The place God calls you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

Friday, September 30, 2011


...recognizes "kiss kiss" and will lean into me (or her brothers or her daddy) with her slobbery mouth wide open
...waves hello
...finally (!) recognizes herself in the mirrors and smiles - I don't think she'd ever seen her reflection before last week
...sat on the grass for what I believe to be the first time in her wee life, this afternoon. it may take some getting use to
...still doesn't have any teeth
...slept a whopping 13 hrs last night but, a sleep in (just like her brothers) means she's not feeling 100%
...shoves her (right!) thumb in her mouth the second she feels the need to self soothe for any reason whatsoever still the happiest kid on the block - sick, tired, or not
...screams blue murder when she's hungry
...loves (!) cuddling and being rocked to sleep
...does not like being put in her crib awake a bit of a ham and has quite the personality - we catch glimpses into the depth of this, more and more each day
...has an incessantly running nose
...cries when the pup comes near her in the exersaucer but is beginning to tolerate his wandering around her when she's on the floor

...explodes in her diaper so far, only first thing in the morning (I fear the day it happens in public - and it will, I'm sure!)
...will try any food we offer - plain yogurt is the exception

...has tried yams, butternut squash, peas, carrots, chicken, banana, peaches, applesauce, oats, rice, wheat, pasta
...loves (!) her Baby Mum Mums and is getting the hang of self-feeding
...enjoys her middle brother feeding her cheerios - right on the tip of her tongue - one by one
...responds to "Makeda" after only a week, rather than "Makeda Mihret"
...her middle brother prefers to call her "Makeda Meewhet" though
...curled her legs in the fetal/new born position when picked up one week ago. she would not put her legs out under her, but rather kept them bent all the time
...will now bounce in the exersaucer beginning to enjoy the BOB more and more ticklish and has the sweetest little fragile, gentle, innocent proof of miracles

Monday, September 26, 2011

At The Airport

I'm back tracking a bit but thought I'd throw up a few shots from the airport. We will eventually get one of the five of us but it's tricky with three (!) small children - one of whom is jetlagged and a Mama who didn't know if she was coming or going that day. (Twenty-six hours of travel will do that to a person.) I am still traumatized by the horribleness of the flight and that's a (somewhat funny) story for another day. There's always a bit more humour when you reflect upon a situation several days later, isn't there?!

We're working our way through jetlag over here...the wee one is taking longer to sort herself out. (It has only been two full days though, I must remind myself.) The nights are long, people. But, we have one sweet sweet, gentle, smiley, cuddly, joyful babe on our hands - you'd never know she's still livin' Ethiopia time.

And now that we're back, there's a ton to do - more than I ever could have imagined...but (this is because) our life has played out much differently over the past couple of months than I ever would have imagined also. (More later.) All good - just overwhelming if I forget to see the forest for the trees...or is it the trees for the forest? Either way, there's a lot to do and not enough time to do it so we are taking one day at a time and taking that time to spend with the one for whom we waited for over three and a half years.

She's perfect.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Five: Family Forever

We're home!

After a somewhat horrific flight including a 45 minute pre-flight sit on the tarmac in Frankfurt, a 1/2 extension on our flight time due to high winds (that's 10 1/2 hrs in case anyone is counting), a screaming child during take-off (well, how was I to know her full bottle wan't enough to fill her?!), followed by a rank smelling child moments later, followed further by a puking child (apparently Miss Makeda has a very sensitive gag reflex: duly noted from here on out...I won't even tell you how and where I caught it all), and the list continues. About an hour before we were to land (nine plus hours into the flight) a sweet woman three seats down offered to take her so I could go to the bathroom...for the first time all flight. We did have a bulk head seat as well as (I think the only) empty seat beside me. Those were, I swear, my saving grace. Unfortunately, the staff were less than accommodating and there were no bassinets. Boo.

{first Grovia diaper experience...we love them}

Makeda was not "herself" during the flight. Very fussy and when she wasn't sleeping it was rough. She's fantastic today and other than having herself on Ethiopia time still (last night was long), she is a doll. She's responding to "Makeda" already and we are slowly phasing "Makeda Mihret" out.

