Monday, July 27, 2009

West Virginia Trip Day 2

Friday morning began early and after a not so great breakfast at the hotel we began to make our way to the falls at Hills Creek in the Monongahela National Forest. The drive took considerably longer than I had planned. However, I was delighted by the mountains. The morning was a cloudy, foggy, misty morning. The smoke of clouds rose up out of the trees of the mountains like wistful, angelic beings dancing up into the clouds. It was amazing watching them leave the trees to only disappear into the sky. The boys didn’t notice because they were watching Superman 3.

We finally arrived at our destination and enjoyed the morning exploring. The trail to the waterfalls was largely made up of stairs. Lots and lots and lots of stairs. Joshua decided that he wanted to collect some river water and then would add more river water to it from other rivers we would see on our trip. He brought a little water bottle and filled it about half way. He then preceded to show his water to everyone we met on the trail.

We left the waterfalls and went to the nearby Cranberry Mountain Nature Center ran by the Forest Service for lunch and a visit. While sitting outside having our lunch, a small group of seniors came walking by. Feromsa, the ever talkative one, began a conversation with one of the ladies. She asked how come there were only boys in our group. He quickly told her that Mommy and Hannah were home spending money.

The boys loved the nature center because they were able to see live snakes and turtles. However, the biggest highlight for them was an exhibit where you stuck your hand in a box and tried to guess what you were feeling. Their excitement at this must have been contagious because they were able to get grown men who had rode in on their Harleys to join in on the fun.
Our next stop was at Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park (yes, this is another Civil War battlefield). This was just a quick stop to climb a lookout tower and then we were back on the road again.

A little over an hour later we were at the Sandstone Falls on the New River. The boys especially liked this site. Not only did they have another opportunity to play in some water but, and this was a real special treat, they saw two dead fish floating in the water.

After Sandstone Falls we began to make our way to Grandview Park Overlook on the New River. This wasn’t a long trip but it was long enough for all the boys to take a quick nap. Grandview Park was a particular highlight for the boys. Here there is a short trail that leads to a “cave.” Really it is just a large crevice in an even larger rock. The crevice is about 30 feet long and at points is only about 3 feet high. For the boys it was one of the most amazing things we had done on the whole trip.

Our 2nd day ended with dinner at Wendy’s and the boys watching Shark Boy and Lava Girl. This night I shared a bed with Joshua. He unfortunately was not much better to sleep with than Bereket. Once again a pretty restless night while the three boys slept soundly.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

4 Boys, 3 Days, 3 National Park Units, 3 State Parks, 1 National Forest, 2 Statues, and Countless Memories (West Virginia Trip Day 1)

So I decided to take a trip with just my boys to visit West Virginia. We left early on a Thursday morning for the 3 hours to our hotel. It would not take long for the memories to begin. Our journey would take us over the Blue Ridge and our first stop would be at Lover’s Leap Overlook on Highway 58. Our drive up the mountains was one of continual and thick fog. At the overlook we were above the fog but it still was sitting heavy in the mountains below. The boys just thought that it was amazing that we were above the clouds. Only an hour into this trip and the excitement level was high.

The excitement level soon did tamper off as the curves of the road up the mountain got the best of Joshua. Fortunately, we were able to find a place to pull over and stop before Joshua refunded the sausage biscuit he had for breakfast. When it was all said and done he looked at me and said, “Wow, I feel better.”

It was not long before the excitement grew again. This time it was for the first of 2 tunnels that we would be driving through on I-77 going through the mountains of Virginia. I believe that the word I kept hearing from the back of the van was “awesome!”

Around 11 we made a quick stop to check into our hotel. It was amusing to see that Feromsa is still fascinated by elevators. His excitement over riding the elevator took me back to riding the elevator at the hotel in Ethiopia. A year later, and there are still those things that are so common place for most of us that these young boys from Ethiopia still find amazing. Another example of this was Bereket’s thrill at seeing that our hotel room had a TV.

We left our hotel and headed for our first real stop: Carnifex Battlefield State Park. Here we saw a snake, had lunch, and of course, we saw a cannon. We also used this stop to visit Gauley River National Recreation Area. The battlefield is adjacent to the river and Joshua, perhaps to his regret, asked why they would have a battle on this mountain right next to the river (by the way, this was a battle in the Civil War that helped pave the way for West Virginia to become a state in the Union). History and military strategy lesson was quickly given.

