Monday, May 19, 2008

All is Well…Sorry for the Delay

Yes, we made it safe and sound and all is well. I will try to update at least once month.

So to pick up where we left off, the kids went to bed well the night before we left and were up bright and early without any trouble ready to get on an airplane. I think the anticipation of getting on an airplane was more fun than the actual ride. On our flight out of Bogota Joaquin and I sat together and then Jessica sat in our same row but on the other side between two ladies. The two ladies on either side of Jessica were awesome. I felt horrible not being next to her, but the Lord gave us great folks to sit with on the plane. The one lady held Jessica’s hand as they took of and was able to explain and answer all of Jessica’s questions. She helped Jess with her breakfast and was oh so sweet. I thanked her several times for her kindness. Joaquin and I sat with an older lady who reminded me of my grandmother. She fell in love with the kids and asked me to send her photos and to call her on occasion with updates. The kids were awesome and the flight was a breeze to Atlanta. Once we arrive in Atlanta we ran to our next flight after immigration and customs. The flight was boarding by the time we got there. We did clear stand by status but our seats were not close at all. Jesscia sat in row 10 and a kind lady switched me seats so I could sit with Joaquin in row 27. I explained to Jess what had to happen with our seats and she was great about it all. She sat in front in the aisle and I rows back in the aisle. I told her to turn around and she could see me. I told the flight attendant that Jess only spoke Spanish and today was her first day of flying. It was a short flight so all went well and we were in Cincinnati ready to see the rest of the family. When we landed in Cinti I told Joaquin that we didn’t have to get on any more flights and that much of the family was there waiting on them. He lit up like wild fire and was ready to get off the plane and meet the family. Tons of family were there and Jess and Joaquin met them with open arms, hugs and kisses. They were smothered with love and loved every minute of it. You would have thought they had known the family that was there forever, they were so excited to see everyone.

From the airport we went to get quick bite to eat and then to our house. Joaquin kept pointing to different things and asking “Is this the United States?” It was so cute. Jess kept saying to him, “Everything here is the United States!” They went to bed well and have done awesome since they have been home. Jessica is so proud of having her own room, she shares with Emi, but is still so excited. Joaquin has walked through the entire house asking “Is this for me?”

The first several days back were filled with exhaustion and staying busy teaching the ropes of the house. I am thrilled at how well Jessica and Joaquin have done. It’s a lot for them to take in and they take it all in stride. The biggest issue is going to be getting them used to all the flavor in our food. The first taste of everything gets a frownie face, but they are pretty good about trying things and letting me work with them to help them like it.

They were scared to death of the dogs, but after just a few days they trade kisses and are doing great. Yesterday Jessica told me “Tomorrow I want to learn English!” They have been asking a lot how to say various things in English, they are eager to learn and I am so proud of them. Emi and Nate are just glad to have us all home and get back in the swing of things. Jessica and Joaquin went to their first baseball game to watch Nate. They weren’t thrilled about being out so long, but thought Nate was famous when he put his uniform on. They thought it was cool.

Their most favorite item is the trampoline, they would jump on it 24/7 and they are infatuated with the animals even though they are still a little shy with them, but getting better. The family is loving having them here and we are anxious to introduce them to Eric’s family and to my dad’s side of the family. Everyone falls in love with Jessica and Joaquin when they meet them, they are so full of personality. Colombian’s have been described this way “Colombians wring out every bit of life, when they are happy, their whole body is happy, when they are sad, their whole body is sad.” And I couldn’t agree more! I love my little latinos and combined with my two red heads, life couldn’t get any better.

Jess putting on a concert after playing with sidewalk chalk (they had never seen side walk chalk before)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Ready or Not Here We Come!

Today was our final day in Bogota. We picked up the VISAs and have everything we need to fly out tomorrow. Andres will be picking us up at 6 am tomorrow and we fly out at 9:30. The kids are very ready to get on that plane, or at least they think they are. We went through a book I got for kids about going on a plane. They have been looking at it, but I talked about what tomorrow will be like and that we will get on 2 planes etc. I just think the more they know the better it is for them. Then they wanted to go through the picture book and see the “todo familia” and I told them who all would be at the airport when we got home. I am taking both books on the plane to go over again.

I thought the kids would be wound up today and they weren’t. They talked about going on the plane tomorrow a lot, but they were pretty calm all day. I knew it was going to be a good day when Joaquin put on his camo pants this morning. Yesterday he said, I want to take these to the US, but then this morning he put them right on, I was shocked. He’s conforming already; it must be going well. And I realized this morning I lost like 15 lbs while I was here. Not that anyone could tell, but I was happy. Now if I can just keep loosing when I get home I will be doing good. Also today Joaquin asked to fill his water bottle and asked for ice in it. My mouth about hit the floor! What’s up with this boy? I had to laugh at him when he asked. After about an hour he went back to his water bottle and looked for the ice, he was all concerned that it was gone. I told him it melted, that happens!

