Friday, February 29, 2008

Daddy Is Here!

The video isn't great, but it is the best I could do... Happy Forever Family Day to US!!!

Sam is beaming and and Lucy is totally smitten!

We are off to show Daddy our little town.


Thursday, February 28, 2008

5th Time Is A Charm?

I have started this post 5 times now. I don't know how to put into words all the things in my heart. In one attempt, I was exclaiming, "Keith is coming, Keith is coming". In another, I was pondering over how this year plus of hopes and prayers was coming to an end; a new beginning. In yet another, I was contemplating how I could be beside myself with anticipation while calm in the knowing that tomorrow begins a life that is so good because it is the beginning of our family just the way it is supposed to be.

You know, I am all of those posts. I am also a mother who has fallen even more crazy in love with both of her children over the last 3 weeks, learning so much more deeply what their little souls are made up of (and it is good stuff). I am a wife who has fallen even more madly in love with her husband for knowing why these days needed to happen, and for cheering me on during this mission of a lifetime. I am a daughter completely grateful to her parents and in-laws for their every support, every time. I have been humbled time and time again by family, friends, neighbors... even the occasional kind stranger... and I want to be sure to mark this night with the appropriate words... least of which are "thank you", but it's all I can come up with tonight.

I am sitting here, thoughts of the last 14 months (or 4 1/2 years?) like a slideshow of events that forever changed us, and trying to give that end a proper eulogy. A farewell. A much anticipated, long awaited, sweet dreams and good bye. It's done. It's over. I can look across this little apartment and see both of my babies sleeping, and know that when they rest their tired, Antigua dust covered bodies tomorrow, their Mommy and Daddy will both have kissed them goodnight, and that will seal the deal. We will have ended the marathon I first eluded to one year and one day ago in my first post. We can lay it all down and go to sleep under one roof, happily ever after.

There is no doubt in my mind that God has had His hands all over this journey and is blessing us now with this amazing reunion, in this unforgettable speck of the world to begin our lives in this new and beautiful way. Luciana is coming HOME, Sam is the Big Brother he has dreamed of becoming, and Keith and I can take that deep breath we have been holding for too many years. It's time to just be a family.


We're ready.

It's time.

I love you.


Sight Seeing

Yesterday Sam, Luciana, and I took a tour of some interesting spots around Antigua. We were joined by my fantastic neighbor, D, and her daughter M.

I have to fess up and tell you that I am just way too tired to write out all the details, so I am just going to give you the gist and toss some snapshots your way.

We first went to 'La Azotea Cultural Center' in Jocotenango to explore its museums of coffee, Mayan music, and costumes and crafts of Guatemala. This was so interesting and fun to see.

Next, we traveled to a sanctuary that I can not remember the name of, but wrote down around here somewhere. Anyway, it was beautiful with oodles of history, but my favorite part was the nun who followed me everywhere kissing Luciana (who was on my hip) and talking in spanish whispers to her everywhere we went!

After that, we did some driving through the "real" Antigua. We are living a part of Antigua that attracts tourists, though it has it's fair share of poverty. Still, it was important to see what is just outside of our daily experience. We were so close to the base of the water volcano for most of this part, and it was so exciting to Sam and I!

We made a couple of stops to check out a few ruins that were the results of either volcanoes or earthquakes, and then we ended up a market that is run entirely by Mayan women.

We had our wonderful guide drop us off at the square, grabbed lunch, and strolled home. It was a nice day. Enjoy the pics!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's My "Blogoversary" Today!

One year ago tonight, I sat down and started the sharing of our family's journey to Luciana... a baby we only knew in our hearts that night.

I thought it would be worth a look back at what I had to say one year ago:

Yes, It's True

"The word is out.

Keith, Sam and I have decided to add to our family through adoption. Keith and I have talked about this for months (maybe years). When we knew that we were truly ready, we talked to Sam. In an effort to keep this sweet and to the point, I will only say that the decision was unanimous. Yay! Phew! Yay!

