Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Shopping With a Purpose

I talked about Advent Conspiracy in my previous post HERE. And how Americans spend $450 BILLION dollars on Christmas every year. If you feel the need to buy a Christmas gift for someone, why don't you shop with a purpose and buy a gift that will also help others? I've made it easy and all categorized for you! If you are an adoptive family and are selling something, please feel free to comment with info and a link (so, readers, be sure to read the comments, too!).


By purchasing these shirt, 100% of the net profits will go to the Lifesong Guatemala/Village of Hope, who are helping serve orphans in Guatemala. Purchase HERE.


A family through our agency is #3 on the waitlist for a referral and are selling these shirts (among a few others to help raise funds for their adoption. They are $20 and you can order them HERE .


This sweet couple is adopting both domestically and internationally (Ethiopia)! Help them raise their funds needed for these adoptions by ordering one of these great shirts on THEIR BLOG.


Buy one of these cool tshirts from ONELESS MINISTRIESBy purchasing merchandise from One Less Ministries, you are helping to make ONE less orphan, ONE less victim of human trafficking, ONE less victim of sexual exploitation, and ONE less victim of poverty.


Mudlove is a bracelet company (who we used) who has a huge variety of bracelets with words on them. They give money to help an African have clean drinking water, and for every $5 spent, an African can have CLEAN drinking water for a year, which is so very vital in African countries that have lots of parasite and disease filled water!

Buy one or several of these BEAUTIFUL necklaces for a special woman in your life from AMAZIMA MINISTRIES. These necklaces are handmade out of recycled paper. When you buy this necklace, you help employ over 30 Ugandan women who once relied on prostitution and alcohol brewing as their only means of survival. Each woman in Amazima's vocational program also receives spiritual discipleship and financial counseling to help teach stewardship. In addition, all profits from Amazima's jewelry sales support the feeding of over 1200 children Monday through Friday, year-round in the same community where the women live.  Your beautiful new piece of jewelry is employing women, feeding the hungry and changing lives!


Shop for these super cute African fabric and burlap bags made in Tanzania HERE! Proceeds benefit The Rafiki Training Villages perform two main functions. First, they provide living, medical, and educational facilities for orphans and vulnerable children in ten of Africa’s most impoverished nations. Second, they train African churches and governments to care for and educate their orphans and support their widows. The Rafiki Training Villages are operated by Rafiki Overseas Staff who are long term missionaries. They are assisted by national workers and short term missionaries. Together this team accomplishes the dual purpose of the Rafiki Training Villages—to help orphans and widows and train others to do the same. This is achieved through the Foundation’s four programs: Childcare, Education, Training, and Widows.  They also sell lots of other products varying from for the home, jewelry, apparel and more! 


Buy one of these cool bracelets or necklaces from ONELESS MINISTRIESBy purchasing merchandise from One Less Ministries, you are helping to make ONE less orphan, ONE less victim of human trafficking, ONE less victim of sexual exploitation, and ONE less victim of poverty.


Shop at Rahab's Rope to stop human trafficking. Rahab's Rope exists to give hope and opportunity to women and girls that are at risk or have been forced into the commercial sex trade of India. By creating a safe and loving environment, they enable the women and girls to grow and develop physically, mentally, and spiritually. Their work provides basic education and vocational training for each girl and woman who come through their centers; ultimately, allowing them to integrate into their communities in a positive and constructive manner. They are a faith based non-profit organization that desires to follow Jesus' teaching and direction on every step of the journey. Their vision is to see lives transformed by God's love in action.


Shop Junk Posse. I love this company! They are who made my Africa necklace that I won in a drawing a year ago. Love, love, love the necklace, and love, love, love that they support so many amazing organizations and adoptions!


Another adoptive friend's work of art! They adopted from Ethiopia and are in the process again. They are selling these amazing signs that read "Our Family" in the Ethiopian language Amharic. Each sign measures approximately 14" in length and 4.5" tall.  The metal signs are precision cut from aluminum, which will maintain its  silver patina; meaning that it won't rust over time or the from changes in various climates.  Each wood base has been hand-milled out of local natural oak.  You can choose oak or black. Go HERE to order one!


