Monday, December 20, 2010

Welcome Baby Preston!

Today is Preston's 3 week birthday! It has been a fabulous, challenging and emotional last 3 weeks.
We wanted to document Preston's birth story on our blog so that we remember the details of November 29, 2010.
Preston's Birth Story:
Preston's due date was November 20, 2010. While I was in Ethiopia I visited the Korean Hospital to have an ultrasound done to monitor Preston. After taking his measurements, with the ultrasound machine, the Ethiopian doctor told me that Preston's due date was November 22. I was convinced that Preston would make his debut on the 22nd of November. As the 22nd came near I had no indication that I would be delivering a baby anytime soon. I then thought I would ruin our Thanksgiving plans and go into labor on the 25th...but still nothing happened. Then I thought I would ruin my brother's surprise 30th birthday on the 26th...still nothing happened. Our OBGYN, Dr. Alvarez, decided that if labor didn't start naturally by Monday, November 29th, I would need to be induced. On Monday, November 29th, at 4:30 in the morning, we drove to Lakewood Ranch Women's Center to begin the induction process. We got admitted and they started Pitocin and fluids by 5:30am. At 8:00am our midwife, Joanne Bevers, came to check my progress. I was 2cm dilated, as she broke my water. Almost simultaneously the epidural cart was rolled in by the anesthesiologist assistant. My nurse knew my level of pain tolerance (which is very low) and suggested the epidural be administered after my water was broken. Ryan had to step out of the room while the epidural was put in, he has a bit of a weak stomach for needles. My Mom stayed with me, holding my hands as I tried to breath through each contraction. The anesthesiologist assistant was not successful the first time she put in the epidural. I could tell she was frustrated as she told me she needed to try again. Meanwhile, tears are flowing down my face every minute or Mom did an amazing job talking me through each contraction. Fortunately, the epidural was successfully put in on the second try and I had almost immediate relief from the pain. Ryan came back into the room and we patiently waiting for my body to respond to the Pitocin. Around noon Joanne came back to check on me. I was 5-6cm dilated and she was pleased with my progress. Joanne had a veterinarian appointment at 5:00pm and joked that she needed Preston to be delivered by then! We were all on board and hoped our baby boy would appear soon! Around 3pm things changed for me. Suddenly, I felt pain and I mean REAL pain that took my breath away and brought a flood of tears down my cheeks. The nurse checked me and I was at 7cm, however, the pain was not "normal". She called in the anesthesiologist anesthetist to diagnose the problem. His name was Don Johnson and at the time he was my hero! I needed him to stop the pain and he gave us 2 options. Either push more meds through the epidural or redo the epidural. He said that it wasn't working and I was feeling 100% of the contractions. We decided to up the meds first and if that didn't work we would redo the epidural. Thankfully, the addition of meds eased my pain and I was able to relax comfortably again. I believe the medicine did cause me to run a fever and feel very nauseous, which resulted in spewing the ice chips I had been eating. Around 5pm Joanne came in to check on me, I'm guessing she missed her vet appointment. I was still at 7cm but she was hopeful I would make progress if they up'd my Pitocin. She did share that she was a little worried that Preston had not descended, I believe his station was at -2. I asked that Ryan text our bible study group to pray and my parents told our friends and family in the waiting room to pray for Preston to descend. Around 7pm Dr. Alvarez returned to check on us. I was dilated 9cm but unfortunately Preston was not at the appropriate station for delivery. He informed Ryan and I that we would need a caesarean section to meet our baby. We were devastated. We begged...what else could we do? We had prepared ourselves for vaginal birth, we went to all the classes, we were going to have a room filled with the women we adore for the glorious moment. We did NOT want to be in an operating room. However, it wasn't our choice any longer. Preston was too high and Dr. Alvarez attributed it to my narrow birthing canal. Bummer. C-section indefinitely and I cried. I cried hard. A C-section meant a long recovery and the worst part would be that I could not lift my sweet baby Easton. After about 30 minutes of praying and crying I pulled it together, put on my hair net and let them wheel me into the operating room. Ryan was my rock! He was so positive and eager to meet his son! Let me be honest, I am not a good patient. As I sat on the operating table, I cried and talked uncontrollably. I remember asking everyone in the room their names and if they had a dog, so random! As Don Johnson (anesthesiologist anesthetist) took out my epidural and put in a spinal, he tried to calm me down but there was no stopping my continuous monologue. I was so scared and the only thing I could do was to talk. Oh boy did I embarrass myself!! =) Finally, they brought Ryan in and begun the c-section. I would post the video but it's down right shameful. At 8:09pm Dr. Alvarez showed us our precious son Preston Abenet Fulmer! Ryan asked, "Does he have all his digits?" immediately after seeing him over the curtain! I'll never forget that! I asked, "What color is his hair?" curious to know if I had a red head like his daddy! Turns out that Preston is absolutely perfect, with all his digits, and strawberry blondish hair!

Our first 3 weeks have been emotional and challenging. The c-section caused for a painful recovery. Honestly, the first week was a blur. We were in the hospital for 3 nights and 4 days. Thankfully, Ryan's Mom was able to take off to be with us when we returned home. Easton spent a lot of time with my dad, Papa, while we were in the hospital. I'm so thankful for the support system we have. Our house has been flooded with visitors, which I adore!! Everyone has been so helpful, from dinners, to laundry, to playing with Easton! Not being able to lift Easton had an emotional toll on me. I am thankful that Easton and I have such a strong bond. I know that we will bounce right back to what we used to be. Today, December 20th, is my 1st day with my boys ALONE!! We are managing just fine! (As I write this both boys are napping!!! Lucky Mama!) Being a stay at home Mom is a dream come true! My goals right now include nursing Preston for his first year of life and establishing his schedule. I am working on teaching Easton to feed himself Gerber Puffs and to crawl. Lastly, I want to have dinner on the table when my amazing husband comes home from work. =)

Sweet Brothers!

Our last picture as a family of 3! I'm 41 weeks pregnant here!!!!

We are all excited for Christmas and the New Year! I'll be taking lots of pictures of Easton and Preston in their Christmas outfits.
I hope you enjoy your family as much as I enjoy mine!
With love,

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pregnancy! This post is for you baby Preston!!!

I have wanted to blog about our pregnancy for so long now! Being home with Easton has filled my days with happiness but not a lot of "me time" for writing. I did want to get this post out before our beloved Preston makes his appearance!!! I have absolutely loved every single day of being pregnant! I'm pretty sure that I had accepted the fact that I may never carry a child. When we were surprised by our pregnancy I was elated. Morning sickness, aches and pains, and tiredness all eluded me- or atleast I didn't acknowledge it. Just the simple fact that I was PREGNANT caused for pure happiness!

Now, being only 17 days away from our due date, I cannot explain the excitement I have to meet our 2nd son. I have many moments when I compare my anticipation for meeting Easton, with my feelings of meeting Preston. Honestly, they are different-but the same! Both meetings are emotionally filled, trying on your patience, and mentally consuming. I'm pretty sure that I will have the exact same feeling when I meet Preston, as I did when I walked into Easton's nursery to hold him for the first time.

