Apr 30, 2008

This Week Last Year - Day 3-

This is a day we never will forget.....the day we met the boys. As mentioned before, our alarm didn't go off and we had 15 minutes to take a shower and get to breakfast and believe me....we needed the shower. We made it though and reintroduced ourselves to the awesome group of people that would make this week the magical week that it was. You cannot believe how wonderful the cooking was at the guesthouse. I really miss it and even the scrambled eggs were the tastiest scrambled eggs in the history of eggs. The cooks were very skilled and the kindest of people. After breakfast, a car was sent to take us to our boys.

We put on our badges that identified us as the boys' parents and made a stop at the office. We went over our paperwork for the embassy appointment and signed a release form so that our first meeting could be filmed for the lifebook. I can't even describe the anticipation we felt as we walked from the office to the care center. The boys were in the first room of the toddler building which meant only a short flight of steps was between us and this very emotional meeting. The cameraman went upstairs to get a good angle and the social worker alerted the nannies in the room that we were coming in. They motioned for us to come. It was a very weird feeling....the last 9 months of process was coming to its intended end result. We were actually going to be holding..meeting...and loving real live...breathing kids. We would be parents after all these years of trying. Not that we didn't love the boys before meeting them. We were in love with them from the first emailed pictures...maybe even the phone call referral that occurred before the pictures. In that 10 second walk, every fear surfaced and subsided. I just had to focus on holding it together. Me, who cried - bawled- all the way down the aisle on my wedding day. I didn't want to scare the kids off and have me blubbering on the video. Once in the room, we were immediately handed our little guys. Ben went to Mike and Seb went to me. Ben was obviously just figuring out who we were as he quietly stayed in Mike's arms. I wouldn't go so far as to say he was content....but a little scared and adjusting to the situation. Sebby came to me very reluctantly and with a whimper. I was so lame. I took out a toy and tried to hold his attention. Tried to make him smile. Like a mere little toy was going to make this easier on my little guy. The nannies were crying. They take such good care of the babies that they really bond with them. It is hard for them to let go. Especially when it came to Sebby. He was a "nanny favorite" around the care center. Everyone loved him and couldn't resist his infectious smile and happy giggle (a giggle we wouldn't produce without much effort for some time).

The camera man left and we looked around the room. There were a few toddler beds, some toys, and a little table and chairs for meal times. The boys had two roomates. A very cute and quiet little man who was very interested in who we were and what we were doing there and a beautiful little girl who throughout this week was very playful and really eased the tension we felt when being rejected by Sebby here and there. She was the peek a boo queen and a joy to play with. She really captured Mike's heart and I think this is the beginning of his quest to convince me that we need a daughter in the next couple of years. The boys spent most of their time in this room with their roommates as they had been just moved from the infant house a little before their birthday and were not big enough to co-mingle with the bigger toddler children in the toddler house. It was a pretty nice room and I think that the boys were very happy with this station of their life.

We were instructed to take the babies into a play room near the doctor's office. This was important because Seb needed time alone with us as he was very unhappy without his favorite nanny. The nannies and staff can't stand to see a baby cry and so if Sebby was crying....someone had to swoop in and ease his pain. This is good for building trust and love and proving that there was never neglect, but difficult when you are trying to bond with a child on your own. We are very thankful that Ben was more accepting as it was hard to be rejected and see your baby cry and not be able to comfort them because you are a stranger taking them from all they know. It was hard with one, I don't know what we would have done if both of them had it so hard. The good thing was that the boys looked pretty healthy. They had colds, but hey, I had one too. They were as beautiful as they were in their pictures and more smart and charming than we could have imagined. We played and got to know each other throughout the morning. We returned to the guesthouse for lunch and unwound a bit, knowing that we still had a long day ahead.

After lunch we grabbed our paperwork and a change of clothes for the boys for the special embassy appointment. We were very nervous as we wanted the U.S. to sign off on this thing and didn't know how the boys would respond to being away from the guesthouse with us, that they just met this morning. We arrived at the boys room, and immediately, Seb began screaming. Ben was asleep, but quietly came to us as we pulled him out of bed. The nanny helped us put Seb in khakis and a sweater vest. Ben had a matching outfit, although as we were getting ready to put Ben's on, a poop explosion occurred and a blow out had shot a stream of liquid brown everywhere. Luckily the outfit was in tact and after a quick sponge bath we made our way with the boys in slings down to the minibus to take our trip to the embassy. It was nice to see Addis during the day and soak in the culture even if through a quick drive through town. We got to the embassy and had very little problems. Mike had some trouble making it past the metal detectors because of the rod in his shoulder, but other than that -smooth sailing. It was hot and stuffy, but we kept the boys happy with sippys of water and Gerber graduate snack puffs during our wait. When it was our turn, the embassy lady asked a couple of questions and that was that. We were done. On our way back to the minibus, we met some boys on the street playing soccer. They were friendly and talkative and of course said that they would love to come back with us to America. The driver shooed them away and we waved goodbye as we went to the Hilton to confirm our flights back to the states later in the week.

