Saturday, January 30, 2010

How to fill 17 hours on an airplane

Having been through this flight once before (actually I guess it would be twice) I know have a better understanding of just how long 17 hours on one airplane is. I do believe I have managed to find things that will fill up a LOT of the time.

Blake is downloading Episode 4 of The Office for me on my iPod. That's several hours right there. We also are taking the laptop with a couple movies to we've both been dying to see but have held off for the trip. It's the new Tyler Perry movie, "I Can Do Bad All By Myself." We love, love, LOVE Madea in our family and have been waiting for months to see this new movie. I'm also bringing "Knotting Hill" which Katie hasn't seen yet but I remember laughing so loudly in the theater at one point in the movie, that I managed to make a complete spectacle of myself. I better try to control myself with this on the airplane, I think! People would really think I was weird for sure! Oh yeah, I want to see "Julie, Julia" too.

Then I reordered my YWAM series of books that I lost in the fire. They are missionary biographies and I have read all of them but the 2 new ones! I CANNOT wait to read them. So I"ll bring those.

I also have my presentation that I'm giving at our church's womens retreat on March 6th. I have it mostly written but it does need some polish and memorization. There won't be much time to work on it when we get home, since the retreat is only 3 weeks after we get back.

The last thing I hope to get done on this flight is sleep. Last time, not one single minute of the trip, either way included sleep on my part. This time I am taking sleeping pills with me. They are Blaine's old ones from when he was on Prednisone which caused major insomnia. I know, I know, if you're a doctor or pharmacist, please don't freak. It will be ok. I'm a nurse:-) I'm trying them out tonight to see how I react to them.

Then last but certainly not least, I have Jill and her friend to visit with (and of course Katie) and get to know. That could take hours right there!!

So I'm thinking, when the pilot announces that it's time to land, I'll be like, "No, wait! Can't we just fly around another couple hours?? I'm not ready!! I have so much to do!"

Katie and I are getting so extremely excited to go!!! I cannot believe that in only 1 week, we'll be on the airplane heading to Africa. We absolutely cannot wait to meet our sweet Tarikwa! Oh, my goodness we can hardly stand it any longer. It's the most exciting thing we can imagine right now, to meet her and bring her HOME! To hug her and kiss her and just hold her hand, to let her choose what new clothes she would like to put on and give her all the letters and gifts the family has made for her will be so overwhelmingly fun!

No, we still have not heard about our paperwork, including Tarikwa's birth certificate and the status of her passport. But our hope and faith is not in people but in God ALONE. He can move mountains and move the hearts of kings. It is no problem for Him to get the officials who are working on our paperwork to move in favor of us and get it all done in time. So we completely put our trust and hope in Jesus, just as Tarikwa always tell us she does in her letters. I'm not stressed and I'm not nervous. Just waiting in anticipation to see just how our Great God will pull this all off.

On a totally different note, Katie and I took Mihiretu to the mall for much needed new shoes today. I bought him size 2 1/2 in the fall before school and they were getting pretty scruffy and a little tight, so I was thinking maybe a size 3 now. The man sized him and told me he was a SIZE 4! WHAT?? My 7 year old first grader is a size 4??? That means we're out of the cheaper shoe size and into the big guy expensive shoe sizes. (I can wear a 3!)

Whenever I look at a puppy with huge paws, I think, "That's going to be a big dog someday." If this follows through for boys, we're going to have a linebacker on our hands! He's also 66 pounds. He's doubled his weight in the 3 years he's been in our family. Truly amazes me!!

Thanks for your continued prayers on our behalf for all the final pieces to come together so that we won't have any delay.


Friday, January 29, 2010

What will it look like when Tarikwa comes home?

It's hard to believe that in one week from tomorrow, Katie and I will be boarding a plane bound for Ethiopia and our daugher (and Katie's new sister!). I have had people ask me how the first few weeks at home will look with her.

We really would love all of our family to be at the airport with balloons and banners, celebrating and welcoming home our newest member! We though all those people might be overwhelming for Tarikwa so Katie came up with a great idea. She and her Aunt Jenny made up a Shutterfly book with pictures of each family member and their names. We have it separated into my side of the family and Blaine's side so she can put together who goes with who. I know that she will study this and will have a good idea who all of these people are who are crying, hugging and kissing her and taking pictures and video when we get off the plane.

