Thursday, March 31, 2011

Time Flies

On Monday night I was shocked when I was glancing at my e-mails and saw one from my friend Hollie that referenced how it had been a month since we picked up our children from the House of Hope. Wow. Has it really been a month already? "Time Flies" -- I haven't said that phrase too often during our past 1 1/2 year wait, but right now the time is just flying by.

Things are going really good at our house. Other than the first week of me being sick, jet lagged, and overwhelmed -- we are doing great! We have really been enjoying the beautiful weather with bike riding to/from school each day, dinners at parks, jumping on the trampoline, and watching the boys play t-ball. We are really enjoying being a family of five and it doesn't overwhelm us at all. Allie is a great baby and sleeps 12 hours a night and takes two great naps each day. No matter what time we put her down to sleep, she doesn't make a noise. My family came into town and she had to take a few naps in her stroller because we were out and about during nap time -- no problem for Allie.

Playing at the park with cousin Chloe during a t-ball game

I do not grieve for the first 8 months of her life that I missed. I do have so many more questions and I wish I could sit down with her grandfather again, but I don't feel like I've missed out. 9 months is a great age. She talks and smiles all of the time. She has also learned how to say "dada" and "mama". She is so close to crawling, and she loves to stand up. The bonding process has gone better than expected -- both ways. I really can't say anything negative about our transition from being a family of four to a family of five. We are really enjoying it. As for the boys, they still enjoy having Allie around and they have never complained about her at all.

My family just visited from Indiana for 8 days. Below are a few pictures from their trip:

Grandma & Grandpa Allen with Alemitu
They could not believe the improvements (especially regarding leg strength) that she has made since they first saw her in Washington D.C.

Calvin running to home plate
During soccer, Calvin really enjoyed himself but he wasn't aggressive. A smile was always on his face and that's all that mattered. With t-ball, Calvin tries to go after each ball. He had a really great catch when he was pitcher's helper. He is really into t-ball and it is great to watch him so passionate about a sport he plays. Wes really loves t-ball too.
Grandpa Fischer is their coach.

Cousin Chloe & Allie in matching rompers

Wes, Calvin, and Cousin Carter at the Sea Life Aquarium

Adam and Calvin on a roller coaster at Castles & Coasters

Calvin going down a slide at Rustler's Rooste Restaurant
(say that 3 times fast)

Alemitu & Cousin Sydney

Trampoline Static vs. Cousin Carter's hair Trampoline wins every time

Wes playing in the fountains at Westgate
Wes told us this week that he will have ZERO kids when he gets married because "big guys" (Wes' term for adults) can't have kids AFTER they get married. Hmm I think we need to explain a few things in the near future. Calvin said he will have 100 kids.

Tattoos Wes asked Adam how a tattoo on a "big guy" doesn't wash off. So Adam took the opportunity to explain exactly how a tattoo is done. Wes, Calvin, and Sydney have all said that will never get a tattoo.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Break

The boys are on spring break this week and we are having fun! On Sunday Grandma and Grandpa Fischer took them up near Sedona to Out of Africa. It is a safari type zoo and we went with them a few years ago. The boys had a blast and even brought along their own cameras to take some pictures.

We've been mostly hanging around home the past few days. Wes was determined to stay up past midnight. He failed the first two nights. He even told his brother than they can't watch movies at night because that makes them fall asleep too early. Wes and Calvin finally managed to stay up until 1 a.m. with the help from Daddy and the Wii. I was fast asleep.

Today we went to the Wildlife World Zoo which is just about 5-10 minutes from our house. They have expanded it and added an aquarium. The boys had to study each and every fish no matter how small or big. Allie had a great time looking at the fish but fell fast asleep after lunch so she missed the big animals. The zoo added a log ride and all 3 boys had fun going down it.

The kids acting like monkeys!

Allie loves to blow raspberries.

All those days staring at a computer finally caught
up with Adam and he had to get glasses.

Tonight the boys have t-ball practice and they are spending the night with grandma and grandpa. It has been a great week. I am not overwhelmed at all and we are settling in to a great schedule.

This morning Allie woke up with 2 little bottom teeth! She has been drooling a lot lately, chewing on everything, and yesterday she was more tired than normal. She loves to cover her teeth with her tongue so views of them are really hard to get, but I sort of got a shot today at lunch. Look closely and you can barely see those two little white things in her mouth.

