Sunday, February 10, 2008

A few more things

Had a bunch of questions about my last post for upcoming travelers a few clarifications and additional stuff:

VPN:  If you don't know what this is, then you probably don't have it.  Simplistically, it is a way to connect to a office network in a secure way.  It also makes all the sites/email web traffic go through that destination so it "appears" that you are in the US when you use skype/blogger. 

If you don't have a VPN setup with your work, then use the email post option on blogger to post. 


Mosquitos/Maleria pills:  We saw zero mosquitos in Addis.  The elevation is high enough plus it is the middle of summer (very little standing water) so bugs were not a problem at all. 

Bring sunblock.

Converters/adapters:   The plugs in Addis are the small circle prong type (european, i think).  You only need a device that converts the voltage if you are going to use a device that produces heat (hair dryer/curling iron), otherwise you just need an adaptor to change the plug(much cheaper).  Most all cell phone/computer/camera chargers already have a converter.   If you look on the converter (the box thing on the plug) it typically says that it takes 120-240V.  So all you need to do is get the adapter plug.   We got this one at circuit city. 

For Gladney families the biggest expense will be the hotel/guest house and the driver.  Everything else is very inexpensive ...  meals: $10 - $40 / day

Pictures:  You can print pictures at photo shops in town.  They cost 20birr a piece (.20).  They could also probably burn them to a CD  if you need more room on your memory card.  We printed a bunch of pictures for the boys at Kolfe.  


Friday, February 8, 2008

Advice for soon to be travelers to Ethiopia

Recommended Items:
Carmex - its dry and warm
Visine, sudafed - for smog
Baby carrier - baby bjorn or equivalent
Vitamin C / Airborne packets - boost immune system/vitamins

Technology:
Hilton internet was expensive $20/day and was only fast late at night otherwise it was dial up speed and barely useable (could have been b/c of the African conference that was going on when we were there)
IChat / AOL works
Gmail / yahoo mail works and you can email a post to your blog
Skype & Blogger/blogspot works IF you VPN into a US network otherwise they don't work

Gift ideas:
Belay - Splenda, the only Ethiopian in the whole country to drink splenda with his coffee, and they don't sell it there
Travis & Joanna - Anything Texas/Mexican food: salsa, flour/corn tortillas, bbq sauce
Orphanages - Kolfe Boys desperately desire books, also if you have room gently used shoes look like they are in great need.  I suggest spending the money on the extra baggage, I have seen some buy tupperware bins (zip tied to lock them) to put stuff in rather than bags, this seems like a great idea. 


We also brought smarties to give to the random kids that came up to us asking for money/food (it breaks your heart).   This was ok.  We desperately wanted to give the random kids money, but once someone sees you hand out money all of a sudden you are asked by people all over.  One thing we did toward the end of the trip (wish I started sooner) is go to the fruit stands (they are all over the place) and buy all of their bananas.  Bananas only cost 3 birr per kilo or about $0.15 / lb so you can fill up your arms with bananas for a few bucks.  We would pass out all the bananas to anyone nearby.  I much preferred doing this to giving money or candy to the select few.  Also it helps the fruit stand owner as well.  

Thursday, February 7, 2008

all together

video

The boys were thrilled to have us home and they love their new baby
sister. The dogs might take a bit to get used to but we are all
adjusting very nicely.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Home at last

Wow 36hours of traveling. We are beat.

One more video for now. I think this was yesterday, but not really
sure what time zone I'm in right now. This is Travis, one of
Gladney's in-country staff AND a monkey we met on the sidewalk in the
middle of the city.



video

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Kolfe Feast

videoQuick note: We are leaving today so we have last minute shopping and
we have to pack but I wanted to post some pictures of the Kolfe feast.

