Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What Chrissy Needs

Well, it's Tuesday. Chrissy and the kiddos will be home TONIGHT (revision: by tonight I mean the day that this was supposed to post...but it popped up early...). I for one am very excited because I haven't had anyone to chat with during the day. I suspect that it will be awhile yet before Chrissy will have a lot of time for me though. Do you know why?


I'm not just talking about the number of kids that she has although that certainly qualifies. Bringing home an adopted child is crazy stressful. There is just so much to deal with. Everyone has to learn everything about each other and it takes a long time and Job-like amounts of patience. And Chrissy will be doing that times three. She will also be trying to help all of her children navigate relationships with each other. Do you know how many relationships that is? (I'm bad at math so I don't know) The point is, it's a lot!

Let me tell you what Chrissy won't tell you because she's too nice.


If she had just given birth to triplets you'd all be stumbling all over yourselves to help. I hope that you will still do that because her new kiddos may be "big", but they are newborns when it comes to their new life here.

These are some things that you can do for Chrissy depending on who you are and your relationship with her.

1. Take her meals for as long as humanly possible. Take her one for now and one for the freezer. Do this for as long as humanly possible. Do this for longer than you think it's necessary. Maybe you can be the one who organizes her local family and friends and church to bring her meals.

2. Help with the oldest four kids. Don't underestimate the amount of adapting that these kiddos will have to do too. Pamper them a little bit. Invite them to your house to play, take them out for a pizza, buy them a dvd and a couple bags of popcorn for an at-home movie night. Take them swimming, take the boys to the park, take the girls to get their toenails painted.

3. Respect whatever boundaries Chrissy sets for the little ones. I know they are cute, I know that you've been waiting to hug and squeeze them, I know that you love them. But hold back when you're asked to even/especially if the kids are trying to get your attention. These kids have to relearn what it is to be in a family and have parents. They've been in an orphanage with different caregivers for a long time. They expect that each new adult they meet will be the one to take care of them. They have to learn that Chrissy and Paul are IT. They have the rest of their lives here, but they need these first months to learn to trust their parents. Don't push for them to leave the kids with a sitter, or take them to Sunday School, or go to Zany Fun Amusement Park with Overwhelming Sights and Crowds. Let Paul and Chrissy introduce their children to the world slowly as they see fit.

4. Be a safe person to talk to. Adoption is tough tough stuff. If you've been following their journey you know that already. But, contrary to what it seems like, the hard work is not over. It's really just beginning. Maybe (we're all hoping) that they have a great transition and easy attachment, but even so emotionally this is a difficult road to walk. Be someone who they can talk to and say anything to without judgment, without telling them what to do, without anything more than a hug and a promise to pray for them.

5. Play taxi. Most likely they're going to try and keep their Littles home for awhile while they adjust, but they still do have big kids who have places to go and they will still need to make trips to the store. School is starting and that will require shopping. Kids will need to go to meetings. Paul will start traveling for work again. Chrissy will be tired. Can you help? Are your kids going to the same meeting? Call Chrissy and ask if you can pick up her kids at the same time. Are you running to the store for a few things? Call Chrissy and ask if she needs anything. If she says no buy her a gluten-free treat and just drop it off. Don't stay long, just drop it off, smile and leave.

6. Think dirty. Are you really close to Chrissy? Are you willing to become really close to Chrissy? Clean for her. If you're family and you have a key, maybe you could just surprise her sometime. If they all do go out somewhere maybe you can sneak over and clean and she can come home to a clean house. If you're visiting with her maybe you can wash some dishes for her while you talk. If you're there to play with the big kids grab a vacuum cleaner and sweep a bedroom. Ignore her if she tells you that you don't have to do that. If you don't do it then Chrissy will have to and really, she's got enough going on now.

7. Babysit for free. There will be times that Chrissy has to go out and can't take all the kids with her. Tell her that you'd LOVE to stay and watch all the rest of the kids for her and that you can do that while respecting the boundaries that she's set. Tell her that it doesn't matter if it's short notice or an awkward time. Tell her that you're available and then be available.

8. Promote Zen. Chrissy is going to be crazy busy. Moments to herself will be fleeting and far between. Do what you can to help her achieve her zen. Buy her a Starbucks gift card, give her a candle and a fun magazine to read. Send her flowers. Mail her a card. Do you know something that is one of her favorites? Make it happen for her.