Watercolors! Help raise funds for another Ethiopian adoption by ordering a watercolor painting! Go HERE for more info!


Sheets! I have a sweet friend who is adopting a precious 6 year old little girl from Ethiopia and are trying to raise the funds quickly so they can bring her home ASAP. It's one thing for a baby to wait, as they don't understand, but for a 6 year old, the wait can be absolutely horrible. She needs to come home to her family NOW! Will you help by ordering a sheet set or two? These are GREAT sheets and are ONLY $35. For ANY size! You can't beat that price and everyone needs sheets! So now you can order sheets AND help bring a sweet girl to an awesome family!! Just email them at to order!  (if you're local - to us - Amy can ship us the sheet orders for free if there are at least 11 set orders locally. Let me know if you order a set!)


If you still need Christmas cards, go HERE to order some printable photo cards! Proceeds benefit an Ethiopian adoption


Buy this vinyl decal HERE for just $10 to support a family who is adopting their second daughter from Ethiopia! It can go on your car, on your wall, mirror, window or just about anywhere!


Support another Ethiopian adoption by going HERE to order some Christmas music downloads!


Buy one of our family cookbooks! This is a sturdy, professionally printed cookbook with over 150 pages and comes with a plastic cookbook stand. We originally sold them as a fundraiser for our adoption but still have about 100 left. Proceeds from these cookbooks are going toward our sweet 6 year old's goal of buying a goat and two chickens through World Vision for an impoverished family. These are now reduced to just $10 each (with free shipping, and if you buy more than 1, you save!)

Cookbook Amount


Buy coffee from Three Avacados! They say: "Three Avocados is more than a great cause, we're great coffee. Our coffee beans are 100% Arabica and come from Mt. Elgon in Uganda. Uganda is bordered to the north by Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, and by Kenya to the east, also known for amazing coffee. In fact, Mt. Elgon borders Kenya and Uganda, and much of the highly praised Kenyan coffee is grown on the same mountain. East Africa has long been known as the source of some of the best coffee beans in the world, and Uganda is no exception. Our beans are hand picked when the coffee cherry is at it's peak of ripeness. After drying in the sun, the beans are wet processed, to ensure the highest quality coffee possible.
Our coffee has been praised for it's smooth, bold taste, with hints of dark chocolate. And when you realize your coffee is also helping provide clean water in Uganda, you'll enjoy each sip that much more."


If you donate $20 HERE , you will receive a $50 coupon. You can redeem this at multiple restaurants and the card never expires. Or you can give it to a friend. It's so easy to use! Just visit, find your favorite restaurant out of the choices, print the coupon and give it to your waiter. This is a sweet family who is on their SECOND adoption from Ethiopia and third adoption overall, as they adopted two little boys boys from Russia several years ago! Adoption is ingrained in their hearts, so if you are wanting to give someone a gift certificate for a restaurant, this is the best way to go! To read more about their story, visit their blog HERE


Usborne Books. To help another family that is with the agency we used with their adoption, visit their blog HERE to order a new book for your child!


By purchasing these shirt, 100% of the net profits will go to the Lifesong Guatemala/Village of Hope, who are helping serve orphans in Guatemala. Purchase HERE.


You can shop from a variety of items at THIS STORE, where up to 50% of the proceeds are going toward this family's adoption of their 4th son from Russia!



The 147 Million Orphans Foundation was created to impact the lives of children through the provision of food, water, and medicine. We invest directly in projects that help provide these basic needs to those who desperately need it, and most of our projects occur in Haiti, Honduras, and Uganda.
As with any good FOUNDATION you must lay one brick at a time. The 147 Million Orphans Foundation was created to LOVE+ 1 and we are doing that by helping others to create a strong foundation. Whether that is a medical clinic in Haiti, homes in Honduras, Water Wells in Ethiopia, or a store house full of food for Uganda, we want to show the love of Christ. The rebuilding of the wall in Nehemiah was accomplished by people just doing their part and helping others to do theirs. The LOVE+ 1 PROJECTS are steps in rebuilding, and we would love for you to be a part of the REBUILDING!


