Thursday, 28 May 2009

Poorly Little Prince (Wednesday 27th May)

I forgot to mention that we had no power for the majority of yesterday.  Its quite challenging for us as Westerners used to constant access to electricity to manage without it!


Today we were going to go out to Bilo's Pastry shop and then visit Shromayda weaving co-operative and shops, but as Little Prince isn't well we've decided to delay that until another day.  The orphanage still hasn't got in touch to say that our Court papers are ready, which is pretty disappointing as I'd hoped they would be ready today.  When the Guest House owner is back from her appointment we are going to see if we can sort out a cheap Ethiopian sim card for one of our mobiles, so that at least we can ring the orphanage and check on progress!  Its pretty frustrating sitting here at the Guest House not knowing what is going on or if the orphanage are waiting for us to get in touch with them!!  Although it is also very relaxing not having any housework or cooking to do, and all we have to do is keep ourselves amused and enjoy getting to know our delightful new daughter.


New baby has the softest jet black hair with lovely big curls, Drama Teen keeps calling her "Cloud" as baby's hair reminds her of a cloud round her head.  She is very very tiny for a three month old and all the clothes I've brought for her are too big!  Which could be a good thing considering how much 0-3 month sized clothes I bought lol.  Her nappy rash is improving and she doesn't scream every time we change her nappy now, which means that Mr Messy is now brave enough to help out with that job too!!  She must have spent a lot of time lay on her back dribbling or posseting at the orphanage, as under her chin and behind her ears is also quite red and sore.  We have also noticed that her lower eyelashes sometimes turn inward and rub on her eyeball, making her appear to cry a lot.  We will make an appointment to see our GP about this, and to schedule a full health check (based on the leaflet from BAAF).  I'm frustrated that the internet is so slow over here that I can't research the implications of having in turning eyelashes, I'm hoping that its something that she will grow out of and not something that will need any sort of medical/surgical interventions. 


Little Prince is coping quite well with his new position as a Big Brother.  He keeps saying how much he loves baby and how cute she is.  He also complains that she cries too much and that when she possets up some formula it makes him feel sick.  He is also not happy at all today about not being able to eat and wants Mummy not to eat too, so that we are the same!!  Mr Messy has said he will take Drama Teen out to eat for lunch, so that Little Prince doesn't have to watch them eating.  I'm hoping he will have a nap or something so I can grab a snack without him noticing!! 


Just before lunchtime we arranged to hire a pre-pay mobile phone from the Guest House.  As soon as we had sorted it out Mr Messy rang the orphanage to check if our Court Papers were ready for collection.  The orphanage director's assistant said they weren't ready, and that as tomorrow (Thursday) is a national holiday we would have to wait until Friday to go to Court to pick up the papers.  We were obviously very disappointed with this news, but not for long as the Assistant rang back and said that she would try to help us get the papers today, rather than wait until Friday.  I rang our driver and hoped I'd got the message across to him to come and collect Mr Messy at our Guest House and take him to the orphanage for 3pm.  As it got closer and closer to 3pm we began to think that the driver had misunderstood and gone straight to the orphanage.  But just after 3pm he turned up and he, Mr Messy and the Guest House guard loaded the huge boxes of clothes donations into his car and they drove off to the orphanage.  They were out for over two hours, and Little Prince grew increasingly whingy about missing his Daddy and not being able to eat.  He couldn't settle to anything and eventually came and cuddled on my knee for a rest while Drama Teen looked after baby. 


We were all up in our room when Mr Messy arrived back, I was putting away all the washing the Guest House had managed to wash and dry for us, which is a fabulous service as we could never have packed enough clothes for all of us for three weeks!!  Mr Messy started talking about that was MOWA conquered, which didn't make sense as he'd gone to Court.  However, he explained that he hadn't needed to go to Court (no idea why) and instead had gone straight to the MOWA offices, with our file (which she must have already collected from Court for us).  There our file was put at the bottom of a large pile of other files, so Assistant worked her socks off helping to sort out the other files - delivering them to different offices to be signed and helping move things along as much as she could.  Eventually after an hour long wait in a corridor Mr Messy was handed the papers (they had to be handed to him, not Assistant as they had our names on them) and took them down to Archive, where the papers were stamped and he signed various things.  Mr Messy's tip - Take A Pen!!  There didn't seem to be enough to go round!!  Mr Messy's tip 2 - Listen Carefully When the Official Brings Your Papers, as they can mispronounce Western names.  He said it was suprisingly painless and much less convoluted than he thought it was going to be.  Mr Messy's tip 3 - (unfortunately sexist sorry) it can work to your advantage sending the male partner as he seemed to be able to command more respect and get things done much more easily than we had heard was possible. 


For the rest of the evening we hung aruond the Guest House, baby was quite grumpy and would sleep soundly for a few minutes then wake up and shout and scream, then fall back to sleep and start the whole cycle all over again!!  I tried to get Little Prince in bed early, but as he had had a long nap during the day he couldn't get to sleep.  We ordered our meals in the Guest House again, Mr Messy said he didn't want anything but I made a mistake with the order and ordered too much so he ended up eating, which was a relief as I don't want another one ill!!!  Talking of which, just before dinner Drama Teen lay on the sofa saying she felt ill and her tummy hurt, but as she had hardly eaten anything all day we said she would feel better after dinner.  However, during dinner she suddenly jumped up from the table and marched off to the bathroom.  She has got Little Prince's bug now and has gone to bed very hot and clammy and with a sicky bowl just in case!  Baby is sleeping soundly on a chair in the lounge, me and Mr Messy are waiting for her to wake up for her next feed and then we can all get to bed.  Its been a LOOOOOOOOONG day!!!!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Our First Full Day (Tuesday 26th May)

During the night she woke up at 1.30am for a feed and change and again at about 5am.  For the 1.30am feed I fed and changed her and settled her down pretty quickly.  Little Prince is in our room and she did disturb him a little, but he quickly settled back down to sleep.  However, for the 5am feed I made the fatal mistake of letting Mr Messy take her to wind and change her while I cleared away her bottles.  As soon as he lay her down to change her nappy she screamed so he picked her back up again, and this went on for the next hour and a half!  So we were all wide awake, tired and grumpy.  Even Little Prince kept telling Daddy to just get it over and done with!!!  Not a great start to our first full day with our newest daughter!!  We managed to get down to breakfast without too much bickering and falling out thankfully.  We had bought some breakfast cereal for the kids, which they enjoyed a lot more than the normal scrambled eggs!!  Then the miracle happened - Drama Teen's boyfriend had replied to her emails :-)  Happiness was restored to her world, and she has been a lot brighter and happier, and even more wonderful she's started eating a bit more!!!


