Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dinner with the Parkers!

Before doing another "day in Ethiopia" post I thought I'd add this cute one from last night! By the way, it wasn't beef stroganoff, it was shepard's pie and it was dy-no-mite! Listen to what Nicholas requests at the end and what he called the item he was washing! :)

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Monday/Tuesday~LONG ONE!

WARNING: YOU'LL EITHER THINK I'M MORE OF A KOOK FOR SHARING THIS INFORMATION OR LOVE US EVEN MORE... YOU DECIDE, IT'S RAW EMOTION...

Videographer/crapographer... you decide! You'd never know I actually went to film school by the horrid filming I did in Ethiopia! Most of our videos are of my freaking knee caps because I seem to have mistaken "standby" with "record" and everytime I thought I was recording it was in "standby mode", idiot! At least some videos made it!! To my own defense (I'm prosecutor and defendant all in one) this camera was purchased mere days before our departure! OK? The sticker on my forehead stayed there for a very long time because it was the first pro action my daughter showed to me by placing it there with a smile! :)


Let's start with a quick little video that some of you don't need a description of... bring back any memories gals??? I miss the "all day prayers"!

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Room with a view... our balcony.

Pictures of our "master bedroom", Four Seasons lookout, the guesthouse is moving in on the 5 star status! Not sure what the deal is with the neck roll thingy's everywhere??!! :)



And the bathroom, thankfully we never got ill and spent much time in here! Phew!


Day two (Monday) began early with the long drive back from Awassa to Addis. We got back to the guesthouse, showered and had to be downstairs for lunch and to fill out our I600's with the group before heading to the embassy appointment. Teddi had only seen us once so far and it was the day before at 5:00am (not good). It was a very brief meeting and I can't show the video as it has some of the nannies in it.


Ouside of the big kid house...quiet!

"I don't like you mother"




Devlish play and even aggressive play was all she did there - what a difference now.


We all got on the bus and headed down the street to pick up the bigger kids. They put the kids on the bus with us and I scooped her up and put her on my lap and held her close. She was cool and even started nodding off because it was their nap time (great time to drag them to a big scary building with tons of people and security etc).

The embassy appointment went "ok" and she must have decided that it was me or nothing and chose me while we were there. We dropped the kids back off for dinner/bed and went back to the guesthouse to get ready for dinner out with Dr. Tsegaye (head honcho of WHFC) feeling like huge progress had been made. The first meeting wasn't exactly a "Hallmark moment" and the second wasn't either but it was OK, we were making progress, or so we thought! Dinner was amazing, just amazing - watch the video and you'll see too! This was our group!

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At dinner... awwww.



One of the WHFC coordinators Emily G. came along on the trip with us! She was a great resource and is super cute inside and out! You'd never know she's just a wee thing at 25! We travelled to and from Ethiopia with her from Boston and she escorted a little 11 month old peanut on the way home. We love Emily!


Karen (left) and Carlin! Karen and her husband are a wonderful couple who co-reside between FL. and Italy! They adopted the most amazing little cherub six month old on the planet. I've only seen one other child smile SO much at that age (Judah)! Carlin (right) and her mom spent a ton of time with us on our adventure... they went on the b.family visit with us and also adopted a three year old gorgeous boy! I miss them...


Tuesday, we woke up bright eyed and happy since this was our first whole day there and we didn't have anything to do except get her photo at a nearby place for the German transit visa (which wasn't ever looked at but took us a ton of time to acquire in Addis). We ate and were over at the big kid house pretty early as we were eager to see our girl! We walked in and turned the corner into her room where she and some others were on the floor with a nanny or two. We gave our goofy white folks smile and waved to her and she freaked out! She clutched onto the nanny screaming, she knew who we were and why we were there. My smile quickly turned upside down and I could feel my eyes swell with tears. I knew I didn't want her (or anyone else) see me breakdown so I bolted out of the room and around the corner. The tears started to pour out of me and I tried to hold them back but couldn't. It seemed like I stood there forever but it was only probably a couple of minutes before MP came out and tried to pull me together. "I can't do this" I said, "if she doesn't want us what are we going to do"? "I want to go home"!!


