Friday, June 15, 2007


Hello All!

It seems that we are updating once a month now. Maybe that is enough!

The kids and I just finished a wonderful week of VBS (vacation bible school). Chloe and Isayas were in a 'crew' together. They had a great week. Chloe knows all the bible buddies and bible points, she will proudly tell them to you and even what day they were learned on. Isayas was very impressed with school; sugary snacks every day, loud fun music, playing outside with organized games and bikes, etc. He might be in for a little surprise when preschool rolls around.

I volunteered in the two year old's class. Maya and mom were together all morning. We had 21 two year olds everyday and 4-5 teachers. It was busy and fun. Maya liked mommy's orange shirt and all her friends. And going again and again. Josh did great in the nursery. I got to peak in on him and he was always happy and playing. Thursday he started to get two teeth, so not his best day. Friday he stayed home with Grammie Vicki and when we came home the teeth were through...not my mom's best day. Thanks, MOM. We love you.

We spent from 1-6 something on Tuesday, at our good friend's lake cabin. We had a wonderful time and Isayas loved the BIG water. He asked for two whole days to go to Lena's house.

Tomorrow we hope to enjoy this beautiful 90 degree weather in the AM and stay inside in the PM. Mario's mom, Nana Debbie, is coming over to spend the evening with us, we will be celebrating her birthday and that should be much fun.

Have a good weekend to our family and friends.


Monday, April 30, 2007

May is Here!

I can hardly believe that tomorrow is May. The last few months have flown by. Chloe is getting excited for summer, but also sad about preschool ending. She really loves her teacher and her little friends. She has developed into this lovely sister and will pick up Josh and carry him around. She has a super cute shorter hair cut for summertime. She is staying much cooler when she runs around the house and yard. The kids get so much exercise. Chloe and mommy are also preparing for homeschooling next fall. We are both adjusting to that decision and growing comfortable with spending one more year together.

Isayas is loving the time he gets to spend outdoors. The boy runs, jumps, and plays out there for hours. He has mastered the swing that seats two and you pump by moving your arms (sorry, I don't know the name), but he is horrified each time I set him on a regular swing. He plays great with little girls, but does not know what to make of the neighborhood boys. Good thing we get to see his cousins pretty regularly, and I think he will feel more comfortable when he can understand English better. Mario and I are working with him on his sentences, he prefers to talk to us in one word fragments: more, milk, no, yes, car, orange, etc. He is starting to understand 'this is' and 'that is' etc. But he does get frustrated with us when we have him repeat something till it is right. He is looking forward to preschool next fall, this is supposed to be great for his language development and social development, and hey, he will probably get to play with boys.

Maya is also loving her time outdoors, she spends quite a bit of time with her big brother outside. She is more into the shoes she gets to wear, than running around though. She is a chatter bug and getting quite girly. We have had a couple fits here, because Mommy picked shorts/pants for her instead of a dress. Pray for her as we have her hearing tested on Wednesday, Mario and I have noticed some hearing issues with her and we would hope that if there is an issue that they would be able to find it and if there is not, that they would be positive about that too. Maya's other favorite thing to do is be held, she believes that Josh and her should be twins. So I will often hold both of them together and sing a lullaby.

Joshua is growing smarter, bigger, cuter, and more opinionated by the day. He really wants to walk and will probably do so before his first birthday. He is trying new foods every couple of days and doing pretty good. He has soy and milk allergies so it will be interesting to see what they do when he turns one. Maybe he will be on the gold formula for life. I am of course kidding, if need be I can force feed spinach till he gets his calcium allotment. Maybe, I will try him on calcium fortified OJ tomorrow. He drank it every morning in Addis at the Care Center. He loves to be with the whole group and enjoys meal time and play time. If he takes a second nap, he ends up alone with mommy and daddy. Joshua thinks this is great and will perch on his knees, rocking and clapping, cooing and laughing.

Life with four kiddos is busy and fun. Thanks for your continued thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! He is Risen!

Our family had a quieter holiday, seeing just Emilee's parents, siblings, and aunt (and all their families). We saw Grandpa last weekend and will see Nana and Papa for Emilee's b-day this Wed. Yes, I am turning 30 and pretty excited about it.

The church service was very powerful, Mario was in a drama for my dad, playing the Risen Lord. The three big kids were very excited and proud of daddy. Maya was demonstrating the 'kids' (other people in the drama) "hoorarying" for Jesus/Daddy. Chloe really understood the message, the crowd was 'for' Jesus, but only one would really serve Him and love Him and choose to follow Him. Chloe said to me, "Maybe when I grow up, I can be like that one girl who followed."

Our first Easter as a family of six was special, although super boy, Isayas, does get overwhelmed in different circumstances and even ran away from us at church. He has not done this for four months, since the airports. I was running all over the church looking for him, and you know the turn out on Easter morning, it was crowded. But, through the crowds, Papa (Pastor) Peter comes like a knight on shining armor carrying the runaway. Maybe, he actually ran to Papa! Not positive, but I was a tad nervous when I could not find him.

Joshua had two sleepovers at Grammie and Papa's house and mommy was very rested and happy to see him. He is gettign huge and opinionated, so he will fit in personality wise here very well. That makes two first born parents, and four opionated and stubborn kiddos.

One of my favorite Easter moments, was when we came home. I had attempted to clean up most of the house, so beds were made, floors vacuumed, dishes done, etc. And the best part, my mother-in-law had finished the tile backsplash for my birthday. Yay! It looks wonderful. I hope that you all had beautiful moments on your Easter, too.

Love, Emilee

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Still March

Hi All,

sorry, I haven't posted in so long. This month has been very busy. I laughed when I read our last post, because we were outside all day, lots of it in short sleeves. Minnesota can be very wierd. It was a lovely day in the 60's and the kids and I had lots of fun. Swinging, kicking soccer balls, and chatting with our neighbors.

Well, Chloe and Isayas are officially 5 and 4. The parties were a success and now we are in the clear for a big party till Josh turns one in June and Maya turns 3 in July. No more sugar will be allowed here for approximately three weeks. J/K

Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers...

Emilee and crew

Monday, March 05, 2007


Well, it is March and that is what we are doing. Marching forward with our growth as a family. The last few days were filled with playing in the snow, meeting with friends, and family time. I love the weekends.

I tried to add some pics to this page, but sorry. I cannot figure it out. Mario will add some soon, I believe he posts them somewhere else and then puts a link on the page. The kids are still beautiful though and getting along together very well.

My kids need me, so I have to go, but will try and post more later this week and get pics up.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Just to share...

We survived the Blizzard, only receiving about 6 inches of snow. Mario has us shoveled out already. We celebrated the snow by having some friends over for a 'summer picnic' of grilled hamburgers and ice cream cones. The kids thought this was very fun and it was fun to get caught up with the grown ups too.

