Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Toddler Party of 8...

Toukoul Babies Unite!
The first ever playdate with hopes of many more to come. Anyone who would like to join us is welcome. Future dates to be announced. very thankful!!!

I have a beautiful story to share. Several months ago on a Saturday afternoon, our family was having lunch at our favorite steak place. Just before we were leaving, we noticed another family (a mom and baby daughter) a few tables away. Feeling pretty sure that the baby was Ethiopian, we stopped by and said hello and commented on how precious this little one was. We exchanged greetings, briefly talked about our adoptions and confirmed with each other that our babies were indeed Ethiopian...but not only that, we also were thrilled at the fact that all three (hers and mine) were from the same orphanage! Imagine that! All three babies were within a few months of each other and had probably been together at the same time in their homeland.

We left feeling wonderful to have spoken to each other and that was that. Fast forward a few months and my dear friend, Tania, (who also brought her little toddler home from ET last December) mentioned her friend Kathrine and daughter Allegra. We put two and two together and realized this was the same mother/daughter we had met at the steak restaurant! Small world!!! Tania and Kathrine had met because they used the same agency, were single moms and had so much in instant friendship developed.

Recently, several of us "Toukoul Orphanage" adoptive parents and our children met in Portland for lunch and to get all of our babies together. Eight babies all together under the age of 2!! That was an active place!!! The staff at the restaurant were gracious and we all had a wonderful time visiting and trading toddler stories. Even though we had only met once before, I was thrilled that Kathrine and Allegra came with Tania and Sabah, too.

Now for the REALLY, REALLY, REALLY cool part...Kathrine has a picture of Allegra, Azazu (a care-giver at the orphanage) and a mystery child when she was in Ethiopia bringing home Allegra. She inquired about this other little girl and wondered if she was going to be adopted. Azazu reassured Kathrine that this little girl did and would soon be going home with her new family.
After meeting us all again the second time, Kathrine was sure this mystery baby was Ruby. I got the picture in an email and without a doubt, this is my little girl! We actually have a referral picture of Ruby in the same dress she is wearing in the picture, too. No doubt.
It really shows what a very, very small world we live in! Here these two babies shared a room, cribs next to each other for several months and then coming home forever to the Pacific NW...literally to grow up just a few miles from each other. Gives me tingly chills just thinking about it.

I will now end with a quote that really makes me think about what else I can be doing in this world...

"Sometimes I’d like to ask God why He allows poverty, famine and injustice in the world when He could do something about it...... But I’m afraid God might ask me the same question."

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone...I hope it is a truly blessed day for you all.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pee Pee, Poo Poo and lots of drool

I've unofficially~officially started potty training Ruby. She is 19 months old and has actually gone pee pee on the potty once. It was probably a fluke, but since she was able to do this and has since told me that she has the urge, I think she's ready to start slowly.
She also will indicate that she is poopy. We started waving our hand in front of our noses to show her she stunk when messy and now she will do the same to tell us to change her diaper. Today, she woke up and grabbed her diaper area. I asked her if she needed to go potty on the toilet and she nodded her head "yes". I put her on it and ~Nothing~. But, no biggy. She'll do it when she's ready. For now, we're making it fun and interesting so that when she is ready, it's not scary or intimidating.
She did go poo poo in her diaper about an hour later and she told me by plugging her nose and saying "Woooooo EEEeeeeee!" Then waving her little hand past her nose! LOL!!!

Roman is getting his first molars still so there is a lot of drool coming from his mouth...constantly! He tried to wipe his own mouth yesterday as it was bothering him like crazy. At first I thought he had a long hair in his mouth but realized it was just his slime. He is almost walking. He will stand a lone for brief periods of time and has taken 2-3 extremely small baby steps. He's coming a long, though. For the rough start he had, we are amazed at his tenacity!

We have stayed well and none of us have gotten any form of the flu. I am successfully fighting off a cold but I don't think it's going to come on full force. We have had so many friends get sick. H1N1 or whatever. I've pretty much been hibernating my family except for taking Chloe and Elliot to school and picking them up. Doing grocery shopping requires me to really wipe down the shopping cart. Thank goodness where I shop they have the Clorox wipes to clean everything right there by the carts! The babies really enjoy riding in the little car carts w/ steering wheels, too! Who knows what runny nosed, coughing child rode there last, so I wipe them down extra well! This, coming from a mom who is so totally not paranoid.
I just don't want to get sick! For me to be sick would be really bad. Since Andrew is gone all week, it's up to me to keep the family on track and everything here at home running smoothly.

Well, it's almost time to boogy into town to pick up C&E. They are having a great year so far. Chloe will be running for either Class President or Spiritual VP. She is already on the social committee in charge of planning the rest of the year activities. 8th grade! Where has the time gone? Wasn't she just in kindergarten? Blink, blink!!
And Elliot has started up orchestra again. His humor and nurturing always amazes me. You'd think his sole purpose on earth was to entertain and adore Ruby and Roman. He is the most caring and loving 11 year old brother I've ever seen.

I am SO proud of my children.


Thursday, September 17, 2009

More Pics


I can't believe it's been so long since our blog was last updated. That's what joining Facebook will do to a person! LOL.
This is a true statement. I get on there and keep up with everybody and forget what I did before joining...obviously my poor little blog has been completely abandoned!

But besides that, I recently lost my oldest sister, Julie, to cancer. She passed away Sept. 5 at 11:46pm. She was 52. The blessing is that each one of us were able to say goodbye and tell her we love her. We are confident that we will see her again in the clouds of glory when Jesus comes to take us all home. She is a peace now.

Well...let's see...updates, updates, updates. Ruby is 18 months now. Running all over the place and helping with everything she can. She is such a little mommy. She is quick to tattle on anyone, including the pets. "MOM! Uh OH!!!, MOM!!!" and she will take her little finger and point to the culprit. She also loves throwing things into the trash can. Thank goodness she has a good eye for what is garbage. Never one to put things in her mouth, she is good at throwing away gum wrappers, tags from clothing and lint. Ruby folds her hands to pray and says "Pay, Mom, Pay!" She loves to pray and we often find ourselves folding our hands and bowing our heads many, many times per day. Not as verbal as I would think she should be, Ruby does say a few words as mentioned in other posts. She says "Baby, kitty, hot, Delta" (one of our dogs), and several others. Ruby enjoys doing "big girl" things. And, often times, she amazes us on how grown up she really is. Ruby eats with a baby fork, blows on her food, wipes her face with a napkin, tries to comb her hair and loves rubbing lotion on her tummy and face.
Bath time is a favorite with both babies. Ruby loves to "wash" Roman. I can't say he likes it, but she tries her best to wash his back and face with the wash cloth. Ruby still only has four teeth! Sheesh!

