Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Ethiopia-Bound

Well, I can't believe it but we will leaving our house for the airport in just under 18 hours! Yes, that will be 3:45am for those doing the math :) EARLY! From what other families have experienced, we know it is highly unlikely we will have internet connection long enough to post anything from Ethiopia. However, we are hoping to stay in contact with our friends (aka our Pastor and his wife) through phone calls, and Melissa is going to post anything pertinent to this blog for me. So hooray for updates!

So, I finally got the suitcases packed... yes, there are A LOT of them. The awesome thing is that at least 50% of the luggage space is entirely donations for the care center - a huge THANK YOU to everyone who donated items or gave money to us financially (we were able to purchase a number of needed items with that money). The final thing I would like to leave you with is a video/photo montage of our adoption journey up to this point. If you've never seen a picture of Mikayla Aynalem... here's your sneak peak :) Thank you all for sharing the journey with us, what an adventure this has been... and it's truly only just beginning.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

10 Days...

We are now down to only 10 days until we are boarding a plane for Ethiopia. Since receiving our travel dates, it seems like time has just flown by. The to-do list is becoming shorter by the day as we are busy crossing things off little by little. With the exception of a few items, the shopping is complete!

We've also completed quite a few projects around the house... specifically involving the two kids' rooms and the play room. I bought a new organizational shelf with tubs that is working perfectly in the play room to hold all of those small, loose toys that have cluttered my house for the past year. Eli thoroughly enjoyed "assigning" specific types of toys (ie - animals, transformers, balls, play food, potato heads, trains) to the different colored tubs, and he has actually been doing a great job of keeping everything organized :) This pic gives you the idea... although a couple of the bins are participating in play time at the moment...
I think he takes after me in that neither of us are necessarily "neat freaks" (I was more so before having a kid, but now playing with my kiddo takes precedence over cleaning everything up all the time), but we both like to put systems in place and bring organization to life. You might find my counters to be dirty during the day, but open a cupboard or my pantry and you'll see what "organized" truly means. :)

We've also rearranged the placement of toys within our house. We decided that all toys will be "everybody's toys," with the exception of very special items like blankets and special stuffed animals. There will be obvious girl and boy toys, but everything at this point is fair game for any child to play with. Same goes for books! So, we moved the bookshelf out of Eli's room and put it in the play room, along with all of the random stuffed animals collected over the last few years. We actually had to purchase TWO hammocks to have room for all of those stuffed animals!
We also made room in the play room for a few "new" girlie toys passed on to us by some lovely friends who have three little girls. Micah even added an IKEA Leaf Canopy to each child's room... we mainly had this idea for Mikayla's room to go with the flowers, but we had our first experience with having kids so close in age and were quickly informed by Eli that he needed one too. Well, what the heck, leaf canopies for all!
I am now preparing to do the bulk of our packing. I'm not one to pack much in advance of trips, because I always pack things that I need and have to dig them out... so I've been putting it off. But, the other night I did manage to pick out and pack all of Mikayla's stuff. I feel like I'm taking a lot of clothing for her, but mainly it's because we aren't exactly sure what will fit. So, a few outfits are very similar just different sizes. Same with shoes! Now all that's left is... well... everything else. I also have to pack up Eli to go to Grandma's house for 10 days, and Petey (our beagle) to go to his pet-sitter's house! I am planning to conquer all of this packing next weekend, and hopefully be completely finished by the end of the day next Monday. I would love to be able to spend Tuesday hanging out with Eli and just having fun, before we drop him off at Grandma & Grandpa's that evening.

In addition to all the personal stuff, I'm also trying to wrap things up at work in preparation for my maternity leave. My last day in the office will be Thursday of this week. I then have to attend a final job-related workshop on Friday morning before heading home to participate with Micah in our travel conference call with Holt. Yay for Travel Group 24!!