{first gnaw on Sophie the Giraffe...this took place somewhere in the neighbourhood of 2 or 3am. she pulled a 10hr sleeping stint on our second night together in Ethiopia and I have high hopes that once jetlag has calmed, we will see this pattern continue}

The most wonderful of (new) friends was at the airport taking photos which I will post soon.

Until then, enjoy a few of our firsts, home.

{first cuddle...he's a big brother now!...and clearly he will excel in this role}

{first big big brother cuddle...they have many similar baby temperamental traits - this is a good thing!}
{ohhhh! her hair}

We are blessed.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

In Transit - Frankfurt

We're in the JAL Lounge enduring our 7 hr layover in luxury. Thanks to my Dad's Star Elite something-or-other status, we've been fortunate enough to eat, drink, enjoy wi-fi, sit comfortably and quietly, and shower...all for free!

To back track: we returned to the orphanage Thursday for a final farewell, at the request of E. They fed us again and the food was just as incredible as the first two times I've had the privilege of eating there. We stayed three hours, the children sang to us (in Amharic and English!) and we were privy to even more of E's story and her heart for the children of Ethiopia. If you've ever read "There's No Me Without You", I would have to say in all honesty that E's life, passion, and compassion mirrors that of Haregewoin Teferra. No word of a lie. (If you haven't read the book, I would highly recommend that you's a page turner and a life changer.)

I digress.

The departure and final farewell Makeda Mihret received from her nannies, nurses, cooks, and family from the past many months was heart wrenching. I'll go into it another time as it's still too raw and I'm digesting.

So, here we are in Frankfurt after a 6 1/2 hr uneventful flight from Addis. The first tears I've seen fall from this girl's eyes, streamed down her cheeks just after take-off. Our guess would be that it was all just too much...overtired (it was nearly midnight), out of sorts, over-stimulated, nearing a bottle feed, confused...the tears streamed for a few moments.

She settled quickly with the bottle and passed out for the remainder of the flight.

We arrived in Frankfurt (at 6am local time), made our way through what felt like umpteen terminals and gates, to the lounge. Fed Makeda, had a drink (coffee!), and took Makeda to shower and clean off. The showers here are fantastic if for no other reason than they clean off that previous-flight-ick feeling and prepare you for the next.

Makeda is a water baby, there's no doubt. And, after holding her in the water with me for a few minutes, I plonked her down on the floor in the corner where she'd not be sprayed and where she proceeded to splish splash away in the cm deep water. Moments later I went to pick her up and give her a full rinse off.

She looked content. Relaxed. Satisfied.

And she left a rather disgusting load under her...stuck to the tiles on the shower floor.


In order to ensure I protected my Dad's reputation and that he would maintain his status I did what any girl would do and...well...let's just say it's all clean now. Wow. That was gross. Certainly it wasn't made better by the fact that I am transitioning Makeda to the baby cereal and formula she will eat at home and the fact that she had butternut squash last night for the first time ever.

The word explosive comes to mind.

Anyhoooo...we are now still several hours away from our flight home (!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

We can't wait...

Today is our Forever Family Day.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rub A Dub Dub

...okay, so my room doesn't actually have a tub.

But Makeda didn't seem to mind.

She was as happy as can be.

Wouldn't you say?

I can't decide which is my fave.

Perhaps all of them...seeing as she's in every one.

Another incredible day here.

Blog worthy but a bit heavy so I shall save it for another day.

Until then, enjoy.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

September 21, 2011: A Change In Plans

It wasn't supposed to happen this way.

Though I know there are so very many details I will forget, take for granted, or simply chose not share, the mantra my Dad and I repeated continually throughout today was this: You just can't make this stuff up.

Caught somewhere between miracles, awe, joy, gut-wrenching laughter, great food, martyr hearts, and one sweet baby girl; today was a day which changed me from the core and knocked my socks off.

It seems Ethiopia has a way of doing that, doesn't it?!

The past 10 hours took a turn I did not anticipate and one I would never - for the world - trade.

The plan all along had been to arrive, take a day to market-immerse ourselves, walk the streets, eat traditionally and just "be". Day 2 was to be our Makeda visitation day. Day 3 would be the pick-up day. Day 4 would be a lay low and hang out/attach day, ending with a rockin' 28 hr flight home. Do I know how to have a good time or what.

