Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wherever you go I will follow.....will you??????

Today I was so inspired as I read several posts from a few of my girlfriends. They are attending a conference for Christian women who had the same heart for injustice and Jesus as I do. Reading their comments brought up the passion that I have found these past few years. I struggle in my day to day walk and choosing to purposefully share my faith and my conviction for helping where it is needed but today I was reminded ! 

With this renewed sense of purpose, I persued the blogs of my favorite author and speaker, Jen Hatmaker, I came upon a conference I would sacrifice Starbucks coffee for a year to attend (seriously).  This 2-day gathering will address the question IF God is real... THEN what? How do we live? How do we unify and dream for the name of Christ in our generation from our unique places? They are bringing diverse voices and artists together for a conversation focused on Christ. If:gathering praying this conference will satisfy a longing to return to what is deep and simple and pure about life and faith."  It is February 7th and 8th and has an star collection of women speakers and authors (who may or maynot be on my friend crush list-women who I imagine could be my best friends whenever I hear or read about them but in reality they may not even know I exists) 
 However, not only is this conference in Austin, but it booked a mear hour or so after registration opened. But...there is a way to still be part of the conference! 

The IF team wants women around the world to be able to participate. They are going to make the IF: Gather a simulcast where women around the globe can gather together to listen and grow together.  Simple, pure, deep and humble are the words used to describe the conference and we can do it here in Lebanon! 

want the women of Lebanon to hear God speak to each and every one of us in this event. I see a group of women from various life paths, in different stages of life, members of different churches coming together no bars hold, to flat out worship Jesus and change their hearts to seek his will. 

So I'm asking you, will you join me? Are you ready to gather your girlfriends, invite your co-workers, ask your MOPS group to come and join me in finding out what God is asking of you? Leave me a message below this post, message me on Facebook or email me collinshouseof6@gmail.com if you too want to know If God is real....THEN what? 

               


Monday, December 2, 2013

Random love and a little fair trade

So you all know I love me some Jen Hatmaker. Well, I was pursuing her blog and came across this blog post and was so excited to see the first thing on her loving list...Noonday!!! Hey ya'll my pretend BF loves noonday too! Just thought I needed to share that. 


Her is her blog post if you want to check her out:  Jen Hatmaker - Things I'm Loving


Tomorrow is fair trade Tuesday in celebration of the holidays. Although we at Noonday consider ourselves "ethical trade"  we follow the fair trade principles state that artisans receive a fair, living wage, a good working condition, and a reasonable path out of poverty. But, we want to go beyond fair trade. In many instances, the artisans are part owners in the companies. Your purchases enables our artisans to put their children in school, buy chickens, or even expand their own business so they can employ their local community.


I hope you will be inspired to look a little beyond the corporate stores and shopping malls. For me living in rural America,  I may not be able to escape the corporate stores entirely but I can still purchase with a purpose and I hope you will too. You can check out #FairTuesday on twitter or http://FairTuesday.org to find over 150 sustainable brands to choose from. 


As always, I would love to host a Noonday trunk show to help share the stories of our artisans with you while styling you along the way or you can check Noonday out at http://amandacollins.noondaycollection.com


Thanks for listening, 


         -Amanda

              Style{made with love} 




Thursday, November 28, 2013

A little thankfullness (and reflection on last thanksgiving)

Since thanksgiving seems to be a time of reflection and contemplation I thought I would jump on the band wagon and take some time to look back a year ago. Honestly, sometimes I'm afraid to look back to deep. Last year this time was hard. My grandpa was very sick and we were going through changes in our family. I was so focused on adoption I think I overlooked a lot of things and some days forgot to be thankful for the things I did have. I couldn't see past the waiting list and the urge to know who are child was. Then I got the call that my grandpa had made the decision to stop all medical assistance and would pass very soon.

I still get teary when I think about those few days, both in sadness and in adoration. You see my family may appear on the outside as "The crazy Hobbs" but we are also amazingly connected. 



All of my aunts uncles and cousins descended upon Quincy and loved on each other. We all took turns talking with grandpa, telling him stories and listening to him slowly relive some of his life memories under mild pain meds. My grandpa was an amazing man and in his death I saw the beauty of life and family.



We all worked together to help bring both grandma and grandpa home where grandpa could have his last few hours in a place of comfort and familiarity. I was able to be with him when he died, surrounded by many of his family as we all told him we loved him and would see him again. I think God was able to use those days of grief and sorrow to remind me how valuable family is. You see, when we began helping grandma through her things in the house we found files of grandpas. They were clearly labeled for each of his children and grandchildren. Now my grandpa had 6 children and 14 grandchildren (if I'm counting correctly) and he had a file for each one. With in those files were newspaper clippings and photos and letters. He had saved any printed material about our accomplishments and just us. This still impacts me today as I think of the love and adoration he and my grandma have for each one of us that has now been passed down generation to generation.