It was nice to take one last drive here in Colombia today. When Andres picked us up he had another family with him too. We made a first stop to drop off this family at an ICBF office and then made several more stops at various places on the way to the VISA office. It took all of 10 minutes to run in and pick up the VISAs and then we were off again. As we were waiting for the taxi a security guard was talking to Andres about who we were. Andres was explaining I was adopting the children and we would be leaving for the US tomorrow. Jessica was sure to tell them about my lack of Spanish. But this time instead of telling them that I only speak English, she told them I speak a little Spanish. I felt like I had graduated! I went from and English speaker to a little bit of Spanish speaker. Again, I had to chuckle. By the time we had gotten back from all the running around Andres had to do it was like 2 ½ hours later, which made the afternoon fly by. Andres is so good with the kids…oh and he sings to the radio in the taxi, which cracks me up.

In the car today Jessica asked if we could go to La Maria and visit. Fine time to bring that up. We would have loved to have gone earlier in the trip but today was a little late. We didn’t want to just ask her outright if she wanted to visit, we wanted them to bring it up on their own if they wanted to go. She definitely wasn’t ready the first few weeks, and I hated to go without Eric, but knew she would have been fine going anytime within the last two weeks. We sent our items for La Maria with Lucia with a card attached saying it was from Jessica and Joaquin. Maybe someday we will come back to Colombia and go for a visit when they are older.

Also when we got back, James the beloved guy who works our front desk most days, stopped by. I was bummed when we went to breakfast and he wasn’t here. He worked at one of the other houses and when he got off work he stopped by just to see Joaquin and Jessica. He actually had tears in his eyes when he left, he said, “I just love those two.” Joaquin and James especially bonded, Joaquin loved to give James a hard time. James gave Joaquin several hugs and I think would have stayed to play. Joaquin was focused on a game when James was here and about 10 minutes after James left, Joaquin went looking for him. I think it sunk in for Jaoquin that he was saying good bye to Colombia. I had to explain that we wouldn’t see James anymore that we are leaving for the US and all new people, places and things. No tears, just a deep look in Joaquin’s eyes helped me to realize that he was thinking beyond what he had thought before. He already said some good byes to his friends at La Maria, and now he says good bye again. It’s all so much for these kids to go through, but they do so well with it all. I feel very fortunate to have had some wonderful people around us here at Zuetana. It may be expensive and the food may not be wonderful, but the people here make up for it. At the end of the day Lucrecia came into our room. She came with a gift. I cried when I opened it, it was a Bible, in Spanish, and she wrote a note inside. How very special, maybe one of the most treasured things we will bring home. Then Lucia called to wish us well and said to be sure to tell Eric hello and all the kids.

So this is it from Bogota a beautiful city with beautiful people. We are so grateful to the people here who have welcomed us with open arms and helped us along the way. We will surely miss Colombia, but I have a feeling we will be back…for a shorter visit…smile.

Okay, well don’t expect a post for a few days. It will take a day or two to settle in and find time to get back on the computer. We jump right back into a full schedule once we get home, but this time with two more little ones. My dad took off work on Thursday so we plan to spend some time just us and my folks on Thursday while Emi and Nate are at school. Plus I expect Jessica and Joaquin will end up a little emotional after a few days when it all sinks in that this new world is theirs forever. A new chapter in our journey begins tomorrow. The chapter that has just been scripted has been quite a story, full of joy, tears, grief, learning, new experiences and bonding. It is with joy and sadness that this chapter ends, but the chapter to follow is sure to be just as exciting.

And finally, one last water balloon fight

And one last jump from the top bunk to the bed. I know this is terrible, but we couldn't keep them from jumping. I can't believe we didn't end up at the hospital while we were here. You had to be really careful if you were sitting on the bed, because they would jump right at you.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Day 32 in Bogota

First off…My friend Peggy that I mentioned received Sentencia today!!! Thanks for your prayers, she and Sofia will come home Friday!

Today we completed our applications for Jessica and Joaquin’s VISAs. We left the hotel at 9 am and didn’t get back until 12:30. We were told to plan for 2 to 4 hours at the VISA office and it was a good thing we had been warned. There was a line just to get in the front enterance, which Lucia took us straight to the front of the line. I love these people. Once inside there were two families ahead of us in the adoption line. The place was packed with people and it was open on all sides. There was a roof but it was open, which was nice because you didn’t feel enclosed with all those people. For folks with older kids, take them something to do. I took them each a backpack with some snacks and things to do. I did take their DS games, but I wasn’t able to take them in. I had to check them at the counter and pick them up when we left. The kids weren’t too happy about that, but they lived. We go back to pick them up at 3:30 tomorrow afternoon. Then we are all set to come home on Wed morning. Missy emailed me today and said the flights all still look good, so hopefully we get through immigration quickly in Atlanta so we make our next flight. We have less than 2 hours in Atlanta.