Oh, one other random thing that is happening in the midst of preparing to travel is that we are changing social workers. Our SW is not through Holt, it is through our local agency who did our home study. The local agency is also responsible for our post-placement visits and follow-up reports, so our contact with our social worker is just about to become very involved as she helps us navigate our transition once we're home. Without going into a ton of details, this change needed to occur. It probably needed to occur back when our home study was being completed, but by the time we were educated enough in the process to realize that, things were pretty much done. I somewhat had a panic attack though, now that we're moving toward post-placement, and knew that I needed to say something before we traveled. It was tough, but if anything, I have an even higher view of our home study agency due to the way they handled it, and am excited to begin working with our new SW very soon. We will be chatting with her this week so we can all be caught up to speed prior to traveling.

So is that enough for you? Figured I better blurt it all out in this post, since the next post will likely be another week away... hopefully showing pictures of PACKED luggage :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Dear Mikayla,

Today you turn 3 years old. We thought about you all day and could only wish that you were already home so we could celebrate with you. I wish I could spend this post writing about all of the things you love to do at age 3, and all of the character traits you possess that make you so special... but unfortunately, those things are still unknown to me. I am so thankful that we will be meeting you in less than three weeks, and bringing you home - forever. Today I pray that God continues to watch over you, protect you, and hold you in His arms. It's amazing how much love we have for you, though we haven't yet met you. You are a miracle, and we are so incredibly blessed to have you as part of our family.

Love,
Mommy

Friday, September 11, 2009

Melkam Adis Amet! (Happy New Year!)

Happy New Year in Ethiopia! It's 2002! Ethiopia follows the Julian calendar, which has 13 months. One of the months is only 5 days long, except on leap year. That's the reason why they are now 7 years behind the calendar we follow here in the U.S. (Gregorian). Our daughter's U.S. birth certificate will read that she was born in the year 2006, but her Ethiopian birth certificate will read 1999. Interesting, isn't it?

We decided to try out a local Ethiopian restaurant tonight in honor of the Ethiopian New Year AND Mikayla's 3rd birthday which is on Sunday. It was a great night! We thoroughly enjoyed the food at Cafe Libela and pretty much stuffed ourselves. We had the pleasure of treating my mom, and Micah's parents to their first-ever taste of Ethiopian food. Micah's mom will actually be traveling with us to Ethiopia, and she is looking forward to the trip even more now after tasting the food tonight :) Unfortunately, Eli wouldn't touch a bit of it... he's in that picky toddler phase, what a surprise! Well, the next time we come back he will have a sister with him who just might be able to convince him to try some injera!

We even had the pleasure of meeting Heidi and her beautiful family - she is one of my "blogging buddies" and they brought home their son Tommy within the past year at age 3. I've learned a lot from reading her blog, so it was wonderful (and such a coincidence) to actually meet her :)



Thursday, September 10, 2009

39 hours and Lists

39 hours is the amount of time we will be spending inside an airplane during our trip to/from Ethiopia. Wowsers. Our total travel time is even longer than that if you consider layovers!

So what are we up to? Well, a million things to tell you the truth. I made a crazy detailed packing list... helps me feel better. That packing list brought on a new shopping list and a new to-do list. So far I have purchased 8 items out of the 44 on the shopping list, and I have crossed off 3 items out of the 37 items on the to-do list. This doesn't even include the to-do list I have at work of things I'm trying to wrap-up before happily wishing everyone there farewell until Christmas :) And the packing? Well, it's a work in progress. There are piles of things around my house preparing themselves to be packed.

Needless to say, not much time for blogging. Better get back to those lists...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

TRAVEL DATES!


Today we were notified that we are one of ten Holt families in Travel Group #24, with an embassy appointment scheduled for Thursday, October 6th! HOORAY!!! I spent the day attempting to get things done at work, while at the same time keep in touch with various travel agents to hunt for the best flight deals. In the end, we were able to secure our flights for slightly LESS than what we originally anticipated! Praise God!

We will be departing from Phoenix early on September 30th, and flying through Minneapolis, Amsterdam, and eventually (21 hours later) landing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The route home is just as exciting... passing back through Amsterdam, then Detroit, and landing in Phoenix 22 hours later on October 9th (assuming we make our connection going through customs in Detroit... it's a little tight).

The best part of all of this is knowing that in 28 days we will be meeting our beautiful daughter for the first time :)