Our next tour stop would find us at our first of many stops along the New River Gorge National River. We stopped to see the famous New River Gorge Bridge which is the 2nd longest single arch steel span in the world and the 2nd highest bridge in the country. We began this stop at the top of the gorge just under the bridge. From here we could look down into the river where the boys noticed a kayaker rolling his kayak. Once we were on the bank of the river Feromsa asked a kayaker if he was the one we saw going in the water. He wasn’t but he was happy to roll his kayak to the cheers of three boys. Before we actually got to the bank of the river where the boys talked to the kayaker and played in the water, we stopped on the old bridge to take some pictures. This bridge is narrow, old, and the road part of the bridge is made up of wood planks. There was nervous laughing while standing on the bridge and a car driving by would make the bridge rumble.

After playing in the New River (which according to scientist is actually the 2nd oldest river in the world – I just mention that for the irony of the name and not to make any Creationist friends mad nor to say that I agree with the scientist) we started to look for a place to eat dinner. Joshua scanned the horizon for a place to eat and suggested we eat at the first place he saw – Hooters. After driving around a little we ended up at CiCi’s Pizza.

Day one ended with us at the hotel. The boys attempted to go swimming but considering the high for the day was in the mid-seventies, the water was just too cold. That lasted all of about 10 minutes before they couldn’t take anymore. Back in the room we spent the evening watching the classic Don Knotts’ movie, The Incredible Mr. Limpet. For those who don’t know, in this movie Don Knotts plays a character who turns into a fish. Feromsa did not seem too bothered by the fact that a man could turn into a fish but simply could not understand how a fish could talk underwater. After the movie, everyone quickly fell asleep for a restful night. Unfortunately, I was sharing the bed with Bereket who felt it was necessary to lay on my side of the bed all night. Several times throughout the night I had to pick him up and lay him back down on his side of the bed. He, of course, slept right through this.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Our Car Ride Home

Today we took Bereket to the neurologist. We were told that at one time he had seizures and has been on medication for them ever since. Well after many tests the doctor thinks that he no longer needs the meds. So we will be weaning him from the medication over the next 3 weeks. Please be praying that he doesn't have any troubles coming off the medication and that he no longer has seizures.

On the ride home Bereket wanted to make sure that Daddy and I understood what would be going on when school started. It went something like this:

We go to school in August.
Mommy go to school.
Bereket go to school.
Hannah go to school.
Feromsa go to school.
JoTo go to school.
Daddy no go to school. Daddy stay home.

Now repeat about 5 more times.

That was our car ride home.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Phone Calls with Grandma

So, Joshua loves to talk to his Grandma because she is one of the few people in the world who will listen to him talk on and on about video games. Problem is that if one boy is talking to Grandma all 3 want to talk to Grandma. Joshua's solution - hide in the bathroom.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Feromsa's Hometown

Ok, so we did not get anything posted yesterday because, well, nothing really happened yesterday. Kind of one of those lazy summer Saturdays. Being that today is Sunday which means church and Sunday afternoon naps, there what be much going on today either. So I thought today I'd share with you a picture from Google Earth. This is Feromsa's hometown of Shambu in Ethiopia. It is considerably bigger than we thought.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Paperwork and more paperwork

Well, there is no picture today because we spent most of the day working on more adoption paperwork. We finally got around to doing the re-adoption paperwork. Yes, when you adopt internationally you have to re-adopt your children in the US. I guess the US government feels that a decree from another country doesn't mean anything.

Anyway, it took us two trips to the courthouse to get things done but they are done (at least for now.) I must say, it is days like today though that I find myself thankful for living in a small town in a small community. Both times at the courthouse we were in and out (faster than ordering food at Taco Bell.)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

July 16, 2009

Well today was our last post-placement visit with our social worker. Rebecca has been a great help throughout our adoption. It is quite funny to note that on our first visit with her we cleaned the house from top to bottom even hiding laundry over at the church. Today we took out the trash and quickly vacuumed. Even though this was our last visit we still have much paperwork to do. It seems we will always be in the process of adopting our boys.