We will visit for a while at the airport and then go our separate ways. Blake will have to drive his car and Blaine will have to drive the Jeep. The family is just too big with our suitcases to all fit in one vehicle anymore!

Unfortunately, it will be dark by the time we arrive at the house. I'd really have loved it if Tarikwa could see where she is but that will wait till morning. We'll probably show her the first level and then straight up to see her bedroom. Her bedroom! Her very own. I'm sure that will be emotional. (Think Michael in Blindside-so precious)

Maybe we'll order some pizza since it will be dinnertime. The little boys will drag (and I mean drag) her all around the house to show her everything and they will want her to play with them. :-)

We'll just spend time getting to know her at home for a while. We'll love on her until she can't take it anymore! We'll go to the salon and get her hair done.

I have her scheduled for a doctor appointment with the International Adoption Clinic the first part of March. They are excellent and experts in the field of internationally adopted kids. The woman I have her scheduled with has a lot of experience with kids adopted from Africa, and she herself has 2 daughters from Africa.

The second week of March, 2 ELL (English Language Learners) teachers from our district coming for a home visit to evaluate her and help us determine what grade to place her in. We have such a great and helpful district which I thank God for.

From there, we just work at becoming a family together:-) We have no illusions that this will happen overnight. It will take work and effort and time. But we're invested for the long haul!

Can't wait to get started!

Still waiting to hear anything about our paperwork. Hopefully today!

Praying and trusting,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pray for paperwork

I'm going to put this out there because I believe in the power of prayer and I would feel lots better if I knew that people were praying.

I'll just list the facts:

We have not received Tarikwa's birth certificate as of yet. It technically should have been there last week and if they have it, they have yet to send it to the office. I'd really like to have the assurance of having it.

It has happened in the past that a family found out just a couple days before they were to leave for Ethiopia, that their child's passport was not done and they had to be postponed for a couple weeks. I truly cannot imagine this!

Ethiopian children who are coming to the U.S. must have a TB test a week before travel. Please pray that Tarikwa's comes back negative and isn't a problem. If it is positive, the child must remain in Ethiopia for several weeks for treatment before they can travel.

So these things are weighing heavily on me right now. I don't know WHY I let myself be concerned about these things after ALL the Lord has done for us...but I do. I would feel so much better if I knew all paperwork was on schedule and there was nothing to think of except the dreaded 17 hours straight on an airplane.

I don't believe that God worked it out so that Jill and I could travel together and take the girls home together, just to revoke that blessing. What I need is more faith and trust in the Lord! See, now you all can see just how weak I am!

So, if you would pray with us that all paperwork would be done and done correctly and on time.

There were no families traveling this week, so even though this would be a week we'd send her a letter, she will not receive one. The next time she hears from us will be in person, face to face!!

Thanks for letting me unload. Thanks also for your prayers!

I appreciate you,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Funny little boy

I know you are all as bummed as we are that the Vikings LOST last night so I though a funny little Misganaw story might cheer you up.

Blaine had taken Misganaw potty yesterday. After he went, he looked in the toilet (now you have to imagine him waving his arms up and down as he says each couple words) and said, very disappointedly and dramatically, "My pee is NOT brown! My pee is NOT brown!"

Blaine says, "Why do you think your pee should be brown???"


Hope this helps your disappointment today, whatever it may be:)


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Got a letter :)

It arrived!! Letters to "Dear my sister, Katie", "Dear my brothers", "Dear Dad" and "Dear Mom." Can I just tell you how precious and exciting it is to receive such letters from so far away???

Well, I'm going to tell you Tarikwa's new name. She seems to really like it, as she signed every letter with it and even put it on the envelope!

We had chosen the name 'Aliya' for her middle name but it looks like now she will be Aliya Tarikwa. Aliya means, 'to come up from or ascend.' We think it is a beautiful name, with a beautiful meaning and an ethnic flair. It is not an Ethiopian name but we really like it and feels it suits her.

In the previous paragraph, you may have noticed that I said 'looks like'. Let me show you why.

Here's mine:

Dear Mom,

Hi How are you mom? I am fine. How was everything? Today I got your letter and I am so happy. Thank you for name Aliya. I will keep my first name ok mom. I hope you will come to here February first. I can't wait February because you will be here. Mom to come in here with Medhanit family? I love you so much ok mom. I pray for you every day. I love you soooooooooo much.