About every hour this morning Joaquin said “Are we going to the US now?” It was so cute. Jessica kept telling him “NO, we go on the plane on Wednesday!”

Then this afternoon just after lunch there was a party for the families in celebration of Mother’s Day. They had a person come who does puppets and such with kids. So Jessica and Joaquin were asked to help decorate and had a fun time. The lady who came with the puppets did a great job. She brought a special book that talks about a little bird who had no mother and was adopted by a bear who had adopted other animals too, like a frog, a mouse and one other animal. It was so great to watch the faces of the kids as the story went on. After the story she let the kids come up and put on their own show, which they all really enjoyed. Several of the families from the other Zuetana came over so it was nice to see them all. Peggy came and we said our goodbyes, but plan to keep in touch. Another family that has been here for 5 weeks also came, she found out today she will not be going home until the end of the month…I have much to be thankful for. (She is not with our agency, CHI)

Well, Emi and Nate went back to school today and were so glad to see all of their friends and teachers. Thank you Margie for the comment about Nate this morning, it made me cry. Smile. My mind has been spinning all day about all that has to be done when we get home. I have to figure out English tutoring for the summer, have Jessica tested to see which grade she should be in and really work on academics with them before the fall. It will be so good to get home and get into a routine and start acclimating Jessica and Joaquin to the States. They are going to do great, even today Lucia spoke of how intelligent they were. They were a bit wound up at times at the VISA office but were very intrigued at how and why things work as far as getting to the US. Lucia is awesome, she is very sweet and cares a great deal about the children here.

So many people have asked about Eric and commented on how they enjoyed Emi and Nate while they were here.

Jessica and Joaquin love one of the front desk workers who works during the day, James. They call him “something” and I had no idea what they were saying. I have told them several times to call him Senor James, but they always just laugh at me and James doesn’t seem to mind so I let it go. So today I asked James what it is that they call him. He laughed and said it means Big Head. I apologized but he just laughed. I really need to know more Spanish. So now I will really have to get on them to show some respect. James has been a great sport with him. I tell him everyday when he leaves that it’s time for him to go take a nap. My kids wear him out, they don’t leave him alone all day.

With all that went on here today, it went pretty quick; I guess that’s good. Tomorrow I will just do some laundry so I don’t have to travel with dirty clothes, and finish packing. I have to pay our lawyer and Zuetana and hand out a few thank you gifts. We are almost home! Look out!!

Okay, that’s all I have in me tonight. I have fought a nasty headache all day, it’s more sinus related, but it’s fried my brain. See you all soon!

Sorry this is kind of all over the place, it’s all I’ve got. Love you all!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Thank you for all of your prayers, I was able to go to bed with no tears and great peace. It was wonderful to be able to see the family at our house on the webcam with Emi and Nate. Jessica and Joaquin were happy to see them and to see Tia Jeanie too. And thank you again for all the wonderful comments.

All evening yesterday Joaquin gave the sweetest kisses and hugs. Normally he loves on you but he is so rough. But last evening he was so gentle and loving and just kept looking at me. I think he started realizing that we are not leaving him, and if finding out what “love” is. I think he is feeling things he hasn’t felt before, and although not old enough to realize it, he is starting to fall in love with his family.

Jessica spent some time yesterday afternoon showing me and Lucrecia the book La Maria gave to us. There are several photos and Jessica has seen me look at it several times, but never showed any interest in telling me who folks were, and I didn’t ask. But yesterday I think after everything sinking in that we are leaving soon, she was excited to tell me all of her friends names and a little about each picture. I pulled out the items we have for La Maria and told her it was all from her and Joaquin to their amigos at La Maria. We are sending almost all of the toys we brought, Bingo, Bi-Lingual Memory, Beach Balls, UNO, etc. Along with the candy Tia Jeanie and Tia Jo bought for them to give their friends.

Today we all slept in a bit, which was a great gift to me. I didn’t get out of bed till 7:45 which felt great. It was a beautiful day, sunny and blue skies. When we went to breakfast Zuetana had a card made for each the moms. Jessica and Joaquin are the only ones old enough here understand what Mother’s Day is, so they explained why today was special and had them give me a kiss and a hug. After breakfast I went ahead and packed everything I could and got things organized while the kids played. It feels good seeing things packed and ready to go. I also go the kids backpacks loaded and ready for the visit to the embassy tomorrow. Lucia called this evening and said she would pick us up at 8:30 or 9:00 tomorrow.

This is Joaquin the morning as I was telling him to get dressed so we could go eat. He loves to salute me and say "Si senora mama!"

