Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Amazing Race

Suitcases packed, ready to go!

I don't think I've told you all how much I love The Amazing Race. If I were to go on a reality show that would definitely be it. So, as I sit here in D.C. enjoying our 6 1/2 hour layover I'm totally thinking that Phil will be meeting us at the finish line when we get to Addis, except that Phil will actually be Almaz and the prize will be Baby M.
When we checked in this morning in Seattle our Ethiopian experience got off to a good start because the man checking us in was from Ethiopia! He was pretty excited when he heard where we were going. I also passed my friend Dana going through security so there was a lot of friendliness during the wee hours this morning.
So far we've logged 11 travel hours (yes, I'm counting being up at 2:00 this morning as the official start of the travel day) and only have 20 more to go. Piece of cake. I scoff in the face of travel doldrums and hours of monotony. You would not believe what exciting experiences await you at Dulles International Airport! For instance, we spent a good hour and a half eating a cheeseburger. There is a Dunkin' Donuts mecca just waiting to serve overly sweetened coffee, and the 10-minute manicure shop is right across the way. I think it's reasonable to have 6 manicures, killing another hour of time.
As we've just checked in for our Ethiopian Air flight I have now set up shop across from the restrooms to get in some covert surveillance time. In this city of politicos we all know what could go down in the public bathroom and I'm not too proud to report on any incidents that may occur.
Jason has already managed to have an allergic reaction to who knows what, probably the soap in the bathroom. His finger has swollen to twice its normal size and he's quickly going through his allergy medication. This is part of the normal travel experience with Jason though. What would a trip be without an ailment to complain of?
Ooo, ooo, bathroom update...toilet paper debacle heading towards gate D. I'm on the case.
So long for now!

Blogging and doing reconnaissance
The plane's here! Can't we just get on?!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Four More Days

We are totally leaving for Ethiopia in four days! Come on people, that's some exciting stuff! So, what have we been doing since our last post? I'll tell ya' - running ourselves ragged shopping for Baby M., organizing for Isabelle, packing for ourselves and making sure we've been poked by every needle known to man and have every life-saving medication possible. Sadly, after picking up my travel meds. yesterday and reading through the warnings I feel quite sure that if a mysterious illness doesn't do me in the medications prescribed to help surely will. Seriously, if I have to take Cipro (which is apparently the only known cure for Anthrax poisoning) for an infection the chances aren't great that I'll live to tell about it. On the bright side I did purchase travel insurance and the lovely people at Travel Insured International have promised to pay for the repatriation of my remains. Whew! One less thing to worry about!

I never got to do our St. Patrick's day post so here's a little peek at our day:
Leprechaun Ears
Green Milk
Irish Dinner...Yummm
The biggest project I've been working on this week is a scrapbook for Baby M.'s birth mother. What a daunting task! Hopefully I made the right decisions on what to put in the album. We really want to show her how much we appreciate the decision she made and how much we love this little baby.
And now, for all you SNL fans, this is a segment I like to call REALLY?! with Aubrey.
REALLY?!, you're forecasting rain in Ethiopia the entire week we're there? REALLY. You mean to tell me that for the entire month of March it's been in the mid-80's to 90's and now that the Brock family is coming the temperature is going to drop by 20 degrees? REALLY?! You think that just because we live in Seattle it would be impossible for us to go without rain for five days? REALLY?!
Okay, rant over. Prepared for anything. Can't wait to get on the plane!

Monday, March 16, 2009

What Will Happen Next?

So, in the midst of shopping, organizing and packing for our trip something has to go wrong, right? Right. Last Thursday I came home from work, expecting to make progress on checking things off the multiple lists I've been writing. So far the lists just seem to be getting longer. Anyway, I walk into the house and this is the scene that greets me:

Imagine loud noises, hammering and grunting coming from upstairs. Clearly it was Jason attempting to fix something. It was the toilet in our master bathroom. He had come home to find a minor, and I'm going to stress the word minor, leak. According to Jason all it would take to fix this minor leak would be a few twists of the screw. Okay, fine. I went to start making dinner. Moments later, clearly forgetting what happens if you break the rules of physics, Jason came running downstairs yelling, "It's broken! It's broken!" This sounded so odd to me I really had no idea what he was talking about. He quickly explained, "The leak wasn't stopping so I just kept twisting the screws and the toilet split in two." Yeah, the toilet split in two. And...scene.

So, $250.00 later, in the middle of the night, Jason installed a brand new toilet where previously stood a perfectly good toilet with a minor leak. The only bright spot on this otherwise murky horizon? He bought a toilet with a seat that goes down automatically. :)

In other news we spent the weekend doing more prep work for our trip. Isabelle continues to be a really good helper and is getting lots of practice taking care of her baby dolls.

Here she is changing "Baby Hannah's" diaper. We gave her this doll as a Christmas present three months before we decided to adopt from Ethiopia. She immediately started calling her Hannah and only later did we sign up with AGCI and start thinking about traveling to Hannah's Hope to bring Baby M. home. Is she psychic or could it be divine intervention?

Isabelle's big job this weekend was to go through all her toys and if they fit inside this toilet paper roll they were to be put in a different basket out of reach of Baby M.
My weekend project was to put together a notebook of care instructions for Isabelle. My parents will be coming up to stay with her for the week and they're going to need all the help they can get! Just kidding Mom and Dad, I'm sure you'll be fine! The notebook has all our emergency information, Isabelle's daily schedule, meal plans, activities to do in the area and lots of other things. It's a big relief to have this done!

