Thursday, September 30, 2010

All Your Shiro Are Belong to Zinash

Magnolia Zinash (meaning famous, and therefore our famous flower) is here with us. She knows how to hold a pen properly to write, can follow instructions in Amharic and increasingly in English, and will clam up for anyone but us. She prefers shiro for lunch and will eat hers, then yours, then someone else's. Bakush and amisehgenallo (please and thank you).

There is so much to say about our shy, silly girl, and plenty to share about the surprise of having her around all of the time. But the internet connection is slow, and I know you are longing for photos besides, so I will leave you with the news that we are well and happy and tired and hoping for a few more small miracles. Extraordinary graces have been extended to us here in Ethiopia, and we are grateful for them.

We'll give you more of what you want (photos, video, details) as soon as we locate some WiFi.

Much love to all of you, and many thanks for following our long journey.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Thank you all for your amazing support. We will be in touch once we reach Addis.

We cannot wait to meet our girl.


Friday, September 24, 2010

On the Night Before Our Departure, A Letter to My Daughter

Dearest You,

Yes, YOU. Over there, with the silly face. Hi. Stop wandering off. I want to talk to you. Tomorrow, your daddy and I are getting on an airplane, and then one more airplane, and then we will be in your city. If you are sleeping when we get there, don't worry! We will not wake you, and we will be there as soon as we can to see you in the morning. I can't wait to put my arms around you, but even the thought of being in the same city as you makes my heart sing.

Tonight I am doing all the boring things that mamas do, all the things you'll wait for me to finish doing so we can do whatever it is you like best. Maybe we will go to the park nearby, or maybe we will snuggle up and read a book. Or five books. I will read you to sleep every afternoon and every night if you will let me. We will read children's books and grown-up books, poetry and plays. I can't wait for that. Even if you can't sit still for books sometimes, I will always wait for you to grow sleepy so I can enjoy reading with you.

We are so excited to finally get to you, Nola Z. McBride. We cannot wait until we can bring you home and shower you with kisses every single day until you tell us it's embarrassing. And then we'll still sneak up behind you and take you by surprise. We love you so; we cannot wait.

your mama

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Two Days, But Really Just One

First of all, I'd like to thank Rebecca of Girl's Gone Child for linking to my room decor post on Twitter. Many of you came from there today, and I say a great big WELCOME! I am so excited to have more of you along for the ride. I am sorry that I cannot yet share photos of our lovely daughter; until she is ours by Ethiopian law, we are not allowed to share identifying information, including Ethiopian name and any photos, online. Our court date is September 29, and if we pass, you'd better believe we will post a ton of photos then. I hope you enjoy a good video montage!

For a quick rundown, the way Ethiopian adoption currently works is that we appear in court to verify that we have met our daughter and do want to adopt her, and if all other information is in order from her birth family and Ethiopian authorities, she becomes legally ours. After that, our agency obtains the new birth certificate and some other paperwork necessary to receive a US visa, and we have a hearing at the US Embassy in Addis Ababa. The length of time between these two dates is generally four to six weeks. Jarod must return home to work, but I am staying in Ethiopia for the duration, and Jarod will return to attend the embassy appointment when it is scheduled. We will take physical custody of Nola once Jarod has returned to Addis. Once we have gotten the visa from the embassy, we will all fly home together, possibly nicely dosed on Benadryl, which not only will help with sleep, but also prevent motion sickness (big thanks to Nicole for passing that info on).

And so, when I say I am packing, I am packing. Staying in Addis for six-ish weeks in accommodations which may or may not include a shower is serious. I will not go unprepared; I am taking a hat as a precaution! I also must pack these rabbits for my daughter:

the rabbit family

I didn't share them in the room tour because they are no longer in the room, and I just couldn't let that go. If you click on the photo, there's more info in the caption on Flickr.


My list for tomorrow is substantial. I am calming myself by telling myself that most things will only take five minutes, maybe less! But I know that I will be up early to start scurrying around and then up late finishing up the last of the packing/dishes/car seat installment. Guess who's ordering a venti tomorrow?

But we are mostly ready. I suppose if the homegrown tomatoes rot in the produce bowl and I forget to run the dishwasher, no one will perish. In fact, some things will grow!