Roman is 13 months old and doing the power crawl. He has a very lean but super strong physique. He is a go getter and has no problem going after what he wants. Trying to take something away from him usually ends in a struggle and whoever is quicker wins. Being a biter, a head butter and a hair puller gets Roman a lot of attention. But that ever beautiful, ornery smile and vivacious personality wins over every time.
Roman folds his hands to pray and says "Deedus" (Jesus). He also has said "gramma", "Hi", "Bye" and a few others. He hasn't said a lot of words yet either, but he is very verbal. He loves to scream and talk in his own jibber jabber.
Roman loves the dogs and cats. He will spend endless amounts of time chasing them. One cat will play back and delights in hiding in high places, ready to pounce on top of this determined little baby!
Roman has seven teeth and the 8th is trying hard to come through.
Roman loves people and flirts with everyone. He is quite the charmer and I'm thinking I'll have to watch that cutie pie as he gets into his teen years! LIKE A HAWK!!!

Ruby and Roman's favorite toys are their little piano and other musical instruments. Both LOVE standing at our family piano and will play there as long as I let them. This is usually a lock out zone for them as it's an entry way into a whole lot of baby litter, bathrooms, etc. So, standing at the piano is quite a privilege!

Well, for now I need to sign off. I have some writing to do for my sisters service on Saturday. I'm supposed to be writing a life sketch. I've read back over this blog (what I've just written) and it's clear to me that I'm in no mood for writing. I'm just not "ON"... ;)

Here are some pictures though! We've been taking them like crazy. Our family is growing up way too quickly! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Happy Birthday To Our Little Miracle!!

Frankly, I don't want to be blogging. It's been since June 5 (!!!) that I've updated, and I am still not really in the mood. I know, it is awful. I'm hot, tired and just want to facebook or watch TV or...I'm 100% being lazy. There is a part of me, or rather, us, that is totally used to the daily goings on of two babies added to our family. We have adapted well and it's not like we are still pinching ourselves every morning, yet, on some levels, it is hard to blog daily or weekly like I used to. Maybe it's just the summertime way of taking it easy. I hope others out there can relate...and for those of you still in the waiting process, I hope you will understand once your precious wee ones arrive home! But, it would practically be criminal not to blog and document such a wonderful occasion.

SO, I have titled this post with a happy birthday wish for Roman! Yikes, Yes!!! He is ONE YEARS OLD today!!!

I can't really believe it myself. He is so small, yet so feisty and energetic. This boy is all muscles and sturdy as all get out. He started sitting several weeks ago and then just took off. He crawls all over the entire house and licks the floors...yes, he is building his immune system! I'm pretty sure he ate a small clump of cat litter this morning. BLETCH!!!! I was sweeping near the litter box and Roman rounded the corner and scooped something up before I could stop him. I dug around for it, but between his tightly clamped mouth and quick swallowing, I didn't find a thing. I'm sure he will also find the cricket that escaped while I was trying to feed the lizard.

In the 5 1/2 months that I've known this beautiful little guy, it's like I've known him forever. He is a miracle to us. I can only imagine that his first mama is somewhere in the Amhara region, thinking about the baby boy she gave up in order that he may live. It's been a year ago to her...just a few months for me. I can only imagine...

So, the stats are: Roman is in the 10th percentile for weight, the 50th percentile for height and is waving, says "HI" once in awhile, says "Ma ma", "Da Da", "Dad", has said "Kitty", and his favorite, "Uh OH!!!!!" Ruby taught him that one! Although not quite pulling himself up yet, he is trying. He is still not real steady on all fours, but he's a little moose in his own right. This kid is very strong. I swear, when I'm diapering him, he sometimes seems stronger than I am!

Roman is extremely ticklish! I think every part of his body has a tickle spot. He loves to bite and I have the bruises to prove it. He is a hair puller and giggles with glee when told "NO!!!" It's great fun for him to get attention in this manner. OY! Are we in for it! What a stinker...Sometimes we can almost see the little horns growing out of his curly little head! LOL.

Romy was circumcised a few weeks ago. It went well and except for being one pissed off little dude when he was in recovery, he did great. He now has a normal Ferguson penis! Hee hee.

We are so much in love with this lil guy. He is cherished by his sisters and brother. His mama and daddy think the sun rises and sets on him. And yes, for all his orneriness, he can do no wrong in our eyes! :)

Let me switch gears now and concentrate on Ruby. What an angelic little girl! She is so gentle and kind. She loves giving kisses, saying and waving Bye Bye. Saying "HI!" to everyone and flashing those big dark eyes in flirtatious ways at the grocery store. Ruby and Roman are both huge flirts!! Ruby also says "Night Night", "Kitty", "Mom", "Dad", "I did it!!!", "What's This??", "baby", "Sammy" (who is our indoor dog), "Elliot", "I love you", "Hey baby!!!" (when talking on the phone), "NO NO" (which actually sounds like "Whoa, Whoa!" and also says in disgust "HEY!!!!" When something isn't going quite right for her. She never calls me's always "MOM" very matter of fact. I couldn't figure out why she didn't call me Mama or Mommy until Chloe mentioned that Ruby hears her and Elliot reference me as Mom all day long, so why would she call me anything else! DUH.
Her favorite toy is a small plastic pitcher that goes to her kitchen set and also her toy broom. She loves the ride-on airplane which she actually just pushes around the house.