The American couple went out for breakfast with an Ethiopian friend of theirs.  Their agency sent over a caregiver to look after their daughter as they aren't allowed to take her out and about with them!  The large Ethiopian discussion group says it is a rule from MOWA/Ethiopian Govt to all adopters, however, our orphanage director has never heard of it, and she works very closely with the government!!  Being cynical I think it has more to do with Agencies protecting their own incomes, as they tell parents that they can only have their baby with them if they stay in the Agencie's own Guest House!!!  Hmmmm!!!!   While they were out we bathed baby, and she was NOT impressed.  We wouldn't have bathed her this early in her placement, but her nappy rash is so bad we need to try and get her properly clean so that she can start to heal.    They then came back and went out again on a trip organised by their agency, again leaving their new baby behind!  Not long after they'd left, we decided baby was settled enough for us all to venture out too.  We insisted that Drama Teen came with us, and she did with hardly any protests.  We walked round to Kaldi's for some early lunch, Drama Teen and Little Prince insisted they only wanted ice cream but ended up pinching most of my fries!!!  The kids went over to the counter to choose their ice crream flavours, but when the ice creams arrived Little Prince had the wrong one!  He was NOT impressed and had a little tantrum about it.  A waitress and a few of the customers checked if he was ok, which I thought was very sweet of them.  When he calmed down again he did eat most of his ice cream and said he would have the other flavour next time.  After we'd finished eating we went over to the Business Centre and asked if we could make photocopies of our passports (for the Guest House and for when we apply for baby's British Entry Visa), but apparently they were just the internet part of the Centre and we had to go up to the 3rd floor to make photocopies.  We were all out of breath when we reached the third floor, but we managed to get the copies we needed for only 6 birr!!  Bargain :-)  Next we wandered downstairs in the mall to the stalls selling traditional Ethiopian souvenirs, we had a good look round before I showed Mr Messy where the book shop was.  Then we headed for the supermarket to stock up on more snacks for the children and get some more formula while its still in stock.  They didn't have any cans of Coke, just bottles and we weren't allowed to buy any without bringing back some empty bottles, which was pretty frustrating!!  But the Guest House has supplies of Coke so I can still get my "fix" lol each evening with dinner.  On the way back to the Guest House we called in the mall's toyshop and bought Little Prince a big bag of Duplo style Lego for him to play with at the Guest House.  Little Prince carried his precious purchase back to the Guest House himself. 


Once we were back at the Guest House me and Little Prince set about trying to make the models pictured on the leaflet inside the Lego bag.  We managed to sort of make the camel, with a few adaptations!  Then he made the letters "LEGO" like they do on the Lego Star Wars game, he managed it really well, but needed help with the letter "G."  Baby was a lot more settled with us today, with increased eye contact and a few smiles :-)  She is also drinking more milk and seems generally a little more settled with us, which is fantastic progress for the short time she has been here!!  Little Prince alternated between playing football with the Guest House guard and playing with his Lego.  During the evening there was a torrential thunderstorm, and once it had finished actually raining Little Prince had a great time running around in the puddles.  If I'd realised how wet he was going to get I would have inisted he wore his Crocs rather than his sandals!!!  Hopefully they will dry in the sun!!


Little Prince had a sandwich and was in bed by about 6.30pm, but as he had been woken up at 5.30am by his new sister, he needed it!!  We spent the evening chatting with the American couple and had dinner with them in the Guest House. Me and Mr Messy had burger and fries, Drama Teen just had fries and the American couple had injera.  When baby had drunk her 9pm bottle and seemed very settled we decided to take advantage of this and have an early night.  I must have been in a really deep sleep as I hardly knew waht planet I was on when Little Prince woke up and was violently sick at about 11.30pm.  Luckily I somehow managed to get him to the bathroom and once he was cleaned up got him settled back in his bed.  Not for long though as he woke up and was sick multiple times during the night, and at one point was sick all over his bed so had to come and sleep with me and Mr Messy in our bed.  I dealt with Little Prince and his waking sickies, whilst Mr Messy dealt with baby, who only woke up for a feed once during the night!!  We have decided to give her 6oz feeds and that seems to be suiting her a lot better.

Lots of News (Monday 25th May)

The Lime Tree Cafe's internet wasn't working when Mr Messy and Drama Teen walked over there, so they didn't get to send the blog I wanted them to, so now lots will be arriving at once!!  We ate at the Guest House on Sunday evening, Mr Messy loved the injera and vegetarian sauces, I wasn't as adventurous (I've tried injera and I'm not keen) and had a cheeseburger and fries, Little Prince had a cheese spread sandwich and Drama Teen didn't eat much of anything as she is still pining for her Boyfriend.  We spent time chatting to the Russian lady who is staying here for three months, while on an observing job for the UN.  Then we tried to get an early night, as our driver was picking us up at 8am to take us to the orphanage tomorrow. 


