Off to Africa...Again!!!

Tonight feels much like August 18th, 2009 when our living room was full of luggage, the night was getting long, and we were getting ready to head out on a long journey bright early. But this time around, the never-ending butterflies and anxious, nervous, excited energy is not there like it was back in August because this time, my baby boy is sleeping right down the hall, safe, snug, and loved in his crib. :)

This time, I have a different kind of nervous... the "taking my one year old on an airplane for THAT LONG kind of nervous." Are you kidding? :) Haha. Remember our flight home from Ethiopia? Let's just say it was as horrific as I thought it was going to be! But then again, poor Mekonen was so sick. This time around I think he will do much better!!!!! Wishful thinking counts as reality right?

Tomorrow morning we head off to Zambia, Africa! Indy, to Washington, to an overnight stay in South Africa, and then on to Zambia! We will be there for two weeks surveying a Christian ministry/organization that might be a potential long-term opportunity for us. They are doing primarily self-sustaining business agricultural projects- teaching the Zambians how to run a business and how to profit in order to provide for their families and communities. It's really amazing! Some of the businesses include things like honeybees, aloe plants, bananas, sawmills, and fish ponds. They also have a pastor's school, plans in the making for a highschool and elementary school, and just finished building a medical clinic waiting to be staffed with doctors and nurses.

So all that to say, we would love and appreciate your prayers for wisdom, clarity and direction as we discern whether the Lord would have us return to Zambia full-time. If you are interested, here is the website about where we are going.

We are unsure of what our internet access will be on the trip. So if we don't update as we go along, I of course will give a detailed account of our trip when we return! So until then, here's a picture of our little man to hold you over! :) See ya!


Indy Children's Museum!

(Well, I figured out the picture thing, but am not able to get the cursor to go between the pictures to put captions. Anyone? Help? This is so frustrating. Old blogger was way better). 

A couple weeks ago I went with my friends Kelly and Joy and their kids to the Indianapolis Children's Museum. It was so much fun! Mekonen had a blast!

Mekonen LOVES to climb! He loves to go under and over everything, so we knew he would LOVE the little toddler section at the museum. It was basically a mini obstacle course with things to climb on, under, and go around. It was so fun!! Take a look!


Blog Help Please!!

Help! Does anybody know how to work the picture function with this new blogspot set-up? It is very frustrating and I like the old version better. It lets me upload several in the upload box, but only puts one picture on at a time. It keep putting two pictures side by side even though I clicked the part that said "center." I'm very confused! Help please??


A Hilarious Train Wreck

Now before you think I am cruel, calling a train wreck hilarious, I am not talking of the physical object of a real train wreck, but rather a complete social train wreck.

We are in Chicago working out Mekonen's U.S. passport situation so we can go to Zambia without any problems. After some fun in the city and a good lunch, me, Jon, Mekonen, and my cousin Jess all got on the El train to head back to her apartment. All three of us get on the train and Jon is pushing Mekonen in the stroller. Jon sits down by an African American lady and Jess and I took the only other open seats across the aisle from them. This lady smiles at Mekonen and thus, the following converstion happened...Jess and I are watching this unfold as outsiders and wishing so badly it would be socially acceptable to video tape the hilarity of my husband trying not to have anyone be embarassed.

Lady: (talking to Jon & Mekonen) Is his mother black?

Jon: (hesistating slightly) Yes, he's from Ethiopia (which later we laughed about. I was like, "Jon, I am his mother." Although I knew what he meant cause he was caught off guard knowing she asked b/c of how he looked)

Me: (leaning towards Jess and whispering) She thinks he married an Ethiopian

Jess: no she doesnt'. He just said Mekonen was FROM Ethiopia

Me: no trust me, she does. And Jon doesn't know she thinks that.

Jess: nah!

**A couple more polite, friendly conversation lines continue between Jon and this lady. Then...

Lady: Oh! He has your big eyes!

Jess: (looking at me with a hilarious expression) Oh you're right.

Me: (leaning towards Jess whispering) Look at Jon's face. He just discovered she thinks he's married to an Ethiopian woman and had Mekonen with her. He doesn't know what to do.

**At this point Jess and I begin narrating as we are watching this unfold from the aisle over. (They don' t know we are listening or commentating).

Lady: So you're married?

Jon: Yes, my wife and I have been married for almost 5 years

Me: (leaning towards Jess whispering) Jon is totally avoiding introducing me as his wife (I was literally three feet away) because it's pretty much the point of no return and is now quite awkward. He's going with the storyline.

Lady: Oh, so you had him after you were married? That's good b/c not many people do it like that now.