Ruby is caring and affectionate to us all. She loves giving kisses and will pucker up and give them over just about anytime, but esp. at nap times. She loves her baby brother and will often times kiss and hug him. She plays well with him and allows him to take her toys away from her. I tell her to get them back, but she usually just lets him get away with it. I will intervene at times and show her it's ok to not allow that!
Ruby eats with a fork and bowl at mealtimes and is very efficient. She also is only walking and practically running now. She never crawls. She gets around very well and FAST. She adores getting into my kitchen drawers and usually will put things back away when she is done exploring. I find her to be quite conscientious!

Ruby is still very bonded with big brother, Elliot. This afternoon she snuggled up next to him on the couch and they watched TV together. She also rested her head on his chest and started to nap. It was so beautiful.

Elliot went to Big Lake Youth Camp last week and almost made it the whole time. We were called and told he was pretty sick and needed to drive down and get him. Ugh...poor guy! He's had a temp of 102 consistently for six days now. I'm calling the Dr. tomorrow!

Chloe is at camp there this week. Both of my older kids are an amazing help to me and having one gone will be tough...not to mention how much we will miss her! Hopefully she stays well!

Andrew flew out today for a new assignment in Omaha, NE. He, too, was starting to feel flu symptoms. Praying that he gets better and Elliot also kicks this bug FAST. Not really wanting to think the words "swine flu"...

Well, I'm pooped and heading for bed. I still can't believe I have a one year old now! My heart is joyful and sad. Time goes too quickly.


Friday, June 5, 2009


Some firsts to document! Ruby has taken her very first unassisted steps! She took a few the other day in order to yank on the cats tail and when he bit her, she tried to go back and swat at him again! But he was too quick for her baby steps! Then today, Chloe told me that Ruby took another four or five steps! Yippeee. (I think! I may regret those words!) Ruby is almost 15 months old.
Roman has officially sat up by himself today! At 10 months, I was beginning to wonder if the lil guy even had a spine...I've been calling him noodleback! No crawling yet. He just figures that he can roll everywhere, so why should he learn crawling? :D
Summer has officially started in our home. The 2008/09 school year ended today and I now have an 8th grader and a 6th grader! I'm not looking forward to a summer filled with "I'm bored" and "What's there to eat?"...But I am looking forward to fun in the sun, at the river, at the coast, a trip to eastern WA & OR to visit friends and some annual camping trips. We also will have our annual Fireworks party again this year. We were debating on it and Andrew just can't stand the thought of no party to set off his homemade smoke bombs and his magnificent displays!

And more...

New Pictures!

Concert in the park (actually, Elliot playing for us in the yard!)
Pluck that upright, boy!!

Chloe's baptism by Pastor Aaron! It was a beautiful day!

Ruby w/ Whoville hair!
Wondering what it's like to be the dog and then later, jamming on the keys! Ruby loves the piano!

I just got my finepix to work and saw there are 97 pictures to upload! I'm sure every single one is of a baby or at least a baby in the background somewhere! I'll try to show the very cutest ones (t-heee!) and not overwhelm everyone. (I've got my work cut out for me!)
PS: Judi M...if you are reading this...these are for YOU! I hope you are enjoying retirement and having a wonderful early summer! If you see anyone from the state offices, tell them hello for us!
On a rather warm day, I laid Romy down for a nap in just his diaper...when he awoke, he had discovered how to remove it!

Sweet Sisters!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

These Incredible Babies!

So we've been home with Ruby and Roman for almost 16 weeks!!!! That is FOUR MONTHS!!!! The time has absolutely flown by and it's like these children have always been ours. Well, spiritually speaking, they have. I truly believe that.

Since this is my blog, I will brag about my children for you all to read!!!
(I'd post some recent pics, but my finepix keeps freezing up and won't allow it right now! Bummer!)
Roman has 5 teeth and is working on the 6th. They all popped out in JUST the last month! Whew! He was a busy boy! He is rolling from tummy to back and sometimes visa versa. He doesn't like to stay on his tummy, and therefore is not attempting to crawl yet, either. Always happy, this beautiful child is saying "Da Da Da" and will grin from ear to ear and even giggle when I say "MAMA!!!!" He thinks that is great fun. He loves attention and can be quite loud when he's not getting it. Roman is eating finger foods with a passion. It's like he's a little robot when I put food on his tray...he is very coordinated and even grabs up the morsels that drop down into his clothing! This boy has come so far, even in just the last month! He is really starting to act like a 10 month old. He's gained weight and is totally on target in every way except crawling...but his legs are very, very strong. I'm sure he'll attempt walking before crawling.

Ruby is an incredible little girl. In so many ways, she is way ahead of a lot of 14 month olds. She is the queen of mimic! She is studious and will 'count' how many times you clap your hands and then she will copy you. We first discovered this a few nights ago. My mom is here visiting (and meeting the babies for the first time) and patted her hands together once. Ruby did the same. My mom did it twice, Ruby did the same. Then three times, four and then five. Ruby could not keep up at six. We were amazed.
Ruby is a great little "mommy". She pats Roman on the back and says "Baby!!" She also is a great kisser, keeping her lips all puckered up and dry...not slobbery at all. She is quick to wave bye bye when we get in the car as well as say "Bye" with a wave when she thinks somebody is leaving. She also waves and says "Hi" when we see friends or she she's her big brother and sister after school. Her favorite word is "Uh Ooooh!" And uses it appropriately when she drops a toy or spoon, etc. She's also been known to use it when she thinks someone else did something 'wrong'.
Ruby is very good at telling the dog to go "OUT!!". Recently, she kept telling my parents poodle OUT when it jumped on Papa's lap. She did not like that at all!
A very happy baby, Ruby has started getting an attitude. When told "no", she will point her finger at me and say "Whoa!! Whoa!!" (I'm sure her version of "No"). She then will get a very mischievous grin and keep doing what she's not supposed to! She will also tell us off in her own gibberish when she doesn't like something. You can see it all on her face, too! She has already gotten scolded for not talking nice. I'm not sure what she's saying, but the tone is enough to know it wasn't nice! This girl is already one step ahead of her old parents so I'm sure she'll either age us quickly or keep us young.

Chloe continues to adore and love her baby siblings. She is an awesome sitter when I need it, although she still has yet to change a diaper. She will, however, get the babies undressed and ready for bath time and bring them in to me to bathe. Chloe is almost an 8th grader! In another week, she will be out of school and enjoying the summer.