I have watched every episode of "The Baby Story", been to every birthing class my local hospital offers, and read a handful of baby books to prepare for Preston's birth- If only I actually felt prepared...At this point I will just cling to God's plan and have faith that everything will be just fine. I'm not going to lie- I'm petrified of the pain, scared of the hospital, and worried my husband will pass out...but besides that, I am ready for Preston!!!!!! ;)

Here are some of my favorite pregnancy moments:
1. Telling Ryan that I was pregnant...I could watch the video over and over again! The look on his face, of confusion turning to tears of happiness, will forever be a favorite moment! The videos of us telling my parents and his parents are just as special!
2. The fact that I lived in Ethiopia for 2 months while pregnant with Preston!
3. Feeling Preston kick for the first time while I was sitting on my bed at the Yebsabi Guest House in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
4. Feeding Easton as I feel and watch Preston do summersaults in my stomach!
5. Seeing Preston's face on the 3-D Ultrasound at the Korean Hospital in Ethiopia.
6. Dreaming of what Preston will look like...will he have red hair, green eyes and fair skin like his daddy? Or be blond with blueish/green eyes like his mama?
7. The way people look at me in public- Being obviously pregnant, while carrying a 6 month old baby gets lots of stares!!! A few brave souls will ask me if Easton is my son, then I get the chance to share his adoption story and the miracle of Preston!
8. The fact that almost EVERY girlfriend I have is pregnant!!!! Including my brother's wife, who is due 25 days after Preston!
All of our babies will start Kindergarten together!!! I am so thankful for God's timing! Here are 7 of us girls, in order of due date:

6 Months Pregnant:
7 Months Pregnant:
8 Months Pregnant:

Easton and Preston's 3-D Ultrasound~August 7, 2010:

We went to the doctor today and she said Preston's heartbeat and growth are perfect! What wonderful words to hear!!! I am measuring right at 37 weeks and there is no reason to think Preston will be early. If anything, I will go past my due date of November 20th. My brother's birthday is on November 26th, which falls the day after Thanksgiving this year. Maybe Preston wants to honor his Uncle Aaron!!! We'll patiently wait...

I hope to be back to blogging on a regular basis~ We'll see how that works out with Preston's arrival!
Love you all,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Resource for Adoption Families-Packing List!

Ashlie’s Packing List for Ethiopia

Baby Items:

Easton's Clothes: (diapers are in plastic bags)

My Stuff:

Donations for Children and AWAA Staff/Nannies:

What I took on the plane with me:

(This was my packing list before my stay. Please refer to the previous post for things to add to the packing list)
I have this in a Word Document Chart- Unfortunately, I can't post the chart. I can email it to you, if you would like! Just email me:
Items Packed
4 Bras
15 pairs of Underwear
5 Pairs of Capri’s (black Calvin’s, Khaki, White, Teal)
7 t-shirts (All Adoption T-shirts)
1 pair of jeans
Nike and Yoga pants
5 shirts (button up travel shirts)
Camis (white, nude, black)
Belly Band
Zip-up Hoodie
4 bottoms 4 tops
Rain Jacket
5 pairs of socks
Bathing Suit (haha, who knows!)
Ring on wedding finger
Africa Necklace-
Silver ball earrings
Africa Hat ☺
Long sleeve shirt
Long skirt

Items Packed
Sperry Black
Pink Crocs
Nike Sneakers
Flip Flops

Items Packed
Eye make-up remover
Make-Up (foundation, power, bronzer, mascara, eye liner, eye shadow, blush, lip liner, lip stick, lip gloss)
Face wash
Hair Brush
Hair ties and clips
Contacts and case
Eye drops
Eye glasses- Coach and back ups with case
Perfume Spray
Nail Clippers
Chi Flat Iron
Blow dryer (Yebsabi Guest House has one)
Deet Bug Repellant
Prenatal Vitamins
Vitamin C Drops
Carmex Lip Gloss
Travel size toilet paper

Items Packed
Blow up neck pillow
Eye cover
Socks/slippers for plane
Circulation Socks (dana?)
Ear Plugs
Pillow and Blanket
North Face Backpack
Snacks and Bottle Water

Easton Aschenaki
Items Packed
3 Month Outfits- 6
6 Month Outfits- 4
Baby Wipes
Bottles- drop-ins
Drop in replacements
Formula- single packets, just incase, will buy Bebalac brand there
Pacifiers (2 or 3)
Blankets (3 or 4)
Baby Carrier
Baby Benadryl
Baby Tylenol
Sleeper outfit
Diaper rash cream- Desitin, Butt Paste
Dirty diaper plastic bags
Burp cloths
Avent, Gerber, or Playtex bottles (with refill drop-in bags and 4 nipples)
Teething ring
Teething Gel
Children’s Thermometer
Children Scissors for Nail clippings
Rubber gloves
Formula Holder- 3 departments measured
Infant Vitamin Drops

Guest House and Technology
Items Packed
2 Power Cords
International Converter
Paper Towels
Towel (from home)
Laptop and charger
Nikon Camera
Camera Memory Cards
Camera Charger
Camera Flash
Batteries Rechargeable
Rechargeable thing for batteries
USB Cord
Flip Camera
Blank DVD’s to burn
Flash Drive (8gb)
Duct Tape (little bit on a dowel)
Zip Ties
Rope (clothes line)
Zip Lock bags
Playing cards
Book light
Batteries and battery charger
Baby books- What to expect when expecting
Laundry Detergent (washing in sink)
Trash bags
Pens, notebook, stickies
Clorox wipes
Alarm Clock
Hand sanitizer
Dish Soap
Hot Pots!! (for heating food and bottles)
Lint brush travel size

Items Packed
Crackers- cheese and peanut butter
Beef Jerky
Granola Bars
Cliff Bars
Drink mix
Mac and Cheese cups
Ramen Noodles
Soup Cups
Fruit Cups
Raisins, yogurt covered
Almonds, cashews
Canned veggies
Spaghetti O’s
Canned tuna
Canned chicken
Spoon, fork, knife
Canned beans
Dried fruit

Items Packed
Punching balloons
Gifts for the Guys- 4 Adidas shirts
Gifts for Nannies- spa
Glow bracelets
School supplies
Shoe shine for Robel’s kids
Snickers for Robel and Guards
Socks for Robel
Deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste for nannies
Underwear for toddlers boys and girls

Items Packed
Copies of Passport
Tickets with itineraries
Vaccination Proof
Tax return copy-serious!
Passports w/ yellow cards
Contact Lists- phone numbers and emails
Credit Card
Credit card copies
Driver's licenses for ID
Driver's License copy
Health Insurance card
AWAA Travel Info
I-600 Copy
I-864 (Not sure about this, was on another list)
Adoption document checklist
Dossier Copies

Items Packed
Spendable Money $700 (AWAA recommends for 1 week) Crisp and news, must be before 2004- For a 2 month stay about $1500.00
My Visa $20
Easton’s Visa $404.00

Items Packed
Saline Nasal Spray
Allergy Medicine
Rx Antibiotics???
Rx Scabies Cream Elimite
Lice Spray and Medication
Rx Internal parasites
Infant Motrin
Infant Mylicon??
Antidiarrheal medication (e.g., bismuth subsalicylate, loperamide)
Cough Suppressant
First Aid Kit
Altitude sickness meds??