This year as I gather with my family again to celebrate the holiday I am reminded again of families and all that I have to be thankful for. In the prayers of my father, the giggles of our children, a babies call for Na-na, in the thankfulness of our children, face-time conversations oceans apart and my grandma watching us knowing that life does go one. It may not be the same, it certainly is not easy at times and can be very very hard but yet life still goes on.




 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

So what is Noonday?

I shared with you why I choose Noonday but I wanted to show you what the Noonday Collection really is.

It's about people like this in Uganda ...




          That make jewelry like this.....

                             
                 



 Or women like this in India...
 



Who make jewelry like this.....

 


 
It can be about hosting a trunk show to help someone do this 

                                   

Or just to have a fun time like this
 
                   
 
                            


 Each piece is hand made by an artisan who because of your purchase gets to make a change in their life.
 
Want to find out more about The Noonday Collection and owning your own piece while making a difference to someone else? 

Check out my new website 
 
Thank you for letting me share a little of my new found passion with you!
                         

     -Amanda
 
http://www.amandacollins.noondaycollection.com/






Friday, November 8, 2013

A little announcement

I have been writing lately how my heart has been changed. My eyes and heart have been opened to seeing the world more as God wants me to see it. Im looking at things differently. I have started to question my purchases and look at the reason why I am buying something and where it is coming from. I have seen injustice and poverty up close and personal. I have a sweet little boy sleeping in the other room that lived it daily. I have heard the stories in person, seen the faces of these women and thier children. my child and I want to make a change. I have spent some time seeing what direction God is leading me and that is why I am so very excited to share this with you!

www.noondaycollection.com

                  I have decided to become a Noonday Ambassador!


What is The Noonday Collection you ask?
     Noonday grew out of a dream to aide women in the US a way to add extra income while at the same time creating pathways out of poverty for the vulnerable.  Thus the business of alleviating poverty through entrepreneurship was created. Noonday offers you an opportunity to use your purchasing power to create change in the world {while looking really good along the way}. Your fashion sense can now restore dignity to abandoned women in Ethiopia, empower communities in Ecuador, and create business opportunities for Ugandans. And the great thing about their jewelry is not only are they stunning pieces but each and every piece is hand created by an artisan. Each piece has a person with a story behind it.




By hosting a trunk show, you're giving others the opportunity to do more, to be a voice for the voiceless, you're doing your part to change the world.

My website should be up and running later this week and I hope to be sharing more with you from the Noonday Collection!

  -Amanda





 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Adding a little Love in the Marriage

Through out my little blogging excursions I have found how little people write about how changes in the family really affect the marriage. I can't just sit back and blog truthfully about this journey and provide support to others with out detailing our own journey, including our marriage. So sit down and leave judgement at the door folks.

We are love language people in our home (Don't know what I'm talking about-check it out here at Gary Chapman's Website)  I am a time and touch kinda gal. (head out of the gutter people-touch as in physical contact not just hanky-panky)  Gene on the other hand is a bit of acts of service/words of affirmation man. In other words-NOT RELATED.  I want him to listen and touch me while he likes me to do things for him and say sweet things. My idea of a date is cuddling by a fire sharing our innermost feelings while his is me making a sandwich, bringing him a drink and telling him how awesome he is. See the difference!

And yet here we are love bugs 10 years ago...



When you add another child in the home (whether birth or adoption) the relationship goes on the back burner. You are so focused on taking care of this new person in the family you kinda forget the big person working along side of you. My need of time and touch has gone out the window as 1 we have no time and 2 the time he does have is spent loving on our children and managing all our small projects. So by bedtime Gene has been a human jungle gym and maintenance man for a few hours. The farthest thing from his mind is time and touch- he is ready for some peace and quiet alone. Meanwhile I spend the day providing words of affirmation to my students and regular acts of service to two teenagers (i.e.laundry, food, driving) while simultaneously entertaining, playing and cleaning up after the Little's that after bed time I'm done doing things for others. Which has led to our breakdown of the care and attention to our marriage.

For us, we have been so caught up in just simply meeting the individual needs of four children we ourselves have just stopped working on the marriage and that my friends is a dangerous place! When your not loving your partner thoughts of righteousness and pride get in the way. We (and by we I mean I) begin to judge the actions they make and the feelings of contempt and irritability start creeping on in.