Elliot is just as wonderful and enjoys playing "kitchen" with Ruby. He has taught her how to open all the drawers on her little kitchen set and also how to pour pretend juice from the pitcher! He is a good dancer and daily holds her hands while they slow dance around the living room. Elliot is also looking forward to summer and then starting next year as a sixth grader. He will have the same teacher, as she teaches 5/6. She's been great for him this year and he enjoys her humor, too.

Well, I have a movie that I've been trying to watch all week...Babes are all sleeping so it's mommy time!


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Chapter Six: Coming Home

We arrived in Frankfurt, Germany. In our sleep deprived and spit up covered states, we managed to pass the hour or so we had there before boarding the next flight to Chicago. We were very thankful for our status with United and were able to relax in the Red Carpet Club. We quenched our thirst and fed and changed the babies before heading to the gate.
When we arrived at our gate, there was already a long line forming. Chaos was abundant and it seemed that most people there wanted to be the first to board.
Chloe had still been very sick throughout our flights and she basically collapsed on the floor, about ready to throw up at any moment. I got her out a gallon sized ziplock bag as it was the only thing I had for her. She promptly used it. None of us cared anymore...we were exhausted. I was holding Ruby and Andrew was at the counter, holding Roman. He seemed to be taking so long. Too long. I kept looking over, trying to get an indication of what was the hold up. Finally he motioned me over, a very worried, tense look on his face.
When I stepped up, he explained that the ticket agent was not going to let us on because we had used points for our first class tickets and the babies needed to sit in coach. Well, that is certainly absurd!!! We explained our entire process, how we had these tickets fair and square like anyone else, but this cranky, irrational agent would not budge!!! The plane started filling...soon we were the very last passengers at the gate. This woman was beyond belief. She said that passengers "pay good money to sit in first class and they don't want to be bothered by crying babies"!!! No matter what we said, she kept to her opinion. But, we had our tickets so WHAT WAS HER PROBLEM!!!????
She finally said she would allow us on, but if "those babies" cry once, we would have to take them to coach! AMAZING!!! She then make us wait some more, went down and got the head honcho guy from the plane and brought him back to talk to us. He was very nice. He did not have a problem with us in first class. He said he loved children and hoped to have his own some day.
Meanwhile, Chloe is throwing up again. The agent then looked at her and asked what was wrong with "Her!!" I quickly motioned to my low stomach and mouthed the words "female issues" so they would think my 13 year old was having her time of the month. At that point, I didn't care if I lied. We had to get on that plane!! I probably would have said just about anything!
We were the very last ones on, but we made it. I can only hope that the ticket agent there will someday understand others better and have some kind of revelation to change her attitude.
We were so happy to land at O'Hare...although, it being a strange city, it still seemed like a foreign land. We had a two hour lay over, again, taking advantage of the Red Carpet Club. We met a wonderful woman there who works in the club. I don't remember her name now, but Andrew has since flown through several times and has stopped in and said hello to her. She enjoyed seeing the babies and hearing our story of adoption so much. We also met another lady who was on her way to a funeral. Her flight had been cancelled so she gave us the very delicious cookies she made. None of us were really interested in eating, but we brought them a long and nibbled a bit on them anyway.
We had called ahead and Stan, Andy's dad, was bringing us groceries, building a cozy fire in the stove and getting the house ready a bit for us to come home. At that point, nothing sounded better to us than grilled cheese sandwiches and Campbell's tomato soup!!! Even by then, Chloe thought this sounded like food straight from heaven! And pickles, we were craving pickles! Here we were in Chicago and deep dish didn't even sound good!
Stan even brought us potato chips and dip. Yummmy! We were having some serious food craving issues by this time! LOL!
We boarded our Portland flight with no hassles whatsoever. We were headed HOME. Our babies were almost done being juggled back and forth between mommy and daddy. Our arms were tired, our brains were exhausted, we were drained...but we were so close. The flight seemed endless...
As the plane neared the ground, I got more and more emotional. I looked like hell, was a mess. Spit up was on my clothing, on Andy's too. Chloe had barf in her hair and I'm sure Elliot wasn't smelling like roses, either! On our descent, Roman had one of his many, many blowouts!!! I couldn't get up as we were in the process of landing. So, I changed him right on my lap...poo was everywhere...his neck, his feet...and now on me. Oh well. We were HOME!!!

As we carried our new little angels for the first time on Pacific NW soil, my emotions overcame me and I couldn't stop crying. Part joy, part exhaustion and a whole lot of gratitude to the amazing group of friends we found welcoming us home. Friends and family cried with us and delighted in seeing our whole family for the first time, all together!

With help from many friends, we got our luggage, piled everything into our truck and came home. The dogs were so excited to see us. The cats were nonchalant, as usual. The potato chips were wonderful and we were too tired to make grilled cheese sandwiches!
That first night, Ruby slept she's done every single night since. She knows she is HOME. Roman has had a few more complicated nights, but he is four months younger...much more of a baby, too. Roman has popped four teeth through in the last four weeks...Ruby has just gotten her two bottom teeth through today.

At this writing, Ruby can say Mama, Daddy, Bye, Hi, I love you (in her own version, but we know that's what it is), kitty, Uh Oh!!!, and something that sounds a lot like "Bye Bye Brother" while waving. Hmmmm. She waves, blows kisses, puckers up and gives beautiful, dry kisses, giggles loudly, shrugs her shoulders when asking a Ruby the other day she looked at daddy's side of the bed and she said (while shrugging her shoulders and holding her palms up) "Daddy????" She was asking where he was. She's a climber, crawler, cruiser...she's a bit deviant and a whole lotta wonderment!!! She rarely cries, often disobeys and always, always has a big smile and amazing personality!