We woke up at 7am on Monday morning.  A morning that, as you already know, changed our lives forever :-)  We had breakfast, got everyone shoehorned into their smart-ish clothes and were ready when our driver arrived.  We drove over to the orphanage and went straight in to meet our future daughter.  The staff asked me to guess which baby was ours our of two lying in a cot, and in the dimly lit room, and with both of them wearing hats - guess what??  I chose the wrong one!!!  I don't think they were pleased!!  The staff member handed our baby to me and I took her to the day room, where I sat Little Prince down and let him be the first one to hold her (we'd promised him this when explaining what would happen in Ethiopia) he was overwhelmed and thought she was the cutest baby in the world, and later declared her "awesome."  We have friends from the UK travelling next week to adopt and their children were playing on a mat in the day room, so Mr Messy took the opportunity to take some photos and both he and Drama Teen played with them.  I don't think that our baby remembered me at all from my last visit, which is totally unsurprising given her age, but still a teensy bit disappointing.  We had to be pretty strict with Little Prince and not let him play in an attempt to keep him clean until after Court, so he was getting more and more hyped up!!  Luckily the orphanage director announced it was time for us to go, Mr Messy left his camera in the director's office as none are allowed in Court.  It was about half an hours drive to Court, with Mr Messy wincing in the front seat at all the apparent near misses.  It was the same driver we had used last time I was in Ethiopia. so I had complete confidence in his driving abilities and knew he would get us there safely.  That was helped by the fact that I was sat in the back seat with Little Prince on my knee and couldn't see much out of the front window lol.  When we arrived we parked right outside the Court gates.  We all had our bags checked and had a pat down body search on entering the Court grounds.  It was like a large university campus with lots of different buildings and even roads passing through the grounds.  It was also very very busy and crowded, with people milling around everywhere.  We followed the orphanage director to the correct building and when we got there she checked the Court schedule posted outside the waiting room and said we would have to wait until about 10.30am, and that we had to hang around outside and keep Little Prince quiet the whole time!!!  Fun NOT!!!  Luckily I'd packed his DS in my bag and he played quietly on that for ages while we waited.  We were introduced to the man who had official custody of our new daughter, a lovely very smartly dressed white haired old man, he didn't speak English but we all shook hands and smiled and nodded at each other.  While we were waiting we saw lots of handcuffed prisoners escorted by guards with Kalishnikov rifles going  in the door directly opposite ours!!  Eventually we were ushered into the waiting room and sat down on pew like wooden chairs.  The orphanage director went and chatted with the Court official, probably sorting out her other case today which had a file missing.  The next time I turned round she had disappeared and Mr Messy saw her sauntering down the path outside!!!  He got quite agitated about this, worrying that our case would be called and a) we wouldn't know it was us!!  and b) we would fail as we wouldn't be able to answer any of the questions!!  Luckily after about half an hour the orphanage director returned and sat with us.  The Court officials finally called our case, although it wasn't any name I recognised!  We, along with the orphanage director, the man with official custody of our daughter and another lady.  The actual Court Room was like an office with two women judges behind office desks.  We stood by the wall in front of one of the desks, desperately trying to keep Little Prince still and quiet!  The lady judge sat in front of us read through a file in front of her and then questioned the lady that had come in with us for a while, then the lady judge behind the other desk also questioned the lady.  Then the first judge started looking at the next file and said our baby's Ethiopian name, all our heads shot up and we all started grinning like loonies!!!  What on earth she must have thought I don't know!!  She spoke a little to the orphanage director and the man with official custody and then we were all ushered out.  We were all confused and looking at each and wondering if it went well or not!!!  We were part way down the path outside when we caught up with the orphanage director and I asked the man who had custody if the judge had said yes.  He laughted and nodded and I presume said congratulations, we did the Ethiopian three kisses/hug thing and I kept repeating "thank you" in Ethiopian.  He then seemed to tell the orphanage director off for not telling us what had just happened lol!!  He held Little Prince's hand as we walked out of the Court compound, although Little Prince insisted I held his other hand as he is still a bit nervous about all the attention little kids get here.  And he is disgusted that most Ethiopians call him "baby" lol.  At the entrance to the Court we said goodbye to the man who had had custody of our daughter and to the other lady, and fought our way across the road to where our driver was parked.  On the way back to the orphanage the director explained who the lady was, she was the aunt of a child in the director's custody.  The child's mother had died, the father was unknown and the aunt was still a student and couldn't look after the child.  The judges had explained to the aunt that if she agreed to the proceedings that she would have no further connection or claim on the child, and from what we saw (although we understood nothing) they really did try to make sure she knew what she was doing and questioned her quite vigorously. 


We asked the director some questions about our daughter's background and have some answers for our daughter when she is older.  She asked us if we wanted to take our daughter today??  Silly question - of course we did!!!  When we returned we went to her baby room to find her, and the caregiver handed her over.  I was very disappointed that our baby's usual caregivers weren't there.  It was quite an underwhelming, casual handover, and we didn't really know what to do!!  The orphanage director returned Mr Messy's camera and that seemed to be it.  I had hoped for our daughter's sake that there would be a bit more ceremony or meaning to the handover, but it is what it is, and we will tell our daughter exactly what happened.  On our way to the car Mr Messy went upstairs to the directors office and was given the office number and her assistants number, so we can ring up and check when the Court papers are ready.  Although she also said she would send the driver to collect Mr Messy when the papers are ready too, but he would like to be able to go out and about and not have to wait in the guest house for the driver to arrive.  So we are a tad confused, but hoping that everything will turn out ok!!!  Our daughter was like a little mole when taken out into the sunshine!  She blinked and turned away, they keep the baby room very dark and dim, so she must not have been used to such bright sunshine at all!  She was also not too happy with the wind blowing on her face, so I covered her up with the cotton shawl she was wrapped in and she seemed a little more settled.  The orphanage gave us a bottle of formula to take with us, but I presume that as the orphanage director has asked for her clothes back that we are going to take the bottle back too.  When we were back at the guest house we were all vying to hold and feed her, although no one seemed to want to do the nappy changes for me!!  unfortunately baby has very severe nappy rash, despite one of the last few families who came over bringing a LOT of Sudocreme for the babies.  I think baby was unsettled, unsurprisingly enough, and she didn't really drink much of her bottles and seemed a little fractious in between sleeps.  She was happy enough to be taken out, carried by Mr Messy in the sling, when we walked to the London Cafe for lunch.  Drama Teen didn't come with us as she is STILL pining over her boyfriend (who still hasn't replied to any of her emails!!) and is feeling very self conscious about being stared at when we are out and about.  The Cafe was empty apart from us, and was more like a restaurant than a simple cafe.  Little Prince ordered spaghetti bolognaise, but found it too spicy and ended up eating most of my chicken and fries instead!!  Mr Messy stuck to his own steak sandwich and really enjoyed it, although it was quite a balancing act to eat without dripping food on baby in the sling lol.  The bill came to about 140birr, including drinks for all of us, which is probably on the expensive end for Addis but is very cheap for us!!!  On the way back we called in at Kaldi's to get Little Prince an ice cream, he wants to work his way through the whole range of flavours while we are here!!


