Thursday, December 28, 2006

Parting is such sweet sorrow

Yesterday was a very hard morning. We had to return Elena to her foster mother. It was especially hard since she was finally warming up to us and showing her true colors instead of just watching everything and taking it all in.

Garrett woke before his sister, and being a stinky boy from playing hard all the day before and sweating all night, Chris gave him a bath. Afterwards, Chris quickly slipped into the shower while I kept watch. Well, I must have drifted asleep because from behind closed eyelids I heard, "giggle, giggle" "giggle, giggle". Garrett was standing next to Elena's crib, patting her through the bars and entertaining her. Once more they were cracking each other up. It was too cute! Of course, by the time I got out the camera, the show was over. Then while I took a quick shower, Garrett helped Dad feed sister her bottle. That I was able to catch on camera. What a good big brother he is going to be! And she loves him tons, or at least thinks he's pretty funny.

During breakfast she had fallen asleep, so Chris was carrying her carefully through the hotel. When she heard her foster mother's voice she smiled in her sleep. Then she heard it again, smiled, and her eyes fluttered open. It was easy to see how much she loves her foster momma. That made it a little bit easier to let her out of our arms, but not much. Garrett just about refused to give her a kiss goodbye, instead head-butting her once then clinging to Dad or Mom. This after showering her with kisses and hugs all weekend long. Elena, however, tried several times to grab her brother and pull him to her for a kiss. It's nice to know that Garrett will have a sister who gives as good as she gets and can keep him in his place.

After a quick trip to the market, a rushed lunch, and rapid final packing we left the hotel and went to the airport. As we finally boarded our plane and prepared for take-off, I told Garrett (who loved watching out the window) that we were leaving Guatemala, but we would be back soon for Elena. I asked him to blow her a kiss to keep in her heart until we returned. Sitting on my lap, he babbled something then threw more kisses than I could count out the window. So precious! That again set tears in my eyes.

Now we wait. We have been in PGN for almost 6 weeks, and we are hoping for a quick out after the new year. Of course, I am very thankful that we are not one of the many families we met who have been waiting in PGN since September, and for them, I hope for a quick return as well. We just cannot wait to have a our whole family together under one roof.

Christmas in "The Land of Eternal Spring"

Well, we have arrived home again. However, I thought I should include some thoughts on our first Christmas together as a family. Needless to say it was wonderful!

Presents: Garrett thoroughly enjoyed ripping the paper and then to discover there were BOOKS inside! Wow! What a treat! We read his new books again and again. He discovered a new trick -- point to a picture and have Mom or Dad repeat what it was. Of course, he had to show how smart he is by pointing to the picture of juice, then picking up his juice cup to show Dad. As for Elena, she thought ripping the paper was very fun, especially afterwards it was quite tasty. As for the books, well, they tasted pretty good, too!

Christmas Eve: We dressed the kids in the Santa jumpers that my mom bought them. Everyone in the hotel commented on how cute they were. Pictures together were a challenge, as Elena is not quite sitting on her own yet (to be expected by a Guatemalan baby who spends all her time in her foster mother's arms), and Garrett always wanted to takeoff in his own direction. The only way we were able to get a photo of them together was either when Garrett finally conked out in the baby room in the bouncy seat, or by the tree for just a minute before Garrett wiggled and Elena crashed forward, face first. The best was after dinner though. At about 8:30 every night Elena's personality would really begin to break through. She would start to giggle, blow raspberries at Chris, me or Garrett, and then demonstrate the power of her voice at eardrum-splitting levels. Of course, all of this cracked Garrett up enormously, and they fed off each other for well over an hour. So much for sleep! Finally they crashed out at about 11:30, followed shortly thereafter by Chris. I, on the other hand, decided to stay up and watch the fireworks at midnight. It was the most spectacular sight I have ever seen after seeing in person my children for the first time. Fireworks literally rimmed the entire city, and they were shot off at rapid pace for almost twenty minutes. People inside the city shot off their own bottle rockets and firecrackers. It was a beautiful sight to celebrate the start of Christmas day. Of course, it also sounded as if the city was under attack, but it didn't have that feel.