Kindergarten tidbit of the day: As you know St. Patrick's day is upon us and we'll be cooking the traditional corned beef, Irish soda bread and mashed potatoes for dinner tomorrow night. (There might also be traditional Irish beverages involved) We've also been doing a lot of St. Patrick's day activities at school. Last week we made a book about looking for leprechauns and the children wrapped shiny green paper around toilet paper rolls to make a "leprechaun lens" to hunt for leprechauns. Well, one of my students who is clearly still trying to master his command of English began shouting, "We're hunting for lepers! We're hunting for lepers!" Oh my, what must these parents think I'm teaching their children?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Long-Awaited Travel Dates

Christy called! Hooray! We'll be leaving for Addis Ababa on the morning of Saturday, March 28th and coming home on April 3rd. We've got our travel itinerary all set and now we just have to hurry up and wait some more. I hope we can make it these last 2 1/2 weeks!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

No News, Just Snow

We're continuing to wait patiently for our travel dates, growing increasingly anxious and less patient as the minutes tick by. Come on phone, did you forget how to ring? To make matters worse we had another huge snow storm come through right in the middle of the day yesterday. My students had just arrived at school and within minutes snow started dumping all over us! Don't get me wrong, I love the snow. However, snow can make even the most well-behaved child turn into a giddy gremlin and when this is the scene outside the classroom window how can you blame them?

Luckily for me I had planned on introducing geoboards to the children yesterday for math. Remember those? They're the square boards with pegs that you stretch rubber bands onto to make shapes. If anything could compete with six inches of snow it's the thought of rubber bands flying haphazardly through the air, with the potential danger that you'll shoot your eye out. Yeah, it got their attention but I still felt like standing in the middle of the room, pulling a George Costanza and shouting, "Serenity now!"
The snow is beginning to melt but I couldn't resist taking a peek at the weather in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:
High 79°F
Precipitation 0%
Mostly Sunny
Please get us there soon!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Packing Begins

After a marathon shopping day on Saturday we came home and started to unload all our goodies for Baby M. It was really fun to buy little baby clothes, booties and of course a lot of superfluous items that are "must-haves" for babies. I'm not sure if we really needed all the little rattles and books we got but we've waited a long time to buy anything so we went all out.
Isabelle was a huge help today, folding clothes and organizing her old baby toys that are making a reappearance. We started packing Baby M.'s suitcase (knowing that we'll be rearranging things at least several more times) and feel we got a good start on that.

Here's Isabelle going through one of the bags of clothes. She is GREAT at cutting off tags!
Folding burp cloths.

Isabelle was so proud of helping pack Baby M.'s suitcase she had to jump in the picture.
With the new things we bought for Baby M. we needed to make room in her closet, which is where I've been storing all the donations for Hannah's Hope. I decided I should go ahead and start packing those too. I started off really well. I thought this was a nice base layer.
Here's the second layer of donations. At this point I still thought I was doing fine. Look how neat and tidy everything is!
Okay, it's starting to get a little full.
Maybe a lot full.
This 100 lb. bag is ready to go, right? Don't worry, we've got another suitcase set aside for donations so we'll be okay.

Friday, March 6, 2009

We're Going to Ethiopia!!!

We can't believe it but we're leaving for Ethiopia in just a few weeks to get Baby M.! Props to AGCI for the surprise twist in our adoption adventure.
I had called Christy earlier this week asking if she'd heard anything about our court date. She let us know that she hadn't but was hoping to hear something from Almaz in Ethiopia by Friday. Needless to say when my phone rang this morning and it was Christy calling I expected her to say our court date was scheduled for the end of May. Instead she said she had exciting news for us. Our court date was yesterday and we passed! Thank goodness today was a non-student day and I was just at work doing report cards. My students would have probably been really worried to see me crying in the middle of class! We're still waiting for the final adoption decree before we know our exact travel dates but we'll definitely be going soon!
Baby M. will only be about 4 1/2 months old when we travel to Ethiopia so we will be doing some major shopping over the next few weeks to get everything we need for her. Isabelle didn't come home until she was about 10 1/2 months old so we don't have any clothes for a small baby. We also need to get bottles, diapers, formula and so much more! I need to go so I can start making my lists of things to do. And, in case you're wondering how I managed to concentrate on my report cards today, it was almost impossible. It took me 12 hours to do 23 report cards! Jason, Isabelle and I were at school until about 8:30 tonight getting things ready for school next week. Ugggh!
Have a great weekend everybody - we sure will!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Congratulations Marie! and Mamma Mia Debut

I am so excited for my friend Marie! Marie teaches second grade at my school and she and her husband were just matched with a birth mother for a domestic adoption. Just a few days later the baby was born and now Marie and Erik are getting to know their sweet baby, Aiden. I am so happy for them! Isn't their little boy darling?! Congratulations you guys!

And now, as promised, the world premiere video of Isabelle singing Mamma Mia. I'm not sure where she picked up these dance moves, but they're pretty atrocious. I promise she's not watching MTV! Make sure you check out her big finish at the end.

Now I have to offset the mini-teen drama queen shown above with a couple videos of Isabelle behaving like a normal 3-year-old.