Today has been full, in a good way and in an inconvenient way (dairy with doxycycline will make you ill for about two hours--I find out these things so you won't have to), and I am more than ready to shower and call it a day. When I wake up, there will be one more busy day between us and our plane ride.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Three! More! Days!

There is just one thing I'd like to do with this post, and that is to honor my mom, who has been so supportive and encouraging during this whole process. She has given time and energy and financial help, and has been so excited about her new granddaughter. I couldn't ask for better support. To top it all off (as if she hadn't done enough already), today she came and helped me clean, and she brought me an iced mocha. Mother of the Year, right there. In fact, it was really Mom that did most of the cleaning while I packed and wandered aimlessly through the house waiting for the caffeine to kick in. She has been so excited about our adoption and so giving and loving. I really can't thank her enough for being there for us, and specifically for me, during this time.

we're awesome

Thanks, Mom.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


This morning we took our first doses of probiotics, and tonight we took our last typhoid pill. This must mean we're getting closer to leaving. I think the suitcases tossed willy nilly throughout the house are an indication as well.


Oddly enough, I am more calm today than I was yesterday. I attribute that to knowing that my mom is coming over to help with the cleaning and packing tomorrow, and not only does it mean a second set of hands, but also means that I'll feel a little more motivated to get things done than when I am home alone and hear the sofa calling my name. I think we'll get a lot done tomorrow afternoon, and if we don't, you'll observe me freaking out tomorrow night.

But let's decide that's not going to happen, shall we? Here we are, deciding that everything will get done tomorrow and I will have Thursday and Friday to sort of relax.

(ha ha)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Made With Love

It has been such a pleasure to decorate Nola's room. I am so pleased to show it off to you today. What is in it is a combination of things given, bought, found, reused, and made by hand. It's a pretty special room. Let's get right to the photos, shall we?

her bed

This is Nola Z's bed, which was made by Jarod and his dad, and covered with fabric by Jarod's mom. We used the instructions from Design Mom, modified for a twin sized mattress. The mattress itself was given to us by our friends Jen and Eric Hurst. The quilt is an heirloom I recently found in my Grannie's spare room closet, and it is absolutely perfect. Most of the fabrics are children's prints of animals and toys and such; thanks to the entire Begemann family for not realizing this existed.

bed and bird print

Here's a view of the head of the bed and the print above. I wanted to hang the print a bit lower, but I think it's more important to keep it out of reach of curious fingers. I know how three-year-old minds think!

i made those pillows

Here's a little closer view of the throw pillows and doll. The doll is from Tada! Creations and was a gift from the Murphy family. The idea for the throw pillows came from this post by Design Mom (are you sensing a theme here?), but the company doesn't make country or continent pillows, and I can't afford their prices on our adoption budget besides, so I spent less than $10 at Joann to get the materials and then spent a load of time hand sewing them. I might have been able to do part of the sewing with a machine, but I'm not that precise, particularly when something is moving fast, so I opted to sew by hand, mostly in the car, or at work after children had gone to bed.

bird print and decals

That print also deserves a closer look. It came with the threaded flowers included, and I attached it to the bird nest on the wall next to her bed. I love it. You can get similar prints at Artocrat.

that glorious light fixture

This light fixture is straight from our basement. I bought it years ago at Target, where I'd seen it and loved it and waited for it to go on clearance. I am so glad I purchased it, as I can't imagine something more perfect for this room. The curtains you see in the other photos also came from our basement and were leftover from decor in my last apartment--a little oxygen bleach and they were good to go. If you keep such things in your basement, I recommend doing a thorough inventory before setting out to buy new things for decorating.

let what you love be what you do

Nola's dresser was a generous gift from our friends John and Judy Romero, who did an IKEA run during a power outage and still managed to get everything we wanted except for a rabbit hooded towel. When they delivered the loot to our house, they not only took us out to dinner, but also refused to let us pay them for the dresser and other items. I think they could win an award for Most Generous People Alive. The frame in the photo above broke when it was taken out of their van, but I super glued it back together, and we'll use it as is. You'll see an abacus and an empty frame on the wall in other photos; those are also results of their astounding generosity.