9. Don't Pressure Them. Let them set the rules for their family, let them emerge slowly back into their regular life, don't think that you know best for any of them. Don't hassle them if they forget your birthday or if they can't make it to a party that you invited them to. Don't ask them to join a committee or to be responsible for anything beyond their children. Don't force them to put a happy face on situations, or ask them questions about their children's history. Let them share what they want when they want to.

10. Keep Praying. Really, they have a lot of things that they're worrying about and praying about as they live their life from here on out. Ask them what you can pray for, write it down, and pray.

Guest Authored by Jamey

Saturday, July 24, 2010


This is what Chrissy's days in Ethiopia will and have looked like.

Saturday... whatever... hang out with the babies...
Sunday - Durame
Monday - back from Durame, visit babies
Tuesday - take custody and hang out at the hotel while other families go to Embassy appointments
Wed - Embassy appointment and going home ceremony (hopefully they schedule this so we can be there....)
Thurs - other families leave... we don't
Fri - more of the same
Saturday - visit Kolfe Boys home, taking them some fruit from donations we received 
Sunday - hopefully church, maybe just me, assuming babies can't go
Monday - chill till time to go to the airport around 8pm!
Fly all night...
Land here Tuesday at 7:33pm!
Somewhere in there we will go shopping, have the cultural dinner, do more paperwork, and all that other stuff they have you do!


I talked to Chrissy on FB last night (for us). She said that they were wonderful. The kids were wonderful, laughing and playing. She said that Joshua loves to be held. She said the staff was wonderful and the food was wonderful. It was so wonderful for me to get to talk to them and I'm so happy for them that things are going smoothly.

And Chrissy, I'm sorry, but I have to say it. I told you so! :)

Friday, July 23, 2010


Today is THE day for Paul and Chrissy.

The day that they have never been so nervous.

The day that they have never checked the time so often during breakfast.

The day that they see poverty they have never imagined as they are driven through the city.

The day that they see love, hope, and kindness on the streets of Addis Ababa.

The day that they count every second of the van ride back to the hotel.

The day they wonder constantly and pray incessantly.

The day they know that these children, their children, will have their hearts broken again.

The day they know that life is hard, but God is good.

The day they stand in front of the gate of the care center knowing their children are inside.

The day they go up the stairs holding hands to see their names printed on a welcome sign.

The day they go and sit on a couch and wait for their children to be brought down.

The day they hold their babies, kiss their faces, and whisper words of hope and love.

The day they know that we are all praying for them.

guest authored by Jamey

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

This is not Chrissy

I was going to title this entry as "Friendly Hijacking" and then realized that since Chrissy & Paul are currently flying around the world (give or take a little) that maybe that would be slightly misleading and unnecessarily alarming....

Now, I know that you all are saying to yourselves, "who is this idiot that Chrissy gave the keys to her kingdom to?!"

It's ME! Jamey from Zehlahlum Family. I will be your friendly blog updater while Chrissy is getting her babies, finally. Can I get an 'amen'?

Where in the world is Carmen Sandi-- Chrissy? Here's their travel itinerary from now until Ethiopia.

They left Nashville at 11:30 this morning and landed in Newark. They have a 4.5 hour layover to "enjoy" that airport...and then across the ocean to Frankfurt, Germany. From there they'll fly over...the usual stuff I guess...land, water, mountains...I am not a geography buff... and they will arrive in Istanbul (not Constantinople), which is actually kind of a cool place to be I'd think. From there they go to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and will try to unbend their knees after all that traveling. They'll arrive in the same country as their children for the first time around midnight on Thursday night.

So that's two states and four continents in 40 hours (give or take). Let's all pray that they have safe travels, that they are as comfortable as possible, patient with each other, able to get some rest, and that Chrissy doesn't eat any gluten!

I just received this photo of our two lovebirds on a plane to Panama Frankfurt.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Introducing the babies!

As we are on our way now to Ethiopia...
it is now allowable for us to show off our babies 
on the internet!

Their referral photo:

And our most recent photos:

Finally click on this link

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Last weekend before we travel!

