Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ethiopia Trip Day 1, 2

I journaled during our trip, so I am just typing that...
Sunday, Jan. 10

Today we woke up at 6:15 to get ready for the airport. I woke up at 2:00, ready to go and was wide awake until about 4:00. :) Lindsay took us to the airport at
7:30. Getting through this airport was a breeze. We had Starbucks for breakfast and sat around until our plane took off at 10:30.

We arrived at Chicago to find a much bigger and busier airport. We couldn't even find a place to sit down! We were here for a few hours then boarded a plane to Washington, which was an even bigger and busier airport! It was a bit hard to find where to go. We had to take a big shuttle from our terminal to the main hub. Then we waited for our luggage which was already taking a beating! We got a cab to the hotel...20 bucks for like 2 miles! We walked next door for dinner at a pub and then went back to the hotel and went to sleep. We had a 4:00 am wake up call for Monday morning.

Monday, Jan. 11

This morning we had to be at the airport at 5:00 am...no fun. We stood in line at the Ethiopian Air place forever! Here is James and all the luggage.

After waiting for a few more more hours we finally boarded the plane almost an hour late.( we didn't know it yet, but this is the start of a pattern!)


The plane ride was horrible. It was way too long and crowded. It was very hard to sleep, but we were able to take a few short naps. I expected everyone to stay in their seats, but that didn't happen. The plane was full of Ethiopians and I think they all knew each other. They were all up walking around and talking to each other. They congregated around that bathroom to chat and stretch their legs. This stunk for me...with all those people by the bathroom door, I just couldn't pee! Not good during a 17 hour flight! After about 9 hours we stopped in Rome to refuel. A little while before that I started to feel really bad. I got really dizzy. I think I snapped at James a few times. It was not a good feeling. I ate a little something and felt better thankfully. We were in Rome (still on the plane) for about 1 hour and then started out 6 hour flight to Addis. I almost forgot....as soon as we touched down in Rome, everyone clapped! I thought that was funny. As soon as we landed in Addis, they did it again!

All this said, the flight was pretty uneventful. I was ready for the exciting stuff!!! More on that soon...

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Then and Now

Check out the Arise for Children blog. Does that precious baby look familiar? It is hard to believe that is Dawit. Praise God for all he has done!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Dawit Update


Well, we have been home 5 days now. Things have been busy at the Armstrong household. We have had lots of visitors. Dawit continues to amaze me. He is doing great. He still doesn't have his sleep time worked out, which means we are usually up at 3:00 am. I started telling people if they want to have some Dawit time to come then!

When we met him on the 12th, he couldn't sit up or put any pressure on his legs. Now, he sits up like a champ. He loves to stand up while we hold his hands. He gets so excited and almost jumps up and down. He can do that for about 10 seconds, then his little legs fold. I can't believe how quickly he did these things with a little help.

We took him to the doctor on Friday. Dawit was in a good mood (as usual) and the dr said it was the most fun he has had at the office in a long time. That is, until he had to take 3 vials of blood out of the poor guys skull....then things weren't so fun. Dawit checked out fine. I did have to get some poo samples though. We think he has giardia. They have referred us to First Steps. I also have an appointment with the Commission for Special Needs on Wednesday. This will get the ball rolling on his cleft surgeries.

They girls love love love him. Gracie couldn't wait for me to drop her off at preschool today. She was excited to show him off. Both girls love to feed him his bottle and play with him. Drool doesn't hit his shirt before they are wiping it off. He loves them just as much...laughs at everything they do.
I have to share a few things they said before I forget them...Both were said while changing his diaper. And remember, we are used to girls.
- Gracie said," What is that?" Laughing I said,"his pee pee"
She replied,"Oh (sad sounding) did he get that in Ethiopia?"
- Avery said,"Oh, he has a turtle on his butt."

Where do they come up with this stuff??

Dawit takes bottles and was eating cereal in the orphanage. We have been giving him that. Saturday we tried some baby food. He hated it. Made horrible faces. Spit it out. (James said it was because it was carrots.) I then tried bananas with cereal mixed in. He will tolerate that, but still makes a lot of bad faces.

James went back to work today. :( I am now on my own. Things have gone okay today. Tomorrow my mom is taking off and going with me to look at elementary schools for Gracie. Can you believe she will be in kindergarten next year?? I can't.