Shop from SHOW HOPE . Show Hope is an amazing organization who helped us fund our adoption by offering a grant to our family. Without their generosity, it would not have made our adoption as easy. They help lots of families and do tremendous orphan care worldwide. Support them by shopping online HERE.


Shop from PROJECT HOPEFUL. We owe a lot of thanks to Project Hopeful. Because of them, we found our sweet precious Mikiyas! Because of them, we changed our hearts and minds to adopt HIV+. Because of them our family has changed for the better, forever!! Support them as they strive to educate and advocate for those like Mikiyas. Support them as they strive to spread TRUTH about HIV to the world!


Here are some organizations where you can shop in honor of a loved one! If you have someone on your list where you just don't know what to get them or who already has everything, buy them something from one of these organizations in honor of them! A chicken, a goat, mosquito nets, etc. There are lots of options! We love to let our kids pick out gifts from these catalogs every year!

Compassion International 
World Vision
Samaritan's Purse

Christmas - A Bit Different...

We're one week into the Christmas season in our house and I felt convicted to share our Christmas traditions, meaning and reasoning, along with some other info! This is a LOOONG post!

First of all, we've never done much in regards to Christmas. Present/Gift-wise at least. But over the past couple of years we began to change things even more. Our Christmas does not look like the standard American Christmas. And it changed completely because of conviction from God, some books we had read, and something called Advent Conspiracy. Please watch:

$450 BILLION dollars. Spent on Christmas. That's even with the downfall in economy. Are we the only ones who think that's just outright ridiculous? So we changed things up even more... We don't do a lot for gifts. We don't spend a lot of money. We don't put our focus on things that don't matter. We don't do Santa.  That's not to say that those who do things differently are wrong. We have lots of friends and family that do things differently and that is OK! God is not going to convict every family to be the same, do the same, act the same. Every family will feel convicted to do things differently and that's totally fine. This is what WE do.

We do three gifts for each child. A Gold Gift (something they really want). A Frankincense Gift (something spiritual). A Myrrh Gift (something they need). Yep, that's it! The kids love it and their main focus stays on Jesus and not all about the gifts. In fact, this year when asking Ilana what she wanted, she said said "A chapter book. But really, I'll be happy with whatever you give me. Besides, it's Jesus' birthday, not mine." Not saying EVERY child will react that way, but that's partly just who she is, despite her youthful age of SIX. She just knows that it's not all about her and that's what we want to instill in ALL our kids.

We do a family gift. A gift that the kids open together that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Usually a couple movies or some board games.

We do stockings. But they're not your "traditional" stockings filled with little toys and goodies... They're filled with practical items. Yep! We buy them new undies, socks, toothbrushes, tooth paste, body wash, hair accessories, and such for Christmas! And you know what? Our kids LOVE it! We do include a hotwheel for the boys or a small gift for Ilana and maybe some candy but that's it. I love that our kids get so overjoyed about something as simple as a toothbrush! (again, this is just what WE do!)

We do new PJ's given on Christmas Eve.

Instead of a ton of gifts, we do a lot of family time and we do traditions. Lots of them.

- Breakfast Casserole on Christmas morning. I have had that since I was little on Christmas mornings. I made it on Michael and I's first Christmas together and Michael demanded it be a continued tradition. Recipe requested! Here it is:

                                8 slices bread, cubed into 1 in. pieces     1/2 T dry mustard
                                2 c. shredded cheddar                           2 c milk     
                               1 lb. cooked ground sausage                  1 can cream of mushroom soup
                               4 eggs

Grease 9x13 glass dish and layer the bread cubes, then sausage, then cheese. Beat together eggs, dry mustard and milk. Pour over top of cheese. Top with cream of mushroom soup and refrigerate overnight. Bake in morning at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. 

- We do a Jesse Tree (a new tradition this year) AND a Christmas tree (which we always get a REAL tree)

- We do 25 wrapped Christmas books. Each day the kids take turns picking a book to unwrap before bed and we read it. They are not new and are books that we have already.

- We do Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) throughout the season (more on that later)

- We make a birthday cake for Jesus

- We buy gifts through Compassion International, World Vision, or Samaritan's Purse.