Yesterday went as planned. Sweet dresses, coffee out the wazoo, scarves, and t-shirts were ticked off the agenda.

Today we hit the bank (I was hoping a donation run mirroring last time would take place), were picked up by our MoT Rep and then taken to our Power of Attourney's office. That visit and the signing of one sweet simple document took a whopping 3 minutes - okay, maybe 4. Then it was off to the orphanage to meet with the sweetest girl in the world.

We arrived maybe around 10:20am. A few moments later she was brought in and handed to me. She didn't fuss, cry, make a face. There was a lot of wide-eyed "assessing the situation" going on, but truthfully, in minutes we were blessed to have a smile and coo. (And the coo was the most vocal she got...all day.)

I held her and we played, made faces, talked, drank coffee, and took gazillions (yes that many) of photos. I then fed her lunch.

The kid eats like a truck driver.

She's petite - has a sweet belly, average arms, and teeny legs which most certainly need some exercise and beefing up.

It was at that time, as I tried to follow the cues of a child - our child - I had known for slightly less than two hours that I made the decision.

After her lunch feeding (man can she pack it back!) my Dad and I had the privilege of taking the orphanage director to purchase a month's worth of food - thanks to the gifts (again !) of so many kind and generous friends. We really do know some of the best people in the world and are honest to goodness privileged to call you friends.

As we had left the orphanage initially for the food purchasing, my Dad turned back and asked the orphanage director (E) if there was anything else the orphanage needed in the way of equipment. The answer was a TV for the children in the classroom and it took minutes - not even - to confirm to her that this would be part of the afternoon's purchase list. She was pleased. The TV she used to have in the classroom, she had to take to the orphanage in Harar. So, she replaced the one at the Addis branch with her personal one - the quality of which was not nearly as good as the one that went to Harar. The children had been quite disappointed that this happened but with not a penny to spare, she had no choice. So, she made a personal sacrifice - this, by the way is likely the least of her personal sacrifices.

While you may be thinking: really? Do the children really need a TV? Doesn't it just rot your brain? My answer would be "need"...maybe they don't need a TV. But their english is awesome and I can certainly attribute some of that to the colloquial english they would hear while watching Bob or Thomas. So yes, a TV is of benefit to them. And a good TV even more so.

After about 3 hours of food purchasing (we were on Africa time, let's not forget!) we had spent about 2/3 of the financial donations. We had been gifted with the same dollar amount as our last trip so that was a lot of food and supplies and a lot of time!!! We then made the trek back in the van (and on some of those roads it felt like a serious trek!) to the orphanage. On the way back I turned to the director and asked what she was planning to purchase with the rest of the money after we had dropped of the supplies which currently filled the van.

She told me she would see how much the TV cost once we dropped the food off at the orphanage. If the TV cost more than the money we had remaining, she would buy only formula. If the ticket price of a new TV fell within the amount of birr we had left, she would purchase the TV.

I turned to her.

Another miscommunication...not unlike the first.

No, E. We want to purchase the TV in addition from the donations!!

The excitement which emanated her both verbally and physically was incredible.

And so we bought a whack of formula and a brand spankin' new television for many of the most polite, well mannered, thankful (they said it over and over!) children this Mama has ever had the privilege of meeting.

We returned to the orphanage and were blessed with yet another traditional meal. I love eating at the orphanage - it's like a good home cooked meal. It beats a restaurant any day of the week.

Throughout the day we came to know (and perhaps understand) E and her mission on a much deeper level. I cannot express the heart this woman has. Her dedication and passion is unparalleled. Many would quit, claim defeat, turn the other way.

We will never know all she has given up for the children of Ethiopia and I don't feel this is a platform on which I can share the part of her story which we learned. But I tell you this: today, I stood with, walked along side, and spent time in the presence of one of the most amazing people I will ever meet.

Of this, I am certain.

I digress.

We finished our meal.

And then the day ended...

...with my walking down to Makeda's room...

...the infant room...

...picking her up...

...holding her in my arms...

...and getting in the van.

She was ours.

She is ours.

