Monday, July 30, 2007

Souvenirs...

Here are a few souvenir pictures...







And some other souvenirs we brought back...

Peeps had a brief dr. appt. yesterday to check out her skin issues. It looks like maybe she has a fungus, and maybe infantigo, so we are on creams and antiobiotics. Luckily, it isn't anything that can't be treated. And now I have her fungus. On my neck and jaw of all places. I'm real cute. I think maybe I'll ask Dennis to give me a hickey on my neck, too, just for fun. And then go to the mall or something with my hair up and just watch people's reactions. That would be funny. I love thinking up stuff to do like that...maybe someday I'll actually be brave enough to pull a stunt like that. I remember one time, when I was working at Enterprise Rent a Car, we had a guy who was waiting to get picked up by us and for some reason, we couldn't get there soon enough. The guy was real hacked, son our employee who had to pick him up stuck a piece of tape on his cheek and pretended that he didn't know it was there. How can you yell at a poor sap with tape stuck to his face, like an idiot? The guy never said anything but did stare at him. He was probably wondering why we were all so oblivious to it and didn't say anything. But I digress....she has a full well check on the 9th, so after then, we should know more.

Anyway, Piper is sleeping like a champ once she finally gives up screaming. She is not liking the bedtime thing, but I am a follower of Dr Weissbluth's "Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child", so I stick to it. It worked miracles with both of my boys.

Today, I have to buy my daughter some shoes that fit. She owns 5 pairs of shoes, none of which fit. Size 4 is too big. My boys wore that before they were 1! Hopefully there are still some summer sandals out there.

Introducing.....



We went to church yesterday and Piper made her debut. She gave everyone The Look and didn't make a sound. And then, bless her heart, she fell asleep for service. Thank goodness. I was worried about that! Before it started, we took her to the nursery and she played happily for a few minutes, so that was good. Maybe next week we'll let her stay back there for the hour and kind of give it a run and see how she'll do. When school starts, I am a teacher's aide at the kids' Parent's Day Out, so she will be in class 2 days a week from 9-2 and I hope she takes that well. She is very independent and I think once she realizes that I am coming back she'll be fine.

I think that since Dennis is off this week, we'll do some fun family stuff like going to the kids museum, swimming and stuff like that. My sister is coming this week also, to meet Peeps. It will be a fun week. In a couple of weeks, Dennis's work is putting everyone up for the weekend at a nice hotel with lots of fun stuff to do and while I am excited, the prospects of sharing one room in a hotel with all 3 young 'uns doesn't bode well with me. Maybe it is too soon to think about that!

Here are some more pictures of the trip and at home.



Saturday, July 28, 2007

Home is where we are staying for a long time...



We are home...yeehaw!

Somehow we managed to get ourselves so off in sleep during travel, that we ended up sleeping with the right time zone, so we went to bed at 8pm-ish last night and got up at 7 this morning. Sweet.

She woke 3x last night and only the one a 5am was a cry-for-thirty-minutes-get-me-out-of-bed kind of thing. And then fell asleep until 7.
The boys love her to death and were so cute when they met us at the airport. I can tell Brodan has been a little whiny, but they both are handling it really well and playing with her. She is freaked by the dogs, but seems to be warming up to the one who is the sweetest...it's like she knows!

The flight home was horrendous. Piper did not like the seat belt and made sure that everyone knew. The first half of our long flight really stunk, but she did do better the second half. We were so exhausted. My friend Jeanene is the most awesome trooper. I would have been lost without her. She carried everything. The girl wore a backpack on her front, her back, and carried one! She was also my "heavy". She made all the calls I didn't want to make(since I hate the phone) and wasn't afraid to speak up when I should have. She was awesome with Piper, most of all. Thanks Nene!

It was funny as I was reading my blog this morning and I spoke to my sister, that I noticed the effects of fatigue, travel, and everything else in my blogging. There was that one day that was bad and Piper pushing the boundaries really had me worried. Some people have mentioned that thought that you feel horrible for where you think, "what have I done?", and most seem to get it after they came home. I had that one week into it! But since coming back and getting a night's normal sleep, I feel SOOOO much better. She is playing with the boys, loves her Daddy, and is learning the limits. She had her first time out this morning (ooh, she hated that), but I think it, like with all kids, will just take a little time. The only thing that she has a problem with, is hitting or swatting at you when she doesn't get her way. While it is cute on a child the size of a 9 month old, it won't be later, and I won't put up with it. I am sure communication plays a huge part in it since she can't express herself or even really understand me. Most kids this age, can understand you, but not speak well and we don't even have that. So I know she is frustrated, but we'll get it all figured out. Wow. What a much better place I am in now. Literally and figuratively.