My plan is to start sharing about our trip soon. I journaled while we were there so I wouldn't forget anything. I also want to share the pictures we took. Here is a picture that was taken right after we met him!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Home Sweet Home



We are so happy to finally be home! We got in last night and believe it or not, actually got some sleep! Thank you all for all the prayers and sweet words. Dawit is amazing...his big sisters LOVE him...we have lots of stories to tell from the trip! When I have more energy, I can't wait to tell you all about them. Thanks again...we love you guys!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

They are in the States!

Hey! I talked to Britt this morning and they were in DC. They were about an hour late leaving Ethiopia, but other than that, I think everything went ok. Dawit had one meltdown on the flight, but I'd say that's pretty good for 17 hours! They are really tired and can't wait to get home! The flight to Chicago is on schedule, so they should be arriving in Louisville at 6:15 tonight! I'm so excited I can't hardly stand it! Hope to see everyone at the airport tonight! Oh, and if you are coming to the airport, we are going to try to get a group photo of everyone before they arrive. So, if everyone could try to be there about 6:05, that should give us time to gather everyone up and snap a picture really quickly.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tomorrow is the BIG day!!!

Hey everyone! I received a short email from Britt this morning. It seems like it's been forever since I've heard from them! I miss them so much! The phone lines have been down at the hotel in Ethiopia, so that is why they haven't been able to contact me. When she sent this email, they were visiting someone and he let her use his computer. Thanks, man!

Here is the schedule for their trip home. They are going to checkout from the hotel this afternoon and their flight should leave at 10:15 pm. They are supposed to land in DC at 7:30 am (since they'll gain 8 hours coming home)and she said she would call then. From DC, they'll fly to Chicago, and Chicago to HOME! They have layovers at both places, so we should be talking to them throughout the day. The most important thing that everyone needs to know: THEY SHOULD BE HOME AT 6:15 PM TOMORROW NIGHT!!! For those of you who are planning on coming to the airport, I'll make another post tomorrow letting you know if their flights have been on time and if 6:15 is still accurate. Hope to see everyone there...it's going to be exciting!

Britt also said in her email that everything was going good. Dawit was great. Happy!! Unless he is hungry...which really is all the time. :) They can't wait to see everyone and share all the things they have done, which she said was LOTS! She said it has been an amazing trip!

That's all the news for now. Hope to see everyone tomorrow night. I can't wait to finally meet my nephew!!!

Please pray for a safe trip home. Oh, and also for strength and patience...I'm sure it won't be easy to be on a plane for a whole day with a 10 month old!

Friday, January 15, 2010

News from Ethiopia

Hey! I received another email from James today. Here is what he wanted me to let everyone know:

It's been a busy couple of days. We were approved at the US embassy yesterday and we now have Dawit's visa.

Today was our best day so far. We started the day at KVI visiting with the kids. Then our driver, a KVI worker, Brittney and myself went shopping and bought the orphanage all new bedding and backpacks for all the school kids. (Thanks to everyone who donated money; it went to good use). Then we went to a celebration and coffee ceremony at KVI thanking us. (I think we ate goat...but I'm not sure.) The staff was very thankful and the nannies cried when we left (they love Dawit).

Tomorrow we are driving to Nazareth to meet Dawit's birth mother. Please pray that we have the right words to express our thankfulness for the gift that she has given us.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We received a phone call!

Hey! It's Lindsay. I had another email from Britt when I woke up this morning! It wasn't as detailed as the last one, but here is what she had to say:

"Dawit is great! He is so happy! Loves to snuggle. The last two mornings, he has woken me up with his finger in my face just laughing! At night he wakes up and thinks it is playtime. We go to the embassy today. Might go to Hope again after that. Pray all goes well. He really is amazing and we can't wait for everyone to meet him!"

I'm so glad that Dawit is doing so well with the transition. And what better way for Britt to wake up than with Dawit messing with her face! So cute!

