Friday, March 27, 2015

Eight Months and a Baby

It's hard to write a blog when you haven't written a blog in four months. I have good reasons. I promise. So let's just start with the big news:

I'm having a baby. In June.

There. I said it. It is still kind of weird for me to say, though I am officially entering the 3rd trimester so this is not new news to me. Still, it's weird. I'm going to show you something. I've posted this nowhere. Nowhere, you here me? But because I'm feeling frisky today and where else to share than with the entire internet, I present this:

I have to say that it's a super weird question to me but I get it a lot so I am going to go ahead and answer it: yes, we planned this baby. Sure, he's coming faster than we might have thought. But we are so thankful he's making an appearance in our lives. Yes, I said he. What? You think for a second I wouldn't find out? Oh no no no no. I can't do that kind of waiting. My patience is limited in general and I had to find out as soon as I could. So we took IC with us in January to find out that we'll be a two-boy family come June.

I want to address something that I get a lot in person and I think it's important to dismiss this notion. Here's the comment:

"Oh my gosh! This happens ALL THE TIME!"

Well. OK. Let's walk through this together, can we? First, we adopted out of a plan A. This dude? Plan A. Always.

Adding random pics in between, like IC wearing Dad's letter jacket. Because I can.
Meaning: yes, we had a very public loss but we were always told we should not have problems conceiving and, in fact, the doctors who told us that were spot on. When it was our time, we had no issues. We didn't adopt because of infertility. We adopted because we wanted to add IC to our family that way. First. As our firstborn. We had always wanted to do that way first and it worked beautifully for us.

But I want to address this because it's bigger than us. I have many, many friends who walk the road of infertility. It's hard. It hurts. And I have listened to their stories and held them and watched their tears fall many, many times. And do you know that saying things like "It always happens like that! You adopt and then BAM! You're pregnant! I think you just needed to relax!" is like for them? It's hurtful. And the reality is that it DOESN'T normally happen that way. And to assume that relaxation is the answer really belittles all the pain that people who struggle to conceive go through. 

So yes. We did adopt. And now we are having a baby. But those two things don't have anything to do with one another except for the fact that they are both happening to our crazy family. It's a tender subject for me and people I love so I just wanted to make sure we talked about it together. As an internet community. Because you all have been our people. 

In general, this pregnancy is going swimmingly! I wasn't too sick at the beginning. Tired? Yes, but I also had a new son who didn't sleep. Second trimester came and went with lots of energy, great feelings, and the amazing spectacle of watching my body grow. We're now fully into the last three months, preparing mentally to be tired and not sleep ever again. Or at least until 2017. I've been blessed to have a great pregnancy so far. And I'm looking forward to these last few months. 

Back to IC and our crazy life!

The question we get most often is, "How is IC doing with all of this?"

I wish I could tell you it's been really simple for him. That he's been thrilled since we told him in December. That it's been an easy transition for him. But that would be a big ol' lie.

I mean, here's the thing: we are talking about a boy who has had, I don't know, a million changes in eight months. That's right. As of now, he's been a part of our family for eight months. And we've added so much change to his little heart and mind. So of course, one more GIANT change in the form of a baby brother and he's got mixed emotions. He wants to be excited about it. He does. But, well, what does this mean? For his permanency in his family? For our love? For his future? He doesn't know.

We know. We know that nothing will ever, ever change our love for him or his place as the firstborn in our family. But conveying that to him is just really tough. So we are working more each day to help him get excited about brother and remind him that our love for him started LONG before we had a picture in hand and will never, ever, ever fade. And we're doing some tangible things, like letting him pick the crib and the going home outfit and really, anything else. I don't feel like my brain can handle those details most of the time anyway. Like most things in our life, IC's feelings about the pregnancy are a work in progress.

It's been so long since I've given an update that I wanted to give more IC info. He's seen snow:

Yep, those are my boots. He's growing too fast!! We bought him some but they didn't fit by the time it snowed. Whoops.
And he liked it! Mostly.

