Sunday, January 31, 2010

Our Trip Video

Okay, so we're so sorry it has taken so long to get this video posted on the blog.  Priorities have changed around our house and I'm finding I have very little time for things I used to have a lot of time for.  No, I am not complaining.  Having Ari home is a dream come true and every day I thank God for making this adoption a reality and for choosing us to be his parents.  But some things have to fall to the wayside when you have a baby who only naps about an hour and a half during daytime hours!  Although, Ari slept through the night for the first time Thursday night and has continued to keep it going for the past two nights!  We are so excited and happy that he's finally getting some good sleep.  

Also, I never did manage to blog about the last three days in Ethiopia like I said I would, and I'm more than a little sad and disappointed about it.  I'm hoping to still blog/journal about some of the more memorable parts of our trip while they're still fresh in my mind.  But until then (IF I even ever manage to do it) we have put together this montage of photographs and video of our time in Ethiopia.  I have included captions to explain some of the pictures.  And I know I spelled "eucalyptus" wrong, but it took over three hours to upload this thing to YouTube, and it's really not worth redoing it.  So just ignore that little typo.  

There is also a lengthy (10 minutes) video at the end of the montage of some footage of Addis Ababa as we were driving back to our hotel our last day in Ethiopia.  That day consisted of spending quite a bit of time in the morning at the baby house waiting for Ari's passport, eating lunch at a very good Italian restaurant, and then driving up Entoto Mountain which is right outside the city.  Needless to say, after eight days we were looking forward to coming home, yet saddened and overwhelmed at the thought of taking this little boy from his home country and and all that he's ever known.  I felt like Ari Madegiya belonged more to Ethiopia than he did to us and it was suddenly heartbreaking to be leaving.  Or at least those were the thoughts going through my mind.  That might not make sense, but I'm not sure I can really put into words the array of emotions I felt that day.  Adoption can be very celebratory and sad all at the same time.  Anyway, one question we've been asked by many people since we've been home is "What's it like over there?"  Well, we try to describe it (beautiful, chaotic, difficult, friendly, heartbreaking, eye-opening), and we love to talk about it, but hopefully this video will give you an idea of what Addis looks like, at least from a car window.  Also during the video you will hear "Rains of Africa."  That was the song playing on the car radio, believe it or not, and in my reflective state of mind it pushed me over the edge a little bit.  So when you hear me tell Roger to "video the streets," I'm really not meaning to sound bossy like Roger has told me I do; rather I was trying to get the video off of me and to forever capture some of our last sights in Ethiopia.

*Viewer's Note:  You can watch the video in full screen high def (it looks much better if you do) by choosing 720p in the right-hand corner of the YouTube square and then clicking the cross-looking button next to it. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

@ the Mall

Today I decided to venture out with the babe to the mall. The weather is supposed to turn super crappy in a couple days, so I thought I should get out when I have the chance. It was very therapeutic, walking around aimlessly pushing a stroller. I had a "moment" when I walked into Macy's from the parking lot...pushing a stroller.....with my baby in it. I was so happy I thought my heart might burst right out of my chest. Not because I was at the mall per se, but because I was doing something I'd dreamed of for so long. It's the little things, you know?? I could actually shop in the baby sections without feeling like a fraud....because I for once actually had a baby with me. Ari seemed to like our little shopping venture. He was awake for about an hour, visited with some nice old men while he had a bottle, and then slept for about an hour and 20 minutes. I had a pretzel and Dr. Pepper and watched him sleep.

