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.┬áThe 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.


Final Pictures. Leaving Colombia

One of the cool things about the Bed and Breakfast in Bogota (besides the hot water) is that you get to meet other families in the adoption process. This time around we’ve had the good fortune to be with a cool family from Indiana who are adopting two children. Frankly, it’s just refreshing (and a bit of a relief) to process (in English) with another couple. And it’s fun to see our kids play together. We’d ask that everyone keep them in their prayers as they’re a bit behind on the process, even though we arrived the same day (that’s the difference a fast court and super star lawyer can sometimes make). And waiting go home is hard.

On Tuesday we all went to go see the Salt Cathedral and explore a few of the neighboring municipalities of Bogota. David, Lucia’s son, was our (very incredible) tour guide through the stunningly beautiful mountainsides. Inside the Salt Cathedral we ditched the tour and started exploring on our own (more fun that way, and we weren’t really understanding much of the Spanish). Inside the cathedral you had the 13 stages of the cross craved in salt. Very cool.

Today we visited the American Embassy. It took about two hours, but we walked out with Diego’s Visa. This means, after a 2 hour conversation with Delta, we fly home tomorrow! It’s going to be a long day – but in the end we’ll finally get to hug our girls and get Diego into the arms of his big, immediate and extended family.
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For Diego, Bogota is a city of ouches.

He had to get a TB test (negative!), a Chicken Pox Vaccine, and a Flu Shot. We got to skip all that good stuff with girls until we got home to Cincy. But laws change and now you pack into a crazy office, complete with many other foreign families (God bless the UP Michigan woman adopting 5 children), all doing their best to convince their screaming children that shots are really just a pinch.

Diego was a champ – even watching the needle enter his arm – and only let out one single, tiny tear.

Today he forgot to drink water. We forgot to remind him (um, this happens to other parents right?). So this afternoon he had a headache (ouch). At dinner he overcompensated and drank too much water, causing his belly to hurt (other ouch).

So tonight he got extra kisses. Tomorrow we visit the embassy where, if we’re lucky, we’ll get his visa the same day. Which would be awesome. Because the best treatment for ouches is your own family.


La Tatacoa

Because of all the rain we’ve received the last two weeks, the Tatacoa Desert was a fuzzy green. Grass and a minty, cloverish looking ground cover made for a happy feast for the cows. It was beautiful, reminding me a good bit of the drier parts of the Texas Hill Country. Supposedly the Tatacoa is not technically a desert (not big enough I guess), but it is the second driest place in Colombia and great for star gazing.

We took an hour drive north to the town of Villaviaje and then onto the desert. The drive itself was a fun adventure, with green haciendas and small (but towering) mesas rising at random times. Enrique, our guide (and landlord for the past two weeks) and I had a very enjoyable conversation ranging from Colombian economics to “explain to me Barak Obama”.

The Tatacoa’s ground (when not green) is iron ore red with fun, pyramids of dirt that were crowned with huge Cacti. Some 5 miles in we found a man made “Piscina” (think swimming hole) filed with volunteer students from Brazil, Germany, Tiawan, Colombia, and Equador (language used to communicate – Spanglish).

As the sun set we made our way back to the observatory to attend a presentation and look through three telescopes. Unfortunately the night was somewhat cloudy, but we were able to see quite a few constellations (and viewed Jupiter – complete with its bands – through one of the telescopes). Because we’re on the equator, we get to see constellations from both the northern and southern hemispheres. A double treat.

Even more amazing was the fact that Diego sat through the entire presentation calmly and respectably (he did let out a big “WOW” when the astronomer activated his laser pen – which caused everyone to bust out laughing). What a freaking awesome kid.

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Busy Days: Various Updates

We’ve had some wonderful full days lately and I wanted to post a short update.

Last Saturday we visited Tatacoa. Ren wants to blog about it, so that will be a future post, but I’ll add my 2 cents here and simply say it was incredible. The desert reminded me of bits of the hill country Texas, complete with random scraggly cows and freaky looking sheep. Here’s one takeaway picture.

A visit to the Tatacoa Desert
A visit to the Tatacoa Desert

Yesterday (Sunday) we caught a flight to Bogota. Diego danced with excitement the whole way to the airport, and kept yelling out “Wow” as we took off (he has this wonderful voice that seems constantly full of amazement).

Today we’ve completed his Colombian passport (tomorrow we pick it up), got his TB test, and visit the doctor. Things are happening very fast. Wednesday the TB test gets read and then we can visit the American Embassy to get his Visa. If all goes well, we may be able to head home on Friday!