Your daughter
Aliya (Tarikwa)

Jesus is my life

I think she means that she will keep Tarikwa as her middle name since she signed everything, "Aliya." But I guess I can't be sure but it looks like that to us. I guess we'll find out for sure when we meet her:)

Here's the cutest part of her letter to Blaine:

I am so glad your favorite food is pizza and ice cream. Me to dad. Like my name Aliya.


I You

Here's a cute part in Katie's letter:

Tell your boyfriend De Heppy Birthday. I pray for you every day, my sister and please pray to me. (I think she means for me) So cute!!

And the boys' letter:

How are you my brothers. How was your school and everything. My school is good. I hope we are together soon. Mom and Katie in here soon. I love your pretty picture. I love you my brothers and God love you. I pray for you every day. Please pray to God everyday. I love you so much my brothers and my family.

Your sister
Aliya (Tarikwa)

God is my

I love that somehow she's figured out that we are coming with Medhanit's (Lilly) family!! How did she figure that out?? Smart girls!

Can you just imagine how these 2 girls feel right now? I can just imagine them being totally giddy with anticipation. Hehe! To know the time in the orphanage is soon coming to an end and very soon they will have a family to love them. Their very own family...forever. Thank you Jesus.

Sitting up here on Cloud 9,
Laura :)

2 more weeks

I was really hoping to be able to share Tarikwa's new name with you today but at this point are still awaiting the letter that was sent off to us on Tuesday. It must be coming today! You will remember that in the last letter we sent her, we told her the name we'd chosen for her middle name and per her request to change her name, asked her if she'd like the name we'd chosen for her first name. So we're waiting to hear what she thinks.

In 2 short weeks from today, Katie and I will be leaving for Ethiopia! I got the suitcases out last week and have begun packing. Tarikwa's stuff is almost all packed. I had to bring more pants than I normally would because I'm not sure what will fit her. So we have jeans, sweats and yoga type pants. Surely something will work. Katie picked out Nike's for her last weekend when we went shopping. I'm so glad I have a teenager to help me with these things because I probably would have picked out some dorky shoes. These are definitely NOT dorky! They're high tops with grey, pink and blue on them. Katie assures me that if Tarikwa doesn't like them, she would love to take them off her hands (or feet!). They're the same size in shoes and Katie is excited to double her shoe and boot inventory!

I did some shopping at Target yesterday and picked up some travel items. It feels good to continue to make progress on my list. This trip isn't like a trip to the cabin where if you forget something, there is a Target 20 minutes away. Big deal! No, if you forget something when going to Ethiopia, too bad for you! And as most as you know, detail oriented I am not! But I'm really trying.

The agency we used when we adopted the boys was very detail oriented and sent us letters and lists so I knew I wasn't forgetting anything. Our new agency is a little more on your own, which isn't the best for me. I need hand-holding! At least we've done this before, which should help!

We normally would have our Bible study group friends over for a Super Bowl party but it turns out that Katie and I flying over who-knows-where during the Super Bowl, our friend Kevin will be biking around Thailand and Mark and Lisa will be cruising around the Caribbean. So we've decided to have a Play Off Party this Sunday in lieu of a Super Bowl party! It normally wouldn't matter quite so much if our VIKINGS weren't going to the Super Bowl, which they WILL be!

I'll update as soon as we receive the letter from Tarikwa!


Monday, January 18, 2010

New pictures!!

An adoptive mom who traveled over Christmas, was gracious enough to take these pictures of Tarikwa for us!

So pretty!

I love this one!

I cannot believe we are traveling in less than 3 weeks!

Blaine and I had a great weekend. The lists got made and now I just have to do the things on the lists and mark them off as I go. This helps me focus! Boy was it quiet at the cabin, almost like a vacuum of sound! So peaceful. We got lots of sleep and in fact, I learned that I could sleep until 9:00am! The only thing that got no attention was the big box of receipts and inventory lists. Oh, well.

It was good to be home last night and Katie did a wonderful job keeping up on the house on top of taking care of the boys! Thanks Kaite!

Off to the gym to ware off some of the peanut butter M&M's I ate over the weekend.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

What's new

This is De (Katie's sweetie) on his big day and his wonderful dad, Herb. De is one of 15 kids. Yep, you heard me right...15! There are 5 bio kids and 10 adopted. They range in age from my age (44) to jr. high.

