Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A Great Read...

Okay, I'm back sooner than expected (to the blog, not from Ethiopia)!

I came across a really neat blog tonight, one I've added to my Reader and look forward to reading from this point forward. This woman, Valarie, has a wonderful voice. This particular post really struck me.

For those of you waiting - whether for referrals, for travel, for something else related to your adoption - it is hard. Waiting is hard. The not knowing can be the hardest.

But this post made so much sense to me that I thought it should be available. So here it is. For any of you waiting, I hope it perhaps gives you a new way to view the days doing so.

T Minus 3 Days...

3 days before I take off to D.C.! I can honestly say I'm TOTALLY ready to go. Bags are packed, necessities are taken care of, George's birthday presents are wrapped, etc. All to-dos are checked off (this is a blessed miracle because the to-do list was around 3 full pages when I started last Monday).

At this point, I sort of liken my state of mind to that of a woman who's had about 2 months too long to plan a wedding. It's all ready to go, all details are finalized, but now there's debate over whether the sugar on the tables should be cubed or granulated because, really, there's nothing else to do but debate that! In the end, sugar is sugar is sugar. The stress over the cubed versus granulated quickly becomes unhealthy.

And so it is. The last-minute itsy bitsy concerns that arise, questions that come up, and general lets-get-on-with-it moments are getting in the way.

Thankfully, as hoped for, I've got 3 days to just hang with the kids and relax. All work ends are tied up, everything that has to get done is done. And what a great feeling that is!

I was able to get some new pictures of Little Miss Fantastic yesterday from a sweet friend who traveled in the last group. These meant so much to me. I've wondered how she's grown, and grown she has --- mostly in the area of hair growth! I've got to get up to speed FAST on how to do this child's hair. It's going to be longer than mine in about 30 minutes.

I'll do my best to post a picture (and the official name) of L.M.F. as soon as I return. I will have been traveling for, I think, 34 straight hours (solo, let's not forget) so I may need a little nap first, but don't worry. I'll be back to the blog soon!

Until then, please send a little vibe out into the universe that asks that I travel well, do NOT get sick, and have a super healthy and happy little baby to bring home to my already fantastic family.


Saturday, July 19, 2008

6 Days and Counting...

Alrighty. I forgot to mention that the other thing I had to do this past week was get 3 more shots. I'm now fully inoculated against just about everything for the next 10 years. Super.

Today I took Grace and Jack to see Kitt Kittredge which, I must say, was a fantastic movie. I didn't know how many big names were in it, and I think Joan Cusack is about the most hysterical actress alive. I really love American Girl, I just wish the products cost less because, as you can imagine, Grace marched out of the theater claiming to now NEED Kitt and her best friend Ruthie - at $90 each. Hmmm...

I think I'm actually finished shopping and am quickly becoming close to being ready to go. I must say that for me, I'm glad I only had 11 days to prepare. To add another week onto it would have been too much time. It seems counterintuitive since you'd think "the more time to prepare the better." However, my nerves are a bit on edge. I mean, I think that somewhere in the recesses of my brain my subconscious realizes that I'm going to AFRICA by MYSELF to bring home our FIFTH CHILD.

And while David is completely competent, the fact is that I've been the primary caregiver for almost 9 years and, even if he really really needs to, David doesn't exactly have the ability to call me and ask a question for 6 whole days. This is not bad; if a decision needs to be made about something, he'll make it. Aunt Heather and Uncle Michael are right across the street and are willing and available to help in any way should he need it. In a way, it's a good experience for him. And I've turned all responsibility over to him before --- several times. But I was always a phone call away. Even little things that aren't an emergency are easy for me to solve because I've experienced it all for so long. It's just easier sometimes for the wheel not to have to be invented because that sort of invention is rarely required.

In some ways I'm glad I'll be completely out of contact because David will get a taste of what it feels like for me when he's in Canada fishing for 7 days each summer with no access to cell phone towers or even email. At least he can receive an email or two from me in those 6 days. I have 7 days with no communication with him at all when he's in Canada!

Knowing that I'll be on the other side of the WORLD from my family (albeit with one special little member of it) is hard. Much as I beg to BE on the other side of the world from the chaos with frequency, the reality of doing it is a bit...well...nerve wracking. I think the best thing at this point is to just go and stop thinking about it already!

Without Kristin and Karen, I'd be pretty lost right about now. They are my lifelines. Kristin had so many amazing lessons learned to pass along from her recent trip to Ethiopia and Karen, as part of my travel group, has been a fantastic person to bounce ideas off of, and occasionally even commiserate with. I'm SO glad to be traveling with Karen!

So, in 6 days I'll leave for D.C. I'll spend the night at a hotel by the airport with my parents who are coming to see me off. At this time one week from now, I'll be on an airplane 1 1/2 hours in to a 17 hour flight to Ethiopia. And two weeks from tonight, our new daughter will be home and we'll be a family of seven. And for that, I can't wait.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Anxiety down...check

Okay - after 3 whirlwind days, I was immeasurably pleased to wake up this morning at 7:00 feeling, as Fronk Egelhoffer would say in Father of the Bride Part 2, "refreshed, replenished, and raaaahring to go."