After I read the email, the phone rang with an unknown number and I got chills. I couldn't understand the man on the other end at all! I made out hello and I think he said Kentucky at some point. I just kept saying yes, like yes, put them through now! James was on the phone and I talked to him for just a second because Gracie wanted to say hi. After she talked to James, she talked to Britt for a minute. Brittney was holding Dawit and told Grace he was reaching for the phone, so Gracie said hi to him and I could hear Dawit on the other end talking back to her! It was so precious! Gracie was on cloud nine talking about how mommy and daddy were holding Dawit and Dawit talked to her! I took the phone next and was only able to talk to Britt for a minute before the phone cut out and I lost them. But...the most important information: They had been to their embassy appointment and it went great! DAWIT IS FINALLY OFFICIALLY AN ARMSTRONG! Everything was finalized! They were planning on going to dinner with someone (not sure who) and they were going to try to go back to the orphanage to play with the kids again.

Well, that's all I have for now. Great way to start my day, that's for sure! I'll post more when I get more news! Please keep praying for a safe trip!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dawit Day!!!

Hey everyone. I received this email from Britt just a bit ago. FINALLY! (I only check about every five minutes!) It sounds like everything is going good and Dawit is adjusting just fine! As I get more info, I'll post it. Thanks again for everyone's prayers...I know Britt and James appreciate it!

Lindsay

Email from Britt:
After waiting for our driver for 2 hours, we headed to Hope for paperwork. Got that done and thought we would get to go to KVI, but needed to wait about an hour for Eyob to get there, so we played with the babies for a while. We were so excited to see them. Feven has grown so much! Saron wouldn't have anything to do with me. (only wanted her nanny) :) Mikias was out doing something for immigration. We saw sweet Hiwot. (she is a chubby thing!) :) Her nannies were very good to her and she laughed a lot.

We headed to KVI next. YEAH! It was neat to see the building and Eyob in person. We met the Shultz family and Grant was nice enough to video our moment. It was so sweet! Dawit laughed and smiled so much. He wasn't scared or shy at all. He loved James' UL hat...fits right in with our family! :) He is a tiny thing. His 3-6 month clothes fit really good. We could really tell that the nannies loved him very much. Eyob seemed surprised when we said we were taking him with us, but it was fine. We got to play with the older kids for awhile. Minelik and Nati loved their bags. Minelik is all smiles and gave lots of hugs and kisses! We got to see Yemesarach..so sweet. (and RAN to me all smiles when we went back today!) We didn't stay as long as Eyob wanted us to I don't think, but we were sooo tired. We came back to the hotel, gave Dawit a bottle, and all were asleep. He woke up once I think, and fussed for a while. He was having poop issues, but that seems to have worked itself out now.

This morning we had breakfast and went back to bed :), but our driver called and said we needed to go to KVI and that he was here to get us. He didn't know why, they just called for us. When we got there, we found out Dawit was scheduled for an immunization at the children's hospital. I was really nervous about this, but it was fine. We got a copy of all his shots, and he has had many of them. He cried for a minute. (James said it hurt our driver more than it hurt Dawit...he didn't like seeing him get a shot!) After the hospital visit, Dawit and I came back here and napped while James and Jared (our driver) went to the Hilton and confirmed our flights and went to the store. We took another family nap and James was feeding him again as I came to write this. That has been our trip so far. Dawit seems to be doing great. He army crawls by the way...to cute! Thanks for all your prayers!

Brittney

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

WE MADE IT!

We arrived in Addis a little while ago.  It took a bit to navigate all the lines in the airport, but we finally made it to the hotel.  We are waiting for our ride to HOPE and then we will head to KVI and Dawit!!  I can't believe the time has finally come. 

The flight was really long.  We left Washington a little late, but they made up the time.  Before we got to Rome, I thought I was going to be sick.  I got really light headed and dizzy.  We were in Rome for about 1 hour to refuel and then on to Addis.  The plane was huge and FULL!  We were definitely glad to get off.  We can't imagine how the flight will be with a little one in tow.

The ride to the hotel was an adventure....the first of many I am sure.  :)  The hotel seems okay.  They didn't have a bassinet yet for us...still waiting on that.  They gave us a funny look when we asked for it.  We haven't met the Shultz family yet.  They aren't here at the moment.  I will be glad to see someone from home. 

I feel like I am rambling...lack of sleep perhaps?  Not only did I not sleep on the plane, but I couldn't pee either.  (maybe too much info for some of you, but the truth.)

