Wednesday, April 26, 2006

New Patio Chairs

What do you do on a rainy evening to pass the time?

Plan for a sunny day of course!

All By Herself

Grace has been sitting up all by herself for the last few days. This is a far cry from the baby that flopped over, even when she was supported, when we picked her up three weeks ago.

Go Grace!!

PS She seems to be feeling much better today. Lots of smiles and no puke!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Vomit Free Zone (VFZ)

You are now entering the Vomit Free Zone! At least I hope it stays that way. I waited to post this until we had lunch and Grace was down for her nap. I wanted to be able to say that we made through a morning without the daily puke bath, and not jinx myself. We Really Made It!!! Grace has had no fever for the past day and a half. She still has the cough, but it seems to be calming down as well. It looks like the Zithromax is doing the trick. We're still keeping our fingers crossed just for good measure though.

Now I'm heading back to the laundry room to try to find my way to the bottom of the piles!

Update: Dang it! I just tried to give Grace her last dose of Zithromax. She gagged on it and puked all over herself, the couch and me. We're off to the bathtub. GRRRRRR!

Sunday, April 23, 2006


My entire existence has been defined by puke for the last few days. Grace has either had a relapse of what she had when we picked her up in Ethiopia, or she has a nasty new bug. Officially, her stomach is not the problem. She has an extraordinary amount of congestion, and a pretty gnarly cough to go with it. Her nose runs until it crusts over with dried boogers, and then she starts coughing and gagging. The puke comes into the picture when we try to feed her, and the gagging phase kicks in. Our couch, floor, bed, clothes, towels, carseat and sink have been christened. Not to mention Will, Kayla and myself! Laundry is now my life!!!

On the more serious side, Grace seemed to be doing better when we got home from Ethiopia. We even took her to the doctor the Monday after we got back. The doctor said her ears and chest were clear. This past Wednesday the cough started up again. We called the pediatrician. The doctor called us back (after normal business hours I might add), and said that we should probably give it another 24-48 hours since she wasn't running a fever. The next morning is when the puking started. Yuck!! Her cough got worse throughout the day, and the fever started right before bed time. Friday morning was the last straw. The PUKE EXTRAVAGANZA!! I decided that the wait was over.

Daniel, Justin, Grace and I went to see the doctor. After listening for about 1.2 seconds, the doctor said, "There is definitely something going on in her chest that wasn't there before." Duh!! Like I was going to drag three kids to the doctor's office to hear him tell me it was just a virus! He put her back on Zithromax and said that we should talk again on Monday.

We have spent the weekend forcing down Tylenol and antibiotocs. Apparently, Grace is not impressed by the efforts to make medicine taste good for babies. We have learned to cover all surrounding surfaces with beach towels when her feeding times come around. We have also learned that taking two hours to complete a four ounce bottle is preferable to being puked on. Will even resorted to feeding her next to the bathroom sink last night, with the hopes of being able to adjust her aim in time for the inevitable fountain to come. Believe it or not, his effort was successful. Go Dad!!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


When we took Grace to the pediatrician the other day, she only weighed 13 pounds, 14 ounces. We are pretty sure that she had already gained at least a little bit of weight since we picked her up from Layla.

She has still been maintaining the same schedule at night, waking up every four hours. The days have been kind of crazy though. She never lets more than three hours pass between feedings, and often only one or two. She used to take four ounce bottles and leave a little behind. Now, she takes anywhere from four to eight ounces, and don't forget the increased frequency!

Will stood on the scale with her today and discovered that she weighs at least 14.5 pounds. Our scale doesn't get any more exact than that, so it could be a little more. Wow! The on-demand feeding can be a little challenging, but seeing such good results is very encouraging. I'm looking forward to seeing what the scale says at the doctor's office on May 3 when we go in for her physical. Ü

Sunday, April 16, 2006


The Easter bunny was clever at our house today. He hid the eggs in the loft to avoid the prying eyes of the older kids before Mom and Dad woke up. Very smart! Grace found the first egg by whacking one of balloons that the kids decorated the stairs with. It fell down right at Will's feet as he was carrying her up the stairs. The rattle of the candy inside kept her occupied during the rest of the egg hunt. The big kids did a good job of leaving the eggs in the more obvious spots for Justin, and Kayla found the last egg. It was hding in the drawer of the computer desk. Tricky Easter Bunny!

We decided to try out a new use for our mesob. In Ethiopia, they use them to serve meals in. We thought it would be much more effective as as Easter basket. Grace seems to agree!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Easter Eve

The past week has flown by! Most days, I really wasn't sure which day of the week it was. You can bet that my kids are not going to let me forget what day tomorrow is though. Thanks to a little help from Grandma before she went back to Colorado earlier in the week, we had all the necessary supplies to get ready for the big day. We wrapped the dining room table in a plastic drop cloth, and Will and the kids went to town painting the eggs. We have lovely tie-dye, sponge-painted creations this year.