We knew we needed an intervention. When the hanky- panky declines and is replaced by bitter thoughts (and in my case words)  its time to push that relationship to #1. That meant it was time for an honest talk. Now let me ask you, why does it have to be so dang hard to share how you are feeling and what you need to your spouse? As a woman I think we play the F.I.N.E (Feelings Inside Not Expressed) game way to much! Our poor men cant tell what the heck we are thinking because we complain and then when the ask us whats wrong we do the whole "I'm FINE..." or the "Whatever-I don't care". Come on Ladies-  know I'm not the only one here-right!?! We  (I mean I) have to do a much better job at sharing my thoughts and feelings and actually speaking up when I need something. Believe it or not, men really can not read our minds. (Check out Ted Cunningham at Woodland Hills Family Church for his videos on Great Parents-Lousy Lover)

Anyway-back to the pushing to #1...

I called in Operation- Date Night. Just what a marriage needs for a little mini rejuvenation and attention. Since we are still working on our bonding and attachment we had dinner all ready and reviewed our plan with the new little one about 10 times. My parents came to the house to watch the kids so we didn't disrupt the routine too much and they could go to bed when we were gone.



Photo: First date night post-ethiopia and Nati !

We had the typical rural town date night- dinner and a movie. We went all out and Geno took me to Wendy's (I know- we splurged- I even made it a large-this is what happens when God makes you think about where your money goes) then we saw a movie. What got me was in the middle of our dinner I was sitting across from Gene having a normal conversation starting into his eyes and felt completely at peace and loved. This man was listening and actually cared about my gibber jabber. I don't think we had been able to have a full conversation about nothing in particular in 5 months just the two of us with out being completely exhausted.

I hope that whatever stage you are in your marriage that you are putting time and commitment into it. Life is tough and life as a single parent is even harder. Make time for your spouse and show them a little love! Marriage is work and only grows through daily sacrifice and commitment. In my blog excursion my rockin' fellow adoptive mom at BecomingMichelle is doing a 31 days of my marriage and has partnered with an awesome couple Tony and Michelle on their blog #stay married.  Follow their blogs for further insight into marriage and some awesome note cards (I may have a specific one up on a door night now waiting for a special someone-try to guess which one it is- its in the shape of a donkey...hopefully words of forgiveness fall under affirmation!)


 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My favorite words...

So after a few heavy blog posts I thought I needed to add a little humor to the blog that was started from a  Facebook post by a fellow adoptive mom. Below are a few of my favorite N-isms tht have been created when you have a thick accent, speak little English and have a 6/7/8 year old imagination...

I bring you Amheri-Enghaleish by our very own N

When we first came to America when you asked him " How are you?" His response... I am 7.... Yep- no English speaking here!

He calls PJ's ( get ready for it...)  BJ's. (try explaining that one! Especially at bedtime " Daddy, BJ time"- umm.....)

He calls The television TB.... "Mom, I tb time?"

One of his favorite things to do is to ride the four wheeler out and feed the deer with Gene, except it sounds like this...  "Dad. You go. Beer? Now Dad, on brrrrrr, foot, chom on"

His first week home when you introduced him to someone and you would tell him to say hello he would say  "I ah say, say Hello to teacher, hello" Then I would repeat, just sat hello N (to which he would respond)  "Mommy say, I ah say Hello Teacher? Hello teacher. "

About a month after we were home I took N to Meskerem Restaurant and when spoken to in Amharic he said  "I no no a- speak-ahs Amharic, Mom Engahalesih pees" says my fluent Amharic speaker to
an Ethiopian man!

When he heard a sounds in the woods...

N- "mom-monkey?" ( Walking towards the woods)
Me- "No honey, no monkeys in Missouri"
N -" Missirreeey Mom, no monkey? Giraffes mom?" (Still walking towards the sounds)
Me- " No honey, no monkeys or giraffes in Missouri "
N - " MOM- lion????( looking like- come on, at least that and still walking towards the sounds)
Me- " No N, no monkeys or giraffes or lions in Missouri"
N- "oh MOM oh my goodness...."

But then when in the park...

N- "Squirrel mom, knaww naw ww (pretends to bite his arm) oh my goodness, no no no Mom" *insert finger shaking* And he runs away! Apparently monkeys, giraffes and lions are not scary, but we better watch out for rate man eating squirrels :)

Fast forward on the remote is  "Tuk-a-Tuk-a"and the remote is "The Tuk-a-Tuk-a" 

Our latest word is "foddie".... It is a multi use word that can mean: eat, like to eat, don't like to eat, food, drink or anything related to food.

















