many blessings

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A dear friend in Kenya just emailed me a bazillion questions and my brother called from Denver yesterday. Must be time to blog and answer some of the questions about how things are going our first week home.

We came home one week ago last night. When we arrived at the airport near midnight, our whole family was waiting for us. Monica and Kelly, my parents, Zach’s mom, Jeff, Kristen and their kids, Kristen’s sister and dad. It was awesome. Zach and I knew what was waiting for us and I couldn’t wait to see everyone. The first people I saw down the hall through the windows were Victor and Jesus. They were on lookout for us. As soon as we stepped off the underground transport, they yelled, “THEY’RE HERE!!!” I saw the girls giggling and bouncing in anticipation and I got tears in my eyes. What a joy it was to hug them! Everyone kind of stood around us, looking at Diego, not sure what to do. Kelly and Monica gave him hugs and then everyone else joined in, speaking all manner of Spanish, English and Spanglish. They had balloons and posters and chocolate! Diego was delighted to see everyone in person. What a trooper he was. After a 16 hour day of traveling, he was still smiling and calm.

The weekend was busy as we unpacked, shopped for tennis shoes that fit Diego, and had Sunday dinner at my parent’s house. The girls had a rough go jumping back into the swing of things with Mommy and Poppy. The three kids hit it off well, but Monica and Kelly definitely had to work out some of their own personal issues with each other. All in all, it was a rocky weekend for them. The good news is that only lasted for 2 days. We have had a wonderful week with no problems. Zach went back to work on Monday, the girls went to school, and I stayed home with Diego. I’ve taken the rest of the school year off so I can help all the kids with the transition, especially Diego. We had expected the girls to have a rough time for a long time but we keep praying and working with them so hopefully life will continue smoothly as it has this week.

Next week we will take Diego to the IAC at Children’s to check on his health and development. Then, on March 11 he will start Kindergarten. He’s been riding with us everyday to drop off and pick up the girls from school. I asked him if he was excited about starting school and he said no. However, the teacher he will have speaks Spanish and her name in Spanish is Senora Dulce, Mrs. Candy. He wasn’t excited about meeting her, but on Thursday after school we stopped into the office to say hi to her. She got down on her knees, introduced herself, asked Diego how old he was. He just smiled and held up 6 fingers. Then, she asked him what his favorite animal is. He didn’t answer. So she said, “Mi animal favorito es un gallotito.” (My favorite animal is a rooster). He thought that was hilarious. Then we toured her room and she showed him where the Spanish books are, the stuffed animals for reading, and how to sit on a carpet square. He was very obedient and seemed totally taken with her. All night long and the next morning he didn’t stop talking about his teacher Senora Dulce whose favorite animal is a rooster. He is excited about school now.

I am having fun with this houseful of children. I’m not exhausted, and it feels so natural to have these three kids sitting around the dinner table everyday. Zach and I are so blessed and amazed at how our family has come together. We think it’s beautiful and right. Thank you to everyone for all your prayers for our adjustment as a family of five. We know that the power of prayer is great and we believe that this is God’s perfect design for our family. We are prepared for the ups and downs of parenting these children, but right now, I am so very thankful that this week has been easy!

A few other quick and cute things. Diego used to say WOW to everything new. Now he says, “OH my GOODness” to all things new. Like the cold weather, the snow, slippers, hot showers, the dogs, Lena licking his face, the food we eat, Jungle Jims, long car rides, snow boots, a bicycle in a box, gymnastics meets, Abuela coming to visit, the shades on his bedroom windows, a winter jacket. And to many things he will point and say what we’ve been saying many times a day, “No touch.” To the locks on doors, the thermostat, the buttons on the dishwasher, sharp objects, the computer, the faucet in the bathtub, mommy’s make-up, the lights inside the van. He’s learning. He’s a good kid and he’s stinkin’ cute! Glad to have him home.