An American couple staying at the guest house had their baby delivered during the late afternoon.  Mr Messy was in his element photographing the event for them.  They have adopted an 8 month old little girl, who is HUGE!!  Their Agency Contact (and baby deliverer) said he thought it could be because she was in a room with other babies and if one wakes up they all wake up, so they get fed if they need it or not!  She certainly makes our scawny little midget look pathetic!!!  Just wait till we get her home and on fish and chips lol.  

Arrived Safely (Sunday 24th May)

We have arrived safely in Ethiopia, after a very long day flying.  We woke up at 3.30am to get ready for the taxi to pick us up!!  Although if it hadn't been for LMS and her alarm we might not have got up at all, as Mr Messy had set the alarm for Mon - Fri, and of course it was Saturday!!  We had to shoehorn Drama Teen out of bed, and at one point I was convinced we would be going without her she took that long!  But eventually we were all ready and the taxi arrived.  It took quite a few minutes for the taxi driver and Mr Messy to load all our luggage (three large cardboard boxes and three large suitcases!!) and then we were off!!  The drive to the airport was pretty quick, LMS's American Boyfriend rang up to speak to her while we were on the way,and he spoke to Drama Teen too, as she was pretty upset about not seeing her own Boyfriend for the next three weeks. 


We went straight to the check in queue, well the queue for those that had already checked in online (which we had).  Although checking in online was a trail in itself!!  But our fab Travel Agent fixed the problem for us :-)  We must have looked a right sight with all our suitcases and boxes, I'm sure the people going on ordinary holidays wondered what on earth we were packing!!  We were also worried that the airline wouldn't accept our boxes, but they didn't even question what was in them and just told us to take them over to the "large luggage" drop off.  It was that simple!!!


The first flight to Amsterdam was quite full, the only empty seat I could see was next to Mr Messy (which should have been LMS's seat but Little Prince had persuaded her to sit next to him).  I sat next to Drama Teen who was very quiet and subdued throughout the flight, she said she was just tired, but I think she was also missing her boyfriend and dreading the thought of being away from him for so long.  We didn't have long to wait in Amsterdam airport, so we made our way to our respective gates.  Little Prince was very unhappy at saying goodby to LMS, when she went one way and we went another.  We found somewhere to sit near our gate, and Little Prince soon found someone to run around and play cars with.  Another little boy decided he wanted to play on Drama Teens Nintendo DS, rather than his own.  I think he was a very indulged only child, as his Dad went to get him a McDonalds, and then proceeded to hand feed him as he refused to stop playing on the DS!!  When it was time for us to join the check in queue, he tried to keep the Nintendo too!!  And he must have been 8 or 9!!  I also got chatting to a Canandian group of women who were going to Ethiopia for a wedding, and they taught me some Ethiopian too (although I can't remember it any more!).


During the flight Drama Teen refused to eat, so she ended up feeling ill and out of sorts.  We had to insist that she had a drink of apple juice everytime the flight attendants came round, or she wouldn't have drunk anything either.  Little Prince tried most of the food brought out and found enough that he liked so that he didn't suffer like Drama Teen.  And as usual on a flight, he watched a film, ate his meal, played with some of his toys and then fell asleep :-)  Which can't be said for most of the rest of the children on the flight, who seemed to take it in turns to scream, so that there was always at least one screaming child at any one point!!


We had a stopover in Khartoum, just like when I travelled with Baby Sis, where we had to stay on the plane and wait.  Little Prince and some of the other kids had a great time running up and down the aisles and chasing each other.  They weren't very happy to be strapped back into their chairs for take off, and the screaming increased!!  Across the aisle from Little Prince was a two year old Canadian Ethiopian girl who he had great fun playing peekaboo with.  He was amazed that she liked this game and him :-)  He doesn't have much experience, well none at all actually, with younger kids so it was perfect timing :-)  He shared the plastic skeleton out of his Scooby Doo lucky bag, although he did keep checking that he would get it back!! 


The landing at Bole Airport in Addis Ababa was very smooth, which was a relief after the bumpy touchdown in Khartoum!!  There was even a spontaneous round of applause for the Pilot from the passengers!!  We got off the plane pretty quickly, so were near the front of the queue for the Ethiopian Entry Visa, which was great for keeping Little Prince calm about the whole process.  After hours and hours sat down on a plane he was itching to run about, whilst also being tired and grumpy, not a good combination!!  We had a longer queue at Customs, but we were behind Little Prince's new friend so it wasn't too bad.  Once through Customs we collected our luggage loaded onto two trolleys and made our way out of the airport.  We weren't stopped to have our luggage checked against our receipts stuck to our passport this time, which surprised me.  But we were stopped almost at the exit from the arrivals hall, and the Customs officials asked us what we had in the boxes and suitcases.  When we told them clothes for an orphanage in the boxes they insisted on opening and checking one of the boxes, which seemed to satisfy them.  We fibbed and told them the exercise trampoline we had brought for the Guest House owner was for the children too, which involved much pointing to the picture on the outside of the box and bouncing up and down to demonstrate!!  Eventually they were satisfied and we were allowed to go.  We had landed three quarters of an hour early, so the Guest House taxi wasn't there waiting for us.  After waiting for what seemed like ages, Mr Messy texted the Guest House owner to let her know we were already here and waiting and within twenty minutes or so the driver arrived.  Again it took an expert at tetris to get all of us and all our luggage into the van, but we managed and drove the five minutes or so to the Guest House.  Little Prince and Drama Teen loved the drive and thought everything they saw was wonderful.  At the Guest House we chatted to Helen the Guest House owner for a while before getting off to bed and some much needed sleep.