Speaking of Alemitu, Dr. Spiekerman himself called us the other day. It made me nervous when I heard his voice and not his assistant's but it was all great news. Allie's hip x-ray came back normal and he'll re-evaluate her in 3 months. Her blood/stool labs came back normal except for some small inflammation in her stomach or intestines. Dr. Spiekerman assumes that is from parasites, but he had already prescribed medication for that as a precaution anyway. She is finished taking antibiotics for the chest infection and she no longer is coughing much or having a runny nose. Dr. Spiekerman told me that she is a very healthy little girl!!

In fact, she loves to bear weight on her legs now! In January, she wouldn't do it at all. We have been practicing with her the past few weeks. At first she would only last a couple of seconds and hated it. Now she loves doing it. I think she is building those leg muscles pretty quickly!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


We have completed our first week as a family of five and it went really well! Allie has adjusted wonderfully -- much faster than we expected. She sleeps about 12 hours each night without waking up (beginning at 8:30 p.m.). This allows me to take the boys to school in the morning by 8 a.m. and get back just in time to clean up from breakfast, start a load of laundry, and then wake up Ms. Allie. She also takes two 1 1/2 naps each day at 10:30 and 3:30. She is a happy little girl and she is really starting to attach to Adam too. This weekend has been great bonding time for them and today she reached out and cried for him to hold her (while I was holding her). It was wonderful!

We also saw another great sign tonight when Grandpa Fischer was playing with her a little while she was in her high chair. After a few minutes she started fussing and held up her arms for me. I wasn't standing right there or anything, Jim was. One day she will cry for grandpa but it was awesome that even with someone right in front of her, she was crying for me. That is great, great progress!!

The hard part about the bonding process is the fact that she wants us all of the time. This week, even though she adjusted perfectly, and I was getting more sleep than ever -- I was overwhelmed. Honestly, I broke down a few times on Friday. I was exhausted. I felt like I couldn't get anything done. I didn't know how to carry a load of laundry up the stairs with her too. I didn't know how to fix myself lunch or breakfast when I had to tend to her the whole time. BY CHOICE, since I work part-time, I have always been adamant about cleaning the inside of the house, taking care of all of the yard work, doing the business and personal finances, as well as working a part-time job. This is my CHOICE and Adam steps in whenever I ask him too. However, this week I was completely overwhelmed and not understanding how I could do any of those tasks let alone all of them. I was putting so much pressure on myself.

However on Saturday I woke up with so much energy. It finally occurred to me that just because I stopped puking early Tuesday a.m. didn't mean that my body just got back to normal immediately. I'm dealing with jet lag and getting over 3 days of some sort of stomach flu/food poisoning. I was trying to ignore those things and just try to jump back into my normal life. And what has my normal life looked like pre-Allie? It is busy, busy, busy - not with obligations, just with "stuff". Ever since the boys started full-time kindergarten I have "busied" myself every minute that they are at school. I missed them terribly and that is how I coped. I don't sleep much when I have anxiety, but for the past 9 months I stopped sleeping to the point that Adam told me I needed to go to the doctor to be treated for insomnia. In January when I left Allie the first time I made myself even busier to the point that an outsider probably thought I was on crack. :-) Before we left to pick her up I couldn't even sit down and watch one of my tv shows because I thought I had no time and I wouldn't be able to concentrate on it because I'm sure there were some baseboards that needed polishing. My house and yard had never looked better, but I now realize I was doing all of this to avoid emotions.

So Saturday when I woke up feeling refreshed I started processing the past 9 months of my life. I realized that all of my "busying" isn't necessary. I am not trying to meet deadlines for work. I don't have to do all of this stuff. I was simply coping. I need to slow down. I need to enjoy this. And that's what I did this weekend. We had a great time bonding with Allie and I got some laundry done too! No baseboards were cleaned and yet my life didn't fall apart because of it. :-) I actually read some of my book this morning while Allie played on the floor by me. I would read a little, play with her a little, read a little, etc. Reading is my glass of wine. I miss it! As for sleep, that hasn't been an issue since we got home from Ethiopia. I'm sleeping 7-8 hours a night now without any help from Tylenol PM. Amazing!

We've also had so much fun as a family this week. We've gone to the park a few times, had a picnic one night, went bike riding, went to the mall, spent some time with family (including Adam's cousin and cousin's girlfriend (Damon & Amanda) who drove here from Indiana), and the boys also started t-ball practice. It is nice to be able to stop and enjoy life right now. I'm not waiting for my little girl to get here. Our family is complete . . . for now! Ha! Things are going better than we had hoped for. We are so happy!

