Thursday, November 20, 2008

Cantwell Maniacs

Sorry we never post anymore; life is a lot more hectic now! All is well with both maniacs! Here's a bunch of pics in no particular order...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Reality Check Part 3

On our last day in Ethiopia, we took a ride up to the orphanage where I met this lovely girl. We wanted to touch base with her, exchange information with her, and hopefully communicate our intent to help her. The leader of the orphanage (that is to say, the 14 year old girl who is clearly the leader out of all of these children!) brought us to her. "S" (I can't publish her name) was sitting listless in a chair watching some children play inside. But when she saw me, her face broke into a huge smile and she got up to smother my face with kisses and give me a big, long hug. Then she turned to Brian and did the same. She was still ill, but clearly in a lot better shape than our previous meetings. The ring was gone but, we quickly learned, safe. When Brian went out into the yard so that I could talk to her on my own, the children gathered around him yelling "Ring! Ring!" and trying to remove his wedding band. The incident was clearly famous.

I was happy that she remembered me at all. I wasn't sure whether or not she would, given how sick she was. I immediately felt that I was in love with this girl and that I had to help her and try to help protect her. We sat down with our translator and, per the Gladney staff's advice, I had to be clear from the getgo that I did not intend to adopt her. I told him to tell her that I cared very much for her, but that we could not adopt her. I would put her through college and do anything else I could to help her along the way. Her face fell. Over the course of our meeting I realized that she had literally thought I had come that day to take her home.

The rest of the conversation was on a bit of a downhill slide after that. I know that I have to be honest and up front, because what would happen to this girl's heart if she thought it was my intention to bring her home? Hell, it IS my intention to bring her home, but who knows if I could ever come up with a way to make that happen? What I learned next further complicated my situation: she had two younger brothers who were also with her in the orphanage, one of them sick as she had been. She brought me to them and I told her that I would make sure the boy made it on the bus to the hospital the next day, the bus she had missed.

But three? I must admit that any hope I had had of adopting her myself was quickly vanishing. It still weighs on my mind now, I'm still chewing on it, but I just don't know if I can do three. All at once. Three.

I took a couple of pictures of her. Then I took her hand and we walked out towards the car together. I gave her the biggest hug and biggest kisses I could muster. And then walked away with a promise to write.

We will have to wait and see. More than I want this girl in my family, I want her in my life. I want to know that she is safe and happy and healing. I am going to be working with my agency as well as some interested families to make sure that I can help give her those things. She doesn't need to be in my house to be my family.

Monday, September 8, 2008

36 hours of hell and thank god we brought the tweezers...

...because 12 hours into our second, 13.5 hour flight (one of three flights) Evan shoved a yogurt-covered strawberry up his nose.

More on our return in days to come when we are officially over jetlag and I kick this cold.

I am a bad wife

Here is Brian's blog post that got lost weeks ago. Sorry, honey!

Hey all,

Brian here. This is actually my first official post. Jen's been handling it all and doing an amazing job. Me, I've been taking a lot of pictures, a lot of video, and changing a lot of diapers. (Front to back!) It appears that Zoe likes having her diapers changed by me a bit more than by Jen in that she screams a little bit less. Though this makes me feel good, it's not the first title I would have chosen!

Anyway, it's going far better than any of us could have hoped. Zoe has really taken a liking to us, and I have a hard time imagining our family without her now, her personality complimenting the rest of ours so well. She's very outspoken and active, eager to communicate with everyone she meets, making clicking and buzzing sounds as she tries to strike up a conversation. If you click back, you'll get the biggest smile you've ever seen, followed by a wave, a laugh, a loud "Yaaa!" and perhaps some clapping.

Needless to say, this has been an incredible and exhausting journey so far. Take 23 hours of flying, a 10 hour time difference, and a city at high altitude, a 3 year old, and a new 10 month old, mix it all together and its easy to understand why we're all a little winded. There's irony too. Zoe, generally sleeps pretty well through the night, especially if stuffed with cereal and bottle before bed, while Evan, because of the jet lag, has been waking up a little after 3am every day, ready to rock! Gradually, this is getting better, with him sleeping a little later each day. At this rate we should be back to normal just in time to head home next Thursday and start all over again!

In addition to adjusting as a world traveling family, we've also had our share of very emotional experiences thus far. Jen posted her story yesterday of our trips to several orphanages in Addis, so that we might meet the children and see the conditions that they live in. It was incredibly moving for both of us. With my camera in hand, I quickly found myself surrounding by kids all wanting their pictures taken, posing with friends or doing stunts on the broken down swing set, I would alternate between clicking as fast as I could and showing them the pictures I had just taken. Sadly, due to the rules, I can't post the pictures of the kids to the blog, but I don't know at this point where I would begin as I must have taken over 200 portraits over the course of the day. There were so many, so many kids. And they were so polite, so humble, so friendly, eager to play with Evan and to show us around. For Evan, it was just a lot of fun kids to play with. It wasn't until we were in the infant room when he started asking questions.

"Why do they all sleep here?" he asked.

"Because this is where they live," I said.


"Because they don't have mommies and daddies to take care of them," I whispered, realizing that I wasn't sure I was ready for this conversation.


"Because their mommies and daddies are too sick or too poor to take care of them."

At that point, he clung to me very tightly, burying his face in my shoulder.

It was something that I'll never forget.



Thursday, September 4, 2008

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Things We Miss and Things We'll Miss

Things we miss about home:
Child restraint systems, all types (highchairs, carseats, strollers, walkers, bouncy chairs, etc.)
The little park, crappy as it is, and all the rockin' ladies in it
Evan's Scuut
Our Sonicares
Separate rooms so they can sleep and we don't have too.
Direct TV and Tivo
Reliable To-Go coffee
All of our friends
Our kitties
Our own beds
Our washing machine
A routine
Cheap long distance
Cheap internet

Thins we don't want to forget about Ethiopia:
The faces of children in orphanages
The friendliness of the people
The food!
The coffee
The families we've met here
The awesomeness of Travis, Joanna, Ryan, Abbey, Belay, and Tafesse, all dedicating their lives (or at least many years of their lives) to helping the orphans of Ethiopia
The beautiful countryside

Things I DO want to forget about Ethiopia:
The gasoline smell when out in town!
The fact that the hotel playground that doesn't open until 10am.
The taxes!

Things I learned on this trip:
Jetlag sucks
Jetlag with a 3-year-old REALLY sucks
Swimming with babies isn't actually any fun, no matter how cute their swimsuit

Thanks Dad and Joyce!

Thanks Dad and Joyce!