Sister Tirhas (head sister) came out and literally ripped the bootstraps up from under me and grabbed my hand, ripped the kid out of the nannies arms and grabbed MP's arm and said "let's go, follow me now". We followed her out the back door where she proceeded to grab some chalk, dummies, and a few blow up balls and pushed us down to sit on the ground in a circle (all of us including her). She forced integration but Tarikua still wouldn't look at us and had her infamous shoulder to her ear the entire time. Time passed and sister got up to go do something and Tarikua walked away. I stood up and started to cry again... MP said, "we HAVE to make this work, we HAVE to do this". I looked up at the sky and asked Jesus to please help me to be strong and to put on a smile and just DO. At that point my thoughts were very irrational but very real. I wanted to figure out a way to leave - I didn't want her anymore than she wanted me. It was ugly and disgusting and I never want to feel that way ever again. It made vomit sit at the top of my throat and I can feel it all right now again just recounting this day. The only choice was to "fake it til we could make it". I took a huge breath and chose to just do, keep doing until "it" worked. By removing my emotions and not taking it personally I was able to get hold of myself and hunker down for the long haul of the rest of our trip. With a huge exhale we started off to look for her to begin again... after several hours of "faking it" she had started to allow me to chase her and showed her toothies a few times. It was a huge step. We were moving forward. It was lunchtime/nap time for the kids and so we left and walked back to the guesthouse only down the street for our lunch too.


Michael and I went back to our room after a delicious lunch by the now famous Sinidu and talked ALOT! We decided that every encounter with her was going to be a strategic one. We knew that before we saw her each time from this point on that based on our most recent visit we would recalibrate our interactions with her to suit the day. We also decided that even though we didn't want to, we had to forgo most of the outings and sightseeing opportunities that some of the other folks had to spend every possible amount of time with her and I knew from that very day that SHE HAD TO BE OUT OF THAT HOUSE and be with us exclusively (which turned out to be what turned the corner in the coming days).
She's holding onto me!!! Baby steps...

So, when we got back again, stomach in knots we approached cautiously and stood in the background where she could see us but not be forced on us. The problem was that we had to take her for the stupid picture and things went south. She clawed my neck, spat on me, kicked me, and tried to bite me all the while thrashing her body trying to get out of my arms. I clenched my teeth and was able to thwart most of her blows. Once we got in the bus she calmed down and withdrew. The photo was brief and she was decent (still crying though). They dropped us back off and we spent more time with her trying to just hang out. This is when I decided enough was enough, we needed to bail! Don't get me wrong, that place was and is amazing, all the nannies are superb and the children full of love. Too much love was beginning to be a problem. Every small ounce of progress we made with Teddi would mean a step back because the beautiful children wanted to ALL be in our arms and play. They were pouncing on us and it was apparent that our girl needed our undivided attention to thrive. So, I picked her up and announced to sister Tirhas that we were all leaving (three of us) to go to the guesthouse.

We walked down and into the house, we proceeded to our bedroom. I had her sit on my lap (sort of straddled) while I laid down (to appear calm cool and non-threatening). I pretended like I wasn't staring at her and MP sat on the couch and pretended to do stuff too. We had pulled out her very own and filled with goodies backpack and just laid it next to her on the bed open. All in all we were there for an hour and a half and after about an hour of just sitting on my lap staring at nothing she began TO MOVE! It was a miracle! She started looking at her shoes and futzing with her clothing. I slowly sat up and opened her backpack so she could fully see the contents and she reluctantly and slowly began to pull things out and grin! She scooted off my lap and I showed her how to use stickers and we were having fun??!! This is when I truly knew that everything would be fine! Just fine and dandy and wonderful and it would just take a little time and a whole lotta love and attention but it was going to work!