The Hilton was very nice and it wasn't too long before we were making our way back to drop off the boys at the care center for the night. Some may think it is weird that we didn't have the boys 100% of the time after we initially met them. We would have loved nothing else, but it wasn't reality for us. They needed transition time though. This is something I didn't realize before making the trip, but after seeing how attached Seb was to his caregivers.....we needed to give him time. Ben may have been okay, but we weren't going to separate them. Plus, we were still jet lagged, I was sick; we needed our sleep and it wasn't like we weren't going to see them tomorrow. We couldn't wait to see them tomorrow even though we were just dropping them off this evening. And tomorrow is another day.....and everyday we would make a little more progress with Seb. Everyday he would open his heart to us just a little bit more. No doubt, in that first day we did make some headway, but we had to be understanding and it would be a week long or more process before Seb would accept us as his new number one caregivers and then his parents. As for the rest of the evening, we enjoyed mingling with the other guests, we had a wonderful dinner and there was Satellite TV and of course, all the soda we could drink.

Apr 29, 2008

This Week Last year - Day Two -

Day Two - Late night arrival and First Peek at the Guesthouse/Guests

This was a really short day, or so it seemed. Most of it was on the plane and that day really ran into the previous one. We landed very late at night. It was very dark and I think close to midnight. Maybe it felt like midnight, but in any case it was really late. We gathered our stuff and went to the visa line where there was only one other person waiting. This was a good thing as how I mentioned in the earlier post.....I had decided I wouldn't use the bathroom on the plane again and really really.....REALLY....had to go at this point. Thankfully, the visa process took only two minutes and I used the airport bathroom which is not much higher on my list than a airplane bathroom, but I have no fear of being sucked into space on that one and there is more room to maneuver. I am glad that I had toilet paper with and in a matter of minutes was ready to rock and roll. We were waived through customs, changed our dollars to birr and ventured outside to find our CHS driver. Fekadu was waiting for us with a sign. We loaded up into an old van and scooted through the streets at full speed ahead. We took in the city which was rather alive at night and made a stop at the director's house to meet him and his wife. They were very nice people and wished us luck.
Exhausted we made it to the guesthouse where Massi showed us around and gave us the lay of the land. We met a couple of our travel date mates for the first time. Some were already asleep, but the ones we met seemed like okay people (okay....we would get to know them as phenomenal, but at this point, half asleep and shell shocked.....they were okay). We were the last to arrive which meant that we had the last room available. A small room with a double bed and closet, no private bathroom.

The bathroom was right next door and not too bad. As you can tell....I have major bathroom issues (mostly psychological) and was terrified of the fact that you weren't supposed to flush t.p. and also that the door did not lock.

But, I was more than happy with the accommodations as this was not supposed to be a vacation to a five star hotel or a romantic get away. This was a trip to pick up our very handsome twin boys and we liked the idea of the dorm like atmosphere as we were first timers, me with no experience at all - not one diaper- and it was good to have helpful hands and advisers a stone's throw away.

Looking back, the friends we made, the way we were treated by staff and yes, the accommodations were more than adequate. They were perfect and nicer than any vacation we could have even had in the states.

We wouldn't change anything about our trip. Almost immediately after arrival we went to bed. We looked over the packet of info we were given on the boys. Tons of new pictures, their schedule, their personalities -likes and dislikes. This was real and we would be meeting them tomorrow morning. TOMORROW!!! We tried to memorize every detail for the embassy appointment the next day as well.

The other travelers would be going to the museum as they arrived days earlier and had already had time to adjust and meet their little ones. No one to guide us in the morning, so to say. Even with all the excitement.....it wasn't hard to sleep. Okay, wasn't hard for Mike to sleep. I still had a horrible cold and phlemy cough. I was hacking and choking all night and finally took the antibiotics my uncle gave me just to get some relief. I finally got a couple of hours of sleep. The alarm didn't go off and we woke up about 15 minutes before breakfast and needed a shower the next morning.....but that is for tomorrow's log. I will end today just saying how much I loved the guesthouse, the staff, our travel mates and also....the most important thing........the unlimited supply of SODA. Okay....Ben and Seb were the most important by far as the other things I mentioned previously...but the Soda was mighty fine.

