Thursday, December 10, 2009

Adoption Update

Here is the latest report--and we only wish we had better news to report. Apparently, our agency's orphanage in Addis Ababa is one of the ones being investigated after some bad press from the Australian BBC a few months ago. The story was about some pretty horrific behavior on the part of a particular adoption agency. Our agency was not listed as an offender on the show, but they must have gotten some of the children in the orphanage from similar areas. I am still working on getting more information from them as to why they are part of this investigation, but getting information from them is like pulling teeth. I really have not been impressed by our agency in the least since we always get our information by looking at other sources, and are only told information long past the fact and only through prodding. I had actually asked my agency if they were involved in this set of investigations over a month ago to which they had replied no. These investigations--at least on other orphanages--began in early Nov, but I was only informed on Dec 8th because I've been pestering them for more information for over a month as to why we do not have a court date scheduled. Their previous response was that the courts were backed up, however, I knew this was incorrect from a friend who is also adopting from Ethiopia. So the moral of the story--be very careful what agency you choose to adopt through. If I could go through another agency, I would, but there is still a very beautiful, innocent little girl that we cannot bear to forget. Hopefully everything will be worked out soon.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Best Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving this year, we did the funnest thing ever. We went to the Bern Switzerland temple! A short 8 hour drive, makes it a good trip for a long weekend like Thanksgiving. And since it was a planned ward temple trip, there were many people to trade babysitting (I think this was the first time in years D. and I got to go together), and many of our best friends were there to share some fun time together. We were able to stay at the hostel there at the temple and had the funny coincidence of running into the Harris' from Loveland who are serving a mission in southern Italy!

This is a quick picture we took from the road on our way there. Switzerland is such a pretty country, we could have filmed the whole drive nearly. It doesn't represent any of their tall mountains, but some of the beauty of that country.

The temple is so beautiful, don't you think!?

Here is a quick family photo of us outside the temple. We took the children on a night walk around the grounds so we could admire it at night and have a good talk. In the morning of one of the days, all the Primary kids there got to meet with the temple president and talk with him. It was a very neat experience.

The boys were fascinated by this simple Christmas tree on the temple grounds.

Before heading back, we spent half a day in Bern touring the city and checking out their Christmas market. This was a candy store our friends showed us that has a slide into their below street level store. Here I. takes his turn.

And now A!

K. says, "I want to eat it all up! Candy, candy, more candy!"

Our friends next showed us a store with an open elevator that you jump on when it's level with the floor your on and that you can ride full circle (up one side and then down the other) without getting off, so you see all the mechanisms. Neat and creepy at the same time.

We also visited a church known for having an amazing 360 view of the Alps and all the surrounds. D., K., and I didn't go up top, but I. and A. went to the top with our friends and took some photos for me. I thought this was a pretty good representation of the view.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

We had this amazing derby race come right through our neighborhood! We knew it came through, but we've never known when. This year, we happened to be outside and saw the signs up and walked literally a little down the street to watch. We happened to be right at one of the sharpest curves, and I kept thinking they would slide into this huge concrete block just on the other side of the curve, but no one did. So much fun! Here is a little video so you can have a taste of it too!


video

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween

I've finally put up Halloween pictures. We had a cute medieval theme going on, but unfortunately we never got the chance to have a family photo. Part of it because D. was gone so much and part because I, being the Primary secretary now, was very busy at the "Family Fall Festival" making sure the party (essentially the Primary activity) was going well. Here is a sampling of the few pictures I was able to take.
Here is D. looking spiffy in his knickers and vest.

You are going to see quite a bit of K. in these photos--he was everywhere, as long as it involved a ride in someone's arms. Here is Mommy in her pretty dress. We initially were going to go for knights and a princess, but it is nearly impossible to find an adult princess costume that doesn't involve involve showing a lot of skin. Thus we settled on lord and lady with our knights to protect us.

Here is knight number in his get-up (although he is missing his shield and sword). We found these great foam shields and swords at Legoland in Germany and they were wonderful! They were fun to play with, but could hardly do damage to the opponent.