Sunday morning we were woken at 7am by an excited Little Prince!!  I unpacked all the suitcases before we all went down for breakfast.  All of us except Drama Teen who stayed in bed as long as she possibly could.  We had a lazy morning at the Guest House, well we were lazy and Little Prince ran round playing football with any of the Guest House staff who would co-operate!! Then we went out for a walk to Kaldi's for some lunch and then a quick trip to the nearby supermarket, to get some milk formula so we don't have to change New Child's milk and can keep her on the Ethiopian formula she is used to.  We also got Drama Teen some apple juice, which will stop me panicking so much about her not eating/drinking!!  Little Prince was too hot and fed up so we brought him back to the Guest House to have a run round and play.  I've written this blog on Mr Messy's laptop and he and Drama Teen are walking over to the Lime Tree Cafe which has free internet connections to send it.  And also to let the pining Drama Teen contact her boyfriend!!!


We've heard from LMS and she has arrived safely in America and is enjoying her time with her boyfriend.  Although she said it was 3am when she got her Dad's text, so she'd get in touch when she'd woken up lol.

Monday, 25 May 2009

She's OURS :-)

We were at Court this morning and are now the proud (and legal) parents of our gorgeous three month old baby girl.  We couldn't be happier.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Packed and Ready to Roll

We've had a pretty hectic day getting everything ready!! Mr Messy tried to check in online this morning, but it said there was a restriction on the booking that wouldn't allow us to use online check in. I called the airline and spent ages on the phone with a very helpful man, but the verdict was, its not possible to check in online!! I then got in touch with our FABULOUS Travel Agent, who sent us a new booking reference and it fixed everything. Thank you Michael Davies, Travel Counsellor

Mr Messy also managed to get back to town to pick up our currency he'd ordered yesterday. Have over an hour long telephone interview for a possible new contract. Pack everything into the suitcases. Print out all the airline/visa/tips we will need. Apart from getting grumpy because we are taking way too much stuff, he's been a total star - thank you Mr Messy :-)

Me and LMS spent all morning putting up Little Prince's wallpaper border in his bedroom. I couldn't do it on my own, and Mr Messy hates wallpapering of any kind, so I've been waiting until both me and LMS were available. We have never done anything like that before, and we were both very pleased with ourselves at having achieved it :-) It looks fantastic and Little Prince was thrilled :-) Result :-)

My friend Mad Cat Lady called round to pick up our house keys, as she is looking after our two cats while we are away, and hopefully she will remember to keep an eye on the house too lol. She was also showing us pictures of her new kittens, which take her cat total up to THIRTEEN!! THAT is why I call her MAD Cat Lady lol. She was also a total star for Little Prince, and bought him some new t-shirts for our trip - and told us to tell him that she thinks New Child has enough new clothes and she thought he needed some :-) He was thrilled again :-)

I had a lovely relaxing lunch time having a pedicure, so I've got pretty feet for wearing sandals for the next three weeks. Although if the weather is anything like as wet as it was for the adopter who has just returned from Addis, perhaps I should have packed my wellies!!

We had to get Mad Cat Lady to come back round later this evening to lend us another suitcase, as we couldn't manage to fit everything into our two!! I'd forgotten how much paraphanalia babies need!! I think Mr Messy and I have been lucky to get ANYTHING of ours in the cases lol. Mr Messy is disgusted that the case we've borrowed is PINK lol.

We are just off to bed to try and get some sleep before we have to wake up at 3.45am to get ready in time for the taxi to pick us up!! So this is my last update before we set off. I might get chance to update again from Amsterdam, but if not my next post will be from Addis - where our daughter is :-)

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Change to the Plans!!!

Last night Fraulein returned for a visit :-) Its lovely to have her here, we've all missed her a lot. Today she went to visit her old college to see her friends before they all finish for the Summer and then disperse to University or jobs. Mr Messy gave her a lift to college and then went to town check exchange rates so that we get the best deal for our trip to Ethiopia. I had already planned to go out for a relaxing day shopping with my friend Postlady, and as we were in the same town as Mr Messy we met up at our favourite art gallery for lunch and a wander round the art.

When we got home we found we had an email from Ethiopia informing us our Court Hearing Date has been moved to Monday morning!! I panicked about this as part of the UK Procedures is that both me and Mr Messy have to meet our New Child BEFORE she is legally ours. We also have to confirm in writing (luckily they will accept emails) to our Local Authority that we have done this. The Local Authority then have to send confirmation of this message to the DCSF (UK govt dept that oversee all intercountry adoptions). And Monday is a Bank Holiday in the UK!!! I managed to speak to the ICA Team at the DCSF and they were very helpful and reassuring and said that so long as we sent a message to our Local Authority as soon as we could, and that the DCSF had the Local Authorities confirmation of receipt of this message BEFORE we apply for New Child's British Entry Visa, then everything is still legal and we are ok to go.

So panic over, we are good to go and New Child will be legally ours a day earlier YEAH :-)

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Probable Itinerary

Just to let you all know what we will be up to in Ethiopia :-)

Saturday 23rd May
We all fly out at stupid o'clock from our local airport to Schipol, Amsterdam.
We part company with LMS as she gets her connecting flight to America to see her boyfriend.
We get our connecting flight to Addis Ababa.
Arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia at about 9pm.
Guest House will collect us from the airport.

Sunday 24th May
Unpack and settle in the Guest House
Go to local supermarket to get formula and nappies for New Child.
Have a relaxing and chill out day (are you listening Little Prince????)

Monday 25th May
Visit orphanage and introduce New Child to her new Daddy and siblings :-)
Email our Local Authority to let them know that both me and Mr Messy have met New Child before she is officially adopted (requirement of UK adoption process).
All before our Court Hearing appointment at 9.30am!!!!
If everything goes well we can now take custody of New Child :-)

This is where it all gets a bit fuzzy!!

A few days after the Court Hearting we have to collect all our Court papers.
Once got Court papers we can apply for New Child's birth certificate (takes about 2 days to receive).
Once got birth certificate we can apply for New Child's Ethiopian Passport (takes about 2-3 days to receive).
Once got Ethiopian Passport can apply for British Visa (recent adopters have taken anything from 2-15 days to receive theirs!). Keep your fingers crossed that we are at the shorter end of the time scale!!!

During the wait for the British Visa Mr Messy and Drama Teen will make a trip to the area New Child is from. This will take them about 3 days we think, as it is a day's travel away by car! They are both keen photographers so they will be documenting the whole trip for New Child when she is older. I will stay at the Guest House with Little Prince and New Child, as it will be too soon after taking custody of her to expect her to cope with such an arduous journey (although she will have made that journey once before already).