Apr 28, 2008

This week last year - The Plane-iversary

So, the camera is gone to Best Buy warranty dept. for 4-6 weeks. Luckily....this week is a week of memories and so I will get by without it. This week is a very special week for us as it is the most special anniversary of our lives.

This date last year.....APRIL 28TH....we were getting on a plane for Ethiopia. We were going to pick up our twin boys who as to this point were babies in pictures that we tried to imagine a personality for. I spent endless hours drooling over the referral photos and wondering this about them and that about them. We had about a 1.5 week heads up when we were going to travel and I was pretty much packed in the first couple of days, but you are never ready for this kind of thing. So many unexpected events and needs....how do you plan? Getting flights and time off work and no matter how prepared you think you are......something happens and poof!

I was scared to death even before this crazy day hit. Not so much about becoming a first time mom....not yet anyway. I so do not travel. I had never been out of the U.S. and I don't think I had even made it to the East Coast before so the flight to Dulles would be a first. I had an onslaught of crash nightmares which were fun....but, not enough to kill the excitement of meeting the boys. The scariest thing was that my dh's passport was due to expire in August which is less than 6 months from travel which was technically going to prevent him from getting an Et visa. I spent the week making calls and there was no way to get him a renewal and getting a visa was iffy. We had hope.....the Et embassy in Washington said if we were flying ET Air they would let it slide and we were. We were just worried that United would notice. Or someone would notice...and how could I.....a non traveler...handle twins on my own. We had the paperwork done....one with Mike traveling and one as a POA if he couldn't.
Early in the morning on the 28th, we awoke....I think 4am we had to get moving. We didn't sleep much that night, duh.....I don't know who could have. The anticipation had me shaking...literaly. That morning, I was tingling.....and twitching and my limbs had a life of their own. Just thinking about it know has me in vibration mode. My Nonny would stay with the dogs all week in our house and my uncle Steve was dropping us off at our local So. Cal airport. I am very thankful that he is a seasoned traveler and handed me some broad spectrum antibiotics before dropping us off. We were in the airport, wide eyed and on our journey. We went to the United counter with prayers in head and fingers crossed. We handed over our documents and the lady at the counter reminded Mike that soon he would need to renew his passport, but beyond that.....she had nothing to say and checked our luggage through to Ethiopia. So, I knew I'd have my rock for a while longer. We got on our flight....no problems....and landed in Colorado. We ran across the terminal with 15 minutes to spare and were sitting on our plane with no problem in no time.

Ha ha.....and here is where the real journey begins. We had a 2.5 hr cushion once landing in Dulles only and were sitting on our Denver plane watching the clock. The plane couldn't take off yet. There were suspected mechanical issues. I was close to tears, but praying we would make it. If we missed our Dulles flight....Et air wasn't flying the next day and so we would miss our embassy appt. My husband didn't have more than a week off from work....we were stressing. After waiting what seemed like forever, we finally took off. Still, I was uneasy and then I knew why. The captain came over the radio to say that the electronics on the plane did malfunction. He was flying blind and because of the weather and poor visibility, it was impossible to continue. All of the electronics in the cockpit were down and we had to turn around mid flight and land in Chicago. They were rerouting their European connections as he spoke.....but what of us....going to Ethiopia. I was balling. My wonderful husband was trying to hold it together, which for him is more of an anger release.
We landed in Chicago. We were all there trying to figure out what we could do. Time was ticking and we were already into our Dulles time cushion. I have never seen so many upset flyers. I was still balling. No one could answer our questions. No one knew what the answers were. Somehow, there was a near empty plane. Only 6 passengers who were more easily rerouted than all of us...a jam packed and full flight. They gave us that plane....but we had to board within 5 minutes or else we would have no flight crew. They were getting close to their regulated hours and if we didn't get on, they couldn't fly us by law. I have never felt so much like a herd of cattle as I did in that moment, but was really very thankful that we were able to still have a go at it. While waiting in Chicago, we called our travel agent and CHS and tried to see what the options were. It was a weekend and we hadn't heard back yet, but we were on the way to Dulles and had more praying to do. If the flight landed on time.....our Dulles flight would be leaving 15 minutes later. So, needless to say.....I was still balling.
So, on the upside....the flight landed in Dulles without further issue. On the downside, we had 10 minutes before our flight was leaving and had to run all the way across the terminal. We must have been a sight running with our carry-ons all tired and red faced and let me tell you....I am far from graceful. We ran and prayed and hoped and reached the ET air check in. We handed over our tickets and the plane had already boarded and was waiting. Waiting for us, because our travel agent called and told them we were coming. They actually waited for us and got our luggage loaded and we were on the flight that would bring us to our babies. The Et airline staff was very kind. The other passengers were very kind. Our nerves were frazzled, but we had made it. We now had a gazillion hour trip to settle down. Okay, who am I kidding. Now, we could get jittery again thinking about our babies and what they would be like and if they would like us and how our trip would be and how the guest house would be etc. etc. The good stuff.
We had a very noneventful flight. Yeah!!!! The food was good. The movies were good. I started getting a horrible, horrible cold......my nose wouldn't stop running and I could barely breathe through my coughing and the mounds of flem, but we were on our way. I would take it! Unshowered and with little sleep, we made it through. The bathrooms...well.....plane bathrooms are not my favorite. Ewwww for the yuckiness on such a long flight, but also because I have a fear of being sucked into the flusher....irrational I know, but still....and the flap that closes was broken and so that sucking sound had me convinced I wouldn't go to the bathroom again on this trip. He, he....that idea really was irrational...