Joaquin thought it would be fun to race me to the door today. When he beat me he hurried and put the chain on, peaked his head out and said "HA HA!". Luckily he let me right in after I took his pic

These are just the flowers in our room, Jessica wanted a pic with them

After lunch we took a long walk. Not exactly what the kids wanted to do, but they survived. Near the end I took them to McDonalds for a sundae, which they thought was really cool. There is a play land there so I let them play a bit. Just about the time we were going to leave, a McDonald’s employee came in with face paint and painted the kids faces. We stayed out for a good 2 hours, so it helped to break up the day. I decided to go through Jessica’s hair and look for eggs. The stuff we used kills the eggs and we we used 4 of them, so surely none were alive, but it feels better to have all eggs out of her hair. She sat still playing her DS for about an hour while I searched her head. She is clean of all lice and eggs at this point, shew!

So last night I was getting onto myself for having rough day and began to remind myself of all I have to be thankful for. I have 4 wonderful children each with so much to offer. God has trusted us and given us 4 jewels to care for and to raise. It is with great responsibility that we have accepted parenthood. We have tried with Emi and Nate and will do so with Jess and Joaquin to find their strengths and to help them to identify their strenghts and to use their talents as God would have them to be used. To teach them to be good at heart and to yearn to help and show love to others. It is our job to help them realize their weaknesses and build on them and work with others to make themselves better people. It is our responsibility to teach them the importance of education and the ways of society. To help them in their walk with God and to be able to let their light shine in their everyday lives to those around them. To be proud of who God made them, to understand love and to enjoy being loved are all a part of what we must help them to learn. I am so thankful that God has given me great children willing and able to learn and grow and love with great depth. He has made our job easy as parents by giving us such shining jewels to work with. But even so I must pray daily that He helps me to help my children, to understand their hurts and to rejoice with them in their joy and accomplishments. Becoming a parent is so much more than just loving a child, it’s watching their moves and helping them to build on their personalities. It’s the job of a psychologist, a nurse, a counselor, a pastor, a friend, a teacher, a discipliner, and so much more. But most of all God gives you this special gift as a mother to love unconditionally. It happens naturally when you give birth, but I tell you, when God has ordained your children to be yours through adoption He gives you the same abundance of love and in unconditional form.

"We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands." ~Kristi Larson I love this and know first hand how true it is. I’ve said it before, but I will say it again. I can’t imagine my life without Jessica and Joaquin just as I can’t imagine my life without my biological children Emilee and Nate.

Jessica and Joaquin are just as amazing as Emi and Nate, just as lively as all the Hollis’ boys, just as sweet and fun as Maddie and Annslee, and just as beautiful and sensitive as Bailey and Brandon. I know you have fallen in love with them as you have watched our journey unfold here in Colombia, but I tell you to bring Kleenex to the airport. When you meet them in person and get your hands on them you are going to melt. Just ask Tia Jeanie. I really think that part of my problem yesterday, other than being home sick, is to think about two great kid who have lived 5 and 7 years without a mother’s love and without someone to tell them how great they are and to help them to see within themselves just how much they have to offer to everyone around them. I absolutely can’t wait for you to meet them. At this point in the day, I think I am more excited about you all meeting them than I am excited to get back home. They are just that great!

Oh and Dad, warm up the motorcycle. They are already arguing over who gets to ride first. Actually, when I showed them the video of your house, I got the motorcycle too. As soon as they saw it they began to argue over who the motorcycle belonged to. Jessica said it was hers, but Joaquin was pretty sure it was his. I told them it was Abuelo Papa’s but that you would share.

Okay so I thought I would take the camera to lunch today and give you a photo sequence of what meal time is like with Joaquin. From the way I was sitting not all the pics are great, but it’s enough to give you an idea of what I deal with at meal time. He’s a hoot, I’m warning ya!

Ok, here we go...So first you have to swim to the table!

"Is this how you use this thing Mama?" Once he makes it to the table he has to find some way to be silly.

He loves knives. Normally as soon as we sit down I take his. Today I forgot, but don't worry, I got it from him before his head started to bleed.

Yes, he's upside down on the chair. At least 5 times each meal he drops something so he has to pick it up. This is one of his favorite meal time positions, then he asks for help to get up because he knows he is not allowed out of his seat.

"So if I don't use my hands and I take a bite, this will fall on the floor and I can go upside down again to pick it up."

In the middle of each meal he asks to give hugs and kisses. When he's done he laughs. He knows...who can resist a kiss from that face. Just another successful tactic to procrastinate and get out of taking a bite.

One of his favorites. "Maybe if I hide my face under the table cloth she won't make me eat.

At every meal the boy asks to go to the bathroom. We make him go just before we sit down, but it never fails, he asks to go again. I would say no, but the people around me would probably think I was awful not letting my kid go to the potty. So here is his "i really gotta go" face. So what do you think...does he have to go number one or number two?

