayed for us to not get sick on the plane and that he was sorry to hear I still threw up. My sweet baby. Tariku was excited to hear Tomas knew his name. Dailah just asked to talk to Binyam and when I couldn’t produce she was no longer interested. I miss those three incredibly already and can’t wait to have the family together in just 7 days.

I guess I should end, this being the start of my 3rd page on Word. This time around in Ethiopia I find myself anxious to get the boys in the hotel with us. I know so many of the behaviors we saw in the care center will change even as early as their first few days with us in the hotel. I am biting at the bit to learn everything I can about them. From what we can see so far, we know God hand picked them for our family (which is messy and complicated and-a lot of times-completely incomprehensible because of the tremendous amount of loss that took place for them to be “ours”). It’s easy to get wrapped up in the adoption part of this and forget about the God part of this until you get here and meet your kids. It’s a God thing, it really is.

Time to go snuggle up to this hubby of mine who has, again, earned the nickname “child whisperer” kids freakin love him. I kinda do too.

Love to you all.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Quick blog to answer a few questions, I sent a bigger one to my sis-in-law "guest blogger" with a few pictures. So that should be coming whenever she wakes up in the Heartland of America. :)
Until then, yes I am using internet at the Union Hotel. We have had no issues and only a few power outages since being here. It's actually not that slow and works quite nicely actually.
The beds at the Union. Yes they are hard, but honestly Zach and I haven't had any problems sleeping whatsoever. I think any of you coming here should find the same. Different than what we're used to, but really nice compared to what we were imagining. Oh, and we are in room 301, Beth, which means we get to hike up a number of flights of stairs. Whew!
Tera, I think it was, they actually spell "Binyam" 40 different ways here. :) They pronounce it mostly "Bin-yam-ay" which apparently is kind of a pet name-to add "ay" to the end of a name. Or "Bini".
It for now, some cultural stuff this morning that Zach and I have already done so we'll probably visit Kolfe for Nicole Anderson and then walk around the city a bit. This afternoon we meet with the boys' doc to ask questions and then love on the boys.
Love and hugs,

The New Busy think 9 to 5 is a cute idea. Combine multiple calendars with Hotmail. Get busy.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just finished breakfast. Oh my how I've forgotten how great the food (and the coffee!) is!! We are 3 hours away from meeting the boys. Butterflies in my belly, love in my heart.
Union Hotel is amazing. Our room is huge, the shower is nice (and hot, woot!) and, of course, the Ethiopian people do not dissapoint. I love this country.
Will post after we meet the boys and will hopefully be able to have sister-in-law post pictures.
It's just after 12:30 there, sending good night kisses to my babes in Iowa who (hopefully) have been sleeping for some time.
Thank you to my siblings for taking such great care of them during what we hear was an actual tornado touch down!
Much love,
almost seriously a mom to 5

The New Busy is not the old busy. Search, chat and e-mail from your inbox. Get started.

We Made It!

We made it! 12:31am Addis time and we're here. Flights were ok. Lots of turbulance and avoiding storms right over Addis. This meant I filled 2 puke bags with...well, puke. Not good times.
But we're here at the hotel. The boys are sleeping at the care center mere feet away. How I wish I could pole vault the wall and give them sweet dream kisses. Tomorrow, just a few more hours.
I'm not sure how I can put into words what it feels like to come back to the country of some of your children's birth but it is something that's for sure. We are so happy to be back to a place that feels a little bit like home.
Thanks so much for all of your prayers and love. I get all of your comments emailed to me so we read each one of them.
Off to brush teeth and dream dreams of two little habeshas we get to hold in a few hours.
Love from Ethiopia,

The New Busy is not the old busy. Search, chat and e-mail from your inbox. Get started.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Can't believe

it's today. At the Quad City International Airport waiting for our first flight to Detroit. Said our tearful goodbyes to our babies. It was tearful indeed because it was a rough night.

We're thinking the kids ate/drank something that didn't sit well and it was about a billion degrees outside and inside our house (no air conditioning remember) and so Trysten threw up all night last night. Dailah woke up and also threw up. They all seem to be better now but it's hard leaving them like that.

But it's for a good reason. Remember the reason?

