We have been home for 1 week today. Some of this week has been a blur due to the exhaustion! But we have been blessed with friends, yummy home cooked meals and continued prayers. I appreciate everyone's love for us and helping to make our first week at home be so easy! Everyone is settling into our routine. We are looking forward to Christmas Eve and Christmas. There are reports of snow for us in OK so we will see if it actually happens.
We are all just about back on our normal sleep schedule. This morning we made it to 6:30am! I was so excited when I rolled over and saw the time. We are still exhausted in the evenings, around 5pm we all start slowing down and by 8pm we are all ready for bed. But we are powering through and staying up to about 9pm.
I have so many thoughts about what we saw in Rwanda and Ethiopia. As I visit with our friends and family, memories start to come back to me. I plan on sharing some of them with you here. I think that God put us on this journey for a reason. I think that part of the reason is to share with you what reality is in other parts of the world. I think that part of the reason is to plant a seed of adoption or helping out a child in some way. Those thoughts are soon to come...
Gracie had her first US doctor check up today. Our pediatrician said that Grace looks great! She weighs 30 pounds (50% percentile in her age range) and is 36 inches tall (50-75 percentile in her age range). She is actually shorter than the measurements we previously got which was 39 inches. All of Gracie's parts look great and she even has her 2 year molars. A few more tests have to be run...I have to get a stool sample (yuck)! This will test for any parasites that may be hiding in her body.
An update on us...
Today, the kids went to school and Ryan went to work. Grace and I ran some errands after her doc appointment. I put her down for her nap. Ryan has done this every day since we have had Grace (have I mentioned she loves her Papa). I was hoping today's nap would be magically perfect. Unfortunately, she cried for her Papa for 25 minutes then decided to crash. Other than that little bit of sadness, she and I have had fun today. She is talking so much and is really starting to mimic us.
We are so glad that we are home and Grace is too :)
We have been home for 3 days! I cannot believe it. It has been so good to be home.
Today we were able to finish getting our Christmas decorations up. Since we left on Thanksgiving, I was unable to decorate like I wanted to. So we are doing the scaled down version this year. We have our tree and today the kids and I made decorations for it. K and I had a great time making a paper garland as well as tissue snowflakes. Ryan made the star for the top. It is a very simple tree but it really is beautiful. It fits us perfectly. I will try to get a pic up soon! The stockings are hung and a few other decorations are up. The pumpkins are still out front but I will get rid of those tomorrow :).
I have finished the mountain (like most laundry I have ever done) and almost all is put away. Think 3 weeks worth of clothes, plus the laundry that I didn't have time to do before we left, plus a 2 year olds wardrobe. WOW! It was alot of stuff.
Grace has spent the day just wandering around, playing with toys, getting into my tupperware cabinet. She loves to explore her new place. She doesn't seem afraid at all and goes wherever she pleases. K & C are getting used to having a little one around. K is great with Grace. Cannon is learning that if he doesn't want her getting into his stuff, he needs to keep it put away.
We are headed to church tomorrow and I am so excited to see our church family!
We arrived home last night! We had a long flight and were happy to finally touch down in OKC. We had a group of friends who met us at the airport. They were all a welcome site! I could not contain my joy of being home. Tears of happiness, relief and exhaustion flowed! It was so good to get and give hugs! None of us have been away from home this long and boy did it feel great to see their faces! Then, we were chauffeured home and we were all amazed at how good walking in our door felt.
When we arrived home, the first thing we did (after enjoying some treats in the kitchen) was go to Grace's room. Our friend has been working hard on our little girl's room. We had painted it pink and I told her the rest was up to her. We walked in and loved it! It is the perfect room for Grace. Unique and girly, a perfect nest for her to grow in. Here are a few pics...
This is above her bed. Her bed is a darling cream day bed!
Her dresser with a beautiful hand painted mirror.
Bookshelf and my grandparents rocking chair. Also, the globe is one from
Ryan's collection and of course it is fixed on Africa!
The AWESOME window treatment. Yes, that is a branch and yes, there is a sweet little bird.
Thanks again to our dear friend for doing this for Grace. We are so thankful and amazed at your creativity!
Today we all woke up around 6:30 am after 6-7 hours of sleep. The kids slept pretty good and I think the adults did too. We woke up, had breakfast then started getting ready for school. The kids were excited to see their friends. After we took the kids to school, we went up to our business and saw our friends there. Then we headed to buy a Christmas tree! We usually do artificial trees but this year (since Christmas is next week) we opted for a real tree to save the hassle of taking everything out of the attic. Grace had a fun time in the shopping cart!
We then headed to run a few more errands. I think Grace likes her car seat and she like seeing Papa in his rearview mirror. Now they (R,K,G) are down for naps. C wanted to stay at school and have rest time there. We are all so excited to be home. Our house feels so good and just being "home" is the best feeling in the world. Now, it is time to start getting ready for Christmas and to get rid of the pumpkins in the front yard!
We are all just waiting. Time is ticking by. We have dinner at 5:30pm (8:30am CST) then we leave for the airport at 6:30pm (9:30am CST). Our flight leaves at 10:30pm (1:30pm CST). My stomach is feeling very nervous. I am excited to go home but not excited about the flight. Cannon got sick on the last flight so I guess that I am nervous about that. Papa will be in charge of Grace since he is her comfort item. Can't wait to be home! Will post when we get there :)
So we have been in Ethiopia since Tuesday. We have had a tb test for grace, had a positive reading, had a chest xray, had a normal reading. It has been a week of highs and lows for us. We have our embassy appointment tomorrow, visa pickup on Tuesday then on a plane Tuesday night. We arrive home Wednesday late evening.