So, in thinking of all of you and the obvious questions and wonderings you would have in regard to this exciting and wonderful (we think!) decision, I have decided to try my hand at this blog idea. I have to be honest in sharing that I have no idea what I am doing, but why should that stop me!?! If this (blog) becomes more than a one shot deal, I would love to share the story of the night we sat around the dinner table and first talked with Sam about adoption and what that might mean for our family. I can at least tell you this, it was a conversation we will not soon forget, and it brings JOY to my heart whenever I think about it.

Well, I thought I would use this first post to bring you up to speed on where we have been and where we are.When we made the decision to pursue adoption, I set right out to learn everything there was to learn. I made calls, surfed every website I came across, talked to anyone I knew who was remotely connected to the adoption world. I was immediately fascinated (and a little obsessed) with everything I learned, and the more I learned, the more questions I had. What is the process? Who are the children? What is the timeframe? I quickly discovered that I knew very little about International Adoption, and I wanted to inhale it all in one breath. I couldn't. Thank goodness. Keith soon reminded me that this was a marathon, and not a sprint. Now that I have slowed myself, taking it one tenth of a mile at a time, I am also reminded to take a look around. We may be facing a long road, but I believe there will be plenty of moments to stop and absorb.Oh gosh, I promised Mom if I did this that I would not write a novel... and here I am well onto the first chapter!

Let me share the details we are most often asked about:After hooking up with an agency near home, we began to collect a small mountain of paperwork. I have been reassured that this is only the beginning of paperwork to come. Lucky for us, my schedule makes tracking down legal documents more manageable. Right before the first document was notarized (thank you, Padre), we began to share our news with our dear family and friends. What can we say? You have always been supportive and loving in our lives, and have shown us only the same again. We are so blessed.

What else? Let's see. We attended adoption education classes. The classes were great. I think that had a lot to do with our fabulous teacher, and the truly lovely people we were lucky enough to attend with. We have also started our "Home Study". We have a case worker assigned to our family. Sue. She has been to the house once already. We felt very comfortable with her. She will come back again next week. She sort of has the control over when the next steps can happen. Once she has written her report on our family (only slighlty nerve wracking), we will be able to move forward into what is the heart and soul of the adoption. Once we are there, I will explain in more detail.

For now, we are planning to adopt a girl from Guatemala. I say "planning to" because we know that things can change. We imagine that she will be younger than a year old, but again, can't say for sure. We only know that, one day,we will be bringing our daughter home and she will be so loved. Is it possible to love someone you have not even met yet?We are happy, we are nervous, and we continue to feel truly blessed.If posting this information is helpful and/or interesting to you, I will do my best to keep it up to date as things occur.

Oh, and about the name of this blog.... I will post the story that lead to that soon. For me, it was yet another way that Sam reassured me that he is going to be a wonderful big brother.Thank you each for your support now, and for that which I know we will need down the road.

Much love."

One year ago... wow.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Sweet Faces

My girl:
Smiles, smiles, smiles.

My Boy:
Sam and I turned the backyard clothesline into a volleyball net! I had a boy, a ball, and a piece of string... I needed to find a way to PLAY... here is the result!

(Mike... thought you'd appreciate this one!)

Here is what happens when the ball goes out of bounds!

This is what baby girl was up to during out wildly entertaining game of Vball!

Look at these TOES! Awwwww!

Finally, this is our friend, C, who we see and visit with everyday in the square. She is crazy about Lucy and comes to sit and fuss over her everyday. Luciana adores her.

We spent a wonderful day with B and D, and D's baby girl. We had such a nice lunch out. Sam had a BAD case of blisters today, and (to make an a very long story short) walked the very long walk home in bare feet! Don't fret. He was such a trooper, and on the necessary occasion, I gave him a piggy back ride...yes, while pushing a stroller over cobblestone and broken sidewalks. The most amazing part about the whole scene was the Sam NEVER complained... not once. I can not say enough about how proud I am of him.