The kids and I played with our neighbors during Joshua's nap this morning. Much exercise was had by all, climbing up the hill and sliding down. I was very dry in my new snow pants and what a purchase, unlike the kiddos, mine will fit forever.

We are trying out a new church today, but it has a night-time service. This is a little different for us, but should be fun. I rememberer worshiping Sunday mornings and evenings as a toddler and young girl. I loved those evening services with informal song selection and testimony sharing.

I don't know where the weekend went to. The six of us spend the majority of it sleeping, playing, eating, cleaning, and goofing off. Hope you had good weekends too.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Blizzard of the Century is Coming!

Hi to all!

I thought I would update on our week as Mario is out getting snowpants for the grownups at our house. We are forecasted to get over ten inches in the next two days. I am glad it is on the weekend so my sweetheart won't be stuck in the traffic that would follow.

Andy's friend parents (the Feldman's) dropped off beatiful bunkbeds for us earlier this week. They really connected with the kiddos, because they also have two boys and two girls. Well, anyways they dropped off-not 15 minutes ago, the cutest bicycle. It is a sturdy little 'John Deere" bicycle and brand new so the kids are going to ride it all through the house during the blizzard. Now they are happily watching "Free Willy 2" also from the Feldman's. Thanks, guys--family night would have been a repeat without ya!

This was a difficult week for me. I was such a 'girl'. Very emotional and for no apparent reason. I did get to tour the local Catholic school and visit a friend in the hospital (thanks, Nana Deb), my mom came back for 24 hours after two weeks of absesnces. Thanks, Mom. My cousin Elizabeth and her family were the highlight of my week, stopping by Thursday, with love, acceptance, and friendship. That was such a blessing. Amidst all the highlights, I really felt like my head was not attached this week. So I apoligize if I messed up and forgot someone's birthday or hurt feelings. I started doing yoga again and am hoping to feel more centered this coming week.

Pray for my sis and her boys, they were in a moderate car accident and are doing fine, but pretty shook up. Pray that they would have peace and that God would provide for their needs.

I hope that everyone in the frozen tundra with us, stays warm and safe. I am now going to patiently wait for Mario to get back with my snowpants and a decaf latte.

love-from Emilee

Monday, February 19, 2007

Emilee's First Blog

Good Morning (or whatever time of day, you check in)!

I am sitting here drinking Ethiopian coffee as I attempt my first time updating the blog. It is President's Day, which for one more year does not affect us. The search has begun for the perfect Kindergarten. Keep me in your prayers, as I research options for Chloe. Speaking of Chloe, we were in the car yesterday and she says, the first president was George Washington. We were pretty impressed with her and her preschool. She then said the second president was Abraham Lincoln, least she is remembering the important names!

Isayas is picking up English every day. He speaks in little sentences now, like "I'll get it" when something falls on the ground at a meal. Yes, he knows some abbreviations already. Pray that I have patience and wisdom as I really start to work on numbers and letters with him. I am not sure if he is being ornery or just struggling. Mario and I lean towards believing he is stubborn, the things he is not doing here, are concepts we witnessed him doing in Addis, at school.

Our two year old, Maya, is pretty much acting two. Last night, we went to the nicest shower thrown by Grandpa Daniel and his family. She grunted and moaned in my arms the first 45 minutes, whenever someone spoke to her. Even us. It can be frustrating to figure out what to do about discipline in a new situation and with new people. I eventually sat her by our diaper bag and baby carrier for a time-out. She screamed for two minutes and then had a good party for the rest of the time. We felt surrounded by love and really had fun last night with Mario's aunts and some cool cousins. The kids made fast fun and friends too with the kid cousins that were there. Taylor, Michael, and Tatiana you are cool kids. Little Tami too, but when you and Josh are crawling you two will rock the Rodriguez parties.

Joshua Molla is doing great. Since I was the only one calling him Joshua and Josh here, except for Maya, I started calling him Joshy. This name really caught on with the siblings and they all are calling him Joshy now. Isayas rotates with Joshy and Baby. Very cute. We were supposed to take Joshua in to a specialist on Thursday, the 8th. We were stuck in terrible traffic due to a car accident. The doctor's office refused to see us till the next opening, which was three hours away. We were beyond frustrated. But God has a way of working things out. We had not seen blood in his stool for five days before that appointment, and haven't seen it since. That doctor's visit would have been unnecessary and very expensive, so that traffic saved us a lot of money and Joshua unnecessary discomfort from tests of that nature!

Daddy is doing good. Working hard and getting much satisfaction from that. He is still enjoying his job and coworkers. He comes home and chases the kids around the circle. The four of them are laughing and playing so hard, it is very cute. When we just had the girls, he would play that game with Xena, but now they all participate. I have a feeling that this week will involve much chili eating for our family. Mario needs to defend his second place finish at the work cook-off. If anyone wants to eat chili this week, let me know. We could always use company and guinea pigs! (Please, no one actually give us real guinea pigs as a gift!-I clean up after the perfect number of residents here already!)

I am doing well too. I have been on my own with the kiddos since, Thursday the 8th. My mom/nanny/housekeeper/friend is scheduled to be out with us this week for a couple of nights, but on Saturday was coming down with a second batch of bronchitis. So I might be going alone with the four musketeers once more. Grammie Vicki get better!!!! Thanks to my girlfriends last week who stepped up and helped me out with long phone calls, babysitting so I could grocery shop all alone, and prayer. Thanks to Nana Debbie for the dinner and carpooling Chloe. Hillary Clinton once said it takes a village to raise a child. And she only had one, so how would she really know! Thanks to our village of support, prayers, and understanding. This week my goal is to keep my calm and write numerous thank you notes. In that order!

Friday, February 09, 2007


As fate would have it, a zone for our hot water heat went bad in the middle of the coldest stretch of weather in 14 years or something. The zone that no longer works is the one that controls the bedrooms upstairs, so sleeping has been chilly!

Since this exact thing happened 2 years ago, and back then we fixed it by using a space heater to heat the wall with the pipes in them, believing that the pipes were frozen. So we did the same thing this time, didn't work. We still had to heat. WE tried for several days, but to no avail. So I decided that I would cut some holes into the wall in the playroom, trying to find the pipes that we thought were frozen. Turns out, there are no pipes in the wall...they must be redirected somewhere else! So now I have 4 holes in the wall, and it turns out a motor valve went bad! So there was no water moving in the zone!

So, we had the Service Plus guy come out to fix it, and he finds that the whole boiler is bad, expelling carbon monoxide like the car was parked and running in the basement! So things were very dangerous in our house! Praise God that He protected us!

So as I write this, we have new boiler being installed and I hope to be warm within the next few hours.

During all this, Em and I got to go on our first date since Italy, dining at a very nice restaurant in Minneapolis called Masa, an up-scale Mexican eatery. The food was good, stay away from the guacamole (no flavor) and the margaritas ($9 for ice and triple sec???)