He's gotten his first haircut:

And we're already growing it out again! This boy LOVES his hair. He spends quite a bit of time fixing it and looking at it in the mirror. It's a little bit of a change for a mama who barely fixes her own hair. But his hair is pretty awesome so who can blame him?

We've made some new family traditions, like donuts on Saturday morning:

And painting before dinner and board games after:

And we've found IC is pretty talented at painting. And soccer. And lots of other things. I'm sure we haven't figured out all his talents yet.

School is going well and he's learning so much! Parent teacher conferences were a joy, as we listened to both his classroom teacher and his English Language teacher share how hard he works, how kind he is, and how well he's doing. We've seen him go from about three English words to writing sentences by himself. It's amazing. And I seriously couldn't be prouder of the growth we've seen in this beautiful little boy.

I mentioned last time that sleep was tough and I am so happy to report we've seen great strides in this area. He's doing so well.

Happy Birthday, Eric!! We celebrated quickly together in between film festival showings.

We have lots of hard in life. It's hard to rebuild trust in a little boy whose life has gone to shambles more than once. But we are reminded often that he's made great strides. We've made great strides. We are a family God is weaving together more and more every day.

I find myself texting friends my failures. Like all moms, I think I feel like a failure more than I feel like a success story. This stuff is hard. Trusting God to bring healing and hope is hard. But I have dear friends who cheer me on and pray for us and pray with me. Who remind me that my failures remind me of my dependence on God and my successes are really God's to begin with.

We have a long journey ahead of us but we've taken many, many steps already. And we get to take them together.

Selfie King

Apparently this face looked like a good idea.
Thank you for your continued love and support for our family. Our biggest prayer requests right now would be for continued connection for all of us but specifically for the boys, for bedtime to continuously get better, for IC to handle the new addition well, and for getting to school on time (yep! still struggling with that one!).

We're so blessed to have the most amazing boy in our home. And I can't wait to look back in a few more months and see even more growth. We give all thanks to God who is working miracles each day.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Settling In: Four Months

I promised myself I would finish all my thank-you notes before I wrote on the blog again. I am happy to say I only have a few to go so I felt like I could give an update.

Yes, it's been four months. Four months as a family. After the last update you may be wondering how things are going...IC is in school. I am at work. Life is, well, getting into quite the routine. I can say with full gusto we love being a family of three. In the three months since I last wrote, so much has happened. I'm not going to be able to get to it all. So I'll just hit the highlights. Forgive me. As expected, life is busier now than ever before and I spend my free time cleaning up messes and, well, sleeping.

IC loves school. He was very nervous to start but he immediately settled in. He goes to a public school and attends English Language Learner class throughout the week in addition to his general instruction. He has the best teacher in the whole wide world and all of us are thrilled with his experience so far. His teacher has been super responsive to our discussions regarding sensitivity to IC's specific circumstances. We aren't always on time to school (um, that's an understatement) and she's been very kind to understand that with so much change, some things are going to just be hard. Like getting to school on time.

2nd Grade body project. Is he not the cutest!?!?

We recently went to parent teacher conferences and were happy with the results on many fronts. Not only is IC's English coming right along and we are able to see progress in his reading and writing but we're also seeing lots of social progress. We took him with us to conference (we don't do babysitters yet unless the uncles are free...which has been a life-saver!!). When we got there, IC walked out to the playground and as he walked out, he was met with a crowd of kids yelling his name. Turns out our little guy is quite the kickball player and it's made him a friend to many on the playground. It was really fun to see his entrance met with such enthusiasm. Our goal for this year is for IC to feel more comfortable in school, make friends, and learn English. I'm happy to say he's making progress in all these areas and then some. It's been so fun to see him come into his own academically and socially.

IC had is first American birthday. We had a very fun tailgate part with the family (more on football in a moment). He got PLENTY of birthday loot including science experiments, tools, Legos, and superhero clothes and costumes. Basically, he got more of all of his favorite things. We were also informed he got his very first birthday cake. Well, TWO birthday cakes. On his actual birthday, we took IC to a pizza place with his friend from school and celebrated with pizza and another cake. We didn't want to overdo the birthday and make it overwhelming but we also wanted it to be memorable. I would say birthday number 8 was a huge success!