How we spent our last weekend as a family of 6:
  • Breakfast at Cracker Barrel
  • Trip to local waterfall to hike to the falls and play in the water
  • Fun game of “seek and destroy” with ticks
  • One game of Blokus
  • One game of Cranium Family Fun
  •  Swimming at the Rec Center Pool
  •  Family trip to Sam’s Club to buy TONS of food for while we are gone
  • Re-organize pantry to accommodate all the food purchased
  • Pre-make coffee for Sunday morning, tuck kids in, watch some news, and go to bed.

  •          Wake up
  •          Coffee
  •          Get ready for church
  •          Go to church
  •          Cry through most of worship
  •          Get prayed for by the congregation
  •          (Via our favorite pastor who decided to ask God to give us PATIENCE. Seriously.)
  •          Lunch at cheap local Mexican place that we love
  •          Trip to the mall to find watch fix-it place
  •          Decide watch isn’t worth the price to fix it and the new battery
  •          Leave the mall
  •          Go to Whole Foods to purchase more shelf-stable Gluten-Free foods so I have something “safe” to eat in Ethiopia
  •          Go to dollar store
  •          Kids choose $40 in junk toys to hopefully keep the newest kiddos entertained in the hotel room in Addis Ababa
  •          Come back home to dig duffel bags and suitcases out from under the house
  •          Find out our winter coat storage bin got wet in the recent rain
  •          Ensuing stress
  •          Trip to Laundromat for Paul while I stay home and sort $40 in junk toys into separate piles for rationing toys out during our stay
  •          Short visit to super hot attic for one more suit case
  •          Find elusive fleece blanket/sleeping bag in attic (yay!)
  •          Finish packing toiletries
  •          Pack food into hard sided suitcase
  •      Begin making more lists of things I still have not done but absolutely need to do before we leave in…

2 days and 16 hours!!!!!

But... at least I have food!!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Only 6 more days! Eeek!

We get on a plane in SIX days!

Am I ready?

Short answer?

I finally finished packing for the babies today!
That's a MAJOR accomplishment!
Anyone who has ever packed for children for a trip knows it is difficult.
Anyone who has ever packed for three children you have never met, have never seen in person, for unknown weather conditions, unknown potty abilities, and unknown sizes...
they are all sighing and nodding their heads in sincere sympathy with me.

I still need to pack for Paul and I.

Well, I am going to let Paul pack for himself...
but I need to pack for me.
This includes clothing, toiletries, 
food, shoes, books, vitamins, 
and the rest of the stuff from my checklist.

I also need to make my master school supply list.
I do this in excel.
It's pathetic, really...
but it combines 4 grade levels of supplies
into one concise list.

I need to double check my paperwork.
I need two more copies of our "supporting documents"
for the embassy since they need one set PER child.
No, the US Embassy can't use the same set for the three of them.
That would make too much sense.

I need to color copy all my important stuff.

I need to print or copy my travel arrangements 
and other important stuff,
insurance card,
directions to the doctor,
directions to the grocery,
directions to the pool...
you know...
the essentials.

I need to finish planning and preparing the daily 
"envelopes" for our kids at home.
We have a daily "thing" for them as a 
count down to when we return.

I need to purchase my airplane reading materials.

I need to send Paul a photo of the specific 
type of adapter we need so he can purchase it.

I need a nap.

I have to drive to my mom's house to pick up another large suitcase.

I have to call the doctor in the morning and
get a rx for Cipro.

I have to call my dentist friend and ask to 
come in for him to look at a tooth.
I have an immense fear that I wind up in 
Ethiopia with an abscessed tooth.

Pack carry-on bag.

Get photo montage ready to post here and on Facebook on Tuesday!

I need to be able to relax and not do any of these things from Friday evening till Tuesday morning so that we can spend our last 3-day weekend together as a family of 6 NOT concentrating on preparations for our trip!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Girls bedroom is DONE (mostly)



Enchanted Princess Pink on all but one wall 
and I added the fabric flowers with the same technique 
used on the tree in the boys room. 
These were significantly harder... 
maybe because they were more "precise". 

Notice the Bitty Babies on each bed... awwwwwww!!

The teenager part of the room:

Some shelves still need to be put up, but that can wait for hubby.