Allie kissing cousin Chloe

P.S. No word on Allie's test results yet.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Doctor Visit

On Saturday what I thought was bad food from Texas Roadhouse was more likely a bug of some sort from Ethiopia. We had some questionable fruit and Ethiopian airport food right before we left. I spent the past two days either having food go right through me or throwing it all up. It left me tired and achy and it was pretty rough yesterday. Last night Adam sent me to our bedroom in the evening and he took care of the kids. I fell asleep at 7 p.m. I was up several times throughout the night with cramping, but I woke up this morning feeling great and ready to start my day fresh and get some things done! We were going to go to a quick doctor's appointment for Allie in the morning and I was going to work in the afternoon. Those plans went completely down the drain and we spent the day at the doctor's office and at several different lab facilities. I should first thank my wonderful clients who let me reschedule them at the last minute for Wednesday and Friday instead!!

We arrived at the pediatrician's office at 10:15 and didn't leave until 2 hours later. We love Dr. Spiekerman!- We started going to him when the boys were 7 or 8 months old (we didn't like their first doctor). He is a straight shooter, and he is also very proactive. He evaluated Allie today and then asked if he could step outside and think about her case a little and then come back in with a plan. His office was right outside our room and we heard him discussing her case with someone the entire time. It was well worth the 2 hour visit! (We also heard him go into the other rooms to apologize to the other waiting patients . . . oops.)

To sum it up, he is happy with her status as an internationally adopted child. She cried while he examined her and he was thrilled with that. He kept saying that she must have been in a good place that cared for her because she knows to cry to let you know that she is unhappy with something. A lot of kids from orphanages don't cry anymore because they have learned it does no good. He kept saying how happy he was about that. He also said her head size is large (even though her body is tiny) which is a good thing and shows that she had adequate nutrition in the womb and after birth. She weighs 15 pounds which is what she weighed in January.

Good news: he doesn't think she has a tumor at all, he thinks it is a capillary hemangioma -- which is essentially exactly what we had originally thought (a strawberry birthmark), thanks to my niece Chloe having one like it. So I feel much better about that.

Another "minor" concern we had was her flexibility in her legs. The girl is a contortionist! I thought this was normal for all infants. Within minutes of being back in the hotel room and I was changing her diaper (during our layover in D.C.), my mom said, 'I think her leg is dislocated" because she could move it so high up. My dad couldn't believe the way she moved her feet and ankles. Hmm. So I guess this isn't normal, but we just thought maybe it was because she doesn't have a lot of muscle mass in her legs from being in a crib so long. In fact, she didn't put any pressure on her legs to stand in January. She does a little now and I work with her on it several times a day.

We thought this was minor but decided to bring it up. This was Dr. Spiekerman's major concern. He rattled off things like it possibly being spina bifida or a tethered spinal cord. It shocked me for a minute but then I realize that it doesn't even matter. We'll deal with whatever cards we are dealt, and I wasn't concerned. Towards the end of the visit he did rule out spina bifida but we still had to get an x-ray for possible hip dysplacia. He did also confirm that there is a chance it is just low muscle mass from being in a crib.

Our major concern was her cough. She has had a nasty cough since we saw her in January. Her medical records from October said she had an upper respiratory blockage and was treated for that. Dr. Spiekerman couldn't hear anything wrong in her chest and thought it was just post nasal drip, but he did order a chest x-ray to confirm this. Very quickly after the x-ray was finished, Dr. Spiekerman's office called Adam to tell him that they did find an infection in her lungs and they called in a prescription. So we feel much better because we knew that it was more than post nasal drip.

Dr. Spiekerman also ordered 11 different blood tests and 6 stool tests. So after 2 hours at his office, we went to get both of her x-rays done, and then we went to get the blood tests. Unfortunately her veins are so tiny they had difficulty getting blood to flow. So after poking her in each arm (oh yeah, did I mention that Dr. Spiekerman's office gave her a few shots too), we were told that they only could get 2 of the 11 blood tests. So we were sent to the Phoenix office to see a specialist for drawing children's blood.

We rush to pick the boys up from school and then head out to Phoenix. After seeing the band-aids on her legs from the shots and the wraps on her arms from getting the blood drawn, the specialist was really hesitant about poking her again. However, we had blood with us that will expire if we wait until the morning. So we go back to the blood drawing room, Allie screams her head off some more, no blood comes out, the guy feels horrible, and in the end we go home with no more blood drawn. He suggested we load her up with liquids tomorrow and then come back on Thursday. Dr. Spiekerman's office agreed.