Misganaw had 'beach day' at pre-school the other day. They had a sandbox with treasures to find and a fishing pond. It was his first time in flip-flops...pretty funny! I tried to get the window behind him so you could see the piles of snow out there. Gotta love beach day!

This is my very talented daughter, Katie who is an amazing artist. She just won 3rd place in a state wide pencil drawing contest for her drawing of a zebra...adorable! Sorry for the bragging, I couldn't help myself:)

And this is how a big brother and sister get back at the little brothers when they've had enough of the craziness (those of you who are there know exactly what I'm talking about!). At dinner tonight Katie and Blake (who is not in any of these pictures but, trust me was an equal accomplice in crime with his sister) thought it would be "fun" to share some jelly beans with the little brothers. They were not normal jelly beans, however. Not unless you like "poopy diapers", which Mihiretu was sampling above.

Or "skunk smell", like in this picture! Misganaw was given "rotten cheese."

He's quickly going for his milk. I missed the picture but a second later, he begins holding his tummy, saying, "My tummy doesn't feel very good!"

Ahhhh, relief.

I have to admit, we all had tears running down our faces!

Blaine and I are getting away this weekend. We've decided that that the cabin is the perfect place for our needs: it's cheap, it's quiet and it's quiet. Cheap and quiet. Perfect.

We are going to bring our big box of receipts and the inventory list from the fire and try to get them all reconciled and done for the insurance company. We also are going to take a couple notebooks and make some much needed lists: what do we need to get done before we leave for Ethiopia, how are we going to make time to spend with each child, and we need to make up a chore list. I want to get ahead of it before it gets ahead of me!! It will be a time to rest, regroup, pray and prepare. We look forward to the time away.

Many blessings,

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Travel plans:)

Well, it looks like not only will Jill (and her friend) and Katie (my daughter) and I will have our embassy appointment on the same day, we also will be staying at the same guest house and flying together BOTH ways!

Having made this flight before, I really was trying to find another route that has a layover somewhere in Europe so we could get off even for a short time and stretch our legs but it was not to be. So we are taking the exact same flights we took 3 years ago!

We leave Feb. 6th and fly to Dulles. There we meet up with Jill and her friend (YEA!) and hop the Ethiopian Airlines flight that will take us the rest of the way there. This is the leg that causes us trouble. We actually do have what is considered a layover in Rome (sounds wonderful, right?) but we are not allowed to get off the plane at all. We sit on the tarmac and have our plane cleaned and get a new crew and new food and water. This takes 1-2 hours. In our experience, this is a tough time. If they would just let me off the plane and allowed me to run around it 4 times, I'd be fine. I'd even pay $100 to do it!! But this isn't possible so Katie and I thought of another solution.

We are going to purchase those little battery operated hand held fans and use them during this time to get some "fresh air!" I know this sounds weird and it probably is but it gets pretty stifling in that airplane after an hour or 2 with the doors open and the air off. So we don't really care! So this is our little solution. Oh, by the way if you want to know, we will be on the same plane, sitting in the same seat for a grand total of 17 straight hours. See why I want to get out and run around the plane??????

But it is worth every second of discomfort to get our daughter!! It will sure be a different story on the way home, won't it?? Can't wait!!

We are staying at a very lovely guest home there that has a generator so when power is lost, which frequently happens in Addis Ababa, we will have power. There is internet access, hot water, free breakfast and lunch, a cell phone provided so Blaine can get ahold of us 24/7, our own bathroom and oh, did I mention the complimentary 1 hour professional massage?? This will be most welcomed after 17 straight hours on the same airplane, let me tell you!

We arrive Sunday night and will be picked up by our guest house. We'll try to get some sleep, get ourselves rehydrated Monday morning and then head to Layla House to get our girls! I have played this moment over and over in my mind.

What is the first thing I will say to my daughter? What would you say? Leave me a comment and let me know. I'll be crying, that I know and then Katie will start up. Oh, my that poor girl...I hope she doesn't think we don't like her!