Christmas Day: After dressing the little ones in their finery, we went downstairs for breakfast. Elena and Garret sat in their high chairs (sillitas) while Chris and I tried to also eat. I had a hard time eating because I was watching the two of them interacting and just laughing at the joy of it. Elena would babble and blow raspberries in Garrett's direction. Meanwhile, Garrett stared at her ernestly, nodding his head, and making some comments in response. I have no idea what they were discussing, but it was wonderful. Of course, when I started to laugh out loud, Elena gave me a look as if to say, "Excuse me. My brother and I are trying to have a conversation here." Shortly after breakfast they both crashed out, as did Chris and I after our short night (Garrett liked to wake at 5:30, regardless of the time he went to sleep). The only way we could get a photo that day was to hold them in our arms and beg a stranger to snap the shot. After the requist photo we all changed into more comfortable clothes and enjoyed a nice meal with new friends that we made in the baby lounge.

Ah, what a wonderful life we lead, and what a wonderful way to spend Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Family Traits

Well, after I logged off this afternoon I realized there are several other key similarities between our two children. First, the first thing the foster mother told me about Angie is that "She loves to eat. She eats everything!" That sounded remarkably similar to what Olga told us about Garrett. Then at dinner tonight we witnessed the purple face, the tongue stuck out, and the face of concentration on our dear daughter's face. I guess they really are family. It was just too cute to witness that baby Garrett move again. We haven't witnessed the purple face in some time.

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Garrett says "hello" and that it is time for Mommy to be done. We miss you all, but I couldn't imagine us anywhere else for this Christmas. Love you!

1st meetings

Well, all I can say is that Angie is an absolute baby DOLL! Literally, I thought I was going to break her just changing her clothes because she is so dainty. She only weighs 16 lbs. Needless to say, all our 6-9 month clothes should still fit when she comes home.

Garrett took to his little sister like a champ! We haven't been able to catch him in the act with the camera, yet, but he has been kissing her, and giving her head butts (his other form of affection), and handing her toys. Of course, those aren't the toys that he wants to play with, and any toy that she is holding is suddenly the world's greatest toy -- unless he has given it to her.

They are definately related. Their eyes are almost identical. In fact, when we entered the hotel I knew immediately that Angie was waiting for us in the lobby just by those big eyes staring out at me from under her hat. However, they also share several key personality traits. Angie has the perpetual tongue stick-out, which is a classic Garrett trait. Last night when she would not give in to sleep for anything she started to smack her head with the side of her left fist, another classic Garrett move. I can't wait to see what else they share as they get older.

Thankfully today is going smoother with Angie than yesterday afternoon did. At first she wasn't quite sure what to make of us. She fussed and fussed. Of course, she had a terrible diaper rash and her second tooth popped through, on top of leaving her foster mother and meeting us strange folks. It tore my heart out to hear her in the crib crying last night, calling out "Mama, mama, mama, uhhh, mama". I just went to her, knowing that she wasn't calling for me, and we spent some time in the baby lounge until she settled down. That was good bonding time, and today she has been much more snuggly with me. Of course, Angie has Daddy wrapped around her little finger. Chris says that she switches which finger she has him wrapped around. Definately Daddy's little girl.

Well, I need to sign off for now. The baby lounge is full of families sharing stories and I have hoarded the internet for long enough.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Okay, so I have been a little delinquent updating my blog. My hope is that things will change now -- hahahahhaaa you laugh, those who know me.

A very quick update is this: Garrett (Dany) and I arrived home on the 13th of April. We had company visit us, Chris's parents and my sorority sisters, the Big Freaks. While Chris's parents were visiting they placed an order for a granddaughter (none yet in the family). Wouldn't you know three days after they left I received a phone call from our adoption agency asking if we wanted to adopt Garrett's biological cousin, a beautiful baby girl! Of course we said yes, so I rapidly got our dossier together and had our homestudy done -- all while Garrett had only been home THREE weeks! Fast forward to the summer, and Garrett and I spent the month of July in Maine visiting my folks and friends. When I returned to North Carolina, Chris and I started to realize how much house a baby takes up. We started to discuss moving, but didn't think it was possible with all our adoption debt. Again, God must have intervened because the PERFECT house was for sale down the street from some friends, and another friend of mine signed on to be our realtor. While I prepared the house to sell, I also had to get ready for Chris's return. He came home from Iraq the beginning of September, and we started to finally spend some time as a family. Garrett started to walk a week after Chris came home (had to be shown up by a little girl his age running around before he started, but we all need motivation from somewhere). Just when we started to wonder if our old house would ever sell, a family from Hawaii signed a contract and we rapidly moved into our new home. Since then my mom has come to visit for a week, as did Chris's parents over Thanksgiving (and thankfully helped out with the move). We hosted our first party this past weekend, with our friends Becky and Scott coming into town.