The night ended with take out in the back garden with 6 friends, 4 babies, and 1 Sam. Today was great. Up early tomorrow for a tour of some towns nearby.... pics soon.

Hey Katie... sleep well in Maine and enjoy this amazing time with family. Tell Jaiden I am counting the days to kissing those sweet cheeks!!!

Much love!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Sunday's Adventures

Yes, this is my fourth post today. Scroll down to see the other updates!! I have been trying to squeeze in updates between this and that today. Again, not a ton of pics of my kiddos here. I will make a point of that tomorrow or the next day. :) If you are here to see the kiddos (and why wouldn't you be?) pop down to "Monday" for some sweet face.

Yesterday, Pastor David from CCG in Guatemala City came to pick us up at 7:30 AM to attend a service at his church. Our church at home was blessed enough to visit CCG and to be involved in a mission with this wonderful church family. When I knew that I would be coming to Guatemala for an extended time, David offered to be a contact for us while here. He also offered to have us as guests at his church, and that is just what we did. It was a truly amazing experience.

On the drive to the church, David excitedly told me all the ways that God is working through his church family not only in their community in GC, but in many villages in Guatemala. He said that their focus has been on the children because they are the future leaders, and the response and growth of their message has been slow but blessed. When we arrived to the church, I was given a tour by one of the youth who was interested in practicing his English. This church is so hard to explain. It is set at the top of a valley with very dramatic views, and even more dramatic drop-offs. It was a hazy day, but when clear, the church members sit facing views of volcanoes and the city. Most of the church is "open" and you sit their during the service with the feeling that you are just a little closer to heaven. Here's one view:

The service was very powerful and lasted about 3 HOURS! More than half of the service was singing, and it was so joyful! Sam and I were given headphones to listen to translation. How cool. Sam and I also went upstairs to visit the children's Sunday school. They were so excited to see Lucy, and they sang half a dozen English songs for Sam! Hokey Pokey almost had Sam participating, but the he was understandably overwhelmed. Even still, he was SO good. I had a hard enough time spending 5 hours in a place where I only understood every 27th word! He never complained (even when he was car sick from the winding roads to get there), and I think he understood that it was a unique and special experience.

Okay, so I have some pics. They are really not great. AND, I took video, but the singing was so loud with a lot of clapping and my little camcorder just couldn't take it all in w/o sounding awful! I have a tiny video of the kids that Sam took (and permission to share it...will upload later... maybe).

That is Pastor David playing acoustic!
So, given that we were asleep on our feet when we got home, you may be surprised to know that we headed right out in hunt of a Sunday procession! AND, we found one. Antigua holds processions every Sunday during Lent. The Lenten processions are not as huge as the Good Friday ones, but the one we saw was very moving and impressive. Again, not in love with the pics I snapped. I tried to get video, but it was getting dark... and the pics had the same problem (I turned on sepia-ish so you can see it better), along with keeping track of my kids in the crowds! An interesting thing that doesn't show well is that every part of this procession is being carried by a group of people! So, I will just say that it was a very special sight to see and hope that you can take something away from a couple of snapshots.

Today, we really laid low with one outing to La Bodegona... of course!



Of the many things that will forever stand out in my mind when I remember our time in Antigua, one of them will always be how colorful this town is. Everywhere you look... the buildings, the flowers and landscape, the clothing and many items for sale, even the chickenbuses... this town is just an amazing canvas of rich and bright color that's warmth is only outdone by the kindness of the people themselves.

I was looking back over some pictures and noticed that I have many snapshots of "colors".
Warning: There are no shots of my cutie kids in this, just pretty stuff.

Where's Mimi?

Mimi made it home safe and sound, though snow storms did there best to keep her away. While she was here, I did manage to get a few pictures of her... it wasn't easy. I told her it was a bit like our own strange version of "Where's Waldo?"!!