Souvenirs to Buy
Items Purchased
Traditional Ethiopia Clothes
Scarves for gifts
Baskets (Mesob)
Wooden animals
Salad Tongs- lots of these for gifts
Ethiopia Crosses
Drums or rattles
Beaded Necklaces
Coffee- from the Coffee Factory
Clay Coffee Pot (Jebena)
Silver jewelry
Music Tekeste Getenet
Kids books in Amharic

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Resource for my Adoption Friends!

(Make sure you get a roof top picture of your new family!)
Ashlie Fulmer’s Recommendations for Traveling Families, Especially those who plan to have an extended stay. Contact
Facebook: Ashlie McFarland Fulmer

I would love to help you prepare for your stay here. I'm not really sure where to start though.
Let me just start rambling and see how it goes:

*Ethiopian Visa!!!! This is a VERY serious issue!! Get your Visa stateside- you have to send your passport to the Ethiopian Embassy in DC. AWAA is going to require families do this in the future. Reason being-you can only get a 30 days Visa upon arrival into the airport. You can then renew it once for another 30 day Visa. After that, you MUST leave the country! Please make sure you research and make a plan for your Visa. I had to go through the Ethiopia Courts, pay penalties, and then was only issued a 10-day Visa and forced to leave. There is nothing the Embassy can do to help, so learn from my experience.

My Travel Arrangements: All of our travel arragements were done by MKI Group Travel. I encourage everyone to shop around for the best price! Let the agent know that you are shopping around and you wil be amazed at how much money they can save you!
Mike Snyder
MKI Group Travel
1769 Lexington Avenue N #391
Saint Paul, Mn 55113
800-732-4806 x 702
fax (800)732-4806

Feedings: Here's my procedure- I brought Playtex drop in bottles (3 nipples and 3 boxes of 100 drop ins). I also have 2 Avent 8oz bottles. Lastly, I have Easton's bottle from the TH. I use all of them everyday! He goes through about 7 bottles a day. I save the drop-ins for times I'm out and about and then use the other bottles around here. (I don't like to use the plastic drop ins because they are bad for the environment but they are very convenient when you are out and about- easy cleaning) I was worried that Easton might not just take any nipple, I have heard Mom’s say that you would never change a baby’s bottle. I’m thankful that he takes any bottle I make for him!
All the bottles are given warm at the TH. Luckily, if we are out and about Easton will take a bottle made with non-refrigerated bottle water. However, when I’m at the GH I like to give him a warm bottle, I think it makes him happier and soothed. Here’s how I do it- I use the water boiler (info below) to boil bottled water. Then I have a large stainless steal thermos (A must have! Bring one!) I put the boiling water in the thermos and then seal it tight. It keeps water warm for 8 hours. So then, when I make a bottle I pour a little hot water in the bottle, then add bottled water. =) One Mom mentioned that you could make up a pitcher of formula and refrigerate it- If you choose to do this you would want to bring a pitcher.

Formula- When we got Easton my hubby Ryan went out and bought 7 cans of Bebelac 1. (This is the formula that the infant babies are on. You can buy it from a grocery store here. It’s about $7.40/can- can’s last about 3 and a half days) All of the baby’s poop in the infant room is like yellow rice (not sure if it’s a good thing but my Mom wasn’t a big fan of it) When I had Easton at the Guest House for about a week he was fine with the Bebalac formula and had the same poops. Then a week later he had horrible diarrhea. (He ruined all his clothes, even when I would put 2 diapers on him!) Stacy Sweeney (super Mom of 9) made a suggestion that I change his formula. She thought that he might be Lactose Intolerant or he just needed a better formula. She had 3 cans of Parent’s Choice (Walmart Brand) “Sensitivity”. I made the switch! I’m happy I did!! =) I would suggest you bring a couple options. I’ve heard another good option is Parent’s Choice “Gentle”.

Cleaning bottles- The GH has a water boiler that I use, however, not every room has one, since I've been here so long I got it when there weren't many families, now some Mom's don't have one in their room. You might want to bring one or just plan on sharing. My Mom and I originally brought a water boil (from Bed Bath and Beyond I think). It works GREAT for boiling water for the thermos and cleaning. I used Dawn Foam Dish Soap (a family left it with me and I completely fell in love with it). Bring a bottle cleaner! I didn’t have one and had to use a toothbrush! =) I hand wash the bottles as I boil tap water. When all the bottles are clean I pour boiling water into each bottle, swish it around and the pour it out. I then put all the nipples into the water boiler, with the left over boiled water, swirl it around and pour it out. I put a towel on the night table and that was my bottle making station. I would put all the bottles and nipples on the towel to dry. (see picture above)

Diapers: Bring as many as you possibly can! We purchased diapers at the Friendship Supermarket but they were Chinese and Arabic brands and I wasn’t impressed with them. They were expensive too!!! I seriously think it would be a better decision to pay for additional baggage with the Airlines rather than buying diapers and formula here in ET.

Nannies, AWAA staff-
Okay, I’m not sure if you are coming before court or just for court until Embassy~ If you come before court and you are going to the TH everyday you are going to want to build relationships with the nannies. If you come for court and then take your child back to the GH you probably won’t get to know them very well. However, if you are planning on being at the TH often you will want to show appreciation =) I brought daily “goodies” to the nannies, cooks, cleaners and AWAA office members. There are psychologist, doctors, nurses, guards and lots of other people you will see daily. I would have my driver stop of Kaldi’s (like Starbucks) to pick up trays of cookies and pastries. I would bring Snickers Bars, Candy and Granola bars to show my appreciation. (And because I’m kinda a suck-up an wanted them to like me and make me feel welcomed when I came everyday for a month) I also took picture of Easton with the nannies and I printed them off. (There are lots of photo printing places around town). Photographs are a HUGE thing in ET. The nannies cherish them and I honestly think it was the BEST gift I gave. I also have little gift bags for the nannies. I only brought 4 so I waited a week, to see which day I wanted to give them. (There were 3 nannies that I really connected with, they invited me into the room everyday and attempted to talk with me) My gift bags included lotion, nail polish, perfume samples, lipstick, and a manicure set (all girly things).

(this is the picture I printed for these 4 nannies)

Kaldi’s Coffee- Yummy!!!!! You can get a tray of cookies for a few dollars.

Across the road from the TH is the AWAA office. I brought cookies for the office and bags of snickers =) I also picked up a flower arrangement of beautiful red and orange roses (for $3.50) to give to them.
David (Driver)- Adoption T-shirt (He wasn’t my driver, I had another one but I saw him almost everyday =) He has a daughter, I think around 14months, and a baby on the way. Not sure if it’s a baby boy or girl though.
Job- (travel Coordinator) Adidas Jersey from Dick’s Sporting goods, about $15.00 (I had a coupon)
Yonas - (travel Coordinator) Adidas Jersey from Dick’s Sporting goods, about $15.00 (I had a coupon)
Mulay- (AWAA staff, he takes the pictures for the referrals and runs the family “meetcha and gotcha” days) Adidas Jersey from Dick’s Sporting goods, about $15.00 (I had a coupon) He LOVES Snickers or anything chocolate.
Robel- (travel Coordinator) Adidas Jersey from Dick’s Sporting goods, about $15.00 (I had a coupon)
Fortuna- (I wanted to do a Boston Spa Gift Certificate but didn’t get around to it. This might be a great thing to consider) Gift Bag with girly stuff, lotion, lipstick, nail polish, etc. Adoption T-shirt and Adoption Necklace
Duni- (Would have LOVED the Boston Spa Gift Certificate) Nine-West necklace and Bracelet, Adoption T-shirt and Adoption Necklace

Yebsabi Staff- I also purchased a flower arrangement for the Guest House. They were very appreciative.
David-(cook) Adoption T-shirt, chocolate and tea (I had my driver take me to a place that sells Ethiopian Tea. It was very inexpensive and they had Cinnamon Tea, Green Tea, and lots of other flavors)
Day Manager- I don’t know her name, it’s very hard to say, but you will know who she is! Adoption T-shirt, chocolate and tea
Housekeeper- The same women cleaned my room everyday~ I would give her things all the time! =) Like little shampoo bottles, chocolate, granola bars! She accepted everything very graciously so I would encourage you to show gratitude to her!