Thank you to everyone who commented and all your prayers and well wishes. It was a real pain in the tookas to blog there, esp. posting pictures, but I remember what a lifeline it was while I was waiting. You can almost feel connected to your child while someone is there. Especially once the paperwork is over and you have nothing more to work on and you are just waiting and waiting.

I will be posting pictures over the next couple of days of the trip, too. Now I need to catch up on everyone else's blogs and see where everyone is...I feel like I have been gone forever!

Looks like we are on vacation, huh?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday


Today we are leaving. although not until 10:15 at night. But we are coming home, yay!!!

We are here for sure until 1pm, although we are trying for a late checkout, which we are on hold for since the hotel has been packed. There have been a lot of Ethiopian bigwigs here. All those people from the restaurant the other night are here, as well as a few aid conferences like the Islam HIV conference.

So today we will take it easy and maybe get Piper out and running so that she will sleep well tonight on the plane. We hope.

But we are coming home, jet lagged and happy!

It may be a couple of days but I will post when we get back and let you know how she adusts and what she thinks about all the great looking guys in her house! This has been an incredible experience!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Wednesday



Wednesday was a big day. We began at the Gladney Toddler House which is kind of like a transition home for the babies that are referred. Really it should be called the Baby House because it only houses babies, almost all under 1 year. It was very nice in comparison to the orphanages. If your child comes from there, your child is in great care. There were 18 babies, almost all were referred. There were a couple who have been referred but not accepted and they are still there. It is an awesome place and very clean. Belay said they are working on opening another one for the older kids to transition to, as well, but single story so they don't worry about the toddlers. Ethiopia makes some really good looking babies, I tell ya.

We also participated in the coffee ceremony which is a traditional ceremony where they roast and brew the coffee beans and popcorn is served with the coffee. During this time, Piper's mom came. I held it together until she began to cry. One of the other couple's birthmom came too, but wasn't very emotional. Piper's mom was. She was SOOO young and tiny. If she is 5 foot tall, I would be surprised. Piper really didn't act much different with her. I have a feeling that someone older, maybe a relative really was who took care of her, rather than her mom. Especially since she was so young. We brought her a photo album with all the pictures I had of Piper at the time and pictures of the family. We also got her a locket that I put two pictures of her in and wrote her a letter. I am so glad that we did that. I had questions, but you can tell that she is not used to being able to answer for herself or maybe even think for herself. She even had a hard time getting out of work to get to come see us. What kind of &##@!* gives a young girl a hard time about meeting her little girl and parents? She is a housemaid somewhere. What kind of life does she have? Anyways, it was brutal. I told her, through tears, of course, that I am proud to share the position of mom with her. She is not a birthmom, she is mom. She made the most "Mom" decision anyone could make when she put herself aside and placed her for adoption so that Piper may have a life with more opportunity and an education. And that is an incredible legacy for her to leave with Piper. Many times over people have oohed and aahhed over the fact that she will have an education while we have been here, so I know how important it is. They also hope, as did her mom, that she will come back someday and help Ethiopia. I couldn't be more proud of her if she did.

After that, we went to the Top View Restaurant with a great view and not so great food. All the kids decided to poop at the restaurant, so that ain't easy when they don't have changing tables.

Helpful hint: Bring a folding changing pad or something like the ones you have seen in those nice diaper bags because you change diapers on bathroom floors(yeah, disgusting, but you have no other option)! Pack ziplocs and something to put smelly diapers in so your hotel room doesn't stink. And plenty of travel size hand sanitizer!

After that, we went to our embassy appointment, where it became official that Piper is coming home with me!

And then it was home to the hotel, thankfully. We went to bed early at 8 something...a pretty draining day.

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Tuesday



Sorry..the days kind of run together, so I can't remember the last time I blogged.