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We had to bring her back for dinner and bedtime (which stunk) but SHE CRIED when I tried to put her down back at her house! I couldn't stop smiling and felt like "F" of the mountain! Shoulders back, head high, MP and I strode out of there thrilled for each other proud of ourselves. It was a good day...

The onion was peeling and although it seemed slow going, and she put her foot down and withdrew on many occasions, every day proved to be so HUGE in her turnaround and progress.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

ONE MORE ALEXANDER!

Go over and congratulate the Alexanders!!! They finally have Abe and I for one have waited one year for these pictures! What a beautiful record of their experience in Addis! Go team!

ps... I'll probably have an update on our second day later tonight!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Happy girl and the official day one on the ground!

I had to post some cutie pie pictures of the past few days!! Just a glimpse! :) Teddi squishes her face like this all the time when she's trying to hold in a belly laugh!


She's not too crazy for the head scarf thing but Mommy LOVES them on her!

We were up at 4:00 to be at breakfast for 5:00am, then off to the birth family visit. We had approx. a 4 and a half hour drive to the city of Awassa to pick up our translater and have a "pee break".... wow, they don't make tur-lits like back home in Ethiopia! YIKES, next time, don't drink ANY water to stay hydrated - do anything to avoid the pee-stop! :) Awassa was much larger than I had anticipated!
This was some of the scenery en route to Awassa, it was mostly flat with some mountains off in the distance. People were walking down the roads everywhere with heards of goats/cattle. It was breathtaking... every several miles we'd go through small towns where there were some shops on the side of the road. I just remember saying and thinking over and over "I can't believe we're in Africa"!




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After Awassa and getting the translater the six of us (yes six, four in the back seat is a bit cozy to be "off roading") set off for the most extraordinary part of our adventure... we were headed to a dirt road that would take us deep into the mountains to Teddi's home village of Arbegona. It was almost three hours of crazy bumpy torraine and exquisite scenery like I've only seen on a television screen... Words can never describe it and this short video certainly cannot either. It was much too bumpy to film more than a few brief moments so we took several pictures. Side note; that one pit stop in Awassa was the only one in our 9 hours of driving that day - other than getting out to visit the b.families. I just wish somehow I could bring the scenes to you of this trip!
We were very fortunate to travel with someone that I had recently connected with online who was also adopting a three year old from the same village. She and her mom were with us for the whole week and I'm grateful that she was part of our "experience" in Ethiopia - she was wonderful!
I'm obviously not going to post pictures of the birth family visit and I don't really know what to say about it. I have watched the video footage of it a dozen times and cannot keep my eyes of the stunning woman who made the most difficult decision of her life. We were blessed to have the visit in the home that Teddi was most likely born in and lived for her three years until Horizon House - The entire visit was surreal and very emotional, it's still all foggy and I'm so glad we had those wonderful people with us to video and take pictures. After our visit we went to do there's - it was an entirely different experience and one I feel blessed to have been witness to.



Scenery along the journey into the mountains....



The view accross the street from Teddi's home...



Can you see the dirt road? This was the entire trip to the village from Awassa!

It blows my mind to think of the remote place she came from and to now be all the way accross the world to our little New England town.



Back at the hotel in Awassa after the long day - we changed and went to dinner with our trip-mates!



Drained - in every way.... next day, up for a 5:00am departure back to Addis to shower and head to the embassy appointment with the girl who cried, "I've been adopted by axe murderers", "don't make me go with them"! The scratches on my neck the next day when we went to pick her up proved her disgust with me!


Did we actually go to Africa?????????