It was awesome. We got there at 9am and talk a bit with the boys,
then we met the 5 sheep, then we... ehh umm "dressed" the sheep and
prepared the meal. All of the boys helped with the meal and I got
some great photos of the Kolfe Mommas cooking. These boys are the
most wonderful kids you can imagine and we really enjoyed spending so
much time with them. We finally at at about 1:30pm and had some
fantastic fellowship with them. At one point a man cam around with
the "special dish" and all the boys pointed to a spot near me for him
to scoop some out on. They said "try it try it", and had a very
mischievous look on their faces. I told them to try it first and
they hesitated before finnaly trying it and putting on a fake "yummy"
face. I asked Belay what it was.... stomach. I didn't try it.
Funny boys. Emily ended up eating it with out knowing (she was at
a different table).

Last pic was at another orphanage, we gave them a 24ft parachute.
They had a blast with it.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Our Little Princess

This is a dress that her primary caregiver at the Gladney house gave
her when we first met Nevaeh.

day 5 pics

video

- the first few Nevaeh was really posing for the camera
- the a few from crater lake
- the last one was from the Hilton. There was a big wedding there
and they had 2 of these "hanging raw meat stations". We took the
picture from the other side of the glass. People would walk up and a
server would slice off a big hunk of meat. Chalk that up as the last
time we will probably see big hunks of raw meat hanging in a Hilton.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Day 5

Yesterday was a bit of a lazy day which was refreshing after such an
intense Day 4. Emily woke up at 8:30 feeling very disorientated. We
think she had a mild case of altitude sickness. She really didn't
start feeling better until after lunch. Our driver picked us up at
around 9:45 to do some souvenir shopping. We did very well at the
shopping. It was difficult because every little shop had really neat
stuff. We only got halfway down the row of shops before we ran out of
local money and Emily started really feeling bad. The shops were
maybe 3' x 5' with 3 walls. We will probably return to get some more
stuff, but are really pleased with all that we bought so far. It is common
to bargain at these shops but not easy to do. Most things are very
well priced to begin with, so it's difficult to start bargaining down the
shopkeepers when we have so much, even though they expect the bargaining...
It is tough. We did make the mistake of going into a shop that sold a lot of necklaces and Emily
tried a bunch on before we asked the prices. After she had picked
out her favorite three pieces and we had all commented how much we liked
them, we then asked the price. I would not recommend that method,
but the price was still fair to American prices.

After shopping, we went to a fantastic pizza place call Aztica (Ethiopia was once occupied by Italy), and then back to he hotel for naps and resting up.

At 4pm, we headed off to Dreamland, which is a resort about 90min
away from Addis. We drove through an industrial part outside of
Addis and then eventually made our way to the resort. Dreamland
overlooks this crater lake and was absolutely beautiful. We had a
fantastic meal outside on the patio overlooking the lake (Ethiopian
traditional food) with all the families, drivers and Belay. The sun
was setting behind us. The setting was really quite amazing. This
resort is located in a small town outside of Addis. It is really
strange to be in such luxury amidst such poverty 10 feet outside
the wall of the resort. Belay said that one of the most popular jobs
is the waitering job for the restaurant on Saturday night (when the
Gladney families come to eat).

While driving around in the afternoon, we also had the chance to stop
by a photo shop and printed out a bunch of pictures that we took
at the Kolfe boys orphanage. We will hand the pictures out to the
guys when we see them on Monday... which reminds me. I wanted to do
a big feast for the boys at Kolfe, and a business friend of mine that
has been following our blog has bought 4 lambs/goats for the feast.
We are going to have it on Monday, which is my birthday. Emily and
I are going to get there at 9am and I am going to help the boys
prepare the lambs/goats. Hopefully they will let us help prepare and
cook the meal as well. We are incredibly excited about filling the
tummies of those fantastic boys and just spending some time and
fellowship with them. I can't imagine a better birthday present.


Picture is the Kolfe boys, will post more pics later

Friday, February 1, 2008

eh - nay !!!!

I give the blog to Emily for one night and she turns in into a novel... In case you didn't realize, I am more of a numbers & cliff notes guy.

2 things to add and a picture.

1) Yes super emotional, super draining day.