Lady: How long were you in Ethiopia?

Jon: for 10 days

Lady: Oh, so he just happened to be born in Ethiopia?

Jon: (hesitating, feeling awkward) um, yeah.

Lady: oh, so you conceived him here?

**Jess and I are totally losing it at this point and Jon realizes he can no longer go with the original story line.

Jon: (feeling incredibly awkward and stuck) um, well, no. He's adopted. We adopted him from Ethiopia

Jess: (says to the Lady) Yeah, this is his wife.

**Everyone realizes how completely awkward this encounter was and there was some of that awkward laughing.

Bless my dear husband's heart as he tries desperately to reconcile the situation with some small talk about adoption.

Thankfully, our stop was next.

Poor Jon, we made fun of him the whole way home. He said he realized too late that she thought he married an Ethiopian and thought it would be too embarassing for her at that point in the converstion, so he was just going with it. That is, until she busted out the conception question and Jon was like, "I just couldn't go with it." Haha.


My Favorite Time of the Day

This is not the greatest picture, but it represents one of my favorite times of the day...rocking with my baby. Mekonen is all action, all the time, non-stop when he is awake. We are really working on training him to sit still for things such as storytime and he is getting much better at that. But snuggle time during the day doesn't really happen that often because he just wants to be on the move!!!

If you know me well, you know that physical touch is my love language and I can't get enough of hugs and cuddling. When we first picked up Mekonen at the orphanage we started the kind of sleep routine we were going to continue for attachment: holding/rocking to sleep. Yes, some of you experienced mothers out there who love Baby Wise will cringe when you hear that because you are die-hards about babies crying themselves to sleep or going to sleep on their own. Under other circumstances, such as if I parented Mekonen from the moment he was born, I might do things differently. But for this little guy, that was our plan! We knew that there was a great possibility that this could make it more difficult later for him to fall asleep and stay asleep on his own, but it is what is best for attachment and we said we'd deal with the rest when it came. Lucky for us, it never did!! Mekonen is a great sleeper now (after a few months of great struggles with his naptimes). He is perfectly content being rocked to full sleep and then we stick him in his crib. But, we can also put him right into his crib awake and falls asleep great on his own. In the middle of the night we all wake up several times but can put ourselves back to sleep. Many babies who are held/rocked to sleep have a hard time doing that. But luckily Mekonen doesn't ever wake up at night either.

So the question is... if God blesses us with more children, how we can get them to be flexible enough to rock to sleep, rock to grogginess, or just being put in their crib awake and sleep well! We joke that our next baby's sleep patterns will not be so easy!

Many have asked when I am going to "wean" Mekonen off of being rocked before bedtime. My answer? Not until he doesn't want to, or he's too big! :) There will come a day when my boy goes off to college, leaves home, gets married, and starts a family of his own. I want to cherish all the time I can have him as my baby. I know lots of moms who say they wish they held their babies more, or rocked them more, rather than being so rigorous with a specific program. It's the time of the day that I get to sit and snuggle my usually very hyper and active boy. It's the time of the day where I pray for him as I rock him. It's the time of day where I sing him some hymns that I want him to know in his heart. It's our time together. Just the two of us and I wouldn't change it for the world.

It makes me sad though b/c he's starting to grow out of being rocked to sleep. Most of the time now, I sit and rock him for awhile and then put him in his crib awake. Give him kisses, and off to sleep on his own he goes. Which is fine with me. But I hope this isn't his transition out of being rocked altogether! He is growing up too fast! Everyday he feels bigger in my arms and I can't believe how small he was the first time I held him.


My Year in Review!

So this post is coming 10 days after New Years! But better late than never!! He's my year in review!!

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before? Hopped on a plane and headed to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where we met our beautiful son face to face for the first time.
2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I don't make New Year's resolutions because I'm too much of a perfectionist to handle the effects of not keeping a resolution. Haha. But I would like to read more. I love books but don't make enough time for them. Plus, I get tired after about two pages and want to go to sleep. Haha.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth? Yes!! Much Baby Love! Jon's sister Meghan and her husband Josh welcomed their 1st child Owen Simeon in January 2008.
Our friends Brian and Naomi welcomed their 3rd daughter Mia Faith right before we left for Ethiopia. 4. Did anyone close to you die? Praise the Lord, no.