I’ll post a family picture tomorrow.


valley of sadnesses

Today we are going to visit El Desierto de la Tatacoa, also known as the Valley of Sadnesses. What a beautiful way to describe a desert. We will go in the evening because it is known for being the best place on earth to observe celestial bodies. Read more.

Non sequitur

How do you like my “Popo Play-Doh” earrings, designed exclusively by DFV?



a few happenings

There really, truly isn’t that much to blog about. The days are very slow. Diego is very easy to parent. There’s nothing to do in Neiva. I know my brother keeps bugging us to post more, but we don’t have a whole lot to say. However, I’ll try to pull out some interesting happenings from the last few days and post some pictures.

5 days ago, while we were snacking at a Panderia, a very dirty man, with one arm and a kind smile, put 2 bracelets on the table. I said, “No gracias.” He insisted. I said no thank you again. He insisted again. Then he walked away. This is how it works. It gives you time to see if you want to, or have enough money to buy a trinket. When he came back, we politely asked how much they were. We only had enough change for one of them. It was 50 cents. I said, “Gracias” and he said, in wonderful English, “You’re welcome.”

About 4 days ago there was a bombing in Neiva at a military check point. Two civilians on a motorcycle were injured, one of them a 3 year old girl. The bombing was suspected to be organized by the FARC although I don’t think that has officially been determined.

3 days ago there was an earthquake in the morning. Zach and I were sitting on the couch drinking coffee and reading when the apartment started to roll. If you’ve never been in an earthquake, it feels like you are sitting or standing on jello. Everything was rolling like a wave and all the hanging lights were swinging back and forth. It turns out that it was a 7.0 magnitude earthquake about 5 hours south of Neiva, 77 miles below the surface. It lasted 30 seconds.

2 nights ago I got food poisoning. I’m pretty sure it was from the chicken I ate for lunch at a really cute “fast food” restaurant on the main strip. It was delicious. Then it wasn’t. I’ve never been that sick in my life. I am very thankful that it lasted less than 24 hours.

While we were on our walk to the fast food chicken joint, waiting on a corner, I noticed a family zooming by on their motorcycle. My first thought was, “Geesh, that woman is really not wearing much on top.” My second thought was, “Wow, she is actually breast feeding her baby at 25 miles per hour while her husband drives around the corner.”

You see a lot of that in Neiva. Women in 4 inch bright blue heels flying by on their motorcycle, a toddler perched on the handle bars holding their lunch box. Texting while motorcycling? It’s ok here. Packing mom, dad and baby onto one bike? No problem.

Sorany was telling us this week that theft has been a real problem here because of the motorcycles. All the women wear their purses slung over their necks. I take my cues from them. Apparently, it is common that two people on a motorcycle will drive on the sidewalk (everyone drives their motorcycles on the sidewalk so you have to be all ears) and snatch a bag as they pass you by. As a result, the mayor has tried to pass a new regulation that in the main downtown area, only one person can be on a bike. Needless to say, this has caused a lot of protests because bikes are how families get around.

I love Colombian fresh bread pastries. They are like huge rolls, with sugar on top, and warm cheese and fruit inside. I could live off them. In fact, I think that’s what I’m going to do. Having food poisoning has strengthened my resolve to become a vegetarian. Although Colombians really don’t eat veggies. But they eat a lot of fresh fruit, bread, and cheese and that’s yummy.

I also love the graffiti and art that I see on the side of many buildings. There are some pics below. The one with Diego standing next to it is actually a map of Huila, the department (state) that Neiva is in. It is filled with words that describe the beauty of Huila.

Today it’s storming.

I’ve gotten used to cold showers and the teeny tiny ants in the apartment. They are like my pets.

I miss my dogs. And my daughters.

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Court 5

We got into court 5 which is good because it’s a fast court. However, we are told that the rules are different from the last time we were here, so now the Judge will require an interview with the child. He/she will ask Diego if he is happy with us and if he wants to be adopted. Our lawyer doesn’t know when this interview will happen but it could be sometime next week.

So, we stay in beautiful, sweltering Neiva and get more creative about how to kill time . . .