Now we head to Guatemala to visit our soon-to-be daughter, since she can't be home with us for Christmas. I'm starting to think that visiting Guatemala at Christmas is going to be our family tradition. While we are in country I'm going to post our thoughts and awe daily so that our friends and family can stay in touch with all that is going on. Once we come home, I plan (that's right, I intend it this time) to keep up the blog as we finish the process of bringing home Elena and completing our family. Please check back often, as I'll also be attaching photos of our darling bundles of joy.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Flying away

Today is the day! We are headed to the airport in a little under an hour. Then it is back to the good ol' USA! We have a 3 and a half hour plane ride to Atlanta, then I have a 4 hour layover there. Hopefully that will be long enough, since the immigration interview for Dany can last anywhere from 10 minutes to 2 hours. Plus we have to go through customs and get screened back through security. In fact, Dany and I take off after Becky is back at home! I just hope that Dany remains a happy baby all day and goes to sleep tonight!

Well, we need to finish packing and get out of here. Next time I post we'll be home and Dany will be a US citizen!

Adios! Hasta manana!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Today's big event was visiting Antigua. Antigua was the capital of Guatemala when it was a Spanish colony, and only moved when Guatemala City got so large. It still retains much of its colonial feel, right down to the cobblestone streets.

Antigua is the place to go to celebrate Easter in Guatemala. They have processions every day, and decorate the city streets with colorful sawdust carpets. Unfortunately the procession for today did not begin until 4pm, but we still were able to see many of the floats that are carried during the parades. They were incredible. I only hope that the pictures do them half the justice that the impact of seeing them in person had on me.

We also visited a couple of markets while in town. I bought some gifts for folks back home and some items for Dany. I got him the cutest pantalones that are handmade. He also got an extra large hackey sack to play ball with -- he loves playing ball already.

Overall it was grand fun. The only difficulty was maneuvering the stroller along the cobblestone streets. Becky and I were afraid that we were going to lose a wheel or get run over a couple of times. It was very nice to get out of the city and see more of what Guatemala has to offer. It is a beautiful country, and I look forward to coming back here soon with Dany and Chris.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dany Jose Merrill -- Happy Adoption Day!

A little before 10 am this morning (Guatemala time) the US consul told me congratulations, and with a quick signature Chris and I are the proud parents of a happy, bouncing (literally) boy! He looked very handsome today in the outfit that Josh and Monica bought him. Pictures will be posted once I'm back stateside. I just wanted to cry, and a few tears did leak out. I really wish that Chris could have been there to seal the moment, but I know that he was with us all day in spirit. Dany will remain Dany Jose Merrill until Chris and I readopt him stateside, but he'll be a US citizen as soon as we cross the border! I still can't believe this handsome, happy baby is ours for ever and for always! It just feels so good!

Once we returned to the hotel Dany crashed out for two hours, and so did Mom and Auntie Becky (we've learned if the baby is sleeping, so should we!). Then we went to the pool. The little guy looked pretty cure in his swimsuit and hat. We filmed his first splash in the water -- he wasn't so sure what was going on at first, but took to it after a while -- and took pictures. I think I might have to sign us up for swimming lessons for this summer. What fun that will be!

Tomorrow is Antigua. Veronica is picking up our visa, so Becky, Beckie, and Dany are free to explore the countryside. I'm looking forward to seeing how Guatemala looks outside of the city. There is a folkart style that makes carpets out of sawdust for Easter. We have one in the lobby of the hotel, and it is unbelievable. I have heard that Antigua really goes all out with decorations and parades for the holiday. Needless to say we'll be bringing both the video camera and digital cameras.

Well, I'm going to sign off for now. I have a feeling that Dany is going to be up and at 'em before sunrise again tomorrow and I need to be rested to keep up. Thank you to everyone for your prayers and support. We can feel it all down here and look forward to seeing everyone soon!