Roman, at this writing, is saying Da da da da da, making all sorts of other sounds, giggling, shrieking in delight, especially when he's talked to, and just starting to roll from back to tummy. He loves his excersaucer, especially to bounce. In fact, this boy cannot get enough of bouncing!!! Roman goes to bed with a smile and wakes up with a smile. He has started wanting whatever you have in your hand...the phone, the remote, a pen, etc. He is intrigued with earrings and bluetoothes. He will take his little hands and turn my face this way and that, searching for earrings. He will notice my bluetooth and turn my head to see if the other ear has one, too! All the while, a look of wonder on his face. He looks at us as if he's saying we are the most amazing people on earth. He truly has come so far from the little featherless sparrow in our first referral photos!
Each and every day I am in awe of these incredible blessings from God. Each of us could not love these babies more. It would be impossible.

So, where do I go from here? Well, I will continue to update as often as possible our lives now. The dear people of Ethiopia will be forever in our hearts. Someday we will return. We have learned so much...we will continue to learn and teach Ruby and Roman about their first country and the first mama's that loved them so much that they allowed a second mama and daddy to love them, too.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Chapter Five (I'm starting to forget things! Oh NO!!!)

Chapter Five: Our trip to the monastery was on the next to the last day we were in Addis. This was a bittersweet time for our family. We were sad that we did not get to see and do more and So relieved to be coming home shortly.

Thursday evening the chef at the guest house prepared some traditional Ethiopian food. It was wonderful. So much better than the food we have had at home. The injera was good, a food I don't usually care for. The beef (or was it lamb?) was tender and delicious. I was impressed. Ethiopian food is usually something I can take or leave. I ♥ ethnic foods, but usually my palate prefers Thai, Persian or something more savory like that. Making the injera with actual Tef does make a difference it appears! ;)

On Friday, Feb. 6, we woke and prepared to pick up Ruby and Roman for the final time. This was to be the very last time they would wake up in an orphanage. The last time they would be fed, diapered and caressed by their nannies. The last time they would smell the delicious Wot cooking for the older children and the last time they would see *true* sunshine for several more weeks! At home in Washington State, it would be raining and possibly snowing for awhile still.

If I did not feel too teary when I first met my baby girl and infant son, this was to be the day I would. The feelings of emotion that came over me, realizing that these two perfect little souls were now free from poverty and orphan life overcame me in a way I cannot begin to describe. They were truly all ours & we were heading home. Not knowing if we would ever return, but hopeful we will. After being home now for these past 11 weeks, the urge to return is great and the love for Ethiopia has only grown stronger.

I cried when the nannies turned Ruby & Roman over to us for the last time. These women did this act practically every day. To them, it was part of their job. I believe it is a very sad event and brings them also a bittersweet feeling to release the children they have cared for so diligently. I gave each of them a hug and tried to express my gratitude. I wondered which gifts they had each taken of the items we brought for them. I wondered if they were thinking about the babies waiting for them to care for upstairs or if they were thinking of Ruby and Romans future in a western land. None of this is relevant except for I cannot imagine doing this job and having to let go of a child I have cared for, for so long. Much like foster care here. Selfishly, I could never do it.

We packed our many, many suitcases full of souvenirs and clothing and Wendi drove us to the very crowded airport that evening. It was so strange to see how busy it was. When we had arrived at 3:30am nine days prior, the airport had been dead. Now, throngs of people, all seeming to be going the same place as we were congested the parking lot and terminal. Wendi took us as far as he could go and we all tearfully said our goodbyes. He will never be forgotten. Andrew gave him the flashlight and money that we had saved for him. We promised to keep in touch and assured him that the special package w/ spices and a Valentines ring for his girlfriend would safely make it to Seattle.

Customs was actually a breeze and after filling out more paperwork for our visa's, we were on our way to the gate.

Our first stop was to be in Khartoum, Sudan. We would not be getting off, but others would and new passengers would come aboard. I have to admit that after hearing all the media coverage of things that happen in this place, it was hard not to have some fears.

Ruby and Roman slept peacefully, as they were still on their regular schedule and it was nighttime. I was not feeling well by this time and I could only stomach hot tea. Ruby, when she was awake, only wanted my tea and showed her very stubborn side, demonstrating that she was not going to mind her new mommy and keep her hands OFF. Finally, as a last resort, I firmly, but gently, smacked her hand and said "NO!" She immediately smacked me right back...Showing mommy that this was not going to be the best form of correction. She continues to be a very smart and stubborn little girl, wise beyond her years and definitely a child we have to stay one step ahead of at all times. A marvelous child though, indeed. I wouldn't have her any other way.

Roman was having a very difficult time with his upper respiratory infection. It caused him a lot of pain, especially taking off and landing. The poor little guy would spit up all his formula and cry his little heart out. He just needed to get home and see his new doctor pronto!! We realized that he could only stomach about 1-3oz. at a time and then he'd need to be burped. Not quite up to par for a 7 month old!

But we were on our way home & that was all that mattered!

I am currently typing w/ one hand and feeding Roman with the other arm so will sign off for now.

Next chapter will explain our new found disgust for the United ticket counter in Frankfurt and be the close of our Ethiopian journey. I hope to actually finish this portion this week! Fingers crossed! Leave me a message if you are so moved to! ;)



Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Chapter Four continued briefly! (Silly Me!)

I was having a mental lapse last night when I typed the last blog entry. When I talked about the second crater, I said we didn't stay as long there...not as pretty, blah blah blah...Well, that is because I honestly couldn't remember it being that great. BUT SILLY ME! I don't know why I forgot about the fruit juice!

When we went to the second crater, we sat at a restaurant and had the MOST wonderful fresh juice. The kids and I had mango guava, and Andy and Wendi had mango pineapple. Very fresh, very safe to drink. YUM~YUM!


Monday, March 23, 2009

Chapter Four (finally! =)

Life is certainly busy with two little ones, so close together. Plus, having a 13 and 10 year old with their own busy itinerary, I haven't had a lot of time to blog. But here I am...

Where did I leave off last?

Oh yes...We were indeed able to make two day trips outside of Addis. The next day, after Elliot's eucalyptus forest event (the cipro worked wonders!!!) we went out of town to see two craters. The drive was very bumpy, a lot of road construction that never seems to get finished. The route we took involved a lot of heavy trucks, apparently the main road to Sudan, I memory being fuzzy now. But anyway, it was a main thoroughfare into other parts of Africa. And I think I've mentioned it before, but with very heavy, black exhaust emitting from each vehicle, it was hard to breathe at times. Wendi, our driver, was fantastic about passing these other trucks, cars and buses. Often times at the cost of our being fearful for our lives! These Ethiopians!!! They drive like maniacs! But we love them!