Here she is... can you see her?

The best for last:


Just a little note to say we are doing just fine!

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Quick Pics...

Just a few random moments to share:

At the Zoo.
( My camera battery died!)
It was a GREAT day. La Aurora National Zoo is just wonderful.
After a Tub.

Just Looking Beautiful.
(Even with a bottle blocking her face!)

Sam and Alejandro at Hotel Antigua.

We went back to Hotel Antigua with my neighbor, Debbie, and her daughter today. Sam made fast friends with this sweet boy, Alejandro. What was so amazing is that neither spoke each other's language, yet they played together for almost 4 hours! Alejandro told the other boys in the pool that Sam was his hermano (brother). His mother and I both watched them with total adoration. Another great day... and one day closer to seeing Keith!

Luciana is still our happy, smiling, easy going gal! She is showing us more and more of her personality each day, rolling, bouncing, talking up a storm... she just has Sam and I wrapped around her little finger! Keith, be prepared to melt.

Much love.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Fav Fotos Friday

Our first Fav Foto with both of my children. Happiness!

I love this one, too, because Sam took it (and b/c it is me with my girl!). Great job, buddy!

Mom flies home today. It has been an absolute dream to experience these past 11 days with her. She has been beyond supportive, so much fun, and just my very best friend! She has totally fallen in love with her Lucy and is super proud of her Sam, and I know it is going to be hard for her to go. Happlily, though, news of our embassy appointment and Keith coming soon make it just a little easier. I think that makes it a little easier for all the grandparents, huh? It also helps that she is going to be seeing baby Jayden almost as soon as she unpacks! How many cuddles can one woman take?

Thank you, Mom, for each wonderful moment over this week and a half. I love you so much and am so grateful for this time and experience together. We will be insufferable with our stories when I get home!

Give Dad, M&P big kisses from the Antigua 3, and maybe feed Keith a meal or two while he gets PACKING!

We love you!
PS- Heading to the Zoo. :)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

What We Have Been Up To....

This pic just cracks me up: Hello, I'm New Here.

Obviously, getting PINK has been the absolute highlight of a lifetime, let alone the last few days! But, I know many of you want to know just what it is that we do to pass the days while we are here counting down the days to bringing our family all home together... So, here is an account of the last couple of days~

Mom moved to her new "casa" on Monday and Sam, Lucy and I did some exploring on our own. We stumbled upon the open market and had a great time walking up and down and in and out of all the vendors. I could do some damage there! hee hee. The one thing that caught me off guard and made me laugh out loud was the signs pointing out the "pharmacies". The use huge sandwich board signs of the doctors from Scrubs! Ha!

We headed to the arch for lunch. It is so pretty in that area, and the lunch was delicious!

After lunch, we hooked up with our favorite Mayan Mamma, Ruth, in the square. She always remembers my name (smart lady!) and is so helpful with tips and info. Yesterday, Mom purchased a beautiful table runner from her. She always says, "Business is business." I adore her!

We took a little break from the heat to let Sam play at the playground at McDonald's... a very different experience than home, but sooooo good for him to have a place to get out some energy after so much walking! There are 3 fast food restaurants with small playgrounds, so we just pop in in between here and there every now and then... Sam plays, Lucy has a bottle, and we are back on our way!

After Sam's ice cream and playground adventure, and happily running into some other Mommies, we headed to the Cathedral off of the square. I am going to try to write more later about some of the history here and include more pics of beautiful places like this one!
Picture from La Antigua Guatemala Daily Photo (I forgot to take one!?!)

On the way home from our sight seeing, we popped into La Bodegona as usual for this and that... so far, I wouldn't say I exactly miss Hannaford, but there are moments when the stroller is stuck in the cereal isle that I truly appreciate it! I don't know how to explain my grocery shopping experience, so I will try to post pics of it the next time I am there.