Alazar: 251-911-62-26-76 or 251-911-37 60 91 (give either of these numbers to the Yebsabi Guest House and they will call for your) Alazar is the “owner” of a couple of cars. I only had Alazar as my driver on Sundays, every other day I had Samuel, David (not AWAA David) or Oneto. I always called Samuel though!

Okay, here’s what I did~ When I first came to ET I had my transportation arranged through AWAA office. I paid about $600 for 2 weeks of Full Day transportation. Then after that I was on my own! I worked out a deal with Alazar to be picked up at the GH at 8:30 every morning and then taken to the TH. Then I would be picked up around 4pm or 5pm and taken back to the guesthouse. I paid $11 USD/Day for this service. I kept track of everyday day, in a Word Document, then paid him a big lump sum. I printed out the document on the Yebsabi printer. (They aren’t too fond of this but I only asked 2 times =)

A Full days service is 400 Birr (about $30.00) a Half Day Service is 200 birr ($15)
Whenever I was paying for a full day I would make sure I got a lot of use out of the car. For example, when Ryan was here this was our schedule:
9am- Pick up, Kaldi’s for coffee
10am- Coffee Tour
11am-3pm- Transition House
3pm-4pm back to GH for showers and change of clothes
5pm- Boston Spa for Massage
7pm- Dinner at Mankush =)

Alazar told me a trip to the grocery store would be 100 Birr ($7USD) I never needed to g but you could easily call him for a ride.
I had to call him for lots of little trips to get Easton’s passport picture done and take him to the doctor.

Day trip to the Countryside- Ask Alazar specifically to go to the Gourge and Debre-Libanos. (See pictures of our trip below) Ryan and I both feel that this was a highlight of our trip! We didn’t take Easton, it was before we passed court, but you totally could take a baby. The roads aren’t bad and the views are amazing! It cost $100 (I was given a discount because I had used Alazar for a solid month! Don’t be scared to ask for a discount). I can’t insist enough that you get out of Addis to see Ethiopia in its natural beauty. Pictures to PROVE it!

Laundry: I brought Tide Packets of laundry detergent and washed my undergarments in the shower everyday. (I learned a lesson to wash as you go, don’t wait to do it all at the same time. The guesthouse isn’t a big fan of hanging up clothes to dry in your room. They actually told me that they will dry my clothes for me. This was helpful when Easton was sick and he went through tons of outfits per day. There is a sign that says “do not wash cloths in sink”. I used the shower instead! =) I honestly only had my jeans, capris, and skirts laundered 1 time during my 2 month stay! I brought 14 outfits and just recycled them. That means I wore each outfit about 4 times each. I brought body spray and don’t think I smelled!! Ha-ha =) It’s not terribly expensive to do laundry but it does add up. Here is what I did to dry my clothes. I don’t think the GH loved the idea of this so you might want to do something more discrete….I had clothesline and just tied it up by the window.

Note: If you hand wash cotton, like baby pants or onesies, you have to be careful of the moldy smell. I tried hard to get the cotton things dried but sometime no matter what I did it left the moldy smell.

Food- I brought all of my own food for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is the only meal included. The dinners are yummy but they cost $7.00. Unfortunately, they only include an entrée. If a full meal, like appetizer, bread, soup or desert was included I would probably have eaten it more often. Since I didn’t feel like I really got my $7.00 worth I really stuck to my own food. You need to ask for permission from the Yebsabi Guest House to use the Microwave, in the kitchen, in the lobby. I’m sure you will be staying in the cheapest single room, there is a fridge but NO microwave. If you use the Microwave in the kitchen I suggest you try and plan around the times David (cook) uses it. I tried to make my dinner around 5pm, so that I didn’t interfere with him . If you bring anything that can be saved, like soup or canned chicken I would suggest Aluminum Foil.
Here are the best things that worked for me:
1. Healthy Choice- Fresh Mixers- they are not frozen- obviously- they are 300 calories and yummy! I would have an Italian one for lunch and then an Asian one for dinner. They worked great! (they also don’t weigh very much) See picture below
2. Soup- I brought tomato soup, chicken noodle, and some Santa Fa Chicken Soups~ Very yummy and easy~
3. Mac n Cheese- instant packets
4. Combos, Granola Bars, Cliff bars, variety pack of crackers
5. Canned Fruit- little snack packs
6. Oatmeal Crème Pies- because I love them!
7. Huge bag of Trail Mix! I ate it all!!!!!
8. Canned Chicken and Tuna
9. 2 boxes of Ritz Crackers
10. Loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly (you can buy bread here, if you have a driver ask them to stop at a bakery for you)

Easton’s Clothes:
(See Packing List)
I would definitely suggest you bring atleast 10 outfits and 10 sleepers. (If you have room bring more because it will be less laundry you have to do) I learned quickly that you can’t re-wear baby clothes due to spit up… Also, bring jackets that you can use with any outfit. I used socks a lot but not shoes. (He was only 4 months old) I set aside an outfit for Embassy and a Welcome Home Outfit. I also set aside enough diapers, wipes and formula for our trip home.

Baby and Mommy Needs:
1. Changing Pad- like a vinyl one! I didn’t have one and it stunk! Being a new mom I’m not so good with changing Diapers! I would lay a receiving blanket down and then change Easton on it. However, sometimes I would get poop on the blanket and then have to clean it. A changing pad is VERY necessary, especially when you are out and about. At church there is a place to change the baby but you need the pad for a clean surface.
I used the vanity in my room as My Changing Table ☺
2. Clorox Wipes to clean the changing table (pad) and other things
3. Hangers! The GH has like 5 in each room, I had Ryan bring me 10.
4. I brought a backpack from Kmart, like $25.00 to serve as my purse, baby bag, and everything else! I took it EVERYWHERE with me, ALWAYS!!!! Inside my backpack I had ziplock bags with different things in them. In one bag I had diapers and wipes, another had a change of clothes, another had formula and bottles. (Make sure you have the formula divider for traveling, it’s great)
5. Bottle Water- You can buy it right beside the GH, there’s a little hole in the wall to buy cases of water! (it’s much cheaper than the water in the GH Fridge)
6. Febreeze- Everything is damp in ET. Febreeze was nice to have to keep things fresh smelling
7. Baby Carrier- Baby Bjorn is the best!
8. Diaper Rash- Desetin or AD Ointment- lots of babies at the TH have diaper rash
9. Ink and paper for foot and hand prints:
10. Oil for baby’s hair-I’ve heard Almond or Apricot are good, not sure what to recommend yet, I need to get home and try it out
11. Incase of Chicken Pox I had Ryan bring Caldamine Lotion (the pink stuff)
12. Zip Lock Bags, Grocery Bags- I use these for organizing Easton’s clothes, taking food down to the microwave, and organizing food. You don’t have any counter space and only 4 drawers so zip lock bags were perfect for me. I put all his onesies in one, then another had his sleepers. The super large ziplocks were great too.
13. Vitamins!! If you aren’t a big vitamin person now is the time to be!! ☺ I am on Prenatal but I have taken them everyday and honestly believe the boost in my immune system has kept me healthy! Get a strong daily vitamin or even a mix for water and take them everyday! You won’t be getting fresh veggies and fruit here so you need to make sure you are serious about vitamins
14. Flavor Water Packs- I didn’t use these before Ethiopia but now I love them. I have the Crystal light ones, along with Kool-aid, and Poweraid. They have been a treat for me! The Fantas, Sprites, and Cokes are $1.00 at the GH and it’s really not worth it. It’s cheaper to use the flavor water packs
15. Tea- I brought some tea but then asked families to bring me more! It was my nightly tradition to go downstairs and have a cup of hot tea and socialize. Vanilla Chi Tea was my favorite, thank you Faust Family!
16. Blankets! Being a FL girl I only had receiving blankets and I really wish I had brought warm, fluffy baby blankets. Especially during the cold nights. The crib (carriage thing) that the GH gives you has a sheet and comforter but I liked to lay a receiving blanket down first and then use my own blankets for Easton. Here is the crib they gave us:

17. Baby Aveno Bath Wash and Lotion- Johnson’s baby shampoo- The GH will give you a washtub, just ask for it!
18. Cute Hats and Beanies~ I enjoyed dressing Easton up for Pictures~ It gave us something to do during the day.

19. Boppy and 2 covers- I love the boppy and used it for every feeding. I even took it to the TH everyday. I’m not sure if I will pack I for bring it on the plane with me. It would be great to have but I’m worried about carrying Easton, backpack, painting, carry on and boppy!
20. DVD’s- I bought some DVD’s off of the street and really enjoyed watching them during Easton’s naps and at night. I would recommend you buy them here or bring some. The TV in my room has CNN, an Arabic Station (plays American Funniest Home Videos and 2 times a week re-runs of Friends, 2 and half Men, and the Office), and a FOX Series channel that played reruns of the show Numbers, Greek, and The Biggest Loser
21. Pedialyte- Incase of Dehydration. You will see little blue bottles in this picture. They were a donation that Stacy Sweeny brought me. They were a lifesaver and I suggest that all parents bring them. When I took Easton to the Pediatrician for diarrhea and vomiting he gave me a prescription for a salt like powered to mix with water and give him in a bottle. (this was exactly like Pedialyte) Easton thankfully took it but if I would have had Pedialyte for infants I would have saved a trip to the doctor!
22. Souvenirs to buy- Here are some things I bought =) We also bought a ton of wooden spoons to give as gifts.

23. The cylinder you see in the picture below is the painting we bought from Mankush Art Gallery and Italian Restaurant~ I am so thankful that we decided to purchase it. We didn’t go crazy with souvenirs but instead made one big purchase that will last a lifetime for our family. (Picture below of painting)

Our painting- it’s rolled out on a table, it’s pretty big. This is what the village Easton was born in would look like, Wolayta Sodo (or so we have been told) When we took our day trip to Debre-Libanos we saw many of the things in the painting, such as the Teff (for making injera), Donkeys, and basket weavers.

Our Trip to the Countryside:

Monday, August 23, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Final Post from Ethiopia

I have watched so many families come to the Guest House, meet their children and then complete the final step of heading to the US Embassy for their appointment. TODAY IS OUR DAY!!!!

I am extremely grateful for all of the people who worked hard on Easton's case to make this day happen. When I think about the timeline and the possibilities that could have happened, I am amazed! For example: If I would have known my Visa was only good for 30 days I would have renewed it in time and received another 30 day Visa.

What I learned is that tourist in Ethiopia can only be in the country for 60 days. My 60th day would have been 2 days ago!!!! I would have been in quite the predicament and most likely would have had to leave Ethiopia without Easton. Or another scenario, if I would have gone to the US Embassy just a week earlier to renew my Visa I would have only been issued a 10 day Visa and would have left the country last week, again without Easton.

Even my best laid plan would have been failure, therefore I know, for a fact, that God is in control. He is the one who has orchestrated this adoption and our FAITH in Him will deliver Easton and I home on Saturday. So here we are, after 63 days, waiting to head to the Embassy. I have learned so much during my time here, however, I'm not quite sure how to properly express my feelings toward the experience. I think it will take some time, after being home to gather my thoughts and articulate them.

For now, I sit here and dream about seeing my precious husband again. What an AMAZING man to go through this journey with. He will be a wonderful father and I cannot wait to put Easton in his arms Saturday night. I know how much happiness Easton is going to bring to his life and I'm anxious for our days of lying around the house watching football, stroller walks around our neighborhood, and pool parties with friends and family.

I have one more night here in Ethiopia and I'm trying not to wish it away. There are many things I will miss about Ethiopia but for now my focus is to get Easton home to establish our family. I love you all and thank you so much for your prayers and support! Hopefully, the next blog post will be about our homecoming!!!

Love, Ashlie and Easton

Friday, August 13, 2010

Great News from Africa

Dearest Friends and Family,

This morning the US Embassy Accepted Easton's Paperwork! Praise God! This is truly a miracle and I'm still in amazement that my Visa tragedy has turned out to be a HUGE blessing!

Speaking of the Visa Tragedy, I have yet to blog about it. Basically, I was under the impression that my visa was good for 60 days. This was the information given to me by my adoption agency. When I was ready to renew it I gave my passport to one of my adoption agency's staff and he told me it was expired. He was going to draft a letter that I would take to the Immigration Department to renew it.

On Monday I went to the Immigration Department and was told, after 3 hours, that I would have to appear in court on Tuesday morning and they took my passport! On Tuesday morning I went to court, to be told to return at 1:30pm. When I returned I waited 2 hours, among Ethiopian prisoners and other law breakers, and then was taken into a room, told to be silent, and put my back against the wall.

The judge asked me if I was guilty and I said "Yes", she read me my charge and then issued me a fine of 1,500 bir ($110 USD). I thought that was going to be the worst part, boy was I wrong!!!!

On Wednesday, I returned to the Immigration Office, still without my passport, thinking I would finally be able to get my Passport back and purchase a 30 day Visa. I went into an office, waiting about 45 minutes and then was told that I may only have a 10 day Visa. I was holding Easton and as tears started to well up I said, "Sir, may I please have a 30 day Visa, I am waiting for a US Embassy date to obtain my son's Visa to take him home." He said, "No, 10 days only!".

I pleaded again and he agreed to let me speak to his Boss, the Director of Immigration. I went to the top floor of the building to a lavished office, with huge leather doors, fresh flowers and a flat screen TV. My translator wasn't allowed to accompany me, so Easton and I went into the office to beg for an extension. The Director insisted that I may only have a 10 day Visa because I broke Ethiopian Law. I excused myself from the office, stepped outside and sobbed.

