A Long-term Dream


January 9th, 2010

When I was in college I wanted to travel. And I did, a little.

I spent a few weeks one summer in El Salvador and I spent a month in London, doing part of my student teaching.

I seriously considered joining the Peace Corps. I called them, requested the information, even sort of settled on going to Papua New Guinea or El Salvador (I really enjoyed my time in El Salvador and at the time I knew enough spanish to survive.)

I would go to Perkins and sit for hours with a friend who would listen to me talk about wanting to travel, to see the world, to join the Peace Corps, to just do something with my life. And he would tell me to make sure I sent him a postcard from wherever I was. At the time, I was 99% sure it was what I wanted to do when I graduated. I wasn’t in a relationship, I had no desire to go to grad school and I knew that come graduation day, all my friends would be scattering all over the  country so, why not?

But plans changed in an unexpectedly good way. That same friend is now my husband. We’ve got 2 kids, a house, a couple dogs. I’m a teacher and I love my job.

And 11 years later I still  can’t shake that need to travel, to experience living somewhere that is nothing like here. So I’ve come up with a plan. An exciting plan with a very real possibility of working out.

A couple weeks ago I noticed that AHOPE, an organization in Ethiopia that cares for children with HIV, is always looking for voluteers. They specifically request people who are social workers, nurses, doctors, occupational therapists, and teachers. A volutneer needs to there for a minimum of 6 weeks but can stay longer if they wish.

Guess which teacher wants to move her family to Ethiopia for a summer?

I don’t want to go this summer or even next summer. I want to wait until Milo and Lexi are older. If we are going to move them half way around the world for a summer, I want them to experience it, to remember it, to fully participate in the experience.

I’ve already contacted AHOPE to see if this is even a possibility and got a resounding “yes” so now, we just need to make things happen on our end. It will be a lot of work to make this happen, another reason why I’m not trying to plan the trip for anytime soon, but I really think this will happen.

I’ve also got a second plan that involves staying in Ethiopia for a year but we’ll just stick to the plan of going for a summer to see how that works out for us. Then I’ll start plotting a longer stay.

It’s exciting to think about. It’s scary to think about. It makes me happy that we will be able to take Milo back his birth country and Lexi will see probably the most important piece of her brother’s life. I want this to happen.

A lot to say but not sure where to start.


April 1st, 2009

Now that we are back home and not sick and not jetlaged I’ve been wanting to write about our trip and having Milo home but there is so much to say, so much to share, I’m not quite sure where to start.

First of all, thank you. Thank you to the people who brought us stuff for our rummage sale. Thank you to the people who bought stuff from the rummage sale. Thank you to the people who sent donations towards Kevin shaving his head. Thank you to the people who prayed for us. Thank you to the people who asked us about updates and listened when we were excited about updates and when we complained about wait times. There is no way we could have done this alone. So thank you.

About Ethiopia.

Ethiopia was amazing. It’s how I pictured it to be and completely different than I thought it would be. I can’t really explain it but even though I’d never been there before, everything felt very familiar. When we go back (and we will go back at some point) I want to see more of the country. Our trip was obviously focused on Milo so there wasn’t much sight-seeing or touring. What we saw was mostly out the bus window.

We went shopping at a small mercado. It was obviously designed for tourists. Then we drove through the real mercado. The small mercado was one or two streets of shops, all containing similar jewelry and wall hangings and clothes. The real mercado was huge. Single streets devoted entirely to textiles or shoes or cleaning products or clothes or electronics.

Hosanna

We drove down to Hosanna and saw where Milo lived when he was first brought into the care center. Up until recently, children were relinquished to a care center in their local area and then after a few weeks (sometimes months) transferred to the care center in Addis where they waited for a family. While we were in Hosanna we met one of the nannies who cared for Milo. We showed her a recent picture and she was very excited to see how happy and healthy he looked.

Hosanna is “the country”. It’s about 3-4 hours south of the city and looks like the pictures you see of Ethiopia. There are wide open spaces and traditional round mud and straw huts. There are donkeys carrying yellow jerry cans to fill with water and young kids driving cattle down the road.