Monday night, we were pretty wiped out from so much walking and I could not imagine telling Sam that we were going to walk back into town for dinner. Granted, we have a kitchen and I have been making many meals here for him, but Mimi and I were just craving good ol' take out. We ended up locating the number to Pollo Campero! You guys, this place is too good to be true and I need to avoid it for the remainder of my stay... and, it has already started setting up camp in the states, so you may soon know the dreaminess of this fast food craze, but try to resist... we could not. We ordered pizza in... and it arrived via MOTORCYCLE!! hee hee.... I love this town!

Wednesday morning, we called up our favorite Tuk Tuk driver, Luis, and had him take us to this great spot above Antigua. We had great intentions of hiking it, but in reality, that just is not fair to Sam. Luis suggested driving us, and as it turned out, was the greatest tour guide we could have asked for! He shared openly about Antigua, his family, his views on the current government (not too encouraging), and his Mamma's cooking! Mamma sounds like a saint! Here is Cerro de la Cruz ("The Hill of the Cross").

Luis stayed with us as we did the tourist thing, and then delivered us happily back to the square all before 10:30am... a perfect time to get a coffee (Mimi and I) and a muffin (Sam) to people watch in the square. It was a beautiful morning. Sam and I had lunch at the apartment, followed by "school" while Mimi continued to explore. Lucy really is with us during all of this adventure seeking, and she justl loves it all! She really is what it being here is all about... not the sights! Still, it is such a joy to see some of her country. She is the most amazingly adaptable child! Today she mostly hung out in a sling at my hip, and we were just as happy as could be!

When we were not doing school lessons, Sam and Lucy played. I can not begin to tell you what a joy it is to watch my two children together. Lucy is of that perfect age where she is totally entertained and animated. Sam is the perfect entertainment for her, and now that he is so comfortable with her, playing and entertaining her is one of his favorite pasttimes in this little aprartment. Many of you have commented at how truly happy I look in pics (finally)... that is the same sentiment I feel when Sam laughs as he plays with his baby sister.... he is so happy, so smitten, and so totally in love that it breaks my heart in every blissful way. Sam has the most amazing belly laugh... always has, since he was a baby. His laugh when Luciana is paying attention to him is the most genuine, straight from the heart laugh I have ever heard out of him. For all the ways he loves his Mommy and Daddy, he has discovered a new love and it is all Lucy. If I ever had a doubt about bringing him along for this hairbrained adventure, that laugh has erased it.

So, finally, Wednesday night:
The night we have promised ourselves as a celebration of PINK! We put on our pretties and headed to Casa Santo Domingo for dinner. We (mom) even splurged on a taxi! The dinner was amazing (again, thanks MOM!), the atmostphere was gorgeous, and Lucy was a total crank! ha ha! Actually, she really did fuss a bunch, but we traded her back and forth and managed to cheers our great news. Sam liked all the flowers and candlesl and chocolate ice cream, and we all enjoyed the gallery on our way out... and I enjoyed talking to the artist, too! We took a leisurely tuk tuk home... getting very used to that, and here I am writing to you all... still smiling ear to ear as I have one of those moments when I realize... Luciana is coming HOME!

This just in! Keith arrives 2/29. I saw his flight itinerary pop up in my inbox and I almost cried as much as getting PINK! Life IS good... and it's only getting better. It looks like we are all booked to arrive HOME March 7th!! Can you believe it?!??!


I have so many more pics of "moments", so I will probably throw together a montage for you all in the next day or two. I just wanted to send along these details so you can picture us out and about. I had a moment yesterday when I had to laugh... Antigua is amazing. It really is. But if we were meant to be Luciana's parents, I think I would believe that any place I was with her would be spectacular. This is so about our family, and the views, sights, sounds, and amazing people are all icing.

I am missing you all terribly and beginning to have fantastic daydreams about our homecoming!
Much love.