The first crater we stopped at was deserted except for us. There were two young men, early 20's I'd guess, who came over to take our entrance fee and write a receipt...good thing we had pens =). I was surprised we had to pay to see the crater since things like this are free in America. It was very beautiful, though. Across the lake was a couple of large resort looking buildings which Wendi said was the compound for the Protestants. This lake had very leaky looking boats that we could pay extra to be taken out in. The crater looked deep and the boats looked too rickety so we decided not to this time. We posed for a few pictures and then headed back up to the Range Rover.

The next crater was not as pretty and we stayed an even shorter time there. It truly was more exciting to be driving along, taking in all the sights on the way. Seeing the people, the countryside and how everyone lived outside of Addis was so fascinating! Plus, I just loved handing out the pens and paper to the students and children we would encounter. That was a highlight. Not because I felt like such a grand person for 'doing that' but because we got to interact with these joyful people. Have I said how beautiful in spirit they all are? They are amazing.

The next day we finally got to head back up the eucalyptus forest hillside and experience that trip. And my, what beauty. I fell in love with that drive. One I will never forget. Lovely. The air smells fresh and minty...eucalyptussy...ok, not a real word, but you get the whiff...=) The donkeys heading into town with their heavy burdens, the women and men who chase after them, the women carrying their own heavy loads to sell in town. As I mentioned before, the athletes training up and down the hillside, so full of energy and vitality. People always on the go to, home, chasing goats and sheep. They are always busy but not too much to look the way of a Range Rover coming down the road...big waves and huge smiles welcomed us wherever we went. SO wish our camera had not run out of batteries. We did get much more video footage and some day will upload some of it to here.

We drove to the largest christian orthodox monastery there, with it's huge domed ceiling. First, we had to read a sign and attest that we had not had sexual intercourse with each other for 48 hours and I also had to attest that I was not on my period...that being said, we were then able to take the monastery tour. Our guide, a very knowledgeable and delightful priest, started the tour by having us remove our shoes before entering. It was built in the 1960's, and not being that old, I was quite surprised by how musty it smelled inside. It was fairly dark, no lighting except for the sunshine in through the beautiful stained glass windows. We were not able to photograph using flash, so we just got video inside. There were murals depicting the last supper, the trinity and Mary and Jesus. Jesus on the cross and other disciples. The stained glass was spectacular. Each one showing different Bible characters. Daniel in the lions den, Abraham, Noah and the ark, Jonah and the whale, and many others. The opposite set of glass had the disciples. After the tour, our guide/priest gave us a miniature sermon...which was really, really awesome!!! He told of the importance of bringing up the children in the church, teaching them to love their Lord and Savior. Teaching them stories straight from the Bible, God's word. To show the example of what we would like them to be and being consistent. It was really neat. My family talked later about how our denomination, Seventh Day Adventists, was so much like what this priest was talking about.

After the tour, we were invited to go on the hike up the mountain side to the sacred cave. Where the holy water flows from the ceiling of the rocky crevices, healing all Orthodox Christians of their ailments. This was a lovely hike. At one point, the trail opens up to this plateau that could be taken straight out of a Robin Hood movie or like a forbidden forest. I can't even explain it...except mysterious and lovely.

At the cave opening, we went through a small gate. Priests were sweeping the entrance, even though it was a dirt and rock floor. We took our shoes off and went inside. It was damp and musty. The interior was about 20X20. The priest told of how the founder of this cave prayed for over 20 years and walked with the Lord. At the end of his meditating and communing with the Lord, this saint lost one of his legs from being on his knees so long in prayer. Again, some of my recollection may be off as there has been a lot happened since hearing the story and visiting the cave...But, it was very interesting.

Well, my 13 year old is home from visiting a friends for almost two days and I'm going to hear about her time there. I will try to write more soon!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Chapter Three

Chapter Three: When I last left off (If I can type for very long before Ruby wakes up from her nap!) I was going to tell about how Andrew and Chloe were on the mend. They had been sick for about three days and I was feeling like a woman without a country! Elliot and I had been caring for the babies each day (what a trooper that ten year old of mine! He was my right arm!!). I think I mentioned this already. He would hold Ruby in the back seat and I would have Roman and we would transport them back and forth from the orphanage to the guesthouse each day.

Well, when the sickies in our family were up to it, we finally were able to consider a day trip out of the city. (We had already given up on the idea of our trip to Awassa...a two day trip). We headed towards this lovely mountain filled with eucalyptus trees. About 5 minutes into our drive, Elliot suddenly says he doesn't feel well. He initially thinks it's because he didn't eat enough breakfast. So I gave him a fruit leather. Almost immediately upon eating that, he asks for a bag! Producing a gallon size zip lock, he empties his stomach into it. Wendi, our courageous driver pulls over and without a question, takes the barf bag to a dumpster...which I have to say is kinda funny considering there is garbage all over the streets anyway, yet the dumpsters are always full, too!
We continue our drive. Wendi points out that the athletes train on this mountain, which is about 8000 feet. Which is why they come to America and whup our butts!! We see numerous runners training, having no problem breathing at all and running full speed up or down the mountain! On the side of the hill, there are beautiful carvings of the Lion of Judah, a church in Lalibela (known for their amazing stone churches), other animals and Haile Selassie, the king of Ethiopia.
Elliot suddenly clutches his side and basically screams in pain...apparently Montezuma's Revenge was in full force. Wendi pulled over along the road, about a 1/4 of the way up the mountain and I dug out some TP for my anguished son. Andrew and Elliot were quite the site, running into the eucalyptus forest! Twenty minutes later (and seeing numerous donkeys and women with bundles of eucalyptus branches on their backs coming down into town w/ their loads), Elliot emerged, glad to be rid of his load!! (Ok, that was bad...) Apparently, it was pretty bad!! The great thing is we had a prescription for Cipro which helped him tremendously.
Needless to say, we turned around and headed back to the guesthouse so Elliot could recover fully. We actually made the trip the next day and it was a great success...more on that in Chap. Four...

