Sunday, June 26, 2011

She's Coming Home!!! - What To Expect

Dear Family and Friends,

After almost two years of waiting (and waiting), our precious Lil' Lady is finally coming home!  We know that each of you reading this letter has, in some way, supported, loved, and prayed for us.  Because we know you care for Miss T and our family, we want to share with you some information that we hope will best equip everyone around her to assist us in laying the strongest and healthiest foundation - emotionally, physically and spiritually.

In many ways, T will be like the children who entered our family through birth.  We will parent like other Christian families as we bring all of them up in the instruction and discipline of the Lord, but there will be a few, initial differences.  For years now, we have prepared ourselves by researching the bonding and attachment process in children, especially those coming home through adoption from an institutional orphanage setting.

We are confident of this: God's design is PERFECT!  His plan for parents and children is a beautiful and meaningful picture of His love for us.  Attachment between a parent and child occurs over time when a baby has a physical or emotional need and communicates that need.  The primary caretaker (usually mama) meets the need and soothes the child.  This repeats between a parent and child over and over to create trust within the child for that parent.  If the baby is hungry or cries in distress, mom nurses and calms the baby - which teaches her that this person is safe and can be trusted.  By God's very design, an emotional foundation is laid in the tiniest of babies, which will affect their learning, conscience, growth, and future relationships.  The security provided by parents will ultimately give children a trust for and empathy towards others.

Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in this typical attachment process.  The loss of a biological mother at an early age can be a major trauma on their little hearts.  The good news is that we can now, as T's parents and forever family, rebuild attachment and help her heal from these emotional wounds.  When Lil' Miss comes home, she will be overwhelmed.  Everything around her will be new and she will need to learn not just about this new environment, but also about love and family.  Even with the amazing care she received at Hannah’s Hope, she has not experienced God's design for a family in an orphanage setting.  The best way for us to form a parent/child bond is to be the ones to hold, snuggle, instruct, soothe and feed her.  As this repeats between us, she will be able to learn that parents are safe, and to trust and love deeply.  We are essentially recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once our Lil' Lady starts to establish this important bond, she will then be able to branch out to other, healthy relationships.

T will have, what may seem like, a lot of structure, boundaries, and close proximity to us.  Please know that these decisions are prayerfully and thoughtfully made choices based on immense amounts of research and instruction from trusted adoption mentors.  We will be doing what we believe is best to help her heal from those interruptions in attachment as effectively as possible.  Why are we telling you all of this?  Because you will actually play an awesome and vital role in helping our daughter settle in, heal, and lay a foundation for the future.  There are a few areas in which you can help us:

The first is to set physical boundaries.  It will help us immensely if adults limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with T.  This will (for a while) include things like holding and excessive hugging and kissing.  Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone - which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents.  Waving or blowing kisses are perfectly appropriate and welcomed!  Lil' Miss should know that the people with whom she interacts are our trusted friends.

Another area is redirecting T's desire to have her physical and emotional needs met by anyone (including strangers) to having us meet them.  Orphans often have so many caretakers that they, as a survival mechanism, become overly charming toward all adults.  A child struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit.  It may appear harmless and as if they are "very friendly" but this is actually quite dangerous for the child.  To share this is difficult for us because we have snuggled, cared for, fed, and loved so many of your children.  Please understand that we want nothing more than to have T hugged, cuddled, and cherished by ALL of you (after all, she's completely irresistible)!  But until she has a firm understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so grateful if you would direct her to us if you see that she is seeking out food, affection, or comfort.

We are incredibly blessed to have so many loved ones around us!  We couldn't ask for a better extended family and circle of friends for our precious Lil' Lady.  Thank you so much for your love and support over the past two years. If you have any questions please feel free to ask at any time!

With Blessed Hearts,
The R Family  =)


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Imagine For A Moment...