We still have about an hour before our driver gets here, then its on our way to Dawit. 

Lindsay, pass all this news along to Mom and Lynn.  Tell the girls we love them!

We love you guys!
Brittney and James

Saturday, January 9, 2010

ETHIOPIA OR BUST

I got really excited as I typed that title. I can't believe that we leave tomorrow to fly around the world to meet our son. Our son that we have loved and prayed over for so long. In fact, one year today we turned in our application with Arise. Susan told us it would take about a year. Can't get much closer than this.

Tonight we took the girls out for dinner. Gracie got to choose so we went to Q'Doba and she was in heaven. We got her the kids meal, but decided she has outgrown the kids meal there. :) Then, we headed to James' parents to drop the girls off. We planned to stay for a bit and ease them into it. They bolted downstairs and didn't look back. :) Maybe it was me that needed the transition time. It was hard to leave them, though we know they are in great hands while we are away. I hope they are good. Avery is almost potty trained, so another hope is that she doesn't pee on every ones floor. (and that they get her completely trained by the time we get home!)
Two kids in diapers...Yikes!

When we arrived home, David stopped by and prayed over us. Which was really sweet. I cried again. (I think this is going to be a pattern over the next week.)
Now, we are finished packing and preparing. At this point, if we forget something, oh well.

I know we have lots of prayer warriors out there, so I wanted to let you know some specific ways you could pray for us this week.

* Pray for safe travels and good health while we are there.

* For a good transition for Dawit. That we would bond quickly.

* That everything would go smoothly on Thursday at our Embassy appointment. That all paperwork is in order.

* Pray for our possible meeting with birth mom. That God would lead us in that conversation.

* Pray for the girls and the family that is keeping them. :)

Thank you all so much. I know you are as excited as we are to meet Dawit! Our flight arrives in the Ville at 6:13 on Wednesday the 20th. We would love to see you there. Hopefully I will be able to email some posts to the blog, if not my sister will be posting updates so check back with us in a few days.

MOMMY AND DADDY ARE COMING, DAWIT!!

Friday, January 8, 2010

IT'S OFFICIAL

I AM TOTALLY STRESSED!

IT HIT ME AROUND LUNCH TIME.

NEW PAPERWORK TO COMPLETE.

BAGS TO FINISH PACKING.

HUGE HEADACHE.

I CAN'T WAIT TO GET ON THAT PLANE!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Getting Closer...

Yesterday was my last day at work. The kids were actually pretty good! :) Everyone that I work with is so excited! It just brings me so much joy to know that they are waiting so anxiously to meet him. They have been praying along with us since the start of this journey. One of our office staff even said she feels like he is her grandson. :) They made an announcement yesterday afternoon, reminding everyone it was my last day and that we leave on Sunday. All the teachers ran into the hall and started screaming! I can't wait for them to meet Dawit.

I also sent out a Thank you email for all the donations the staff collected...I ended up getting almost $200 more dollars yesterday! I get so excited thinking about all the things we will be able to get for the orphanage with that money.

Last night we went to Lindsay's house for dinner. My parents, aunt, and grandma all came. We ate several of my favorite dishes: kibbe (Lebanese dish...YUM) was a big surprise from Umey, and mom made potato casserole. Lindsay worked hard on a cake that said "Ethiopia or Bust!" I asked for a picture to show you, but haven't gotten it yet. (hint hint) I was a fun night with family. Our little send off, I guess.

As far as trip preparations, we have the 2 suitcases ready that are for donations. I am in the process of doing laundry and packing as I go. We have a little more cleaning to do...who are we kidding, I can't keep the house clean for long with a 2 and 4 year old running around. We will get it done though.

All in all, I don't feel really nervous. However, sometimes I feel my heart race a bit as I think about what is about to happen. We have waited with his referral since the end of May, and we are finally going to hug and kiss this little boy we have only seen in pictures. I can't wait!

2 MORE DAYS!!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Travel Itinerary

Do you all realize that we leave in 5 days?? (today is over, so it doesn't count) :) Here is the low down on our trip...
Jan 10th: Leave and arrive in Washington in the afternoon, stay overnight there.