You ready for it?

It's for these two.

Tomas (toe-mas) age 6.

and Binyam (Bin-yum) age 3.

We will meet them in a few short days.

Until then, a day and a half of flights for my beloved and me.

Pray for the whole deal, including my babes who aren't quite at par.

I told you they were cute did I not? :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


My belly is a fluttering mess. I'm straddling two worlds at this point. Wanting to stay here and be with my babies, so nervous about leaving them. And in Ethiopia, with those babies giving them their first mama hug in over a year and a half.

Part of me wants to just leave now and get all the goodbyes over with (I've always been junky at those anyway) and another part of me wants the next 20 hours to stall out a bit so I can squeeze and love on the kids a bit more.

This preparation has been different than last time we were going to Ethiopia. With it being summer and all, it's fallen completely on my shoulders since Zach has not even a spare moment.

I just talked to him on the phone and he says, "I guess since we're leaving in a few hours I should probably pack then?" (Yeah he still hasn't done that).

Um yes, I suppose that would be a good idea. :)

I'm really excited to get to spend some QT with that guy, I kind of can't get enough of him.

My brother will be watching my kids (with a little help from his wifie) the first few days. Then once my parents get back from Ireland-so rough, I know-they'll be watching them. So please pray that they do ok, specifically Tariku with all the adjustments, and behave at their very best.

Pray for our flights tomorrow and Thursday. Friday morning (probably about 2am CST) we will be meeting the boys for the first time so if you happen to be up then, we'd take some thoughts/prayers at that time too.

I do plan on updating this blog while there if electricity is available. My sister-in-law is also on standby to be my guest blogger should I need it.

But definitely tune in tomorrow. So you can see the faces of the newest Klipschs, they are worth the wait!

Thanks for hanging in with us this far, my guess is it only gets more interesting from here. :)

Monday, June 21, 2010


oofta, those numbers are getting low, low. That is good, really good.

Because I'm going to be honest here, I'm checked out of Iowa. I find myself on a short fuse with my babies here. I'm constantly in la-la land. I try to tell myself to be the very best version of me for the last few days before we leave so that the kids remember that but oh boy I'm struggling.

My impatience mixed with the kids needing to catch up on sleep from a week at camp has been a very interesting combination indeed.

There's still some stuff I had on my list to do but since none of it is necessary (except for finishing packing, of course) I'm not finding motivation anywhere.

So tonight the boys have a late baseball game and this lady is going to try to be super nice until then (it's just a few hours, right?)

Sunday, June 20, 2010


That's right, 3 days. But today isn't about the countdown.

Today is about my husband, a guy more commonly referred to as "daddy" around here.

Not just any daddy, but the very best daddy. I'm not sure how I can even put into words how amazing of a father he is. But I'll give an example.

Friday night we had the closing ceremonies at camp, typically parents come and pick up their kids as soon as they can after missing them for a week. All ceremonies were over by 6:45. When we came back up to the lodge sometime after 7pm, a twelve-yr-old boy was still there waiting for his family. I found out his family had forgotten about him, had forgotten he was even at camp for the last week.

This kid, he was so wonderful. He played with my kids, talked with me, etc. He was clearly bored with my weak attempts at entertaining him. Zach finished his meeting and came into the room we were in. "Hey buddy, you want to play some ping pong?" The boys' face lit up. The kid was complete crap at ping pong but was smiling the whole time as Zach was giving him instructions on how to hold the paddle, etc.

Zach left to go do a little more work and the boy was left with us. "So what is your favorite part of camp?" I asked.

"Ummm, I like how people treat me here."

I was fighting back some tears so I just kind of grabbed his hand and smiled.

I think that's it. Zach has this amazing ability to emote love and respect. And honestly, he expects that of his staff as well.

Our kids can feel that, even when Zach's gone more during the summer. I can feel it always.

Today I panicked for a second about the fact that I'll have 4 boys in a matter of a few days (truth be told I was more panicked about how I'm going to feed all of those boys). Then I remembered that they have the very best role model as their father. This man, this man who was seemingly born to be a father he is that good.

There is no way I'd be able to walk through this parenting life without him, there is no way I ever want to.