And, on to bigger and more important news, Ari started "talking" today. He's been vocal ever since we met him, but today he started saying "ba-ba-ba" and "da-da-da." Sometimes he'll just break out with it on his own and other times he will repeat after us if we start saying it first. He also rode in his car seat without pitching a fit today. So nice. There's been a few car rides with a lot of back arching and yelling, but today he was very polite and we had a peaceful car ride to and from the mall. And to end on a good note, it is currently 10:33 p.m. and Ari has been asleep for two hours and fifteen minutes. He woke up once at 9:45, cried for four minutes, and went back to sleep without us having to go in his room. That is a first, my friends. Wish us luck for the rest of the night.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

1 Week Home

We have been home a little over a week now. Wow, how time flies when you're having fun; right?? Ari continues to be so much fun and we've had a couple firsts this week. On Monday we went to our first doctor's appointment. Ari is in the 50th percentile for weight, weighing in at 18 pounds. He is in the 70th percentile for height at 27 inches. His bloodwork is perfect. And his doctor thinks he is developmentally advanced for a six month old. Can't beat that!! We are still waiting on the poop tests, but I assume they're fine since we've had no tummy/diaper issues.
We went on our first walk last Wednesday since it was a wonderful, sunny 60 degrees outside. He loved it and promptly fell asleep after 10 minutes. And I realized what a workout it is pushing a stroller up and down hills!!
We went to church on Sunday -- early church, mind you!! No reason not to go early when you're up at 6 a.m. anyway! The music and the stained glass kept Ari entertained and quiet until he fell asleep right before the sermon. So, yeah, church couldn't have gone any better!
Sleeping is still a little rough, but Ari made great strides by sleeping from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. straight last night. We've started implementing the Ferber sleep method and it's working wonders already. And I'm pretty sure it's a whole lot harder on me than him. I stood in the kitchen and cried harder than he did for that first "Ferber" nap. But man, oh man, the poor boy needs a little guidance/structure with sleeping. Waking up EVERY HOUR was not a good thing for anybody, especially him. Remember when I said he was sleeping through the night those first couple nights in Ethiopia?? I miss those nights.
Thank you to everyone who has brought us meals and stopped by this past week to welcome Ari home. We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends and family!

Our church outfit. So handsome.....

Jill and her new best friend

His favorite spot in the house

Baby Legs!!!
His new Ethiopian friend Jayden

All bundled up for our first stroller ride

Zoe and Ari

Getting blood drawn s.u.c.k.s.

Our newest favorite stunt -- standing

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ari's Laugh

Still learning how to edit/upload movie clips. This one is a little long, but the ending is pretty good. Plus, his laugh is pretty contagious. (This is the second morning we had him -- amazing.)

He's an awesome kid that is this happy 90% of the time. The other 10% he is either chilling, hungry or sleepy. We. Love. Him.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quick Update

We are still getting settled in at Casa de Wasson. I've heard that it takes your body one day to recover for each time zone you cross. So that means we were in Ethiopia exactly 8 days, and it is 9 time zones away. Just as we were getting adjusted to Ethiopian time we jumped on a plane and came back (35+ hours STRAIGHT in an airplane or airport!). This will be the sixth day home so hopefully our bodies are almost adjusted to the time. Ari, he's still adjusting. He is starting to get on more of a schedule but right now he sleeps best from 2:30-6:30pm (which is the middle of the night in Ethiopia). We are slowly changing his habits but we both realize this is a work-in-progress. Abby's much better at writing but right now she's occupied with Ari, so you'll have to put up with me. All of our great shots are still on the computer at home. Instead you'll have to settle for a couple of iPhone pictures.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Home, Sweet Home

We've been home about a day and a half now and things couldn't be going any better. Ari is adjusting incredibly well to his new surroundings (as are we to having a baby in our house!). Jack and Jill love him and Ari is mildly entertained by them. He is a big fan of his homemade baby food, not a big fan of sleeping through the night. That is by far the hardest part of having a new baby. He is only sleeping in about three-hour stretches right now, getting up for good at about 5:30 a.m. I think part of the reason he's waking up so frequently is because of his nasty cough. He has his first doctor's appointment this afternoon, so hopefully we'll start an antibiotic that will get rid of his respiratory issues SOON! Other than that, he is a very healthy, happy little boy and we love him to pieces. Thank you, everyone who welcomed us home at the airport. It was so awesome to see you all, and Ari is very lucky to have so many wonderful people in his life already.

First bath at home -- LOVES IT!!