Forever. Here. With. Me. In. My. Presence. Tonight.

She is in the bedroom beside me.

She fell asleep on our way back to the guest house in my arms.

She is beautiful.

She is ours.

September 21, 2011: Makeda's Gotcha Day.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Things Dreams Are Made Of

"When do you think you first wanted to adopt" my Dad asked me as we were sitting in our Luftansa aircraft yesterday.

I mulled it over for several seconds but really I knew the answer. And blinked back a few tears while digesting the question and preparing the answer.

"Subconsciously...probably forever." And that's true. And the tears came from a place deep down because I know that many times, so very many times, I (we) nearly lost our grip and sight of the dream. This dream.

While I can pinpoint the moment we jumped in faith for this one, there's always been a piece of my heart that has ached for children - for my (unknown) child perhaps - and I've felt the insatiable desire to do something about it.

And here's what I've learned - and continue to learn. And here's what we as a family have also learned in very recent months and weeks and days: You have to leap.

You have to do the things that scare you and hurt you and give way to uncertainty and especially to fear.

And you certainly have to do all these things if they are the things which your dreams are made of.

Because here's the thing folks, if you can't leap...if you can't say you're seeking to achieve and strive and ache for your dream, you're never gonna feel the real and raw adrenaline of your life.

The stuff of dreams - that's the stuff our lives (my life!) should be made of. The fulfillment is unparalleled.

It's scary and messy and exhausting and it will push you to the brink.

To. The. Brink.

But the rewards, the growth, the "this is it" sensation and firm knowledge that this is what you should be doing and how you should be living...they are greater than any scare, mess, or exhaustion.

I'm here telling you this because I'm living it. We've survived (conquered) the system and we've pushed through. Not on our own strength certainly...but here I sit in the middle of Addis in the middle of my dream being realized.

March was horrific. And so was February. November was full of tears as was July 2009 and the many months that followed it.

And yesterday, today, tomorrow, Thursday, Friday and the days that ensue: they are the dream being lived out.

The high that isn't the caffeine. I am living the high that isn't caffeine but rather the knowledge that God's will and desire and grace and dream for us - is coinciding (or rather being obediently followed by and) with ours.

So jump. Leap for pete's sake. If it hurts and you want to scream and cry but the burning inside you tells you to press on, then press on.

Press on.

If you do, you will make it to your Addis. To your orphanage. To your child. You will be a stronger more content and fulfilled and life-filled person. You will know that you are capable of more. You will see bigger.

And you will dream bigger!

Tomorrow at 10am.

That's the thing my dream is made of right now...the meeting we have in less than 24 hours.

Monday, September 19, 2011


We just arrived a short while ago. It's late. I should be tired.

I'm likely very very tired.

Thanks to adrenaline I don't feel it in the least bit. Think I may take something in a few moments to help that out.

Packing for this trip resembled somewhat of a whirlwind due partially to the fact that I, in no way fathomed the visa coming so quickly and partially to the craziness of life right now.

I packed, then repacked (thanks to a good friend who mocked me only slightly) with essentials for the one and a half days, a night, and a plane ride (which is equivalent to a full day and night but will likely feel ions longer) for Makeda. And, when all was said and done there was a tiny corner of space remaining for her mother.

The second suitcase is jammed with orphanage donations which I can hardly wait to take on Wednesday when we go for our first visit. And we are returning with the same amount of cash for another food run, as was donated for our first trip.

I. Can't. Wait.

A once in a lifetime experience...twice. We are so blessed.

In my excitement to pack and ensure that I did in fact have enough clean underwear, floss, and a toothbrush I forgot something that ranks nearly at the top of that list also: jammies. Unless you know me well, you don't understand my true love of jammies. This should be interesting.

I saw a lot of things at the markets last time but flannels were not one of them. Oh well. There could have been worse things to forget I guess.