So we spent the entire day dealing with her medical issues and we still aren't done. I feel so bad for her! I must say that I wasn't prepared to have such little medical background information. When filling out the new patient forms, I had to leave huge sections blank with big question marks over the entire section. The nurse kept asking me questions and all I could say was "I don't know". She finally said, "I don't mean to embarrass you mom, I just have to ask. I understand you probably don't know this stuff." That was just something I wasn't prepared for and it made me sad that I knew so little.

All in all, I'm so happy with her visit with Dr. Spiekerman. I'm not even anxious to get the hip x-rays back. I love her know matter what her physical condition is, and God has been in control this entire time.

After all of that we made a trip to the mall so Adam could buy a new laptop for his business. The boys (all 3) love going to the Apple Store, and they also love to eat at the food court. Okay, and we did promise the boys a tiny toy at the Disney store for going to Phoenix with us and getting Allie's blood drawn. Wes thinks the Disney store is 'Disneyland' so one day he may tell you that he goes to Disneyland a lot.

So we all headed to the mall. The good news is that Alemitu loves her car seat as long as I'm not visible. Same with the stroller. If she can't see me, she is happy in the seat and she sleeps most of the time. Wes asked if he could push the stroller for Allie's first ride in a stroller. He definitely felt like a big kid with a big responsibility. He and Calvin had so much fun pushing her all over the mall. It is so cute to see how they interact with her. Wes has always been my little cuddle bug, so I am making sure that he understands he is still my cuddle bug. He loves watching Allie and asking questions, but he doesn't really want to hold her or touch her yet. Calvin is all about Allie. He loves playing with her, holding her, touching her, etc. The boys are adjusting great and they told me this morning that they love having Allie home. Calvin likes to call her 'Alemitu' rather than "Allie".

We ended the day with all five of us in our bed playing with Allie. It is so nice to have her home. I realize this is completely random, but because I do this blog mostly for my own memories I must add this next part. The boys just asked if they could have a snack. They both wanted a Rice Krispee treat. Calvin asked for a "Frisbee treat" and Wes asked for a "Christmas Tree". I love that they still mess up their words sometimes!!! Adam and I got a good laugh out of it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Pictures from our Phoenix arrival

Adam's Ethiopian friend, Tekabe, wrote this sign for Alemitu.

Wes giving Alemitu the stuffed animal he bought for her.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

We are home!

Right now I am typing this blog post as I lay in my bed. To my left on the floor are my two boys laying on their "slumber party mattresses" while they watch a movie. By my feet is my cat, Steve Russell. To my right is Adam who has the monitor so that we can view our baby girl fast asleep in her crib. When my boys fall asleep, I'll head into Allie's room and sleep in there the rest of the night. In this very moment, I am right where I am suppose to be. There is a great peace in our house and overwhelming love and excitement for our new beginning.

Our day today was great. We were able to get a row together on our long flight (thanks to the ticket counter lady loving my hair). Allie slept well in the beginning and then cat napped the rest of the flight and throughout the day today. We actually got in quite a bit earlier than expected because we picked up a tailwind. My parents met us at the airport and took us back to their hotel (it was like a little suite) so that we could rest, Allie could play, and we could eat some breakfast. Adam was able to get a good nap.

For lunch we went to Texas Roadhouse as we were starving for some good American food. Our stomachs were not ready and we have been paying for it ever since. :-(

I mentioned before that my mom had upgraded us to First Class on our flight from DC to Phoenix. This was my first time in first class and I was making a big deal about it. She told me not to take pictures of all the great fixtures, etc. Basically "don't act like a hill jack". So what did we do? We took silly pictures and text them to my mom before the flight took off. The caption read "Whoo-whee! We got us some first class seats."

Our 5 hour flight to Phoenix was wonderful. Allie and I slept the ENTIRE way home. Adam slept most of the way home. It was bliss. Sherree, Jim, the boys, and some friends came to greet us at the airport. (Jim, you can post pictures from your camera.) We were so touched. The boys were a little shy around Alemitu but they started getting more interested in her on the car ride home. I can't wait until tomorrow when we can all play together.

The airport did lose our luggage, but they said a lot of people from our first flight had lost luggage. We re-checked it when we got to DC so we at least know it made it that far. I hope to get it because of the souvenirs, but honestly, those are just things. I have the most important "luggage" with me.

We didn't know how Allie would do going to bed. Her scheduled is completely messed up and she slept so hard on the flight to Phoenix. With a little music and back patting from Daddy, she was fast asleep in her crib in no time. Our baby girl is finally home.