You have met the person you've dreamed about all your life. He has every quality that you desire in a spouse. You plan for the wedding, enjoying every free moment with your fiancée. You love his touch, his smell, the way he looks into your eyes. For the first time in your life, you understand what is meant by "soul mate," for this person understands you in a way that no one else does. Your heart beats in rhythm with his. Your emotions are intimately tied to his every joy, his every sorrow.

The wedding comes. It is a happy celebration, but the best part is that you are finally the wife of this wonderful man. You fall asleep that night, exhausted from the day's events, but relaxed and joyful in the knowledge that you are next to the person who loves you more than anyone in the world…the person who will be with you for the rest of your life.

The next morning you wake up, nestled in your partner's arms. You open your eyes and immediately look for his face.
But IT'S NOT HIM! You are in the arms of another man. You recoil in horror. Who is this man? Where is your beloved?
You ask questions of the new man, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't understand you. You search every room in the house, calling and calling for your husband. The new guy follows you around, trying to hug you, pat you on the back...even trying to stroke your arm, acting like everything is okay.

But you know that nothing is okay. Your beloved is gone. Where is he? Will he return? When? What has happened to him?

Weeks pass. You cry and cry over the loss of your beloved. Sometimes you ache silently, in shock over what has happened. The new guy tries to comfort you. You appreciate his attempts, but he doesn't speak your language-either verbally or emotionally. He doesn't seem to realize the terrible thing that has happened...that your sweetheart is gone.

You find it difficult to sleep. The new guy tries to comfort you at bedtime with soft words and gentle touches, but you avoid him, preferring to sleep alone, away from him and any intimate words or contact.

Months later, you still ache for your beloved, but gradually you are learning to trust this new guy. He's finally learned that you like your coffee black, not doctored up with cream and sugar. Although you still don't understand his bedtime songs, you like the lilt of his voice and take some comfort in it.

More time passes. One morning, you wake up to find a full suitcase sitting next to the front door. You try to ask him about it, but he just takes you by the hand and leads you to the car. You drive and drive and drive. Nothing is familiar. Where are you? Where is he taking you?

You pull up to a large building. He leads you to an elevator and up to a room filled with people. Many are crying. Some are ecstatic with joy. You are confused. And worried.

The man leads you over to the corner. Another man opens his arms and sweeps you up in an embrace. He rubs your back and kisses your cheeks, obviously thrilled to see you.

You are anything but thrilled to see him. Who in the world is he? Where is your beloved? You reach for the man who brought you, but he just smiles (although he seems to be tearing up, which concerns you), pats you on the back, and puts your hand in the hands of the new guy. The new guy picks up your suitcase and leads you to the door. The familiar face starts openly crying, waving and waving as the elevator doors close on you and the new guy.

The new guy drives you to an airport and you follow him, not knowing what else to do. Sometimes you cry, but then the new guy tries to make you smile, so you grin back, wanting to "get along." You board a plane. The flight is long. You sleep a lot, wanting to mentally escape from the situation.

Hours later, the plane touches down. The new guy is very excited and leads you into the airport where dozens of people are there to greet you. Light bulbs flash as your photo is taken again and again. The new guy takes you to another guy who hugs you. Who is this one? You smile at him. Then you are taken to another man who pats your back and kisses your cheek. Then yet another fellow gives you a big hug and messes your hair.

Finally, someone (which guy is this?) pulls you into his arms with the biggest hug you've ever had. He kisses you all over your cheeks and croons to you in some language you've never heard before.

He leads you to a car and drives you to another location. Everything here looks different. The climate is not what you're used to. The smells are strange. Nothing tastes familiar, except for the black coffee. You wonder if someone told him that you like your coffee black.

You find it nearly impossible to sleep. Sometimes you lie in bed for hours, staring into the blackness, furious with your husband for leaving you, yet aching from the loss. The new guy checks on you. He seems concerned and tries to comfort you with soft words and a mug of warm milk. You turn away, pretending to go to asleep.