There are bad guys at every meal too, so you have to keep your dukes up and be ready

A little creativity...who knew a fork could double as a straw

And of course it wouldn't be a complete meal experience if you don't have a spill. I guess that's what happens when you try to use a fork as a straw.

Finally Lucrecia came over to help me try to get him to eat, and this is what she got from him.

Lucrecia and I both gave up when he started pretending like he didn't have arms and ate his rice.

We always end our lunch with fruit, his favorite part. Joaquin loves papaya (not sure if i spelled that right), but it is the most horrible tasting fruit ever. We call it the sink cleaner fruit, I won't tell you what it really smells like.

And when he is all finished, he rubs his tummy and usually says Muy Gordo (very fat) then asks for permission to leave the table.

Now doesn't that make you wish you were here??? Smile

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Emi, Nate and Tia Jeanie are home

One more post with just a few pics of the homecoming.

Just the 3 of us

Jeanie, Emi and Nate were picked up promptly at 6 this morning and made their flight here in Colombia and in Atlanta, so they are home. It was a beautiful morning with blue skies and few puffy clouds. So they should have had a great view of the city when they took off. I cried when they left and had a pretty tough day. It took me some time to pull it together this morning to go to breakfast. I miss Emi and Nate already, not to mention Eric and the rest of the family.

Joaquin woke up and the first thing he said is “Donde mi todo familia” (where is everyone). I reminded him that Tia Jeanie took Emi and Nate on the airplane and that we would be going on Wednesday. He quickly ran to Jessica’s bed to see if she was still there, then he was fine and gave me a big hug. A little later he saw I was logging on the computer and put on the webcam, he came running over and asked to talk to Nate. Of course it made me cry.

I let them watch a TV this morning while I went through all of our paperwork to be sure it was all organized and together for Monday. There are a few things you can’t fill in until you get their passports, so I went through each line to be sure I had everything filled in. The kids were really good this morning while I was going through everything. Shew!

Here they are dancing on the bed this morning.

Then we took some time to look at the videos of home again. They really enjoyed seeing the animals and the house. We hadn’t showed them Mimi and Papa’s house yet, so I showed them today. They kept saying “Muy Grande!”, implying they had a big house.

Joaquin couldn't get his fingers working to show the I love you sign, but Jess has it down.

After lunch we took of to the grocery store to pick up a few items, munchies, for the plane ride. We don’t have much time in Atlanta, if we make our connection flight, so we may not get lunch. The munchies may be a need not a want. Jess and Joaquin were great and very well behaved the whole trip, which really wasn’t that long, but it reminds me of how far they have come.

When Emi and Nate were here every time we would go out and come back Emilee was in charge of ringing the buzzer for the front desk to let us in. Jessica was so excited when we got back from the store that she could be the one to ring the buzzer. She deliberated for an entire block if she should say the “Hollis Familia” or Jessica, Joaquin and Mama.” Joaquin was more into saying hello to everyone we passed, so he could have cared less that he wasn’t the one pushing the buzzer.

I was off and on in tears today, I’m not really sure why. I should really be enjoying my time with just Jess and Joaquin, which I am, but for some reason I am terribly lonely and just ready to come home. I feel horrible for being in tears, but there’s nothing I can do. I hope a good night sleep kicks me in the butt and I am better tomorrow.

I had a chance to talk to Eric for a good 45 minutes today and the kids were excellent. He was getting himself ready to go pick up Emi and Nate from the airport so it was nice to be a little part of home. He even asked me which shoes he should wear. I know he knew, but was trying to make me feel like I was back home and get me to stop crying. Whenever we talk to Eric in the evenings the kids hog the webcam until it’s time to get them to bed, so I haven’t really had a chance to talk to him since he’s been home. He showed me the flowers outside and around the house. It was nice to see what is in reach and after talking to him the tears finally stopped, at least until now. For some reason I am dreading going to bed. I don’t know what my problem is.


Our home is going to be so different when I get home with my little latinos. I absolutely can’t wait for our families to meet them in person, they are in for such a treat. I can only imagine how much they are going to thrive with all the love they have waiting on them in the states.

As soon as Lucrecia came to work today she came into see if I was doing okay. I love this woman. Then around 5 she came in to see if Jeanie, Emi and Nate had made it home okay. She saw I was talking to Eric on the webcam and I had her say hello. She was glad to hear they made their flights. She knew they were on stand by.

Joaquin and Jessica were so good today, we had a lot of fun together. I think they like all the attention and for Jessica she didn’t feel she had to compete with Emilee. I did let her do a few things today that normally Emi would do, like pour our water in our glasses at meal time. She thought she was big stuff.

