Saturday, December 24, 2011

Preparing for the Holidays!

 Lily making cookies for Santa
 Lily singing for us in front of the tree
 Zeland trying out his Christmas Outfit
 I couldn't resist how cute is that butt!
Happy Holidays!

We are headed to Long Island on Monday so Zeland can meet more of his new family! So there will be many more pictures to come.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


Zeland has never eaten an apple before and we actually thought he would play with it rather than eat it! What were we thinking? 
He wasn't sure how to hold it and figured the floor would work just fine, which was really cute, but not very clean. So, after showing him how to hold it, he sat up and nearly finished the entire apple! And, it kept him very entertained for about 30 minutes!! 

Christmas Concert

Last night Lily performed in her first annual school Christmas concert and seemed to be the star of the show. She has been practicing her lyrics for the past few weeks, mostly to herself, and was very excited about the big night. Just prior to us leaving the house last night she mentioned that she was nervous about coughing during her performance and that her belly hurt. Poor thing, we gave her something for her cough and made it out of the house just in time! Once at school her spirits brightened.

Honestly, she had mentioned the song, It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year, she was going to sing, but hadn't heard her sing it. Well, she knew every single word and belted them out in perfect harmony. In a class of 14, she was the ONLY one you could hear. She was amazing. The applause after the song was fabulous and at the end of the concert, more people than I could count came up to her to tell her what a great job she did. She was beaming from ear to ear, and so were we.

We did videotape the performance, but we were so far away that it is hard to see or hear Lily. We are hoping the school will be able to give us a copy.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How beautiful are these kids!!

 Ta Da! Mom's little elf!
 Mom's little elves!
 Zeland is loving his new exploration toy!
Lily's 6th birthday celebration.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy December!!

 The weather has been beautiful for playing outside! The swings were a big hit!
 However, the snow, not so much!
 Our big girl turned 6!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Adjusting well

 Cranky pants
 I have worn out my big sister!
I am so proud of my belly!

Zeland is quickly adjusting to his new life here in New Hampshire despite the cold weather. He has been sleeping through the night and has enjoyed all of the attention. We went to visit Lily's school for their annual turkey dinner and Zeland stole the show. Lily was very excited for everyone to meet her little brother. According to Lily he is the best little brother in the whole world and I love him very much. It has be a whirlwind of a couple of days with many visitors. Zeland has taken it all in stride but we are exhausted.

The O'Brien's

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pictures of the homecoming

 Zeland and cousin Mitch
 Lily and Little Z
Love at first sight!

The journey home!

 Zeland watching the big game!
 Coffee Ceremony & Football
 Chilling at the airport waiting for our flight

The journey home was less exciting than our journey to Ethiopia however it was just as long. It could be that traveling for 30 hours with an 8 month old is the equivalent of running a marathon, with an 8 month old. We arrived at the airport and all of the systems were down so they had to process everyone’s tickets manually. Needless to say that took hours so yet again we were delayed. At this point we were not very concerned about missing our connecting flight from Frankfurt to Boston since we were going to have a seven-hour layover anyway. Once on the flight we were given bulkhead seats with a bassinette, which was really nice for Z and legroom for me!  Zeland did very well on the first flight. He slept for five of the roughly seven hours and did not cry once. We arrived at Frankfurt airport at 5:30 am so needless to say there was not much to do. We stopped at a cafe for coffee and then tried to find a quiet place for Zeland to nap, actually for Mommy to nap. Although it was only 5:30 the airport was packed and buzzing with excitement. After realizing that neither Zeland or mommy were going to get a nap we paced up and down the terminal until it was time for our flight, which once again was delayed.  Once we boarded the plane Zeland began to cry. At this point we knew it was going to be a long flight. Eight hours and 3 Warstiners later we were in Boston. After landing we preceded to immigration. Once Zeland's passport is stamped he is officially a citizen, not that easy! We were escorted from immigration to a holding room for suspected terrorists (and as it appears adopting parents and their children). After waiting our turn in a hostile crowd with an even more hostile staff it was official, Zeland is now a citizen! Now for the car ride home. We were very apprehensive about the drive home and Zeland's reaction to being in a car seat for the first time. Fortunately for us the kid was completely exhausted. Tanya put him in his seat, he looked around and he was out in a matter of minutes. He slept the whole ride home. I was pretty jealous because at this point Tanya and I were completely exhausted as well. However the excitement of seeing Lily’s face when she finally got to meet her little brother was enough to get us home, in record time I must add!