I will start with yesterday(Tuesday). We went church at an International Nondenominational church. It was in English and they also do French and Italian services, too, I think. We actually had a Korean pastor there. That's kind of funny...Korean pastor doing an English service in Ethiopia. It was nice, but Peeps in not one for sitting anymore. She wants to go!

That evening we went to the traditional Ethiopian restaurant, Fasikas. Our reservation somehow wasn't held, so they set us up outside and it was awesome. Then after it cleared a little, we went inside and watched the dancing, which of course, involves audience participation. I really lucked out and wasn't chosen. But my friend Jeanene was!

The most remarkable thing about it all, was that the restaurant was filled with a VIP
party. If you are familiar with the current events in Ethiopia, several years ago, an election was held in which a certain party was elected(I am not sure what their name is). There was some opposition and they were sentenced to death! And then this past year, the sentence was commuted to life, and this week they were set free, thanks to some Elders in Ethiopia who came together to negotiate their release. It was a huge celebration and a historic night that we were able to see. It is my understanding that most Ethiopians support this group and hopefully there will be positive changes coming.

Monday, July 23, 2007


Piper is a spitfire. Drama. I am scared of the teenage years! She has already learned that in public, she can get away with more. The minute she starts to holler and cry, we get The Look. And then someone tries to take her away! Or they try to feed her instead of me! Today I was not in the mood. It has been a long week and and now it is the start of a new long one. We lay low today because I was not feeling people friendly. Plus, the poor baby has not had a nap in a bed since I got here, and that is pretty much the only thing I am pretty hard core on. I am big on keeping a sleep schedule and we are getting none of that here. So she got one today. Me? I am cranky. Tired, messed up stomach, no Diet Coke, tight quarters in a hotel with a toddler who has no idea what I am saying...it all adds up! I will be more social tomorrow.



Piper has such a personality. She is definitely flirtatious, already! She seems pretty quick and has learned a few words. She will turn around when I say her name. She can say no, Piper, Bro-Bro(that is her brother, Brodan), DaDa, and Mama. We are working on Cam's name now, but it seems hard to say. And I think we got a thank you earlier, but not completely sure on that one, yet. She is walking tons now, which is great. She'll also play peekaboo. Unfortunately, she has a small stripping problem that apparently offends some Ethiopian men, so we are working on that.

Today as we were walking into a restaurant, a man sitting by the front door said "Hey, Angelina, where's Brad?" Ha.Ha.Ha. Wrong day, mister. I do think he may have been American, as I don't recall an accent. It was also the same place that apparently I wasn't feeding her mashed potatoes properly, so the spoon was taken from me and the waitress/hostess did it. AND THEN ANOTHER ONE DID IT LATER!! For crying out loud. Then we went to Kaldi's(the Starbucks equivalent here) and things were much better.

Tomorrow we are going out for breakfast with everyone and then in the evening we will go to the traditional Ethiopian restaurant at which it is being suggested that I dance. They are going to have to liquor me up or something, because otherwise, AIN'T HAPPENIN'! Can we say laughing stock? Maybe I'll stand up and shout "Diarrea!" and take off.

Thank you to those who responded to the "potty" sign. She is apparently confused and just to make it easier, we are going with diapers until we get home. All of this running around does not make for easy potty training!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Random thoughts



Tidbits:

We were driving thru town and a van pulled out into our lane (the outside lane) and almost smacked us. The name of the company van? The Careful Movers. Kinda funny.

There was an accident on the road and we thought that we'd be there awhile. Turns out, you can drive around the lightpost onto the sidewalk and people clear the way for you!

When you are cooped up in a hotel because you a cranky kid and an upset stomach, you play with the bidet and then look it up on Wikipedia...for a 20 minute lesson.

My daughter doesn't like dirty. So it's "caca". She doesn't like gross. So it's "caca". She doesn't like her food? "Caca". I think I am going to have fun with that when we go back home!

Helpful hints: Bring Clorox wipes and/or Lysol...not at the grocery store here. And toys for the orphanages. Lightweight toys, like frisbees and hackey sacks and beach balls are what we brought, but should've brought more. One little boy was playing with the decapitated head of a doll, so it doesn't take much.

