Sunday, November 13, 2011
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I promised myself I would not let the day go by without posting the exciting news that Amani turned 4 today! I already missed the post of him being home for 6 months which took place on Sept. 20th, so I thought, if there is any hope for this blog, I had better not miss writing about his first birthday with us.
Amani is doing so amazingly well. I think that is why I have been reluctant or lax in writing on the blog. He has adapted so well, and really is such a good boy, but I'm afraid to jinx it. Anyway, we spent the day together, as we usually do. I had a Bible Study to attend, so he was able to go play with his friends for a couple hours and then I took him out shopping, out to eat at TGI Friday's for lunch and to Chuckie Cheese (his first time) to play for an hour. Tonight we had a special supper and he got to open the rest of his presents. We had a party for him on Sunday with family and friends. He did so awesome, handing out lots of hugs and thank you's.
I am feeling some sadness today for his birthmother. I wonder how she was feeling today; was she grieving or celebrating for him or both? I don't know if we will ever know, but we are so indebted to her for the sacrifice she made. I pray that one day she will be able to see fruits of her labor in how well she loved him and cared for him during his first three years. May God grant us the opportunity to reunite him with his birthmother someday, maybe on his 18th or 21st birthday?
Friday, September 2, 2011
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Amani's new word of the week is dandelions. Although to him, it's two words - "Dandy Lions". I love how God can use a bunch of useless weeds to bring joy to a small child's face. He loves that he can locate them, pick them and then through them in the air- all without mom telling him no!
Jon and I took him shopping with us on Tuesday and a good part of the 1/2 hour ride he had to point out every time saw one. I always loved this stage with our other kids, when they would learn new words and then want to use them over and over. Amani is coming into it about 2 years later than the others, because of the language barrier, but he is doing fantastic. He has all but given up his Amharic (other than a few words which we are pretty sure are either curse words or just not very nice ones because he says them when he is angry) and therefore speaking in English most of the time. It's truly amazing how much he has learned in just 8 short weeks with us!
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Some of the cute things he says; "Ox crem" for our Papa's dog- Oscar and also for "Ice Cream", "Garab**ch" for garbage "duce brudish" for tooth brush; "Amani, sleeping, bed" (when it's time to sleep), "Amani's shouish" for Amani's house (that one took me a bit to figure out). Today when he was all done eating he said "All done Amani, Amani belly owie". We took that to mean he was full!
He is such a great helper around the house, pitching in whenever and wherever he can; emptying the garbage, helping my with laundry, sweeping the floors, getting out the napkins for supper. Afterwards, he pats himself on the back with a "Good job Amani!" before mom can even praise him! He truly is a blessing from the Lord and we couldn't be more thrilled with our new son!
Amani is still doing great. He is such a joy to have around. He is so lovable and happy and so darn cute! See for yourself:
Slowly becoming friends with the dog, Maddie
Hanging out with daddy, eating some lunch!
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
for an hour?
He actually did quite well. We took him on Monday, the 11th (which also happened to be daddy's birthday-:) and other than the summersaults daddy let him do in the narthex, he was pretty good - considering we didn't get out until 7:45pm! Payton and Ava sang in church that night and Payton's class played the chimes- so beautiful, so he had something to listen to/ watch that included our family.
The second time we took him Alaina sang in church with her class- last Saturday night. This time he had a little harder time sitting still, but he still did pretty good. We had snacks and things to write on to keep him busy. But as the 1st graders sang, he sang right along with and it was adorable. Hallelu! Hallelu! "Raise ye da Lor", or something like that.
He doesn't understand completely what is going on, but he does know we talk about Jesus, because when were were leaving - putting coats on he announced to those in our listening area: "All done Jesus". Good to know he was paying attention!
Saturday, April 9, 2011
He falls asleep for his daily one hour nap in 5-10 minutes
He goes to bed singing 'Jesus Loves Me' and sleeps for 9-10 hours without waking up- thank you Lord!
He eats almost anything we give him even fried onions- not picky AT ALL!
He reminds us to pray at meal time if we get ahead of ourselves and loves to end the prayer with the loudest AMEN ever
He is a great helper around the house- FOR. REAL. - sweeping, picking up his dirty clothes, cleaning up his toys, wiping down the bathroom counter, shoveling snow- all on his own, no prompting- makes us think about what his life was like in Ethiopia - likely lots of manual labor at age 3
He loves to entertain and makes us all laugh til it hurts - singing, dancing, funny facial expressions, dressing up in his sister's princess costumes (daddy isn't too fond of that one)
We went out for pizza a few nights ago for daddy's birthday and he did awesome, sitting still, eating as much as or more than the girls - our first dinner out as a family!
