Thursday, December 29, 2011

Escalades,Washing Barbies, Pops, and Fuddruckers

Our Christmas was filled with the usual gift opening, eating, partying, etc. but there was also some other fun things that I wanted to document here. On the day after Christmas (that is right, the day after Christmas, no snow in sight yet around these parts) we took the Escalade out for a spin. Tizita actually drove the Escalade all the way to St. John's which is a good mile away. It was great fun! I did jump in for a brief lift when my legs were tired.

Tizita is a wonderful driver. Here she is showing us her skills when she is backing up.

Here is the final leg of the journey as we travelled up the big hill toward home.

Tizita and I also washed some of the Barbie dolls. Here they are in the communal sink where they bathed.

There was lots of hair to wash as well.

We also took a trip to see Pops in the Care Center. Of course, the highlight of any trip to the Center is the vending machine! This time Tiz chose some skittles.

After the visit, we headed over to Fuddrucker's for some tasty burgers. Never disappointment there.

That night we enjoyed a fire in our basement while watching "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory."

Paul found Alissa's shoe chair to be a comfortable spot to both enjoy the movie and the fire.

Good times all around!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gifts for Natnael

Our thoughts and hearts were with Natnael this Christmas even though he is still so far away from us physically. Due to the fact that Courtney and Paul will be traveling to meet him in a week, we were especially feeling his presence. Because of that presence, John and I gave him some presents. I also wanted Courtney, Paul, and Tizita to know that we are thinking of him as we celebrate our family Christmas. I thought that this little "God Bless Natnael" cross should be hung in what will be his room. It will remind Courtney, Paul, and Tizita to pray for him often.

This is a sweet book called, "My love will find you." It is a great story about how love finds you no matter where you are even if you happen to be in a Care Center halfway around the world. The lion is one of the characters in the book.

And, because we are owners of the Green Bay Packers now, we felt it appropriate to buy him his first Green Bay Packer cap.

See Natnael, we remembered you with gifts this Christmas. You are always in our thoughts and hearts. Stay safe and healthy, your mama and papa are coming to meet you very soon.

Monday, December 26, 2011

New Owners of the Green Bay Packers!

I surprised John with stock in the Green Bay Packers for Christmas this year. Yep, we are now owners of the team!

Our team is doing great right now. I envision the next time they are doing poorly that John will yell at the TV, "I own you and I am firing the whole lot of you!"

"Ugly" Christmas attire

Be sure and read my last post to see what a great Christmas we had around here. I stated in that post that I thought we had forgotten to take photos of our "ugly" Christmas attire, but I found them still on the camera so here they are.
I asked if we could do an ugly sweater event for our Christmas. Well, my idea was met with no interest on anyone else's part. We decided instead to do an "ugly" accessory for the person whose name we had for the gift exchange. The accessory could be anything as long as it was ugly in the eyes of the giver.
Here is the ugly attire in no particular order. John got this Santa shirt and a Christmas monocle from Paul. Paul made the monocle himself.

Courtney got these very ugly earmuffs from Nathan.

I gave Paul these nice jingle bell boxers.

Courtney made this headband for Alissa. I think it was one of the less ugly items exchanged.

I gave Nathan this ugly crocheted skirt.

We all did agree it suited him better as a cape.

Alissa made me some very ugly earrings as well as a Peter Pan color she fashioned out of a tiny tree skirt, bells, and poinsettias.

I think this "ugly" thing will become an annual event. We all had a got a good laugh out of it!

Be sure and read the previous post since I put it up at the same time as this one.

Christmas 2011

It is the day after Christmas and our holiday celebration is winding down. It has been a wonderful Christmas, better than I ever expected it would be. We had so many laughs and made so many new memories, what more could I ask for?
The festivities started with the arrival of Alissa and Nathan from Bloomingt0n on Friday, December 23. Mallory came over and we all baked and frosted cut out cookies. On Friday night we enjoyed spaghetti pie and had a nice fire along with some adult beverages.
On Saturday we (John, me, Lis, and Nathan) visited Jack in the Care Center and had lunch on the way home. We spent Christmas Eve over at Kev's.