People come to the house. You can feel the anxiety start to bubble over as you look into the faces of all the new people. You tightly grasp the new guy's hand. He pulls you closer. People smile and nudge one other, marveling at how quickly you've fallen in love. Strangers reach for you, wanting to be a part of the happiness.

Each time a man hugs you, you wonder if he will be the one to take you away. Just in case, you keep your suitcase packed and ready. Although the man at this house is nice and you're hanging on for dear life, you've learned from experience that men come and go, so you just wait in expectation for the next one to come along.

Each morning, the new guy hands you a cup of coffee and looks at you expectantly. A couple of times the pain and anger for your husband is so great that you lash out, sending hot coffee across the room, causing the new guy to yelp in pain. He just looks at you, bewildered. But most of the time you calmly take the cup. You give him a smile. And wait. And wait. And wait.

--Written by Cynthia Hockman-Chupp, analogy courtesy of Dr. Kali Miller


Friday, June 24, 2011

Leaving On A Jet Plane!! + Announcement =D

We're all checked in at the airport and ready to board our plane within minutes to go pick up our baby girl!!!  Please be praying for our LOOOOONG flight and for no delays either way!

We have to shout out a huge THANK YOU to everyone who helped us reach our fundraising goal and we are THRILLED to announce that we are now FULLY FUNDED!!!  To GOD be the glory - great things He has done!!!!!

Monkey is headed camping today with Grandpa and Grandma - have FUN Lil' Man!!!!

Thank you Darcee for taking us to the airport - we love you to pieces!!!!!

Ready to go!

Here we go!

We're COMING Baby Girl!!!

Hubby: "OK, we HAVE to go!!!" =)

Mommy & Me

We had a rare occasion in Seattle - a sunny day, and Monkey was requesting the beach.  Feeling emotional about it being our last days as just the two of us (OH the mixed emotions of a mama, right?!?) we decided to make the most of it.  So we packed ourselves some lunch and drove to the beach (a whole 5 minutes, maybe 8 with traffic =).

Apparently A LOT of people had the same idea because it was crazy busy!  I was thankful I stowed his bike along because it was much more entertaining than walking the distance away we had to park.

Monkey had SOO MUCH FUN!!  So thankful for this little man and the sweet, loving, considerate little boy he has become!

Mama had packed all the sandwich bags for Ethiopia so we used our giganto freezer bag =)

OHHHH I LOVE THAT BOY!!!  We're going to have some limited one-on-one time for the next little bit so I was soooo thankful for this sunny day to enjoy together (and yes, we got a little sunburned ;)!

Hoping to post soon from Ethiopia!!!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

6 Months & Growing!!!

June 20, 2011

Dear Lil' Miss,

Happy 6 Months My Darling!!!!!

In some ways the last 6 months have flown by, in other ways I have counted every minute.  It's hard to believe that my little princess is growing stronger and bigger every minute we're apart!  Sometimes I like to imagine that you haven't grown a bit and that I haven't missed these 6 months.  But I know that with every ounce gained and every roll added, you are getting further away from the malnourished little baby you were and closer to the strong and healthy little girl you need to be!  Your hair growth alone shows what good care you are receiving at Hannah's Hope, and I will be forever grateful to your Special Mother's for loving you in my absence.

At this point it is only a matter of DAYS until you are in my arms forever....and I am thankful that I won't have to do ONE MORE milestone post without you right there with me.  Although I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, these last days until you are in my arms are dragging by so slowly.  My goal for myself is to be as productive as possible in these last moments!

Hold on baby girl - you're mama will be on her way soon and then there will be no more goodbyes!!!  You are stuck with me...for better or for worse!  =)  See you soon love!

Your Mama


Sunday, June 19, 2011

We're Headed Back!!!

WOW - what a whirlwind of a week this has been!!!  Thank you all for being patient in waiting for an update...I have barely had time to breathe.