First morning in the Bumbo, ready for breakfast

With Grandpa Roger at the airport

With Uncle Tyler and Grandpa and Grandma Partlow at the airport

Spit Bubbles!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Homeward Bound Tonight

It is 7:00 a.m. Friday morning right now in ET, and we are a little more than happy today is the day we start our journey home. Roger is doing great (but hungry), Ari is doing great (but sleeping less at night), and I am sick (but managing). I came to Ethiopia with a little bit of a stuffy nose, and now it is a full-on hacking cough with really horrible sinus issues. Basically the exact same thing Ari has (take this as a warning, all of you who will be at the airport!). I've also been sick down south for about three days now, and while Cipro might take care of the problem, it also contributes to it for a while. Ugh. Roger and I have made an executive decision and have decided to pony up the money to fly first class from here to D.C if it is still available at time of check-in at the airport. Maybe we will be a little more comfortable?!? Overall, we have been very blessed with our time in Ethiopia and it has been an awesome week. We've seen so many places, experienced great restaurants, and met some amazing people. Oh, yeah, and we passed through embassy yesterday with flying colors!! What a wonderful feeling it was to walk out of embassy knowing this adoption is a done deal. I will go back and blog about the days I've missed when I get home. So thank you again for all your prayers and well wishes. God has blessed us beyond measure with this little boy and what a privilege it is to be his parents. Please continue to keep us in your prayers for a safe trip home. We are sooooo looking forward to seeing all of you soon and introducing you to the newest member of our family!!

Love, Roger, Abby & Ari

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Ethiopia: Day 4

Today was an exhausting day of a whole lot of nothing. We went back to the baby house/Hope office to finish preparing our paperwork for embassy. We were told to be there at 10:00 to meet with Rahel and we waited until 12:30 before she got there. TIE: This is Ethiopia. That's what Melke tells us when things don't work exactly as planned. Or when Ari has a dirty diaper and Melke tells us to just throw it on the side of the road. TIE. As far s dealing with Hope, our adoption agency, I thought one mom put it very nicely by saying, "It's a lot of backy/forthy." People work on a different timeline here and you just learn to roll with it. The good news is it's sunny and 73 degrees every day, so you can't complain too much when you're sitting outside enjoying the sun, even if you are waiting on someone.

We came back to the hotel afterwards and made mac-n-cheese that we brought along with us on our makeshift stove. It tasted amazing, but the aftereffects were not so good. The only time we've gotten sick so far was after eating mac-n-cheese. That we brought with us. Go figure. That and the fact we slept about three hours the night before. I'm sure that didn't help. Our hotel is pretty nice, but because the hallways are marble and the doors and walls are thin, you hear everything. Like when someone shuts their room door at 1:30 in the morning, it sounds like a bomb going off. It's amazing what happens to your imagination when you're sleep deprived. At one point Roger even got out of bed and went downstairs to make sure we weren't under attack. So we have learned our lesson and now take Tylenol PM/NyQuil before bed every night. Needless to say, the novelty of living in a hotel room with a baby is starting to wear off and we are looking forward to coming home. Ari, on the other hand, is sleeping like a champ. Down at around 8:30, wakes at 2:00 a.m. for a diaper change, up between 6:00 and 7:00. Not too bad.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Day 3