It was a Blackhawk Christmas for Mal and Kev.

We had so much yummy food and of course, beer and wine.

John and Kev enjoyed some Obama gag gifts.

Our white elephant gift exchange this year was the best ever. Marge got these lovely shirts from Alissa. There were also some very fun gifts from Santa which included a stollen and a back/leg brace which gave us many laughs.

On Christmas Day we had our annual brunch. Lis and Mal were in charge of the donut holes.

Courtney, Paul, and Tizita arrived just in time for the brunch.

Tizita enjoyed opening her gifts. Here are her walkie talkies from Gigi.

We exchanged our "name" gifts.

I got this nice vest from Alissa,

John got camera equipment from Paul,

Lis got this vintage hat from Courtney,

Paul got coffee soap and coffee from me,

Courtney got this cute skirt from Nathan,

And Nathan got a cast iron skillet from John.

We were all so happy with our gifts and this just confirmed our belief that picking names is the way to go.

We also had an "ugly" accessory event this Christmas. We did not get any pictures, not sure why, but it was lots of fun and many "ugly" items were created. I think it will become an annual event, too.

In honor of John's mom, we did a ladies like gift as well as a men's like gift just like MaryAnn always did.
Today, Alissa and Nathan left for home. Courtney, Paul, and Tiz will be here until Wednesday, so we still have some fun times ahead.

I hope all of you had a very Merry Christmas, too.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Crazy

Courtney called me on Wednesday and told me she had "Good news, bad news, and crazy news, which did I want first?"

I don't remember which news I requested but I got the crazy first. They had found Lisa after she went missing months ago. I forgot who Lisa was and so that news fell flat.

The bad news was that they had to cut Christmas a tad short, followed by the good news that they would be traveling to Ethiopia to start the process of actually bringing Natnael home. They had received word of the court date.

Now to me, the rest of the conversation turned into the crazy news part of the call.

Of course, I was excited about the travels. The court date means they are getting close to our meeting Natnael when he comes home. It also means that Courtney, Paul, and Tizita are able to meet Natnael, but must say good bye and leave him in the Care Center until they can officially bring him home in a few months. So the craziness did not hit yet...

Courtney announced that they would be vacationing in Ethiopia, seeing sights, etc from Jan. 2 - 25. I almost lost it right there. For many, many reasons which shall remain off of this post, I saw so many red flags with this whole idea and I voiced those opinions. Courtney graciously listened to my ramblings which at times wandered far from the subject at hand, but their final decision was of course, their final decision as it should be. I hung up feeling very mixed about this long, emotional journey they were about to embark upon. It especially bothered me that they would even consider taking Tiz along for that amount of time.

I kept all of this to myself, well, except for telling John who had the same feelings as I did. I was like Mary, I just pondered all these things in my heart and I prayed about them.

The next day, I had come to small terms with the whole scenario and felt a bit better. I got home from work, opened my FB messages and found an answer to my prayers. Courtney and Paul, after extensive research and prayers had decided to travel without Tiz and only be gone from Jan. 2 - 11. God had answered all our prayers.

In my heart, I know the hardest part of this trip will be getting back on a plane without their son. Leaving him behind after meeting him, playing with him, hugging him, etc. will be heartwrenching. I cannot even imagine what Courtney and Paul will be feeling on that plane ride home. For those of you who do not remember or are new to this blog, adoption laws have changed in Ethiopia since Tiz came home. They only had to travel once at that time and she returned with them immediately upon meeting her. Now you must travel twice, once for the court date and once to bring your child home. Emotional, stressful, hard...

So, as we get ready to celebrate CHRISTmas with our family, this year, we will be missing one little piece of the puzzle, but we know we are one step closer to meeting our little man.

Please keep Courtney and Paul in your prayers. Pray for safe travels, a smooth court hearing, a wonderful meeting with Natnael, and strong hearts as they return home with empty hands, but full hearts.