He is a fanatic about "makinas" or cars- he will just randomly start talking about makinas all the time - popping them into any conversation we might be having.
He is crazy about bath time and loves pouring water over his head - I can only imagine what a luxury it is for him to have clean bath water.
one week ago he was deathly afraid out our 15lb dog. Today he says "Amani's doggie", very matter of factly, as in- "this is my dog now - stay away!"
When he gets excited, he tells us the same story over and over in Amharic with actions and sound effects, it's so cute. You know what he is telling you because you have just witnessed it, but don't understand any of the verbal language
He gives lots of hugs and "I lub you's"
Poor kid has had the chicken pox and a nasty bacterial infection so he's had to have shots and lots of blood drawn and has been such a trooper. He takes his medicine twice a day without argument, even though he doesn't like it.
He gets SO excited when a "new" bag of hand-me-down clothing hits the family room floor. A few nights ago, after putting on his pajamas, he put on a pair of snowpants he found in the bag, ran and got his boots and was ready to go outside! After that, he found a belt and a pair of underwear - took off his pjs and his pull-up, put the undies on and was ready for the belt- but couldn't figure out where the undie belt loops were??? SO cute.
He is attaching to us. Those are the greatest words ever to an adoptive parent. He is very shy and hesitant with strangers, very comfortable with being held and hugged/ kissed by us and his brother and sisters, and looks to mommy and daddy for comfort when he has an owie or is sad.
He has shown us true love by trusting us, having faith we will care for him, and is mostly compliant, even when we ask him to do something he doesn't want to.
That last one has really made me think about our love for Jesus. Do we always trust that he has our best interest at heart? Do we have faith that he will care for us in all circumstances and will work even the most difficult situations for our good? Do we obey with glad hearts when God calls us to give, serve, help, sacrifice, love? Sadly, I have to answer no to all 3 of those questions. I don't always trust, act or obey.
But, if we hadn't trusted, acted on faith and obeyed when God called us to adopt, we'd have missed out on our Amani - an amazing blessing from the Lord. We praise God and thank him for being faithful in answering our prayers and bringing us our beautiful son. To Him be the glory!!
What is God asking you to do? Pray, study his Word and ask, and he will answer. Then watch, listen, and get ready to obey!
Sunday, April 3, 2011
When I was talking with the director earlier in the day, Jon went with Amanuel to watch him have his lunch. One of his special mothers told Jon that she loved Amani, that he was a very good, very smart little boy and that some kids are not ready when they meet their new families, but that he was ready to go. What a blessing it was to hear this. We had been praying all along for God to prepare his heart, mind and soul to be ready to come home to us- and God answered so convincingly so early!
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Monday, March 7, 2011
We were in the air about 16 ½ hours and total travel with layovers was about 20 hours, just the right amount of time for layovers; long enough to get where we needed to go, but not too long that we were bored in between.
****View from the plane overlooking the desert****
When we got to Ethiopia, we knew where to go to get our Visas, so that didn’t take too long- 5 people sitting at a table, everything hand-written, no computers to check people in. People were right, just follow the yellow signs and get in line ASAP. A driver from the hotel was waiting for us when we got there, and we were to the hotel in about 15 minutes. We got checked in and started to unpack a bit, then went down to the bar to relax for a little while. After sitting down there for about 20 minutes, the song “I Believe in You” by Don Williams came on (the song my dad and I danced to for our Father/ Daughter dance at our wedding) and I felt like that was a sign from God that our parents and families were with us in spirit - a 1970's Country Western song playing in an Ethiopian bar??? However, we heard that song 2 other times while sitting in the hotel restaurant, so then it seemed less like divine intervention and more like part of a track, oh well, it was comforting at the time.We didn't sleep great at night- too mixed up in our sleep schedules and too excited to go meet our boy the next day!!!
Friday, February 25, 2011
Surprisingly, I was disciplined enough to write down our experiences while we were in Ethiopia and I plan to share most of them on our blog soon. Before I do that, I want to share what the days were like before we left. Please remember much of what I write is for my benefit, to help me remember - understandably, some of this may bore you.