More to follow!
The O'Briens 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Coffee Ceremony & Ethiopian National Football Team

After naptime and packing we headed down to the central living room at the Guesthouse for a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. This one was extra special as the entire staff had gathered in the living room to watch the Ethiopian National Tean take on Somali in football. We has a blast cheering on Ethiopia. The staff was very animated and appreciated our support of the team. The coffee was great and so was the game, Etiopia won 5-0. The memories will last a lifetime. Now we are waiting for our driver who will take us to the airport for our long journey home. We miss Lily so much and are very excited to have her hold Zeland in her arms. Stay tuned!

The O'Brien's

Taxi Nightmare & The Bright Hope School

Tuesday, November 15 2011
We woke up this morning to Pancakes & Smoothies for breakfast what a nice treat. It has also been nice to watch Late Night with David Letterman every morning at breakfast.
Once again the weather is beautiful. It is a bright sunny day with just a few clouds in the sky. We have spent a great deal of time at the Ethiopian Guest Home just relaxing and bonding with Zeland. It has been nice but I must tell you I am ready to do some exploring. Today we will be doing some sightseeing around Addis with Hermella our translator from Children’s Hope International.  We were picked up by a tiny beat-up taxi that has definitely passed its prime and then some. As we traveled through the city of Addis chocking on diesel fumes dodging in and out of the some 7 million people with windows that do not work in the sweltering heat we suddenly began to long for home.  The taxi driver seemed very nervous as if the cab would stop working at any minute. On the hills we were passed by mules and when we were stopped I could swear people were laughing at us. Most of the taxis here are past their prime but this one takes the cake. The only thing that worked was the engine and the horn. our first stop was at the Green View restaurant for pizza. It seems like there is a coffee shop or a pizza place everywhere you look kind of like downtown Plymouth! After lunch we headed to the Mercado for some shopping. We did a great deal of shopping on our last trip so we did not need much but we thought it might be nice to pick up a couple of dresses for Lily and an outfit for Zeland. Of course Tanya could not resist a few scarfs as well. It is fun to try to get a good price but difficult when your wife keeps say how absolutely beautiful things are and how much she wants them. Needless to say we didn’t get many deals but then again when you are arguing over 50 birr it is a little ridiculous since it is really only about $2.50. Shame on me but it is still fund to try though! I guess that is the New Yorker in me. After shopping we stopped at Tamoca coffee shop, which I remembered from the last visit that we had purchased coffee beans to bring home. The place was packed and people were but 100’s of pounds of beans. I waited my turn and bout a measly four pounds to bring home. The price was right about $5.oo U.S. per pound. We returned to the Guesthouse for a great dinner. We really have been very spoiled by the staff here especially since we are the only couple here. By the way did I mention that Zeland eats absolutely everything as you can see from the photo we shared yesterday he loved his pancakes.  Zeland has four teeth with more on the way. He has really grown since we were here in July.

Wednesday, November 16 2011
This morning after a breakfast, which featured French toast and freshly squeezed O.J., we headed to the USE to pick up Zeland’s visa. Once again the weather is absolutely beautiful. We are told this is the best time of year to visit Ethiopia and I am not surprised as every day has been picture perfect. After the long trip to the USE we were in and out with Zeland’s visa no questions asked. Now it was off to visit the Bright Hope School which has over 2000 children in grades K-8 a great deal of which are the children of parents that are Hiv + or have leprosy some of the children do as well. In order to get to the school we had to travel through a village on perhaps the worst road I have ever been on. There were many merchants selling everything from diapers to furniture along with barbershops, street vendors and just about everything else you would need to supply a village. There were many homeless people throughout the village as well as many lepers. Once we arrived at the school, which, is in a gated area, we were given a tour by Montero a wonderful man with a big heart. He showed us all of the projects that our agency CHI sponsors at the school which, include wells for drinking water and irrigation, chickens for laying eggs and a ten acre farm where they grow their own food. On the tour we also got to visit with the children. The first your girl we met was a 4th grader named makalesh she was absolutely beautiful and as sweet as can be. She came up to me and said hello and asked me my name in perfect English. Our hearts melted, if we weren’t thinking about adopting again we are now.  As we entered the outside play area for the k-1st graders we were swarmed with children that just wanted to say hello, shake our hands and give Zeland big kisses. We must have shaken hands with at least 100 children. They were all so beautiful and had such big smiles on their faces.  After the tour we went back to Montero’s office to sit and talk. He spoke very broken English so it was difficult but rather enjoyable. While Tanya changed Zeland’s diaper Montero took me to the lunchroom so I could meet more of the children. There in the middle of the room sat the biggest bowl of Mac n’ cheese I have ever seen. I am sure Lily would have loved it! The children were so orderly waiting their turn to get their giant scoop full.  For most of these children this will be the only meal they get for the day. After seeing the Bright Hope School I am compelled to bring a group of high school student to help with a project or two.
On the way back to the guesthouse we made one last stop at Kaldi’s for you guessed it Carmel macchiato. Then it was back to the Guest House for lunch, a nap and packing for our big trip home. The noise continues at the guesthouse there is an actual construction zone just outside our room. Lucky us! However I did find a website that has soothing sounds for sleeping so that has been a big help.
Before we leave the guesthouse for the airport we will have dinner and a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. We are also happy to report that a number of out adopting families have received their clearance from the USE and will be coming to Ethiopia this week to bring their children home for Thanksgiving.  More to come!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pictures to brighten your Monday!