This has been an incredible journey and we couldn't have done it without the support, prayers, and love from all of you! We were so touched my parents drove to DC to meet us. We are also so very grateful for Jim & Sherree to take care of our children during both trips. Adam and I are blessed with great parents who are even better grandparents. We can't thank you enough!

Day 6 - A little late

I had sent this e-mail to my family but it never went through, so here is our adventures from Day 6.

Today was pretty uneventful for us, but it was still a great day. We got GREAT sleep last night. In Ethiopia, sleeping through the night has been impossible for us and our friends during both trips. You have cars honking their horns, roosters crowing, dogs barking, and Islamic church broadcasting prayers through a PA all day and night. At home, one Tylenol PM will usually knock me out. Here, I take two and I’m lucky to sleep a few hours. I normally fall asleep before 11 and at 1 in the morning it feels like 7 and I sleep off and on from 1-5. I’m lucky to stay in bed past 5 in the morning. The same I true for Adam. Last night, I went to sleep before 11 p.m. and I didn’t wake up again until Allie woke up a little after 7 a.m. It was wonderful!

This morning Alemitu and I hung around the guest house while Adam and Tekabe shot video and photographs nearby. They went down a huge hill – which meant that they had to walk back up. Tekabe, who has lived here his entire life, was struggling and sweating on the way back up. So you can only imagine what a difficult time Adam had. I can’t stress enough how much this altitude gets to you. The altitude and the smog are pretty bad. Adam was wiped out when he got back.

For lunch, we were invited to a traditional lunch at CHI’s guest house. We declined. Then Brian was called by Tsegay and told that no one has EVER declined. So we went, a little frustrated. The food was very, very authentic and Adam and I really struggled to eat some of the stuff on our plate. It was really hard, but we tried. Adam had a huge headache still from being wiped out and it looked like he hardly touched his food. After that, we all had to drink some more coffee. It was a pretty rough lunch for us Fischers.

One of the reasons we declined lunch was because Hollie and Brian needed to make it to embassy by 1. Lunch and coffee ceremony was at 12 and it takes 30 minutes to get to embassy. Do the math – it wasn’t going to work out. Tsegay promised them they would be there on time. It didn’t work out. So as we were rushing to get there, Adam and I offered to go to embassy with them because their ride was planning on driving back to the guest house to drop us off before heading to embassy. We had nothing to do so we tagged along back to embassy. Because we were late, we were at the embassy for 2 ½ hours. Allie was great and it didn’t feel that long to me . . . but Adam’s luck had run out and he started getting sick at the embassy. Between walking in the high altitude and then eating a traditional meal we weren’t sure about – it hit him hard. I am glad to say that after some medication, he is feeling much better tonight. (Although as I was typing this, he did come up the stairs panting and struggling to breathe as we normally do and he fell on the bed saying “this building has gotten taller”) One of the people we met on this trip and stayed at our guest house was not so lucky. She is heading to the airport right now and is as white as a ghost. She has been sick all day. So we are very thankful that Adam is feeling better and we are NOT risking anything tomorrow when it comes to food.

After embassy we went to the Hilton Hotel to work out some details with our flight home. Ethiopian Airlines has an office there. We had learned that we wouldn’t get a bassinet and so we paid for a ticket for Alemitu last night. OUCH! But our flight here was pretty bad and there is no way that we can be crammed again like we were for a 17 ½ hour flight – with an infant in our lap. So we were going to the office today to get seats all three seats next to each other. That was a fiasco that we are still trying to work out but we were there for over an hour.

By the time we all got back to the guest house we were so tired. The kids did wonderfully. We ate some dinner and had another coffee ceremony. I think we may turn in a little early tonight. Tomorrow is our last night here. Hollie and Brian are going to do some shopping in the morning, but my wallet is still screaming at me for purchasing Allie’s ticket so we have done enough shopping this trip. We are really happy with the things we have purchased so far so we are just going to hang around the guest house and pack up in the morning. It will be our last day here.