I called Ryan at 3:30am and could barely get my words out. He assured me that we would work it out but at that moment all I could picture was me going home without Easton and Ryan having to come and get him. I was devastated. I went straight to my adoption agency's office to search for help, unfortunately, there was nothing that they could do to change the Immigration Department's decision. However, to my complete satisfaction, they started working with the US Embassy to see if Easton's paperwork could be submitted, reviewed, and approved! This is where we are today!!!!

The embassy will review his file and either give us clearance or possibly ask for more documents. There is very little chance that they will want to do a full out investigation but it is a possible. I have Faith that we will get clearance either today or Monday morning!!!!! =)

There is an open appointment next Thursday, the 19th. This is when the US Embassy interviews me and I bring Easton to them. They will ask about Easton's past, when we met him, and information on his case. They are checking to see that my knowledge is the same information presented in the paperwork. Checks and balances. It is typically a formality, all families that I know of have passed the interview. Then on Friday I will receive Easton's Ethiopian Passport with his American Visa inside. Finally, on Friday or Saturday night I will fly out! We are working on details now.

I will keep you updated and appreciate all of the prayers, well wishes, and thoughts you have offered us. Other families, who already have Embassy Appointments for next week, fly in tomorrow. I will have great company to make the next week pass by. (All of these families have already been here for court dates, they are great friends to Easton and me!)

xoxo Ashlie, Easton and Preston

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Our Status In Ethiopia

Well, I know that God's time line is ALWAYS better than my own, so I am peaceful today knowing that I will get home on the exact flight and time that God has already determined. We will NOT get the August 18th Embassy date, due to a paperwork error (not our fault). We are hopeful for the September 1st Embassy Date now. I want to be home so bad but honestly, we are okay! We have enough food, diapers, wipes, and love to make it 30 more days! I will NEVER, EVER take a dishwasher, washing machine, or stove for granted!! Half my day is spent washing clothes in the sink, boiling water to sterilize bottles, and making food.

I am relaxing a lot here too, every time Easton naps, I nap too. I really have nothing to complain about, except really missing the people I love!! Hopefully, Ryan is holding up well. This must be so hard on him. Having is brand new son and pregnant wife on the other side of the world must cause loneliness and longing. I often think about my best friend Lindsey who's husband is a Marine. He was in Kuwait when their 1st child was born and now she is pregnant and he is in Afghanistan. I seriously, I have NOTHING to complain about!

My pregnancy is going great, I feel good, am eating well and am growing bigger!! (Since I don't have a scale I have no idea how big I actually am!) I'm going to an OB at the Korean Hospital tomorrow at 10:00am for a Prenatal visit. My hopes are to get an ultrasound and hear baby Preston’s heartbeat. My fellow adoption mommy and friend Deanne is going to come with me. She has been a great support here. She is adopting 2 girls, 8 and 10 years old, and is staying for a few more weeks until their embassy appointment.

Motherhood -- I've been a stay-at-home Mom for the last 15 days (ever since we got Easton on the 21st) and I LOVE IT!!! I’m really surprised that more of my friends didn’t share how wonderful it is for your life to revolve around your child!!!! I love every moment with Easton!! I love washing his bottles, bathing him, boiling water for his bottles, washing his clothes in the shower, EVERYTHING!!! It can only get easier once I get home but for right now it fills my days and nights with pure joy. I hope I never loose this feeling! One of my favorite moments is waiting for him to wake up from his nap. As he starts to stir I sit beside him and just wait for his eyes to pop open. He looks at me and then a toothless smile flows across his face. It’s priceless. I can't wait to get home to enjoy him even more!

I appreciate all of your prayers and support! Right now I am dreaming of the day Easton and I walk into the Tampa Int’l Airport to meet our friends and family! Just imagining it brings tears to my eyes. I know the day will be here soon!

Hopefully, Ashlie

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Amazing Mission Trip

I'm back!!!!!!! My week at the Ethiopia Guest House with the Visiting Orphans Mission Trip was amazing, challenging, and life-changing. I have many stories and experiences to share but I am still internalizing a lot of the things we saw and people we met. One of the most burning sights and smells are the rows and rows of cribs, filled with babies and toddlers at the Mother Theresa's HIV orphanage. There were over 450 orphans, all who are HIV positive and have essentially no chance of adoption. When I looked into their faces I couldn't help but think that God's love for each and everyone of them is the exact same as His love for our baby Easton. Regardless of their sickness and abandonment they are children who deserve so much better than what they are receiving. It breaks my heart =(
I posted a documentary on my Facebook page of the Korah village. The village lives off of the landfill, finding their food and items to sell. If you get a chance, please watch it. Easton and I (with Kevin's help) went into the houses that surround the dump. It was unbelievable to see the conditions that families live in. Despite the lack of basic needs, the people were so generous to open their homes to us.

I am happy to be back to the Yebsabi Guest House (internet works and it's more like a hotel). Unfortunately, I said goodbye to my Dad and Best Friend Kevin. No more visitors coming but there are lots of adoption families here this week. After this week I will have 2 other Mom's who are staying until their Embassy Appointments. It is so nice to have other Mom's to talk to everyday. Whenever I hear people in the lobby I rush down for some socializing! Last night I went to see the movie Inception with 3 other families. I brought Easton along and he slept through the entire movie!!! He's such a good sport!

Easton: He is doing WONDERFUL!!! I am praying for his health, he has been very healthy, only fighting a little cough and congestion. One of the baby girls who went home last week has Chicken Pox now. I'm just waiting to find one on his belly!!! He has been exposed to so much and I'm praying that God continues to protect him.
Preston: I feel great, with good energy! I can feel Preston kicking and moving, mostly at night. He is GROWING! I'm sure you can tell from the pictures that gaining weight isn't a problem!! haha =) I was a little worried about my calorie intake, considering that I am eating a lot of crackers, Cliff bars, Mac-n-cheese, and Soup. I ate out with families and the mission trip team whenever I had the opportunity~ I'm dying for some Chipolte, Bonefish, and Chick-fil-a!!

Prayer Request: We have reason to be hopeful for the August 18th Embassy Date! I obviously want to come home so bad that it hurts!!! I feel like Easton and I need to be home. I'm sure I'm just being emotional today but my tough mindset has left me right now and I'm feeling a little lonely. It's probably just because this is day #1 of being alone. Please just say a special prayer for the possibility of the 18th. If we don't make the 18th it will be September 1st. Either way, I know it's God's timing and we will be home soon!

Here is a precious video of "My Boys"

I love you all and cannot wait for you to meet and hold Easton! He will melt you heart!!!
Hugs, Ashlie

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Watch Ryan Meet Easton!

I've been with Easton for a while now, but Ryan first saw him on July 16th.

If you promise not to start crying, watch Ryan's reaction to meeting his son for the first time.

Some things are priceless.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

We Are A Family!

YAAAAY!!!! We are parents!! We have Easton here with us!! Ryan and I just made our first bottle, it was comical!!!

We found out around 11am our time on Tuesday that we passed court. We went to the U.S. Embassy to get a form notarized then on to the Guest House.

We've decided that Easton will be going with me on the mission trip. How could I go without him?

The three of us are going to hang out and get used to each other for the next few days.

We are so happy to finally be able to share Easton with everyone.