Friday, October 11, 2013

Seeing the light

   It has been almost a month since I have blogged but it feels like a year. So much she happened and changed in this month and we are finally beginning to see the light. Earlier this month we had some dark days. Our new son was really struggling with change and safety and we were having raw emotions flowing daily. His heart was hurting and this came out in control battles. We felt that for each time we made a step forward he took three steps back. His pouting went back to melt downs that lasted for thirty minutes to an hour over the simplest things. During his melt downs we saw such raw anger and pain that hurt down to the very core of our being. A rage/grief that comes out in full on screaming, hitting/kicking, scratching himself, throwing things. In these times we held him for safety and continued to show him unconditional love. When he was able to calm down and regulate his emotions we would use our words to talk about how he felt and he always wanted to hug and validate our love for him. After a very long weekend of this repeated cycle hours at a time Gene and I took out our Created to Connect book and my counseling skills and dug deep into how to really meet his needs. 

We decided to go back to cocooning basics like we did on day one. We found ourselves instead of thinking of N as a "typical" 7/8 year old boy we continued to remind ourselves how much he has endured and how much transition he is going through so we instead approach him how you would have with a toddler which is where he is emotionally anyway. We only went to the essential places like school and home and an hour of church. We kept him close to us at all times rather then play on his own. We practiced taking turns with the other children and continued to role play and practice social skills and the house cleaning and blogging went to the waist side. We made it a week and a half before having another full fledged melt down. 


                                 
                              Even with the emotional struggle- who does not just want to scoop up 
                                             this little man and giggle along with him! 
        
So now we are creating a new norm. Gene and I take turns as much as. We can with social events and if it is an absolute that we all must go then we have some basic interventions to help him during this transition time. I can only imagine how scary it must be for him to be in a place he has never seen only comprehending maybe 20% ( if that) of what is being said, surrounded by people that don't look or sound like him not fully understanding what is going to happen and when he is going back home because he has no frame of reference for activities. 

Even with these tools he still struggles. We had meltdowns today and yesterday but even still, they were shorter and less aggressive. What we are experiencing is completely normal adoption related trauma and grief that will become less as time goes on. Doesnt make it any easier but I have always wanted to give a genuine and honest account of our journey. One day at a time, one step at a time...


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ready for normal

My blog from a week ago that I am just now posting...time seems to get away from me these days!

Today Marks 7 weeks since N left the transition home. He has been in America for 4 weeks and I am amazed at how well he is adjusting and transitioning. It's still hard and we have our occasional melt downs, sometimes I laugh after them and sometimes I cry, other times I just have a glass of wine and call it a day but overall it is amazing how well he is doing and how much progress he has made in these few short weeks.

I was reflecting today on our adoption journey and I find it fascinating to see how much Gene and I have grown in our relationship with each other, with God and with our family. At the same time I was surprised at my emotions towards my adoption agency and support groups. I do not have any unhappy feelings of our agency and in fact am fairly pleased with their services and their ethics in adoption. But, I have avoided our agencies Facebook page like the plague and I use to once have to monitor it constantly. I had all these wonderful adoptive families that too were close in the journey like us and I have completely stopped contacting them. I feel horrible my i have dropped the support talk and yet at the same time feel so far from it.

(my counselor role is going to shine through here) I think if I look deep enough I am just at a place where adoption kinda took over our lives for the past two years. We skipped family vacations and trips with friends, we took on extra duties and focused on our journey to our son. I am so very thankful we did and know it was necessary but how I feel like I just want to be "normal" again. I don't know if I can really go back there though. I've seen to much and my son has lived too much for me just to ignore this thing called the Orphan Crisis and the epidemic of families being destroyed by lack of healthcare and food. I'm learning more and more about the "true orphan" and it's not okay. Gene has started a book called " When helping hurts, how to alleviate poverty with out hurting the poor or yourself" which has really made us stop and think about missions and the current approach to helping those in need.

So I'm struggling, how do I balance having a normal life where my thoughts are no longer about where I am on the list or how I'm going to prepare for my son and keeping Ethiopian culture. While at the same time remembering all that we have experienced and being open to our specific role in this cause, What can WE do to make sure another child like N never has to loose his mommy?



Wednesday, September 4, 2013

First few days: Survival

Our very first day home started off magical, all four children watched each other in wonderment as they played and took turns showing N around the house. He loved his room and thankfully thought Jonah was a great big teddy bear of a dog. We tried to keep things low key and relaxed as possible and offered food and drinks to help keep him regulated.

Then we hit hour four and N was done. He no longer wanted to play, he hated any food we offered him and our youngest realized she no longer was the baby and began rebelling. Praise God our two older ones were able to occupy themselves while Gene and I took turns struggling it out upstairs. The next two days were filled with screaming, crying, pouting, grief and sadness. I think there may have been a time or two us adults felt lost and joined in our children's tears. We tried desperately to meet N where he is and continue to set limits in love while allowing him to express his emotions.

You see when a child is an Orphan, they loose thier voice. They don't cry very often because there was no one there to hold them and comfort them. they don't say how they feel because it really doesn't matter and if they have a problem they just deal with it through physical means. We wanted N to find his voice, even if that was (and can still be) a screaming crying voice.