Our trip this time was very different and I’m so grateful for that. We chose not to participate in the itinerary that CHI does for its families. Instead we wanted to get around the town and really experience Ethiopia. I am so thankful that we did this. I feel like the things we did and saw during our first trip made me a little na├»ve. Everything was butterflies and roses except for the poverty. This time, I once again witnessed the love and respect that most Ethiopians have for each other. Even in these hard times, they display so much happiness. However, I also witnessed some very scary and disturbing things. Things I will never forget for the rest of my life. I went back home last time thinking I found the beauty in Ethiopia – it’s the people. I will go back home with that same belief, only with the addition that I am grateful for the disturbing things I witnessed and learned because I now know that these people need our prayer. I understand Allie’s grandfather’s love for her so much more now. It is hard to put my thoughts into words but I can say my eyes are open. Hollie said it perfectly that we didn’t just see these things this trip to be disturbed by them, we saw them for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is, but I am praying that God will show me why I saw them. How am I to help? Maybe it is sponsoring a child from Korah to go to boarding school. Maybe it is to do some mission work. Maybe it is simply to pray for these people. I don’t know what it is but there is a reason we witnessed the things we did. There is a reason that the rose colored glasses were removed and we began to understand a little better. I hope that in time I am able to understand what that reason is.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Day 7 - Heading Home!!

I am so happy that we are finally ready to head back home. Adam said today that he is much more home sick this trip, and I feel the same way. Wes has been sick with the flu the past few days, and while we know he is getting excellent care we really want to be there for him. We were able to talk with him one day but because of the time difference and Calvin in school, we haven’t been able to talk with Calvin other than through e-mail. I miss my boys and I’m ready to unite our family on one continent!

So what’s in store for the Fischer family? A little alone time. We are about to start a stage in the bonding process called “cocooning”. I’ve mentioned before that we have received a lot of training on how to get Allie to bond with us, and that is extremely important for adopted children. She is doing great. Adam is able to feed and play with her. He can hold her and walk around with her. However, if I am in the same room (and she isn’t being fed), she cries and reaches out for me. Adam steps back and hands her over. This is all part of the bonding process and we are excited to see that it has already started. A lot of children bond with one parent in the beginning and want nothing to do with the other parent (typically the male), so we are very, very grateful that Allie enjoys being with Adam.

So for the next 6 weeks or so we are going to keep it pretty quiet at our house. Some of our family will come and play with Allie during this time, but we won’t be taking her around a lot of people and we can’t let anyone but Adam and I (and soon grandmas and grandpas) hold her at this time. Also during this time, we are adjusting our work schedules a little. I will work less, and when I do work, Adam will be taking care of Allie instead of sending her to grandma and grandpa’s house. This will be our form of a maternity/paternity leave.

We appreciate all of your support and we are so excited for everyone to meet Allie. I just don’t want anyone to be offended when we aren’t passing her around during our cocooning period. This doesn’t mean that you can’t see her or us for six weeks, it just means that you can’t hold her for a while.

Anyone is welcome to come to the airport on Saturday evening at 7:59, United Flight #953 (terminal 2). My mom was so gracious to use her miles and upgrade us to first class on our flight home to DC!! Speaking of my parents, they will be meeting us in DC during our long layover on Saturday. My dad called and asked me if it was okay if they drive down and take us to lunch during the long layover because “it’s only a 10 hour drive”. While we laugh at the “ONLY 10 hour” part, we are so very touched by their kindness and their anxiousness to meet their newest granddaughter.

This has been an amazing experience for us! We feel so blessed to have Allie as our daughter. Throughout this past 1 ½ years I feel like I have grown so much in so many different ways. We will miss the Ethiopian friends we have made at our guesthouse during both of our trips. We will miss all of the smiling faces. We hope to bring our entire family back here with the Roys in about 5 years. There are definitely things I won’t miss like not being able to flush toilet paper in the toilet; very, very low pressure tiny showers; power outages; and warm drinks without ice. Mom/Dad – we will be ready for a huge fountain soda when we get to D.C.! (and maybe some Gray’s carry out if you haven’t already left yet on your short 10 hour trip but I think I may be sending this too late)

We love you all. We can’t wait to introduce everyone to Alemitu Adam Fischer (in about a year, she’ll become Alemitu Tagese Fischer, when we officially rename her). Grandma Jones, you have officially gotten your wish for a granddaughter!

Now just pray that we get seats together on our flight home. Our travel agent has been working with the Ethiopian Air Office in D.C. to work out some minor kinks. I have no idea what to expect traveling with an infant for 17 ½ hours (nonstop) so we could also use some prayer in that regard. I hope we are able to get some sleep! And lastly, say a prayer that we arrive home safely, that Wes is feeling better, and that our cocooning period gets off to a good start. As always, we will continue to keep you updated through our blog.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Day 6

No news today, just a couple of pictures to give you a feel for the area.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Day 5 - More Pictures from Leprosy Colony

Here are a few more pictures from our visit to the Leprosy Colony

Day 5 - Leprosy Colony

Today was another great day. Allie slept through the night again without a peep. She woke up a little before 7 a.m. By 9:30, we were off to the Leprosy Colony. It is one of the poorest places in Ethiopia. Here, the lepers are still outcasts. Any family members of people with leprosy must also reside in this colony. They are tiny metal shacks on land between a cemetery and a dump. Their source of food is the dump. People fight for food, and if you are small you don’t eat. It is hard for kids to go to school because then they miss the time at the dump when the hotels like the Hilton dump their food. If you miss that time, you won’t eat. There is a woman from Tennessee who sold all of her belongings and moved her family to help this colony. She started having children being sponsored so that they can be shipped to a boarding school where they can learn and be fed. While we were there, one family was asking us to take their son’s photo so that maybe someone will sponsor him.