Ru just woke up so I need to continue this again later. Hopefully sooner than later, anyway. I'll also try to get Andrew to upload a video of this beautiful eucalyptus mountain side. It was so lovely. One of my highlights of the trip (minus the sick kid!)...


Friday, February 20, 2009

New pics before we get too far along! =)

Ok, I promise to finish the saga of our trip, but here are a few pics for you to enjoy! Everything is beautiful and going well in our family. We couldn't ask for a smoother process in bonding!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Chapter Two

Chapter Two: First of all, I should mention that Yes, I did change my page to a prettier design thanks to Aqua Poppy Designs (free blog designs!! Yay!) and another blog I follow "Life in the Bend" who pointed me in their direction. I love this design, but it was difficult to choose because the designer has so many pretty choices!

So, on to chapter two of our Ethiopian trip! In chapter one, I noticed a lot of typo's (which I deplore!) but since I am typing this usually in the middle of the night, I will excuse myself a bit and realize that sometime grammatical errors will occur! (Esp. for mama's of virtual twins!)

Day two arrived in Addis and our 13 year old daughter started having a sore throat and muscle aches. Her head started hurting and then came the deep chesty coughing. By that evening she was bed bound with a temp. of 103.5 and refusing any solids. With the lethargy and no interest in food, we tried to keep as many liquids in her system as possible. Wendi, the guesthouse chef (not to be confused with Wendi our driver) concocted wonderful soups each evening, but this turned Chloe's stomach as well. Thank goodness they had fresh squeezed OJ and bottled water. I think we pretty much used up their entire water ration for the week. We were constantly asking for more. I'm pretty sure it was a little joke with the staff about how much water the Ferguson's drank as we each had probably two or three bottles of Highland each day!

Day three arrived and Andrew started feeling low. A sore throat, fever, aches, headache...coughing...Sound familiar? By that evening, his temperature had soared to 104! He too went to bed. At this point I HAVE to mention that a few weeks before leaving on our trip, Andrew got into one of his fatherly tirades about "staying well" and making sure to "take our vitamins"..."load up on zinc, Vit. C, magnesium, etc. etc. etc." the time we actually left town, we all had heard enough about supplemental intake!

So now with two down...Elliot and I were holding down the fort. I must say that my 10 year old was such a great help to me. He would go to the orphanage each day and hold Ruby on his lap while we drove back to the orphanage. They became great buddies! Very few people can make Ruby laugh like her big brother! I know at this point therapists will say that Ruby should only have bonded in this way (the way that she bonded with Elliot) with her daddy and mama, but we had to do what we had to do. I held Roman on my lap and off we went. In Ethiopia, seatbelts are optional and there are no child car seats. A crazy notion if you were to see how people drive there! Yikes! A car horn in Ethiopia is not only for letting people know you are irritated with them but also to let pedestrians & other drivers know you are within inches of running their heels over!

Saturday evening comes around and I've still got two very sick family members. I felt like I'd been carrying a family of six on my shoulders in a third world country. With Elliot and I the only two visible Ferguson's, I'm sure the guesthouse staff thought Andrew and Chloe were dead. That night Andrew took Nyquil. He also requested the sleeping pill, Ambien. I told him "No!!" because you're not supposed to take it with alcohol. We all went to bed. At some point a few hours later, Andrew awoke, feeling terrible, and found his coveted Ambien. The next morning, I realized that Andrew was sleeping much deeper than normal. He also was incoherent. He mumbled and slurred his speech. He usually wouldn't answer when I asked him questions or he would babble strange things. For instance, he started saying things about "there are flying batteries in the room! Get them down, get them down!" and "Catch the big fish! The big fish are the meanest, so get them first!!!" At one point he made mention to our Ethiopian attorney, Sintayehu and one of the drivers, Solomon. "Sinty called Solomon and said to come get us! Solomon, Solomon, where are you? Come get us!!!"...Although a little funny at first, I soon realized that my husband was not being his normal self. Then, he continued to ask for more Ambien!! At one point he attempted to get out of bed to go to the bathroom. As he was crashing into the walls and door jams, I knew I needed to help him. There is nothing scarier than taking your 200 lb., incoherent, babbling, hallucinating husband to go potty!!!
Elliot and I had to go and get the babies again so I woke Chloe up. I told her she needed to go in and sleep next to Daddy and babysit him. Since she wasn't hallucinating, she was clearly more capable of monitoring her father than he was of himself! But her temperature was still near 104 for the third day. I also told her that I had hidden all meds from her dad and if she had any problems with him acting weird than she would need to get up and go tell Muli or Wendi in the kitchen. The staff were wonderful and we are indebted to them for their hospitality. They cared for us so well.
We were quickly using up any meds we had taken with us, and with the only antibiotics on hand being the Malaria meds, I was trying to think rationally about what to well as doing A LOT of praying!
By Monday midmorning, Andrew was starting to feel slightly better. The hallucinations had stopped (although I did resort to asking him who our President was, the names of our children as well as what day of the week it was, to which he was able to answer correctly the names, but got the date wrong.) He still slept most of that day and emerged a better feeling man on Tuesday. During this time, Chloe still was sleeping a minimum of 10 hours per day and still not eating a thing. She ended up losing enough weight (not sure of the poundage) for it to be noticeable. And this is a girl who can't afford to lose any in the first place!
Well, I guess I should stop there...for those of you who are still hanging in there and reading...please know how grateful I am!!! forget! This blog is not only to share our experiences but also to serve as a journal for us so we can remember our trip and all the interesting things surrounding it! We are blessed to have our live in the USA where medicine is easily accessible!
In my next chapter, people get well...well, at least Andrew does. Chloe starts feeling better for a few days anyway & Elliot has a jaunt into the Eucalyptus Forest he will never forget!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A New Chapter ~ How To Begin To Describe This Wonderful New Book?

CHAPTER ONE: We arrived back home Saturday evening, Feb. 7th to a wonderful crowd of friends waiting at the Portland Airport. It was very emotional for me. We had just spend the past 32+ hours on flights that took us from Addis Ababa to Khartoum to Frankfurt to Chicago and then finally (FINALLY) home to PDX. Getting my feet planted back on American soil was wonderful at O'Hare, but being HOME was an truly safe feeling.