He is the very best and he is ours and we are so, so happy about that.

Happy Father's day to my beloved!

Saturday, June 19, 2010


We had a purposefully laid back, family focused day today. Baseball game, pizza place/fun house, Toy Story 3.

It was fantastic. It was probably the last time we'll do it before we become a family of 7. It really couldn't have been a better day (save for the sunburn I received at baseball). These people make me so very happy.

A picture of my boys (and father-in-law, who came with my mother-in-law to baseball and dinner) after bumper cars.

Friday, June 18, 2010


As if you didn't know what number was going to be at the top of this page, right?

Well to say I'm eager would be an understatement. We had our travel call this afternoon. Not much new information for us having been there before, but I found myself choked up from time to time in anticipation.

Anticipation of meeting our boys, anticipation of seeing this country that has settled itself deeply in our hearts. It's all too much.

In other news, all my campers are home. Every Friday night we have "closing ceremonies" here at camp. This is when the parents/caretakers of the resident campers come for walkin' tacos (my favorite kind of tacos) to pick up their kids and meet all of the counselors, etc. During this time the counselors give out a few awards for kids who showed excellence in exhibiting the 4 core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. Trysten actually won one of these awards last year.

I knew Trysten had signed up for soccer this week, which meant when they went to breakout programs, he learned a bit more about soccer (a man after my very own heart). He told me his counselor, "Zonkers", was the one at the end of the line of counselors. Zonkers got up with the award and said:

"This award goes to a kid who showed the 4 core values the best. He showed caring by letting other kids go before him and helping kids if they needed it. He showed honesty when he told me when he kicked it out of bounds and I couldn't see for sure. He showed respect because I never had to ask him to do something twice, he was always helping me out. He showed responsibility by making sure all of the equipment was put away before we left. He was just a good kid this week. So this award goes to Trysten."

Are you crying yet? Because I did. I beamed, I really did. And so did he.

I saw Zonkers in the lodge afterwards and thanked him for everything he said. He replied, "Well I knew I would get sh*t for it since he's the boss's son but honestly he was the only kid that deserved it."

Zach and I talk to our kids all the time about leadership. We tell them that some people will be leaders regardless because of their personality, or what have you. We tell them they can choose to be a leader for good or a leader for bad. Being a leader, as we know, does not imply that you lead people to do good things.

But that award showed me he "got it", to some extent. At 7 years old, he was one of the youngest kids in resident camp. But his behavior stood out in such a positive way, it overshadowed even the fact that he was the boss's son.

I think that's pretty amazing. In fact, I think he's pretty amazing. And I'm going to miss my babies more than I can possibly say when we're gone.

My little big man.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


Lots of life outside our trip happening today. But it's an amazing day and it's a day that brings us one step closer to our boys.

It's a day that we found out my brother and sister-in-law are having a girl!!! I get to be an aunt of a girl, I'm so excited.

It's also a day I'm *hoping* my other sister-in-law has my nephew. Please, please?

6 days. Less than a week. I want to see my boys yesterday! :)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


That's right kids, one week from today. Feeling good about that. I got a lot accomplished today so that probably helps. One of my friends from Muscatine just found out she too will be in Ethiopia when we are. Seriously, that's just crazy, one of my friends from the water team will be picking up her daughter the same week we pick up our sons. Crazy business!

Today I did a few things:

I made granola bars to take with us (and cliff bars to consume now)...

and organized this.

Somehow this took me all day (with a few other items checked off as well).

I'm fairly certain my excitement has reached new levels.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


The countdown continues and came with great news.

My friend, Rebekah, who I mentioned here just called to tell me that she too will be in Ethiopia around the end of June! We (or at least "I") had been hoping we'd meet again in Ethiopia (which is quite interesting since she actually only lives 3 hours from me) but it looked like it wasn't going to be possible because she's going to be in the two tripper group. The two tripper group, for those not in the adoption world, means she will travel once for her court-that's the end of June trip-and once again for her embassy date to bring her daughter home.

But we'll be there at the same time and I'm very hopeful we'll get to meet there again.

8 days. The end.

Monday, June 14, 2010


How many days we have left:

My little day campers who had way too much fun.