Thank you all for your prayers and support.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Our "Meetcha Day" Moment

Today we are perfect! God has completely exceeded our expectations and blessed us beyond our dreams. We went to the transition home at 7:30 this morning so we could meet Easton together before our 10am court date. The weather was absolutely beautiful so we had our "Meetcha Day" moment outside. Our driver, Samuel was our videographer and Leeanne, a fellow adoptive mom, was the photographer. Easton was brought out to us, wearing a brown zip up jacket and brown pants with puppies on the feet. He looked precious! As soon as he saw us he started smiling and laughing, Ryan held him for the first time and I cried, and cried, and cried!! =) It was the official moment we became a family, it was priceless.

Our court appearance was also a success. We were in a very crowded room and waited to be called into small side room. (It wasn't an actual courtroom, as I anticipated). We sat down and the judge, a beautiful Ethiopian women, asked us if we had children, why we chose to adopt from Ethiopia, if we had training in adoption and transracial family challenges, and if our friends and family were supportive. Ryan answered each question confidently and the judge nodded in approval. Then she asked, "Have you met A*****?" We both shook our heads "Yes" and smiled big. She then said, "After meeting him are you sure that you want to adopt him, this decision is irrevocable." We both immediately and simultaneously said "YES, Absolutely YES!"

Duni, our Africa Adoption Director, told us that we should pass on the 21st!!! After that we believe it will be about 4-6 weeks to get Easton and I home!! Please be praying that the US Embassy works efficiently to allow our paperwork to pass through and issue a Visa for Easton!!! There is an Embassy appointment on August 18th or September 1st that we could possibly have.

After court we went back to Easton and spent over 4 hours with him. Ryan held him and studied his every move and feature. We are both amazed at how incredibly sweet and happy he is. He doesn't even spit up!!! He is a thumb sucker though! Ryan was holding him and Easton made a little scream. Then Ryan realized he had his left hand pinned against his chest. As soon as he moved it Easton found his thumb and was completely content again! He definitely has an obsession with his left thumb! I can't wait to be able to introduce a pacifier! (We've decided not to introduce a pacifier or our formula until we are closer to going home. We want to keep things as consistent as possible for him right now.)

We thank you so much for your love and support. Today wouldn't have happened if it weren’t for all of the support we have received through our journey to parenthood.

We love you all, Ashlie and Ryan

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Finally...a court date!!

What a week! I said, "Goodbye" to Mom on Friday and cried so hard that my driver Samuel put his arm around me and said, "Ohhhhh, Ashlie, it will be okay." Mom made it home safely and I can tell that there aren't many moments that she isn't thinking about Easton and I. I am very appreciative for the 2 weeks that she spent here with us and can't wait to be together again.

On Monday, we found out that our court date is July 21st!!! Praise the Lord! Court Closure are likely to happen in the beginning of August for Ethiopia's flood season. We are so blessed to have made the cut off. Now we need to pray that we pass the first time! (50% of families do not, due to unpredictable court procedures, such as no electricity or lost files!) We found out today that our Agency is trying to move our court date to July 13th. I am going to be in Uganda on July 19th-July 26th but Ryan and I were told we can give our consent to the judge on July 13th. Then today we found out the whole court date might be changed. Which is great because it's a week before! Time is precious!!! We will know for sure tomorrow. Ryan is booking his ticket today!!! I can't wait for him to get here, I think he will have lots of mix emotions, as I did. It looks like the cheapest way for him to come is to leave Sunday, arriving Monday night and staying until July 28th. He will stay here, while I'm in Uganda to be with Easton daily. That means Easton doesn't have to go a day without his Mommy or Daddy!

After we pass court we will wait for the US Embassy to give us an adorable Passport with Easton's picture!! =) This can take 4-12 weeks. Obviously, we are rooting for 4 weeks! Best case scenarios right now is THAT Easton and I come home the 2nd week in August!! PRAYING!!!

Something Special: The 3 Nannies that my mom and I adore, the ones we took pictures with, gave me a gift today! They were VERY secretive because I'm sure they could get in trouble. It was in a plastic bag and then wrapped in foil paper. Inside was an Ethiopia Purse, small scarf and an Africa beaded necklace! I cried!! I can't believe they felt a need to give ME a gift!!! Wow, it was very overwhelming but I felt their love and compassion. I wish I could communicate with them better, they speak virtually no English and my Amharic uselEss. Their names are Radwa, Aselefech, and Firehiwot. They weren't there the 1st day we met Easton (a Sunday) but were there the next day. They taught me how to feed him, showed me how they change him, and welcomed me to spend all day with them. I have a very special bond with them and pray I will be able to impact their lives and show them how much I appreciate the way the cared for our son. Please keep these three women in you prayers!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Update from Ethiopia

My days are flying by here in Ethiopia! Everyday I spend about 6 hours with Easton, it's heavenly! He continues to show his happiness to us and we can't get enough of him. The last 2 days he has been sleeping alot, maybe a growth spurt?
Here are some things that I love about Ethiopia and a couple heartbreaking things!

Things I love about Ethiopia:
#1. Baby Easton!!!!!!!! :o) Being with him everyday makes every sacrifice seem insufficient. He eludes happiness that is contagious. I just can’t wait to share him with friends and family!
#2. Fresh squeezed pineapple juice every morning.
#3. The way men and women embrace each other as they walk down the street. They are either holding hands or have their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders or waist. This is a sign of endearment but honestly at first I thought, “WOW, Ethiopia has a large gay population!!” hahaha =)
#4. How far a US dollar can go! =) The only thing that is really expensive is the transportation! We are paying $30/day for a driver! Working on finding a cheap, reliable driver right now. I’m not confident enough to try public transportation, yet.
#5. How nice the people are! I have never felt threatened or unsafe. Our driver Alazar loves to say that, “Addis Ababa is the safest city in Africa.” I believe him!
#6. The bumpy road that leads to Easton’s transitional home. It makes baby Preston toss and turn in my belly. I love the feeling now! I need to post a video of the ride, it’s comical!
#7. Everyone is working! Sweeping and window washing is seen on every street corner. Taxi cars are washed and tires pumped with air. Women are selling roasted corn for less than $0.10 each. Boys wait to polish your shoes and sell you a pack of gum. There is a huge desire to work and earn money and you can see that “hard worker” is a characteristic that Ethiopians strive for.

Things that break my heart in Ethiopia:
#1. Children who are walking on the street during school hours. There is no such thing as public education and only children who come families who can afford school have the privilege to go. What is horribly wrong with this is that the same children who come from poverty will not be educated, therefore repeating the cycle of poverty. There is little hope for them to get a good job and be progressive for their own children one day. It’s a vicious cycle.
#2. The crippled and disabled. Any Ethiopian who cannot work is basically left to a life on the streets. Being disabled means you are a burden on your family and you cannot build a sustainable life, therefore you beg.
#3. That the average Ethiopia lives on less that $1.00 USD a day.
#4. The dogs. There are dogs, even puppies, scrounging for food everywhere. Being an animal lover, my heart breaks when I see them. They are covered in scars and flies and their ribs visible through a thin layer of fur. I want so badly to feed them but I am torn. I care more about people than dogs; there are too many people in Addis Ababa who are living the same life as a street dog. Heartbreaking.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Meeting Easton