The kids are doing well, with everyone having the sniffles and that's about it. With this cold snap, we have been unable to get out of the house much, and the kids are starting to get cabin fever, big time.

In the pictures above, you can see Isayas eating ice cream for the first time. He loved it! Many Ehtiopian kids don't, as the chill and creaminess of it is offsetting at first. But dove right in!

Also, in the picture with Joshy in the truck, please note that all precautions were taken to ensure his safey. No one was hurt in the taking of that picture.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Shower #2 is in the books!

Well, we had our second baby/adoption shower last night at my mom and dad's. It was so fun to see all the family on my mom's side. We haven't seen them for a while since this wasn't their year for Christmas.

We had wonderful food prepared by my Auntie Gail and my mom. You can't go wrong with Sloppy Joes! Yummy!

And everyone was very generous and kind with their gifts. The big hit of the night was, of course, Isaya's. He got his first bike! A big boy bike, with knobby tires, pegs, handle-bar breaks, helmet, and training wheels. You should have seen his face when they brought it down! And then when he sat on the basement....for like and hour....while dad held the bike up!

But thanks to all for your time and gifts. They are greatly appreciated by us!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

I know...I know...

Alright, enough already!! Yes, yes, yes. I am a very bad person. I am so sorry for disappointing each and everyone one of you these past 20 days. NO UPDATES! How dare me!

Well, here you go. (and I will be showing Emilee how to log in and post, so that should keep this blog going more than once a month!)

We have now been home 6 weeks..SIX WEEKS! Wow! Does time fly by. Yesterday, we attended a class that we were supposed to attend BEFORE we left called "Before I Joined Your Family", where we learn about how our child might react to the adoption. It definitely brought us back to our time in Ethiopia, and we were able to see the growth in both boys, as they have gone through their greiving process and trust establishment with us. While it was hard for 2.5-3 weeks, and we were often trying different techniques to try and curb tantrums and negative behaviors, it was the continuous love and fun that we gave that helped each child quickly turn the corner.

Isayas is doing great. In fact, our girls definitely have more "blow-ups" and tantrums than does Isayas. Isayas' personality is really shining now. He is always full of smiles and energy.

Some favorite Isayas moments from the past week:
1. Isayas got a ton of cars for Christmas, so we saved a couple for later, knowing that there were going to be some destruction derbys and he would lose a couple. Well, that only took 2 weeks. So we gave him a remote control car that he graciously got from Emilee's cousins for a welcome home gift. I went to get it in the basement without him knowing (he was hanging out in the kitchen). With the batteries in and the car working, I quietly slipped up the stairs, set the car down, and "guided" it across the kitchen floor. And boy did Isayas run over to that car. It was moving by itself!! He would pick it up, and then put it down, at which time I would make it run away from him! He couldn't believe it! This went on for another 5 minutes and then I showed him how to work the thing. When we were done with our lesson, he ran over to me, wrapped his arms around my legs, and said, "So much, so much!!" He didn't quite now how to put the full sentence together yet, but I completely understood.
2. Another great moment was he transitioned to the his own room without a huge tantrum! Emilee has been napping him in his room for the past week, trying to wean him from ours. I was getting Isayas ready for bed in his bedroom, and I decided to see what would happen if I put him to bed in there. Well, he wasn't real happy about it, saying and pointing "Eska", which we think means "over there", meaning our bedroom. I ignored it and proceeded to read him his 2 books. The whole time, he was interested in the books, but had a face that looked like he just ate some dirt. When I was done, I patted the pillow and said, "Alga (bed)" and proceeded to lay down. HIs face lit up and he jumped up and snuggled next to me. He of course thought I was going to be his bed buddy, but after about 20-25 minutes, I got up and went downstairs. He slept great that night and has ever since. Yeah!

Some favorite Joshua moments from recent memory:
1. I think it's hilarious when Josh is on his tummy, and he gets real excited. He just starts thrashing his arms, legs and head up and down. He basically looks like he's having a seizure, but he's having the time of his life.
2. After a couple of restless nights, he has a tooth popping through on the bottom! Yeah!
3. Whenever Joshua laughs. Joshua Molla loves to smile, but pure laughter is rare. When he does get into that mood, I try to make it last as long as I can by acting like a fool. It's a wonderful laugh and his face just beams radiant with joy.

Some favorite Chloe moments from the past month:
1. Chloe made some plane tickets for me, her, and Maya so that we could go to Kenya. She had Emilee spell everything out for her so it was authentic! She was the pilot and took us to Kenya for a safari. It was great!
2. Taking her to school/picking her up from school. I love it. Being able to talk to her about her day is so wonderful.

Some favorite Maya moments from January:
1. Maya's had a rough month, with sickness and aching molars. But there was one morning when I woke up and she was in our bed, in the middle. She was lightly stroking the back of my head and shoulders, just loving me up. What a way to start the day!
2. Anything that Maya says that you actually understand. Maya is the funniest little girl I have ever met. The things she says and puts together is hilarious. I need to write them down so I remember them, but there were too many to count this month.

Em and I are doing well. I've been busy at work, so Em and her mom have been doing the brunt of the work at home. Schedules are now all set for each of the kids. We are going to start weaning Vicki from us, which is going to be tough! She is so valuable to us, and she is a blast to have over! If only we could have her stay forever....hmmm.

Anyway, this is getting long. There will be more this week, I promise. We need to get ready for the boys' first shower at my mom and dads. That should be a blast, but we'll see how Isayas does with all those people.

Monday, January 08, 2007

MInnesota Fun!

Well, it has been a while since I've last updated the blog. My apologies. With the New Year break and then back to work, I've been either too busy or too tired. Whew! I'm exhausted already after these 3 sentences!

We've now been home a little over 3 weeks and everything is starting to feel "normal." What I mean by that is that Em and I are starting to get some semblance of structure and schedule in the house. We now know when to expect to get up in the morning (7:38am, when Maya and Isayas both wake up, even though they are in different rooms!), when to go to bed at night (Joshua is last at 9:17pm), and when to get some rest and relaxation (between 2:12pm and 2:15pm).

Isayas is doing very well, with his temperment now back to normal for a 3.5 year old. We rarely have any more nasty tantrums, now there's the normal screaming and crying ones. We can handle that!

Molla is getting so big! He is beginning to look more and more like a linebacker, as he loves to drink his new formula. He's only put on a pound or so, but they must all be in his cheeks.

Maya seems to be getting her molars, as she is having a rough week. She isn't eating much and she is quite cranky, but seems to do well with Children's Tylenol in her. Poor thing.

Chloe is doing great and is loving preschool! She had a break there for a week and half, but she is back at it, learning like crazy! This past week she learned about dinosaurs! Cool!

Work is going well for me, and I am getting back into the flow of things. My project right now is in Minnetonka, so it's a nice drive for me with little to no traffic. Everyone is really nice there and it's a fun environment to work in.