What I treated myself with (thanks to my friend Janet who gave me a gift card and demanded I only use it on myself) while running around town for the better part of 8 hours.

Exhausted but closer to feeling prepared to travel halfway across the world so that's something!

Oh, and the best news? My brother was released from the hospital! Though there are still some questions about the whole thing, I'm so happy to have him back in his house in the loving care of his wife!

Sunday, June 13, 2010


What those three beauties are trying to tell you is that we have 10 days until we board the plane heading towards the cradle of life.

10 days. Yikes, the countdown begins.

I'm kind of a workhorse this morning, which is good because I kind of need to be. When I was looking at the calendar I got very nervous about fitting in everything that needs to be done before we leave. But I've got a little secret weapon...

It's called camp. And all 3 kids will be there this week!

Trysten leaves today (by "leave" I mean we walk up a slight incline to drop him off in his counselors welcoming hands) for overnight/resident camp for the entire week. From today until Friday we'll see him pretty much only at breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. Exciting, yes, a little sad, yes.

Then tomorrow Tariku and Dailah head off to day camp from about 8-4 every day. So mama's got lots of plans.

Monday I'm heading to various shopping places to *hopefully* get the last of our necessities for the trip. I had forgotten how expensive trips can be to prepare for. Oy!

Tuesday I teach my classes.

Wednesday I make lots of food to freeze. I'm also making loads of granola bars, cookies, granola, muffins, etc. Things that we can take with us to snack on in Ethiopia. I vividly remember being hungry all the time (to be fair, I'm always hungry all of the time) and I never had enough snacks on me. Trying not to repeat that particular offense. Oh, and I'll probably try to pack a little bit.

Thursday I teach more classes.

Friday is our day for the travel call letting us know all the fun details of our trip. It will also be the time when I do laundry and try to begin packing the kids' stuff for while we're gone.

Next weekend we'll enjoy each others time (including a possible Shrek 3 viewing at our local IMAX with the kiddos).

Next Monday there will be some cleaning to do (millipedes have taken over in this house with all the rain we've had. I'm used to it but my brother and sister-in-law might not be as okay seeing them while they're watching our kiddos the first part of our absence).

Tuesday I teach a few classes, the boys have a baseball game and then I'm hoping I can talk Zach into a family sleepover.

And next Wednesday, well WE'RE GOING TO ETHIOPIA!

It must be said that I'm in a highly emotional state at this point in time. Saturday I was driving to teach my class and just started crying. No particular reason why but it was mostly because I thought about leaving my three little babies.

After my class my sister-in-law called to tell us my brother was admitted to the hospital for stomach pain and some suspicious blood work (he'll be fine, but it's all still unknown). All I heard was "It's Marcus" and I started to cry. That's all it took, though you guys know I've always had quite the soft spot for my baby brother.

But I'm giddy for the moments I'm not crying, which is super sweet. :)

10 days. Woot!

Friday, June 11, 2010


now I'm excited.

I've gotten over my hesitations (for now) and am just excited.

12 days to go and I'm finding my excitement coming in waves.

I taught my last Friday Bodypump this morning (next Friday we have a travel call during class) before we leave and I thought I was going to jump out of my skin.

Let's do this.

My very good friend Beth is in Ethiopia picking up their baby Lucia and may or may not have found my boys...jumping on her husband's lap.

12 days and we'll be on our way to the day when they'll jump on my husband's lap.

This is good stuff.

Oh, and I packed most of the boys' stuff, if for no other reason than to save my poor husband from seeing tampons all the time (he sure gets squeamish when it comes to those types of things).

That chain is getting quite small indeed.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Wordless Wednesday-2 Weeks From Today

and all I have packed is 2 tampons...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

This Stage

I don't know why I'm surprised to find out that each adoption can be different since each of my pregnancies was different. It certainly makes sense that every time you decide to build your family it will feel different.

With Tariku I was so focused on the adoption. By that I mean the paperwork, the waiting, the paperwork, the waiting and the dreaming. It wasn't until hindsight showed me just how inadequate the time I spent focusing on parenting another child was. I think that's why it took a few days/weeks for it to hit me "Holy junk, we have another child, when did that happen?"