On Sunday, June 20th, I had the life-changing experience of meeting our son for the first time!!!! Here are the details~ Steven and Amy Smith joined my Mom and I after church as we crammed into a 1980 Toyota Tercel. We drove through Addis with no idea of where we were or how far away the Transition Home was. We drove past the Zimbabwe Embassy, along with many other Embassies, and then down the bumpiest road I have ever been on. I actually thought that we were going to get a flat tire and my “Metcha day” would have to be rescheduled. I asked our driver Alazar if we were getting close and he said “YES!” Steven turned on the Flip video recorder to capture the whole thing. As we drove to the Transition home we passed a man peeing on the side of the road, multiple people walking, and a husband and wife carrying a live goat my it’s feet. We all busted up laughing at this “special moment”. We then saw the sign for “American World”. My heart dropped as we drove to the gate the Alazar honked the horn for the guard. This was it, the Moment was here….and then the guard came out and said “No, no appointment”. My heart sank as I waited for the men to discuss the situation in Amharic. Then they involved a few nannies, made multiple cell phone calls, all as we prayed in the back seat. After 5 minutes of negotiations the guard surprisingly opened the gate! I have no idea how Alazar changed is mind. We walked straight into the house and back to the baby room where my driver Alazar told the nannies that A**** (name not disclosed for privacy reasons) was my baby. Right when I thought I was going to meet him, then the nanny took me to wash my hands and take off my shoes. I kept telling myself, “breath, Ashlie, breath”. After I quickly washed my hands I walked back to the room and asked if my cameraman and photographer were ready. Then I stepped into the room as the nanny brought me our son, wrapped up in a blanket. I put him in the corner of my left arm and squeezed tight. I was happy, elated, overwhelmed! Then I went to kiss his cheek and held it…I kinda got stuck when the emotions came over me and I gasp for my breath. Here is our baby, our Easton. What a moment!!!!! Then I looked up, smiled at the camera, (I have a thing for posing!)
Well, that was it, my “Meetcha Day”. Now I am excited for Ryan to have his day with our baby Easton! We received good news today that our court date should be scheduled soon. We are very hopeful that Ryan will be here in no time! Having time to blog is a little more difficult than I thought. The Internet is slow as a snail so I literary spend 30 minutes trying to email Ryan. Unfortunately, the Internet goes in and out of service, wasting a lot of the time. I would love to blog about Ethiopia and my experience later on. Right now, everything is revolving around time with Easton.
Here’s an Easton Update! He is the happiest baby I have ever been around! He has NEVER (and I seriously mean NEVER) cried with me! It’s been 4 days!! =) Lucky me! He is making my entry into motherhood a dream come true! He loves to smile, coo and tell me all about his day! He loves to be held over my shoulder, it’s his favorite! He sucks his thumb and it usually puts him to sleep. It’s only been 4 days but I’m pretty sure that he has already started to bond with me, such a blessing! The only bad part is giving him back to the nannies in the baby room when our driver has arrived. Every time I wipe away a tear and feel an emptiness in my heart. It's sad to leave him but every memory I have of him at 3 months make it completely worth the tears. Atleast I know I'll be back tomorrow to spend my entire day with him!
More to come soon!!! Thank you for all your encouraging emails and facebook messages!! They mean so much to me!
Hugs, Ashlie

Sunday, June 20, 2010

In Ethiopia!! :)

We Made It!!!

Mom and I safely arrived in Ethiopia around 6:35pm Saturday. It was a long 24 hours of traveling but everything was perfect! We rushed to make both connecting flights but were VERY pleased to find that all our bags made it! We were absolutely blessed Friday morning when US Airways allowed us to bring SEVEN 50lbs bags with us! We each packed 1 bag for our personal needs, 1 for baby Easton, 1 for food, and 3 FULL of donations!!!! We are so excited to pass out our donations to the transition home and orphanages.

Details about the trip (Most of this information is for the adoption community and those who are planning to come Ethiopia)

*Lufthansa Airlines was wonderful! The stewards worked extremely hard and the entertainment (TV/Movies) was great. I’m thankful that Mom and I brought blow up butt circles! =) Honestly, we wanted something comfortable to sit on and we really needed them. The cushions in the seats were almost non-existent. The food was just okay, they were all prepackaged meals and made my stomach turn when smelling them. Since our lay over’s only gave us about 45 minutes before boarding time we didn’t get to eat in the airport. Good thing we both had good snacks in our backpacks.

*We met Abinet, AWAA employee, at the Airport. He was there for all the families who were coming to pick up their children. (There were 4 families here to meet and bring home their children by next Saturday) We hung out with the group in the airport but then we went with our driver Alazar. Since our travel schedule is unlike everyone else’s we had to hire a separate driver. Unfortunately, it’s costing about $40/day. The positive side is that Alazar is extremely nice, speaks great English, was born and raised in Addis, and is our personal driver. We will have him everyday to transport us to Easton’s home, museums, dinners, and site seeing. This will last for 2 weeks, until Mom leaves, and then I will have to find a cheaper way to get around.

*Yebsabi Guest House-SOOOO nice!!!!!!!!! We are in the single room with a bathroom! I was surprised to see a little 12 inch tv on the wall! (only 3 channels though!) The receptionist and porters were welcoming and helpful. I know we are going to love our stay here.

*Internet-As soon as I got here I fired up my computer to talk to Ryan! Skype worked right away and we were able to chat for 10 minutes. Now, an hour later, web pages won’t load and I can’t sign in to AOL. Bummer! Hopefully, the strong internet connection will come back. I have a feeling it is just inconsistent. As long as I can share my experience with my hubby and friends I’m happy!

That’s it for now! Tomorrow is the DAY!! I’ll hold Easton around 1:00pm (6:00am for USA Eastern Time)

I’ll have an update tomorrow night for sure!
Appreciative for all His blessings ,

Friday, June 18, 2010

Today is the Day!!

I'm leaving!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Sorry for the picture quality, my Nikon is packed!)

Talk about mixed emotions, I am smiling with excitement and then all of a sudden I'm scared to death and crying! Every time I think of holding Easton and meeting all the children my heart is happy. However, every time I think of saying goodbye to my husband, puppies, family and friends, for 2 months I am a sobbing mess! Please pray that I have strength and confidence and put all my Faith in the Lord. No FEAR allowed!!!!

Here's the plan, leave Tampa at 2:10, leave Philly at 6:25 and arrive in Frankfurt, Germany at 8:40am Saturday. Then leave Germany at 10:45am and arrive in Ethiopia at 6:25pm Saturday. Basically, a full day of traveling! (For any creeps out there, my hubby will be home and when he comes to Ethiopia someone will be staying at our house!)

I know that this journey would not be possible without the support of our family, friends, and adoption community! It has been an amazing journey so far and now the FUN begins!! =)

I'll be updated Facebook and the Blog as much as possible. You don't have to worry about me not taking pictures or posting, I'm kinda crazy about it! =)

A HUGE THANK YOU to the dozens of people who gave us items and cash donations!!! We have 7 bags all together and almost all of it is for the orphans. I am praying that the airline shows us mercy and allows the donation bags on the plane, free of charge!! If not, it will be over $450.00! OUCH!

I kindly ask for your continued prayers of protection and strength. The best things are yet to come!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

We're in the NEWS!!!

The Bradenton Herald, our local paper, covered our journey to parenthood!
We are very pleased with the article and love the last line:
"Because the prayers worked before, they have faith they’ll work again."

Palmetto couple’s plan to adopt Ethiopian baby brings another surprise - Top Stories -

Thanks Bradenton Herald!!!!!!