Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Just because...

Inching Closer!

We were notified this morning that the US Embassy has received our file!  No idea what the time frame is for them to do anything, but we are praying hard that the threatened US government shut down, (scheduled for next Friday) does not happen, or affect their issuing of visas.

Keep praying people!  We are inching ever more closely to bringing Sophie home! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My (second) youngest has turned against me

Last night we took the kids to Dairy Queen. While Luke was dripping with his vanilla cone, he was informing us all what he was going to be when he growed up. It went something like this (I exaggerate only slightly.)

Luke: “When I am growed up, I will be a constwuction man, or an es-cavator dwiver…”

Me, whispering to him: “Or an engineer.”

Luke, continuing: “…or a fire twuck man…”

Me, whispering louder: “Or an engineer.”

Luke, now finishing his yarn: “…or a big twuck dwiver. One of those guys.”

Me, no longer whispering: “Or an engineer.”

Luke: “Or maybe an engineer. They get to blow the twain whistle!!!”

Me: {bangs head into table}

Although, blowing a train whistle sounds like a mighty nice reprieve from the Dilbert strip that is my job right now…

"dumber than snake mittens."  I'm going to have to remember that one... ;)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Maybe, just maybe...

This almost two year process of working with our adoption agency has me exhausted on waiting, hoping, and believing that things will move forward as stated. I have become very cynical when I hear a time frame and know that I should double it (at the very least) so that I am not disappointed once again as a date comes and goes.

And yet, I so badly want this all finished, and so badly want Sophie home, that it is hard not to get excited about the idea of seeing her again in a matter of weeks!

We were told that our paperwork is finished and will be submitted to the US embassy on Monday! Monday! As in 2 days from now! I can hardly believe we are FINALLY to this stage. *** I will be checking with the embassy on Monday to see if this actually happens, but for now, I am going to be hopeful. ***

No idea now long the US government is going to take to get their ducks in a row and invite us over, but today, at this moment, I am feeling hopeful that it may not take the dreaded 12 weeks to return that we heard about while in country. Maybe it really will happen in 4-6 weeks! Maybe, just maybe.

On Monday it will have been four weeks since we last saw Sophie and I am so ready to just pack up my other four littles and head back for her. Seriously mean, to make a mother leave her child behind on the other side of the world.

But maybe, just maybe, our time to return to Ethiopia is approaching! Please Jesus, answer the cry of my heart, and bring us back to our daughter.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pretty sure this runs on her mother's side...


Gwass angel

"Dad, I'm making a gwass angel!"
"I made one!"
"See! White thewe!"

Bountiful harvest


Spring Break 2011

So for Spring Break the big kids got to go on another trip to Legoland.  While they may begin to think this is a new pattern of behavior, the truth is the passes expired at the end of this month and I am too Dutch not to make the most of them.  So, I gathered a friend (who also had free passes and Dutch heritage) and we loaded up six kids between the two of us and headed off to San Diego for a few days.

As we were exiting the highway for our hotel (after six hours of driving and several potty stops along the way), we were rear ended by a car that was hit by another driver, who then promptly took off.  We were all unharmed and were thankful for God's protection for the two mothers and six children in our van. It could have been way worse if we were the ones who had been struck by the runaway, supposed drunk driver. Or if my husband hadn't bought me the biggest vehicle on the road you can drive without a CDL.

**I took the van in today for the insurance assessment, and the quote came back as $1300.  Thank goodness for insurance!   Anyway, back to the vacation....

After we finished up with the police we made it the rest of the way down the road and to our hotel.  Two adults and six kids all in one room.  The hotel receptionist wished us luck, in our not so big suite, with all the kids, but I assured her were were there for lots of laughs and memories.  And we had a great weekend together.  Three nights together in a small space, and two days together in Legoland, and we had a BLAST!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A weekend with mini-me

This weekend, Paige took the older kids to LegoLand again with her friend Denese and her kids.

Thankfully she let me avoid the road trip with 6 kids and stay home with mini-me... aka Luke.

I picked him up from Grandma's on Thursday after work.  When I told him we were headed home, he asked if Mom, Ella, and "my boys" were going to be there.  I told him they went on an adventure to California.  He got the ol' quivering bottom lip and burst into tears.  When he had calmed down in the car, he asked what 'ventures we were going to have.

Since his mother instructed me to actually do something fun with him, I told him we would have plenty of 'ventures working around the house.  Probably not what his mother meant, but as the manly men of the household, we have a Biblical calling to yardwork and vehicle maintainance and other groanings of creation.  Plus child labor laws don't apply when it is your own kid.  So I put him to work.

He fixed up the ol' Bronco in preparation for emissions testing (it passed!)

Then we went for breakfast at the Farmhouse in downtown Gilbert, where Luke tried not to smile for a picture.

I don't know where the kid gets his grumpy looks from.  It think it must be his mother.

Then Luke had some grass to mow.

