I thought I'd answer a few of the questions I've been asked lately...if you have others, feel free to ask.
How do I have time for blogging?
Easy...it's my escape and my therapy. I blog at night time, or early in the morning (like now) before the kids are up. I can publish posts at any time of day so sometimes I write a post in the wee hours of the morning and simply schedule it to come out at some point a bit later in the day, so that I can have a bit more time to think about it (though my writing/self-editing has been terrible lately!). I don't watch tv, I'm not reading these days, and I find it very cathartic to write down some of the things that are going on in our household. Writing has always been one of my primary ways of releasing emotional energy, and it helps me to process my thoughts. Also, quite frankly, I need support, and I have such incredibly encouraging readers/commenters that it's easy to want to write. In addition, I have interested friends and family living all over the country, and blogging is an easy way of letting people know how things are going. Finally, it's a way for me to record some of the current events, for future memory jogging. So hopefully that gives you a bit of insight into when and why I am able to continue blogging.
Where did we buy wool mattresses for the kids' beds?
We bought the mattresses from a small husband-wife rural business by the name of Shepherd's Dream; they ship all over the country, and we have loved their work. A number of years ago, when Matthew was ready to move from a crib to a bed, my sister and I began investigating where we could purchase a mattress without all of the carcinogenic flame retardants and other chemicals in it. We searched across the country, and finally found Shepherd's Dream. Wool is a natural flame retardant and the mattresses are wonderfully comfortable in my opinion. Anyway, we've been very happy with them.
How are the kids transitioning to their new names?
Katie, I think you asked this question. The short answer is: it's going all right so far. The day after we got home from Addis, I told the kids something like this: "In Ethiopia, Asrat; in Canada, Seth Asrat! In Ethiopia, Senait; in Canada, Lizzie Senait!" They (especially Seth A.) seemed to understand right away. I've been pretty consistent in calling them both by both of their names (ie. Seth Asrat, and Lizzie Senait) since then. On a couple of occasions, when I've forgotten one of their names, they have corrected me and said both of their names together. Usually at breakfast time, we have little conversation to reinforce the change...it goes something like this:
Me (pointing to myself): "In Ethiopia, I am E-tee-ay. In Canada, mommy." Then I point to myself and say: "In Ethiopia??"
They shout out: "E-tee-ay."
Me: "In Canada?"
Me (pointing to Matthew): "In Ethiopia, Mathewos. In Canada, Matthew." Then I point to him again and say: "In Ethiopia?"
They shout out: "Matthewos."
Me: "In Canada?"
Me (pointing to Seth Asrat): "In Ethiopia, Asrat. In Canada, Seth Asrat." Then I point to him again and say: "In Ethipoia?"
They shout out: "Asrat."
Me: "In Canada?"
Them: "Seth Asrat."
You get the idea...I do the same thing pointing to Lizzie S., and in talking about Geoff by his Ethiopian and Canadian name of daddy. I've also talked to the kids, in very very simple terms, about how their Ethiopian names are very strong names in Ethiopia, and now their Canada names are very strong names in Canada. They're definitely getting it. In the past few days, I have called out Seth's name several times (without adding Asrat) and he answered me each time without blinking an eye. I think it'll take another month or two of mostly calling him by both names for it to fully sink in, but neither of them seems to mind it at all. It's been pretty easy, to be honest. I think it will work well, and I'm really glad for it because they both suit their Canadian names very well...and because I'm really, really tired of hearing Asrat's name pronounced by strangers the way it usually is. I still feel totally comfortable with changing back if, when the kids are older, they have a different preference. But so far, so good.
Why didn't we let Matthew drink milk or juice in Ethiopia?
We had heard multiples times that the milk in Ethiopia is not pasteurized there the same way that it is in North America. So we decided that milk would be off limits for Matthew during our time there. This was hard for him, as he's a big milk drinker, but he survived it...and really enjoyed his first cup of milk on the airplane on route home. Many of the juices served in Addis would probably have been ok for him to drink, but we never knew when it had been watered down...and if so, whether bottled or boiled water had been used to do the diluting. Ice cubes were also obviously a concern. Rather than complicate the issue at all, we just decided that he wouldn't drink juice either, and live for a week on bottled water and pop. We purchased lots of water right from our guesthouse and stored it in the little fridge that we shared with one other room...it was totally fine.
Of note, I'll also add that we brought along a small jar of peanut butter and some healthy flatbread crackers, so that Matthew would have something familiar to eat if the food choices just weren't great at a given time/place. A guest at the Weygoss also offered us the last bits of their jar of Nutella and that was a real hit with Matthew...and with the other kids, who dug into the remains with their fists! Turns out that Geoff and I were the ones to really benefit from having the peanut butter and flatbread, though, when we went meal-less for well over 24 hours during our trip to Wolayta.
I think that's it for now! If you have other questions, let me know and I'll do my best to answer them.