- We always put quarters in the Salvation Army buckets wherever we go.

- We hang 25 envelopes on the wall as our December Calendar with a paper inside each one that tells what special thing we get to do that day (we do it in the evenings during the week because Michael likes to be involved with it, too).

Here is our month of December:

1. Get a REAL Christmas Tree!
2. Have a Christmas tree decorating pizza party (with Christmas tree shaped pizza!)
3. Craft Day! Make a gift for grandparents!
4. Make and play with snow play dough (recipe found HERE. Just add silver glitter)
5. RAOK - Go to Chick-fil-A and pay for someone else's meal
6. Make paper snowflakes and decorate bedrooms with them
7. Christmas Parade and Tree-lighting in our local downtown
8. Christmas goody making day for Mommy at Grandma's while the kids have a fun Daddy/kid day
9. Cookie decorating day at Grandma's for everyone!
10. Craft Day! Make a gift for cousins (we are doing a cousin gift exchange where the limit is $5 and they have to really think about making/getting something meaningful and also pray for that specifically for that cousin throughout the month).
11. RAOK's - take Christmas goodies to someone special, to our car mechanic, and to Daddy's work!
12. Family game night with prizes!
13. Shop for an ornament and possible RAOK
14. Christmas movie and candy cane shaped pizza party sleepover with cousins!
15. Aydan's birthday! His choice for the whole day and another Christmas parade
16. Aydan's birthday party and a lighted boat parade by the Harbor
17. RAOK - make a meal for a fire station close to us
18. Make lots of salt dough ornaments
19. Live nativity
20. RAOK - In honor of Grandpa Larry (my dad) who died one year ago today, visit an Alzheimer's wing in a nursing home and deliver our handmade ornaments
21. Christmas movie and a star shaped pizza!
22. Minivan Express - Details HERE. We've done something similar to what is found here, but without the tickets and such. This is a great idea and a new tradition we're starting this year!
23. Watch The Nativity Story as a family
24 - Make Jesus' birthday cake as a family and go to Christmas in the Park (every year, our church has an evening service in the park with a live band, short sermon/story, and such. It attracts thousands of people! It's great! Afterward, the kids open their new jammies that are packed in the van, put them on and we drive home and look at lights and then we come home and read the last book from the wrapped books that is the true Christmas story.)
25. Family Jesus Party! (we wake up and read the Christmas story from the Bible, open stockings, eat breakfast casserole, then open gifts.)

What are YOU doing for Christmas? Will you be able to shop and spend less and love and give more? My next post will be about shopping with a purpose!

Friday, November 30, 2012

3 months and Today!

2 years ago as we began our adoption journey, our hearts ached for a little girl or boy... We had no idea what the journey would end up being like but trusted God along the way. Here we are, November 30, 2012...

3 months ago on August 31, we brought two precious sweet boys home to our family.

- 3 months ago we had a clingy baby boy who didn't crawl well, couldn't stand, and only wanted his momma.

Today, we have a walking, signing (as in sign language), starting to kinda talk little boy who still loves his momma and daddy, but is venturing out to Grandma Tina or some of his aunts, while keeping a close eye on where Mommy or Daddy is.

- 3 months ago we brought home a sweet and tiny "6" year old little boy who knew hardly any English other than Mom, Dad or simple words like Please and Thank You.

Today we have a sweet little boy who has grown almost TWO inches and speaks English fairly fluently, asking me this morning "Mommy, we please have spaghetti to eat tonight? Spaghetti is favorite!" (and yes, we are absolutely having spaghetti for supper! And chocolate cake to celebrate 3 months home!)

- 3 months ago, that little boy didn't know a stranger and loved to wander off in public places.

Today, when he meets someone new, he asks us if they are family. Today, while he still loves to venture off, always stays within a close distance and makes sure we are within site and no longer approaches random strangers. He even is shy at times with meeting someone new, which is very good!

- 3 months ago, he screamed and cried and acted as if I was the meanest person in the world when he went to the doctor for the first time and had lots of blood drawn and I had to practically drag him out of the hospital because he didn't want to come home with me.

