Sunday, July 18, 2010

One Week Ago

Baby Ben,

One week ago we thankfully carried you home through three flights, US immigration, US customs, an incredible welcome at the airport and finally, a car ride to our door step. You have experienced many "firsts" this week: continuous english, bedtime stories, milk (not formula), a night in your own room, mashed avacado, tortillas, the zoo, the hugs of your big brother, a car seat, our barking dogs, play at the local park and a full morning at CBC, to name a few. You greeted it all with wide eyes wonder, sometimes with smiles and other times with tears. Some things overwhelmed you so much that you decided to just sleep through it. We are trying to read your signs about how much is too much and how much is just right. One thing that you adore is mealtime. It was high time for you to use a spoon and dig into some solid food! We are still deciding on what to call you: Ben or Aben. Your big brother always calls you Baby Brother Ben. These are good days. We are so thankful that you have come to stay in our family. Welcome!


Daddy, Momma and Big Brother Joshua

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

First Night Home

It was so encouraging to receive such a warm welcome home at the airport. I think it helped to sustain me later that first night. After 27 hours of consecutive travel with a toddler, I was exhausted and running on God's grace and strength. Although I love to travel, I am not ready to make an immediate repeat trip to Ethiopia or anywhere else requiring a passport. In fact, I texted a friend, "This is one of my all time, kiss the ground, proud to be in the USA, moments. Soooo glad to be back in Dulles." I was thankful to be home at last. There's just something about traveling internationally with a toddler that you don't really know that will make you glad to be "home".
Naturally, once through my front door, I was ready to get in bed and sleep off the 8 hour time zone delay. However, Joshua was ready to play and love on mommy and daddy. Around 12 midnight, I woke up in Joshua's bed (something I never do), recalling Joshua's resistance to sleep earlier in the evening. I went back to bed, my bed. Around 2 am, Joshua came running into our room, probably to make sure we hadn't left again. I put him back to bed. Around 3 am, Abenezer began to cry which quickly turned into wailing. He was up for good this time. After I conceded to a loss of sleep, I picked up a tearful little boy out of his crib. Tears turned to smiles and laughter as we played downstairs from 3 until 8:30 am. Around 8:30 he finally took a nap. By that time, Joshua was ready for mommy time and Keith had left for work. Amazingly, I didn't cry. I think it was because I had been there before. Ground Zero: Exhausted: Nothing Left: Reminders of being a new mom. Can anyone relate?? The only reason I kept it all in perspective throughout the first day was because God answered prayers and kept me afloat. Abenezer woke up from his nap screaming and crying. He was scared to death of this new place and terrified of our 7 lb yorkies. The first day was long. My mom and dad picked up Joshua around 11 and kept him until late afternoon. I caught an incredible nap when Abenezer took his second nap of the day.
The second night was much better. All the Pattesons slept until after 5 am, the young and younger and youngest. Tonight, I am hoping to sleep through the evening until 6am. The transition has been tough, but I am thankful for the change. I've learned that God has the greatest opportunity to work on me when I step out of my comfort zone. I don't even have my shadow in my comfort zone tonight. :0)

Exciting changes so far:
1) Abenezer switched over from formula (yes, at 16 mos!) to 2% milk without blinking an eye.
2) He flashes his charming smile far more often and we're catching glimpses of his fun personality.
3) He doesn't melt into tears and hysteria when a dog enters the room. MAJOR IMPROVEMENT
4) Joshua loves his new role as Big Brother. He's taking it very seriously.

Looking forward to another night's rest-

Saturday, July 10, 2010

More Abenezer!

A snack, some soccer, then a ride in the car makes for a good nap. No car seats in Ethiopia but a ride in the car will do it everytime.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Daddy and Abenezer!

Embassy Day!

Since the internet is still working, I am going to continue to update everyone reading the blog.

Wednesday, July 7th: Embassy Date

6:00 am Abenezer woke up, right on TH schedule

7:45 Breakfast at Yebsabi

8:35- 11:45 US Embassy with the Hemmingsens, Poseys and Steffenhagens

12:15 Returned to the Guest House

12:45- 1:15 Attempted a restaurant lunch unsuccessfully, Abenezer wasn;t interested

2:30 Visited Kid's Care to deliver donations

3:30 Returned to the Transition Home to see the Doctor

4:30- bedtime Yebsabi Guest House

Our date at the US Embassy was smooth and uneventful. We waited for over 2 hours for a 4 minute interview with a woman behind the glass, teller style. I am so thankful to God that it was a simple and successful trip. Abenezer fell asleep in my arms while we waited to be called. It made the wait easier. Keith and I and the other couples should receive our US visas for our children on Friday before returning to the States.

Please pray for Abenezer. He is wheezing a lot, especially at night. Keith is concerned because he doesn't have the tools and medicine to properly diagnose him and medicate him. It sounds like asthma mixed with a viral infection. Abenezer is sleeping well through the nights and for naps, but he sounds awful which keeps his parents up. We are tired.

We are scehduled to travel to Abenezer's home town and meet with his birth father. This has been a hard decision to make because it is so far. Pray that we make the right decision. Abenezer will stay at the Guest House with a nanny while we are gone.