I don't know where A. was hiding out at the Primary party so that I never got a picture of him there, but I did get a picture at his Kindergarten parade around the school lot. Behind him is his good friend that just happened to show up in the exact same costume! They were so excited. Here you can see what the sword and shield looked like.Here is K. all on his own! I tried to get him to match his brothers, but I couldn't find a size I thought would fit him, although it probably would have fit him better than this costume. While it was cute, it was too small from day one. It is hard when your only options are to buy online. So K. got to be the Prince elect! He sure thinks he's that already.

"I ate my last Daddy too! Ha ha!"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Last Day in Ethiopia

Our last day in Ethiopia was also jam packed with adventure. After some mis-communication and the manager of the guest house missing church (which she told us later), we arranged to be taken to the Thomas Center one last time before we left that evening, and we planed a trip to Debre Zeyit. We spent the morning packing and generally just hanging around the house. Just before the trip to Debre Zeyit, we went to the Thomas Center. We arrived unannounced but were warmly welcomed by the staff. We went to T's room and romped around with her for a while. It was so much fun. She especially liked A's sunglasses.

We took some pictures and then after about ½ to 1 hour we got ready to leave. It was as hard as we had anticipated, leaving such a wonderful daughter there, not knowing when we would be back to bring her home. For me it was heat breaking. And then T realized that we were leaving and she was not going with us. She began to cry. Not like the first time where she cried some, but this time it was full tears and sobbing. I had some tears in my eyes when I walked down the stairs.

We planned a trip with the help of our Guest House to an area known for their beautiful “crater lakes.” Unlike the day before where we went to a place that seemed interesting to us (the water fall and the baboons), our guest house and tour guide insisted that this was “nice” place. Well, nice apparently meant a place that was developed with resorts, restaurants, and prepared activities such as boating and a swimming pool. While it was a nice place, it seemed to me and Vanessa that is was just another resort type hotel. We have found through our marriage that we prefer to see people how they really are and not how the rich tourists see them. To me the real Ethiopia was in downtown Addis Ababa and in the countryside town and villages. Nonetheless, we had fun canoeing in the lake and eating the resort quality Ethiopian food. Of note, when we ordered the Ethiopian food at the resort they said “Are you sure?! That IS traditional Ethiopian food!” Once we assured our waitress that we knew what we were doing she took our order. I got a lamb stew mixed with this really sour Injera bread and Vanessa got this amazing chicken dish with a side of Injera. We had a lot of fun and then we drove back to Addis Ababa to get ready for our flight home.

The resort

On the lake

We got to the airport at 11pm and had to scan our baggage right when we went in the door going into the building. After checking in we had to go through passport control. We had to fill out these little cards that looked exactly like the cards we filled out to get into the country only they said something like “Leaving” on the bottom. We stood in line for about 30 min and A was so tired that he fell asleep while I was holding him in line. This was a good thing because as I was standing there one of the security personnel saw this and asked our family to step to the VIP / First class passport line (go A, fall asleep on me any time). The funny thing was that he woke up almost the instant we finished at passport desk and did not fall asleep again until a couple hours later. Our plane from Ethiopia to Turkey was delayed an hour (we ended up getting on the airplane at 3am) and our connecting flight was also delayed two hours on the taxi way. Over all we arrived in Venice 2 hours late with Vanessa's sister, Erika, and her husband waiting for us (they landed 30 min before our original land time).

Overall a wonderful trip with some interesting moments and some heart wrenching moments. We cannot wait to go back and make T a permanent part of our family, never to be left behind again.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ethiopia--Day Three

Poor Dan was sick pretty much this whole day, so I have to write about it instead. This was our greatest adventure day! I convinced the guide our guest house uses to take us to a place called Durba that I had read about in a travel book. I had picked it because it sounded both interesting and somewhat easy to get to. A relative term, as we were to learn. Our guide had never been there, but was willing to try. After driving on a main road out of town—which boasted some great sites because we saw a traditional funeral taking place on the side of the road, and it was “flag day” so we saw a bunch of horses dressed up for what I think was going to be a small parade-type thing—we turned off onto this dirt road.
Just one of the normal sites. So many donkeys!