If you even know our family just a little, you know this deserves its own category. We took IC to his first football game after he'd been home only a month. I have to say we were all a little nervous. After all, a stadium filled with 70,000 people can be overwhelming for anyone. But as it turns out, our guy LOVES Mizzou football. He tailgates with us for hours, and even gets his own root beer to enjoy. He quickly learned the traditions and songs and won't leave until the very last second has run off the clock, no matter what the weather is like.

Last week we celebrated as Mizzou won the SEC East. It was a fun moment for the whole family. We stayed all the way through the students rushing the field and danced in our seats to "Georgia on My Mind." We're looking forward to a little home tailgate and football watching today, although IC is not a fan of watching football on TV. As it turns out, the screen for 3-4 hours is not nearly as fun as the stadium. He's promised us he'll entertain himself while we watch the game. I'm hoping it will be a fun enough game we'll all want to watch. High hopes. Low expectations.

We're all a little bummed football home game season is over and we can't wait til next year. IC is often heard running around our house yelling "Welcome, welcome, WELCOME to SEC Football!! Welcome to the ZOU!" For those who don't know, that's how the opening video goes on the field.  Next year is sure to be a success. IC has also already told us he will be playing soccer and football at Mizzou (he doesn't understand there's no men's soccer at MU and we aren't about to break that news).

Home Life and Attachment
We've come so far in such a short time home. Sometimes it's easy to forget how short a time we've been a family of three. Four months isn't long at all. While we are still learning to be a family in some ways, we've made huge strides. We're seeing routine more and more and all learning to trust each other more each day. We're seeing less of a struggle to try to figure out our family structure and rules and more ability to talk through the "real stuff" that all goes with growing a family through adoption.

We've gotten to see some of the many talents IC already has. As it turns out, he is a gifted tailor:

He loves building things (which he calls "working") and has already completed several projects with dad:

Yep, that's a chair the boys built out of scrap wood.
Most days after school we visit dad, head home, and IC gets to work in the garage on some project. It's amazing to see his brain work through the details of what he wants to make, how to make it, and seeing it through to completion. It's also been a great bonding experience for IC and daddy. They've been quite the pair, making gifts for others, a working street luge, a chair, a giant box, and more. They're always thinking.

The love for his dog just continues and expands. One area we've had some trouble is bedtime but we're thankful for Dash. He helps IC feel safe at night:

If you are praying for us, thank you! Bedtime is where we could use the most prayers right now. We're seeing lots of progress but it's still a time met with fear, delays, and a need for mama to be present a good portion of the night. We're so thankful for the trust being built and hoping each month makes IC more comfortable with falling asleep and feeling safe.

Halloween was a blast. Captain America quickly learned the tradition. He went with 20 other kids and started at the back of the group, slowly making it from house to house. By about five houses in, though, he was sprinting from house to house and was at the front of our group. We still have two full tupperware containers of Halloween candy. He's too observant for me to pitch it! The joys of having a smarty kid:).

Don't try to tell me there's ever been a cuter Captain America. It's not possible.

We've seen IC start to understand the weather here. And let me tell you, the results are mixed. The cold isn't his favorite:

But he does LOVE snow. We've had a few flurries and he's in love. The very first time it snowed, we had less than an inch of accumulation but he was still rolling on the ground, giggling, and sticking his tongue out to catch snowflakes. I can't wait til we really get some snow this winter. I have a feeling it will be quite the party.

We've really been amazed at how God has worked to orchestrate our family. We've seen lots of little reminders that, while our family started with loss, God has blessed it with lots of good things. We'll be working through healing and attachment for months and years to come but we are seeing so many great strides. 