Today we went to the big kid house, took them our donations, lots of sweet treats for the kids, and lots of pictures. I was sort of expecting this day to be an overwhelming and emotionally hard time, and it kind of was. When we walked into the first room it was full of children (approx. 50) ranging in age from probably 4 to 10, and they all immediately stood up and starting singing "good morning, good morning" to us when they saw us. Oh, my gosh, talk about breaking your heart. We started handing out the tootsie rolls, suckers, and fruit roll-ups, and it was of course a big hit. I started going from child to child unwrapping the roll-ups, and as soon as I would start on one, the next child would be holding out his hand saying, "mommy, mommy." I wish everyone could experience what we experienced today at least just once in their life. It changes your heart. And 5 million orphans is no longer a concept but a true life reality. The good news is the children were happy, playful, loved to cheese it up for the camera, and have excellent nannies watching over them. And many of the children already have adoptive parents just waiting for them to pass through court and come home. Roger fell in love with one particular little girl. She already has a waiting family; Roger said if she didn't we'd be in trouble. We took a photo album for a little 8-year-old boy who came home this past spring to give to his friends still at the orphanage. In it were pictures of this little guy playing soccer in his beautiful soccer uniform, playing basketball with his adoptive brother, riding a horse, on a hay ride, posing for the camera with his new family. You get the picture. This little friend looked at those pictures, and you could just read his mind through his eyes. I hope that little boy finds his new family soon. We then moved on the the 2-year-old room, and, boy, was there some fun personalities in there! We delivered a care package for a family waiting to bring their little boy home, and it was neat to watch him open up his goodies and look at his parents' pictures at the same time, putting the two together. But then, of course, after he opened his bag full of fruit snacks and a little toy truck, it was a battle to keep everyone else's hands off his new stuff!

After we spent time with the kids we went back downstairs and had a coffee ceremony. I'm not going to lie, I was a little nervous about this part. But no need to be. It was really good (with steamed milk and sugar), and really hot, so I wasn't quite as concerned about getting sick after I saw that. It was delicious and strong! For all you coffee lovers out there, authentic Ethiopian coffee is the real deal!

We ate lunch at a restaurant called Rico's with the two other adoptive families here with us. So far we've had a great experience with food. Our driver Melke makes sure we only eat at "safe food" restaurants, and so far he hasn't done us wrong. One family here is adopting a little boy the same age as Ari and the other family is adopting a 5-year-old girl. It was neat to witness that little girl's first hours with her new mommy. I am excited to see how she progresses throughout the week as she adjusts to her new reality. As we neared the end of our meal, our waiter come to our table and said something about the road in front of the restaurant being closed. Or at least that's all we could understand. We looked out the front window and sure enough there were soldiers lined up and down both sides of the street. It's not necessarily uncommon to see men in military uniform and weapons out and about, but we could definitely tell there was something going on when we saw how many of them there were. We walked outside to quickly get in with our drivers, and Roger asked the waiter as we were leaving what was going on, and the waiter replied with what Roger thought was "beekeepers." Yes, Roger is having somewhat of a difficult time picking up the dialect here. He then turned around to me and exclaimed "beekeepers!!" with a midly panicked look on his face. Seeing that many men outfitted with rifles is a little unnerving. I said, "What? Beekeepers?" Well, we asked Melke, our driver, what was going on and he explained that someone important was getting ready to travel down that road and it was being secured by the soldiers. We then later figured out that the waiter had said "peacekeepers," not "beekeepers," and even now I cannot think about the look on Roger's face when he said "beekeepers!" without laughing so hard I cry. We will never forget those intimidating Ethiopian beekeepers. Ari continues to do amazingly well. We have video of him full on laughing that we tried to upload to YouTube, but no such luck yet. He is basically sleeping through the night, going to bed at 8:30 and waking between 6:00 and 7:00. Although, as I'm writing this it's 5:25 a.m. and he's been up for 25 minutes now. We have started feeding him warm rice cereal with banana, and he loves it! I've started titrating Similac formula with Bebelac, and he's tolerating it well. A little more gassy, but that's about it. We are not so much worried about establishing a routine right now, just keeping him healthy and happy. God has blessed us with an easy, happy baby, and it is not lost on us for one second. We continue to get lots of smiles and giggles. Now, sleeping for us, on the other hand, is a different story. I'm not sure if it's because we aren't adjusting to the time change or if it's because we have so much adrenaline as a result of being new parents, but so far every other night we've only gotten about 3 hours of sleep. And it's not because of the baby. Oh, well. This week is already flying by. What's a little lost sleep; right?