This is where it got interesting. We would travel for a few minutes, and then our driver, Solomon, or the guide would yell out the window “Durba, Durba” and ask directions. They would keep telling him it was further. Even though it was only an hour out of town, they already spoke enough of a different dialect, that our guide sometimes had a hard time communicating. (I should also mention that the North must be more dangerous because we had to stop twice for police to check the vehicle and ask us where we were going. Our guide had also forgotten to get some vital paperwork from the guest house, so he had to bribe the guards to let us back into the city on our way home.) After doing this for some time, and traveling on a very rough road, we finally made it into Durba where we then found some local willing to show us where the waterfall was—the intended destination. Out of nowhere, we found ourselves driving on the side of a huge ravine. There isn’t much water that flows down the waterfall, but the drop is spectacular.

Also, this was one of those scene from National Geographic because once out of the car, we were surrounded by all the local children who proceeded to follow us everywhere we went. Even more strange was one of the local youths started asking us, in great English, about American politics. Turns out, he is an Ethiopian law student who was home for the summer. At the top of the waterfall, there was a whole family of baboons that we got to get pretty close to and watch for a while—well, as close as I was willing to go.
If you look closely, you can see one of the males, and behind him, many of the village women washing clothes in the river.

By the time we headed back, A had figured out what a novelty American children are (I think they see American tourists every once and awhile, but not American children since both I and A got quite a bit of attention everywhere we went). He would wave at every person we passed through the bus window and revel in how excited people were to wave back at him.

Since Dan was sick—which was not due to the food as I’m sure you are thinking. If it had been the food, we would all have been down, since we all ate the same things, and he didn’t have any of the normal food sickness symptoms—we just went back to the guest house and hung out there. Unfortunately, I don’t think Dan remembers much of this day at all. At the guest house, A, being his normal charming self, got nearly all the workers—a guard, a small boy who must live in the back part of the house, and the driver Solomon—to play different games with him. By the time we left, they were all deeply in love with A. They all gave him hugs and gifts when we left.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Ethiopia--Day Two

Today we did the “City Tour” that our guest house arranged. It basically involved driving around town to have several main buildings pointed out to us and then stopping at a few key locations. Our first stop was at the Ethiopia National Museum. It wasn’t very big, but probably the right size for our boys—and it had a lot of history. Ethiopia is the origin of humanity, after all. Instead of audio sets that you can rent, they have a few people there waiting to be your guide. We hired one, and so got the full history. We also got to see the bones of Lucy, the oldest, most complete skeleton in the world (or actually a replica of her since she’s visiting the States right now). A. got bored pretty quickly, but I., as usual, was all questions. Our museum guide was so impressed by how curious he was about everything and by his pertinent questions.

We next visited the Lion Zoo—as per the kids request. Why is it called that, you ask? Well, that’s it—about 10-12 lions in a big circular building separated into pairs. You are separated from the lions by a chain link fence—and could easily reach in and pet them if you were so bold. It was quite worth it, though, since most of the lions were pretty active—I’m sure partly because they were in mating pairs. We got to watch and listen as some of the males roared to each other for quite a while. And we got to see a lioness slap the amorous male in her pen that wouldn’t leave her alone, after which she then had to jump on him to get her point across. Just not something you get to watch in the States. (We don’t have any photos because it would have cost us 10x the entry fee to take pictures.)