The emotional toll of the past 3 days was larger than I'd expected. The extreme excitement over going to get our girl combined with the anxiety of trying to book flights, trying to figure out how to PAY for flights, identifying exactly what I need and don't need, etc. created a bit of a monster. But I now hopefully have 8 days to just sort of chill.

For those of you who are awaiting referrals or travel, here are my latest tips on preparing:

1. Begin to assemble a packing list now. At some point here shortly, I hope to post a .pdf of my packing list that folks can download and print and modify as needed. I had a starting point (thank you Kristin Gresham!) and it saved me. To start with a blank canvas was more than a little daunting. Underwear...deoderant...water...THEN what?

2. Once you have your packing list assembled, start purchasing supplies and laying them out either in your nursery or, as I had to do because of 4 kids and 2 dogs (one of which likes to eat large things in full and then throw them up whole), keep them in their shopping bags in a closet or something. Check them off your list as you purchase them, but don't cross them off. You cross them off as they go into your suitcase.

3. Start thinking about suitcases. On Ethiopian Air, you can have two checked bags. The dimensions (l + w + h) cannot be greater than 64 inches and the bags themselves cannot weigh more than 50 pounds. I recently heard that another family whose bags all measured 65 inches (of course) went to Walmart and got duffle bags for $19.99 each that worked beautifully.

4. Start making a to-do list of things that will need to be done when the travel call comes in. I'm a pretty level-headed individual (I think; David would likely disagree), and I was so overwhelmed with excitement that I truly was like a poor headless chicken. Start the list with: reserve plane tickets, shop for supplies, photocopy passports and other important documents and keep a copy at home (or with someone) and also scan them in and keep an electronic copy on file so that, if necessary, someone can e-mail you a copy of these documents. I'll also hopefully post a to-do list for folks to modify.

Okay - I'm off to get ready for the travel conference call and to have a do-nothing day. I just wrote a blog for MomLogic on the beauty of do-nothing days that likely won't post for a month or so, but I have truly come to appreciate them.

Speaking of MomLogic, my new blog entry posted yesterday. Check it out! They took some grammatical editing liberties that were just plain incorrect, but whatever.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hanging in...

Okay, moving along. Progress is a good thing for my brain right now.

I officially booked my ticket this morning. I actually had to call the credit card company to let them know the charge was coming in because they typically call me for approval on anything over $450. Not kidding. I really appreciate their diligence, but suffice it to say that major alarms would have gone off over there when THIS charge came in!

I then took the boys to the pool (Gracey is at camp) to get some time in with them and do something they'd enjoy. Apparently, they don't care for endless errands to pick up neosporin, ear plugs, and pepto bismal. Makes little sense.

Jack, however, cannot WAIT to go with me on Friday to Babies R Us. He has very specific ideas about the patterns on his sister's carseat.

I also have to get an umbrella and some long-sleeved shirts as it's apparently the rainy season in Addis Ababa (the 10-day forecast predicts rain every single day, no sign of sunshine, and highs in the low 60s. Sounds a lot like Chicago to me).

Today I'm focusing mostly on getting some loose work ends tied up before I go.

More soon!


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I honestly didn't think there could come a time when I'd believe (more strongly than I have over the past 8 years) that there simply NEED to be more than 24 hours in a day!

I was wrong.

With 10 days to go, I'm a bit overwhelmed. Okay, frantic. But I'm going to make it.

My ticket is on hold and will be officially purchased tomorrow. Let's ignore chatter about its cost, shall we? It wasn't pretty. Totally worth it. Not pretty.

I finally started packing. I'd done the majority of my shopping a week or so ago, but yesterday I entered my closet no fewer than 8 times intending to start packing only to take one look at the bags of stuff, feel the beginnings of a panic attack, and escape to check email. Today, Gracey and I began with her trying to choose clothing for her sister and me trying to figure out what to put where in case all luggage gets lost.

We found out today that "N" is a lot smaller still than we'd anticipated she'd be, so I had NO clothes that would fit her. I'll be making a run to Babies R Us on Friday, when my nifty coupon becomes effective, to remedy that situation. My mom has put herself in charge of pajamas and is working to get 5 pair that she claims I'll hate (we have completely different opinions on what baby girls should wear; she's a pinafore gal, I'm a rock star gal). But I'm sure I'll love them. That poor woman entertains a phone call from me about every 6 seconds (again, trying to avoid the packing nightmare) and I think she feels like she's got to do SOMETHING so she's buying pajamas.

I will, unfortunately, miss George's 4th birthday by one day. This is not affecting him in the least. He could not care less as long as he has his Go Diego Go cake WITH Baby Jaguar. So, come hell or high water, I committed to finding the perfect cake. But then there's Aunt Heather, who swooped in and said, "Think never again about the cake. I'm on it. It'll be there. Not sure how, but it will." I love Aunt Heather.

I'm now going to bed. More tomorrow...

Monday, July 14, 2008

She's Ours!

Okay, a little busy, but I'm heading to Africa!!!!! I can hardly believe this is finally here. More info to come. Our new daughter is coming home!