We are ready to be home with our new daughter. Can't wait until the internet works correctly and I can start posting again :)
Tonight is our last night in Kigali. We all have confirmed tickets on the 4 o'clock flight to Ethiopia. If we can get Grace's TB test done first thing Tuesday morning we should be able to fly out on Friday as planned. If this happens, we arrive home around 6:3opm on Saturday!
We had a nice day today. The kids played outside, Denise and I packed. We did have a few instances of Grace throwing little fits when she didn't get what she wanted. But we are learning that when she does this or gets a little grabby she is tired. So, off to a nap we went! She slept for 3 hours! At the orphanage they nap from 10-2 and she has yet to get that amount of a nap since last Monday. So, even though she is sleeping well at night she may not be getting enough sleep.
Today, the CEO of AWAA, Brian Lewis, came into Rwanda. We got to visit with him this afternoon then he joined us for dinner. It was nice to get to visit with him. We had a good dinner at the Bourbon Cafe. This was our 3rd time to eat there. They have really good food and it is very nice. Tonight they (the cafe) gave us dessert on the house! This was a fun treat.
That is all for now. We are all snuggled in our beds enjoying our last evening in Rwanda. The trip really has been amazing. There are so many things we will never forget. I will update from Ethiopia tomorrow night or early Tuesday morning.
Friday was a very productive day! We took Grace to the doctor for a checkup that we will need in Ethiopia. We went to immigration to obtain Grace's passport. Then we went to the Embassy to get her information for her visa. We were happy that all of things were able to be accomplished because this means we can leave tomorrow for Ethiopia!
We spent Friday afternoon hanging out at the hotel then we went to the orphanage to say goodbye to the nuns and take a truckload of food. Grace was extremely cautious when we were at the orphanage. I think she must have thought that we were going to leave her. However, after a little while she started laughing and playing. I think she is starting to understand that she will be with us forever!
From donations from friends back home, we were able to buy a truckload of oil, brown sugar and rice. Our POA said that these are expensive items and they would be the best to take. We were so happy that we (with the help of friends) were able to provide these things for the people there.
Today, the group is on a safari. Kay wasn't feeling so good this morning so she and I stayed at the hotel. She is much much better now!
Tonight we are going to a celebration dinner where there will be Rwandan dancers! I am excited that this is our last night in Kigali and that we are closer to being home!
Thursday report: another great day. This morning we got to go on a site seeing tour of the hills of Rwanda. Rwanda is know as the land of a thousand hills. I would agree! The landscape is full of hills that are green and lush. The country of Rwanda is very beautiful.
We all had a great day today. The kids are doing great and so are the adults. We are all tired this evening but are still having a great time. Gracie had another great day and as you can see from the picture above is laughing, giggling, squealing, etc. She is nodding when I ask her questions and mimicking some of our words. She is even starting to get a bit onery....she is a typical 2 year old!
Tomorrow's day is full of appointments. Pediatrician in the morning, then the Immigration office then the US Embassy office. If everything happens correctly, which we believe it will, we will be ready to travel to Ethiopia on Sunday. Can't wait to have be officially done with the paperwork in Kigali.
Today is another amazing day! We had a great morning shopping then heard the stories of each of the children were found (3 in our group). It is amazing to drive around the city, see the people, and wonder what their stories are. You can really tell a difference when you move from the main part of the city to more of the "suburbs." It becomes busier and there are people everywhere. We had lunch at the Bourbon Cafe again and it was great! It is kinda like Panera bread.
This afternoon we spent several hours just playing outside with the families. All of the kids (our 3 who are 8, 5, 2.5) then another family here with us (13, 9, 8, 2) and then another family (15 mos). They played tag, some fisherman/deadfish game, freeze tag, etc. The babies and the moms watched from the sides why the dads and big kids burned off some energy! Tonight has been quite except for the crying during Grace's bath. She is just not sure about that big old bath tub. This bath was better than yesterday's though! She didn't scream the entire time, just cried. We are making progress! Tomorrow I am going to try to brush her teeth...one battle a day.
The picture above is Kaylee and Grace today at lunch. Kay figured out how to make her sister smile and laugh. And she laughed alot this afternoon!
Coming on this trip, I really didn't know what to expect. I didn't know what the city of Kigali would be like, what it would be like doing the paperwork we needed to do, seeing how our daughter responded to us, including our older children that are here with us, what the food would be like, etc, etc, etc.
This trip has been amazing. Everything has gone extremely well. We are all doing great! Grace is bonding with us. The food is wonderful. The waiting while doing paperwork has been minimal. We have so enjoyed having the Spores and Bowers here with us. We have been blessed to have a dear friend accompany us to Kigali and she has helped so much with Kaylee and Cannon.
This afternoon we toured the Genocide memorial. This part in history is just amazing. Amazing in how people survived the tragedy. How God is using these people here in Kigali as well as in the states. We have learned so much about the heart of the people while we have been here.
Tomorrow we get to know how Grace came to the orphanage. We will go to the place where she was found and hear her story for the last 2 1/2 years. This will be a very important day as we want to have all of the information we can for her. I am so thankful for our POA who is an amazing person. She loves these kids so much and really wants for the families to experience Rwanda so that we can share with our kids as they grow.
Here is Gracie tonight finishing her spaghetti. She got the Smith gene of not liking food/sticky/wet things on her hands. She always likes to be clean. She also cleans up her spot if she spills on the table. She is going to fit in perfectly with us!