We also drove up on the side of the mountain to see the oldest Christian church in Ethiopia.
The drive was much more interesting than the church because of all the people and foot traffic we saw. Little old ladies which giant bunches of twigs strapped to their backs walking down the hill, an Ethiopia priest making a pilgrimage up to the church, and much more.
The priest (it would have been in focus, but A. bumped Dan at just the wrong moment)
Ladies with bundles
A view of Addis Ababa
We also got to stop at Ethiopia’s largest textile market and bought a nice tablecloth! We then went home and had some of the best soup I have ever tasted, brought to us by our great guest house cook.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Ethiopia--Day One

Today we met a great family from Washington State, Seattle area. True to form I do not recall their last names, but they are Dennis, Gabe and Maggs. They were in Ethiopia adopting 2 children--to total for them 7 children. It was neat to meet someone who was completing their adoption through CHI (also our adoption agency). We didn’t have much planed for the day other than to visit T.. We had been told to show up and call Pastor Abdisa and he would take care of the arrangements to visit the Thomas Center Orphanage. Well come to find out that this week they were processing 5 adoptions at the same time and trying to meet all of the meetings and requirements, not an easy task. The first time we called Pastor Abdisa he was at the US embassy with one family and asked us to call back in 2 hours. When we called him back, he arranged a driver for us to go to the Thomas Center at 15:30. So we had some time. We went to the “Post Office” market. (Why is it called the postal market, not that you go postal from haggling, but because it is next to the national postal center, go figure). We found some cool stuff, this was after all the market for traditional souvenirs.

After a trip to the market we were able to finally visit T.. I do not think that I can explain what it is like to show up at an orphanage and have someone hand you your child to be. It is just as exciting as being able to hold your child in the hospital, only she is bigger and beginning to walk!!! We spent about 45 min at the orphanage with her, feeling like fish in a bowl. There were 3-4 nannies, our driver, and the orphanage patron all watching us interact with T.. It was an odd experience, it almost felt like we were being judged in a subtle way. Beyond that, our interaction with T. was wonderful. She warmed up to me somewhat quickly and then after some time went to Vanessa. She looked just like her pictures, absolutely beautiful, full of personality, and excited about life. It was interesting to see how quickly she attached to us after just an hour. When we were getting ready to leave, she knew that we were going and began to cry. She ran to me (Dan) to pick her up. I carried her downstairs to our waiting car but had to leave her. (One of the frustrations with our current visa process is that you HAVE TO visit the child before the adoption court proceedings, but being that you have not adopted her yet you cannot take her out of the orphanage. It was heart breaking to see her cry as we left. After much pondering about it and discussing it with other adopting parents, etc, we decided that we should limit our contact with her until we are able to bring her out of the orphanage with us. It was just too heart breaking to make her go through the same stress 4 days in a row. (see post for Oct 4 for further details on this).

We went back to our guest house both excited to be adopting this wonderful little girl, but heart broken that it would take another few months to process this adoption be fore we can bring her home. We had a wonderful traditional Ethiopian dinner, some was spicy (they said that they toned it down for us to a 5/10 if normal is 10/10, I was still the only one in our family who could eat the Doro Wat) and some was not, but it was all wonderful.

Ethiopia--Travel Day

We spent a long time on an Airplane, and the boys did amazingly. I think this is the best we have traveled in a long time. Granted this is the first time we have not traveled without a child 3 years old or less. Nonetheless, our plane was only 1 hour late into Addis Ababa Ethiopia, having us arrive at 2am. We had arranged with our guesthouse to pick us up from the airport, and so Tsebay (the manager) had been waiting outside for us until we cleared customs and immigration.

Immigration was interesting, we arrived and were required to fill out an entry card, then we went into this little room where they basically had 3 card tables, 2 people hand writing visas and one person accepting money. After that we had to go through the immigrations booth, just like every other airport. When all was said and done it was probably 02:45 before we got loaded in the van to go to the guest house. After a 15 min drive along the roughest finished road you have ever been on we arrived, stumbled our way upstairs and fell asleep in no time. The best part about traveling with small children is that they do not understand the meaning of sleeping-in, neither for its restorative properties nor for it’s more transient qualities. Our wonderful children were up at 06:30, oh happy day.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Referral!!!!