4 am and baby is ready for the day!

Well, Dany crashed out for the night about 7pm last night. I knew that meant he would be up early today, but I was still hoping that he would sleep until 5 am. We have our embassy appointment today and have to be ready to leave the hotel at 6:30, so I really was hoping for a little more sleep. However, how can I fight a happy, giggling, yelling with joy baby? He's just too darn cute!

As I said, our embassy appointment is today. Hopefully all will go well and we get our visa tomorrow. I haven't been worried about this appointment at all, then yesterday talking to other parents picking up their children they all commented on how stressful the appointment was for them, and how they worried that something would go wrong. Now I have that doubt trying to nag me in the back of my brain. I already packed our bag for the trip (I can only take a large clear Ziploc) and double-checked it twice. Veronica (our agency contact) has been through our paperwork and said that all was ready. So now all I really need to do is get us both gussied-up and just be patient as the embassy staff and the consulate goes through the paperwork.

Speaking of, I had better go hit the shower and start getting ready. The boy obviously is not going to sleep any time soon, and my clock to get ready is starting to tick.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

el Mercado

First, it has been said that I need to correct the record. In one of my previous blogs I stated that Becky had not changed any diapers. That statement is no longer true. Last night, Becky had to prove me wrong. Her comment is "It's not that I can't. It's just that I chose not to." So there.

Another question has been, "Who's Dany?" Dany is Garrett's birth name, the name that is on his Guatemalan passport, and what I am calling him for right now. So much else has changed, I figured the least I could do is continue to call him the name he is familiar with. Of course, that said, when I want his attention I call him "Gordo" -- he is such a chunk that his foster mom, Olga, simply referred to him as Gordo, and his head swings in your direction when he hears that name. Becky thinks that I am going to give the boy a complex, but I think that it is cute.

Today has been a good day. Dany is sleeping and eating close to schedule, and while awake is just all smiles, giggles, and shouts of joy. He has found two girls that he particularly likes to flirt with, and they seem to like him just fine in return. Of course, we have to convince all three that it is not nice to grab eyes, hair, and for Dany, that we can bite our own fingers, but not our friends.

Becky, Dany, and I even made a trip to el mercado this afternoon after Dany's lunch. Everyone of the vendors promised us a "very special price, just for you." I managed to avoid the temptation of buying anything so that I wouldn't buy everything. I think that I am going to buy some authentic Guatemalan clothes for him to play with when he gets older. There is a very nice painting of the Mayan calendario on Mayan paper that I can get framed when we get home and hang in his room. Plus, I am debating whether to buy a mask for my classroom -- I love masks even if I don't teach social studies any longer. There are also some Guatemalan toys that I'm looking to purchase. However, all of those purchases will be made tomorrow. Dany spent the time at the market in his backpack (thanks Jeff!) and even took a brief nap as we strolled through.

Well, I think that the little guy is starting to spike a fever with a new tooth. Everything is going into his mouth, and as I type Becky is trying to give him his bottle which he just wants to bite on. Time for Mommy to get the Tylenol and ease the baby's stress.

Happy Baby!

The happy-go-lucky baby from Christmas is back! I think Dany finally decided I might be OK. He's smiling much more, and starting to snuggle with me pretty well.

Last night Dany slept for most of the night. He woke up at 12 for his bottle, but he didn't eat all of his bottle before bed -- he was asleep too quickly. However, after that brief period to eat, he stayed asleep until 7 this morning. We've had two bottles already, a bowl of wheat cereal, and took a nap while Becky and I ate breakfast.

The smiling boy has just played and giggled all morning. He has a soft ball that he loves in the baby lounge, and he has spent much of the past hour crawling around the room after it. He just found the baby piano again, and is currently bust composing his second movement -- seems to really be taking after Dada (his favorite word to say).

Well, a line is forming for the internet, so I am going to sign off for now. I think Becky and I are going to visit el mercado (the market)that is around the corner. This afternoon we are going to try to visit some museums. It'll all depend how happy the baby remains.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Sleepy Baby

Well, remember that baby I told everyone about after Christmas? The one who we could just place in his crib and would fall asleep without fuss? The one who slept almost all night long, with the exception of a short wake-up for a bottle? Yeah, well that baby was not around last night.