Saturday 13 June
Once we have the British Visa we can add New Child to our flight tickets, and head home :-) So we are booked on flights on this date, but if the British Visa isn't ready then Mr Messy will come home with Drama Teen and Little Prince, and I will stay in Ethiopia with New Child until her Visa is issued.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

More Nursery Updates

Yesterday I finally got to do what I've been waiting YEARS for - put up our New Child's cot :-) I enlisted the help of Little Prince and he was a great assistant, passing me the right screws and bolts and holding the parts still while I fixed them together :-) The mattress has been packaged up in plastic and really could do with airing off, but I couldn't resist making up the cot to see how it looked :-) And to take photos lol. Once Little Prince had gone to bed, I set about constructing the changing unit, I needed help from Mr Messy with one or two of the fixings, but most of it was built by me :-) AND YES I REALISE I SHOULD HAVE MOVED ALL THE STUFF OFF THE WINDOWSILL BEFORE TAKING THE PHOTO LOL - well I realise now that I'm looking at the picture lol.
I then spent two hours hanging up all the clothes in her closet - and it finally dawned on me just HOW MUCH I've bought!!! Wow!! I think me and Ebay got waaaaaay too friendly lol. Little Prince keeps going to visit the room and check its still ok, and I need to think of more jobs for us to do as he keeps pestering to do more things to get ready for his new sister :-) Involving him in the preparations seems to be working really well, and most of the time he is looking forward to being a Big Brother :-) He did sit on my knee for a snuggle and tell me he was worried I wouldn't have time to cuddle him once New Child arrives, but seemed reassured when I told him that she would go to bed earlier than he would (but no he can't stay up till Mummy and Daddy go to bed!!) and that I have got two knees and two arms to cuddle both of them. Its probably not all going to be plain sailing once she's actually here, but he's not really reacting any differently than most children when faced with the reality of a new sibling arriving.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Latest Nursery Update

I stayed up late last night stencilling the border in New Child's room. I wasn't sure if I liked how it looked last night, but this morning in daylight I'm really pleased :-) Its swirly, delicate and feminine just what I wanted :-) Just got to bully Mr Messy into finishing the woodwork tonight and that's it decorating FINISHED :-)
UPDATE: He did it :-) Mr Messy has finished painting the woodwork :-) We can get the furniture in tomorrow :-) YEAH :-)

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Busy Few Days

We've had a busy few days getting more and more things sorted out ready for New Child's arrival :-) The walls of the nursery are now finished, so I can stencil the border later on when Little Prince is in bed. The bedroom door has been waxed, and looks lovely. Tomorrow Mr Messy will get the woodwork painted and once that's dry we can assemble the furniture :-) I can't wait :-)
Me and Mr Messy went shopping today mainly to get the car seat tested in our car. Of course the one that fits on my buggy DOESN'T fit in my car!! I was getting quite worried when we had tried four different seats and not one fitted in my car!!! But then we finally found one that fits - its a lovely purple colour, which looks nice with my navy blue car and will also go beautifully with all the pink outfits I've been buying New Child lol. We also got the rest of the bedding we needed - mattress, fitted sheets, blankets etc. And somehow we ended up with this bib - I'm not sure how it got in the shopping trolley and Mr Messy can't remember either lol.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

This isn't Janet!

This is Kate, experimenting!

This bit is Janet lol - Just in case anyone is wondering, I've asked Kate to look after my blog while we are away in Ethiopia. Hopefully, this will mean I'll be able to update everyone on how things are going while we are there. I won't be able to post pictures, as most of the internet cafe's etc only have dial up and not broadband, but at least I'll be able to send words!! Fingers crossed I will at least!!!

Back in Action :-)

Despite Little Prince joining us in bed at stupid o'clock this morning, and then demanding I take him to the toilet at 4.30am I felt quite a lot better this morning!! Probably because Mr Messy got up with Little Prince and let me have a few hours uninterrupted sleep, thank you :-)
Not long after I got up Drama Teen's Young Man arrived, we'd already warned them yesterday when they were arranging the visit that he could only come over if he joined in with the jobs!! So they were sent out into the garden to clean Little Prince's climbing frame. It was really mucky after being neglected last year when we seemed to have the builders here non-stop! However, after a bit of cleaning, a lot of throwing wet sponges at each other and some snogging where they didn't think they could be seen, they got bored!! So me and Little Prince took over! I'm not sure that Little Prince was much help, but he did have fun lol. Once we'd finished I think he was wetter than the climbing frame and most of the muck that had been on the climbing frame seemed to have migrated to him!! Oh well, at least that's one more job done. And once we've sorted the weeds and nettles and fixed the fences that have blown down, it will be safe for Little Prince to play out. Which is the whole plan, as I think he is going to need to run off some energy (and frustration!) once we have brought New Child home!!

I've just come in for a break and a rest and then I'm going to go back out and pick up all the rubbish that has either been left by the builders or blown over the walls!! We can probably get rid of quite a lot of the rubbish by driving to the tip, but we will have to hire a skip for the rest!

And while we've been doing all this Mr Messy has been alternating between watching the Grand Prix and getting more painting done. The pink is now finished I think, we need to buy the mint green paint tomorrow so we can do that, and then we just need to do the woodwork. Oh and go over the bits of the ceiling that got caught by the pink! I've left it too late to order the new blinds before we go to Ethiopia as they'd end up being delivered while we were over there! So I'll order them as soon as we get home. As New Child will be sleeping in our room at first, it isn't such a worry.

UPDATE: I've cleared the garden rubbish into one huge pile at the side of the house. I was upset to find that one of my pretty garden chairs was broken underneath one of the bits of fence that fell down on it!! One of next week's jobs will be to take as much of the rubbish as I can to the tip. A lot of it is builder's rubble though, so it will be back breaking work getting it into a skip! Might have to talk to my Handyman as I don't want Mr Messy injuring himself just before we go to Ethiopia!!

Saturday, 9 May 2009

Feeling Bleugh!