The CHSFS bus makes the Hosanna trip every Sunday so I think we were an event for the kids along the way. They ran to the edge of the road, waved and wanted us to take pictures.

The Plane Ride

Let’s face it 20+ hours on a plane just sucks. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be. It was typical plane seats with minimal room and food that was pretty bland. The ride home however was great. We lucked out and got the bulkhead seats and a bassinet which meant we had leg room and Milo could sleep in a bed. And jet lag wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Milo

Milo seems to be adjusting to life in Minnesota pretty well. He sort of naps in the morning, takes a decent nap in the afternoon and only half wakes up at night for a couple of bottles. And by half wake up, I mean he wakes up, cries and then can barely keep his eyes open to eat.

It’s been fun getting to know him. He’s smiley and happy and for five months old is pretty good at letting us know what he wants.

He likes to be held but is content to hang out on the floor and play with toys.

He thinks Lexi and the dogs are fascinating.

He sucks both thumbs at the same time.

He thinks being naked is really funny. And bath time is a blast.

Along with being naked and bath time he also thinks that spit bubbles, burping, blowing raspberries and chewing on his burp rag are also amusing ways of passing the time.

He took to a bottle right away and gets MAD if he not being fed as soon as he starts to fuss for food.

He likes to be bundled up in blankets and is a total sweat bomb when he sleeps.

He likes riding in his sling. He seems to prefer the ring-sling over the others but I think it’s because he’s a little too short for the other ones.

More updates will come. Like I said – lots to say but not sure where to start.

Leaving Ethiopia


March 26th, 2009

Today is our last day in Ethiopia. We head to the airport in about 8 hours. It’ll be sad to leave but I’ll be glad to be back home in a familiar place with both my kids.

I’ll be posting much more later but for now here’s some highlights:

· Going to Hosanna to meet people who are an important part of Milo’s life.

· Watching the nannies take care of the kids

· Hanging out at the guest house (with candles because of zero power)

· Watching School of Rock

· Going to Metro Pizza (it’s almost as good as Punch Pizza)

· Playing with Lily, the dog that lives at the Guest House

· Finally taking Milo home on Tuesday. No more saying goodbye at the care center.

· Beautiful weather. In the morning it’s a little cloudy and breezy and about 70 degrees. It gets hot around lunch time and then the evenings are cool again.

A couple of things I won’t miss:

· Flies.

· The cats. Seriously, two cats somewhere in our neighborhood would sound like it was a fight to the death every morning around 2ish.

If everything goes as scheduled we should be home by about 4:30 pm on Friday. (We’re leaving Ethiopia at 10:30pm Thursday). See you then.

Our Time in Ethiopia


March 10th, 2009

Lots of people have asked what our trip will be like. It’s going to be a whirlwind. For those of you curious, here’s a sample itinerary:

Wednesday – fly out of the Cities.

Thursday – Land in Ethiopia around 7:30. Check in at the guest house

Friday – Orientation, meet with case worker, medical staff and meet Milo (briefly)

Saturday – Hang out with Milo for the morning, shopping in the afternoon, dinner/show

Sunday – Travel to Hosanna

Monday – More hanging out with Milo, tour AHOPE and sight seeing

Tuesday – Going away celebration for the kids, Embassy appointment, Milo is in our care from now on.

Wednesday – Hanging out with Milo and other families

Thursday – Morning cooking class, Packing, hanging with Milo, head to the airport

Friday – Land in Twin Cities around 4:30.

It’s going to be one busy week.

We’ll be in Ethiopia in 3 weeks!


February 25th, 2009

We got our birth certificate and our travel date today! We are leaving for Ethiopia on March 18th.

That’s three weeks from today.

In three weeks I will finally get to hold my baby boy.

This means that all of the waiting is over.

There is an actual date of when we will get to meet our little boy.

3 weeks.

Only 3 weeks left.

Give Away Day


December 2nd, 2008

December 3rd is Give Away Day. You can check out the list of blogs with give aways on the Sew, Mama, Sew! blog.