He has lost so many people in his life, he lost his country, his people, his language, his food, the smells and everything familiar in one long plane ride. We did our very best to ease the transition through my extra time in Ethiopia, doing bonding exercises and trying the best we could to meet his needs immediately. But this is only a drop in the bucket in the attachment dance we were doing and the loss he is experiencing.

Our new son has not experienced real boundaries in the past year and a half he lived in care and so being part of a family with loving limits has been hard. Then to add on to that jet lag and lack of communication makes these first few days hard and I mean hard.

We know one day it will get better and we know we love our son and are so very thankful for him. Life right now is know as survival. We are all just surviving, taking one hour at a time, one melt down, one tear at a time. Adoption is not for the faint of heart nor the weak in heart but it is an amazing thing.


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tips on the flight home from one adoptive mom to another

Since this blog is adoption related I wanted to share my tips and tricks for the airplane ride. Here are my lessons learned for flying solo with a elementary age child who speaks no English for 24 hours.

 -Talk with you travel agent before hand and make sure you have plans for a flight home, it may be better to book before and change rather than have to purchase higher price tickets-ouch!

 - Go to the Hilton and practice using their scanner (this helped N not be afraid when we went to the airport)

 -Make sure you know where your gate is- and confirm which one it is-multiple times!

-Be prepared to stand your ground in the airport. You will get shoved and pushed in line.

- Bring melatonin and use it, your child will not sleep with out it!

- Bring plenty of snacks (that you don't have to by in the airport if you are going back to the US).  N hated that airplane food and ate like 5 rolls to fill up.

- Don't bother bringing a book to read- you won't read it!

- Watch the soda intake-my child was ok with it but yours may not be and get sick- that would not be fun!

- Dress your child in pj's if they have a night flight, helped out N to understand it was time to sleep and then we had a fresh outfit for the homecoming.

-You may want to consider a pull up, all the change in air pressure (and possible soda intake) can make your kiddo have to go a lot, and if the seatbelt sign is on- your screwed! (We called our special airplane underwear that pilots wear, worked like a charm!)

-When we went to the airport it was just my husband and then when we got home the other kids where there, it worked really well as far as not overwhelming him.

-Bring socks for your feet and theirs if you have flip flops- it gets cold!

-Have someone talk to your child about the airplane toilets in amharic, they are loud and scary!

-Let go of your idea that they wont watch the tv the whole time-it is not worth the trouble, let them watch the movies on the plane an it will most likely be the same movie... you have the rest of their lives to limit it.

I think that is all, if any of you have any other comments or suggestions- post them below in the comment section.

Happy travels!

Coming Home (our journey home)

I realize this post is about a week and a half old but better late than never.

The day it says time to go home N was so very excited he kept counting down the hours. Out flight did not leave until after 10pm and my little man goes to sleep right at 8:00 so he was allowed to drink all the soda he wanted that afternoon- lucky boy!

We had to fly business class due to flights being completely booked full and having an immigrating child....(good for comfort, bad for the wallet!!!). It was very nice to be able to go into the little ET Air club and relax in the airport. N soaked up the last bit of soda he could and enjoyed some shiro wat before we went to board our plane.



God must have known I needed that little bit of down time because getting checked in and boarding the plane was a chaotic mess I would never want to do again. For a little while I honestly thought we would miss the plane. Remember 3rd world country...crazy lines, no English and no organization make for a stressful airport.

Amazingly we made our flight and were in our seats, ready for the long journey ahead.
 

 
I secretly hide the fact that N has a TV in front of him and enjoy my complimentary champagne (I only had one glass but after that ruckus in the airport I could have drank the bottle) gave out son a little melatonin and sang him to sleep. I'm sure all the business men around us thought I was some crazy while lady but by this time is it close to 11pm and we are heading home!!!!!!!!!

N did really well on the plane, he slept about 5 hours then woke up and are a bit then we enjoyed the TV and read books and kept him nice and happy with gum, hot tea and bread! 

After our 17 hour flight we had a 4 hour layover in DC where we managed through the incredible maze of immigration that took 3 hours, ugh, that's rough! However, we did enjoy a little Five guys burger aka N's first "Real American Cheeseburger" and rode the trains through the airport. I don't think this kid will ever be the same!




 
It was so wonderful to get off the plane in Saint Louis and see Gene there at the gates. We had both missed him so very much! N ran as fast as he could into his arms and wanted carried for the rest of the day.



Then we drove the 3 hours to home and had three very excited children waiting to meet there brother. The very first picture of all four of the children!
 