Gotcha Day!

Tuesday, July 6th
8:30 Breakfast at Yebsabi Guest House
10:3o-12:30 Shopping at the square
12:30-1:30 Lunch @ Lucy's restaurant
2:00-4:00 Gotcha Day... Photos and care packages for other families, Donations, Goodbyes to Nannies, Brought Abenezer with us (at last)
4:30 Supermarket trip
5:00 Back to the Guest House
6:25 First Pharmacy Visit
6:45 First dinner with Abenezer at the Guest House
7:45 First bath time and bedtime routine
8:30 Betime for Abenezer, his first night away from the Transition Hom in over ten months.

Gotcha Day!
I have been dreaming about this day for a long time. On the other hand, Chaltu, one of Abenezer's nannies, has been putting this day from her mind. Keith and I finally stepped onto the van with Abenezer and left the Transition Home for good. It was terrible hard to say goodbye especially for Chaltu and Abenezer. Our little on has been loved on as if he were family to Chaltu, the other nannies, and the gate guard. "Mesgana!, "they all call him. His smile can light up a room. He loves everyone and engages them.
His sweet nanny, one assigned to the toddler room and not just "Mesgana," gave him a gift as they parted. This is not common, and I don't want to get her in trouble. However, I would like to document it. We took her photo with Abenezer followed by a photo of all four of us. This is a woman to be remembered and praised. I want Abenezer to know about her as he grows older. She loves him so dearly. He began to cry when we walked by his toddler room window and get in the car. I think he caught sight of her standing near the window. She stepped back into the room, but stayed close enough to capture his every breath goodbye. He cried. She cried. I cried. I think he understood that he was leaving.
Ultimately, he will be better off in our home. Loved individually with a forever family. He will have opportunities not possible as an orphan, an education, more medical attention. God did not intend for children to live apart from families.
I am so excited to return home and begin the transition period with Joshua. Anxious, but excited.

Metcha Day!

Monday, July 5th
8:30: Breakfast at the Yebsabi Guest House with the Hemmingsens, Boddies and Steffenhagens
9:30- 1:00: Meeting at the Addis Ababa Hilton for embassy paperwork and lunch
1:30- 4:00: "Metcha Day" @ AWAA Transition Home
4:30- 7:00: Boston Spa: Massage and Pedicure, yes, really
7:45-10:00: Dinner and Entertainment: traditional Ethiopian music, singing and dancing
10:30: Back at Yebsabi Guest House to separate donations, prepare nanny gifts, and get ready for Abenezer

Metcha Day
Incredible! This day went much better than I had prepared myself for.The first picture is of Keith's first meeting. The nanny is Chaltu. Abenezer still didn't want to leave his nanny's arms, but he didn't cling to her as badly this time. He did cry again when we first held him. Unlike last time, he quickly calmed down and settled into my arms. Within about five minutes, he fell asleep and slept through most of our visit. Keith wasn't able to see much of his personality, but he was able to see that Abenezer is so loved at the Transition Home.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Washington Dulles IAD

Our excitement is growing as we wait at the Ethiopian airlines gate, D23. This gate feels like an old friend, very familiar. Unlike other flights, this one always leaves from the same place. It reminds me of the adventures that God has taken me on over the past year. I sat at this gate a little over one month ago and met the Johnsons, my traveling buddies, when I traveled to meet Abenezer for the first time. Last summer in June, Lisa Walls, the other members of the VO team and I sat and sat and sat at this gate for the flight that never left (until the next day). We eventually flew out and didn't slow down until we flew back. I know this gate. This time I led Keith to this gate. I am so glad to make the trip with him and introduce him to Ethiopia and our son.

It was hard to leave Joshua this morning as he asked if he was going to Ethiopia. Thankfully, his grandparents have saved the day. They are loving on him all week. I wonder how many times he'll convince them to take him to the "train store."

Next stop: Addis Ababa

Thursday, July 1, 2010

1 More Day to Pack

Well, Aben, your momma works well under pressure. This is an excellent and needed trait when paired with another ability of mine, overinvolvement. Throw in a little procrastination also. I have one more full day left to pack our bags, prepare your room, and love on your big brother, Joshua. I'll collect the last of the donations tomorrow to fill our bags to capacity. I am praying that they will each weigh in or below fifty lbs. I can't wait to introduce you to our amazing friends, many of whom were able to donate items for the orphanages and AWAA Transition Home! A few items that your daddy and I are bringing to Ethiopia to donate are
Baby Wipes
Boy and Girl Clothes
A Baby Bouncer
Hair Bows

We also have the priviledge of taking care packages for other AWAA families that are waiitng for court dates or embassy clearance. These families have lovingly put together clothes, pictures, and toys for their babies and kids while they wait to be united. The Sullivans kindly delivered your one and only care package in May. That's when we discovered that you are walking! I am so thankful that I'll see you in a few short days. I wonder how you've changed. Your daddy is exctied beyond words to hold your little hand and gaze in to your big brown eyes.
As for now, rest well. I am thinking about you as I pack.
Love you,