My sweet friend 'B' helped me pack up all of our donations in my basement the week before we left, so the 4 rubbermaid totes were ready to go. I am so thankful she offered to help me pack these babies up because she is a decisive one and I am not. She knew what to put where so it only took about 2 hours. If I had done it on my own, I'd have been in the basement all night long! She also bought us some pretty neon colored zip ties to secure that the totes would not open in transit and then suggested we color code them by order of priority- so smart she is. I got them labeled so in case they wouldn't make it to the hotel when we did, they might get to Hannah's Hope eventually. We used the travel space bags- I would highly recommend them for clothing and diapers. I also had fun using the new drill my hubby got for Christmas or his birthday last year. It rarely makes it out of it's case, but I gained a little confidence working with plastic totes rather than a nice piece of wood or my walls!
We were able to take 3 of the 4 totes with us and one large suitcase, so the 4th tote of donations will go with us on the next trip. I had a few donations left that didn't get "toted" the first time around, so they will get packed up to go along on trip two, which, BTW, might be as early as TWO WEEKS from Monday!! I can't believe it could happen that fast but some of the families that were on their second trip while were only had 3 weeks between trips. CRAZY, but so exciting!
I was not completely packed on the morning we left, although everything was pretty much ready to go. The kids wanted us to have lunch with them, so at 11:00 we ran a few errands and went to school to join them for lunch- their teachers let us all sit together at the first grade table. It was difficult to say goodbye, but they all did well. We shed some serious tears after getting in the truck to leave, but the kids were troopers.
***This is where I would have inserted a picture of us, had I not forgot my camera at home :(***
To help easy the pain of our absence, I had purchased some fun things for the kids to open each day; on the first day, they opened a book with a recording of our voices reading the story. A new friend I met at a local grocery store the week before (who had also adopted from Ethiopia through AGCI) bought this book for us as a gift to either take to ET to leave for Amani, or at home with the kids. I was torn on what to do, but decided to leave our voices home for P, A and A just in case something would happen to us. On the second day they each opened a fancily wrapped Tervis Tumbler, each with their own specially chosen design (thanks Aunite Linda and Amy for providing these at 'You're Special' :) Payton- a big Packer 'G', Ava - a brightly colored 'Peace Sign', and Alaina- a box of chocolates with 'Choc-a-holic' written on it --- so fitting for each of them. On day three, I had to come up with something less costly, so my friend 'G' suggested the perfect thing- straws with chocolate flavoring in them to use in their new cups- what genius invented that?!? On day four I think we went with gum - 3 packs for each kid and a sweet note. Imagine my surprise when Alaina told me today that she had hers gone in 3 days! That girl has little to no self-control when it comes to gum. Day 5 I decided to get something different for each kid. Payton got a Super Bowl edition of a sports magazine featuring our Green Bay Packers, Ava - some neat magnetic book marks and Alaina a necklace beading kit in a teacup. Day 6 was a gift cert to Dairy Queen for our friends who watched the kids (thanks Lance and Korena!!!) to take our three and their three down for a treat- after the massive snowstorm that had hit two days before and gave the kids their first snow day of the school year. And on the last day, I had run out of ideas, so candy it was. I know I have put myself in a position now that whenever we go away, I must do this for each trip, so any suggestions are welcomed.
The kids got out early the day before, one of their early-release days, so we had a chance to pack up their clothes, two separate bags for each place they stayed. They were able to stay home with Auntie Kara on Thursday night, to Auntie Kara and Uncle Brian's Friday and Saturday nights and our sweet neighbor's and friends, the next 3 nights. They did really well and kept busy with activities, playing in the snow or going to school, so not a lot of down time.
We are so grateful to have had many friends offer to help us out with the kids, we are truly blessed with awesome family and friends!
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Thank you for all your prayers, support and well-wishes. I hope to post about our trip over the next week or so!
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Now, the packing begins. We were so blessed by our church congregation with lots and lots of donations to take with us to Hannah's Hope- I'm guessing 3 to 4 of the Rubbermaid 22 gallon totes full! We were also blessed with generous monetary donations, which we will use to help cover the cost of shipping if need and to purchase more donations when we go on our second trip, things that the orphanages really need. Yesterday I picked up 20 pounds of organic flaxseed and 4 bottles of flaxseed oil, as that is a great need. So happy to be bringing nourishment to the sweet children of Hannah's Hope.
Just to give you an idea of our schedule, here's what it looks like from what I can gather:
We will arrive later on Friday evening, (Ethiopia time 9pm, our time 12pm). So while we will feel like having lunch, it will actually be bed time. Hopefully, we will be able to get some sleep!