Here’s my give away: Travel Jewelry Cases (jewelry not included)
Jewelry Travel Cases

Jewelry Travel Case

Jewelry Travel Case

The bracelet/ring bag is cotton with a ribbon draw string. The necklace bag holds at least 10 necklaces. Cotton, lined with courduroy and ribbon ties.

The Rules:
To enter the contest just leave a comment here. If you link back to this post on your blog, I’ll enter your name twice in the drawing.

1 entry per person (2 if you link back)

I will ship internationally.

If you’re the lucky winner, I’ll ship your package with in a week.

Check back here on Thursday for the winner.

I’ll be drawing the winner Wednesday at 10 PM.

Good Luck.

Update: Sew, Mama, Sew! has asked us to extend the contest a couple of days. So you can enter until 10 PM (CST) on Friday, Dec 5. I’ll post the winner Dec 6.

(I forgot to mention – I do have to approve comments for this site so if yours doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry, it will.)

And we’re back.


November 28th, 2008

We’ve been in Green Bay for a week. We left Friday right after work and we got back tonight around dinner time. Originally we were only going to be there from Wednesday evening until Saturday morning but my grandpa passed away and the funeral was last Saturday so we left early.

Our schedule went in waves of being crazy and then nothing to do.
Friday we arrived. The house was packed with my dad’s relatives who were in town for the funeral. (The one good thing about funerals is that you get to see relatives that you never see but wish you could see all the time.)
Saturday was the visitation and the funeral.
Sunday was brunch at my grandparents house (on my mom’s side) with about 20 people.
Monday we drove to Appleton to meet up with friends I haven’t seen since college.
Tuesday I was sick. I slept all day and read Twilight. .
Wednesday we drove to West Bend (about 2 hours away) to have lunch and watch Lexi and Charlotte exchange Christmas gifts.
Thursday was Thanksgiving madness.
Friday morning was Brunch: The Sequel and exchanging Christmas gifts with my family since we will be in Kansas for Christmas.
Then we loaded up the car and headed home.

Now, a few fun side notes from the trip. First off, my Grandma gave me all of my Grandpa’s ties. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on some old ties for a while to make a skirt for Lexi and a couple other projects I have mulling around in the back of my mind.
Next, my sister got me a Beco Butterfly II. Which is the most awesome baby carrier around. And Lexi made out like a bandit on the handmade gifts from Aunt Limor (check out her etsy shop) and my mom.

Oh and our smartest purchase? A DVD player for the car. Lexi ate crackers and watched movies. That’s it. No complaining (unless the sun was in her eyes), no temper tantrums, just hanging out watching movies. This is going to be very helpful on a 12 hour drive next month.

It was a long trip and it’s good to be home. Now we have a month to recover before we leave for Christmas in Kansas.

Just for fun.


July 23rd, 2008

14 months. 42 countries. 1000 of people. Lots of dancing.

Flying to Ethiopia


November 9th, 2007

Has anyone ever flown to Africa? Any tips? Any tips on how to survive a 18 or more hour plane ride with a 2 year old on the way there and a 2 year old and a baby on the way home? Seriously, I have this vision of sitting on a plane for 2 days smooshed between Lexi’s carseat and Kevin because we seriously can’t afford to fly first class. Are the rumors true that when you fly long distances like that they put you on planes where the seats are just a bit wider and you have a little more leg room? I really hope so.

Our travel information said that for the flight home we could request bulkhead seating and a bassinet depending on the size of our baby, that would be great if we were able to get a seat in that area. Not that we have to make travel plans now but since I have nothing else to really “worry” about with this process my mind wanders to stuff like how many snacks to we have to bring to keep Lexi happy? and What type of sling should I bring for the new baby? Should we even bother with a stroller for Lexi or should I just sling her to?

Now, with all this to think about, let’s see if I can actually get some sleep tonight. Bother.