She is saying Mama and Piper, and caca, of course. But it's a start! And today she barely fussed at all when I put her in the crib! It's the little things!

Kechene orphanage



Yesterday we went to the big government orphanage(Kechene). While it was in better condition, there are about 170 kids there. One couple was leaving that day and was taking home 2 daughters, one of which was turning 18 in 2 days! Talk about close call! There were a few girls crying because their friend was leaving. It was so sad. One girl came up to Belay and was crying and cried the whole time because she went to Bright Futures camp, but was not adopted and was sad. Another one I went up to and hugged and she never left my side. She was 10, and she had a brother who was 9. Her brother is called Eveready, because he has so much energy. She didn't get to go to Bright Futures because the social worker said she was depressed and the brother was too hyper. She thinks she didn't get to go because of her brother. The saddest about her is that she thought that she was ugly, her head was shaved, and she did have kind of boyish features, and when we left, she wouldn't look at us and walked away. Belay said it really is true that the pretty ones and ones that smile that get adopted. These kids honestly have no reason to smile and some obviously have lost hope. We were not allowed to take pictures at this orphanage.

The good thing is that they are working on programs to help them, but it takes time and money. They offer schooling and incentives. Did you know that it only costs about $200 a year to send a child to college? How many people can do that? Maybe we don't all have to adopt, but there are certainly other ways to help. You can donate items and sponsor children for college. Another need is meat and milk. A man comes once a month and brings meat for the kids. They call him the Meat Man. It is a special treat. You can host a child or siblings for Bright Futures camp which is once a year in the summer, I think in the Dallas area and New York. I would be happy to find out what we can do and the steps if anyone is interested in helping.

Last night we all went out to a traditional Ethiopian restaurant, not the one everyone goes to, but we will. They did the dancing and stuff and it was real good. Piper ate like a pro and knew exactly what she was doing. Here are some pictures.



Thursday, July 19, 2007

Today



Today we started at the museum so that we could see Lucy who is a real old old lady.
It was an interesting museum, but a little long for me...I am more the breeze thru kind of person, stopping at things I am interested in.

We met the 2 other families that picked up their little boys. It was nice meeting some other people.



And then, came a hard one...going to the orphanages. We went to one, which had me in tears. It was heartwrenching. So many children, and they are just tiny tiny portion of the sadness. There are so many and definitely not enough to take care of them all, especially the babies. There really are no words to describe the sadness you feel when you know that you may be the only person who smiles or hugs that child that day.



After the first one, we went to Piper's, which is the private orphanage. It had a better ratio of caregivers, but it is still so hard. She was obviously loved there and she grinned the whole time! I didn't get to hold her at all while we were there, because all of the little mamas in the place! She ate it up. We brought the kids some frisbees, beach balls, and hackey sacks to play with and played with them all. It really reminded me of playing with the kids in Haiti. That was my favorite. I could do that all day, hitting a beach ball back and forth counting in English with the kids.



Now it is getting later and we are exhausted. Piper is definitely testing with some things, but is sweet most of the time. It is such a hard time with the fact that she can't speak much yet, so she can't say what she needs, even in Amharic. It'll come, I know.


Tomorrow we go up north somewhere to overlook the city and then to the third orphanage to visit. I hope we get a day to rest soon, because all of this running around is wearing me out...Piper's a lightweight, but even that can get heavy after awhile! Jeanene and I get winded pretty easy because of the altitude. I know it's not because I'm fat, it's the air. :) Helpful hint: bring vitamins for yourselves. No sleep, thin air, running around, and hanging out in orphanages can run your system down. Also, bring fungal cream for your kids...seems like they all have some form of it or another...and cortisone cream. And tylenol. Ok, maybe that will do it.

Sorry I am all over the place, but with a toddler, there isn't much sit down time and I have to do it fast.



It is really an amazing place.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

What day is it?



Well, today we went to the clinic (if you happen to go, bring hand sanitizer) where Piper got a very brief physical. And then we were off to the embassy where they gave her another HIV test. It is for her visa and I guess that the US wants their own doctors to verify (since she has already been tested twice) and then we go back next Wednesday to get the actual visa, so that she can come home. Then we went out to eat where she was a good girl, again, so long as she has food!