And then I entered what I lovingly refer to as the "Did we just f-up our lives?" stage. To be fair, I had it with Dailah, Tariku and now I'm already there with the boys.

I think this is honestly a good place to be. This adoption went so smoothly and quickly I didn't have a chance to worry about the adoption part for too long. The whole time I've been preparing myself for two more boys instead of preparing myself for more paperwork, etc.

Yesterday I cleaned the house and for the couple hours it took to finish the task, the kids played outside the whole time. There was no fighting, no tattling, nothing. And that's when I remembered I'm going to go shake up this sunny world I've got going for me.

Please understand, I'm beyond excited to see the boys. If our agency called me today and said, "Psych-you get to leave tomorrow", I'd say "Peace out Quad Cities, I'm pickin up my boys!" I'm that excited about them and about our new family dynamics once they get there.

But I'm super realistic this time around. I know it will be hard at first. Hard for us, hard for them, hard for our other 3. For an undetermined amount of time I might be swimming in this "what did we just do" stage.

And that's ok.

Because I know in an also undetermined amount of time we'll be in the "This is better than I could've dreamed" stage.

So, like I've told a few people, I'm just ready to go. To get it started already. My anxiety is killing me with all of this time to imagine every worst (and some best) case scenarios.

2 weeks from tomorrow ladies and gents and I haven't packed a thing. But I have made lists. Lots and lots of lists (I do believe we're up to 10) so that's something.

Tomorrow my goal is to condense them down to 6 or 8. Doable?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Thank You, Chuck Norris

On Thursday I called Zach to tell him I just saw a sign that announced Chuck Norris was coming to town to stump for a political candidate. Didn't really care about the candidate, only cared that Chuck Norris was going to be within reach and that we had the chance to thank him for his work in such notable films as Way of the Dragon.

I also thought someone needed to thank him for his moooostache (as you'll see in this video, Norris' facial hair deserves special recognition).

And all the camp counselors had just came into town.

So this is what happens when my husband decides to make something happen. Watch the video, Zach is the lead guy screaming, in the tan hat front and center. I'm not sure I could love him more after watching this. (I mean, please, he almost round house kicks Chuck Norris!)

As a side note, no one at Camp Abe Lincoln/YMCA is associated or endorsing Bob Vander Plaats, just wanted to reiterate that.

Friday, June 04, 2010

2 1/2 Weeks

And this picture* will be old news.

*More pictures of my brother and sister-in-law's wedding coming very soon (hopefully) because they were both too beautiful for words.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

An Early Birthday Surprise

So my friend Chrissy is arguably more excited about my birthday (Saturday) than I am. Yesterday morning she brought some jelly beans to one of my classes with a little "Happy Birthday week!" Whether you believe it's someone's aura or vibe or whatever, Ms. Chrissy is rockin' a pretty sweet one. To know her is to love her because she reeks of sweetness and love. If I could change one thing about myself it would be to do more randomly nice things. I have friends like Chrissy who remember that I told them 4 months ago that I like purple eyeshadow (as an example) and next time they see purple eyeshadow they buy it for me. I cry nearly every time I receive one of these well thought out gifts, no matter the actual cost-or lack thereof.

Chrissy is far left here.

So a few weeks ago I got an email telling me about the partnership between charity: water and TOMS (two of my favs, if you've been here for awhile). There were 2 pairs of shoes that some of the proceeds would be going to building freshwater wells AND still delivering that "One for One" promise. But there was one pair, it had a map of one of my favorite continents. I wanted them, really badly.

But we're in the middle of an adoption which means I wouldn't even be able to sneeze if it cost money. Truly. So I kind of mourned these awesome pair of shoes that would surely be gone by the time we could afford it.

And then at my last class last night Chrissy walks in with a huge box. And inside?

As emotional as I am lately (and always) of course I cried. What a sweet, sweet gift. And really? It was just too much, which is what I love about Chrissy, she is too much in every great way.

Oh and there's this little favorite part too. Where we'll be heading 3 weeks from today!!!

And another really cool part is the inside of these. Check out the jerry cans.

Going to try to be a little more like my Chrissy every day and you probably should too. :)