south wall

Here we have Nola's toy table and the wall o' art. The Jesus picture was in my room when I was a child. The table came from a friend's garage sale and used to be dark brown. If there's one thing I'd recommend, it's buying a gallon of Restoration Hardware's "The Right White" for use in painting furniture and grungy trim. Not that we've even touched the trim in Nola's room, but there is another small table in there that got the Right White treatment. You can also see the adorable Bla Bla doll in the little wagon, which was a gift from relatives.

east wall

I used to think the Eames style rockers were a little ugly, but they've grown on me. Of course we can't afford a real Eames, but Overstock hooked me up with a knock-off version. I love how it is small enough that it doesn't overwhelm the space, but big enough for us to sit in with our girl. The dress on the wall is from Paris and was given to us by friends who bought it for their daughter when she was small. The little table I found on the side of the road, and it was cherry colored with gum stuck to the bottom when I rescued it. With a coat of Right White and some paper I got in Vancouver while visiting a friend, it has shaped up into a lovely little table on which to set whatever we need. Yes, Nola does have an iPod with a Bose sound dock. She is spoiled, I know. The iPod is my old one, which I rarely take with me anymore, and Jarod won the sound dock years ago. Beneath the table is a bin full of books. We have a ton of books, and will rotate them out from a big shelf in the basement.

nola z's room

And here is the whole room, all together, with cats warming the bed. They hopped on as soon as I had it all made up last night, and this morning I came in to evidence of someone trying to get under the covers. The rug you see was given to us by our friend Janette, who brought it to a group garage sale we were having and told me I could just take it when I asked how much she wanted for it. This room is truly made by generosity and love.

In this photo you can also see the yellow wall with all the decals. I got them from Wow Wall and have been very pleased with their service and the ease with which I was able to apply the decals. They really make the room. The color on the wall is Yellow Finch from Benjamin Moore, and the paint was a no-VOC paint. No odor, and it came out looking fantastic. I am so happy with this room. I hope that Nola likes it, too.

PS--FIVE DAYS. You may now begin hyperventilating in my honor.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Six of One, Half Dozen of Another

Today was a really good day, and I am struck again by how generous people have been to us, how well we are known by our friends and family, how much we have been given. I can't think of enough ways to say thank you, so I keep saying it over and over again, sometimes in a way that possibly makes people slightly uncomfortable. I can't help it; I really am just so thankful.

Thank you.

No, really, I mean it.


And now here we are. Less than a week away from our grand departure. There's not a lot to say about it except to note that we've got a good deal to accomplish this week, but not so much that I feel like I might drown in my lists. So that's an improvement. I have, however, started to dread my least favorite part about traveling, which is getting from luggage check-in to the point where we are settled the plane, carryons stowed and my water bottle and a book in the seat back pocket. Once I am settled in my seat, particularly for the long flight from DC to Addis, I will feel much relieved. Until then, I'll just try to distract myself.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

I Think We All Can Count By Now

Even backwards. But I still need to say it.

Seven days.

One week.



I'm going to start having dreams about forgetting something essential again; I just know it. It's been a busy and wonderful and sad and full couple of days (all of those things at once, yes, such are the times we live in right now). I am behind on everything. Tomorrow will be another full day, and then there's Monday, the mother of all catch-up days. And then Tuesday and Wednesday and pretty soon the week will have disappeared and we'll be putting our passports in my dorky passport carrier that hangs around my neck and tucks into my trousers, and we will get on a plane and that will be that. What doesn't get done won't get done. I'm pretty sure I'll be fine with that when I see a certain little face. Until then, this is me, hanging in there, heading to bed early. Goodnight, all.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eight is Great

Tonight was our big fundraising dinner. You can tell by the thermometer there to your right that it was a success. We are so blessed and lucky to have so many good people in our lives that love us so well. We are honored and humbled. Thank you to everyone who has supported us in this. A million times, thanks.

Eight days. We are going to make it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Nine is Fine

I say it's fine because I have had a lot of coffee, and because I actually managed to clean the bathroom today. It's amazing what having a clean sink and mirror can do for one's morale. Additionally, our rocking chair came today, and friends are dropping off the mattress they are passing on to us, so the nursery will be 100% complete by the end of the day.

It also helps that my mom came today to help make the desserts for tomorrow night's big fundraising dinner. I've got one more task to do before the big set up tomorrow, and that feels so good. We will have a hectic weekend, but I think we're going to make it.