I've been feeling bleugh for about a week. Lethargic, achy and generally not myself. I keep thinking that I'll feel better soon, so haven't been to the Doctors, but its dragging on and I haven't got time for this, so I'll make an appointment on Monday. As a result of the bleughs I haven't got much more ready for New Child arriving, and I'm running out of time!! I have managed to get hold of the instructions for the cot in New Child's room though, so as soon as the decorating is finished (early next week - fingers crossed) we can get it assembled.

Hopefully once I've got some antibiotics from the Doctor I will feel much better and will be able to tackle the mountaint of jobs waiting for me!!!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Today's Waffling!

This morning me and Mr Messy had a meeting in the lovely new cake shop in the next village. We were meeting with a friend of LMS's from school, who is a talented violinist and plays at weddings and functions. She has also just qualified as a Beauty Therapist and Make Up Artist. She contacted Mr Messy on his social networking site and the meeting was to discuss how they could cross promote each other's businesses and to work out if they could partner up in any enterprises. I just went along for the cakes :-) The meeting went really well and Mr Messy and Violinist think they could work together and cross promote really effectively. Mr Messy also arranged to do a photoshoot with Violinist next week, so that she knows what sort of thing he does and how he works, and can more effectively tell her clients about him. She is also trying to build up a portfolio of shots, so she can use the pictures for that too.

Then this afternoon I was just settling down to answer some of the emails I had received over the weekend, when a very excited Mr Messy burst in and said we had to go out to Town NOW!! He had just found out from some of his photographer colleagues that he and Drama Teen have been featured in this month's edition of a professional photographers magazine :-) They obviously knew they were going to be featured, as they had been interviewed and had to provide photographs, but Mr Messy was thrilled to find out they'd been given a full page spread :-) Unfortunately we found out when we got to the large newsagents in Town, that the people who've already seen the feature get the magazine on subscription and it isn't available in the shops until Thursday lol. We made the most of the unexpected shopping trip, by having lunch, buying a present for fellow adopters from Ethiopia we are meeting up with tomorrow, and by visiting the printers who are sorting out some promotional postcards for Mr Messy. So it wasn't an entirely wasted trip :-)

When we went round to school to pick Little Prince up, he decided to go round to his friend Post Lady's daughter's house for a play and tea. Mr Messy gave Post Lady the DVD slideshow of pictures from the print he did of her daughter's the other weekend. Post Lady and her husband have just come back from a family wedding in Albania, so this was the first chance they've had to see the photos and I was dying to see her reaction. When she dropped Little Prince off later that evening she came and chatted with Mr Messy and she was THRILLED with them :-) She and her husband will be round one evening this week to go through the images and chose which ones they want making into a canvas print.

We decided to surprise Drama Teen with the magazine feature. Mr Messy had received a pdf copy from the publishers, which he printed out and placed where she was most likely to find it - next to the bread bin lol. We both waited in the dining room when she went to the kitchen to get herself a sandwich, and listened to her squeaks of excitement :-) She came bouncing out of the kitchen, hugging her Dad and boinging around in a very manic way lol. She is taking the printout to show her friends at school tomorrow :-)

Mr Messy has also contacted a local PR person, who works with the image consultantcy that Mr Messy is setting up joint promotions with, and is meeting her on Thursday to see how/if they can maximise on this publicity and promote Mr Messy's business :-) And to top it all he has got a new IT Contract, which is mainly working from home, so he will have the time to do more promotional and marketing work for his photography and also be around a lot more when New Child is home :-)

Things are looking good :-)

Yesterday's Adventure!

As it was Bank Holiday Monday, we decided to drive LMS back to University rather than have her get caught up in the usual Bank Holiday train chaos! We made good progress and good time on our drive over. We stopped at our usual place just outside University Town for lunch before carrying on the last bit of the journey to drop LMS off. We had been told that we weren't allowed to go into LMS's room as it was too messy, so we dropped her and her stuff off, and armed with her shopping list went round to the nearby supermarket to stock her up on essentials. While we were there LMS pack some of her things into boxes for us to take back with us, she only has a few weeks left until the end of term (and the end of her second year of University!). She had mellowed a little when we got back laden with shopping and we spent a few minutes chatting in her room, and I didn't say anything about the state of it!! Then we reluctantly loaded up the boot with all the boxes and bags of un needed stuff, said our goodbyes and set off home again. On the way to University the traffic going the other way had been horrendous, so we used the GPS to navigate round the bad traffic and also to visit Sister in Law and Cousins who live fairly nearby.

Little Prince had a great time getting out every single one of his older cousin's toys in his room!! Well that's what it seemed like when I dragged him back up the stairs to try and tidy up a little!! I have no idea how he managed it, but Little Prince seemed to know where each and every one of the toys went - but couldn't manage to put them there without my help and prompting!! We had a good chat with Sister in Law and she made us all a sandwich before it was time for us to set off on our way home again. Mr Messy also arranged to visit again either next weekend or the weekend after (depending on the weather) to do a beach photoshoot with the two kids. Not sure that we've really got time to do this just before we go back to Ethiopia, but its lovely to them and we don't get together often enough - we'll just have to work hard at fitting everything in :-)
By the time we were on our way again the earlier bad traffic had cleared and we were zipping along. We had to slow down when it started to hammer down with rain, which was probably a good thing considering what happened next!! We were driving round a roundabout and noticed a car at the side of the road that had obviously been in a smash. Its a pretty quiet stretch of road in the middle of nowhere, and the car was the same make/model as Mr Messy's so it stood out!! The next thing we knew we could hear weird kerchunking noises from the front corner of the car, and we were bumping around quite a bit! We had a flat tyre - we probably hit some debris from the earlier car crash!! We managed to limp to the car park just up the road a little and parked so that Mr Messy could assess the damage. The tyre was totally flat! It was pouring with rain! It was pitch black! We had no mobile phone signal!! And the boot (over the spare wheel bay!!) was FULL of LMS's things!!! Mr Messy found his coat and went wandering back down the road to see if he could find some mobile signal, and luckily managed to. We called the AA and also let Drama Teen know we would be much later home than we had thought - she laughed!!!
Little Prince came and sat on my knee in the front of the car and cuddled up dozing, it was WAAAY past his bedtime and he was very tired. He was also pretty hyped up and excited about this new adventure!! He said this was the best adventure of his life - oh to be six again :-) The AA turned up in much less than the hour the call centre had said we would wait, and managed to change the wheel pretty quickly. The spare is what is known as a skinny spare, which isn't as wide as a normal tyre, so we had to take it really easy for the rest of the journey and it was almost midnight before we got home!! What a day!!!!