Jan 11th: Depart for Ethiopia at 7:30 am

Jan 12th: Arrive in Addis at 8:30 am
Head straight to meet Dawit!! Together Forever!

Jan 13th: Fill out paperwork
Get to know our son

Jan 14th: Embassy Appointment

Jan 15th: Possible meeting with birth mom

Jan 16th

Jan 17th: Service at the International church

Jan 18th

Jan 19th: Say goodbye to Ethiopia (for now) at 10:30 pm

Jan 20th: Arrive home at 6:30 pm
Finally a Family of Five!

There are many things we are going to fit in on the other days like...
- Visit KVI again
- Visit Hope
- Shop!
- Check out some things for Susan

Depending on how Dawit is doing...all this could go out the window. Maybe I am being naive, but James and I have two little ones already and feel like it won't be a big deal to travel around with him. We shall see.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Pictures from Ethiopia

Last night we got to meet the Gibson Family at the airport. Bennett slept through the entire homecoming. He is such a sweetie. I get emotional every time I see a family come home. I was very surprised and thankful when Brooke said she had our pictures on a memory card and I could take the entire thing. Then she handed me a DVD with video on it. When did she have time to do all that??

I couldn't wait to get home to see our little man. The video is almost 10 minutes! We got to watch him drink a bottle...holding it by himself. (big boy) The nannies changed him and he screamed because they took his bottle away. It was just too cute! The funniest part was when Brian held Bennett up beside Dawit. Bennett reached out to Dawit and touched his face. Dawit immediately screamed and cried like he was hurt. It was so funny.
Here are some pictures.



Thank you, Brooke!

We are coming, Dawit!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Surprise News

Brooke Gibson called this morning. They arrived in Washington today and will fly in to Louisville tonight. The reason she called was to tell me that they got to visit Dawit!! That was a total surprise! She said they were having dinner one night with people from the guest house. One of the co owners of the guest house was there and through conversation, she realized that this man was probably the director of Dawit's orphanage. When she realized it, she asked Eyob if Dawit was there...YES! So they made a trip to KVI and spent some time with him. How sweet is that? She said that they were feeding him when she arrived and he got fussy because the nannies took his bottle away so he could visit. She said that he laughed when the nannies started tickling him. His hair is growing back. She said he was in a 12 month outfit and it swallowed him. She said our 6 month clothes might be too big. Brooke got video and a few pictures, but she said Dawit didn't like her flash at all and his eyes were closed. I can't wait to see how he has grown. We haven't seen him since October.

I am so excited that she got to see him. I never expected to hear that. I am so appreciative that they took time out of their schedule to visit him. I guess that will be the last update!! The next update you read, will be from us as we are snuggling him!

Happy New Year!!

We had such a fun New Years Eve! We dropped the girls off at my parents house and headed to Lindsay and Tim's for a party. WOW...a night out with no kids! (thanks mom and dad.) We had a great dinner and the company wasn't bad either. :)
After dinner we played games. This might be all fun and games at your house, but we take it pretty seriously. It is always boys against girls and always loud. Tim decided a few days ago he wanted to play pictionary and sent out an email for anyone to bring it. We were surprised to see that someone brought it...along with a giant white board and different color markers. (they must take this game playing seriously too) Here are some action shots of the game. We laughed so hard...


It was funny...Tim wanted to play and he was the first that wanted to quit! He had a little trouble. The funniest part was when he tried to draw "stutter". I wish I would have gotten video of that. :) I am sure we is going to comment on this and deny that he wasn't good.

By the way...after pictionary...girls 1 boys 0
A picture of the winners


We also played Catch Phrase, which I love. The boys ended up winning most of those games. But, I will say that I think they cheated. They were being so loud during our turn that we couldn't hear!

Lindsay and Tim


Anthony and Danielle

Surprise, Surprise. James and I made it until midnight and watched the ball drop. (Did anyone else watch that....what in the world was JLo wearing???) We had a fun time. I hope you all did too. I am really looking forward to 2010 and all that it holds.


Lindsay reminded me that in 19 days our family will be all together. That's so nice to hear. I was also excited to say that we are down to 9 days until travel...single digits ya'll! WHOO HOO! And to make today sweeter, we are welcoming the Gibson Family home tonight. I love homecomings!