Saturday, June 30, 2012

They're Home!

Spending time with my precious grandbabies, so this will be short.
Balloons that I purchased to take to the airport.
Grandmas enjoying a beer while waiting for the plane to land.
Grandpas enjoying their beer.
Bad photo, but it is the first picture of the family of four as they enter America.
Tiz found a comfortable spot in grandpa's arms while everyone else oohed and aahed over Soliana.
Mama and her baby
The happy but tired family.
Paul's folks
Sweet, sweet Soliana

Tiz rode back to Oshkosh with us, she had requested skittles and milk.
We  happily bought them for her.
Shortly after this she conked out.
The meeting was everything we hoped it would be.
On to more time with the precious granddaughters.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Grandma and Grandpa are coming to meet you

 Here are my two granddaughters in the Washington DC airport this morning.
Judging from their bright eyes, I am guessing they had a nice flight.
I cannot get over how smiley little Soliana is!
Two precious little girls.
I can't wait to see you both tonight!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Induction day is tomorrow

 After Courtney's last "induction" four years ago, this is the sweet face that greeted us as she walked off the plane.
After Courtney's "induction" tomorrow, this is the face that will be greeting us at the airport.

The day is finally here and just as an expectant mom waits for her induction and the birth of her baby, so we are all waiting for this "induction" day to come.\
I remember the joy I felt when I saw Tizita walk off that plane and I am so excited for that same joy when I first lay eyes on Soliana. 
It's been a long time coming, but so, so worth it.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

More of Soliana

 Okay, I admit it, I cannot get enough of this little sweetheart.
This is the picture that I woke up to today on my FB page.
I am so thankful to see her big smile, her two little teeth, and to see her standing up.
Looks like she is right on target for most things.
She is playing with the remote here just like all little kids, too.
 Here she is sleeping so peacefully with her papa.
In this photo, I really think she looks very much like Tizita.
 Here she is sleeping on Courtney.
Courtney says the bond is already established, surely looks like it.
And I had to repost this precious photo from yesterday just because I cannot get enough of her!

Just a reminder to keep this precious family in your thoughts and prayers as they travel home tomorrow and Friday.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Meet my new granddaughter

Finally after years of waiting, the loss of sweet Natnael, and travel to the other side of the world, Soliana is officially a Van Auken.
And, I can finally post this picture.
God is good.
We know he had the perfect plan!
Welcome to our family.
I cannot wait till friday, I am beside myself with happiness.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Garden goodies

 Our garden is growing well despite tons of weeds and very little rain.
We are starting to get a few goodies.
I got enough carrots today for my beef roast tomorrow.
There are many pea pods almost ready to pick
I managed to get one strawberry that my resident critter did not eat and we get a handful of blueberries each day.
Not a ton of goodies, but enough to give us a taste of fresh veggies and fruit.
The tomatoes and cukes are looking really good, too.

Today I purchased this little playhouse for Tizita and Soliana. 
I bought it from the Poston family who will be moving and need to get rid of a few big items.
The price was too good to pass up.
I can't wait to see how excited Tizita will be with it.

Things continue to go well in Ethiopia.
Courtney said that Soliana is crawling, so that will be fun for everyone.
Friday just cannot get here quickly enough.
I am so excited.
Courtney also said that Tizita got out some matching outfits today for her and Soliana.
I purchased two outfits yesterday, I will post a photo tomorrow.
Such fun to shop for two little girls.

Continue to keep all of them in your prayers.
God is keeping them in the palm of his hand.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

More pool time and a big storm on St. George

Today we went over to Mallory's pool before Alissa left for home.
It was a sunny, hot perfect pool day.

It was a wonderful, fun filled weekend with Alissa,
So glad she drove up to spend it with us.
We miss her when she is not around.

On a totally unrelated note Connie, Paul, Sarah, Chad, their two kids, and Nathan are down in Florida waiting out a tropical storm to get to our beloved St. George Island.
They were the ones who first introduced us to the Island.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected by this storm.
We hope it will pass quickly so that the Dobbratz family can get on with their vacation.

Courtney has reported another enjoyable day in Addis.
I think they met Tizita's birth papa today, but have not heard for sure.
Tomorrow they spend the day with Soliana.
How wonderful to be able to write, "give the girls a hug from me."