2) At the 2nd orphanage, all the kids loved to have their picture taken and then loved it even more when you show them their picture on the screen. So much so, that they were pushing each other to see my 2" screen, so I decided to just take pictures. The kept shouting EH NAY EH NAY! (spelling? - ene?) and our driver said that means "me". After about 30 pictures without an end in site (taking one picture didn't satisfy the thirst), i just put the camera in my pocket and started saying EH NAY EH NAY over and over and turning in circles. They thought this was quite funny. Luckily the head lady rang the bell and most them ran inside for some school work before I had to come up with a new brilliant plan.

-------

We ordered traditional ethiopian food for room service tonight. Nevaeh loves that Injera.


Rough Day and Dropping like Flies

Today was the big day of visiting the government-run orphanages. We'd read from previous blogs that it's pretty difficult, so we'd been preparing ourselves. We started the day with a great leisurely breakfast. We found out at breakfast that we'd be meeting Nevaeh's birth mom at lunch. Scott and I knew that we were going to meet her sometime, but we weren't sure when. We had told Belay that we'd like to take her to lunch, rather than just at the Gladney house. We thought this would make it a little easier. The husband of one of the couples was apparently hit by a "having to run to the bathroom by the Big D, and we don't mean Dallas." Upon arriving to Addis, we had asked our driver about people getting sick and he pretty much said everyone gets sick, so one down.

We then headed off to Kolfe Boys Orphanage. I had seen pictures, so I felt as prepared as possible. The boys all crowded the cars as we entered the compound. I was overwhelmed by their genuine friendliness. Despite all of their hardships, they were incredibly warm and extremely inviting. One of the boys immediately took Nevaeh from me and held her the rest of the visit. Scott went off to play soccer (get schooled in soccer) while I went to play ping pong. (Soccer and the ping pong table (which is outside) are the two things they have.) Three of the boys were so excited for me to see where they stayed. Each had one bed with a blanket, all neatly made, but that was it. None of the boys have any possessions at all. One of them did show me a letter from a visitor that he had received a few years ago, but that was all he had. I didn't even see any spare clothes for any of the boys. They were extremely proud of their vegetable garden, of which they only grow lettuce. Scott and I plan to head back there on Monday. We didn't have time to see the whole compound since we had to leave to meet our birth mom.

Our meeting was very emotional, but very beneficial to all parties. We're very glad that we decided to meet at a restaurant. This made it much easier, instead of being like a formal interview. The only thing that we'll share is that our birth mom had actually named Lulu, Yabesra, which means "work of God". The name "Lulu" was given to her by an American caregiver. Apparently, there were several non-Ethiopian caregivers where they were staying and none of them could pronounce Yabesra, thus the name Lulu. The rest we're going to keep private to ourselves and Nevaeh, so don't even bother asking.

If that wasn't enough of an emotional day, Nevaeh felt like she was coming down with a fever (#2 down) and we were still scheduled to visit two more government-run orphanages. We went to the Kebe (something or other) orphanage where they have the youngest kids. There we found out the husband of the other couple wasn't feeling so well either, so they had to go back (#3 down). By now one of each family is down. Hopefully not for long though. I was so not prepared for this orphanage. All of the kids came running out to see us, but not with any enthusiasm like the older boys, but more of curiosity. At this young age, they had all already had too much of life and it was clearly visible on their faces. Since there aren't enough caregivers, money, etc, all of the kids wore tattered, dirty clothes... The older boys at Kolfe were really a family and were tightly bonded. These young kids were barely holding onto any hope. We visited with them a fair bit (a few spoke some English), then we headed into the infant room. I could barely hold myself together. It was so bad, that Scott didn't even want to take pictures. They had about 20 cribs in a small room, some of which had some that looked to be just a week or two old. There were so many kids that the caregivers didn't have any time to really pay attention to any one child. They just moved from one crib to another, adjusting bottles, changing a diaper, etc. but no real interaction with them. There was one boy, just over one, who was sitting in his crib (of which he was too big for) and started to cry when I began petting his head. They were just the silent kind of tears, streaming down his face. It was like he knew that crying out loud wasn't going to do anything for him. The caregiver said we couldn't pick him up because then he wouldn't let us put him down. It was more than heartbreaking. I had to leave the building. At this point (I hate to say thankfully) Nevaeh really wasn't feeling well, so we headed back to the hotel. I don't think I could have handled the last orphanage after the other two and meeting our birth mom. We're going to try to visit it either Monday or Tuesday.