The flights were looooong. The first leg was jam packed! We left an hour and a half late (and sat in the plane waiting that whole time) due to a tire problem, then a minor oil leak - which I suspect isn't so minor when flying over the Atlantic and then some. And the babies and toddlers - oh did they ever scream. I'm not sure if there was a point throughout the nearly 9 hours when there wasn't one of them going. Fortunately, I'm in a great "Mama mood" and even when screaming I still found them cute. Thanks to my Dad and some kind of fantastic elite status I (we!) was (were) able to shower, enjoy a drink and snacks, check my emails (free internet) and just chill, in the Executive Lounge in Frankfurt. Did you read that: I had a shower!!! Nice. The flight from Frankfurt to Addis was empty and there were tons of seats to share and sprawl along.

I felt a real affinity - different than last time - as we walked out the airport doors and into the damp chill and the smell of the African air at night. I love it here. Truthfully, I barely know it. But I love it. Something here that has completely captured my heart. While it started with a little girl and an aching deserve to preserve all we can for her of her heritage, culture, identity, roots, history, the affinity is greater than all that. I can't describe it and words don't do it justice but it's strong and it weighs heavily and with an indescribable intensity. The thought of leaving without knowing when we will come back (but simply that we will!) doesn't sit well.

But the thought of leaving with a wee one in a sling on my side sits so very very well.

The room back here at Afroland Lodge is perfect and when the words "I would like to reserve a baby playpen for Thursday night" exited my mouth they felt surreal. I am so glad I decided to rebook here.

This whole thing is truly surreal. I mean I actually have to purposefully remind myself why we are here and that yes, in just over a day I will touch, hold, (feed?), carry, talk to, coo at, love on our baby girl. I cannot believe it.

What's even more unfathomable is that the following day I will take her with me when I leave the orphanage.


So, as I look at the bottles and formula and cereal and wee clothing - the pink clothing, and rattles, I have to remind myself that those are not in the donations bag.

I'm in Addis!!!!!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

T Minus 17 Hours And Counting

I'm off in about 17 hours.

To Ethiopia.

To get our daughter.

As we painted her room yesterday and last night (it's a long story as to why it wasn't done earlier), and as we sorted through clothes (oh! the clothes - another long story), I just kept saying I couldn't believe why we were doing it.

I cannot fathom through the credit card "I'm going away" call, to the registration with foreign affairs, to the lists for the most wonderful Nana taking care of our boys, to arranging for photos at the airport...and the list continues.

I cannot fathom the reason (or even the reality) for tomorrow's planned destination.

It will be short.

I'm home this time next week. That too is hard to believe.

This time next week we will be five.


I'll try to post (words and more importantly photos!) while there.

For now, please pray for safety, health, safe travel, attachment and bonding.

Meet you on the other side.

Oh - I leave Ethiopia three years to the day that our dossier arrived in Ethiopia.

How's that for Perfect Timing.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Leave Sunday


I leave in just over three days. Count them...just over seventy-two hours.

Holy smokes. I still still still cannot believe it.

(Don't worry bad guys, our house will still be full of people. Like you could find us anyway...ha ha ha. Some of you will get that.)

It has to be a short (and very very sweet trip) for personal reasons but it will be a trip of a lifetime.

I lay awake in bed last night (though I went to bed about three hours later than usual and still couldn't sleep) trying to think of all the things to do, lists to make, and what I still need to purchase for Makeda. You know, the sweet baby girl coming home.

And I figured I had everything. Formula, food, bottles, soothers, blankets, clothes, cloth diapers and wipes, sling, change table, crib...mattress. Ahhhhh! I don't have a mattress for our poor sweet girl's crib. So today, we bought a mattress. And now we are officially ready. Until I lay awake in bed again tonight...

More details to they unravel.

I heard something today that went like this..."Though we can't always see the sun, we know it's there".

So true, isn't it.

This has been a journey of faith. And it's really just begun, hasn't it?!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


We got it.

The call. (Okay, it was an email)


I believe it went something like this:

"Honey..." (me)

"HONEY....I got an email from Steve. It says says....vvvviiiiSSSSAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH".

I fly out very very soon.

Will post more later. It's hard to type when your fingers are shaking.

I'm going to get our daughter.

Road Trippin'

We went on a wee road trip.

It was as fantastic as it could have been, keeping in mind the length of time in the car.

There was puke involved. It seems that is a requirement of every Keizer road trip. We just accept it. Bring seabands. And gravol. And a bowl (and hope for the's literally a hit or miss situation.)

And we'll post more another time.