Emilee is also doing well. She is amazing, taking care of the kids, the bills, the doctor appointments, the cooking....what a woman! I am so proud of her!

I just want to add, that Emilee could not function without her mom, Vicki. She is in the pic with Joshua and the boy superheroes, which she picked up when Isayas kept playing with Polly Pockets. The pic of Isayas having a tea party, that is a keeper. I believe he only sat still that long because Maya's finger had been stuck in the cream container for three minutes. That was alot of fun.
Just wanted to add a personal thanks to my mom (and my dad, for sharing), this would be much harder without your help and your presence.

Friday, December 29, 2006

4 Kids + 1 Dog + 32 family members = 1 busy week

It's now been nearly 2 weeks since we got home from Ethiopia and we are settling in nicely. It's amazing how fast time goes by when you are home. The 2 weeks we were in Ethiopia seemed, at times, to just drag on and on. But with Christmas, work, housekeeping, doctor appointments, restaurant runs, visitors, and everything else, 2 weeks flew by like it was 2 days!

But Em and I are doing really well. Emilee is feeling much better now. She even tackled staying home with all 4 kids....alone! For the entire day! TWICE!! I had to work and Vicki was still away at home, a well-earned respite from the family clan.

Isayas is doing beautifully! The progress he's made in the 2 weeks we've been home is remarkable. It's been several days since a major tantrum, as Emilee has figured out how to diffuse him quickly. He's attaching to everyone in the house really well, even the dog! He pets her, and talks to her, and feeds her his food, and tries to run her over with his trucks. Isayas seems to be thriving in the home setting, surrounded by lots of love and attention, and he just sucks up the cherishment he gets from mom and dad, and especially his Papas, Nana, Grammie, and Grandpa.

Joshua Molla is also doing very well. Our sleep training is doing wonders and we are almost on a set schedule for him. He sleeps from 4:30-7:00pm usually, then he goes back down around 9:15pm for the night, not to wake up again until 7:30-8:00am! YES!!! The rest of the day is still a struggle, as he is like his daddy, never wanting to fall asleep, afraid he's going to miss all the fun! Joshua is still sucking down the "gold" formula. It seems to be working with his bacteria problem, but we'll see the doctor again soon. He's really put on some weight now, he's almost chunky!

Chloe and Maya are also having lots of fun playing with the boys and loving the one-on-one time with mom and dad whenever we can get it. I think I'm going to take the girls bowling soon. You got to start them young, you know.

I hope everyone has a happy new year!

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

We've now been home just over week and things are going very well.

Isayas is doing great compared to what we were dealing with in Addis. While we are having daily tantrums, they are trending towards shorter and shorter. This past week was a little tougher on me, as I had to go to work for most of the week, so I got to spend less time at home. Because of this. Isayas didn't appreciate me much when I had to discipline. But with this long weekend, I've been able to stave off several full-blown tantrums.

We have gotten Joshua Molla on a schedule now, which is helping us with timing of trips out of the house and sleeping time at night. He gets up an average of 2 times a night, and sleeps usually until 5:30-6:00am, which is great, considering that just last week, he was getting up every hour and a half and staying up. We have also been forced to switch to a special formula to help Joshua with some bacteria issues. Unfortunately, it's the most expensive formula on the market, but our baby is worth every dime!

Chloe and Maya are just loving their new brothers. They always want to hold and take care of Joshua. Maya and Isayas get along really well, even rough-housing a little! Chloe and Isayas still have feelers out for each other, not quite sure of their roles yet, but they have their moments. All in all, the family is definitely gel-ing.

Christmas went great! We even traveled more than we thought, heading out to Emilee's uncle's house in White Bear Lake on Christmas Eve and then Emilee's parent's house on Christmas morning way out in Watertown. But the kids all did so well! They were in kid heaven, loving all the presents and good food! I think that Isayas now has about 3,500 cars, trucks, and trains (oh, and 1 motorcycle).

Em's mom got the weekend off for Christmas, so we have been doing this all alone, and we are doing quite well, I think. I can't wait for her to show up on Tuesday though. SLEEP!!!! Whoo hooo! Thanks Mom!

All right. Time for bed now. Thanks for checking in!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Home: Day 2

Here are some new pictures of the kids at home. We haven't had the time or energy yet to get a complete family's much harder with 4 kids than it was with 2.....who would have thought?

Things have gone relatively well. Isayas has managed to find every single car, truck, wagon, or anything with more than 2 wheels in the house. He loves his new sisters and is slowly getting used to Central time.

Molla seems to be doing better. His diaper rash is slowly clearing and we are in the process of training him to fall asleep on his own and not just in our arms.
I had the privilege of going to work today for a couple of hours. I have a big change-over on a new project on Wednesday, so I needed to get a headstart.

Em saw the doctor today and she has an ear-infection and Bronchitis. Apparently, she ruptured her eardrum or something on the plane, and that should have been extremely painful, but thank God that it wasn't for her.

More pictures to come soon. I will be uploading most all of them to a website where they can be viewed in a slideshow.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

We're Home and We're Happy!

After nearly 18 hours of flying, 28 diaper changes, 7 meltdowns (only 1 from an adult :) ), a 7 hour layover, a wonderful meal at the airport Fuddruckers (Thank you God!) and about 2 hours of sleep, we are finally home!

We got into Minneapolis around 6:30 last night, and my mom and stepdad were there to welcome us with hugs and kisses! All of our luggage arrived and the beautiful Ethiopian table we received as a gift is even still intact.

Besides having a very bad diaper rash that made diaper changes painful for him, Joshua (Molla) did great! Lots of sleeping and eating. And for a 3.5 year old on a18-hour flight, Isayas did surprisingly well. It might have something to do with all the drugs we gave him before each take-off, and when he woke again, and then anytime he made a peep, but that's up for speculation.

But since everyone was really tired when we got in, we were unsure of how the meeting the family for the first time would go. Well, it went very well! Isayas was woken up and thus, very crabby, but since we had our TV on with the Christmas Wiggles playing (to Isayas, it was the biggest TV he's ever seen, so he was enthralled!) he jumped right on the couch and Maya and Chloe flanked either side of him. He gave some little smiles in between the TV watching and the camera bulbs flashing. After that, we showed him the toy room, which we neatly picked up and cleaned, and dontcha know it, he saw everyone of the toys with wheels and pulled them out and had a grand time! He had never seen so many cars in his life!! He was in Isayas heaven!

And he hadn't even see his room yet! My mom had bought a cute little shelf system that was very boyish, with sports images on the side. On top was a big ol' dump truck from my her too. That is the big hit in Isayas' mind. He and the girls played cars for the hour they were up and they had a blast!

It was so good to see Maya and Chloe. Chloe was the most demonstrative when we got in the door. She was ecstatic when we were home. Maya was more in shock than anything. But we both got big hugs all night.