Monday, August 26, 2013

The meaning of a blog

 I wanted to once again share with you why I write this blog in hopes that if you are one of the readers you will have a clear understanding of why I do this. When we started this adoption journey 2+ years ago Wow- I can not believe it has been that long! like many new adopting parents I wanted to read as much personal stories as I could so that I could get a better understanding of what was to come. Likewise I decided to share my own personal stories so that others could learn from me and I could share this journey with our family and friends. I think it also became a bit therapeutic for me to be able to share it with others because it made the process feel genuine and real to me. In adoption there is no baby growing inside you so you have to have some way of tracking your progress and knowing one day you will have a child. For me blogging about it helped. We also feel that adoption is so closely tied to God and his purpose for us that we had to share our hearts with others.

Because we have chosen to keep this blog public and adoption/orphan care related I often times struggle between being honest and genuine while still keeping privacy to my family. I am going to make some changes to the blog in hopes that I can continue to keep it public while respecting my family. You will now see my children referred to by their first initial  and I may share some more technical jargon when sharing certain situations in our lives in hopes that you will be able understand more.

As I work on writing a truthful look on our continued journey I hope to share with you the realism of our lives and in the same regard I ask your privacy as well.

Thank you for sticking with me and sharing in our journey. You words of encouragement and support have helped us so very much and we are extremely grateful for the outpouring of love we have received!
 

Monday, August 12, 2013

So close i can taste it (and smell it and see it)

The past week has been filled with more ups and downs then I could ever imagine. I have learned how to function with out power, Internet, good deodorant and hot water. (First world problems)
My Amharic vocabulary has grown to about 15 or so words and N is really truly beginning to understand the word No and begin to accept it more and more.

We worked hard on school and he has started reading very basic site words, he is so excited about getting to go to school for the first time! He is going to make such a great First grader!

This past week I ventured out more with N as I think we were both going to go a bit crazy staying in the guest house all day. There were a few crazy fun adventures that I hope to blog about when I am in the plane (and have my son contained in one seat) and can hopefully again put into words the country of Ethiopia.

Today was my interview with the US Embassy and we cleared with flying colors! I will be flying home on Thursday and can imagine eating fresh fruit, taking a warm hot bath with a lovely glass of moscato and enjoying clean smelling things with hugs and kisses from my family. Three more sleeps!





Monday, August 5, 2013

Moving away from survival mode

Our days have been spent waking up, eat breakfast, school work, play outside, make/eat lunch, play, school, take a walk, dinner, shower then bed. A bit repetitive and when it rains you get one little boy full of energy. So, yesterday was a nice break from our new routine.

We decided to tag along with the AWAA crew and went to church at ICU where the husband form Embracing Hope Ethiopia pastors. N sang right along in the praise and worship time and I know is going to really love our own worship group at church!

After that we went out for lunch the to the transition home. I had not intended to take him back and was concerned about his reaction. Sure enough it was very hard for N and so I did some major reassurance and attachment work, we went for a walk and after his heart was comforted we went back in and played. It was great to see him once again play with his old friends and I'm sure he missed having boys around. Overall I think for the first time he realized maybe this mom thing is for real and one more layer of protection was pealed away.

That evening we went to dinner with most of the families from AWAA Robera and his father Abraham Teressa who own Robera Coffee Exporters. Robera is a 21 year old graduate of George Mason and an amazing young man. He is so passionate about coffee and Ethiopia and such drive. I will tell you this kid is going places!

Each day N and I find our groove a little better and I am beginning to adjust more to being in Ethiopia. The first few days were harder than I had though they would be and I really missed my family, their support and the comforts of home. I wish I could explain what if felt like to be half a world away from our family with a new son. I have very few people speaking my language during the day, a house full of missionaries which made attachment very difficult, intermittent power outages, a lack of ability to get anywhere, minimal bits of food and no way to communicate.

But now he is learning more English, I am learning more Amharic and together we could beat anyone in a game of charades! Together we are trying new foods and the sweet ladies here at Ember house will give N some shiro wat and he has an ample supply of white bread and plain pasta (his previous main staple of food) along with his favorite applesauce and bananas. We are able to facetime with family so life is good now as I continue to channel my inner Dr. Purvis (an attachment specialist.) and enjoy our time here, taking it one day at a time.

The view from our guest house.







Saturday, August 3, 2013

What grief does to the heart

I have always tried to keep this blog honest while at the same time respecting our sons privacy. These first few days together have been filled with wonderful sweet moments, first discoveries along with grief, confusion and testing boundaries. Our son has lost a lot in his life and so my goal for this time in Ethiopia was to aide the bonding process, build up language skills and experience Ethiopia together before he leaves for America.