So, tomorrow......I will speak of my landing on the 29th. Yeah, I know, not too interesting.....but this whole experience is something I never want to forget and ....since I wasn't blogging at the time.....I am sure I have forgotten so many things during this year. Ben and Seb....here ends the first installment of the week we became a family.

Apr 22, 2008

The Rest of the Pictures

So, as promised I will deliver more pictures. I will try to keep it short, ya right, since it is the boys bday and I am sure they want to spend it with their mommy, not mommy on a computer.

This was really a great weekend. There is nothing I love more than seeing my boys happy and sharing a little bit of their greatness with friends and family members. This weekend also had me reflecting on the process. Somewhat because I was writing the boys one year PP report and thinking about the year in review. I also got to thinking how lucky I am to have my mom still with us. With her almost dying last year to having her here now to really spoil us, I don't want to imagine what things would be like without her.

Last year at this time we were preparing to travel. We knew of our boys, but didn't know them. We were frantically getting things together and the roller coaster ride was beginning. I was sad that we were missing their first birthday....but in retrospect.....we were lucky to travel the following week since we made life long friends with our wonderful travel companions.
This year we wanted to do it big for the boys because it was our first birthday together even though it was their second birthday. I think we successfully infused who they are into their party. Their obsessions with Cars in decor, cake and the movie on the HDTV and really the traditional American birthday party with their Ethiopian clothes and food and of course, we allowed them a little bit of Ethiopian coffee.
They were happy with the company and food and of course the balloons and decorations.
And boy, was it really good cake.

They have more toys then they know what to do with and I think they will be clothed for quite some time too. I didn't know so many Cars outfits existed.

But, when it comes down to it....what is in a birthday? It is special to us because it is so close to the date and timing when we became a family. It gives a chance to pause and remember all of the gifts we have received over the year. From witnessing Benny's first teeth and the boys learning how to walk, to the first hugs and kisses and all of those nights of rocking the boys to sleep and feeling their heartbeats right against mine. Waking up everyday to the giggle of happy twin boys......I am lucky to have gotten to know my boys and their very different personalities. So, on a day that is celebrating the boys birth, instead of focusing on what we missed, we can't help but think of the biggest gift of all----being trusted to parent these boys. Being given the opportunity to be their parents and enjoy in their lives. I can only imagine what the next year has to offer....but knowing Ben and Seb, it will be even more incredible than the last one. As life has become everything that I have ever dreamed, I cannot help but feel guilty. There were at least four people missing from our party who don't need an arbitrary date to remember the boys. People who miss them everyday and may or may not see the happy pictures of them growing up, but even if they do, are missing out on knowing the most amazing two boys in the history of the world.

Apr 21, 2008

A little taste of things to come.....

So, the 2nd bday party for the twins went really well. Since my camera is without flash....I only have a few outside pics from before the party that I will post until I can get my hands on my mummy's pictures of the actual party. Unfortunately, it was a little cold and windy day of, so most of the party was held inside. I decorated to the max with Cars decor and the boys were very excited. I made Marcus Samuelson's version of Ethiopian beef stew. We had snacks ranging from homemade Lumpia to represent the Filipino part of the family, salsa from the Guadalajaran element and then oldies but goodies like Spinach dip and sourdough. There was Harris Ranch hamburgers for the faint of heart and Et coffee with the Disney Cars cake.