The pobrecito (poor little one) cried for a full half hour before falling asleep at 8:30. He then stayed asleep until 9:30, but fell asleep after a little cuddling. He woke up at 12:30 and stayed awake for 2 HOURS! I finally got him to go to sleep with some warm milk in his belly and Spanish television on. Then he woke up for the day at 5:30 this morning. He did take a 20 minute nap at 8, just as Becky and I were ready to go to breakfast. Finally he took a long nap at 11 and stayed asleep until 12:30! Needless to say I slept in the bed right next to him for most of that nap. Becky's comment was that this was "the longest 24 hours of my life" and "This is not what I was expecting." However, she has been a complete Godsend, helping me entertain Dany, make bottles, but I just can't get her to change any diapers. :)

Gordo (fat), as Olga, his foster mom, called him, is just missing everything that he knows. He has different faces, different sights, different sounds (he does settle down when we speak Spanish to him or have Spanish television on -- he particularly loves Buenas Noches, Luna), and different smells. I am using the clothes that Olga brought him in yesterday as his snuggle blanket for now, just to give him some sense of familiarity. I can't imagine how hard this must be for him. Thankfully, he finally seems to be taking to Becky and I and realizing that we are going to take care of him.

Well, as I type this Dany is rubbing his eyes and twirling the hair by his right ear. A sure sign that he is sleepy. Time for a bottle and maybe, hopefully, a nap.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

In Guatemala

So, the day has finally arrived! Becky and I took off early this morning and landed in Guatemala before noon local time. Dany (Garrett) was in my arms at 2:30 local time and we have been living the high life since then.

He has discovered just how cute he really is and loves to stare at himself in the mirror -- any mirror. I can't blame him -- he really is cute! I'll post new pictures once we return, thanks to Becky for being the trip videographer.

I am just so excited to be here and have it all for real. But now is time for my little one to hit the hay for the night. I'm going to sign off and will post more tomorrow.

Welcome to our lives Dany Jose!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Waiting is the hardest part

Ok, so today I am just sitting around the house waiting to get that email -- the email with my new embassy appointment date. I have completely packed all my bags -- literally they are sitting by the door, as if I am going to just grab them and make a run for the plane. I have called the adoption agency at least four times, and I have completely lost count of how many times I have called Becky for whatever reason.

I do not know what to do to use up my time. I can't even sit still, nor can I get anything accomplished. It took me over an hour just to paint my toes (I know, like that is an important task) because I kept getting up to do something else -- none of which is completed.

Now I am waiting to call the embassy. They only take phone calls between 2 and 3 local time. Wish I could have that job! Hopefully, they will have word for me on a travel date and put me out of my misery! Tomorrow would be perfect!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Day of confusion!

Monday at 12:45 the adoption agency called to ask if I could be in Guatemala that night -- I had an embassy appointment at 8:15 TUESDAY MORNING!!!

Needless to say, I began running around like a chicken with its head cut off. I was still in the process of finishing grades, plus I hadn't finished compiling all our paperwork or packed! Thank goodness I have been blessed with wonderful friends. Katherine, a wife from squadron, began calling the travel agent for me to try to book a flight. Monday night she came to the house to help me pack and figure out just exactly what all I would need to take with me, and what needed to go in my carry-on versus regular suitcase. Cynthia, my friend who recently completed her adoption from Korea, came over to help me pack and let me borrow her Space Bags -- thank you to whoever invented those for a trip like this! They kept reminding me to breathe, and Cynthia reminded me of a very important point -- at the end of all this confusion and hecticness I would have Dany home with me! Somehow Chris knew that I was having a mental breakdown, and called. I thank God everyday that he sent that man to be my husband! To top it all off, my email went down, and I had to call for a tech to come out and repair it. Becky also has been a godsend, putting up with my frequent calls, and being willing to drop all of her life to travel around the world with me to pick up my son.

I was not able to get a flight out until Tuesday morning, so I would miss my embassy appointment. I emailed the embassy to reschedule and now I am sitting on my hands waiting for that email to come back with my new date. I have finally finished compiling all my required paperwork. I have packed. Now, how am I going to stay busy until I get news?