Friday, August 22, 2008

Logan to Bole, all in a days work~

I cannot seem to get Youtube to work for me so here's a link to us at Logan Airport!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8w9YhNFNHs

I'd love to write a whole bunch and have been prolonging writing until I was feeling "better" but wanted to at least do some pictures of our trip to Addis.... Since returning home I have a fractured tail bone (from trying to show Tarikua Tessa how to use the 2' kiddie slide in the finished basement) and a cruddy sinus infection! Things could be worse, trust me! We're loving her and I am hoping to show videos etc. in the next couple of days that show each day of our trip. I still cannot wait to go back...

And we're off! Nervous as HELL with a stomach in knots, we head to lunch with MP's parents before heading to the airport (notice a little guy in the background)!



Having our last alone time at the airport, MP sporting a cocktail and I with a Bloody Mary, it was well into the afternoon after all~




Just got on the plane and I'm beyond psyched to have been bumped to business - woo hoo~





We were so afraid to fly Lufthansa because of the recent strike but we were just past the chaos that alot of families faced and had an amazing flight experience (minus the dreadful stop in Sudan which seemed to last forever when we were only a mere 1.5 hours til Bole, Addis)



The Sahara Desert (renamed I think to something else). This was the view for HOURS from the plane and then there was literally "life" and a city with a demarcation line that was crazy! It just went from this picture to a small city, wow!


Bole, Addis Ababa! Yay! We arrived on time-ish and this is the outside of the airport! We were so happy to be greeted by Mulat (WHFC driver and extraordinaire).

MP is so happy we've landed and to be headed for the guesthouse!
Little did I know the hell that awaited me only two days from this picture! :)
THE GATES at Horizon House (from the inside courtyard)... I never imagined the security, and these gates were at the end of a very long alley that you'd never expect to house such a beautiful compound! Wow, just looking at it again is so wonderful.
And this is the other side of the gates, the gates you just saw in the previous picture were to the right of this white "bus".

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hi!

Concentrating on coloring - I don't think she had ever held a crayon before last week but she's already improving!

I took out her braids at bathtime and let her have her "fro" for the night! She and Nick splashed and giggled together in the tub - it was adorable! And she is mommy's little helper, copying everything I do! She LOVES the laundry! Teddi (new nickname short for Ted-i-kwah) fell asleep here minutes after this picture and we scooped her up and everyone slept in our room (except Snoopy, Daddy and Nick are getting him now - eek).


Look at the face of a cherub!

Quickie update of home pics. I just took last night and today... I'll post about THE TRIP another time but just so you guys aren't hanging, the reason it was "horrid" was because of her reaction (or shear hatred) towards us. The trip and Ethiopia itself was the most amazing experience - visiting the birth family and the long journey to them was so extraordinary that I don't know that any words will ever do it justice. It was unlike any scenery I had ever witnessed and I will forever have those couple of days in my memory by sight, sound, and smell.


Addis and the Wide Horizons experience was beautiful, it was so different than I had expected and I really saw the beauty in the city and also the people - ugh, so beautiful.

The reason that we were there was the only part of the trip that was utter hell. At one point I ran out of the room she was in bawling, I was trying to think of a way out of the whole thing and if we'd be able to book a flight home, alone. Being convinced that I had just f'd up my little happy family of three rocked me and made vomit sit at the top of my throat for days.

And then, it began to lift, like peeling an onion, skin by skin she began to acknowledge me/us. We have a ton of work left to do but what has occurred in the past week is nothing short of a miracle. She is tremendous and every single bit of a diva and little baby all rolled into one. I never thought that a three year old would make my heart race and my hands tremble at the thought of having to see her again on those days but she had the power to scare me like I've never been scared in my life. She was a dream come true coming home and slept almost the entire time - whew! None of us got ill and we are beyond blessed for that fact. We are only slightly tired and life/laundry/shopping is all in order! The house is now complete and ready to keep us all happy for the week! MP has the week off too!

I'm so excited to talk about the details of the trip and of our little peanut - we are so blessed... If you want to know what she sounds like before I get around to posting video then just remember "Boo" from Monster's Inc.... that is her voice and giggle!! :) And she just did it! She's sitting behind me on the office chair tracing the tattoo on my lower back (what's with my kids and touching my back anyway)??!!