Melke our driver with Ari

Coffee ceremony

Car Ride

Saturday, January 9, 2010

5 Great iPhotos

Today we went back to the orphanage, took lots of pictures, ate some pizza, and hung out in the room for the remainder of the day. Ari was wonderful. He got to meet his cousins, both sets of grandparents, and Ms. Zoe through Skype. Pretty amazing. Oh yeah, and he got his first bath (at least the first one from us) Below are some of the more than 100 photos we took today. As you can tell the nannies all love our boy and are going to miss him. And yes, he is this happy 95% of the time. The other 5% he is either hungry or sleepy. We love him -

Friday, January 8, 2010

What You've All Been Waiting For

We had an incredible Ari Day. The pictures will speak our emotions, but I'll try to recap the highlights.

He is the happiest baby we've ever seen. Truly happy and content with such a sweet disposition. We already have him smiling and laughing and we only have to work for it a little bit! He loves to blow bubbles, rock on his hands and knees, and is not much into sleeping so as not to miss anything new. He is sleeping as I write this, but it is only 9:30 and I'm expecting a few middle of the night wakeup calls. The nannies are amazing. Ari is so blessed to have had such wonderful caretakers for the first six months of his life. All of the infants receive so much attention and interaction. It really is like a daycare you'd see in the United States and nothing like the orphanages people tend to think of when they think of international adoption. It was hard to take him from them today, even though we'll be back multiple times throughout the week for paperwork and to deliver donations. We had the privilege of going to a medical appointment with Ari, another adoptive couple and their baby boy, and two of the nannies. This was unexpected, but it was a neat experience and we are grateful to have been a part of it. It was a pretty generic checkup, but he got a clean bill of health and is developmentally right on track. We have a wonderful private driver, Melke. He is basically at our beck and call 24 hours a day and is a great asset and blessing to us. The Ethiopian people are so friendly and sweet, just like we've heard. We ate dinner at a restaurant in our hotel tonight (very good!) and Ari had two of the female employees holding him and cooing over him, commenting on how beautiful he is. And he really is. He is not as big as we thought he might be and how he appeared in his pictures, although he is definitely not on the small side either. His six month clothes fit him perfectly and he will turn six months tomorrow, January 9th. Okay, I think that about covers the main highlights. We think he is just perfect and sooooo much fun. I think the rest of our week will be pretty low key, just giving Ari a chance to figure out who we are.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The First Morning

Well, it's 5:45 a.m. and I have access to the blog. Thank you, Tammy, for being our guest blogger when our Internet isn't working. It does appear it may be a little spotty at times, but we've been pleasantly surprised so far at how well it works. So Roger is sleeping next to me and here I am wide awake in the dark. I'm definitely not going back to sleep, so I thought I'd blog to pass the time. We went to bed at about midnight last night, and Roger was smart and took some NyQuil (his favorite). I decided not to take anything, since I'm not one to have a problem sleeping, and I did pretty well, only waking at 3:00 and then again at 5:00 a.m. to the chanting that is broadcast across the city. I'd heard people talk about it before and was hoping I'd get to hear it. And now I'm pretty sure I'm up for the day.

The flights went amazingly smooth. No weather delays at all. All flights on time. This was by far the longest trip both Roger and I have ever taken, and wow, is it long!!!! From the time we were on the runway in Springfield to the time we hit the runway in Addis, over 24 hours had passed. Kind of felt like we flew halfway around the world, you know? And, Meredith, I can understand why you were dreading the flight back with a baby. It's kind of hard to imagine how we'll do it in such cramped quarters, but we will figure it out, I know. I'm so glad we flew Ethiopian Air. Not only for the most direct and shortest route time-wise, but because we were surrounded by Ethiopians. Truly the most beautiful people we've ever seen. We feel so honored, humbled, and blessed to be adopting a child from Ethiopia.