Saturday: We will be picked up to go to Hannah’s Hope to meet with the Director for orientation about the court appointment. We will also have the opportunity to ask questions and meet our Amanuel and all the other precious children!
Sunday: 9:30 AM: We will be picked up to go to Hannah’s Hope for questions, answers, and time to spend with the children.
Monday: • 8:30 AM: We will be picked up by Haile (Case Processor) and Wass (HH driver) and head to the court directly. We could be at Court until about noon- hopefully leaving with very good news that Amanuel is ours!
• Once we are through with the court appointment, we will head out for lunch at Makush, an Italian restaurant (YUMMY). This is also an art gallery and we will have the opportunity to purchase art.
• After lunch, head out for a brief shopping trip - YAY! - Although what women likes the phrase "BRIEF shopping trip????"
• Around 4-5 pm, we will be dropped off at our hotel for dinner and the rest of the
Tuesday:• 10:00 AM: Wass (our driver) will pick us up to come to Hannah’s Hope for our last visit. We will be able to spend more time with Amanuel and the other children and ask any other questions.
• 12:30 PM: Head back to the hotel.
**Nothing planned during this time- so we might try to get in some more shopping if possible - can't sit in the hotel room for 7 hours!**
• 7:00 PM: Be picked up from our hotel and head out for dinner at an Ethiopian restaurant. This will be a great time to experience traditional Ethiopian food, as well as singing and dancing from the different regions. **Can't wait for this experience- planning to take lots of pictures and video here too!**
10:00 PM: Time to go. Sad to leave. Hope to be back VERY SOON!!!!
Sunday, February 6, 2011
So, you can't live in Wisconsin (just 35 miles from Green Bay) and not be:
Prepared with food for 40 when you are only having 4 other people over
Anxiously anticipating the Green and Gold to take the SUPER BOWL field at 5:30pm
Cautiously optimistic that the team from Green Bay will dominate tonight's game
Kind of in disbelief that the #6 seeded team is in the big game, but having no doubt they will make it a good one
Excited beyond belief that your favorite team in the world is playing in the biggest game EVER!
Resting, and relaxing your voice all day long so you can yell, scream and cheer in victory tonight!
Spending the game with the people you love - realizing that it is all just a game- pure entertainment and nothing more.
Enjoy the game! GO PACKERS!!!!
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Sunday, January 9, 2011
Then we took a trip to Sam's Club- which, really our kids do like to do. We picked out a cake and went to Auntie Kara and Uncle Brian's to celebrate the New Year with family and friends. It was a fun night with lots of little ones, games and lots of laughter. Didn't make it til the ball dropped, but still had fun!
Yesterday, we had a "friend" birthday party for Alaina (her first). We did a bubble gum theme, playing unwrap the gum with mittens, funny to watch; drop the gumball in the cup; find the hidden gumballs; pin the gumball on the gumball machine; guess how many gumballs were in the jar and then had them each color a picture of a gumball machine. It was fun, but I don't think I've ever had 10 first graders in my house before (9 of them girls), so there was lots of screaming and a little drama going on, but all and all, it was good.
When we were typing up the invitation on a sick day earlier in the week, she decided she wanted me to put on the invitation that instead of gifts for her, if her friends wanted to contribute to the orphanage where her little brother is, that mom and dad would take it with us when we go in February. She has some very loving and generous friends in her classroom and what a neat opportunity for her friends to join in her excitement about her little brother and in giving to others. So thank you, first grade friends, your giving is what Christ's love it all about!
Fortunately, Jon has been so incredibly busy with work that I think it might help him take his focus off the whole flying thing, so that helps.
We are planning to fly out of our local airport on February 17th, arriving on the evening of February 18th in Addis Ababa. From my understanding, we will be meeting our "A-man" the next day- Saturday, February 19th.
We have received some donations already, which is wonderful. Family and friends are asking what they can do, which is awesome. We have been fortunate, in that God has provided financially for us to cover the fees associated with the adoption. We did not have to fundraise, we did not have to worry about how we'd pay for the next phase of the adoption. That doesn't mean we haven't saved, "sacrificed" (read this loosely as well, since we in America really don't know what is means to have to sacrifice) some of our "wants", worked to cut corners a bit, and prayed that God would provide. However, we are thrilled when someone asks if they can help in some way.
I am toying with the idea of asking for help from our church. Unfortunately, we give little to no recognition of the orphan crisis of the world at our large church. Maybe just by asking and sharing just a bit of our story, it might start an awakening?