The girl has got some lungs. She is obviously very content with us, but frustrated with the lack of communication. She can't talk, but a few words here and there, and then we don't speak the same language. Sesame Street, however, speaks a universal language because she loved watching an ABC video and points and talks to Big Bird and Cookie Monster. Not sure if she has seen it before, but maybe.

Today when we got back to the room, she was crying and crying. I knew she had eaten and wasn't thirsty, but she tugged at her diaper, so I took her to the toilet, where she obviously needed to go. She cried when I tried to put a diaper on her, but was happy to wear underwear. Unfortunately, there is no way other than wailing to tell me anything at this point. So we have been going thru several steps to figure out. First change toy, then drink, then food, then bathroom, until we figure it out. I am trying to teach her some sign language for the basics. Anyone know potty? Please email me it because I can't see the blog, just only post to it. It's rach4040@hotmail.com.

I think we are going to the awesome playground they have here at the Sheraton(might as well take advantage of the perks), once I wake her up in a minute. She has taken a big nap this afternoon(and I got a little one, too).

We ate at an awesome pizza place for lunch. We have chosen to live carboliciously for the next week. Meat has scared us (stay away from hamburger) and vegetables seem to only come with meat, so it is lots of spaghetti and buttered noodles. But pizza with veggies was good. Ethiopians may or may not like the fact that Italians occupied them for awhile, but I sure don't mind!

Here, finally, is that beautiful smile!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Big Day



Well, she is beautiful. Of course!

Today we have managed to go out to eat and to the grocery store...both things that I ordinarily would have waited on. She is happy to eat for sure and has already in a few hours learned to work me! At first she just looked at food with her HUGE eyes and then looked at me. Now we are up to grunting or kind of a whimper.

She had one big meltdown today, but she did not have her nap, so that probably contributed, as well as the new surroundings. But I can tell that we are on our way...she will cry when I leave the room and always makes sure I am nearby. I am eating that up. May become troublesome later, but were bonding right now, right? Going to the bathroom is a problem, though! When she first cried, she did it with her mouth closed, like she may have been scolded for that or something. We are past that now :)

She is a snuggler. She is not potty trained(which is completely fine...I don't freak over that). She LOVES any food and HATES when you take it away. I guess it will take awhile before she learns that she won't go without.

They fixed her hair(NOT SHAVED!)with colorful rubberbands all over her head, but it was bothering her, and Jeanene and I needed to play anyways! It is beautiful hair! We gave her a bath, which she was timid of at first, but loved it by the end and let me know how unhappy she was to be out of it. She loves to have her head massaged and I love to do it. You should see the look of bliss on her face when you do it.

Helpful hint: the lights go out once in awhile for a very short period, so if you go, bring a small flashlight.

Tafesse is our driver and he is awesome. He speaks excellent English and needs a new girlfriend, b/c his last one wasn't a very nice person, so we're keeping our eye out for him :)

We got the internet for a 24 hour period today, so I probably won't post tomorrow, but I will the next day...it gets expensive in this joint...we went to the grocery store and bought lots of crackers, some milk for her, and pb &j, so we can do our own thing once in awhile.

Got more thank yous again today from some older women. They said we will be blessed and that she is lucky. It is sooo the other way around.

Hello from Addis!





Sorry it took so long! We have had computer issues, but I think we've got it now.

Jeanene and I are here safe and sound after a very smooth travel experience. We are embarrassed to say that we are at the Sheraton, when you look out of our balcony and see the reality of Ethiopia. It was not our first choice of hotel, but it still works out nicely :) We still don't have a hotel for the last 2 days, though.

Everyone has been very kind and polite here. One Ethiopian woman on the plane even told me "Thank you" when I told her that I was adopting. She said everyone should give back somehow. That made me feel better. I have never heard that they feel otherwise, but it is nice to hear for yourself that they "endorse" what you are doing.

We are hoping to meet Piper today, but we aren't sure yet...it could be tomorrow(Wednesday). Belay is with the Bright Futures kids and they should be getting in today, so maybe he needs to adjust and get some sleep. We are so off on our sleep, I can barely tell what day it is!