Happy Hunting!!!

Food and Fun

So, our baby girl is a week and a half old, and she is already eating solid foods. Wow! Ok, so maybe it's just that she's only been home a week and a half, but it is a new experience for us to start right into the baby food phase with a "new" baby. Grace focuses on our every move while eat, and she spent a good part of the last couple dinners gnawing on a french fry or piece of bread. We decided to smash up a banana and see what she would do with it. She ate it like a pro! Since we make our own baby food at our house (the smell and appearance of the stuff in the jars just makes my stomach turn), we better get our act together. It's time to dig out the food processor and stock up on ice cube trays to freeze the food in baby size portions. Our baby is growing up WAY too fast!

Grandma Carroll and Grandpa John sent Grace a very cool new toy. It is an exer-saucer with about as many gadgets as could possibly fit around it. It rattles, beeps, has flashing lights, things to swat at, a bouncing seat and even its own computer. This thing should be fun for hours! It will be even better when her feet reach the floor!!

When you're a 3 1/2 year old boy, and your baby sister gets a new toy that comes in a REALLY BIG box, what should you do?

Play with the box of course!!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

We're Home!!!

Well, actually, we have been home since the wee hours of Sunday morning, but I have been to busy and exhausted to post. The trip from Addis to our house took 36 hours! Our flight actually left at 1:00am on April 8 in Addis, so we had already been up 17 hours before we took off. That is 53 hours folks!!! Will and I had both taken a quick shower right before we left for the airport, but by the time we had spent all those hours dragging luggage, wandering through four different airports, wiping up baby snot and spit-up, and eating multiple meals in airplane seats, it didn't make much difference. We got home feeling downright GROSS! Fortunately, Grandpa Darrell was there to meet us at the airport in San Diego, and the last hour of our journey was the most pleasant of all.

When we opened our front door, our older kids and my Mom were there the greet us even though it was 1:00am. They had decorated the house with balloons and banners and streamers. They even got me some calla lilies. My favorite!! It was such a nice surprise. They were all SO excited to finally meet Grace. Everyone sat down on the floor in our living room, and we opened up our suitcases so we could share the treasures that we brought home from Ethiopia. It was fun to the the big kids in their traditional Ethiopian clothes, and Grandpa Darrell even tried out his new "pillow". We finally wrapped up the party around 2:00am.

Will went off to take a shower while I kept an eye on Grace and visited some more with my Mom. My tummy had started to churn long about San Francisco, so I was glad to be able to depend on Grandma Carroll when I had to dash off to the potty again and again. Will could hardly keep his eyes open when he came out after the shower, so I kissed him and sent him off to bed. Unfortunately, Grace's eyes were WIDE open. In her time zone, it was morning time. My Mom finally went to bed about 4:30am, and Grace and I hung out in the family room opening the mail from the past two weeks and catching up on a TV show or two that we had recorded while we were gone. She finally went to sleep on the couch with me at 7:30am.

Daniel and Justin got up around 9:00am. They were both so sweet. They were very quiet, and they were just standing next to the couch, watching their new baby sister sleep. It was a great moment. I talked with them for a while, until I realized that I was offending myself. I knew Will was tired, but I NEEDED a shower! He was happy to come out and sit with the kids for a while, so he could have his sweet smelling wife back. I had hoped that the shower would leave me feeling better, but no such luck. My stomach was more upset than ever, and what I thought was a minor sore throat from the dry air in the plane, was turning out to be more serious. Bummer!

I managed to gather myself enough to greet the rest of the kids and Grandma Carroll when they stumbled out of bed a couple hours later. I officially put myself on the B.R.A.T. diet that has been recommended by all of our pediatricians for years, and promptly fell asleep on the couch. We had our first visitors in the afternoon. I'm not sure when they arrived, as I was sawing logs on the couch, but I enjoyed seeing them when I finally woke up. I ended up falling asleep again while Will was out getting Chinese food for dinner. I guess that was just as well, since I couldn't eat anything anyway. Thank goodness my Mom decided to stay here for a couple extra days after we got back!!!

Will did finally lead me to the bed that night, and we were both feeling a little more human Monday morning. Grace still got up for part of the night, but we definitely got more rest than we had the past few nights. We spent the day with all of our kids, and then took Grace for her first appointment at the pediatrician's office in the afternoon. He said that her ears looked clear and her lungs sounded good. It looks like the Zithromax that we took with us to Ethiopia did the trick. Yea!! After a stop at Lowe's for a new wax ring for the toilet (the house needing repairs helped the reality that we were really back home sink in rather quickly), and quick trip through the baby department at Kohl's, we e didn't want to be late for the nice ham dinner that Grandma was fixing back at home!!

