The cat sitter has been arranged. In six days, we leave for Ethiopia!! I had hoped to find flights departing next Wednesday, but it was not meant to be. We're flying on the points I've accumulated over the past number of years, so our selection of flights was somewhat limited. It was well worth four+ hours on the phone to make these plans, though; because we're traveling on points and have 'only' to pay for the various airline taxes (approximately $2,000), we will save approximately $9,000! That's a huge chunk of money not to have to spend, at a time when we have had to spend money on so much else to get ready for the kids' coming. I've been saving my Air Canada airline points since the pre-Matthew days when I used to travel on business about 40-48 times/year (we would always take at least one vacation a year on airline points in those days, but when you're traveling a lot, you also accumulate a lot of points). For years since then, I chose our credit cards in such a way as to maximize point accumulation. And it's paid off. I used up all of my points and had to buy (for less than $100) a few extra points, but it's getting all five of us home again (and on one long leg in each direction, we'll be traveling business class...because there weren't enough economy seats available!)!
So, we'll leave on Friday and that will give me an extra day or two to prepare...which I need. I can't believe how much work I've been putting into getting ready. Though in all truth, the amount of work I can get done in a day depends entirely on how the day is going with Matthew. If he's occupied and in a good frame of mind, I can get quite a lot done, at least in short chunks. But on the more challenging days, let's just say that the amount of work I can get done borders on zero. And then on Thursday, when I'd planned most of a day for Matthew to be at a friend's, so that I could get the kids' bedrooms done, I ended up spending over half of my Matthew-free time on the phone with Air Canada arranging (and re-arranging, and re-arranging again...and again) flights.
Anyway, I'm not complaining. I'm thrilled to be doing the stuff I'm doing now and, to be frank, a lot of the organizing and fix-it jobs that I've been involved with have needed doing for a long time and have little to do with our pending family expansion.
Right now, I'm just taking a little break from organizing and cleaning. I finished Lizzie Senait's bedroom today (photos to come in the next day or two), and I'm so excited to be actually finished one of the larger tasks. I've never been one who knows a lot about decorating, or considered myself good at it, and I've done this room all on my own. That's a little scary! I think it's turned out pretty well...after all, can one go wrong with girly colours?? Although, I say with shrinking confidence, maybe one can go wrong combining girly colours. I want to take pictures tomorrow, when the morning sun is (hopefully) shining, and then I'll try to get them posted so that you can tell me what you think and give me some tips on what to do differently (or in addition).
I've almost finished with the boys' room, too...my goal is to finish my tonight. Matthew and Seth Asrat will be sharing a room. At first, we had planned on doing bunk beds, but when we realized that neither Geoff nor I wanted to be climbing up ladders to lie down with Matthew at bed time, we quickly altered that plan to accommodate twin beds! Of course, that leaves somewhat less floor space to work with, so we've had to be careful about what we put into the room so that it doesn't look too full. We bought organic wool mattresses (which Matthew has been sleeping on for the past 5 years), which don't have any of the carcinogenic flame retardants in them, and my parents bought each of the kids wool blankets, too, which I have just covered with their new duvet covers (thanks, Angela, for helping me get the duvet covers on - it's always easier to do with someone else!).
Last week, I spent three days on a lightning quick trip down to Minneapolis. Matthew, my sister, my niece, and I drove seven hours there on Wednesday, shopped all day Thursday (well, after I'd had my flat tire fixed!!), and drove seven hours back home on Friday. The cousins crafted and watched movies (and fought like an old married couple) throughout the two long days of driving, and did really well despite all of that time being cooped up. Their enjoyment of four long swim times in the hotel helped them get through the mad shopping excursions!