5. What countries did you visit? ETHIOPIA!!!

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009? continuing to grow in wisdom

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 8th- Jon graduated from Seminary! WOO-HOO!!!!
May 29th- Finished my teaching career (for now) to be home with my baby
June 7th- Last day of internship for Jon's seminary degree
June 29th- Passed court in Ethiopia making Mekonen Jack Oren our legal son forever!!!
August 21st- Met our son face to face at the Wanna orphanage in Ethiopia!
August 27th- Went to our son's hometown Dire Dawa, Ethiopia
August 30th- Stepped off the plane in Indianapolis as a family of three! Mekonen meets his Grandparents and Auntie Jess for the first time.
September 4th- Mekonen meets his cousins and aunts and uncles!!
November 26th- Mekonen's 1st Thanksgiving
December 25th- Mekonen's 1st Christmas
December 28th- Mekonen turns one years old!

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Making it through my Research Design class in graduate school with a big, fat A! Completing chapter one of my thesis.

9. What was your biggest failure? hmm...I don't know. It will depress me to think about.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? Praise the Lord nothing major! I got sick our last day in Ethiopia and our poor baby was sick with ear infections, pneumonia, bronchitis, and a lung infection! Oh my!

11. What was the best thing you bought? All the things we bought getting ready for Mekonen. That was the best!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? Totally my husband's! He puts up with so much being married to me! :) He loves me and takes care of me no matter what...even taking a super mundane job for a few months during a job transition in order to take care of us. Also, my sister Amy who I literally owe my Research Design class to, and the fact that we couldn't have made it through the adoption process without her. Love you!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed? Some in our lives who find it humerous to say racist jokes and stereotypes.

14. Where did most of your money go? For the 2nd year in a row... Ethiopia!

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? Definitely our trip to Ethiopia to get Mekonen. I was so excited I actually got ulcers the week before we left and could not sleep!

16. What song will always remind you of 2009? The song about adoption "When Love Takes You In" by Steven Curtis Chapman.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? happier!
b) thinner or fatter? the same!
c) richer or poorer? poorer! But we don't care. We have what we need and that's all that matters!

18. What do you wish you’d done more of? same as last year... READ! (this is always my "sort of resolution")

19. What do you wish you’d done less of? same as last year... WORRY!

20. How did you spend Christmas? This year was crazy, fun, and exciting! We spent the week before Christmas in PA with my family, then spent early Christmas morning just the three of us, at our house in Indy, then spent Christmas morning at a soup kitchen, and then the rest of Christmas day with Jon's family.
21. Did you fall in love in 2009? Yes, most definitely...with a little Ethiopian babe named Mekonen Jack. The first time I fell in love was on March 26th when we opened his picture in our email.Then all over again when I held him in my arms on August 21st.
22. What was your favorite TV program? And still it remains...Law & Order: SVU and yes, I have to admit it, the Bachelor.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year? I have never truly hated anyone. I don't plan on it either.

24. What was the best book you read? Hmm...not sure. Here are a few good ones I read this year... "My Sister's Keeper," "Adopted for life," "Instructing a Child's Heart," parts of "Death by Love" (haven't finished it yet), and started "The Year of Fog."

25. What was your greatest musical discovery? I don't know that I'd call it the greatest musical discovery by any means, but before we left for Ethiopia, Jon took me to a Brad Paisley concert. It was so much fun! Jon says my song by him is "Waitin' on a Woman." Haha. (Yes, you know you love our cowboy hats).
26. What did you want and get? My baby boy from Ethiopia!!
27. What did you want and not get? Seasons of Friends on DVD

28. What was your favorite film of this year? Most definitely "The Blind Side." If you haven't seen it yet, you must see it!!! I also loved "The Proposal"

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? Haha. I don't even remember! Most likely I went out to dinner with Jonny! I turned 26 on March 14th! I am officially "old" cruisin' past the mid-20's, into late 20's and downill into 30! Oh my! Haha.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying? Seeing more of Ethiopia than we could fit into 10 days. What a priceless trip.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009? Same as last year. No clue. You tell me. I wear whatever... Jon thinks I'm cute and that's all that matters!

32. What kept you sane in 2008? It was quite of year of needing MUCH sanity control going through an adoption. Totally Jon...he always brings me back to reality and always has me laughing in the end haha. Definitely my sister Amy and our friends from AAI throughout our whole adoption process.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most? Haha. All the crazy people that go on the Bachelor and Bachelorette. horribly entertaining.

34. What political issue stirred you the most? I'm not sure of the specifics of it, but whatever policy that was passed that allows adopted children with HIV to go through the process of adoption and travel much quicker and smoother. We know people who have adopted children with HIV and this was HUGE.

35. Who did you miss? Definitely my family in PA. Mom and Dad, Bek & Tom, Natalie & Jane, Amy & Meade, Manny & Aderyn, and brother Aaron.