Grace did so much better on Monday night. She wakes up about every four hours for a bottle and a diaper, but she went right back down both times. Yippee!!! It's a good thing that she figured out the sleep thing, because Will had to go back to work, and the kids had to go back to school. There would be no more sleeping the day away at our house. My Mom was supposed to fly home to Colorado Tuesday morning, but after realizing that things were betting pretty hectic, she changed her flight to the evening. That was fine with me. It meant I wouldn't have to do the driving!

We got Grandma to the airport in plenty of time, and decided to try going out for our first excursion with our new, bigger family. We went out to dinner at Boll Weevil on Harbor Island. It's a good thing my stomach was feeling a lot better. After a mushroom burger and cheese fries, I would have been in big trouble 24 hours earlier! We got home a little past bed time, so the kids were definitely feeling ready for sleep. Grace had another good night, so at the risk of jinxing something, I will say that I think she is adjusted to the new time zone. That is really good news!!!!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Super Quick Update

We got some shopping and sight seeing done this morning. We had the most wonderful driver, named Solomon. We even invited him to have lunch with us. He packed up all of the leftovers to give to the beggar boys on the street. Awesome!!

The meeting with Grace's "relatives" went very well. It was emotional, but we got so much valuable information. We even got some pictures of Grace with her mother right after she was born! The story is to long to go into right now, but I promise we will share more when we get home.

We're off to the airport to head home! Yippee!!!

Update: The "relatives" that we met, weren't exactly related. We met the man, and his mother, that raised Grace for the first two months of her life. They went above and beyond the call of duty for a total stranger, and in the end, it was their act of kindness, that put her in just the right place to be referred to us for adoption. Praise God!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Party and News

We had a nice, slow, relaxing morning. This waking up in the middle of the night stuff takes some getting used to. After lunch and a little shopping, we headed over to Layla House. Today was the day for the Good-bye Party. It was a lot of fun. The children sat so nicely while they were waiting to get started. I don't know that the same size group of American children would have behaved so well. After a while, the singing started. It was the coolest thing. The oldest girls choose and lead the songs. They also drum on an old desk. The combination of the drumming and children's was awesome. We recognized some of the songs as children's songs that we sing back at home. After the singing, the children that were going home with their new families got to go get there cake first. After that, everyone ate cake and drank soda. It will always be a sweet memory for me.

Right before we were going to leave Layla, a social worker named Miriam, approached us. She told us that there are some of Grace's relatives that would like to meet with us and say "good-bye" before we leave. I had kind of hoped that we might have the opportunity to meet someone with some connection to her while we were here, but the reality of it is a little scary. The social worker told us that it is not her Mom and Dad, and that there is no risk of this meeting complicating our return trip tomorrow night. With those reassurances, we agreed to the meeting. We will go back to Layla House tomorrow afternoon, and with the social worker and an interpreter, we will meet these people that now have a complicated connection to us. This has been one heck of a trip!! Please pray that our meeting will go smoothly, and I won't cry too much. Ü

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

It's Official

The trip to the Embassy was pretty interesting. First of all, four families, and the director of Layla House, all piled into one van for the ride there. There was the usual honking and swerving on the way there. Ethiopian driving is just basically a series of near misses. Signals optional, horns mandatory! There are surprisingly few accidents though.

The security is pretty high at the US Embassy. We were not allowed to park in front, so we had to park about a block or so away, and walk back. We had to go through a couple security check points, and had to have our camera locked up in a locker. No pictures there! The room that we had to go to was upstairs. We learned the phrase "heat rises", is no joke. It was sooooooo hot up there!! The lady that we needed to meet with was in a meeting at first. Good thing we had Gail with us to move things forward. She just went about collecting the money from each family for the exit visas and made sure to let the people behind the windows knew that adoption takes first priority with the US Department of State, and that we would be waiting. That must have accomplished something, because it wasn't too long before things started moving. It was great to see each family walk away from the window with completed paperwork. It means so much more than it seems when you consider that a family has just been formed. The other families clapped each time one of us finished up.

After the Embassy, we went back to Layla House. We delivered some letters that we brought over for some of the children of the other waiting families. We also spent lots of time visiting with the babies and toddlers and taking pictures. They are absolutely precious. They love to see the back of the digital camera after we take a picture. I guess technology has officially made it to Ethiopia! After I finally wiggled my way out of the swarm of children, we had the chance to meet the film crew that is here to tell the story about older children that are adopted from Ethiopia. They will actually be following them back to the US and into their new families. It should be a pretty cool documentary.

We met a super nice family from Arkansas when we went to the Embassy today. They are here to bring their 13 year old daughter, Winchet, home. We ended up inviting them back to the Hilton to have dinner with us. It was great to have a chance to talk with another family that totally understands what we have been going through for the last year and a half. Grace was napping at the beginning of the meal, but when she woke up, she was ready to perform. We had three or four different tables of people talking to us and asking questions. She is quite a ham!