Joaquin took a nap today, on accident. He fell asleep while watching TV this evening while I was on the webcam with Eric. Hopefully he goes to sleep tonight. But when he woke up he was calm and sleepy and sat on my lap for a long time. He never sits still long enough to sit on your lap for long, so I ate it up.

Okay, one last note. Jeanie, THANK YOU SO MUCH. Just for being here for that week was so nice and to be able to send Emi and Nate home with you was a relief. It’s great to have such a wonderful family willing be there when you need them and to be able to send off my kids with my sister without any worries at all is something not everyone can have. Jeanie thinks of my kids like they are her own. I appreciate you more than you know.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms reading. For those of you who this is your first Mother’s Day, Congratulations, Motherhood is a beautiful thing as you all have learned. To those of you who are mothers at heart and waiting for your referral, enjoy your day too because your lives will be turned upside down once you have your little one(s) with you. One of the best things here is watching the first time parents with their little one(s), they are beaming and loving every moment…your day is coming.

Jess wanted to take my pic saying I Love You. So here it is, Happy Mother's Day, I Love and Miss You All!

Oh and one last prayer request. My friend Peggy who has adopted Sofia is here in Colombia with me. She met Sofia the same day we met Jess and Joaquin, so she has been here for 4 weeks. She has still not recieved sentencia. Her court has a new judge and he still has not signed off on her paperwork. She is missing her two boys at home terribly, she has been away from them for 4 weeks. She is going to miss not only mother's day with them but also her son's 16th birthday. You can imagine how hard it has been for her. Please pray she gets word first thing Monday and can get home ASAP!!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Today marks week 4

I can’t believe we have been here for a month. In some ways it seems like a short 4 weeks, but in some ways it feels like forever. It’s very exciting to finally know we are going home next week and will start a new journey in Ohio.

Emilee woke up this morning and couldn’t wait to start packing. She was almost completely packed before breakfast. She and Nate can hardly wait to get on the plane tomorrow.

We spent part of the morning packing up Jeanie, Nate and Emi. We got the call that both birth certificates were in and David would be over to pick us up to take us to the passport office. When David came we all piled in his car and off we went with David and Andres. Andres drove and parked the car, while David worked his magic and interpreted for us. First of all wherever I got the info from that the passport office was closed on Fridays, it was wrong. The place was packed out. We went in and David went straight to the front of the line at the first desk and filled out the papers we needed to proceed. Then he sent us to a short line off to the side to pay. After that he marched us right to the front of the line in front of about 80 people and whispered, “I’m about to tick off about 70 or 80 people, but don’t worry.” He is so funny, but boy do they have connections. So instead of waiting for hours, we were in and out in a half hour. He went to the front of the line and then told the people behind us that “I” needed to go next, then he marched right to an open window and motioned for me to come with him. I was cracking up inside, he is a hoot. I’m sure the people who had been waiting forever were not too happy, but no one was going to questions David, he knew just what he was doing.

Jessica and Joaquin were very proud of their Colombian Passports!

On the way back to the house, David confirmed with Lucia a time to take us to the Embassy Doctor. He said Andres would pick us up at 2:30 and our appt would be at 3. Note to those of you getting ready to travel. Andres is always on time and David is always about 15 minutes late, but both are awesome!! So I got our paperwork together so we would be ready to go when Andres arrived. Emi and Nate stayed at Zuetana while we went to the doctor. We had to go in a taxi with Andres, and they wouldn’t take all of us. We were told it could take hours at the doctor but we were in and out in an hour. When we got there Andres checked us in and they called our name in less than 5 minutes. The doctor was a very nice gentleman, but the physical check took about 2 min per kid. It took him a lot longer to type all the info in the system and print our out paperwork. Jessica and Joaquin are not shy at all and the doc was getting a kick out of them. He told us we had our hands full. Jessica was interrogating him, our favorite question she asked him was “who is your boss?” He started laughing and said “Uncle Sam, but I probably shouldn’t say that.” It is so funny to watch Jessica and Joaquin, they are so inquisitive about everything. Every place we go is a new experience to them. The grocery store has been their biggest awe yet. I don’t think they had ever seen a scanner and cash register in person. So I digress…anyway, the doc was getting all the paperwork together and then asked me for a passport size photo. I totally missed that in our travel guide and left them in the safe at the house. CRAP! He was so very nice and said to just bring them back and he would finish everything for us. So we left, told Andres, who was also very kind. I apologized for him having to run us home and then back to the doc, but he was so sweet about it. Once we took the photos back, the doc finished the paperwork in less than 5 min and put it all in a sealed envelope that we have to give to the visa office, still sealed. I then paid him. The funny part about this was that when I paid him, he pulled out his wallet and put it right in. I wanted to laugh, but obviously I didn’t.