Today (or yesterday, rather), he had blood drawn, not even flinching, watching the nurse do it and when she was finished, he ASKED her to do it to his other arm!

- 3 months ago we didn't know much about Mikiyas' background or story.

Today, as he learns more and more English, we learn more and more of his story and while our hearts sadden as he describes and tells us different things, we are so thankful that God gave him to US!

- 3 months ago, Mikiyas had no idea what "I love you so much" meant. He knew what "I love you" meant and what "so much" meant, but together, he did not. He thought of himself as "yucky" and unloveable because of the HIV.

Today, Mikiyas completely understands what "I love you so much" means, as he hears it from Michael and I daily. He truly understands and comprehends it, whereas before, he couldn't even fathom how we could love him much at all. Now he accepts the HIV (for now) and knows that we and lots of others love him regardless of it and that we will never think any different of him just because of those 3 letters.

- 3 months ago we had no idea how things would differ as our family went from 4 to 6.

Today our family of 6 seems as if it's always been this way. The kids love each other, but can still argue like brothers and sister, which in my book is good!

Today I am so thankful for these last 3 months. We have seen so many improvements and changes and milestones. Eyob walking and "talking", and Mikiyas losing his top two teeth! Along with the addition of 2 more kids, we've had our share of more doctor appointments. HIV doctors, cranial doctors (which for anyone following Eyob's journey and why we brought him home quicker than usual, it still ended up being too late for any treatment for him. :( ), and are preparing for our first surgery with Mikiyas next week (to repair a perforated ear drum) and also will be seeing cardiologists and adding new meds to his daily regimen for a heart condition we found out he has called Cardiomyapothy.

Many things have changed: twice the amount of laundry and dishes. Twice the amount of cleaning up. An entire kitchen shelf that had to be emptied of extra dishes that is now full of medicines that boys take daily. Twice the amount of time to get ready in the morning, especially Sunday mornings.

I couldn't be more thankful for these changes and will forever be grateful that God not only chose us for this journey but that Michael and I chose to listen to Him with obedience. I'm thankful that despite my doubts on if it was even possible, God provided a way. I'm SO thankful for every single one of our friends and family who have supported us along the way, both financially and prayerfully.  You all played a HUGE part in this journey and we owe you so much! For those wondering how much of a difference you made, please remember, that because of you and our awesome God, two sweet boys who would not have had much of a chance at a great life in Ethiopia are home now. Home with a Mommy AND a Daddy and brothers and a sister who love them. Who are surrounded by extended family and church family that love them. And they will never, ever have to question if they are important. If they are good enough. If they will be loved. Mikiyas and Eyob  will always know what "I love you so much" means....

This Christmas season we have so much to be thankful for and are so excited to witness Christmas through their eyes!! Praising God for so many great and awesome changes this year!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The embassy trip and home again - Part 2!

I left off the last post as we landed in Washington DC... So to continue... We had 2 more flights to go before we made it to Florida... The last flight was amazing. I have never appreciated an airline (US Airways) so much before.  Our seats were all separated, so when we got on the plane, Michael explained that we were all separated, and that we had been travelling for over 24 hours, we are bringing home two boys from Ethiopia who are new at flying, and would really love to sit together if possible.  They totally accomodated us and helped us throughout the flight. One of the attendants stopped halfway through the flight to tell us thank you for what we did and asked us what made us adopt. It's funny when people ask that because my first answer is always "Well... God!" It's a great way to start off our amazing testimony! He then explained that he was adopted and so he just loved what we did. Before the plane landed, they gave us a large water bottle to take with us because they knew that we still had quite a drive and thought it'd be helpful in case we needed to make a bottle for Eyob. Then, as we were landing, they announced on the intercom that they had a special family travelling, then announced our names and told a bit of our story and asked if everyone could please remain seating when we land so that we could be the first ones off. It was definitely NOT needed, but so appreciated. It was such a great ending to our long travel!