When we arrived at the colony, we were told to stay in a tight group and we had “leaders” (men acting as guards) who walked in front and behind us. This made us a little nervous at first especially since we were carrying our children, but we soon felt very comfortable. Kids would run up to us and speak English asking what our name was. They would hold our hands and at one point, there were several children fighting over my hand.

Adam was a huge hit with the children. It is funny that everywhere we have gone Ethiopian men and women will comment on how much they like my hair. At the colony, it was all about Adam’s tattoos, earrings, and camera. Those kids would run up to him and say “stamp” “stamp” and pointing to his tattoos. They would ask what the tattoos said and some children could even read them a little bit. They also asked if his earrings were magnets, and they wanted him to take pictures of them doing all different funny things and they also wanted to take photos with his camera. Those kids just hovered all over Adam and he was having a blast. There was only one point that wasn’t good when the mothers came out with sticks. They weren’t happy that pictures were being taken.

Visiting the colony was such an amazing experience. Some of the stuff we saw was so sweet, and some of the stuff was very disturbing. If anyone would like more information, I can give you the details (name, website, etc.), but for security reasons I can’t share too much through the blog.

After that trip, we came back to the guest house for lunch and a nap. Allie also got a bath this afternoon. For dinner we went out to an Italian restaurant that also had an art gallery attached to it. The gallery shows work from 47 different artists and they are all on canvases. We purchased a piece for our house and we hope to purchase another one later this week. As for the food, it was delicious! Ethiopia was ruled by the Italians on two different occasions so they know how to cook it! The funny thing was that we chose to go to this Italian restaurant today – which just happens to be a national holiday celebrating when the Italians were conquered.

It was nighttime by the time we left the restaurant and we’ve never been outside at night. It was so neat to see all of the people on the streets and the little shops were all open. This is the last time that we are eating out at a restaurant because we feel like we’ve been lucky so far by not getting sick. We don’t want to risk it again right before we all get on a plane. J

I did forget to mention that on the way to the colony, we were pulled over by the local police. This made us all a little nervous but he had pulled us over because there was a sticker on the van. This blocked the view to the passengers inside and so the officer wanted to check us out. The sticker was just a tiny little guitar.

Tomorrow we plan to take it easy. We’ll go shopping in the morning and then rest in the afternoon while Hollie and Brian head to the embassy. It has been a great day and Allie was back to her super happy self. We decided to feed her more, and we also aggressively cleaned out her nose with Little Noses spray. She is SO congested, and being outside in the smog is making it worse. After we cleaned her out this morning (and a little bit of fussiness), then she was all smiles again today!

I should also note that Alemitu is showing signs of bonding. She loves to have Adam feed and play with her. She isn’t scared of him at all, but she wants me around at all times. She wants me to hold her. There have been a few times when she has cried for me if I’ve walked out of the room or if I’m across the room. At this point, Adam is just handing her over immediately when she cries for me to encourage that bonding process. We didn’t expect her to show these signs yet. And by “cry”, I mean some minor fussing. We haven’t seen any tears yet.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Day 4 - Allie is a US Citizen

Today was a great day, but I am SO tired! It is simply from our busy day and not because of Alemitu. In fact, she slept through the night without making a single peep! She went to bed around 7 p.m. and didn’t wake up until a few minutes before 6 a.m. We were told by the nannies that this was her wake up time and so her body is definitely used to that schedule. We fed her a bottle and assumed that we were up for the morning. As I was burping her, she fell right back to sleep. She slept until 7:30 and when she woke up she was just talking in her crib and not upset at all. She is a great sleeper!

At 9 a.m. we were taken to the HOH to fill out paperwork. Tsegay, the director, was nowhere to be found and our coordinator could not reach him. We had no idea what time our embassy appointment was nor did we know when we could get our paperwork filled out. Allie had fallen asleep during the car ride over to HOH. Then she woke up as we went into the playroom. Then she fell asleep a little while later only to wake up again as we had to switch rooms again. She could only cat nap and this was making her a little fussy today. We never saw tears, but she would fuss a little throughout the day and wanted to be up moving around rather than sitting still in my lap.