I sent him to fill up the car with gas.

As many warning labels as they have around gas pumps, I found it odd that there were none telling you not to let your 3 year old pump the gas for you.  He did an excellent job though.

Then it was time for him to tackle the weeds taller than he was.

Then he tended the garden so that we have something to eat in the long hot summer months.

And aside... that garden is growing like crazy!  It's amazing.  We have radishes coming out of our ears.  And we don't even like radishes!

After all that hard work, I sent him to the grocery store so we could have dinner.

He came back with only the bare essentials.

Since he had accomplished so much in two days, I let him relax and eat his Spaghettios while watching Bear Grylls eat catfish (raw of course) and scorpions (cooked.)  Mmmmmmmm.

Then this morning, he called me on his spoon... errrrrrrrr, phone.... at breakfast to tell me what a great weekend he had.

All in all, a successfully weekend of making manly noises, scratching manly places, and cultivating manly smells through skipped showering!

Postscript:  Just after I hit publish on this post, he woke up from his nap.  And promptly pulled out the vaccum, to clean up "dowrt and stuff."  Without pants.

I've trained him well...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Please check that you have not left behind personal belongings.

This statement, "Please check that you have not left behind personal belongings," hit me like a ton of bricks as we landed in the DC airport last Wednesday morning.  While I do not view my children as "belongings," I was very acutely aware that I had indeed left something of great value behind in Ethiopia, and the tears flowed freely.  I am just letting you all know up front that the pain is real and the heart is raw.

Tonight at church I had to walk away (and essentially hide) as a well meaning friend asked where our last child was.  He was under the understanding that we were bringing Sophie home this trip.  Jason answered, I walked away, pretending to be busy with my other four, fearing I would burst into tears.  This is really hard, really hard.  Hard not knowing when we will see her again.  Hard not knowing when she will come home.

Leaving behind our daughter was and is not an easy thing to do.  Trusting in Jesus, and his perfect timing through this whole process, has not been an easy thing for me to do.  Watching the Ethiopian government talk about and toy with the notion of shutting the program and country down, is not easy thing to do.  We are so close to having her home, and yet we have no idea if it will really happen.

Please continue to pray.  We felt it while we were in Ethiopia.  We knew we had saints in our corner cheering us on and petitioning on our behalf and it was so very humbling.  We needed it and we still do.  The Ethiopian government has begun new changes as of the 10th of March that once again, make the road longer and less sure for adoptive families.  We do not know at this time what it means for us and our case.

We were blessed and continue to rejoice that we did in fact receive the much needed and hard to come by MOWA (ministry of women's affairs) letter while we were in country and did PASS court.  However we need one more letter from MOWA for our embassy case.  So we continue to ask God to intervene on behalf of our family and Sophie.

Please continue to pray with us.  We desperately want our daughter home.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fairly typical conversation in Ethiopia

Particularly in Lalibela...

Random kids on the street: "Hello! How are you?"

Us: "Hello. Doing great!"

Random kids on the street: "Have you seen the churches? You like them?"

Us: "Yes, they are incredible."

Random kids on the street: "Where you from?"

Us: "The United States. Arizona."

Random kids on the street: "America!!!"

Random kid #1: "Obama! Yes we can!!!!"

Random kid #2: "Obama is my cousin!"

Random kid #3: "My nickname is Obama!"

Random kid #4: "Really, I'm not a big Obama fan like these guys. I actually think he's something of a socialist, who will manage to drive America down to the same level of poverty as much of Africa if all his plans are achieved. He's working hard to destroy the very system that makes America so successful that all these kids in a distant village in Africa celebrate the president's name, while I couldn't even tell you who is president of Ethiopia."

Ok, so random kid #4 didn't exist. But all the other statements we heard in Lalibela. Seriously, that entire mountaintop village is apparently related to Obama. I saw more Obama T-shirts there than I have seen in Phoenix.  I even saw one guy wearing an SEIU T-shirt.  Obama even has his own gift shop in Lalibela...

I asked our guide if the gift shop had previously been known as "Bush Souvenir Shop." He laughed and said no. Then I am pretty sure muttered something about a dictator. I didn't quite catch what he said, but I wasn't about to ask him to clarify.  Afterall, the guy was our only lifeline in a village full of Obama fans.  I wasn't about to get into a heated political debate with him.

I did, however, leave several National Reviews at the guest house, and give away my Bush biography.  Just in case someone around there isn't as big of an Obama fan as the random kids on the street...

Stiched panoramas from Ethiopia

Each should be clickable to enlarge.

Walled city of Harar
Harar from the king's palace
Harar market
City of Harar
Kolfe Boy's Orphanage, soccer field
Mountains above Lalibela
Sunset from Tukul Village in Lalibela
View from Tukul Village in Lalibela
Stone church in Lalibela
St. George's church in Lalibela
Stone church in Lalibela
Stone church in Lalibela