As we got off the plane, we made a quick stop to the bathroom for a diaper change and then rode the train to the main terminal, not having a clue how many people would be there! As we walked out, we were greeted with around 40+ people, tons of signs and balloons, and loud cheering. It was amazing! I was SO excited for Ilana and Aydan to meet their brothers and for everyone else to meet them, too. Poor Eyob was tired and way overwhelmed and wasn't sure of all the people, but Mikiyas ate up all the attention! Thankfully we had an amazing photographer from Tampa donate her time who got a ton of amazing photos- thank you again, Melissa from Contemporary Captures Photography . She not only got great photos, but truly captured some amazing memories! Thank you to each and every person (and a special thank you to my momma who flew all the way down, just to be a part of it) who came all the way to the airport to not only support us but to welcome home our boys. You have NO idea how much it means to Michael and I and how thankful we are for each and every one of you and grateful that you were a part of that special moment! The ride home was interesting... Mikiyas and Eyob had NEVER been in a car seat before and were not happy about the restriction. Eventually everyone calmed down and fell asleep, and then I became the emotional one and cried all the way home. Partly from being exhausted, partly from being so overwhelmed (in a good way), partly scared that I was finally becoming a mom of 4 (what if I couldn't do it?!), and lots of other emotions all in one. The biggest was that I was SO happy and SO thankful about our amazing homecoming, but so disappointed that one of our absolute biggest supporters - one of whom we had told first 2 years ago when we had decided to adopt - One that had loved these boys before they even knew of them and anytime we talked about the adoption, got tears in his eyes - my daddy... He wasn't there... Never would I have imagined that he would never get to meet the boys, much less even know their names... When we started the journey, I pictured him being one of the first to hug and kiss my child... But alas, he wasn't... The blessing, though. He had the best seat in the "house" to view it all... I was just really missing my Daddy at that moment...

After a 2 hour journey, we made it home. It was dark, but we were greeted with balloons outside the house, and a huge "Welcome Home" sign created by our amazingly talented niece Kaelyn. We carried all the kids inside where Mikiyas just walked silently from room to room checking everything out. He was amazed about everything and had to gently touch just about everything. He couldn't believe he had his OWN bed, but was more comfortable sleeping with Aydan that first night. Eventually everyone crashed in their beds (Eyob in the pack'n'play in our room) and we all slept until about 7am. We woke up with 4 wide awake kids in our room. It seemed like I was dreaming. Still couldn't believe ALL my kids were together...

As the kids ate breakfast and I began putting stuff away, I found sweet notes and Bible verses put up throughout the kids' rooms and a fridge and freezer full of food. I still don't know to this day just who all gave us food or wrote the notes, but I just want to say thank you to whoever did. It meant so much to us and the food helped us out SO much for a few weeks! You have NO idea how helpful premade meals are at times like these! So thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone!!

So it's been 5 weeks since we've been home with our boys... I can hardly believe it! Sometimes it's hard to believe it's already been 5 weeks, other times, it seems like they've always been here... Watching all of their firsts, especially Mikiyas can be SO entertaining. His first escalator ride at the airport was so very humorous. He kinda did the splits and just giggled the whole way. By the time we made it to Tampa, he was an escalator and moving sidewalk pro! He was amazed by the ice dispenser, a bathtub, putting milk in cereal (another outrageous giggle), the abundance of toys (which in our house is NOT much compared to the average American household), and the fact that he had a whole closet full of clothes. Just for him. Never have I seen a little boy SO excited to have clothes... Oh, and the microwave? He was amazed and said "Mommy, flashlight?" thinking that it was one giant flashlight because of the light in the microwave.

Mikiyas came home knowing very little English and now after five weeks his English has grown astoundingly. And if he doesn't know what something is in English, he asks, "Mommy, in English?" and will point or use hand signals to show me what he wants to know. He's a very smart little boy!

Eyob has gone from sleeping in our room to now sleeping in the boys' room in his crib. He had some issues sleeping through the night for the first week or so, but thankfully quickly transitioned and sleeps all night! This momma is happy about that! :) Both of them transitioned/adjusted so much quicker than we had planned, so we ventured out after a couple weeks cooped up in our home. First the beach, and then a week later we tried church. They loved it!! Mikiyas is especially a huge fan of church and asks daily "Church today, Mommy?" and is always disappointed when it's not a Wednesday or Sunday!

