Thursday, December 10, 2009
Sunday, November 29, 2009
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
Saturday, October 31, 2009
"I ate my last Daddy too! Ha ha!"
Sunday, October 4, 2009
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
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.
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
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Monday, June 1, 2009
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
Saturday, May 23, 2009
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
Monday, April 20, 2009
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
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.)
Thursday, January 15, 2009
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.
Venice--St. Marc's Basilica and to wander the streets.
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.