Well, I just got up at 5:30, as Isayas was wide awake. Not too bad for a 3.5 year old with jetlag. Em and the baby are still sleeping. So is Emilee's mom, who was wonderful during this, as she stayed up with the baby tonight. The house looks beautiful, all decorated for Christmas, thanks to Vicki too.

All write more later today when my head clears. I have a nasty headache. Thanks for all your prayers and support!

Mario and Emilee

Friday, December 15, 2006

We're Coming Home!

We got tickets for tonight! 10:30pm outta here and we arrive Saturday night at 6:30pm!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

12/13/2006 12:40 PM

With Molla staying with the nannies in Center C last night, Em and I got some great sleep! Isayas slept all the way through until 7:00am, which was a blessing! After breakfast, I walked Isayas to school and then came back and we all headed out to shop (2nd time for us). Em found some beautiful dresses for the girls and we picked up a bunch of artwork for the house. The steal of the day for us was a beautiful, hand painted wooden bowl, with the story of Christ told in several mosaic tiles, that we got for $40, and I haggled the guy into throwing in a statue of King Solomon, which is pretty cool.

When we got back, Em and I napped, so we are feeling quite refreshed. Afterwards, we headed over to the Hilton Hotel again to see if we could get on Friday’s flight out of Addis. Unfortunately, we had no luck, but we are going to call again tomorrow to see what we can get. I am hoping that if people don’t confirm their flights by tomorrow, that they will give the seats to those that they know will be on the flight. If worse comes to worse, we’ll pack up on Friday with everyone else and see if we can get on board with our standby status. Em and I are praying that at least one of us can get on (read Emilee) and then Em can carry Molla for the flight. This way, at least one of us can get home to see our girls and give Vicki a break for a bit (thanks for doing such a wonderful job, Mom! You too Mom!)

Isayas and I headed outside after dinner and played soccer again. I love that! I love playing soccer, baseball, and cornhole (funny name, cool game) with my daughters, but there is something special when a father plays with his sons. I am loving that feeling!

We picked up Molla late in the day, shortly before dinner. I was really beginning to miss him. Em asked the nanny if he got up a lot at night for her, and she said, “Oh yes. We just pick him up and talk with him.” Doh! Well, that explains a lot. So now we have to somehow break that habit, so that he can wake, eat, and then go back to sleep for more than 1 hour throughout the night. That should be fun, since we really can’t start until we get back, with the jet lag and all.

Tomorrow we might head over to the museum (we missed it last week) and then to AHOPE, another orphanage here in Addis that people brought donations for. Later in the afternoon, we will be going to the 2 care centers to have the goodbye celebrations for Moll and Isayas. Up to this point, we have seen 2 of these, but we finally get to partake in this one. There are lots of tears and hugs, thank you’s and prayers. Hopefully, this will help Isayas to understand that we are leaving for home. He was rather confused last week when 3 of his friends left, but he stayed behind.

Please pray for attachment and bonding for Emilee, Molla, Isayas, and I here in Addis. Pray that we can get on the Friday flight. Pray for those around us who are supporting us in this adventure!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

12/12/2006 12:43 PM

Well, it’s official in Ethiopia: Isayas and Molla are ours! We spent the afternoon at the U.S. Embassy finally, waiting for an hour to answer a few questions and raise our right hands and swear that we told the truth. The past 1.5 years, filling our endless pages of paperwork, enduring grueling investigative interrogation from our social worker, sending check after check to the agency, trying to find the place where we needed to get fingerprinted…etc. And it all boiled down to a 5 minute interview, and then we sat down to wait for the other families to go through the same thing.

Don’t get me wrong. I am quite ecstatic that we are “done” with the adoption process, at least as it is in Ethiopia. But where were the balloons, and fireworks; the juggling poodles and Bob Barker giving me a huge sidehug and a peck on the cheek? Where was the huge celebration that we so richly deserved? It came in the form of a screaming tantrum from Isayas, mad because I wouldn’t let him run away from me and out of the Embassy. Yeah!

After the Embassy, we then headed over the Hilton Hotel to confirm our tickets on Ethiopian Air and to exchange some U.S. Dollars for Burr. Em and I have been praying that we will be able to get on the Friday night flight (we are currently on the Sunday night flight…!) so we went into today hoping that we could at least get 1 seat so that Em could take Molla home early and see the girls.

While Em held Molla and waited in line, I held a very tired Isayas, who eventually fell asleep in my arms. I got to hold him for about 45 minutes. That’s about the time my entire left arm and my right shoulder went totally numb. I then switched with Em, who had a stinky Molla by now. I quickly asked Em how it was going and she said, “Not good.” It looks like we are confirmed on the Sunday night flight (10:30 pm), but we are on the wait list for the Friday flight and we are going to call and visit the Ethiopian Air office the rest of the week, trying as hard as we can to get home!

I must tell you that it is so frustrating to be “stuck” here. Not that Ethiopia is horrible, it’s not. It’s beautiful and fun and interesting. But we’ve been away from home for so long, our hearts hurt from not seeing our beautiful girls, our loving parents, our super friends, and my XBOX 360 (Em says, “Don’t write that! That’s horrible!”). But God is near, we can feel His presence and we can hear Him whisper words of encouragement and strength to us. But we are still very much home sick and heart broken each time a group of families head home.

Well, we dropped Molla off with the nannies tonight so that we could get a complete night’s sleep. He’s gets up every hour or hour and a half throughout the night, and I’ve been doing Molla duty since Emilee’s been sick. So, I think I am going to head to bed now. Tomorrow is shopping again, so that should be fun. We did some window shopping last week, so we kinda know what we what to get this time, especially art. Ciao!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sunday December 10th

Prayer request:

Molla's sleep schedule is all messed up now. For some reason he only sleeps in 20-60 minute shifts, and then he wakes up. Sometimes he's hungry, sometimes not. But Em has been up with him the past 2 mornings at 4:00am.

Isayas gets up early each morning too. He should be sleeping until 6-6:30, but he wakes up at 5:00am.

Pray for strength, energy, and sleep for all of us!

12/9/2006 12:36 PM

Saturday. A day of rest and relaxation. A day of winding down from a long week of work. Except when you are a parent.

We woke up nice and early, with me getting up with Molla at 4:15am and Em getting up to a wet Isayas at 5:00 am. Most everyone else in the house had jet lag, so they were already up, so Isayas’ semi-frequent screams of delight while playing didn’t bother anyone.

We had a breakfast of scrambled eggs and sandwiches, and then it was playtime! I took Isayas and headed outside to the driveway, where we played cars and soccer with the guard. Meanwhile, Emilee did dishes, washed some clothes, and took care of Molla (I definitely had the short-end of the stick on that one! J) All the while, the new parents who arrived last night headed out to see their children for the first time! Exciting!

Lunch was fun, full of good conversation about their first meeting with their new kids and about tomorrow when they head down to Hosanna to hopefully meet the relatives of their new adoptees. While this great conversation was going on, Emilee happened to look over at Isayas to see how he was doing on his meal, when she noticed that he was asleep, with the table in his mouth to keep him upright! Hilarious and devishishly cute! He ended up sleeping about 3.5 hours!