Well, as you know....we were waiting on T's new birth certificate and passport so that AGCI could submit our file to the Embassy.  We were very disappointed when on the 7th of this month, two families from our travel group got the call that their file was at the Embassy...and the rest of us got an email saying our was not.  =(  We chalk this up to the fact that the Ethiopian Government doesn't have necessarily a pattern for processing these they always say: in International have to expect the unexpected!!

It was a looong week waiting for our phone to ring....Monday being the hardest of them all.  We were SO desperate for some news, and even though we KNOW that God's timing is always perfect, sometimes it can be very hard to wait on that perfect timing.

Well TUESDAY, JUNE 14th - my phone rang and it was our caseworker on the other end!  We were THRILLED to hear that our file had been submitted to the Embassy, but we knew this just meant that now we would be waiting for the call with the review.  In adoption world, you are waiting to hear news that you need to wait to hear news.  Seriously.  This can be REALLY hard.  Especially when you are counting the hours since you last touched your daughter.  To make matters worse, only PART of our travel group got word and we were still waiting for one more family to get their file submitted.  My heart was breaking for them knowing they were probably looking at another WEEK!  Ugh.

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15th - 8:30am and my phone rings....with K's caller ID showing up!  I picked up the phone to hear a pretty mellow voice and thought FOR SURE she was calling to tell me that my princess was sick.  She asks how I am doing and I tell her I am fighting a sore throat.  K tells me, "Well you better get rid of it FAST because I have good news!!!"  She was calling to tell me that the Embassy had cleared us!!!!  "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!" was all I could say through my tears.  Normally, I cry in preparation for something big, and definitely after-the-fact....but in the moment I am pretty calm.  I just think that after she prepped me that I wouldn't be hearing until Friday under the best circumstances, I was in such complete shock that I could NOT control my emotions!  K was totally understanding and promised to email me all the dates she was talking to me about so I could keep them straight.  She told me that at this point the earliest Embassy date available was the 27th and they were fighting for that one.

Just as an added WOW - I think we set a RECORD TIME of receiving our Embassy review!  And even though I think 5 families were submitted the day before, we were the ONLY ones who heard back the next day!

THURSDAY, JUNE 16th - K calls me with CONFIRMED dates, and we book our tickets to Ethiopia!  What a huge sigh of relief to know the exact day our daughter will be in our arms FOREVER!!!!

So the countdown is ON - the ticker is now switched...

In SEVEN days from TODAY we will be holding our daughter in our arms....FOREVER!!!!!!

As excited as we are, the unfortunate part of the story is that tickets for this trip cost us $3,000 MORE than our last one!  We are trying not to stress, as we know that God will provide...but I would be lying if I told you that finances weren't always in the back of our mind right now.  So to help cover the cost of our FINAL trip to Ethiopia, we are doing a weekend fundraiser with our Ordinary Hero store!!!

Through Tuesday, they are having a fundraising blitz, and the affiliates that make the TOP 3 SELLERS will win a $500 grant ON TOP of the 40% proceeds we get!!!  So PLEASE!!!  Go check out their store and their AWESOME merchandise....they have everything from clothes, to shopping bags, to tumblers, to donations for children in Africa that ALL help us raise money to bring our daughter home!  Just choose "Domesticated Diva" as your affiliate (in the drop down menu during checkout) to ensure we get the credit.  Then when you show off your shirt, or coffee can say that the purchase of that item helped to bring a child to her forever family!!!  How cool is that?!?  So PLEASE go RIGHT NOW and do your shopping....we would appreciate your support SOOOO much.

If you can't support us in this way, we ask that you would go choose one item from the store that you like, and share the link to it on FB and spread the word on how they can help us!  That will help get more people to our store and hopefully help us raise enough money to pay for those tickets!!!