                                                     Chess anyone?
    First bath
How cute is he!

Happy Monday!

Sunday November 13, 2011
Our first night with Zeland and he slept through the night. Once again we are blessed. He is so much like is big sister. Lily was a great sleeper from day one. Zeland also loves his friend-feel (Lily's name for her blankets with silk edges). This morning at breakfast we met a couple from St. Paul Minnesota. They are here to adopt a 12-year-old boy and they have a 17-year-old daughter back home that they adopted from Ethiopia five years ago. They were headed to pick up their son Bereket after breakfast. They were very excited.  On another note at this point we have still had no word on our luggage despite several attempts at phone calls and e-mails so I decided to be proactive. I hired a driver to take me to the airport so I could check in person to see if our luggage had arrived. Sure enough it was there in a room with about 1,000 other bags. I crawled over bags until I found ours and then I was back at the guesthouse in time for lunch. It was like Christmas we were so excited to go though our belongings. After lunch we all took naps. When we woke up the couple we met at breakfast brought their son by to meet us. He is a very handsome sweet boy and seemed very excited about living in the US with his new family. They invited us to join them for dinner to celebrate the new additions to our families. We took them up on their offer, as we were ready for a night out on the town. They have been here several times before so they chose a place they had been to in the past. It was a restaurant located in an art gallery. The food was great and so was the art. It was an eclectic place like so many here in Addis. We had Nile perch and a pepperoni pizza, although I am still not convinced it was pepperoni. We had great conversation over dinner with our new friends. Bereket devoured a small pizza all by himself to be 12 again. After dinner we strolled around looking at all of the art on the walls and then it was time to return to the guesthouse. The driver took a scenic route back that brought us up a mountain that had fantastic views of the city, which was all lit up. Once back at the guesthouse I tried to find a channel with NFL games but I had no luck. I suppose I am better off since I needed the sleep and kick-off for the 1:00pm games was 9:00pm here. It would have made for a late night.

                                                       My First Bath
                                                                        New P.J. s
Happy Monday:
Zeland once again slept through the night, as did we. It was much more peaceful than the previous night, no dogs, planes or other interruptions. We woke up early to prepare for the big event our visa appointment for Zeland. We were told that it would be a long day so we packed enough for an overnight. While eating breakfast at the guesthouse we watched an eighties classic and one of my favorites "Pump Up The Volume" not a bad way to start the day. Once our driver arrived we began our journey to the USE here in Addis. It was a long drive to the other side of the city with many things to see along the way. Once we arrived at the USE we received a number and found a place to stand in a room packed full of Ethiopians and adoptive families. We met a couple from Canada that had been in Addis for five weeks waiting for approval, which I must say made us a little nervous. Then we saw our friends from the guest house Charles, Sarah and their son Bereket. They were on their way out after receiving their approval. Our wait was over very quickly, after only 30 minutes they called our name and we proceeded to the window.  It took just minutes and that was it Zeland is cleared for travel to the US. The woman at the window told us that we are one of just three adoptive families that have cleared in the case of abandonment over the past several months. We felt lucky, thankful and sad for our friends that we trveled with in July who have not yet received their clearance from the USE. On the way back to the guesthouse we asked to the driver to stop at our favorite coffee shop Kaldi’s for caramel macchiatos. They were just as amazing as we remembered. Once we got back it was lunchtime for Zeland. He love his food as you can probably tell from the bath photo now its naptime stay tuned for more!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Bringing Zeland home!