In Minneapolis, I bought shelving for the boys' room; area rugs for both kids' rooms; desks and cabinetry for our home office (Geoff and I finally have our own work spaces as we were able to configure our space in such a way as to accommodate two desks); Pottery Barn duvet covers for the boys' beds; bedding for the boys' beds; wicker baskets for the mudroom; lighting; towels; toilettries and rubber (croc-like) shoes to bring caregivers at the Transition House; chocolates, toys, school-supply-like stuff and some clothing to bring to our sponsor child (whom we plan to visit in Addis); and on and on. My sister also did some shopping, though hers was the kind of shopping that could be shoved in and amongst the large boxes and baskets that I filled the van with! By the time we'd finished, the back of the van was so packed that the kids (who were sitting beside each other) couldn't even see each other unless they used a pencil to prop up the huge area rug that was wedged on top of the boxes between them. It was jammed full back there - by the tie we bought the shoes for the caregivers, we had to wedge them into the van wherever we could find a small opening! But it was exciting shopping and, surprisingly, I had to pay very little duty at the border (bonus!)!
I have little piles of things all over my house now, waiting to be packed: Piles of children's clothing for the Sodo orphanage in Wolayta; piles of children's clothing for the Transition House; clothing, toys and necessities for our sponsor child; toilettries and other niceties for our sponsor child's mother; gifts for the Transition House caregivers; piles of clothes for each of our three kids; piles of packaged food that will form back-up meals and snacks for Matthew during our travels and in Addis ('cause he won't even touch injera and I think he's going to get sick of pizza and pasta!); and so on and so on. I haven't even started on the pile for me or the pile for Geoff.
One thing that I'm particularly excited about is the donations we are going to be able to make to the Sodo orphanage and the Transition House. When we traveled to Addis in February and brought along some money (ours, and money given to us by friends), we were able to buy needed items for the orphanage our kids were living in at the time, and we were able to purchase these things right in the city of Adama, where the orphanage is located. It was thrilling to be able to meet current needs and to support the local economy at the same time. Well, a few weeks ago, I screwed up my courage and emailed a letter to a number of friends and family (those unrelated to the adoption world) and asked if they would be interested in making even a small financial contribution that would enable us to purchase needed items for the two institutions we will be taking donations to. I've never done anything like that before, and I have to say that it was hard for me to ask for money. I did not want people to feel obligated and I did not want people to contribute anything if they were not in a financial position to do so. The thing that made me press the 'send' button on that email was remembering how far the money stretched when we were in ET in February, and how it felt to be able to meet the current and exact needs of the kids those very days. Well, the response has been incredible...people have been so generous and wanting to help out! It's been utterly fantastic and I've been so moved. I've carefully logged each person's contribution, in anticipation of converting it into US currency. And when we return, I plan to post more about this: how the money was spent; and the impact that these contributions made. I hope to be able to take pictures of the things we're able to buy with it. I'm now praying about how we can most wisely spend the money that has been entrusted to us, so that maximum use can be made of every dollar. I am so very grateful to those who have sacrificed something of their own resources to make a difference in the lives of the kids who really need it!!
I did something else that took a fair bit of courage (for me) this week: I sent letters to our local Shoppers Drug Mart and our community Walmart, telling them about our adoption plans, and asking if they would consider donating diapers to the Sodo orphanage, where our kids were relinquished. I spoke with the owner of Shoppers this morning and he's agreed to send along about 200 diapers; and when I spoke with the Walmart Store Manager, he said that they are absolutely be interested in doing this kind of thing, and promised to call me back by Monday to let me know what they could do. I was so excited...and also a little relieved that my fledgling efforts at soliciting help were not rebuffed. I'm so blown away by the willingness of people and companies to help where it is so desperately needed.
Well, I guess my break needs to end now...I have much to accomplish before the day is out. But I've loved spending these few minutes posting to my blog again. I've really missed writing in the past few weeks, and I know from a few emails I've received telling me to get back to it (!) that there are at least a few readers who have been missing my posts, too.
These are exciting days and I want so much to share them all with you. I'll try to be more diligent about it. I have dozens (probably more like hundreds) of pictures on my camera right now that detail some of the stuff we've been up to around here (not just around the house, but out and about enjoying the spring, and field trips, and each other). I also have so many thoughts about attachment issues, based on the reading I've done and the parenting classes I've been taking. And there's been no time to write any of it. But now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, I hope to write more.
And perhaps the next post will be with photos of the kids' bedrooms! Yay, I've been waiting for a while to do that one!!!