We will take her back to the guest house and simply get to know each other. I'm sure she will go through her suitcase over and over, just looking at her new clothes and shoes. We will bring her a backpack that she can carry on the plane with her. What do I fill it with? Definitely a little stuffed animal but what else? Katie thinks it should contain a bag of gummy worms. I think it might be Katie who'd eat her gummy worms! Tarikwa could learn to share!

The agency has a farewell ceremony on Friday and after that we take off for home. Yep, only 5 nights in Ethiopia this time. Very short.

While we're there, I also want to ask the agency if they'll take us so we can see and get pics of any history that Tarikwa has in Addis Ababa. Since we have conflicting information on how she came to be at Layla House orphanage, I'm not sure what this will look like but we feel it is important to get any information we can for her. Maybe pictures of neighbors or something?? Not sure but I'll do what I can.

Katie crawled into bed with me yesterday morning and proceeded to tell me how I should keep her out of school that day so we could go shopping for her new sister! Sorry to all you strict parents out there but I said, "Yes" and told the school that we had family business that day and off we went to the Mall of America! We got a lot done, with lots more to do. Ok, ok to ease your minds...Katie is getting all A's with 2 B's and is a senior. It's also the end of a semester so not lots of new information being given out. Don't freak out on me now!

Today is the Genna (Ethiopian Christmas) celebration that we attend every year. It's always fun with lots of Ethiopian food, many adoptive families who've adopted Ethiopian kids, games and bouncy houses. Mihiretu and Misganaw get to see some of the children who they spent time with in the care center in Ethiopia before we adopted them.

Many blessings,

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Oh my goodness!!!!

Guess what???? We got an embassy date!!!!!!!! And guess what again?????? Did did you guess it? You did, didn't you??

Remember what I've been praying for??? Think for minute...yep, God worked it out for Jill and I to have the exact same embassy date...February 10th!!!!!!!!! That's right. We travel together, will be staying together and most importantly our daughters will be leaving the orphanage TOGETHER!!! Oh, how God loves these girls to do such a wonderful thing for them.

I'll update as soon as I get our flight booked.



Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Although we don't yet have an embassy date for Tarikwa, I am happy to announce that Jill does! She will be traveling to pick up her daughter, Lilly on Feb. 8, returning on the 13th. It was only yesterday that she was told of her embassy date. If you remember, she passed court on Dec. 8 and it is typical to hear about an embassy date within 10 days of court. So since she just heard yesterday, you can figure out that things are running behind in this department! If things continue to go they way they are, we should hear in about a week. I'm still hoping and praying that God works it out that our embassy date is also February 8th so Jill and I can take our girls away together to begin their new lives with their families!

Blaine and I were talking last night and he very excitedly said, "It won't be much longer now and she will be with us!" We are so excited to bring her home and make her a part of our family. Even though she is an older child and she already has gotten her first tooth, has begun walking and has definitely said her first words, there will still be so many firsts for us to share and enjoy with her.

When we get to the airport in Ethiopia, she will ride on her first escalator followed by her first ride on an airplane. We will be with her as she leaves Ethiopia for the first time and comes to the west. What a shock that will be! It will be her first time to see snow and be in cold weather. And it will be her first time ever to have a dad, brothers and a sister. What a privilege to be the ones to accompany her through these "firsts."

Like when the boys joined our family in Feb. of '07, I know that along with these very fun firsts there will be turmoil. Change is hard and can be scary. Tarikwa is a child who has lived through things that most American's have not and can only imagine. And even though she is gaining much, she has lost so much, too. With this, there will be grief. We will be there to guide and love her through this. With grief and fear, there may be anger and pain. We will be there to support her and get her through this.

Adoption is many things. It is unbelievable joy and blessing! To think that God would grant us the privilege to raise another child, one He has chosen for us, leaves me breathless. It really does. But I don't want to appear 'pollyanna-ish' about adoption. I also know the day Tarikwa enters our home, things will change and the family structure will need to once again work itself out. I know that I will be stressed and cry myself to sleep some nights.

I don't ever to give the impression that I have it all together. I'm not one of those moms about whom people say, "She never loses her temper," "She is so patient," or "She's meant to have a dozen kids." I'm a work in progress!

And this is why it amazes me that God, in all His wisdom chose me to be a mother again. Not an honor I really deserve but God...But God. I truly am honored!

What I am saying is that I am not equipped. I wasn't built 'equipped' like some women are. But God...

He doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called.

Praise His Name,