I think I could leave their room the way it looks today and head to Ethiopia and be okay with that.
So, until the shelves get hung, I am done with kid bedrooms!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Tuesday letter to my babies

Dear sweet babies,
Today, in Ethiopia, you will sit and watch as families take custody of their new children. They will go back to the hotel with their new parents today. I wonder, are your friends saying goodbye today? Tomorrow will be another Goodbye Ceremony. There will be tears, fancy clothes, a coffee ceremony, popcorn, cake and (gasp) orange soda in bottles. Do you watch and wonder when it will be your turn? I wonder if it is hard for you to sit and say goodbye to friends you have known for weeks and months. I am sure it is confusing for you. I am sorry I am not there to explain it to you and hug you and let you know you are no longer alone.

In 8 days we will take our bags to the airport and we will take the very big step onto the plane that will bring us to you! In 10 days, we will be there and it will be YOUR turn to walk down the stairs and meet your Mommy and Daddy. It will be YOUR turn to point us out to your friends and the nannies. It will be your turn to be scared, too - and that's okay. We understand. We are scared too. But, we love you to the moon and back and we will make sure that you never have to be alone again.

Ten sleeps, babies. I know it has been a long time to wait but in just ten more sleeps we get to hug you!

Sometimes people ask me if it feels the same - packing up your clothes and supplies for the trip - if it feels the same as when I was getting ready for my first babies to get here. You know what? It really does! I have folded and sorted, washed and re-folded, re-sorted and laid your clothes into little piles MANY, many times! Every time I pick up a little shirt or a tiny pair of shoes, I smile. I sit and look at little outfits and imagine getting to dress you for the first time! I remember the very same feelings when I packed bags for the hospital - not knowing what would fit, wondering if the tags would be itchy, and imagining dressing the new baby.

This week I have been getting your bedrooms ready! Sam can't wait to share a room with you, Joshua! He is so excited! He prays for all three of you every night, but he talks about his new baby brother the most. He has toys picked out to play with as soon as we get home and he plans to show you your room and your bed, then take you outside to go jump... as soon as we get home!
Girls, today I put some flowers on the walls in your room! Olivia and Allie both think it looks great and we have spent some time making up your beds today with nice sheets, layers of blankets, fluffy pillow and a stuffed animal too! There are a lot of beds in there now, but it still feels empty without you there to tuck in tonight.

I can't believe the time is finally here, babies! I have loved you, prayed for you, stared at your pictures, thought of you and imagined your little bodies around our dinner table for 8 months now! I am so excited to finally get to hug and kiss your sweet little faces! I can't wait to give you your baths and lotion up your little bodies, and dress you in your pajamas for the first night we get to tuck you in! I have some fun toys, books and some coloring pages packed (and I may be able to sneak in some Reese's Pieces if Daddy doesn't catch me!).

I love you Lillian, Evelyn and Joshua!!
Mommy will be there VERY soon!

(Oh, and Lilly... Don't let anyone cut your hair till we get there!!)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Packing has commenced!

Yes, that's right... I have begun packing!

(Okay, okay... confession time... 
I was cleaning my room and rearranging a bit since my MIL 
is coming to stay here and I needed to move the table 
all that stuff was sitting on... so into the bag it went! 
But it still counts!)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

How I spent my Saturday

I am SO tired!
Woke up, 
did breakfast for kiddos, 
got dressed, 
went to a couple of stores looking for supplies to 
make my wall mural thing for the boys room, 
came home, 
put bunk beds up, 
created all this:

I bought A Mother For Choco YEARS ago when we first started talking adoption and exploring Guatemala as an option. It made me cry then, and it still makes my throat tighten up now. I am not taking it to Ethiopia.
I would scare the children for sure.

This is a fabric tree... adhered with laundry starch.
I like it.

Bunk beds, minus the top rail... waiting on hubby to put that part on.

Closer view of the branch and leaves.
I am going to make an owl and a squirrel for the tree, 
as per an adorable little boy's request!

All in all...
a very productive day!
Tomorrow - after church I may tackle the girls room!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

This week has been...

I think that's the word I am looking for.

Things are fine!
Still checking items off of my packing list and my to-do list.

Good day...
took the kids to the pool, hung out with another adoptive mom, 
got some good travel and coming-home tips.

THEN came Tuesday afternoon.

I happened to be reading my email and saw a traveling mom was online. I thought she should have been gone to the airport soon... so I messaged her and asked if she was all ready to hop on a plane!
She replied back that she wasn't going.