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Weekend with Alissa

 Alissa came out for a visit this weekend and we had a fine time.
We started our weekend out at On The Rock.
We had some of their  yummy pizza and a few pitchers of beer.
It was a beautiful night so we enjoyed eating outside.
Kev and Vikki joined us for a few beers, too.

On Saturday, Alissa and I spent some time at Kev's pool.
It was a bit cool and cloudy, but the water was nice.
We floated around for a bit and then headed out to Shopko and Dollar Tree with Marge in tow.
We had a successful shopping trip.
Came home to brats grilled to perfection by John.
Tonight we are just watching some TV and visiting.
Tomorrow's plans will include church and another trip to the pool.
It has been so nice to have Alissa here, we love when she come to visit us.

We have heard from the travelers in Ethiopia and they are doing fine.
Spending lots of time with Soliana and enjoying every minute of it.
On Tuesday they become an official, forever family of four.
Tomorroe Tizita meets her birth father, Papa Desta.
I am praying the meeting will be a good experience for Tizita as well as for Courtney, Paul, and Papa Desta.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Celebrating Father's day with Pops

 We had a wonderful Father's Day celebration with John's dad at his sister's house on Sunday.
John's sister, Lynn and her husband, Gary were able to get Jack from the care center to their home for the day.  This is not an easy feat considering his medical problems, but he was so happy to be "sprung" for the day.
We were so happy that Courtney and Tizita were able to join us.  Paul was in Montana at his family cabin, so he was not around that day.
My mom also joined us.
She and Jack (John's dad) along with my dad and John's mom had been very good friends.  They were the best in/out laws and got along famously.
My mom enjoyed visiting with Jack.   I think she relates to him on a very personal level when it comes to losing a spouse.
 Tizita took this photo of the three of us.
 This is the very pretty poster that Tizita made for Pops.
It will have a place of honor in his room at the care center.
 Four generations.
 Of course, Tizita had to help with the presents.
And here is Tizita with her two great grandparents.
She is a blessed little lady to have two great grandparents in her life.

It is always difficult to see parents age and need to move into nursing homes.
Life isn't always fair to its oldest generation, but there is a reason they are still with us.

Please continue the prayers and thoughts for Courtney, Paul, Tizita, and Soliana as they spend time together in Ethiopia.
One week from tonight and I will be seeing Soli for the first time!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Pool is ready for you

Here are two swim rings that are waiting patiently for two little girls to swim with them.
Yesterday was another hot, hot day here in Wisconsin.
I went over to Kev and Mal's pool to float around on a raft for a bit.
The water felt so good, just like our pools on St. George always feel.
I did not stay on  my raft very long, I was enjoying being in that nice, refreshing water.
That is when I noticed the two swim rings just waiting for two little girls to join them.

Courtney and Paul arrived safely in Addis last night about midnight our time.
Today they have already spent time with Soliana and plan to do so again tomorrow.
Report from Courtney says she is very sweet and I just be she is!
Cannot wait to see for myself.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Labor

Today Courtney, Paul, and Tizita are in labor.
Their labor will last over 13 hours (which really isn't all that long)
It will take them that long to fly across the "Big Sea."
After the labor, they will finally be able to see their daughter/sister, Soliana.
As you can see from their itinerary, Soliana's name is on the list of passengers!
That is so exciting.
I love seeing Soliana's name as an official part of the Van Auken family.
Of course, as you all know, I am having an anxious day because of this flight.
I am watching the flight on Flight Aware and so far, so good.
The end result of this "labor" will be so worth everything just as any new baby is so well worth the labor that a mom goes through.
I am just hoping that the next ten days go quickly.
June 29 cannot come soon enough for me!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

And then there were 4!

Today, Courtney, Paul, and Tizita leave, as a family of three, to fly to Ethiopia.  God willing, they will return as a family of four!
As I was chatting with Tizita yesterday I expressed my feeling that I wished they did not have to go all the way to Ethiopia.  You know, I have all the worst case scenarios built up in my head.
In her five year old wisdom (which at most times is well beyond her years) she looked at me and explained, "Well, Grandma if we don't go to Ethiopia, we cannot get Soliana home."
Hard to follow that up with any arguments, but I continued,
"Maybe just your papa could have gone and brought Soliana home."
She answered, "Papa alone with a baby, I don't think so."
Okay, score another point for the five year old.
I then said, "Well, maybe just mama could have gone then."
This is probably her most insightful answer, "Grandma, my mama would freak out all by herself!"
Yes, her wisdom is amazing, her arguments strong.
She won the debate.