Tonight, some of us headed over to the pizzeria for our 2nd dinner (they serve soup here for dinner every night. While it’s great and tasty soup, sometimes you get a little sick of it!) Isayas thought it was the best thing ever! It was his first time in a restaurant and of course I forgot to take pictures! But he and I shared a margarita pizza and I bought him a Marinda (orange pop) that he slowly savored over the course of his 1.5 pieces of pizza. Mind you, this was after he had about 3.5 bowls of soup! This kid can eat.

We are planning on taking a taxi tomorrow to the Orthodox Evangelical Church here in Addis. I guess that starts at 9:00am. Should be interesting! The rest of the day we’re not sure what we are going to do. Maybe take a trip to the Hilton for something different. They have a pool there. And pastries! And there’s a park right across the street. Everyone else will be going to Hosanna, and that’s a 9 hour car drive total, and they spend about 3 hours in Hosanna. So they won’t be back until around 5pm.

Moll and Isayas are doing well. Both are a little sick still, but Isayas is getting much better with his tantrums. Or maybe we’re just getting better at handling them, as we have changed strategies a bit. Thanks to each of you for your prayers. We can see the fruits of them already!

Friday, December 08, 2006

12/8/2006 12:26 PM

Today was another day of driving around Addis, trying to get the paperwork finalized before the weekend, so that things are on track for next week. First stop was a doctor’s office, where the boy’s got weighed and examined in about 5 minutes. The doctor signed off on them and we ran back downstairs to the car to head to the American Embassy.

Once there, we had to walk about 3 blocks to get to the entrance, as the street was closed for some reason. We here then frisked for fire arms again and then we walked up to the window to explain why we were there? When asked for our passports, we unfortunately did not have them, as the “lawyer” told us that we shouldn’t need them. So he had to bring the boys in one at a time, so that they could get their blood drawn. I felt so sad for Isayas, as we could see him through a door, sitting by himself while waiting for his turn. He was so brave. He was also so full of water, that he made the “I have to pee right now” face! But he came out a champ, with a smile on his face and a band-aid on his arm. Molla’s turn was worse, as he cried and cried. It seemed like it was taking forever for them to draw some blood!

So that was the last of the run-around until we head to the Embassy next Tuesday. Looks like everything is still in place for us to leave next Saturday.

Isayas may have a UTI. Going to the bathroom hurts, so he and Em went to the doctor right before lunch, but the doctor’s were all on lunch, so they came home, frustrated and very hungry. I then took Isayas later in the day, and he had labwork done. It looks like we may need to get some medicine for him.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Isayas got his head shaved yesterday, as he has ringworm. We thought that he just had a few on his head, but after a nurse shaved it with an actual straight-edge razor blade, he saw that his whole head was covered. He also has some on his face and arm (FYI, ringworm has nothing to do with worms. It is a fungal infection. I mention this because we will most likely get it too….so don’t be alarmed.) A little Lotrimen will take care of that.

All the families left tonight, on their way back home to start their new life with their new children. It was a hard day for Em and I. We got very home sick, and a little down with the thought that we had another 8 days to go. But God has us here for a reason, and we just prayed that He would open our eyes to His calling.

Well, Em and the boys are sleeping right now. They are exhausted and went to bed early. Not sure what are going to do this weekend. We are basically just waiting around until next Saturday, so we pray that we can keep the kids occupied in a country where we have no car, house, or toys. We think we'll be heading over to a large park outside the Hilton tomorrow.

12/7/2006 1:02 PM

Today was adventurous! We started off the morning by going to the Ethiopian Immigration office to get Isayas and Molla’s passports which entailed getting pictures and approval for urgent processing (we had to skip the museum. We'll do that next week). It was amazing because the Immigration agency building has hundreds of people waiting just to get in line to get inside the building. For what, who knows. But there were a lot of beggars and mobile sellers walking around. But we were able to just walk through the gates, get frisked for fire arms, and then fill out paperwork and walk from office to office. We were blessed to have a knowledgeable “lawyer” from CHSFS do most of the work, as everything is in Amharic. When we got to the office where we needed to plead our case, the man was nice enough to look at us and just sign it to approve its urgent processing. The passports should be available tomorrow for us.

We go back just in time for lunch, and then most people just crashed in the afternoon, taking showers and naps before we headed out to each of the care centers for the goodbye ceremonies. Lots of tears and hugs ensued.

We had a new family join us today, so it was nice to have some new faces around to converse with! The night was pretty uneventful also, as most people were pretty wiped from the week and starting to get ready to pack for the plane ride home.

Molla is doing much, much better! We have been giving him amoxycilliin for his ear, probiotics for his diarrhea, and we have switched him to soy. All of this has seemed to have done a world of good, as he has been sleeping much better, there is no more spitups, no more diarrhea, and he appears to be putting on wait! Praise God!

Isayas is still Isayas; very strong willed. This has caused some clashes between him and us, and we are still trying to figure out how to deal with this. It’s tough because we want to set boundaries, but we also want to treat him like he’s a 2 year old, in order to help build the attachment that he needs. Pray for us in this. His “episodes” are difficult.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

12/6/2006 1:19 PM

Internet was down yesterday, so let me catch you up.

Yesterday was a quiet day. I walked Isayas to school in the morning and that was a lot of fun. The rest of the day was spent holding Molla when he was awake, as he is sick now. We found out yesterday after visiting the doctor at the clinic that he has an ear infection. He also is having diarrhea, so we have been trying to push pedialyte.

Em and I managed a 1 hour nap in mid-afternoon, and then hungout at the guest house until I had to pickup Isayas at school at 4:00pm. Everyone else at the house was at the U.S. Embassy, finalizing their adoption in Ethiopia. They didn’t get back until 7:00 or so…..they had a very long day. We get to look forward to that next week!

Today was a fun day. I again walked Isayas to school in the morning, we dropped Molla off at the clinic for the day so he could be observed by the doctors and nannies, and then we headed out with the rest of the parents for SHOPPING! While Ethiopia has the largest open-air market in the world called the Markato (we drove through it, but did not stop), we went to much safer and less-hectic shops in Addis Ababa. Em, of course, dove first into the clothes shop, picking our dress-ware for the entire family, plus she got her beloved gabbi, and traditional Ethiopian fabric that has many uses, including blanket, shawl, table cloth, and pan degreaser. We also bought some gifts for the family, so expect some nice Christmas presents when we get back!

When we got back, we had a formal tour of the different locations of Children’s Home Society and Family Services here in Addis. They are doing a wonderful thing here, and they are so well organized for being only 3 years into the project. And the vision for CHSFS extends beyond adoption, with clean water solutions for remote villages, free education for those in financial need, purchasing land for new care centers, etc. Please let me know if you are interested in giving a donation…we have seen with our own eyes that nearly every penny gets redirected to those in need in Addis Ababa.