We just wanted to let everyone know that after starting this adoption process over a year ago, we are finally almost done! We have received a referral! That means that finally there is a specific child for us to adopt. It also means there is only about 2-3 months left in the process if all goes well. So here is a first look at T (name pending )! A little about her is that she is almost exactly a year younger than Kimball, she was abandoned so the birthday is estimated and we pretty much know nothing else about her background, but we do know that she is healthy! We are right now trying to get out there for our 1st of 2 visits. I'm sure we'll be writing again soon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Something's Missing

If you have recently looked over our blog, you will notice some things are missing. Specifically people names. We didn't want to make our blog private and risk not getting out invitations to everyone, but we also wanted to increase the security of our family. We resolved to just take out the names except for the first letter. (This can be a little confusing with I. but I think you'll figure it out.) So if you know us, you know our names and it won't be a problem at all! So enjoy!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Paris--Ooh la la!

For our anniversary this year, Dan took me to Paris WITHOUT the children!!! For those who attended our wedding you may feel a little confused. Yes our anniversary is in Feburary, but D. has been gone so much on different little assignments that May was the earliest we could plan anything. (His office wanted him to wait until July, but D. figured I might not appreciate waiting quite that long--I think his words were more along the line of "my wife will kill me if I make her wait for July." For the record, I really wasn't that upset, but it is nearly pulling teeth to get D. a day off from the clinic, so I approved of any methods necessary.)

For some reason, and maybe it's only because I haven't blogged for a while, but I didn't remember that blogspot would load all the pictures backward. It doesn't make sense to me, but be aware that you are going to see our trip in reverse.

I guess since our hotel was so close to the Eiffel Tower, that we procrastinated going until the last day. Either that or else it was so cold, rainy, and windy, we were hoping it might improve before we left. It didn't. I did something I've never done on a trip before, since the weather was supposed to be nice, and only brought shorts. What a mistake! But it wasn't too bad and we still had a great time. Above is a picture of the local firefighters climbing the tower. We figured it was their annual training exercise and we enjoyed watching them for quite some time. They were still fairly close to the bottom and I wonder how high up they were planning on going.
D. got this picture of Notre-Dame through the telescope at the top of the Eiffel Tower. I included it only because it's such a cool shot!
Yes, this is her. Mona Lisa. You always hear about how small she is, so I decided to put in my picture of her. I wouldn't mind that she is small if you didn't have to elbow everyone around you just to get a small glimpse from 10 feet away. Not the way I enjoy looking at art. We only spent a little while in the Louvre though. It felt like walking through all these Italian museums over again (we did go to the Vatican museum at Christmas). On the other hand, we visited the Orsay museum across the street and could have spent several days in there. It is where they house the Impressionist artists like Degas, Monet, Manet, and on and on. We got kicked out of that museum because of closing time, but we wanted to stay much longer.

Okay, so we were only in Paris for 3 days, but 3 days without children is sooooooo different. Honestly, we came home exhausted because we wore ourselves out. We went to almost every main sight Paris has to offer--at least to look quickly. I'm still amazed at all we fit in and I'm quite content--with the exception of the Orsay--of how much time we had everywhere. Here we are in front of the Arc de Triomphe.
This is inside Notre-Dame at night. How did we get the priveledge of being there when it was night? It just so happened while we were touring Notre-Dame that I finally looked closely at one the the posters I had seen around. There was going to be a Gregorian chant concert in the church THAT NIGHT. I didn't think we would still be able to get tickets, but decided to ask the information desk inside the church, and she was like sure you can buy a ticket now. Not only did we luck out that the concert was the same night, but we got front row seats (it was basically who got in the church first got the best seats--we got in so soon on our account of buying our tickets earlier in the day). It is amazing to see a live performance of chant in a church built to enhance that type of music. It was thrilling! Plus, right before the concert started we found ourselves a nice little dinner boat tour that didn't break the bank and ended up being deserted except for ourselves and one other couple with a small child. That was definately my favorite night in Paris.
I had to put in this picture of D. outside Notre-Dame just to prove that we did occasionally see a little blue sky, but this is the same day as the picture below, where you can see we are needing our umbrellas.
Below you will see the first picture we took in Paris. Why the Eiffel Tower when we didn't visit it until the last day of our trip? That is because this picture was taken at about 12:30 at night from the balcony of our hotel room! I would say we got a pretty good room. Plus, being so close to a major attraction also puts you very close to lots of options for transportation. It was a breeze to get around. Yeah, D. did good this year for our anniversary!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