{And as always, you can feel free to donate directly to us by using our paypal button on the right side bar.}

Above all though, we ask for your prayers as we embark on the final leg of this journey to our daughter!!!  We have a huge transition ahead of us, but mostly for her.  This little lady has gone through a lot of loss in her short life, and we pray daily that God is preparing her heart to accept us as her new family and trust us to care for her needs.  We can't WAIT to share her photos with all of you!!!!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Travel Journal: Day 9

May 25, 2011

Traveling Part 2

Dear Lil' Miss,

Today was another early morning for us…but we were so ready to go home, we didn’t really care.  KLM had given us little travel packages with spare shirts, socks, razors, shampoo…ect.  Although your hairstylist mama was NOT too excited about using hotel shampoo (with no conditioner) on her hair, my hair was SOOOO greasy at this point I had no choice.  Two days without a shower PLUS when I get stressed I run my hands through my hair a million times.  I was desperate (and it was well worth it, in all honestly).

I kept breakfast small this morning, even though I was tempted to overdo it.  I was full of nerves again, and nerves = nausea for me.  I kept to toast and orange juice and then we rushed to get down to the bus on time.
We made it to the airport in plenty of time.  Security seemed pretty standard getting in and went rather quickly.  We double checked our tickets before heading to our gate, and as it turns out our “made up” KLM flight (which was basically scheduled JUST for our flight that was cancelled) had kind of screwed up all our connections….but the KLM staff at the airport re-did our tickets for us.  Just a little waiting and we were on our way!  We had another security check to go to before boarding and THIS was the most intense security we have ever experienced! 

We waited in a line and each family had to talk to a security officer and answer some questions.  He checked our passport and led us to another line where we had our luggage scanned and went through a 360 scanner ourselves – it was like nothing I had ever seen.  And then when I stepped out a lady patted me down.  It honestly doesn’t bother me….I’d rather know this was a safe flight than worry about the pat down!

We sat and waited for our flight as the room got more and more crowded.  We were pleasantly surprised upon boarding the plane that we had bulk head seats!  Extra leg room for daddy and plenty of room to lounge for mama (daddy doesn’t complain about me putting my legs on his as long as he can stretch out…which also means less swelling for me =)!  It was extra chilly since we were right by the exit, but I know now to bring extra blankets for next time. =)

This was one of the hardest flights.  For one, we were two days delayed getting home and counting every hour (and towards the end, minute).  But we were also leaving at 11am and arriving in Seattle at 11:30am….we were going to be ready to zonk out when we got home, but we had your busy big brother to take care of….and he was looking forward to seeing us JUST as much as we were looking forward to seeing him!  Thankfully it was a smooth flight.  Daddy and I each had a couple short naps, but we were still EXHAUSTED. 

When we had landed, daddy and I stood up and grabbed our stuff as quickly as possible to get our BUTTS off that plane!!  BUT…we had more lines to wait in.  Of course JUST as we got in the line for customs they opened up two MORE lanes….let’s just say it took FOREVER!!!  Not looking forward to that when we have you in our arms….but we will deal =)  From there we headed down an escalator only to wait for our luggage to show up.  We still weren’t allowed to have our phones on at that point, so I’m sure Grandma and big brother were sooo sick of waiting.  Thankfully our luggage was some of the first on the belt!  We are still surprised it all showed up with all of our delays – but THANKFUL!  We headed out to see your brother!

Our reunion was a sweet one!  As soon as I saw him (grandma was walking him towards the bathroom...dirty diaper) I yelled out his name!  He turned and a HUGE smile spread across his face as he RAN towards me!  It was everything I dreamed it would be!  I was SO excited to have him in my arms I carried him all the way to the car WHILE helping with luggage.  (Although daddy and grandma got most of it.)  He was giddy excited and talking non-stop all the way home (I’m sure that doesn’t sound like anyone you know!)!!!

In the car he was rambling on and on about all the fun things he did at grandma’s house.  I was frustrated that I couldn’t understand a lot of it (I guess that’s what 9 days away from your 2 ½ year old will do!!), but overjoyed to hear what a great time he had at grandpa and grandma’s! 