Friday November 11th
Hi All,
Well we have finally made it! After a rough start that featured a delay in Boston which had us sitting on a plan that had an equipment failure for two hours before de-boarding, almost getting escorted out of a terminal by security after I became irate when Air Canada refused to help us find a new flight, after we missed our connecting flight to Frankfurt in Montreal due to their equipment failure. Running through Logan airport amazing race style to try to catch a flight to London after finally getting help from our travel agent. Flying through London instead of Montreal in order to make it to Frankfurt. Getting a personal escort on the tarmac from one plan to another in Frankfurt because of an extremely short turn around for an international flight (15 minutes) due to a delay leaving London because of fog.  After all of that we arrived in Addis Ababa at 11:00pm their time then had to get a visa, clear customs and wait for our luggage, which by the way has still not caught up to us. As we walked out of the terminal we were greeted by a representative from the guest home we are staying at he had a big sign that said Miss Tanya O'Brien, I guess I am just along for the ride. He brought us out to meet up with our driver and of we went. We arrived at the guest home at midnight got a quick rundown of the facility and met the staff. They even offered to make us dinner. The facility is beautiful and everyone was so pleasant. It was a nice way to end our 30 hour ordeal. Needless to say we passed out in seconds, only to wake up a few hours later to the sound of a pack of wild dogs and then again a few hours after that to the sound of chanting.

Saturday November 12th
This is the day we have been waiting for. We finally get to have our boy. After a great breakfast and some very high test coffee we were off to the House of Hope transition home to meet up with Zeland. By the way at this point we still have no luggage, which means no formula, bottle, dippers or clothes for Z and no deodorant for us all and all a bad scene! After arriving at the transition home we were escorted to a waiting room where we stood impatiently waiting for them to bring us our boy. We didn't have to wait long as they brought him right away. our boy has put on some weight since we last saw him. He is too freaking cute. We did not have a translator so we had to try to let the transition home staff know that we need some essentials, like formula, diapers and a bottle. After about an hour of miscommunication we were in business. One of the nannies ran to the store for us and picked most of what we needed to get us through at least the next day or two.  We stayed at the transition home for just about two hours than headed back to the guest home for lunch.We are the only guests at this point and their is a staff of about 12. Tanya feels like we could be in the movie The Help. It is a little uncomfortable having this many people helping you although none of them seem to be able to help us with our luggage. After lunch we all took a long and well deserved nap with the sliding glass doors open and the breeze blowing. It is perfect weather here in Addis about 70 with a constant breeze and blue skies, well buleish. After our nap we went downstairs to the central living room for an afternoon cup of coffee and to check up on our luggage. We sat around drinking our coffee and chatting with the staff while Zeland played with the toys although he prefers electrical cords and Tanya's camera. We decided to stay at the guest home for dinner so we could continue to monitor the situation with our luggage.  After some fried chicken and sautéed veggies we had some more high test coffee, big mistake! We were up until almost 2:00am listening to the packs of wild dogs and goings on in the guest home. Then we were woken again at 4:00am due to the sound of chanting although this time it was Zeland. It turns out this little guy talks more in his sleep than he does when he is awake! Still no luggage!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The waiting is over!!!

This morning we received confirmation of our awaited appointment in Ethiopia!! We are on our way Zeland!!!
Tickets are bought, room booked, and suitcases packed!
He will be home for Thanksgiving, a blessing.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

News clip....!/news/business/Adoption-Delays/132476888

This link shows a news clip ran this week of a couple who was in Ethiopia at the same time we were. In fact, they passed court the same day we did.The report explains some of our delay in bringing Zeland home.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Still no new news...

 Making brownies for Daddy!

 Having fun with cousin, Alexa

 and cousin, Mitchell.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Still waiting...

 Yesterday we had several little surprises, one being that our paperwork for Zeland's visa interview is being submitted once again. The first time it was submitted the US Embassy was not happy with the way some of the documents were translated. So they had to be redone. Hopefully, they will be happy with the new updated version! Our second surprise was photos of Zeland! We were not expecting to get any new pictures of him and one of the employees of our adoption agency was in Ethiopia last week and took pictures for us! He is getting so big!

We knew that bringing Zeland home would be a long journey. However, over the last weeks the journey has been unbearable. Each day we anticipate a call notifying us of our travel dates. We still do not know when this call will come. We are making the best of it and are enjoying each day with Lily. We receive much joy from our energetic and enthusiastic 5 (almost 6) year old!
How cute is she? She picked out her own outfit! Love it!

Monday, September 26, 2011

 September has come and gone so quickly! Thought we would do a quick recap.
 Labor Day weekend in Rangeley Maine.
Apple picking 

 Lily started soccer this September for the first time ever. She is really loving it, and is quite good.

We are currently waiting on the U.S. Embassy to issue us a visa appointment to bring Zeland home. We are hoping to hear any day when that will be. In the meantime, we keep busy with fun fall activities...