I will keep you posted! (no pun intended :)




Update:

She's coming!She's coming! At 4am Georgetown time, she is coming! Jeanene is cleaning obssesively...And I just took some Pepto Bismol.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

This is my surreality

I can't even think straight enough to blog right now! I am so excited. I am a little stressed right now, because we are having hotel problems, but I am sure it will all work itself out.

I am doing all of those last minute things that I have read every other person that is fixin' to leave has done, i.e. laundry, cleaning, errands.

This is very surreal.

Monday, July 9, 2007

It's cool there!

Guess what? Had to take my car into the shop because I had a HUGE leak in my tire. Wonder how that happened?

I leave on Saturday. I saw on the Waals blog that it hasn't been over 70 degrees since they've been there. Mainly 50s and 60s! I am bringing a jacket and poncho because rainy season is definitely on there. I have to dig up a windbreaker for Piper, too, because everything I have for her is summer stuff. But I found the cutest leg warmers from Babylegs. They are too cute!

I was going to bring one of my mom's OLD OLD suitcases(in bright orange, no less) and leave it there, but I am thinking that I really need something that rolls since it is going to be 2 chicks with tons of luggage, so I guess I have to buy ANOTHER suitcase. I already bought one huge one, but I'd rather make things as easy as possible, so I guess I will fork over the dough and get another one.

I am going to see my daughter next week.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Anyone got any tape?



So Friday we drove to Garland, Texas to watch the soccer tournament that was put on by the Ethiopian Soccer Federation of North America. We were able to meet Ryan and Abby and Belay, although briefly. We also got to meet the Page family...yay! Kali is beautiful and seems to be adjusting well and is certainly aware of who her family is! She loves her Mama! It really helped me feel at peace about Piper and her adjustment because that is a big concern of mine.

We got there about 4pm and stayed until just after 8. It was PACKED! Unfortunately, the show didn't start until we were leaving, but the kids were exhausted(and Mom and Dad) and we still had a 3 hour ride home.




And speaking of the ride home....

We stopped to get something to eat, which went well considering it was almost 9 and the kids hadn't taken a nap that day. We leave and it's about 9:15 or so and get going. We are trying to find a way back on the highway and end up on the wrong one, but only after we have gone over a median. It felt about as silly as we looked. The kids were like, "Whoa!" Like a bucking bull.

Brodan has finally potty trained with the exception of nighttime, which is fine by me. However, he errs on the side of caution now, and wants to go ALL THE TIME. So he decides to cry wolf once we are in the middle of nowhere on I35 somewhere between Dallas and Waco. Fine. We exit. There road is pitch black and there isn't even a gravel driveway to pull over into. But, wait, there is the entrance ramp back on the highway. Nooo, Dennis says, let's try up .....HHHEEEERRREEE!!!! The access road abruptly ends and we go sailing in the air after the drop off. Everyone ok? Rattled, but yes. Air still in the tires? Yes. Ok. Brodan, go the bathroom. He forces out next to nothing. Ugh. We back up oh-so-carefully and get back on the road.

AND THEN...

Not 5 minutes later, someone's lawn chair flies off of their car and into us, knocking our sideview mirror off. Well, really it dangled and flopped for the next 2 hours and whenever we used the blinker, it blinked to the sky since it was hanging upside down.

Now? I am driving my car with duct tape on it. Sideview works great, electronics and all, it is just attached with DUCT TAPE. Yeah, I'm cool.

We were like the Griswolds by the time it was all said and done, without the graffiti on the car and the dead Grandma.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Muddin' on the 4th

Since all it does is rain here lately, we had some fun in the mud in our driveway...



Happy Cam...what boy doesn't love mud?


Brodan and his You Bettah Bring It Girls

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Ethiopian Adoption

Try not to cry during this. The beginning is a little slow, but worth the wait.

FYI

Hey!


Just wanted to let fellow adopters out there know about the Amharic version of Sesame Street that can be purchased online or at one of the many retailers throughout the U.S.and Canada.

You can see more at the website. It seems that an Ethiopian and American couple came up with the idea. It is not Sesame Street, but seems to have the same format. I am getting Piper a copy...it may make her happy to hear a familiar sound when she gets here!

Just FYI!

Shower pictures



Here is my beautiful cake courtesy of Lonestar Bakery in Round Rock!



Here is me and the cake....




And these are Piper's princess dress up heels! How funny!