Tonight went well. Many of the parents now have their kids here at the guest house, so it has gotten quite loud! Isayas had some of his friends and classmates here, so they played well for a while. Isayas is still learning how to share, so we had a few “incidents” tonight, that we had to wait out and show him who loved him and who was in charge of him now.

All the kids are down to bed now. We are resting, trying to wind down for the day.

Praise God that Em and I are through courts now! Tomorrow we head to the Embassy for immigration paperwork, and then we do the official “Embassy visit” next week with the rest of the new parents coming in this weekend.

We are still doing well, getting used to Ethiopia and beginning to really love it! I even bought some of the most wonderful Ethiopian shoes today (think Jellies, from the late 80’s!) that are amazing! I don’t even feel the rocks on the side of the street when I walk now!

Tomorrow, we see Lucy. Until then….adios!

Monday, December 04, 2006

12/4/2006 11:39 AM

Today was another exciting day in a series of extraordinary moments. We woke up at 7:00am, and consumed some delicious porridge and eggs (seriously, the porridge is the most wonderful thing I’ve had in a long time. Sorry Em, Mom, and Mom!)

Em and I then split up, with Em spending the morning with Molla at Care Center C and I went to be with Isayas at school. When I got there with the rest of the parents, we walked around the corner of the building to witness the mass potty break about to happen. All the children who’s parent’s were there, though, kinda skipped the potty and ran over to us with smiles on! We had a great day, learning how to politely respond to “How are you?” and “How old are you?” We left shortly after snacktime.

Emilee got to spend some good time with Molla, holding him and cuddling him. He had to get some shots today, so they whisked him away shortly before Em had to head back to the guest house.

We had a short meeting with the Ethiopian agency director and then had lunch and a short break. All the parents then headed over to Care Center C to visit with the doctors and discuss the boy’s health. Molla hasn’t gained much weight in the past 3 months, so we need to keep on eye on that. Also, he has been sick several times recently, once so bad when we were in Italy that they had to take him to the hospital for IV fluids. Em and I think that they don’t give him his antibiotics long enough to fully help him heal.

Isayas is always very thirsty, most likely because they don’t give the kids much to drink throughout the day, but they also said to test him for diabetes, just to be sure.

Well, Isayas and Molla are staying with us tonight. Molla has done exceptionally well, talking and cooing, being very content, and us now sleeping. Isayas is still the same, doing really well for a while, and then breaking down when he is told not to do something or when a toy is taken away from him by another kid. We had several rough spots, with biting and hitting. Also, putting him down to bed was quite the chore. He quietly wept (more like a whine though) for 25 minutes, before I tried to wipe his nose, at which time he decided to really cry. I quickly picked him up, held him tightly in my arms, patted his back and “shhh-shhh” for 20 minutes until he fell asleep.

Em and I are tired, but very much happy with our boys! We also heard some good news today! The judge pushed our case through today! We only have to wait an extra 5 days for the government to process the boys birth certificates and visas! Yeah!

Good night! And sweet dreams!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

12/3/2006 10:33 AM

Today was life perspective changing for me. I headed down to Hosanna this morning to meet with any of the boy’s family that wanted to show. It takes 4.5 hours to get there, and we had a caravan of 4 SUVs that took us down there. The last 70 km is unpaved road, so the going is very slow and bumpy. My chiropractor is going to love me when I get back!

The whole way down was breathtaking and heartbreaking. I could not count the number of mud huts with thatch roofs, 7 and 8 year olds herding cattle, toddlers running around without shoes or pants, women and men carrying buckets of water or wood or whatever crop they were going to sell.

I could not count the number of smiles that I saw along the way on the faces of these men, women, and children. While their lives might be difficult financially, it seems that they are happy and content to some extent, as it’s the only life that they know. Nearly every child we passed had a huge smile pasted on their face and gave us the biggest wave they could.

This trip helped me to remember that I am rich in many things, but money isn’t one of them. It helped me to remember to keep my priorities straight, to be content in the things I have; family, friends, health, home, job, and faith.

After we arrived at the care center in Hosanna, we were given a tour of the facility. Once in the back yard, we were told that the families were coming in to meet us. No sooner had I put down my bag and was about to get my camera when they announced that Isayas and Molla’s father and brother were here! I quickly walked over to the father and we shook hands for what seemed forever, smiling at each other and thanking each other in our own language. The director did some translating and then before I knew it, we were done and the next families came together.

When all the families were introduced, I grabbed the photo book that Emilee had made for them (remember, she stayed behind with Isayas) and the map that Emilee ripped out of the airplane booklet and walked over to him and the brother to show them the boys and where they will be living. A translator came over and helped us to communicate our thanksgiving and appreciation for one another. Something that I will never forget, and something will be able to give the boys as they get older.

Meanwhile, Emilee woke up to Isayas lying in his bed, smiling at her. They went to the bathroom (he was dry!) and played for a bit. Once again, Emilee had to say “No” to something and he began to cry and wail. Please pray that we will be able to correct Isayas’ naughty behavior in such a way so that he does not melt down each time, just as the nannies do.

After getting Isayas to calm down for a bit, he again broke down, so Emilee ended up heading over to Care Center C to be with Molla for a bit. Isayas perked up and had some lunch and then ran back upstairs and smiled at Em and snuggled by her. Emilee decided to leave Isayas there overnight, so she said her goodbyes and came back to the Guest House to rest.

The rest of the night is going to be spent resting and relaxing, getting ready for tomorrow. I think we are going to bring Molla back here, and I will spend a lot of the day with Isayas in school and then bring him back for the night to see how it goes. Again, prayer would be greatly appreciated!!

12/2/2006 10:18 AM

Today, we had 6 new families join the fray. There was introductions, stories shared, and catching up (a lot of us knew each other from the adoption forum we all contribute to).

After a quick meeting to discuss rules and expectations, we all headed over to Care Center D (where the big kids stay when not in school) and some of the families got to see their kids for the first time!

Then we headed over to Care Center C, where the babies are, and we got to see Molla and Isayas again (Isayas is there on the weekends to be with his brother).

These were both rather quick meetings, as the kids had to get ready to eat and then have a nap, which is what many of the parents did too! After naps, most of us headed over to the care center where their kids were. Em spent most of the time with Molla, holding him, feeding him, and playing with him in his room.

I headed outside to play with Isayas and the other kids with the HoverDisc that we brought. Isayas loved it! We ran around and threw that thing until it had about 14 holes. I tried to get some good photos during this time, and got a few, but Isayas really wanted to play with the digital camera. Being the good dad that I am, I had to say no, since it really isn’t a toy. Well, that didn’t sit well with Isayas, who proceeded to cry, and cry. It wasn’t until I brought him up to Em and she gave him some cookies that he stopped. He was good for about 10 minutes, and then he began to cry again, especially when he said we had to leave. Em decided right then and there that he was going to spend the night with us, so we brought him back to our room.