There are very few pictures of our trip with her for the reasons above but I will share a few of the less painful ones in the coming days. God put a mountain in front of us last week and we have certainly braved the worst of it and can't wait to enjoy our new life together as a family of four.

I CAN'T WAIT TO GO BACK (not like tomorrow or anything crazy) and explore more of the intoxicating country of Ethiopia - and when I say intoxicating I mean it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Back in the USA!

Much more to come... what a week. It was a tougher week than in my wildest dreams (on all of us) but we made it home and Nicholas is a shining star to her and US (more than ever)...

My worst nightmare came true along with watching a miracle unfold day by day... life will be wonderful in a short amount of time -

Glad to be home - glad to be home...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Heard it through the grapevine...

Here's another adorable photo of Bezu that I had from before they went to Ethiopia. Sorry I don't have any photos from their trip to post.

I haven't spoken to Lori myself but I have confirmation that they're on their way home! We are all excited to meet them at the airport tomorrow!
I'm sure the next post you see will be from Lori.

I want to thank each of you with all my heart for the love, support and prayers you have brought and continue to bring Lori, Michael, Nicholas and Bezu.


Be well.
Michelle

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Short & Sweet....


I have two photos, one of Michael tossing Nicholas into the air at the lake and the other of Michael, Lori and Nicholas huddled together. I wish I knew how to attach a video because then I'd attach the video of Michael tossing Nick up because you should hear him screaming with excitement!!! It was incredible fun!
I figured my post would be super boring without photos since I have no update. I was hoping to talk to Lori again but the cost of calling the USA is pretty steep so calls are at a minimum...especially the way Lori and I talk! For those of you who have asked, they are scheduled to come home Saturday afternoon.
I PROMISE I will let you know as soon as I hear any news!
Michelle



Monday, August 11, 2008

I just talked to Lori!!!!!

Ok everyone, I just got off the phone with Lori and this is the whirlwind couple of days they've had thus far:
They arrived around midnight Saturday night and had to get up for breakfast at 5am on Sunday. They were wisked to the care center to meet Bezu for a brief moment which was not entirely filled with joy...who can honestly say they enjoy being woken up early in the morning to meet strangers??? Anyway, they said their brief "hello" and were off to the village to meet the birth family. They drove for 4+ hours to a city called Awassa and picked up an interpreter. Then drove another 2+ hours on bumpy, windy dirt roads into the mountains, which Lori has described as magnificent! She said there are animals everywhere! They saw a cow lying in the road and everyone just went around it!
They met with Bezu's birth mom and were also able to experience another family's visit with their child's birth family. What an incredible day! On the way back they stayed the night in Awassa in a very nice hotel.
This morning they were up again at the crack of dawn (5am) to head back. When they got back they had lunch and spent time with Bezu while traveling to the US Embassy. From what Lori described, she IS the little Diva that she thought she may be! She even turns her shoulder to Lori as if to say "what-ev-aaa!" Tonight they will have dinner at an Ethiopian restaraunt and see some cultural dancing.
The great thing is now that they have met the birth family and taken care of business at the embassy, they can spend the rest of the week making their own schedule with Bezu before the trek home.
Lori is so incredibly excited and as happy as ever and they are out of their minds with love for this sweet little girl. I must admit that I am going crazy waiting to meet her...our whole family is!!
I'll add more after I talk to Lori in a couple days. Oh by the way...for those of you who have not gone yet, make sure you have the correct adapters (Lori is going to be so P.O.'ed at me for writing that!!!)
Michelle

Sunday, August 10, 2008

They made it!!!

All I can confirm as of today is they made it to Ethopia. When I have details of their travels I will post. I am on the edge of my seat!!!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Ciao~

It's 11:20pm EST and we're almost off for bed after a LONG day of final preparations and work for MP! Our departure time from home will be at about 10:45 a.m. - take-off is scheduled for around 4:00p.m. EST... yahoooo!