Our trip was amazing. That word, "amazing" can have so many different meanings to me. Not always positive, not always in the way most people think. When I say amazing, most people assume it was ALL wonderful and joyous. And, this is the word I use when I do not have the time or the energy to describe in full how it exactly was. Our trip was full of adventure that is for sure.

This may have to be continued unto another posting, but I will start with the day we left and journal the trip from there. I feel that each person's journey will hold something different for them and that they should not take my experience was one they will also have.

Monday, Jan.26 we arrived at PDX and headed out for destination Addis at approx. 1:30pm. Our flights there (PDX to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Istanbul, Istanbul to Addis Ababa) were uneventful and seemingly fast. We were blessed enough to fly business class and therefore we were also able to take advantage of the different clubs in each airport. Landing in Istanbul, Turkey was an experience. Never before have I felt so much like the "Ugly American". I found the people in the airport to be arrogant and rude. I was, not once, greeted with a smile or any form of hospitality. We had a six hour layover to which we were very glad to get back on a plane! Then on to Addis, about a six hour flight.

Arriving in Addis, we made our way to customs, but because we decided to ride the 'lift' (elevator), we went down too many floors and got lost. After about a 1/2 hour (or so it seemed), we found our correct way (Thanks to the very friendly soldiers who directed us). By now the line was very long at customs and we waited there. Quite some time later, we found our many bags and suitcases full of formula and donations and had them scanned one final time. The security personnel were alarmed by the amount of formula and were very hesitant to let us through. After several explanations from me that it was going to the Toukoul Orphanage for the BABIES, they allowed us through.

We then waited in the airport for our driver to show up. Since our friend Tania had traveled just a month before, we knew that waiting for our ride was a possibility. We waited...and waited. Finally a nice young woman came over and asked if she could call someone for us. We gave her the numbers for our attorney (who our agency said to call first in such an event). Sintayehu arrived about an hour later in a very small car. Realizing our luggage would never fit, he then called Solomon who arrived in a mini van! =) Needless to say, we were loaded to the hilt!

At this point, we were all feeling great and full of anticipation. We knew we would meet our babies that morning as well as have our US Embassy appointment in a few hours. A very full day. We were supposed to have the Embassy appointment the next day, but due to an In Service Day, they bumped it up.

After a breakfast of nearly fried eggs, freshly squeezed OJ and Ethiopian coffee, we were headed out to meet Ruby Kalkidan and Roman Abinet.

The drive to the orphanage confirmed our earlier ride from the airport. People lined the streets, walking to wherever they were going, or usually running. They would dart in and out of traffic with reckless abandon. Young children were no exception. The exhaust from vehicles choked us and the sites amazed us. Everywhere we looked, it was a completely new experience. Men and women in authentic Ethiopian garb, priests in Orthodox Christian shawls and of course, mostly western attire. Some women walking down the dirty, uneven road wearing high heels and dresses. Appearing to be going to the in three piece suits coming out of a tin shack, on their way to work. The smells were interesting and usually wonderful due to the strong scent of burberry hanging in the air.

A short drive to the orphanage, along the way passing a few meat stores...small shacks with fresh (?) meat hanging on the walls. By small I mean like an 8X8 area. No refrigeration whatsoever. We arrived at Toukoul within 10 minutes and met Melat, the orphanage secretary. Wendi, our new driver introduced us and Melat made a phone call alerting the staff the Kalkidan and Abinet needed to be readied!!! We filled out paperwork and told Melat of our donations. Within moments, two nannies arrived outside the window carrying two lovely children! Our children!!! For the past year, I thought I would cry when first meeting my new babies. But in that moment it was just 'awe'. It literally happened so fast, I don't even know what video we have. Ruby stared at us with those big eyes of hers, really not sure what she was getting herself into! Roman greeted us with a huge smile and lit up the entire area! What a charmer that one!

We spend the rest of the morning in the visiting room there at the orphanage, bonding. Ruby fell asleep on daddy's chest. The room is fairly small and spending it with four other new parents was quite an endeavor. The other parents were all from France, so communication was also limited.

This will conclude 'chapter one' since I really need to be sleeping! Roman has had his nighttime bottle and Ruby should stay asleep the rest of the night (fingers crossed). I am battling a bad cold (nasty chest cough!!) It's 12:40am and I have several hours of sleep I could be taking advantage of!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

Packed and ready!!

I just wanted to post pictures of the donations we'll be taking to the orphanages in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. A huge part of this was generous donations from friends and family. We asked for donations of formula, A&D ointment, underwear, socks and crib sheets! You all delivered and we are so grateful! Many of you gave freely of monetary donations. That was very helpful because we were able to provide the exact items needed.
We are also taking paddle balls, plastic horses and safari animals and ball point pens for the children. Pens are coveted items, we hear. Pens mean children can write! =)
  • 5 pkgs. Girls underwear
  • 3 pkgs. Boys underwear
  • 2 pkgs. Boys socks
  • 3 pkgs. Girls socks
  • $1500 worth of formula
  • 17 pkgs. Notebook paper
  • 8 crib sheets
  • 30 cartons of A&D Ointment
  • 10 School folders
  • 13 K-2 School Workbooks
  • 8 pr. flip flops
  • 120 paddle balls
  • 100 plastic toy animals (4" size)
  • Over 150 ball point pens

All packed into one rubbermaid bin (Thank you T!!) five checked suitcases and eight carry ons! WHEW. I'm glad we're all packed!

Thank you EVERYONE for your generosity and love. Drubek

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Introducing Two Of The Most Beautiful Children Ever!!!

And presenting, for the first time ever on "SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL"...The entire reason that "Something Beautiful" was even created...
Our AMAZING children, Roman Abinet & Ruby Kalkidan Ferguson!!! We will meet them on Wednesday, January 28, 2008 for the very first time!!
Mama, Dada, big sister Chloe and big brother Elliot are SO excited!!!


Welcome to our site! We hope you enjoy the information we share during our adoption journey. As we document this wild ride to bringing home our Ethiopian children, we hope you'll fall in love with this beautiful country as we have.

Washington State, USA

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Africa