We made two trips to the doc and were still back home by 4:45, so not so shabby. I was really glad to have both the passport and the doctor visit complete in one day and while Jeanie was with me. It’s not that I couldn’t do it by myself, but it was very nice to have her with me. Just less stress over all.

So now on Monday I will go the VISA office to apply for the visas. They say you will be at the visa office 2 to 4 hours. So I will be packing a backpack for each of the kids to keep them busy. But, you can no longer get them the same day, you have to pick them up the following day. I will pick up the visas on Tuesday. So we will be returning to the states on Wed evening. If we make all our flights we will be in at 6:45 on Wed evening.

Jeanie and I wanted to make one more trip to Maku, so off we all went before dinner. This may have been the fastest day I’ve had here yet. We also stopped at Juan Valdez to see if they had gift cards. We wanted to get Lucrecia one. It was funny when Jeanie asked the workers at Juan Valdez about gift cards, they looked at her like she had 2 heads. As common as gift cards are in the US, it was odd they had never heard of such a thing.

After dinner Lucrecia came in our room to give Emi and Nate a hug and a kiss on the forehead, she started crying and was quite surprised at herself. She hugged Jeanie and had us all crying. She brought Jeanie and the kids some apples and bananas for the flight and long day ahead of them for their carry on luggage.

We finalized all the packing and Jeanie insisted she leave me with only two suitcases. Everything we have left here will fit pretty easily in 2 suitcases, but that leaves Jeanie with 6. She is worried about me with too much luggage and trying to hang onto 2 little latinos, who are not at all shy or afraid of strangers in the airports. We ended up being able to put one suitcase in another for her, and Emi and Nate will be a big help with luggage, but I still feel awful sending her with so much.

Joaquin and Jessica are really excited to be coming home and it’s nice to be able to finally tell them what day they will be flying. We can actually start counting down. They have been good but at times a little trying. I know they understand but yet there is so much unknown for them that you have to expect they will act up a little. But over all they are doing great!

Okay, well it’s late and we will be getting up early. Andres will be here at 6 to pick up part of the gang here. Thanks again for everyone’s love and prayers.

Oh and dad, you are going to love watching Jess and Joaquin eating hot wings (they probably will not want them hot…but). We have had chicken legs here a few times and that’s what we had tonight. I wish I had my camera on. They eat everything down to the bone. Tonight Jessica even started to eat the bone, I had to make her stop and hand it to me.

I didn’t have my camera on today at all, so these are the only pics we got, which we took this evening.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Are we there yet?

Not much going on today. It rained off and on all morning. Both Jessica and Joaquin tried to see what would happen if they don’t listen to Mami today on a few occasions, they just needed a reminder I guess, but it was nothing big.

Here is Joaquin in time out on his bed, this is his pouty face.

Last night when we put the kids to bed Jessica asked to sleep with Joaquin. We told her no, that she still needed to sleep in her own bed. I set her in her bed and covered her up. She began to cry, not a fit, just crying. I don’t even know if there were tears. Anyway she fussed for a good 30 to 45 minutes and then all of the sudden stopped and very calmly said, “Ya (ja), Listo.” Then rolled over and went right to sleep. An English translation would basically be, “I’m sick of hearing myself and will now go to sleep,” or “Ok, enough of that, I’m ready to go to sleep now.” Jeanie and I just looked at each other and started laughing. Just proof that she was crying just to cry, nothing wrong really, she just wanted/needed to cry.

I don’t have many pics today either. The kids had a pillow fight and a new family arrived today and met their son, so there was a small party to welcome them. Other than that, we watched movies and just hung out. This morning I lost one of my contacts, it popped right out of my eye, so I will be in glasses the rest of my time here. And, well, I think that’s it really. Sorry. I think my brain was tired today, not much processing and not a lot of creativity.

We had Carmen explain to Jessica and Joaquin that we are still waiting on a few papers in order to take them to the US. Also, that Jeanie, Nate and Emi would be flying home on Saturday and we would go home a few days later. The both understood and didn’t have any questions really. Joaquin put on a frown for a few minutes but quickly popped out of it and is fine.

Then around 8:30 tonight Lucia called. She said she had one of the birth certificates in hand and the other is scheduled to arrive tomorrow (Friday). She said if she gets it by 10 as she expects, that she will call us and David will take us to the passport office to process the passports. But it has to all happen by noon or the passport office can’t help us until Monday. If all the cards fall right we will be home no later than Wednesday. There is a slight possibility of us coming home on Tuesday, but Lucia said to plan for Wed. We will just have to see how things go.

Emilee and Nate are so excited they are coming home. They should arrive at 6:45 pm Saturday in Cincinnati if they get on all the flights without any trouble. Then back to school on Monday. Emilee has dance on Tuesday, Nate has baseball practice Tuesday and Thursday and a baseball game on Wednesday. Coming home to “full speed ahead!”

Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement!

So good night from Bogota, just a few posts left from South America.

Sorry mom, Jeanie took a pic of me with the kids, but it was not so good. But here they are with Lucrecia.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

News...Hope to be home NEXT Thursday

Well, I don’t know what to say, we are just sitting and waiting. The morning was long and frustrating. Every time the phone rang our ears perked up in hopes it was for us. I have the rest of the story at the end.

I think everyone is starting to get a bit board with the same old stuff here at the house, the same park, ice cream and my creativity has run out. I feel really sorry for the families who are not with CHI that stay 6 to 8 weeks with school age kids. We went to the park again today with the beach balls. We decided to go to the sand pit first to change it up a bit. Then the kids and Tia Jeanie played with the beach balls for a while which was fun. On the way back we stopped at Juan Valdez so Tia Jeanie and Nate could get a coffee. It’s been great to see the real personality of Jessica coming out, she is a stinker.

So here is our funny Joaquin story of the day. Joaquin loves to stick his hind end out at us and so today we were at the park and Jeanie and I were sitting on the ground next to each other watching the kids. Joaquin comes over, turns his back to us, sticks his hind end to us and just stands there for a few seconds. Then he turns his head towards us, puts up his finger and says, “Espere!” (in English, Wait!) Once he tooted he took off running and giggling.

Then Nate was pulling Joaquin like a dead body by his feet. All the sudden Joaquin’s shoes popped off and Nate didn’t realize it, so he kept walking and apparently Nate had a hold of Joaquin’s pants too because he pulled them right off of the little guy. Joaquin thought it was so funny he wanted Nate to do it again. I told you he wasn’t shy. Imagine my little latino in the park in his tighty whities. Luckily I had the camera on and got a photo. At least we have lots of laughs with all this waiting.

Yesterday Jessica was talking about my favorite words. She said Mami’s favorite is “Knock it off!” and “No”, hmmm, not sure what that says about me. It started because we were teasing her that her favorite words were ahora (now) and Ya, sounds like ja (not sure of the spelling, but it means whatever she wants it to mean, like now, no more, already etc) Joaquin loves to say “todo la familia” (all of the family). It’s funny to hear their accent when they say words in English , I love it.

Also, Jessica tells everyone that tries to speak to us in Spanish that we speak English. Jessica and Joaquin are not shy at all with strangers, so it’s kind of funny when she announces to the world that we don’t speak Spanish. Pretty soon the shoe will be on the other foot and it won’t be so funny to her.

Instead of saying shoot or something similar, Jessica and Joaquin say “ah shhh” (or at least that’s what it sounds like). And when Joaquin toots he says, “ oof” and waves his hand in front of his nose and laughs. So today Uncle Brian sent word to Nate to teach Joaquin how to do an arm pit fart. So THANK YOU Tio Brian, Joaquin is learning the skill and thinks its hilarious. Also, Brian they call you Tio Braujan (spelled as it sounds) and Jeanie won’t let us fix the pronunciation because she thinks it’s funny.

Well there’s nothing else to do but laugh and make the best of what we have.

About 5:45 we couldn’t stand it anymore and I decided to all Lucia. The news was not good. She still doesn’t have the birth certificates and is hoping to get them tomorrow afternoon. So the best case scenario at this point according to Lucia is to fly home next Thursday. Yep that’s right, one more week, which will put us here for 5 weeks. Yes, I cried, then pulled it together. I think we are going to send Jeanie back with Emilee and Nate this weekend, Saturday. Then Jess, Joaquin and I will be home as soon as we can.

So here is the breakdown of what has to happen for us to come home. First we wait on the birth certificates. Once we have them in hand we go to the passport office to apply for the passport. But the passport office is closed on Friday. We will apply for the passports one day and go and pick them up the next morning. Once we have the passport in hand we will go for the VISAs which we will apply for in the morning and pick up later the same afternoon. The following day we will go to the Embassy doctor. Then we are free to come home. The only flight out of here for us is 9:30 in the morning each day. So if we get the birth certificates on Thursday or Friday our days will look like the following.
Saturday - Send Jeanie, Emi and Nate off with kisses and hugs
Sunday - Spend Mother’s Day with Jess and Joaquin by ourselves
Monday - Apply for Passport
Tuesday - Pick up passport and apply for the VISAs. Go back in the afternoon and pick
up the VISAs.
Wednesday - Go to the Embassy Doctor
Thursday - Fly home

Jeanie is believing for a miracle tomorrow morning, but it’s all in God’s hands. I don’t know what His plan is, but He has it under control. I will just keep believing and will know we will be home soon. It was just tough having our hopes up for coming home this weekend and now knowing we will be here another week, well, that was a tough pill to swallow.

Don’t worry, we’re keeping our chins up. We’ll be home soon!