Nine days until we leave. And if I can get my cows over their buckets, Monday I'll put up a little nursery tour, so you can look forward to that if you're into that sort of thing. So: Nine days until I stop posting every day because I will be on a plane headed to our daughter, but only four days until you can see what I've been up to in Nola Z's room. There's stuff to look forward to once we get through the hard stuff.

Deep breaths.

Let's go clean up the disaster that is my kitchen.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Today we began our oral typhoid vaccine. It is taken every other day, and there are four doses. You may not eat for one hour after taking it, and the drink you have with it must be body temperature or below. There are a lot of requirements for this! It also must be refrigerated; we are keeping it in the cheese drawer. It's a live vaccine, and I'm getting too much of a kick out of saying that there's typhoid in my refrigerator. When my heart is heavy, I will take my humor wherever I can get it.

On Sunday, we start our anti-malarial medication, which is also commonly used to fight acne. I have nothing funny to say about that since I am serious about hoping that it clears up my acne. These stress zits have got to go.

Did I mention we're ten days away from leaving? At this hour, we're actually ten days away from being on a plane over the Atlantic. When I am tired, I tell myself, "Mary, you can sleep on the plane." Now we're close enough that it seems like that relief is within reach.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

It Would Have Been Joyous

Today our I-171H finally came in the mail, eleven days before we leave. It would have been cause for celebration, but our joy is overshadowed by sorrow. Last night, Jarod's cousin's wife was struck by a car at a gas station and died. She was a wonderful wife and loving mother to two young daughters. I didn't know her well, but I liked her very much. We ache for her husband and children.

Everything is in order for us to leave now, so we just wait to find out when we need to be there to honor Molly and support her husband and children at this difficult time. We would be grateful for all kind thoughts and prayers sent their way.

Monday, September 13, 2010

One Dozen

Hey! I know! Let's do a countdown until I leave! Some people post a cute graphic of the number of days left, but I am too lazy busy for that. Instead, I will tell you that today, with just twelve days until we leave, I feel incredibly grateful for everything that others have done for us. I was standing in her bedroom last night, looking at everything in it, and realized that the majority of the items were given to us by someone. Even the rocking chair I ordered was half paid for by money given to me at a shower. As much as I would have loved to have an unlimited budget to choose anything I wanted to put in her room, this way feels so much more special. I hope that, even when she doesn't understand it, she feels the love that put that room together. I certainly feel that love, and I am so grateful for it.

Really, I can't thank you all enough.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lucky 13

Thirteen days is all we've got. I can't believe it. Everything is coming together, slowly but surely, and we will get on that plane on the 25th with confidence. Just today Jarod and his dad built Nola's bed. An Ethiopian friend at church told me that I could stay with her aunt while Jarod is back in the US. I finished up the laundry I need to do in order to pack the rest of my clothes. It is all getting done, just like everyone said it would. And suddenly, it's all so unbelievable, all of it. If you only knew how long I dreamed of being a mother, of all those years spent taking care of other people's children, waiting for my turn.

It's my turn. In thirteen days, we get on a plane that will take us to Ethiopia, and I will not set foot on US soil again without my daughter next to me.

Life is good.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Anniversary Blues

Do you know how to spot the adoptive parents in a nice restaurant? They'll be the ones starting to cry during their fancy anniversary dinner because their daughter grew two inches, and they weren't there to see it.

Yesterday was our third anniversary. We ate a nice dinner, and we saw my very favorite band perform (lovely of them to come to our city for our anniversary, don't you think?), and earlier that day we celebrated by both having a dumpster delivered to our driveway and receiving an update on our daughter.

The update on our daughter was clearly the best gift of the day, as it proved she is doing well, but I'll admit that the dumpster was pretty exciting, too. (Oh, come on, wouldn't you be excited about finally being able to park the car in the garage and having room for your indoor clothesline in the basement?) (Wait, what? You don't have an indoor clothesline?)

What I didn't anticipate was how heartbreaking it would be to realize that we'd missed so much of her life in such a short time. We are so happy that she is doing well, that she is growing (five new pounds in addition to those two new inches--yes!), that the ringworm causing the bald spots on her head is starting to heal, and that we saw a full smile in a photo for first time. At the same time, it hit me hard that we had missed all that. And that's why we were crying at dinner. Because I brought it up.