Our holiday season started off with a wonderful Thanksgiving and we can't wait to experience Christmas as a family of three. I hope to keep up to date better but life is full and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

We're Home: Four Weeks

Yes. I realize that my blog has had us stuck in Ethiopia for the past few weeks. The reality couldn't be further from that. On July 19 we scooped up everything from the guest house, took our sleepy little son to the airport, and spent the next twenty-something hours traveling and trying to make it home. It was hard. But sometimes we got fun pictures like this:

And then, when we thought we could not take it one more step, handle one more in-flight meal, or deal with one more airport, we arrived home. In our tiny town. In our tiny airport. With our friends and family. That airport moment? The one we had been waiting for since March 2011? It finally happened. On July 20, 2014 three of us stepped off the plane in our matching attire and our friend Gerik snapped this photo of our family, finally in our town.

Aren't you glad you can't smell airport stink in photos? You should be, my friends. You should be.

I drove the short drive home with a wide-eyed boy in the back, next to my husband. We gently placed him in the bed we'd lovingly assembled and crashed into dreamland. Hard.

And that, my friends, was the beginning.

I've wanted to write you for four weeks. To tell you what life is like and tell you we're safely at home as a family of three. That's easier said than done. I am more tired than I can explain to you. The free moments are fleeting and usually, by the time our little is asleep, I send out a few work emails and crash. Hard.

I struggle to tell you what the past four weeks have been like. If you have heard of Jen Hatmaker, she says things way better than I ever could. Of course, she's a professional author so that's probably why. Here's a post Jen wrote a few months after she arrived home. And here's one she wrote a year later, reflecting on what their journey was like.

For us, we had heard we would have a "honeymoon period" where our son would kind of live in "fake world" before he started to deal with the struggles of trauma and brokenness. While this may be the experience for some, this wasn't ours. Pretty much from the moment he got home, we saw how hard this whole thing was for him. As we've mentioned before, we aren't sharing the details of his particular story or struggle. Those details are his. But know that adoption always comes from brokenness. And we see him struggle with coming to terms with that brokenness each and every day.

Picture, if you will a moment, you're seven. Everything you've ever known has been ripped away from you by some people who don't look anything like anyone you've ever seen before. They promise you it will be for the best but you met them about a month ago so in your head, you have no reason to believe them. They tell you family is forever. You have no concept of this. They take your language, your food, your friends, your school, your smells, your home, and everything you've known. And then, they expect you to act happy. Grateful even.

Guys, that's the definition of insanity. I mean.

But attachment is a dance. And in between the hard stuff, our days are filled with beauty and connection and love.

Anyway, here's what I know. The last month of my life has been incredible. I love a little boy more than I could ever, ever imagine. In four weeks, he's wrapped himself around my heart in ways I thought might be possible but I had no. stinking. idea.

I realize the next sentence makes me really lucky. I got to take a month off work to bond with my child. This month could not have been more needed. And it made me realize how lucky I am to have adopted an older child. Because bonding? Well. Lets just say I'm pretty tan from all our bonding. Exhibit A:

From the moment we got IC home, he talked about the pool. So we started going every day. I can't say this has been the best summer for the pool. It's been a little cold. But he hasn't noticed. We go almost every day, rain or shine. In case you were wondering, no, he had never been swimming before. But he went from staring in amazement to spending almost our entire three hours each day underwater.

We've taken to getting ice cream after our pool adventures so I have a regular little Starbucks lover. He did eventually figure out what real ice cream is. But mama still gets Starbucks and he then goes through the ice cream window for a vanilla cone with sprinkles.

Another thing we've been doing lots of: bike riding. A sweet friend got IC a bike. Before he had ever met us, one of his updates said he would like to learn to ride a bike. We promised to make this happen. So on day four of being home, we tried to teach him. And on day five, we bought training wheels and went back out again. Because teaching without training wheels was surely going to be the death of E or me.

For the first few weeks we ran beside him and he pedaled. We found a cute park near our house and would take morning outings to the park. IC loves to take pictures. He usually asks to send them to daddy or grandmama. Like this one:

And this one:

The running-by-the-bike worked for a short while but it wasn't long before I was panting. Well. A dear friend and neighbor offered me her bike and I started riding next to him early two weeks ago. Which was just in time. Because last Saturday we were on a ride, he headed home, found a wrench, removed his own training wheels, and took off with fury. I was so glad I had a bike to keep up. That kid is fast! And he NEVER gets tired. Between E and I we probably rode 25 miles or so with him this weekend. Is IC tired? No. But mom and dad are sleeping well at night.