My Mom & Dad (Grandpa Jack & Grandma Missy-although she HATES being called that)
My sister Rebekah and brother-in-law TomTheir girls: Natalie
& JaneMy brother-in-law Meade and niece Aderyn and nephew Manny.
My sister Amy and Mekonen.
36. Who was the best new person you met? Hands-down, Donovan and Julie Witmer! We experienced the deepest part of our son's story with them, along with our entire Ethiopia journey, and beyond! We can't wait to see all that God does in our families from here on out! We will be friends forever. We love you! (And Mekonen says he loves Sosina).37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
  • God always provides. We've had some rough job situation stuff, lots of medical bills, and pretty much just a crazy time where so much felt unstable. But we hold fast to what we know about Jesus and we keep on with doing the next right thing. We are immensely blessed in more ways than we can count.
  • Love knows no bounds of DNA, culture, language, skin color, country, or anything else. I have experienced a love with my son that runs deeper than I ever knew existed. He is mine: altogether, always, unconditionally forever.


Back to Africa!!!

Woo-Hoo!!!!! It's confirmed! We are headed to Zambia, Africa at the end of January for two weeks to check out a potential long-term opportunity. Praying for the Lord's guidance and soooo incredibly excited!!!! BACK TO AFRICA!!!!

Chicago Visit!

Mekonen and I hit the road on his birthday and went to Chicago to visit my two cousins Jess and Jenny for a few days. It was a lot of fun!! I really liked the city. Jess lives just minutes away from downtown where she works.

The first night we hit a Chicago style pizza place. It was yummy! I cannot believe how cold it was these few days there. Here's Mekonen all bundled up in his carseat. Doesn't he look thrilled? Mekonen hammin' it up at the restaurant. We gave him a lemon because we wanted to see a funny reaction. But none. Nothing. He ate the entire thing!! A waiter who was watching us the whole time we were there said he didn't know what was more entertaining, the baby, or the three of us. Then he joined the fun and brought us a lime. We totally got the face we were looking for with that one. Poor Mekonen!
Auntie Jenny, Mekonen, and Auntie Jess.
All four of us!
The next day we got on the El train and went downtown for the day. It was FREEEEEEZING!!! Mekonen looked like a glow-worm!
Stopping for lunch at Chipotle. Yes, we were in Chi-town and ate at Chipotle. But we loved it.
Jenny looking like a movie star out with her babe. I was so hoping to catch a glimpse of Oprah. Jess and I want to stalk to her.
Me, Mekonen, and Jenny at "The Bean," some tourist thing downtown. It was so cold that we walked up, took a picture, and walked the few blocks back to Macy's to find Jess. (Mekonen looks completely uninterested.Haha). BBrrrr....
After a long day downtown in the cold, Mekonen was exhausted. Auntie Jess was sympathizing with him.
Auntie Jenny and Mekonen
Auntie Jess & Mekonen
I can't believe I have a baby. I can't believe Jess and I are "all grown up." She's always there for me. Every big life event, there she is, standing by my side. I am so proud of her and I love her to pieces. Thanks Jess!


1st Birthday in Indy!

Here are 2 posts in a row on my baby's 1st birthday, December 28th!!! I still cannot believe Mekonen is already one year old! In some ways, I get so sad thinking he is already one. It makes me think of how he's only been home for a short amount of time, and there was so much time before that when we didn't have him with us. So much we missed out on. But I am thankful that we won't ever miss a birthday and that we got to spend his 1st birthday together as a family!

Mekonen had two birthdays!!! One in PA before Christmas with his Grandma and Grandpa Jack, his 4 cousins, Auntie Beka and Uncle Tom, my two best friends Rachel and Georgia, and our friend Demetrius. Then he had another party in Indiana with Jon's family after Christmas. Mekonen is caked out! :)

Mekonen's birthday celebration at Grandma Magz and Grandpa Doug's house.

Mekonen opening his gift from Mommy & Daddy. PUZZLES!!! I was so excited to find him some chunky puzzles. We have had a lot of fun with them already!
Mekonen's favorite: chewing on the wrapping paper.
Opening presents from Grandma and Grandpa!
Mommy made lots of yummy treats! (oops, I only cooked one "y" so one is missing in "birthday." haha).
Chocolate cupcakes with number 1 cookies and star cookies on top!
1st Birthday place setting for our little man!

Mekonen's special birthday spot at Grandma's!
MMmmm.....tastes sooooo good!!
Happy Birthday Mekonen! People tell us all the time how blessed you are to be in our family. But they have it all backwards. We are the blessed ones! You are an incredible joy in our life. We love you more than you can ever imagine!