We arrived at the airport last night at 8:30 and I think were finally out of the airport and into a taxi at about 11:00. Lots of long lines for visas, customs, and then baggage checks. I am so glad we've had multiple friends who have traveled before us and were able to pass down lots of advice on what to expect upon arrival in Ethiopia. In just the short time we've been here, it has made all the difference in the world. It was exactly as we expected and we were able to navigate and make decisions quickly based on all of the invaluable information that has been passed down to us. Just as we expected, there was no hotel shuttle to pick us up, but we just ended up getting a taxi and it worked out fine. A tiny little Toyota from the '80s with three of our huge suitcases tied on the top that wouldn't fit in the trunk. Quite a sight to see. There were lots and lots of people out on the streets as we drove to our hotel. I have a feeling that's pretty normal every night, but it was Ethiopian Christmas yesterday, so maybe that had something to do with it. This place is like nowhere we've been, yet it seems vaguely familiar. The smells and sounds are completely new and foreign, but the sights I think remind us of other places we have traveled, namely Aruba and Mexico once you get away from the resort areas.

We will try to update the blog tonight with pictures. Time to get ready for this long awaited for day!

Made It

Finally here & in the room. Dead tired. Can't believe we are actually putting diapers in a diaper bag we will use tomorrow. We will work on photos. More thoughts tomorrow when we know what day/time zone we are in. Thanks for everyone's support and prayers. The three of us appreciate it.
Roger, Abby & Ari Madigia

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


We are at the airport. Had no problems with getting our FIVE bags checked. Had a someone watching over us and got the nicest guy ever to check us in. No charge for 2 bags being slightly overweight. No charge for the 5th bag, saving us at least $200.00.

My parents picked us up and brought us to the airport. Abby's parents met us here. Had some good conversation with all of them, took some pictures, said our "good-byes" and went through security. The workers asked if we just got married because of all the family and pictures. Nope, just traveling halfway across the globe to meet our son. Everyone has been so friendly and happy for us. Good start to a fun trip.

Couple of strange things I've been thinking about for a while. January 8th has always been a special day for's my great-grandfather's birthday, Freeman. (That's where I get my middle name, so I've always thought January 8th was an important date) -- And now January 8th will be "Ari Day". It couldn't have happened on a better date. The other thing that I've been thinking about for a while is this saying: You don't become a man until you are a father, or you lose your father. Since Pops dropped off us this morning I guess that means I become a man on Friday. That's one photo I can't wait to have - Me, Pops and Ari.

Just because everyone else seems to do this when they leave, here are a couple of photos for your enjoyment:

Us at the airport
Our luggage. No idea how we are going to move all this when we land in Ethiopia.

Monday, January 4, 2010

One Last Date Night (kind of)

I say "kind of" because of course Roger and I will have more date nights. Just not in the near future. And we know life does not end when you bring a baby home -- it just changes. Obviously. Life as we know it, however, does end, and that's why everything feels like the last right now. I will probably never see things -- the simple and the complicated -- the same way I do now and have pre-motherhood.

So tonight Roger and I went on a date to a nice restaurant (thanks, Cheri!) -- somewhere we won't go with Ari -- and then wandered around Barnes & Noble afterwards for an extended amount of time just because we can to find some travel time reading material. Well, I did anyway. Roger kept coming back to find me, wondering what the heck was taking so long. I was just trying to savor the quiet, uninterrupted evening. It was wonderful and strange all at the same time. Once again, STILL difficult to believe this is happening this week.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Photo Friday -- Happy New Year!!

Wow! 2010 is really here. I know it's going to be a year we will never, ever forget as we FINALLY, after four years, reach Destination Parenthood and start a completely new journey with our son. And we leave for Ethiopia in less than a week! A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. This week has been progressing at a relatively tolerable pace, thankfully (the holidays definitely help). We've been keeping busy with time spent with friends, housecleaning, last-minute travel shopping, and more housecleaning and organizing. Funny how major life changes have a way of ensuring a clean house!! We have suitcases laid out all over -- five to be exact which is one more than we planned on taking, but that's only due to all the wonderful orphanage donations, so it's fine by us. We have a confirmed hotel reservation at a hotel that has a supposedly decent Internet connection, so be sure to check in on our blog for the next two weeks to see updates (and pictures!) of our first days with Ari in Ethiopia. ;) And, last but not least, I will leave you with a picture of our boy doing baby push-ups!! Isn't he just so handsome and strong? Seriously, someone pinch me......