And maybe you're wondering how the dog thing is going?

Let's just say Dash has a new best friend and we have one less dog sleeping in our bed at night. Those two are inseparable. It's like they knew they were meant for each other. We're so glad they have each other. They have a sweet little friendship going on.

Yes, this month has brought us so far. We're figuring each other out. We're falling in love and learning how to love better.

I am sure a million times a day I'm doing it all wrong. But as my friend texted me the other day, I have never been more in need of Jesus and his grace than I am right during these early days as a family of three. 

I've been so thankful for our little village. We've had meals dropped at our doorstep, gift cards mailed to us, texts sent, visits on the from stoop (so as not to disturb our bonding process), prayers given, hugs given, tears shed with us. And we know this is just the beginning.

Someone found the costume bag

We're slowly beginning to add real life back in. I went back to work this week. We've started to attend church. And yes, little IC starts second grade on Tuesday. I've never seen anyone more nervous to start school in my whole life. If you think about it, say a prayer for our beauty on Monday night or Tuesday morning.  One more thing in the list of new experiences and our little perfectionist is so worried he won't do well because his English isn't at the standard he has set for himself.

In the midst of all this, I have an amazing husband. When I'm sure I can't be alone for one more second, he sends me to Target or the bathtub or the grocery store. Or, amazingly, to take a nap. And I am refreshed.  And thankful to co-parent with a man who loves God most, me second, and our little IC in amazing ways.

Each day we cling to each other and our faith as we learn how to be a family. And each day we laugh, we smile, and we know God's up to something good. And sometimes good means hard work. And that's just fine with us. Because we can't imagine life without our little IC.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Road Trip Photos

Guys. I am so tired. We went to the Blue Nile Gorge today and crossed the Portuguese Water Bridge. It was beautiful. And exhausting. We are all so tired. So with your grace and permission, I am just going to post pretty pictures today and head to bed. Because this mama is BEAT. And frankly, so was her son. His head couldn't hit the pillow fast enough, poor buddy.

Today included a 6 hour trip that should have been four hours, a vomiting child (not mine!!), a LONG hike, LOTS of baboons (close up, even!!) and lots of great Ethiopian food. I was emotionally and physically exhausted so I can't imagine what a toll this took on our little guy.

Please enjoy the photos by husband while I head to the pillow to crash. xoxo

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Farm Animal Juju and Other Tales from Today

Yesterday, despite the absence of a blog post, was a great, filled day. The picture above is from a drive we took. That same drive we saw baboons. Very close up. But as we went to get the camera, they moved along. Probably good. I'm not sure how friendly baboons are.

For those of you that aren't Facebook friends with me I feel like I need to tell you one thing from yesterday. We hit a donkey with our van. Well. The driver did. We were on our way out to the place where we took the above picture and we came to a small town. It was market day so everyone was walking their farm animals to the market to be sold. There were people and animals around every curve. We came around a curve and our driver started to honk. And slow. But the donkey out in front of us did not care. We came to a screeching halt--right into the donkey.

It took about an hour for the scene to be settled. There were police who our guide told us had to measure things (What things? We do not know.) and they arbitrated the dispute. The townspeople gathered 3-4 deep around our van while we waited and another group gathered around our driver and guide and watched the arbitration like a TV courtroom drama. Big entertainment, I tell ya.

In the end, the donkey breathed its last, our driver paid a fine, and we left after an hour. Our guide mentioned a conspiracy theory the police had that this person had brought their blind donkey to be put out of its misery by a car. Apparently this is a common phenomenon. A donkey has an ailment. A family needs money. The donkey get "helped" and so does the family. I can't confirm this donkey was actually blind. His testimony was lacking in substance. But the whole thing did lead to a good story.