I can not say that these first few days have not been without tears for both of us. I love N with my whole heart and am so thankful for him and blessed that God choose me to be his heart mom. Some days I am overwhelmed with not the behaviors that I see but more in the knowledge of why and how those came to be. We have a ways to go with food but each day N is learning that We will always be able to feed him and he will not ever have to starve. We are also learning what the word No is and slowly excepting its meaning. Each day I continue to build trust with him that I can meet his needs and keep him safe and loved. I treasure the sweet moments we have each morning when he crawls in my bed, holds my face and says "My mom, I love you. You are my mom". Yes, N, I am your mommy and I will always love you.


But with that, I realize, my love is not always enough. Another adoptive mom wrote today how our love is wonderful but it is nothing compared to the love our God give us and our children. My love is not sufficient and will not carry us though but HIS love does and that same love that died on a cross can also fill both our weary heart each and every day.

This adoption journey has shown me the inhuman ability it takes to complete this journey and only God can provide that strength and integrity and love that is needed.

And with that, I leave you with a sweet photo of my human love for this amazing kid!

Friday, August 2, 2013

New beginnings

Today is the third full day N has been with me and I can say it has been wonderful but exhausting, amazing but so very hard. You prepare and prepare but much like having a new brand new baby in the end you do the best you can do.

Our Tuesday I went to pick up N. I wish I could describe what is like to pick him up with literally nothing but the clothes on his back, nothing.....our other three children pack a huge suitcase to stay the night at their grandparents house and my newest son has absolutely nothing with him to account for his entire life. I was told somewhere someone had some of the things we had sent him over the months but they had no idea who or where. Then when it was time to go we just hoped in the van and left.

That day we follow the other adoptive families and went to the shopping market, after one store I decided N and I would stay in the van, just a little too much stimulation. Then we went on a tour of Robera Coffee. I will have to make a blog entry on just that And the work he is doing in Ethiopia.

Then it was time to come home, we ate a traditional Ethiopian dinner, N had his first shower which he absolutely loved! I think it was his first "real shower" ever, he kept singing and dancing. then into his new batman pj's and off to bed. He slept in his own bed for the whole night!

Later tonight I will blog about our first full day at the guest house and the ups and downs of parenting a new adopted child.....hard stuff people, hard stuff.







Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Reunited and it feels so good!

As I sit here typing listening to some type of Amharic religious chanting to the orchestra of dogs and chickens I am reminded how far from home I am. After 20 or so hours of flying I arrived at my guest house at 10pm Ethiopia time. Thankfully I was able to transition to their time fairly well and woke up this morning ready to see N.

It is hard to describe what it felt like coming back after almost a month had passed and yet once I stepped out of the van it was just like I had been there yesterday. I felt at such peace having him in my arms again and he was just right there holding my hand and chomping on his gum. Today he spent most of the day asking me "What you call this". He seems to have picked up even more English and is eager to learn more. For lunch we went together with a few other adoptive families for burgers and N discovered the hand dryer, be was amazed. I'm looking forward to all the firsts this little boy will have. Oh, and have I mentioned that this kid has some skills with a ball!

Tomorrow I will head back to the transition home and then N will come back with me to the Guest House. He is an Orphan No More!!!!!



Sunday, July 28, 2013

Up, up and away

I had this awesome blog post about traveling and something about my family and Ethiopia and some sappy stuff, but apparently my iPad wont save things when it is in airplane mode so now I have nothing but the title (I remember that part)

So, a brief update before I board the next plane as I sit on the floor outside the United Club so I can scam in on their free wifi.

Apparently trying to prepare the house for another child and at the same time prepare my family for me being gone for the next few weeks has me a little (Ok-a lot) cranky and dumb. I did accomplish a bunch and my freezer is full of 12 meals too! I may have to blog about that one as well for anyone who may be traveling soon and want ideas.

Anyway (see scatterbrained), this is suppose to be about my flight so....

I flew 3 hours from STL to Houston and have been enjoying my 5 hour lay over mostly by searching for wifi and people watching. (seriously ladies- I love high heels as much as you do but your in an airport....hello comfort!) Next I will be flying for 9 hours to Frankfurt, have a 2 hour lay over and then fly 8 hours to Addis to land about 9pm their time.

Then Tuesday morning I will head over to the transition home and be reunited with N. My head is full of thoughts and concerns and worry about our transition time and being alone half way across the world with a child who speaks very little English with spotty electricity and possibly no Internet or phone access. Kind of like the feeling you get when you first give birth to a baby and the nurses are there to help you and show you what to do and then they leave and you are left alone with this sweet baby who you love and adore but are scared to death your gonna screw them up. Yep, that's kinda how I feel.

Pray for continued courage for me and strength to meet all his needs. Pray for Gene as he will be a single father for a while with 3 kids while trying to take care of the house and work and for the kids that they know I will be back and not miss me too much (a little missing is ok!)