Today, someone posted this on FB. 
 As I read it, I couldn't help but think, Courtney has felt every one of those bones break over the course of her three adoptions.
In fact, she has probably felt much, much more pain than a biological mother feels during those hardest hours of labor.
So when she can finally hold this little one in her arms, she, too will feel that relief that we, who have birthed babies felt when that baby popped out and was placed safely in our arms.

 By June 26 Soliana will officially be in the complete care of her forever family.
The care center and the nannies will be a thing of the past for this little one.
And mama Courtney will once again feel that relief after much pain.
 This is what the beautiful family of four will look like.
I cannot wait to greet them as they come off the plane on Friday, June 29.
 These two will be sisters at last. 
These next ten days while they are traveling will be very hard on this grandma.
As I said, I always conjur up the worst possible things that could go wrong.
I have been doing this worrying since my girls were little and I left them off at camp for a week.
I am likening this stretch to those camp days.
Those same uncertain fears creep in especially at night when I miss(ed) them the most.

I know that God is in control.
People remind me of that all the time.
I know I can pray for peace.
I know God has a plan that is perfect for our family.
I know all of this yet the mind plays tricks on me.

In another conversation yesterday Tizita said, "I am so afraid of being eaten by sharks if the plane falls in the big sea."
I wanted to say, "Tizita, sharks will be the least of your worries if that happens."
But I needed to step back and reassure her that all would be fine.
Just as she has irrational worries about sharks, so are my worries irrational, at least most of the time
or at least that is what I am telling myself.
Please continue to lift all of us up in prayer as they continue the final leg of their adoption, bringing Soliana home.

And please, never forget, Natnael, their little boy who never did  make it to their home safely although we can rejoice that he is truly home.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Short and Sweet

 Short and sweet today.
Tiz is here for her last day before she leaves for Ethiopia and I am taking full advantage of my time with her.
We started with a bike ride to St. Vinney's.
I told her we could only buy what would fit in my backpack, so we bought
No, she did not fit in my backpack so we had to put her on hold and go back and pick her up.

 After getting Sally home, we took off for the pool.

 Tiz met his new friend, Gideon.
 And she shared fun dip with Ava.
A little time with Ava and Audrey in the sand and we were done for the day.
It was an awesome day.
I will think of it often when she is gone, I hope she will, too.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

 Happy Father's Day to my husband and the dad to our daughters.
Here he is as a very new, young dad holding his newborn daughter Courtney.
This is the time when both of us would just look at each other and ask, "what do we do with her?"
 John is the kind of dad who always enjoyed celebrating birthdays just for the sake of the girls.
This is John's birthday, Jan. 4, 1980 just three days before Alissa was born.
 John was the kind of dad who loved to go on adventures with the girls in tow. 
We took many trips, some to far away places and many short trips around our area.
The girls first swim in the ocean is documented in the bottom right photo.
Upper right photo is one of many, many motel pools that we visited.  I was never one to enjoy a motel pool, but John was always willing to go in and play with the girls.
 Top photo is John with Courtney and bottom photo is John with Alissa.
He took many naps with a baby on his lap.
 The girls loved reading time with dad.
There was always room on his lap for both girls.
 Since Alissa and John's birthday were only days apart we often celebrated them together.
 Ending my little tribute to John with this picture of him and his beautiful girls.
He is definitely a big part of why they turned out to be the successful, wonderful women they are today.
Thanks, John, for helping me raise these two great kids!
 I also just need to take a moment today to remember my dad.
Looks like he was a proud papa with me on this photo.
 I do know we had lots of fun doing things like this.
I remember he liked to lay on the living room floor and take a nap.  It was always fun to snuggle up with him there.
 Here's my new sandbox that he made for me.
 Teaching me how to hammer, I guess.
And here are my dad and me in my college room during my sophomore year.
I miss him today as we celebrate the wonderful blessings of dads, but I know I will see him again.
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