Nevaeh is now sleeping in the hotel crib with a dose of Tylenol to make her feel a bit better. Today was a very sobering day, one that I will never forget. Tomorrow should be much ligher, emotionally. We're going shopping, assuming Nevaeh is feeling better.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

One More for Today

videoThis was at the top of Entoto Mountain. There were 5 kids that
showed up. One of them had a stick, string, and a plastic grocery
bag... a homemade kite!!
video
Eyasu, our driver, is the man in the photos holding Nevaeh
The woman, is a lady that works at the top of the mountain to collect the fee (10 birr, $1 for both of us), she is 18.  

Day 3

Nevaeh slept mostly through the night.  She woke up at 4am and didn't want to go back to sleep right away so we took the time to call a few family members stateside since it was 7pm at night in Texas.  After the phone calls we luckily went back to sleep until 9am.  So all in all a great first night sleep for our new family.  

We woke up and headed to one of the nearby mountain peaks for some sightseeing, Entoto Mountain.  It was absolutely beautiful up there, from there we went to have lunch and then we went to the National Museum.  All three of us woke up happily from a nice afternoon nap and tonight is the big cultural dinner with all the staff and families.  Yum more injera!!!  Neveah loves injera and we have ordered it for her the last 2 lunches.  We packed some leftover injera from yesterday's lunch and dipped it in some mashed peas that we had brought, she loved it.  It might well become a staple at our home. 

pics to follow hopefully

She's not a bud, she's a buddette.

video

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

More Pics


A quick slide show of today.

 


video

Gotcha

Internet is REALLY slow right now. Have to try a bit later for more
pics. But today was wonderful. Cliff Notes: We had a nice
breakfast, then headed to the Gladney house. Amanda and Jason already
had their special time meeting their son and so it was our turn.
Everyone left the room and Emily and I waited until they brought
Nevaeh into the room. Fantastic. She had little reaction during the
first 2 min, then the staff left the room to the three of us, and
Nevaeh quickly fell fast asleep. She slept for the next 30 min on my
arm and we had a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Afterwards we
headed to lunch at the Top View and then headed to the Embassy to get
all the other paperwork done, all three families were done in 25 min
(supposedly a record) and we headed to the Trinity Orthodox Church.
Took a ton of pictures today but will have to share them later when
internet improves or when we get home. In for a rest at the hotel
now, out to Ethiopian dinner tonight. Excellent day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

pics from our travel

I think I figured out how to post pics from here. Hopefully this works. The traveling went fine, but as I said in the prior post the carry-on restrictions at Ethiopian air are very strict. 15lbs is not a lot of stuff. Emily was wearing a fashionable dob kit as a purse and we were able to sneak some weight to the Frey's after they got checked in.
We got so see the Nile from the air which was cool. Also flying over egypt was pretty amazing, desert as far as you could see. And kind of a no brainer, but flying into Addis was dark. Even-though they have 3 million people here there was not much ambient light coming off the city from the air. And of course the areas surrounding Addis were very dark.

The Gladney Staff have been wonderful even in our first 3 hours. They had 4 cars to pick us and the Frey's up, and our driver picked us up some bottled water on the way to the hotel.

Lots of guys at the hotel grounds with machine guns. There is a huge African conference going on this week an the Hilton is a popular place, so security is tight. I guess Emily and I fit in well as we were checking in with all of our bags. "And here comes the foreign dignitaries from Texas"

We Made It!!