As we are coming to the homestretch to bring N home I am in tears at the kindness that we have seen form so many of you. It is so very hard to put into words just how grateful we are and how loved our family feels.

This isn't the amazing blog post written in the sky but I think it does the job. Gotta stop so I don't miss the next plane. Love you all,

-Amanda

Friday, July 26, 2013

Our total this week and an incentive you dont want to miss!!!!


This week we have been actively asking you to join along side us in prayer and financial support to bring this sweet boy home. The time is close for Amanda to head to Ethiopia to be with him until he clears Embassy. We wanted to thank each of you that has personally helped us along in this journey thus far.


 

We have seen some amazing things this week. Here is how God has shown up big: The insurance company working with us finally agreed on all the repairs to our electrical problems from the lightning (I have a working dishwasher again !!!!), another insurance company over-changed us so we received a small check from them, the school shared they are going to move all the employees up on the pay scale this up coming year, Gene was given an award which came with a small check, our son is in good health and his hand is healing, friends and families have given encouraging words and prayers and seeing all the financial support you have given us! So without further rambling (I never do that!)





$900! That is awesome!!!! We are blow away at the generosity!!! Amanda Leave's on SUNDAY for her stay in Ethiopia to help N adjust so we only have a few days left to fundraise. We are about $600 short of our goal. So if you feel led to donate check out the instructions below...  

As incentive the next four donations Amanda will bring you back a mini Ethiopian Basket made from the women at the Fistula Hospital. It’s a two-for-one: you get to help bring an Orphan home and a woman thrives!!!
 
To donate click on the PayPal link on the top Right of this blog! If you would like to make a tax deductible donation you can donate using our Adoption Agency America World Eternal Family Program  Link. Make sure to put our name The Collins Family in the notes section.  Or you can e-mail us for our address at collinstg@gmail.com We would appreciate your willingness to share this with others who may want to participate.

Thank you for coming along side us on this journey.
 We could not have done it with out you!!!


In case you would like to watch: Here is our story...
  

Check out the new total and an awesome incentive !!!!

This week we have been actively asking you to join along side us in prayer and financial support to bring this sweet boy home. The time is close for Amanda to head to Ethiopia to be with him until he clears Embassy. We wanted to thank each of you that has personally helped us along in this journey thus far.
 

We have seen some amazing things this week. Here is how God has shown up big: The insurance company working with us finally agreed on all the repairs to our electrical problems from the lightning (I have a working dishwasher again !!!!), another insurance company over-changed us so we received a small check from them, the school shared they are going to move all the employees up on the pay scale this up coming year, Gene was given an award which came with a small check, our son is in good health and his hand is healing, friends and families have given encouraging words and prayers and seeing all the financial support you have given us! So without further rambling (I never do that!)

 
This week the total so far is.......
                              (Drum roll please)
 
$900! That is awesome!!!! We are blow away at the generosity!!! Amanda Leave's on SUNDAY for her stay in Ethiopia to help N adjust so we only have a few days left to fundraise. We are about $600 short of our goal. So if you feel led to donate check out the instructions below...  
 
As incentive the next four donations Amanda will bring you back a mini Ethiopian Basket made from the women at the Fistula Hospital.
It’s a two-for-one: you get to help bring an Orphan home and a woman thrives!!!
 
To donate click on the PayPal link on the top Right of this blog!
If you would like to make a tax deductible donation you can donate using our Adoption Agency America World Eternal Family Program  Link, just make sure to put our name The Collins Family in the notes section.
 Or you can e-mail us for our address at collinstg@gmail.com
   We would appreciate your willingness to share this with others who may want to participate.
 
Thank you for coming along side us on this journey. We could not have done it
with out you!!!
 
 
 
 
If you would like to see our Story...

 
 
 



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Submitted to Embassy!!!!

We were told on Wednesday that we were submitted to Embassy! That means now the US Embassy is going to review our adoption paperwork. This part of the process usually takes 1-3 weeks, depending on if they choose to interview Nati's Aunt. After that we get the all clear and two days later his Visa then head home!!! By mid August we should hopefully be our full family of 6 all together!

Our fundraiser is going strong, we are now at $880!!!!! Can I just say ya'll amaze me with your giving spirit. It is absolutely amazing to see everyone coming out and supporting us. We are over half way to meeting our goal! It is just a few more days until I leave, so keep encouraging others to donate and spreading our video as well.

My days of waiting to return to Ethiopia have been full of preparing and getting things ready. I am enjoying my time home and had my first real week of summer vacation last week. But, a strong part of me aches to go back to Ethiopia, to see our son and visit with the people of his birth country.

It has also been a joy to create Nati's room. it combines things that Jacob and Saria outgrew, along with things given from family and friends, his own pictures and items form his birth country. Want to see? Well, Here is a peak!