On to today. We woke up and tried to figure out what we were going to do for the day. Some of the other families were headed back to the transition home so we asked IC if he wanted to go see his friends and he said yes. We got his sneakers on and headed that direction. It was a weird morning. I can't exactly describe it but basically it felt like we didn't fit their anymore. We had our son. He had us. And though it had only been two days, it just felt different. I did get to play a little with some toddlers, which was adorable. And IC got to say goodbye to his friends (we said goodbye to some of them too since we'd grown affectionate toward them in our time there) but really, when lunch came, we were ready to roll. We agreed that was probably the last stop we'd make there. It was time for our family. The TH was no longer our place.

When our driver arrived to pick us up, he handed us the golden ticket!! We now have IC's passport, visa, and sealed file to hand to immigration upon arrival in the US. We're ready to go when it's time on Sunday. I think we are still finding it hard to believe that ALL the paperwork is done. I mean, except for lots of social worker post placement visits and yearly update reports. Oh yeah. Those.

We did lunch back at Makush, a restaurant and art gallery. Restaurants are a funny dance because the waiters can speak to IC better than we can. But, of course, we want to approve his choices. So we have to let them talk. Then talk to the waiter, then talk to IC and hope he gets it. He liked whatever we ordered today so I'm calling that a win. We also worked on using a fork today. Since most of the time he eats with injera (the spongy bread) he's really not used to utensils. So we tried to mime using a fork for his meat and just holding his bread instead of using it to scoop. It was a funny scene. It's going to take a little getting used to, I think, but it went well over all.

We stopped at a market after lunch to pick up spices. There were three adoptive families and zero guides so the comedic value was higher than usual. We headed over to the spices, each of us trying to say the Amharic word and looking at our kiddos to point to the matching spice. Berbere? Got it. Shiro powder? I think so. But mitmita? Not so much. We asked and they pointed to chilies. Whole chilies. We asked again. They pointed again. We gave up. I googled just now. It does have chilies in it but there are more ingredients. Sadly, IC will have to live without mitmita. We tried, buddy. We really did.

By the time we got back in the van, IC was showing signs of exhaustion. At the TH, they take a nap each day. It doesn't seem to be wearing on the other kids but we can tell immediately if IC has gone too long without it. He crashed on my lap on the bus and awoke when we got back to our guest house. He was so tired, though, that he let E pick him up and carry him the two flights up to our room. He laid straight back down and crashed for two hours. We woke him at five. Who knows how long he would have kept sleeping. Of course, he's missing nap time. But it's also a LOT of change on his little person. And change is hard. And draining. And napping helps. So nap we did.

After a long nap he headed down to play with the other kiddos. We don't let him play on the phone or computer (except for a little educational stuff in the morning) but when he's with the other kids we let them do what they are doing. We look over and he is playing a video game on someone's phone and has headphones into an mp3 player listening to some Ethiopian pop music. A minute later he was playing with Legos and it occurred to me if you didn't know better, he looked like any other American 7 year old in that moment. See:

All the adoptive families still around (our suitemates left today) decided to do dinner together. E and I wanted wine. It was a pretty small restaurant and when we ordered the import wine they told us they were out. So we agreed to try the domestic wine.

Never, never try the domestic wine. Never. Picture you have a neighbor who knows nothing about wine but decides after watching a youtube video they are going to bottle some. So they find some bottles, do a rudimentary fermentation procedure, and invite you over. Can you imagine what that might taste like? Like badly fermented grape juice that you immediately want to forget? Yes. Yes. And Yes. But it was an adventure. Never say we're not up for an adventure.

We left the restaurant and as we were standing on the porch, I noticed a shadow. What? Yes. It was an escaped bull. With horns. Running through the street. As our friend Michael, who was with us, said, "your family has bad farm animal juju." Yes. We do. We hopped in the van and then were stuck in traffic. Guess why? That's right. The bull (or oxen, as our driver said...anybody know the difference?) was holding up all the traffic. A city block's worth of people was chasing the oxen up and down the street, trying to wrangle it. At one point it was running straight toward our bus window. But he passed us and we were finally free to move toward our guest house. Adventure. It's all over us.

Bus selfie!

We got back just in time for shower (IC's favorite...he still giggles the whole way through), Bible story, and prayer. It was a full, good day and tomorrow is even busier. We are headed on another trip to the countryside.