Unfortunately, this was a day that we had to sit/stand still for long periods of time. First when we did the paperwork. We were at HOH for maybe 2 hours. Then we rushed home to change into dress clothes, eat a couple bites for lunch, feed Allie, and then head back out the door to our embassy appointment – all in about 45 minutes. We got to the embassy and were behind 2 or 3 other agencies, so we were there for almost 2 hours. Allie was in the ergo baby carrier the entire time and she likes it when I stand rather than sit down. So I was in heels standing during this time.

Then we went up to the window when our name was called (it is like the mvd), and we raised our right hands and swore that the information is accurate. And then the guy says, “So are you aware that Alemitu has a benign tumor?” Um, no. So we are allowed to briefly glance at the medical records that the US Embassy’s doctors filled out. We knew she had a spot on her thigh, but we thought it was a birthmark. The doctors think it is a benign tumor that starts with “herm . . .” or something like that. We could only briefly see the documents and we weren’t allowed to have them. So while we were so excited that she became a US Citizen today, it was a little unsettling to get that news. One of the reports said that it is a “growth or slight swelling”, and we are thankful that it is benign. It hasn’t gotten any bigger than when we saw it during our January trip. It is really minor and it looks like a birthmark. Obviously we will be getting it checked when we return to the states but we aren’t worried about it at all.

After we were at the embassy, another man we were traveling with needed to go to the Hilton Hotel to access the internet to get some documents emailed to the embassy so he could go back to the US. Allie had fallen asleep in the car again, so I just stayed in the parking lot with our driver – for 40 minutes!!! I wasn’t expecting it to take that long with no air conditioning and a guard that kept coming over to look in the van.

After that, our driver dropped us off at the Post Office District to meet our friend Hollie and Brian and to do some shopping. We were thinking about going to the largest market in Addis, Merkato, but we learned it isn’t good for Americans to be there right now. So we stuck with the Post Office District which is still really good. We picked up some good souvenirs. Allie loves shopping!

After that, we went straight to a restaurant for dinner. Now we are home and Allie is falling asleep in her crib. Being in heels all day and carrying in her in the Ergo carrier for almost 6 hours has made me exhausted! It is mostly just the standing around in the heels and trying to walk around the shops in broken dirt and rock roads.

Even though I am tired, it was still a wonderful day. My daughter is a US Citizen!! We are completely done with everything! No more appointments or paperwork. We are done! She is our baby girl. We keep calling her Allie the Alligator and today we saw a handmade alligator when we were shopping. Obviously we bought it. We also bought a tiny coffee ceremony set that she can play with when she is a few years older. We plan to have a coffee ceremony to celebrate her adoption on January 25th each year. We’ll stick with a “milk” ceremony until she can drink coffee. In Ethiopia most people have a coffee ceremony daily. It is a really big deal. Coffee originated in Ethiopia.

One “interesting” thing happened today at embassy. We know that you can’t take pictures of the US Embassy inside, outside, or on the entire block. The man traveling with us was not told that. So as we are driving on the road, he holds up his phone and takes a picture from the van. We were driving maybe 20 – 30 mph, and we were in a van. The embassy has a huge block fence around us. Obviously no one can see that he took the picture. Wrong. Right when he did it, our translator turned around and you could tell he was a little worried. He told him to put the camera away immediately and that we will probably be stopped because they have cameras watching the traffic. We got through the main gate and were walking into the doors of the embassy when a guard with a gun came up to talk to the guard that let us in. They were speaking Amharic. Our translator told us that we had been spotted and to hurry and get inside before they stop us. Right after we get inside, the guard comes in and asks who took the picture. The man said that he did and they took him over to one side of the room and asked him questions about his citizenship and took his passport information down. Then they took his phone and he had to show them the picture and they had to watch him delete the picture. After that, they let us through. We were lucky. Our translator has said that has happened about 2-3 other times and he had forgotten to tell us that we can’t take pictures. I am so glad that they let us through!!

Alemitu is asleep now and so I’m going to head downstairs and send this off. I think I just might turn in early tonight. Tomorrow we are going to the leprosy colony in the morning and then just taking it easy in the afternoon. We’ll go out to dinner again, but it will be nice to have a more relaxed day! I love all of the e-mails and comments. Thank you so much for sending them!