More Decorating Progress

When I got back from the OASIS conference on Sunday, I had a lovely surprise from Mr Messy :-) He had painted the first coat real colour in New Child's bedroom :-) Although it doesn't look as muted and calm as I thought it would lol. Its like stepping into a marshmallow!!! I'm planning to do a swirly stencilled border, and have now decided to paint the short walls facing the camera with the same minty green. Hopefully that will break up the marshmallowness enough!!! I had been planning to put up Roman Blinds with dress curtains over the top, but I've changed my mind on that too. I'm going to keep it simple and just have the Roman Blinds in the fabric in the picture below (the one hanging at the back with small sprigs of pink flowers), which will again break up and (fingers crossed!) tone down the pink!!!

Busy Busy Weekend

On Saturday morning me, Mr Messy and Drama Teen went to an NCT Nearly New Sale. Unfortunately most of the stalls had children's clothes of the opposite sex to New Child, so we only bought one item. Which is probably a good thing as we already have two big bin liners stuffed full of clothes lol. I am also interested in joining the Mum's and Tot's coffee mornings that our local NCT run, so it was nice to meet a few of the other parents before going along to a meeting. Mr Messy was there to see if he could work out a way to work with the group to promote his photography! Everything is about his photography at the moment!! When we arrived we were handed a carrier bag of promotional leaflets, and one of the leaflets was from another local photographer - so it won't be easy for Mr Messy to "break into" this established partnership, but he's determined to get his style of photography known in the group and some people are bound to prefer his relaxed, non studio, style of photos.

Drama Teen spent most of the time we were there moaning that she was bored, so we eventually gave in and took her to the shopping centre, where she had seen a "really cool" skirt that she HAD to buy!! Usually when she shops she choses her clothes and buys them without trying them on, which inevitably leads to lots of returns or a wardrobe full of clothes that don't fit properly!! We insisted she try the skirt on, and its a good job we did or she would have bought the wrong size! I don't approve of the skirt very much, its WAY too short!! But remembering the things I used to wear at a similar age, and the fact that she was paying with her own money, we let her buy it! She went out later to the local cake shop, with her Dad and brother and spent most of the time trying to pull the skirt down to make it longer, so I think she will wear it over leggings next time lol. Which would actually make it a lot cooler in my eyes!!
On Sunday, I was up bright and early, well I was up early anyway!! As I had been persuaded by my friend Kate to go to the OASIS conference in Birmingham. The conference was about empowering visible adoptees to counter the questions they will inevitibly be asked about their difference to their parents. It was run by an American charity The Centre for Adoption Support and Education (CASE) And based on the programme they have developed called "Wise Up." Which stands for the four different options they show the children that they can use when confronted with questions
  • Walk away
  • It's private
  • Share something
  • Educate
There were separate workshops for adults and two different age groups of children. Unfortunately Little Prince was too young to attend, but hopefully they will run a similar conference in a few years when he is old enough (and calm enough?!?). The children all seemed to really take the message to heart and to have enjoyed themselves. The parents part of the programme was pretty tough going at times, its hard to hear how your child is likely to face such a barrage of questions! But it was also very useful to have strategies to turn to to help our children cope with this. But the absolute bestest part of the day was catching up with friends in the very small UK IA community :-) One friend and I had arranged to meet up (and just like at school she saved me a place at the meeting) and afterwards we went for a meal in the Chinese Restaurant opposite the hotel. Good food + good company = good times :-)

Friday, 1 May 2009

Progress so Far

This is as far as we've got with the redecorating! Not very far lol. The picture makes me sad, not because we haven't got very far, but because of the significance of the change. Little Prince's room was redecorated specifically for him once we knew that our social workers were working on placing him with us. The bedroom had been baby pink for our lovely Chinese exchange student, and as we were approved to adopt a girl or boy between 18 months and 6 years, we didn't make any changes until we found out if we were being matched with a boy or girl. We were so excited and happy when the social workers told us about Little Prince and linked us with him. However, we were also very cautious, because until after the Matching Panel (a mandatory meeting where the child's and potential parent's files are studied, and the potential parents interviewed) which makes a recommendation as to whether or not to allow the match to proceed. We decided to go for a bright sunny unisex yellow colour, just in case we weren't allowed to proceed and went on to be matched with a girl! I didn't realise it at the time but Little Prince's curtain fabric had small crowns on - totally appropriate for his later pseudonym lol.

Anyway me, Mr Messy, LMS and her then boyfriend worked really hard to get the room ready. LMS and her boyfriend did the majority of the yellow, and I drew and painted the jigsaw border. We had waited 13 months after being approved as potential adopters (and for various reasons for a LOT longer before that to even be approved) to be matched with Little Prince and we were all very excited. Me and Mr Messy were excited about the prospect of having a son, after two daughters, and wondering what if any differences there would be (I've since found out that there are MANY lol). And now we are covering up that exciting and anticapatory time of our lives, and it is slightly sad. But on the other hand it is so exciting to finally be preparing for our New Child, for whom we have also been waiting for a long time.


25th May 2009 - See New Child again & Court Date

23rd May 2009 - Fly back to Ethiopia

26th March 2009 - Fly to Ethiopia :-)

3rd March 2009 - Dossier Arrived at Orphanage

26th February 2009 - Dossier sent to Ethiopia

22nd December 2008 - Dossier back at DCSF

28th November 2008 - Certificate of Eligibility ISSUED

6th October 2008 - PASSED Approval Panel

7th July 2008 - Homestudy Update Started

28th Feb 2008 - Told LA we wished to change country


Formally withdrew from the China Adoption Programme 17th July 2008

LID (Logged in Date) with CCAA 16th August 2007

Documents to China 10th August 2007

Passed Approval Panel 5th March 2007

Homestudy started 6th June 2006

First Contact with our LA 1st Jan 2006