I want to stop my narration for a minute to thank you all for praying for us each day. Our days are filled with lots of fun stories and great moments with our son. However, as each day passes we see how much we are asking of IC--to give up everything he's known to be a part of our family. We see glimpses of how hard this is and will be. He's a wonderful little boy but everything in his life is changing. Thank you for you prayers. Please continue to pray for strength and patience for our little guy and his parents. 

Can't wait to tell you about our trip tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to it. As long as there are no farm animals.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Embassy Appointment: Complete

We are going to try to get to bed early tonight so I'm going to write a quick post while we wait for dinner to be delivered.

Today was a good day. A good, good day. Let's start with this: at 5am little IC had made his bed and was standing over us, ready to greet the day. Only problem is mom and dad weren't quite as pumped. So he crawled in and let us sleep a little longer. E got up before I did and when I finally woke up, IC spoke his first sentence to me, "Where is Dad?" Guys, I couldn't be prouder. A full sentence.

We found dad on the roof waiting for the sunrise so we joined him and all watched the sun rise in Ethiopia together. I feel like there's a metaphor about the dawn of our lives together or something but I'm too tired to flesh that out so go for it, if you so choose. The sunrise really was lovely and as soon as it was fully up, we headed back downstairs to get ready.

I have to show you IC all ready for the day because, I mean. I have a little looker on my hands, in case you didn't already know. Case in point:

As soon as we were ready to go, we loaded the van and headed to the embassy. Just as I was told, the embassy is a very nice building. Very nice and not friendly to photography. We can't even take photos outside the building. So we didn't. I'll give you the pretty basic rundown: we came in, we talked through a window, we left. The guy at the window was super nice. We exchanged a few comments about the World Cup (which we didn't watch because it was on LATE here!) and then he told us we could pick up his visa and passport later this week. Easy-peasy and quick.

We went straight from the embassy back to the transition home for a few last items. We arrived and they had prepared a coffee ceremony for us. In Ethiopia the traditional coffee ceremony is a big deal. You may remember we had one at the traditional Ethiopian dinner last time we visited. It typically has coffee that is roasted, ground, and boiled to completion right on the spot. There's always incense and there's always popcorn. Which is good for our family because we LOVE popcorn. And coffee. It's a very nice thing to do a coffee ceremony for visitors, so it was sweet to have one done as we removed our kids from the TH for good.

All Photos of the coffee ceremony by IC

We met with a few of the officials from the transition home and took a few pictures for families still waiting to visit. We talked to the counselor about several things, one of which was the dogs. We tried to explain that Dash, his favorite dog, might be too excited to see him and he might jump up on him and put his paws on his shoulders. We didn't want him to be scared. But as the counselor started to translate, IC went into fits of giggles. He thought it was the funniest thing he had ever heard! He even told one of the other boys about it and laughed the whole way. So we're hoping it will be that entertaining when it happens.

By this point, we were all so, so hungry. It took quite a while so I got to play "mama" and hand out a pre-lunch snack to my little guy. I felt pretty awesome that I had come prepared and could help him in this small way. Because, you know, this mom thing is new.

We loaded the van and headed off to lunch.

Lunch took a while and a few families had just arrived so by the time it was over, pretty much everyone (myself included) was yawning. We headed back to the guest house and I crawled into bed, with two sweet boys next to me, for a nap.

I woke up and the boys had gotten up and were playing memory in the living room. They really are a sweet pair. We inflated a soccer ball and Mama G and I watched the dads play from the balcony of our room. I knew they had finished when I heard a loud commotion coming up the stairs. We calmed down with tetris and tangrams. And then as I started to write this post, the boys began to work on school. I can hear them spelling out words now and IC is working so hard. If you think we are the ones pushing the school thing, you are absolutely wrong. He loves working on school and will work until he is fully exhausted from working so hard.

As I mentioned, we're waiting for dinner and we'll be heading to bed a little early. Full disclosure: I don't expect to get a blog post in tomorrow. So I hope to chat with you again on Wednesday.

Much love from Ethiopia.