On the way over, he fell asleep in Em’s arms, and didn’t wake up for another 2 hours, even with Em and I trying to wake him after 45 minutes!

When he woke, we gave him some more trucks (which he absolutely adores), gave him a bath (which he smiled through), and then tried to dress him. This started more tears, and they didn’t stop until we fed him bread with honey. They must not give the kids much to drink, as he absolutely sucked down about a liter of water.

We then played with trucks and dinosaurs for another 2 hours until we said in Amharic that it was bedtime. He gleefully put on his pull-ups and then hopped into bed and literally fell asleep within 3 minutes.

Sigh…off to bed for me. I have to get up at 4:15am to get ready to leave for Hosanna at 5:00am.

Friday, December 01, 2006

12/1/2006 1:28 PM

Today was another fun and exciting day. We managed to sleep in until 7:15am. Mornings are noisy, with children waking and doors slamming, but we felt good, especially after our nice cold showers! :)

Later in the morning, we got to head down the road to the school where the children are most of the day and got to spend about 45 minutes with Isayas in his classroom! They were learning how to count to 6 and different parts of the body. Even though we've only "known" him for a day, we were so proud of him as he counted correctly to 6 and was able to name many of the body parts we were pointing to.

Later in the day, Em and I joined a new family that arrived today down to Care Center A, where the babies are. We held Molla for about 30 minutes, kissed on him and talked to him. He seems to be processing us, trying to figure out what is going on. But we got a few minor smiles and some beautiful black eyes staring at us!

We also heard some good news today. Well, good and bad. The bad is that the courts messed up Isayas' paperwork too, calling him Isayas Mollas. That won't work. So because it was the courts' fault in all this (and this is the good news), the officials here at Children's Home believe that when they talk to the judge on Monday that he'll move things along quickly that day. So it looks like we'll only have to spend an extra 5 days here waiting for the paperwork, hopefully leaving December 16th.

Whoo hoo!

11/30/2006 1:25 PM

Well, we just got back from a whirlwind morning, afternoon and evening. We arrived at the Ethiopian International Airport on time at 7:45am this morning. We then stumbled our way through the lines to find where we apply for a visa to enter the country and then pay for it. Then we waited for a while after we got our luggage for our pickup. His name is Masi and he is awesome! While we waited, a driver for another adoption agency in town who knew Masi called him a couple of times to see where he was at and he even taught us about 2 pages of Amharic while we waited! What a blessing!

We then drove through Addis Ababa. It was very strange to come from Minnesota, then to Rome, and then on to a developing country like Ethiopia. The poverty here is heart-breaking, the land is beautiful, the people are radiant, and the smell is…well….different. But good different.

We got settled into the guest house when soon after, we were told we were to going down to the school to see Isayas! Wow! So we hurried our stuff together and jumped in a car with the director’s wife and we got to see Isayas! That is the picture you see to the right, the first time Em and I saw him. He is so handsome. And beautiful. We had to leave soon thereafter as he had to nap, but we came back 2 hours later to bring him to see Molla (Joshua) too! And oh my….his pictures don’t do him justice! His eyes are huge and dark, and his eyelashes are even longer in person! And he has put on some weight, even after a bout of bad diarrhea earlier this week. I forgot my memory card back in my laptop, so I wasn’t able to take pictures. Yes, I know, I am kicking myself on your behalf. Sorry.

Isayas was very, very hesitant about us, being very quiet and just plain limp for most of the 1st couple of hours. He was off in his own world I think, trying to process everything and protect his already broken heart from anymore damage. Molla was bright and cheery from the start, only crying because he was hungry. Em got to feed him and put him to sleep! She loved it!

While Isayas was cold to us to begin with, he quickly warmed up to us later on, as we went back to the school to have a celebration for the kids that were going home this weekend. Full of songs, goodbyes, and cake, we stood off to the side watching. We could see Isayas looking for us every now and then, so every time he did, we gave him big smiles and little waves. He seemed to bask in that! Afterwards, he laughed and played soccer with me and Em, had me play “rocketship” with him by counting to 3 and the lifting him in the air, and then he gave a huge smile when we said our goodbyes and that we would be back tomorrow.

Em and I are so thrilled that each boy seemed healthy and on track for their age. We are so excited to see them tomorrow again!

Tonight, we went out with many of the other parents who are leaving tomorrow or Saturday and enjoyed authentic Ethiopian cuisine and entertainment in the form of Ethiopian dancers and music Awesome night!

I’m tired. Until tomorrow!

11/29/2006 7:03 PM

We are now on the airplane, flying to Ethiopia. At the airport in Rome, Em and I were able to get checked in just fine, with no extra charge for our overweight luggage, which was a worry of ours from the beginning. We were blessed because we ended up in the business class line, since there weren’t too many people there yet, and we think the lady got confused, as someone in the next line was forced to send luggage home with her mother! Praise be to God, because we were able to check all 4 pieces of luggage, when we thought we could check only 2!

This was especially wonderful since the plane was packed full, and the flight attendants were barely able to get all the compartments closed. Many people had to put their large bags under their chairs or down in cargo.

The snack, or “dinner”, was….um..interesting. Chicken that was more rubbery than rubber, Em had moldy vegetables, and the Italian gentleman sitting next to me turned his nose up at the dessert, since it came from Venice. But the butter was good.

Em and I are still in this surreal swirl. We can’t believe that we just left Rome, a beautiful city that gave us so many wonderful memories. And now we are hopping over Africa to Ethiopia, our boy’s homeland for what may be weeks……to see our boys! OUR BOYS! Surreal.

We love reading your comments and emails, they help give us strength and make us smile. Keep ‘em coming!

Well, I need to get some sleep, as we are losing 2 more hours. We will be 9 hours ahead of you guys in Minnesota.
Oh yeah, the picture is of me and Em after the Vatican museum, which took 3.5 hours!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

11/29/2006 8:34 AM

We are just cruising around Rome, hitting some last-minute landmarks before we fly outta here. We went to the Vatican Museum, where we saw lots of Egyptian, Roman, Etruscan art and something called the Sistine Chapel or something. Not sure what that was all about, but it was pretty cool.

We then hopped on the subway and headed over to the Spanish Steps, which are both Spanish and steps, and that's about it.

We ate some lunch and we are back at our favorite internet cafe to update you before we head out.

Our plane leaves at 11:59pm tonight for Ethiopia, to arrive tomorrow morning right before 8:00am. We should be nice and fresh for the court appearance first thing in the morning :).

We don't know anything about the internet access over there. So the updates may dwindle after this. But we'll see!

Thank you all again for your prayers and thoughts. We definitely appreciate them and can see the results of them already!

Mario and Em

Our Coliseum Pic

Just me and the Colisuem. Em is a good photographer, isn't she?