It's still all so surreal even at this point but I love it!

Love and hugs to everyone.... see you on the other side soon Tarikua Bezu! We cannot wait to meet you!

Kiki will keep ya'll posted! xoxo Lor - THIS IS JUST CRAZY!!!! :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

This is only a test.....




Okay all you obsessed bloggers! It's my turn at the wheel. How exciting to be able to take this on for my incredible sister and bro. I love you guys!!!!




Our family is bursting with happiness that things are finally in place...two days and counting. I will try to keep you all up to speed and I'll try to use my wit (which you've probably noticed is much like my sister's) to keep your attention.




I'm even attaching a photo....not of Lori though because she promised to retaliate and boy can she do it! This one of my many "not photogenic" snapshots when I was in Hong Kong this past March.




By the way, you are all so sweet to my sister with all your warm thoughts and prayers, I love ya for that and I thank you. It's heartwarming to see so much love and kindness.




Ciao for now...

Goodbye??? Perhaps...

Bezu's Room!

Well, it's not 100% done but I want to get these up anyway before it get's trashed with kid stuff (as any happy children's room should be - grr) The walls will be peppered with pictures, happy pictures of Bezu and her new family!!! Other than that it's done! And we need to find a cute little bird stuffed animal for the birdcage! Nightstands = $4 each!! Headboard w/onlay painted and distressed by me = $90!!
Crystal lamps = $20 each!! Canvas artwork (reg. $130) = $25!!


The mirror is an antique we've had for awhile in our storage room and I decided to paint it and distress it to match her headboard! Then I just had the old crappy mirror inside replaced!

The dog who wanted to be a princess = priceless!! I can't keep him out of her tiny room!!


Here is the little calendar I made to give to grandma and yaya for Nick while we're gone! I also bought him little (I mean little) gifts to open each day with a love letters from us for each day too!


Me in our old dining room turned staging zone! I'm so excited!!! Thanksgiving around our table will be spectacular this year - we have SO much that we're thankful for, so, so much!


I still can't figure out how to post pictured in a certain order! I bought this shelf for $10 and painted and distressed it! Notice the fairy princess wand and tiara!! Nick LOVES to play with them - oh jeez! He hasn't shown intrest in trying on her tutu... yet!


Finally - me and my guy today on our last full day as boyfriend and girlfriend alone! I was so sad about that a couple of weeks ago but now I am fully ready to take this next jump and begin anew! It's time and we're ready in every sense of the word! Bring it on!

There's not a ton of stuff left to do but enough that tomorrow will be quite busy, I cleaned the refrigerator top to bottom last night which is another sign of nesting!

Welcome home to all the BU 08' families - I wish we were there but am glad that we had some very important things keeping us on the east coast! Hopefully there will be a BU 09'!!

This may be my last post before we leave, we'll see! If so, ciao everyone, see you on the other side (of the world that is). Auntie Kiki (my sister Michelle) will be doing blog updates via our phone calls when we're away. There's nothing more annoying than knowing a friend is in Addis and not getting any info! Hopefully she'll do pictures too!!! She's never blogged before and for that matter neither have any of my LIVE friends... everyone probably thinks I don't have any real friends but I certainly do, they just don't do computer stuff as additively as I. So if you can, cheer on Kiki so she'll be inspired to do a good and thorough job!

Oh yeah, we're leaving Friday 8-8-08 in the afternoon and arriving in Addis at 8:30 Saturday night. We'll sleep and wake up early to meet our daughter Sunday morning! So it will be around 1:00am EST (you'll all be asleep)!

We'll be coming home (hopefully) Saturday the 16th (leaving Addis the 15th) in the afternoon. We're coming straight into Boston Logan airport from Germany which is nice, then just a quick one hour ride home (in two cars of course).... how exciting.

Lor xo