Anyway, there's so much more to write, but I have to wrap this up for tonight! Will try to write another blog post again soon!

Here's a video we created with the rest of our journey:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The embassy trip and home again - Part 1

We left the transition home two and a half weeks ago... Can't believe it's already been that long! Sorry it's taken so long to update on here. I post updates once and awhile when I have a minute on Facebook, but I know there are a lot of blog followers that aren't on Facebook! So sorry!!

First of all, I'll update from our trip.... Here is the video of Mikiyas seeing Daddy for the first time on Sunday:

Monday, we attended Embassy and were once again in a crowd of older adoptive parents and Ethiopians and agency directors who commented about how young we were... :) I guess we'll just have to get used to it! We later went to Kaldi's, an amazing coffee shop that looks similar to Starbucks (but SO much better in my opinion!!), for ice cream and coffee to celebrate. The next couple days we stayed at the guest house with the boys and played and loved on all the other kids and babies for their momma and daddies who can't be there yet. Each day, Mikiyas would say "Mommy! Daddy! Aeroplane?" And we'd have to tell him how many more days. He was SO excited!!

We went out to dinner with our driver and in country director, Woudneh, at a raw meat place (blech!) per Michael's request... I was hungry, but not near hungry enough to eat any of that. Lost my appetite watching it, haha!

Michael with the fresh beef that the meat was cut from...

The "appetizer" of just pure, plain raw beef. They would cut chunks of it and eat it like that.

The extremely spicy-make-you-cry raw beef

He ate a lot...  I kept telling him not to eat so much or he'd get sick.... Lo and behold... He ended up getting sick the following day... I didn't really feel sorry for him! ;)

We wanted to see Eyob's birth mom on this trip but when we got there were told that they had been unable to get ahold of her so we wouldn't be able to see her. We were pretty bummed, but understood. Wednesday morning, we got a phone call from Woudneh saying that the birth mother would be coming to the transition home that afternoon! We were SO excited! Not only would we be able to meet her, but she would also get to see Eyob! The meeting with her went so well and we were able to learn a lot about her, her family, among many other things. She was very happy to see Eyob and to be able to hold him. The pictures and videos we got of her are priceless and will be so appreciated by Eyob when he's older, I'm sure!

Wednesday night, the boys slept in our room with us, and Thursday morning, I woke up to Mikiyas rubbing my face and grinning from ear to ear. He is one sweet boy, I tell you! I said "Hey, Mikiyas, guess what?" And he shrugged and I said "Aeroplane! TODAY!" and he could hardly contain his excitement! :) We showered, packed and spent the afternoon outside with all the kids and nannies! It was a beautiful day! Before we knew it, it was time to eat a quick supper and get ready to go. Before children leave to come to America, the transition home children/nannies have a tradition of singing some songs together. Here's a snippet of them singing with/to Mikiyas:

After hugs to everyone, we hopped in the van and ventured our way to the airport. Mikiyas was so excited! Eyob wasn't too sure what to think and was happy as long as his momma was holding him! We went through security, got in line for our tickets and then waited for a few hours for our plane. Thank goodness for our awesome travel agent who put us on the same plane as a fellow adoptive friend that I've "known" for awhile and this past summer got to know even more as we messaged back and forth and prayed for each others' sons... We finally got to meet and Mikiyas and their sweet little boy, Muse, hit it off immediately!

Unfortunately we didn't get to sit anywhere close to each other on the plane, though. But both boys were so tired and fell asleep within minutes of getting on the plane. Once we were up in the air, we put Eyob in the bassinet and I tried to sleep for awhile.

It was an interesting flight with a few hours of sleep here and there...
The sunrise over the Atlantic as we got close to the US.

Eventually after 17 1/2 hours, we finally made it to Washington DC! Never had we been so anxious to walk! We went through Immigrations and Customs and the boys were officially US Citizens! We found our new friends, the Hapners and hung out with them for a couple hours on our layovers. Mikiyas was so excited!

Our continued journey home will be coming up in the next blogpost! :)