When we pulled in our driveway it was a bittersweet moment.  We really were happy to be home, but we left our heart in Ethiopia…we both were very aware of the little person who was missing.  After loading all the luggage in the house, grandma sat down to watch a few videos with us.  She was SO excited to see your sweet face, and I watched through blurred vision as tears spilled onto her cheeks watching our video from the moment we met you.  I can’t tell you how hard it is to be sharing videos of our first moments with our daughter while having our arms empty.  It just doesn’t feel right.  I’m sure a lot in our life just won’t feel right until you are home.

We had the joyous task of giving gifts to your big brother from your birth country!  We brought home a small African drum with an arm strap and a big giraffe painted on it.  We showed big brother the videos we had from our cultural night of the men playing the drums and he spun in circles excitedly, trying to repeat the motions!  We also brought a tiny drum on a stick, with wooden beads attached to strings.  You roll the stick between your hands and the beads pound on the drum.  Your brother thought it was HILARIOUS!!!  I just wish I had a video of his excitement!! =)  We also brought home a traditional outfit for him, but he didn’t seem too excited about that yet!  =)

Grandma had to leave soon after that, since she still had a two hour drive home.  Grandma (and grandpa!) was SUCH a huge help, what a blessing to have family supporting us through this!!!  I’m so glad they are all so excited to meet you!!!

When it was nap time, your brother was not too thrilled to go down.  Mama ended up crawling in his twin bed with him until he fell asleep.  Of course, I feel asleep too!  I was very thankful I didn’t wake him as I crawled out of his bed and into my own, where daddy was already snoozing.  At this point in the day, it was the middle of the night in Ethiopia…and our clocks were VERY confused by all the traveling!  Waking up from our nap (by your crying brother) was a very rude awakening to exactly how much the jet lag had affected us! 

Now we are just waiting on your new birth certificate (with our last name as your own) and your passport so that AGCI can submit our file to the embassy!  It could take up to a week for the embassy to review it and once we are cleared, we will book our tickets to bring you HOME!!!  We are praying and pleading with God that it will be a short wait, but regardless, we are leaning on Him for the strength we need to make it through this difficult time.  Longing to see you again…

With love,


Travel Journal: Day 8

May 24, 2011

Traveling Part 1

Dear Lil' Miss,

When our alarm woke us up this morning, we were startled back into reality.  Both our backs ached from sharing a twin bed all night, but at least for me…it was worth it for the body heat.  Neither of us dared to climb under the covers, so we both slept fully clothed…but it was still slightly chilly when we woke up that morning.

My eyes stung from the lack of sleep combined with the emotional roller coaster we had experienced over the past day (and even week).  Instantly, I had to fight the urge to cry.  I put one foot in front of the other and forced myself to get going. 

Walking into the bathroom, I stepped into a puddle and groaned.  The stench was enough to prove that the sewer had leaked up through the floors during the night, and now my foot was soaked, as well as the bottom of both of my pant legs.  Marvelous.  I rolled them up several times and sanitized my hands before washing my face and brushing my teeth.  That was about it, and we both headed down to the lobby for breakfast. 

It was even less exciting than our dinner the night before.  A buffet was laid out on several tables and consisted of fresh fruit (which we could not eat), a million different types of bread, and a couple hot plates that made my stomach churn at the mere sight.  (Keep in mind, when I get nervous and emotional I tend to feel nauseous and sick-to-my-stomach….so that had a lot to do with it.  Several families and my husband ate some of the food and were all fine.)

I was completely depressed, sad, tired, and even feeling a little angry about our circumstances.  I missed you, I missed your brother…I was stuck in this limbo between the two of you and I wanted more than anything to all be together.

We didn’t have much time so we ate quickly, and went back upstairs to gather our luggage.  As we met in the lobby, the staff was hauling our luggage to the vans while we stuck around dealing with the confusion between what KLM would cover, and what we had to pay.  At that point, none of us cared…but it was annoying nonetheless.

Waiting to load in the van we had to listen to some cocky guy talk about his “important status” because he did this sort of thing a lot.  He threatened to use that status to kick whoever he had to off that flight so he could get where he had to go.  We all rolled our eyes and tried to flat out ignore him as much as possible.
I had to take pictures of the grounds...