I.'s First Dance Recital

I. has been taking a broadway dance class and the recital was last night!!!! He was actually feeling sick, but decided to try to perform anyway. All the dance classes put on the entire Wizard of Oz (yikes!) and I.'s class was the opening act. Their theme was Pink Panther. I. is mostly easy to find because he's the only boy, but unfortunately there are a few parts where other dancers totally block him. :( I was just on the wrong side of the auditorium. Below are both dances--yes the entire dance, but they aren't too long.


video

Dance Recital 2

Here is the second dance.


video

Saturday, May 23, 2009

All About I.

Apparently this month is all about I. This post is mostly for all you who I called and asked questions of, who are now dying with curiosity. So, the diagnosis is Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified, otherwise known as PDD-NOS. I will not go into details here, but if you want to know more, google it. There are many great resources and descriptions--I personally like how simply they put it at www.autismspeaks.org. So to make things clear, I. does NOT have autism, but it is an autism spectrum disorder. What it means is that I. learns a little differently, he reacts to certain stimuli in peculiar ways, and he has difficulties in certain social situations. If you think something along the lines of "but I. is so normal," you are very correct. He really doesn't have any major symptoms, just a lot of little things that are starting to become more apparent.

While this is nothing I ever dreamed about for my child, I am very grateful for the great doctors we have here that we've been able to work with. And I am very grateful for this diagnosis. There are many situations that we would find ourselves in, and just couldn't figure out what to do. I'm sure every parent experiences this with their children, but it was a little more with I. It just seemed like all the normal things didn't work, and many situations I was simply clueless. That is the main reason I sought out medical advice. I just wanted more resources as to how to help I. cope with some of the situations he finds himself in, especially when there isn't an adult around to intervene for him. So many times, the school has just chalked all his issues as having to do with his speech delay, but I just felt like there was more. Now I have my answers. I understand much more about the "why" and now I have ways to help. Now that I understand a bit more about how I.'s mind works, many of the things I. does makes more sense to me. I now have options. And the school even has programs to help him learn some of the social skills that will never be natural for him. I know I will still have many more clueless moments, but right now I feel empowered. I now have direction and understanding and after 1 1/2 years of wondering, feeling at a loss, and sometimes just feeling like I was failing as a parent, this new feeling is great. We have been living with this our whole lives with I., but finally we have a starting point to making things better.

If you are wondering if I feel comfortable with this diagnosis, well, I don't think anyone wants to hear this from a doctor, but I do think it is accurate. We were lucky enough to have the pediatrician that works specifically with developmental disorders also be a part of our church family. We know what a great doctor he is and a great person. He was very thorough. It took 4 appointments, questionnaires out to all of I.'s teacher (his Italian asilo teacher and his English speech therapist) as well as questionnaires for D. and I which we had to take separately. And yet all four questionnaires, for the most part, said the same things. We had one appointment where just D. and I answered the most detailed questions about how I. does things that lasted about 2 1/2 hours (and would have been longer if my watch alarm hadn't gone off to say I was nearly late picking up the boys from school). So I think we did all we could do to make sure this diagnosis was as accurate as possible.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Talent Show

The primary had a talent show on Saturday. We didn't hear much about it until the week before, and thus didn't have much time to prepare something (the boys wanted to sing). So, we decided that our talent would be Rock Band! (And actually, they are getting quite good at Rock Band.) As you will see, they were a big hit and the audience was very involved. And, believe it or not, that is actually K. walking around in the beginning of the video. He acted like he was going to join them and then decided against it. The video is about 2 min long, so don't feel like you have to watch the whole thing! :) Except you D., you DO have to watch the whole thing. ;) video

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tooth Fairy


I. lost his first tooth! He is very excited about the whole thing and showing it to everyone. He even got a whole dollar from the tooth fairy!!!