I felt my stomach knot up.

She explained that our agency had called the families who were leaving the next day and told them that the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia had cut all visa interview appointments in half and that they could not travel since they were leaving tomorrow and half the group had already left that day.

That was the dividing line.
If your flight left Tuesday... you were in.
Wednesday... you were out.

BUT WAIT... there's more!
Then, she explained that this also affected MY travel group.
She, along with the other 4 traveling families who were booted, got rescheduled for MY visa date.
That meant... 
We no longer had an appointment in Ethiopia.

Then I got an email from the agency, confirming what I had been told and letting us know we would get a phone call in the morning to talk it over and schedule us for one of the August dates.


I can't go into details here, but the dates in August would not work.
Not at all.

So when Paul got home from work, we went upstairs and sat on the bed where I calmly (no, really... calmly) talked about the email, my thoughts, the schedule for the next month, and what we should do.

We decided that I would stay up late and call the U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia and ask for an individual appointment so that we could still be in Ethiopia over the same travel time frame. I also sent an email detailing our particular situation and asking for an appointment.

I called but didn't get to talk to anyone. It was a waste of time, sleep and money.

I finally went to bed and fell asleep praying that somehow, something would make it all okay.

The next morning, I woke up to an email from the embassy. They were advising us to just work with our agency. Several emails back and forth... waiting... waiting...

At 9:30 the phone rang and it was our program director. She had come into work super early (7:30 pacific) to contact the families dealing with this mess. As we were talking about the problem with our family traveling in August, an email from the embassy popped up on my screen. As I read it... I realized they were offering us an appointment the day after our original appointment! I informed the program director of this new information and she was SO happy for us! We were still on track to leave in 15 days! WHEW!

But then...
I began to realize that the other moms in our travel group were dealing with the same issues and they may not be so lucky as to get an individual appointment. 

So many people are affected by this change and it makes me sad to think of those parents missing their kids and knowing the wait has just been extended. 

Here's my theory after emailing back and forth with the embassy and our senator's office.
I think this is a July thing and will not last more than a month.
The senator's office said that all U.S. nationals are required to return to the states once a year and that they typically do so in summer. 
The embassy mentioned that this was a decrease in appointments for July. They did not mention it being a change, just a temporary, one-month thing.

So, I hope for all those other families involved that they are able to travel VERY soon and that they all find peace.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Random thoughts

18 days till we leave!
3 weeks from today, I will be holding my babies!
That's just crazy!

Horrible tummy hurricane has been downgraded to a tummy depression.
I may get to go shop for some small things for the trip now!

I told my 12 year old today that if she talks 
with food in her mouth ONE MORE TIME, 
I am putting her on a liquid diet.
I am just full of 
enforceable parenting tips, 
should you need any.

My hubby wouldn't watch the romantic-comedy I rented last night.
I would just like to say that I have sat through 
EVERY shoot-em-up, gangster, people hanging on meat hooks, exploding cars, guns a-blazing, 
butterfly-effect, confusing matrix movie he has ever wanted to watch.
But who's counting.

I have returned to nail-biting as my primary coping mechanism for the stress of getting ready for the trip.
Nail-biting is still better than chocolate or marshmallows... 
my secondary coping mechanisms.

We had our travel call with the agency yesterday!

I went to see the local pediatrician and made charts for the new kids on Monday!
We still may take the kids to the International Adoption Clinic up in Nashville,
but our pediatrician has done tons of work in missions, with developing nations, and with malnourished kids and I think she can handle the minor things that may come up before we get in to see the IAC people.

I got tracings of my babies' feet yesterday!
Now to cut them out and go play Flat Stanley at the shoe store!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


So, I have had this stomach virus for 3 days.
3 days lost.
I can't sit and look at the computer for long...
I don't have the energy for phone calls...
I certainly can't go shopping..
so I am stuck.
Till this virus goes away
all my travel plans are just
on hold.

I hate it.
I have barely eaten anything since Monday night.
I have had a headache since around 2am last night...
I think its from dehydration.

Our travel group's conference call is today at 4.
I really wanted to enjoy these plans.
Instead I fall asleep every 30 minutes or so
and dream about the things I wish I was getting done.

Stupid virus.