Note to Natnael: Mama and Papa will be there before you know it!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday to our sweet little Tizita Desta

Today is the day that Tizita turns five! Where have these last years gone? The time is flying by so quickly. Birthdays are a bit different for us. We have not been with Tizita since her birth so we have not been able to celebrate that day or her first birthday with her as most of you have.
We didn't experience holding her for the first time as a grandparent when she was just hours old, but seeing her walk off that plane three years ago was more than enough for us.
We did not get to see her blow out that special number one candle and put her little hands into that first birthday cake and smear it all over her face as most of you did, but seeing her celebrate her second birthday with her friend Elmo was just as sweet.
We don't dwell on the things that we didn't experience with Tizita, we just relish each and every moment and memory that we make together. After all that is what is weaving us into a family.
We feel as if Tizita has been with us forever, if not in person, then in our hearts and our heads. God hand picked this little lady for our family and we will be forever thankful for this blessing from Him.
Today, we celebrate this Blessing and Thank God for His Grace and His Plan. We thank God for choosing Tizita and placing her into our lives. We thank God for her health, her humor, her sarcasm, her beauty, her brains, and her charm.
So, Happy Fifth Birthday, Tizita Desta! We love you more than you will ever know! Five years old!

Four years old with the now ever famous Candyland Cakes!

Three years old, celebrating at St. John's Preschool with Grandma and all her friends.

Two years old! Her first little birthday cake and celebrating with Elmo.

We ask each of you to say a prayer of thanks for our gift of Tizita today, ask God to protect her and continue to bless her in the years to come, and if you wouldn't mind, could you also say a prayer for protection for her little brother Natnael who will join our family soon. We know God has chosen him especially for our family, too and we cannot wait to have him join us and start making memories with him, too.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

She still bleeds green and gold

Today, Alissa and Nathan packed up their belongings and crossed the state line to move to Illinois. It seems like just yesterday we were there to help them load up a U-Haul and today we were there as the U-Haul took them to Bloomington, Illinois. It is bittersweet as we say farewell to their apartment, the place they called home for three and a half years. Never again will John and I visit this neighborhood. We will miss the happy times we spent here, but we are so happy that Alissa has found a new job and she and Nathan are able to be together again in Bloomington. We also look forward to many weekends spent making new memories down in a city that we learned to love while Alissa went to college there.

John is a bit saddened that from now on, a car with an Illinois license will be parked on our street whenever they visit, but at least, Alissa assures us she will still bleed green and gold and forever be a Packer fan! Phew, we would have to disown her if she turned to da Bears!

This is what we saw on our trip down Bluemound Road today. And all this time I thought Santa was apolitical! I call, "Fraud, fraud, this is not the real Santa, recall him!"

And, just to document, we had our first snowfall of the season today. I hope it is our last!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Celebrating Tizita's 5th Birthday

This past weekend we celebrated Tizita's fifth birthday with her up in Oshkosh. We took Gigi with us and Alissa also attended the big festivities. Tizita was in charge of the games and I was in charge of the cake. We played Hide and Seek and then Pin the heart on the penguin all directed by the birthday girl herself.

After games, it was gift opening time. Here is the new hook hanging that we got for Tizita's new room. She also got a princess game, a play school set, and a princess phone among other things. She was pleased with all her new gifts.

We played a lot of school the rest of the afternoon. Tizita was our teacher and we were all in her class. It was fun to see all the mannerisms that she has learned from her teacher and it makes me wonder what my students do when they are acting like me.

We had dinner at Two Brothers Restaurant. It was a new restaurant to all of us and we were so pleased with the food, service, and the prices. Tizita enjoyed this hot fudge sundae as a special birthday dessert.

We all joined in a rousing game of Princess Old Maid. Here is Gigi with the Old Maid, she was the big loser!

We saved our cake for after church on Sunday. We used a candle contraption that we found at MaryAnn's and boy, did we ever have a lot of fire on that cake! As I said earlier, I was in charge of the cake. Tizita wanted Pretty Ponies, so I bought three of them to put on the cake, but I forgot that the ponies have "hair" which we did not want in our frosting, so we took a quick picture and then took them off the cake.

After cake, Tiz and I played a bit of dress up before we headed for home. It was a wonderful birthday celebration for our sweet little princess.

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