It was pretty funny when we were talking about the Tooth Fairy, I. and A. had several questions. I can't remember them all, but they wanted all the specifics. How does the tooth fairy get the money to give to kids, how does the tooth fairy travel to all the kids, etc, etc. Since A. was doing half the asking, we simplified some of our answers to "by magic." I.'s response, after a few moments of pondering, was, "There's no such thing as magic." Which is true and something we had talked about before--referring to tv shows and movies, but it was interesting to hear I. make the connection. Our answer to that was . . . avoid, avoid, avoid. We can't ruin the myth of the tooth fairy before it's even begun! If we told I. the truth, he would spread it to A. and what would A. do when he finally looses a tooth? Ah, the magic of childhood!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I. is 7!!!!


Can you believe that I. is 7!!!! I can't believe it. He is such a beautiful and thoughtful boy. And he is already asking me how old he has to be before he can get his own cell phone! What does a 7-year-old need with his own cell?!? I can't believe how big he is getting! Who gave him permission to grow up? (I will try to post a birthday picture when, and if, I ever find our camera again.)

Adoption Update

For those of you wondering what's going on with the adoption, we only have a small bit of news. We are waiting! Our dossier was completed and arrived in the country of Ethiopia in the first part of Feb. Now we are just waiting for a referral. This can happen quickly or take some time. We did get an interesting phone call the other day--our pre-travel phone call. The person seemed rather surprised that we were on her list to call when we didn't have a referral yet. So, we are trying to find out if we got on the list by accident, or if our referral got lost in the mail. I'll let you know when we know.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Christmas

So I know I'm a bit behind in updating the blog. This probably isn't going to be all that you had hoped for, but it will have to do. (I've had a computer crash, lost a camera, D. gone most of the year. . .you'll just have to forgive me.)

So for Christmas T. and her family came out to visit. Here are pictures from just a few of the places we took them. Hopefully they went home tired and happy because we sure did our best to show them as much of Italy--and a little of Slovenia--as we could.

The pictures are not in chronological order, but here is a brief synopsis of what we did:
Rome--including the Vatican museum, St. Peter's Basilica, the Scavi tour (a very hard-to-get tour of the excavations underneath St. Peter's Basilica to see St. Peter's burial ground itself--or where they think he's buried), Coloseum and the Roman Forum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, etc, etc. Okay, so I don't actually remember everywhere we went, but we saw a LOT! We even got to see what a bus does when there isn't enough room to turn onto the tiny Italian road, lined on both sides with cars, that is along the bus route. The bus driver got out, recruited 4 men from the bus behind us, and together they lifted the car that was in the way onto the sidewalk. Of course, what else!
Then on to Pisa--to see the tower.
Florence--Michelangelo's David
Venice--St. Marc's Basilica and to wander the streets.
Piancavallo--sledding
Slovenia--visit a castle built partly inside and interconnected to a series of natural caves (the cave we had originally planned to visit was closed due to dangerous ice stalactites)
And a few more other random places, but I'll spare you the details. Let's just say we packed a few things into the 2 weeks we had with our visitors.

Outside the Slovenian castle. The tower furthest to the back connects to the caves and in the summer you can keep going, but it was closed during our visit. There is also another entrance far below the castle--several hundred feet down over the edge of the wall we're standing by.


Posing at the back of St. Peter's basilica in Rome.


Seeing how many kids it takes to circle one of the pillars outside the Pantheon. Even with D. in the mix, we needed them all.


I. and D. discussing the paintings of the Sistine Chapel.


This was our own little nativity play that we put on for Christmas. Since I thought M. would be leaving earlier, we could only fit everything in by traveling over Christmas. For spending Christmas in a small hotel in Lavorno, I thought we had a pretty good time.