And because we are tired.

Oh, we are so very tired. The nights are so short, and there is so much to do, and there is something wearing about having our daughter so very far away from us. I am surprised that we feel it even more acutely now that we are so close to getting to her. I thought it would get better, or at least stay the same. But Jarod put it to words when he said that now it really seems real. We have had her picture for so long, and we have been buying the things that are needed for her and for us as we travel, but it is only now, as leaving for Ethiopia draws near, that it is apparent that this is really happening.

We have so much to get done in these next two weeks and two days. There are two showers, one fundraiser, and myriad tasks. We covet your prayers and well wishes at this time. If ever we needed all the help we can get, it's now.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fewer Than Three Weeks to Wrap Things Up

Now that we're down to fewer than three weeks until liftoff, I'm getting a little antsy about the things which must be done that I don't have a lot of control over. For example, it was recommended to me that I get my visa from the Embassy of Ethiopia here in the US, so I sent my passport and application off last Monday via FedEx, with a FedEx envelope tucked inside for return, and I just have to wait until it gets here. I am really nervous about this one because I fear being a week away from leaving and not having a passport and having to pay a quadrillion dollars to expedite getting a new one, then having to do the airport visa thing and possibly overstaying my official visa-approved welcome and having to pay another quadrillion dollars for being a visa-overstaying outlaw.

We are also waiting on our new I-171H ("notice of favorable determination concerning application for advance processing of orphan petition") to come, and though we are assured that the National Visa Center has received the approval for our new age range, we do not have our appropriate piece of paper. We've had a bit of an interesting time with USCIS regarding this age change, as they were changing their process for it right at the moment that we sent in our amended home study and age change request. Instead of someone dealing with our paperwork properly, it accidentally got filed, and then when it did get dealt with (after I called and they realized the mistake), we never received our precious piece of paper in the mail. I am told it is coming, and the officer I spoke to was quite nice, so I don't want to badmouth them, just highlight that following up after a reasonable amount of time is a good idea.

Everything else that needs to get done is squarely on our shoulders, mine mostly, since I am in charge of paperwork and other various details around these parts. (Though don't let me fool you into thinking that Jarod isn't doing much, as he's in charge of things which involve heavy lifting and tools that are not a hammer.) (You do not want me to build things that require precision. Trust me. You especially do not want me to use a drill.) (Or a table saw.) Plus, we are planning our dinner fundraiser thingamabob, and I am making all the desserts and some coffee toffee for the silent auction myself. We are working hard to make it a fun and delicious evening for everyone, and if you haven't received an invitation and would like to come, please do let me know (marymuses at gmail dot com). You may have to duke it out with my friend Judy for the coffee toffee, as rumor has it that she plans to bid on all eight boxes. Be prepared is what I'm telling you.

I'll do my best to be prepared, too, for every foreseeable circumstance we may encounter on our trip. And in the meantime, I'll worry enough about getting it all together that I'll have dreams about forgetting to pack things. Good times. I bet you are glad you aren't me for the next two-nearly-three weeks.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I need to stop watching others' videos of meeting their children and coming home; it makes me terribly sad. It didn't always, but now we are so few days away from our long flight to our girl that it just makes it harder to wait, harder to be so far away from our little girl. She has been without a family for five months. It will be nearly six months since her relinquishment by the time we get to her. I know that she is being loved on and cared for beautifully, but oh, it is just not the same as having a family of one's own. I ache for her to know the security of waking up to a Mama and a Daddy every single day.

But it's just three weeks from now, plus a couple of days, that we will be in the air on the way to the city where our daughter lives. It is not long from now, and each day has something to fill it, usually more than one something. The day will be here before I know it, and this time will be a distant memory.

I have not spoken a lot about the connection I feel to my daughter. Maybe you would think it is strange. But when she was days away from being relinquished, I had a terrible dream; when she was moved from the orphanage to the transition home, I felt a heaviness; and just days ago, when other families were in Addis to pick up their children, I felt inexplicably, suddenly sad. That she notices other children coming and going, I have no doubt. I'm not sure how much she understands about where she is and why. I do not know what they have told her about us yet, if anything. But perhaps she is wondering when it is her turn. When will her family come for her?

Soon, yeneh konjo, soon. We will come for our brave, beautiful girl soon.
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