On Vacation


October 22nd, 2006

We are in Los Angels, enjoying a much needed vacation. Kevin has meetings to go to on Monday and Tuesday so technically only half of his time is vacation but meetings in L.A. where it is 80 degrees is much better than a conference call from Minnesota.

This is our first major family vacation. And here’s how things have been going so far:

Our flight left MN at 7:10 p.m. which meant we got Lexi up from her nap around 4:30, went to the airport, made it through security without any issues (expect for Kevin forgetting to take his cell phone and camera out of his pocket), fed Lexi dinner, and boarded the plane. The flight was really full except for 3 seats and lucky for us one of those empty seats was in our row. That meant instead of having to hold Lexi all the way to L.A. she could sit in her own seat and play with a pile of toys. Which she did. Then we hit turbulence which made my ears pop and Lexi scream – I’m assuming her ears popped as well – this was around 9:00 p.m. (Okay, quick break in the story to explain something. On a normal day, Lexi takes a nap after being awake for 2 maybe 3 hours. When we hit turbulence she had been awake for 4 and a half hours. Her bed time is normally between 7:30 and 8:00. And the girl values her sleep. So when she misses it, she is crabby.) So around 9:00 she had a total meltdown. All out screaming, not wanting to nurse or take a bottle, pushing toys away, etc. To me it felt like it lasted forever, but really it only lasted about 3 or 4 minutes. Then we just decided to set her in her seat with her blanket and hoped she would go to sleep. She did. And she didn’t wake up until we were starting to land. We landed in L.A. around 9:00 p.m. L.A. time – 11:p.m. Minnesota time.

We picked up our luggage (which was in the first 10 bags off the plane – YAY) and headed to the rental car place. We checked in at the rental car place and they told us to go out to the compact car row and pick any of the cars to take. Well, we walked to the row and there were no cars. There were also no cars in the economy, mid-size, or full-size rows. There were just a bunch of people standing around waiting for cars to be brought up to the lot. Apparently they were behind in cleaning the cars or something so they were bring them up one by one. Normally, I’m not too bothered by stuff like this. I understand that it happens. But by the time we finally got our car I was so irritated with Alamo that I wanted to run the manager over with our car. Here’s what pushed me from being a little frustrated to furious with them:

1. When they brought the cars up they came tearing out of the garage – tires squealing, driving 80 miles/hour and would whip into a parking spot, hand the keys to the closest customer and then wander back to the garage. First of all, if you have to drive the cars that fast shouldn’t you also be running back to the garage to get the next car? Second, why no apology to the customer for having to wait.

2. The manager came out to where all the people were waiting, twice, and both times people tried to talk to him about what was going on. He blew them all off and then went and talked to his staff. He never once came over to where all the people were waiting to explain what was going on or apologize for the wait.

3. When we finally got our car (which because of all the confusion ended up being a Toyota Rav4 instead of a compact car) and leaving the lot, the manager was standing at the exit gate checking everyone’s paper work. When it was our turn he was really rude when talking to us and never apologized for the wait.

Moral of the story. Don’t rent from Alamo.

Okay, so moving on, we are staying at the Radisson Hotel. Pretty sweet deal from Priceline. We have a decent sized room but the beds are sleepnumber beds. They aren’t as great as the commercials make them sound, but the remotes are really fun to play with while you are lying in bed. Lexi enjoys trying to find her sleep number. The beds also have down comforters, not those scratchy, yucky hotel comforters that everywhere else seems to have so that’s fun. Our closet door is a full length mirror which Lexi thinks is great fun. And the crib they gave us fits inside the closet so Lexi can take a nap or go to bed early and we don’t have to just sit in the dark and let her sleep.

When we got to the hotel and got settled it was past 11:30, which meant past 1:30 MN time. Lexi had just gone to bed. This meant that she went from 4:30 to 1:30 with only an hour nap in there. We were pretty impressed with how good she was.

Update: Apparently the rude guy at Alamo wasn’t a manager. He was just an employee. I was confused because unlike the other employees who were wearing polo shirts, he was wearing a shirt and tie. Regardless of his title, he was still rude.