With each post-placement report we have to measure and weigh the boys. We discovered that since their adoption Bereket has grown 2 and a half inches and has gained 8 lbs. Feromsa has grown 4 inches and has gained a whopping 16 lbs. No wonder we are always buying new clothes.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

July 15, 2009

Since we got home from Ethiopia a year ago, Joshua and Feromsa have been pretty much inseparable. Don't get me wrong, they do have the occasion fight about something really important like who's turn it is to pick out the Wii game. Joshua has not been so excited with Bereket but that is starting to change. This is where we found Bereket and Joshua this morning. Joshua is showing Bereket how to look up game plays on YouTube. Joshua has just recently embraced the role of big brother. That's not to say he didn't love his little brother, he just thought he was pretty much annoying and that's about all. Now he is starting to enjoy showing Bereket "big kid" stuff.

This afternoon we decided to go through the boys' shoes. I can't understand how 3 boys can accumulate over 50 pairs of shoes. (Oh wait, I'm their mom. I know how that happened!) We ended up getting rid of about half of them. Now to conquer the play room.

July 14, 2009

(Insert cute picture of Feromsa skating here if John had not forgotten the camera on the back porch!)
Tonight was christian skate night at the local rink and since the kids have been bugging us to go "shading" we decided to go. Well it wasn't nearly as much fun as we thought it would be. 2 of the boys would hardly get onto the rink and the music was more in line with preschool kids' songs. Never the less, Feromsa skated quite a bit and everyone did enjoy the trip to McDonald's afterwords to get hot fudge sundaes. Strangely enough, everyone except Hannah would like to go skating again. Kids are strange that way but we love them.

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 13, 2009

Today was a rough day for the boys. They got to go swimming at the Y but after they got home they learned that Hannah and I (this is John writing) had a fun filled day in Greensboro. We had gone to the bookstore where Hannah traded in some books and got some new ones. We then (and this really got the boys upset) went to Cold Stone Creamery and got some wonderful ice cream. Afterwards, we went to yet another bookstore where Hannah got more books. We followed this up with a visit to a pet store looking for a new bird cage for Hannah's finches. Finally, we went to Sam's Club and loaded up. Of course, all she cared about there was looking at a $730 camera. I told her to get a job.
After we returned home Hannah got to mow the grass. She had been wanting to do this for a while. We were concerned about letting her do this because she has a tendency to walk into walls. Fortunately, she and lawn mower both survived.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


It is hard to believe that a year ago Dottie and I were in Ethiopia and on this day we went to the transition home to pick up 2 boys who forevermore would be a part of our family. I remember that we had met Bereket and Feromsa the day before and had been able to spend several hours with them. However, that day we had left them to stay at the transition home. I also remember that when we were leaving the transition home Feromsa was having a really hard time understanding why he was not going with us. On this day though we were going to get the boys and they would be going with us. Oddly enough I don't remember too much from that day. The whole week in Ethiopia seems such a blurr. However, I do not think that I will ever forget that first night in the hotel room. There in the bed next to mine and Dottie's was a little bed being shared by 2 wonderful, loving boys who were ours.

And now here we are a year later. Wow! Time really does go by so quickly. In the past year we have seen these boys grow in so many ways. We were all amazed at how quickly the boys attached to our family. It many ways it seemed as if they were always apart of this family. The love they have brought to this household simply can not be measured. We have also been amazed at how much they have grown. Physically, they have literally grown out of their clothes several times. The changes in their personalities as they have learned to speak better English and as they have become more comfortable is simply mind-blowing. Feromsa had always been a very talkative boy from day one. Bereket on the other hand was a very quiet boy - until recently.

In this past year the boys have met and fallen in love with their grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. It is a testament to the caretakers at the orphanage that Bereket who lived at the orphanage for nearly all 5 years of his life is so wonderfully affectionate. Both boys freely give their affection to their new and extended family.

Also, in this past year the boys have swam in the ocean, hiked the mountains, have fallen in love with french fries, Coca-cola, Sprite, Yellow Sprite (Mt. Dew), Wii, swimming, trampolines, and Wal-mart. They have played soccer. They have gone camping and want to go again! In the past year, Feromsa has tried hard to understand how Jesus can be dead one day and then alive the next. Bereket has tried hard to understand just how a mirror works. They have picked apples, blueberries, and have personally eaten enough bananas to keep Dole in business for years. They have been amazed at the "magic" van (it has automatic opening doors). And in the past year they have been nothing short of one of the greatest blessings to this family.

We can't wait to see what the next year brings.