...especially the Acacia trees!

Once we got into the overcrowded van the humidity really hit us.  It was warmer than the last couple days had been, and I instantly felt sad that I wasn’t enjoying it while sitting out in the courtyard with my girl!

We fortunately had no traffic and arrived to the airport in plenty of time for security and check-ins.  We had had an opportunity to check in with our travel agent the night before, so our flights were all figured out for us.  The line was long, but we let out a huge sigh of relief when we could finally head towards our gate.

Before we could sit and relax, we had to go through ANOTHER round of security.  We had no problems (they are WAY less strict than the U.S. too!) and were soon SITTING in the waiting area for our flight to load (my feet were swollen already – no joke!).  It was only then though, that we realized there were no BATHROOMS within this secure area!!!  Fortunately I didn’t have to go too bad, and it was easy to wait until we were on the flight.  I sat down and logged onto Skype and got to talk to my mom before boarding.  She was relieved (as we were) that we were finally starting our journey home….we shared even more tears (shocker, I know!).

The flight was LOOOOOONG, but fortunately not crowded at all.  When we stopped in Khartoum we picked up more passengers, and then we were pretty close to full…but this flight was much better than our flight there (which was also great, just packed).  AND this plane was newer and more spacious!  Neither of us slept, since we were very accustomed to Ethiopian time by this point…and fortunately, Amsterdam was only an hour difference.  It worked out well for our sleep schedule…it just makes the flight boring, of course.
When we arrived in Amsterdam, there definitely was a huge sense of relief.  Even though we weren’t on U.S. soil….more people spoke English here, and it DEFINITELY wasn’t a third world country….making contacting home easier (but still expensive). 

Amsterdam was definitely beautiful…and daddy and I laughed at the fact that we had just spent a week in your birth country, and now we were in the country of OUR ancestors….although not really exploring it at all!  (Nor did we care to really...and honestly, your birth country is better!)  =)  Everything was green and lush….but almost everyone smoked and wherever I would walk I would have a puff of smoke in my face.  My hopes to come back and visit one day suddenly went out the window, and daddy laughed as I coughed dramatically every time a smoker walked by (soooo...constantly).  To be FAIR – mama’s asthmatic!  But I make no attempt to hide my disgust either.  ;)

This was the lobby!
We got on a huge bus that took us maybe 15 minutes to our hotel.  Imm- ediately after walking in, I knew this was exactly my style.  I could have made a shopping list for my home of the things just in the lobby! GORGEOUS, seriously!  But everyone we ran into, from the flight attendants, to the hotel staff, to the locals, reminded us from someone in high school from the small Dutch community we grew up in!  =)  Hilarious – seriously!  =)

Totally AMAZING, right?!?

Our only huge disappointment at the hotel was our bed….two twins pushed together. =(  But it was doable and we tried to be thankful we had a nice place to stay in.  Especially since we were told that if it had been JUST the ash in the air, we would have been sleeping in the airport.  I guess we should be THANKFUL for a sick pilot!!! =)

Unfortunately, the TV didn't work =(

Our entire travel group (the L family, the K family, and the H family…another adoptive family from Wide Horizons) decided to drop our luggage off at our rooms, and head down to the buffet to EAT.  Let me tell ya – WELL worth it!!!!  The buffet was AWESOME!!  Table after table of food!  An entire table full of salads, one of bread, one of desserts….and so on and so on.  I think we each had a plate full of fresh fruit (first time in an entire week) and filled two more plates of food before we turned in for the night.  At this point we knew we were going separate directions and it was another dreaded goodbye….but we were confident we would be hugging again soon (on our way to our kids!).

Before bed, we paid the outrageous fee for one hour of internet (which I think was about $30 US) so we could connect with our travel agent and family and update them on our arrival time in Seattle.

Goodnight Amsterdam!  Goodnight my love!

Yours Forever,