Boy it was a day, but have you ever seen such happy boys?
They didn't even know that there would be cake or loads of presents at this point.
Just having Nonny and Papa and Lolo and Lola in town was enough to kick off the day with big smiles!!!
But, hey....if I tell you everything now.....I won't have anything to say when I get the party pics....so, here is a little taste of the day and I will get back to you all later. Hopefully my camera will be fixed in time for the Chuck E Cheese celebration the day of their actual bday on Tues.

Later sk8ers.

Apr 13, 2008

Still too Busy

To all of you who have moved recently......does the busy ever end? There are endless things to do on top of the usual busy. Of course we still have time to spend as a family and have some fun, but then it is back to the grindstone. We've emptied the boxes, but now it seems as if we are moving junk from one room to the next. Will it ever end......I do not know. Our goal is to have things for the most part done by Saturday.....

Yes, this is Sebastian laughing at that goal. There is still too much to do, but we are having the boys second bday party Saturday and cannot have a messy house for the guests. Although, I know this means, most likely shoving things in closets and cabinets and drawers and revisiting them later. So, please, any attendees.......don't look in the nooks and crannies. There may be an avalanche raining down from overhead.
I couldn't resist adding a picture of Roenick here. Such a good sport with the babies. And of course, both dogs are heavily rewarded as the babies love to share with them.....not with eachother.....but with the dogs -- Yes!
They love playing fetch with the dogs too. Sometimes this is throwing the ball and letting the dog retrieve it. Other times this means throwing the ball and racing with the dog to get it. When they do get it, it also means running with grand laughter as the dog chases them.
There is nothing Sebby loves more than to take some time to look at his own reflection. The major error we made with our new house is that it has a ton of windows. I have never seen so many windows which means I have never seen so many face, tongue and finger marks on windows in my life. Another thing to put off that must be done by Sat. The windows. Arggghhh.
Here are my guys again. Busy, busy, busy.....soaking up the sun and playing with the dogs.
There is nothing better than spending time together on a weekend in a big backyard. Just chillin'. Although, it is already getting hotter here than is comfortable for me. It was in the high 80's and I fear the summer heat....but that is something I will worry about later.
Things are good though. The boys love being corral-free in their room and the backyard. We are starting with the potty training with Benny at a very slow pace. Sebby is just not ready yet....doesn't want to sit for any length of time. At this point to familiarize Benny with the potty, we sit him there a couple times a day. He has been pretty successful pee pee wise as he loves to sit and wait and watch some TV. We aren't to the point of looking for dry diapers or anything (especially with just moving and all), but we are taking baby steps at least. And, now, I must try to tackle our one year Post Placement. Procrastination my friends, is not pretty. Gotta get right on it.

Later gators!

Apr 4, 2008

A Work in Progress

To start:
Belated Easter Pics at Lake ArrowheadTia Lourdes With Seb
Benny with a flashlight (What is it with Flashlights anyway?).

Now to be brought up to date...

The boys love their new house!!!

So we are moving in, STILL....have been here over a week, but every minute is consumed with setting up. I fear that my garage is like Mary Poppins bag.....every time I unpack a box, another one pops up in its stead. We got the floor in, got the living room delivered, but still have a million things to hang and put away and scratch our heads and decide where to put. Also, there is that constant struggle where you want to discard or have a garage sale and the grandmas and mils want you to keep everything you have had sense the turn of the century(mismatch cast off hand me downs that you politely took in the first place)....i vote secret garage sale, hehe. I will post some pics and get back to unpacking. I will try to write more in my next post, if only I could also find some time to sleep.

To sum up....house = great, neighborhood = great, we = happy. The boys have their big boy beds and only fall out two times a night, haha. Check out the super cool double toddler bed my uncle made in Disney Red I may add! Things are looking great. The neighborhood kids came over to ask if the boys could come out and play (although our boys are a little young, it was nice to have friendly neighbors and nice kids around.)

The only bad thing to happen is stupid Best Buy hasn't mounted our flat screen yet. It has been a week, they no showed and then claimed to have no record of the appt. I didn't pay 400 bones to have a box in my front room dudes. Last time we trust the Geek Squad. You can't get anyone on the phone and when you do, they don't want to help. Have an appt. set for Monday (a week from my original appt.) Please let this work....I miss my TV!!!!!

I wish my to do list wasn't so long. Set up the house, write our 1 yr PP report and send in, get on the state of CA for not moving on our readoption and plan the boys 2nd bday party (running out of time on this one, have to get the invites out ASAP.
So long...until next time.
P.S. Here are the boys playing in Daddy's new "Jake Ryan" Porshce. Car guys already. Daddy told them it was Lightning McQueen (but I think Lightning is more of a Corvette).....I guess the boys wouldn't get the 16 Candles reference.