We arrived about 2 hours ago and all is well.  All the bags made it.  We had a lot of help from the Frey's (our traveling buddies).   Both of our families head to the gladney house in about 11 hours to finally meet our children!!  So very exciting.

 

Monday, January 28, 2008

Bags

21" x 16" x 8" -- 15lbs. Carryon limit

Plus a laptop or purse

Restrictions for ethiopian air.

Oops........
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And we are off

Thanks again for all the prayers and humanitarian aid. We checked 11 bags in. Luckily the united check area was relativly empty. Apparently they only give a discount for camera crews, and our point & shoot didn't quite make the bar.

The Frey's checked in right after us and will be our traveling buddies for the next 24 hours.

- the lydicks


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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

MORE PACKING!!!!

OK. I might have lost count, but I think we have seven 69 pounders
and three 49 pounders. Two of the duffles are slightly over 62" but
hopefully we will get an agent with a big heart.

Still haven't packed us yet. Guess we'll start tomorrow.

Monday, January 21, 2008

More Packing

The ones standing up are done. 69lbs each.

The ones laying down are 49lbs and we need to put 20lbs more books in
them.

Still haven't packed our clothes yet.


For those planning to take United Airlines to Ethiopian Air to Addis
the restrictions are as follows:
2 checked in luggage for free (62 linear inches & 50lb limit)
Additional bags are $160-180 (I have called 4 times and gotten a
different answer every time)
You can upgrade any bag to 70lbs for $50.
The limit on extra bags is 4, so 6 checked bags total per person.

I haven't found anyway to get United to give a discount for
Humanitarian Aid.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Packing

62 linear inches, 50lbs, ohhh my!!!  That's the limit for United International flights per checked-in bag.  

We basically started packing things today.  Not our things, but aid for the foster homes and orphanages.   We have had an outpouring of support from our friends, sunday school class and Greenwood Office Outfitters.  We have over 300 lbs of notebooks, diapers, school workbooks, children's clothing.  So... um ... yeah, we will be buying extra bags.  






Monday, January 14, 2008

Did you really just wake me up?

Here I lay, fast asleep dreaming of dolls, teddy bears, brothers....


Did you really just wake me up to take a PICTURE!!!




Ok, photo shoot over, can I go back to sleep now?





Thanks to the Runnions for sending us new footage of our little one. They just returned after picking up their daughter. Here is what they said: "She was just waking up when we saw her...hence her not so happy face in one of the photos. The caregivers LOVE her!! She is the Princess of her room! "

Friday, January 4, 2008

Whoa squared

Court done, our beautiful Nevaeh is offcially ours!!! We travel Jan 29th.
Thank you for all your prayers.

We are currently missing connecting flights and traveling in rainy California (the sunshine state?!). Always an adventure with the lydick clan....

Our hearts and prayers go out to those that got delayed today in court, we know this must be extremely tough.  


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Whoa?!?!

Court date scheduled for this Friday, January 4th.

Which means we could travel as soon as late Jan - early Feb!!!!


Court processes can get delayed and moved so we are trying to keep a flexible mindset, but WHOA!!!!

so many things to do, so little time.....

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Isn't it ironic, don't you think?

A few bits of irony about our referral for your New Years enjoyment:

- Bryce has been crazy about pirates for the last two years  --->  Our darling little girl has one hooped earring and is nicknamed "cutest pirate" by her caregivers
- Emily and I had talked about trying to stop in Dubai on our way over there to see the amazing city.  We probably won't go now because of logisitics.  --->  Nevaeh was conceived and born in Dubai, so we're getting the best part of Dubai, even if we don't go there.  



Oscar drew this picture at the beginning of last week before the referral, he had decided to call his new baby sister Bessy for the longest time until last week.  This is a picture of him, Emily, and "Lucy".  He changed what he wanted  to call her out of the blue last week to Lucy, obviously quite close to LuLu.   


Happy New Year to all!  I know that 2008 will be wonderful and different for our family, I hope it is good for all of you.