Monday, August 31, 2009

Back to "normal?"

We celebrated our 10th Anniversary last week by going to a concert

N & F, my little models striking a pose!

Little Miss J
future heartbreaker

Whatever normal is.

I am so proud of my kids. They are amazing gifts that have been given to me. I love seeing them do little acts of kindness towards each other and us. I must remind myself that they are so young and have a lot to learn yet. It is our job to guide them and help them and try not to get so frustrated with them. We found out that N has been eating tooth paste. Apparently for a long time...even though she said she knows its bad. We finally figured it out when she got busted helping M eat it too. That was a bummer. So for now we brush with water!

My little girls are masters at deception and lying. We are working on changing this. It amazes me that they can lie with such a straight face. It makes you doubt that they could possibly have done something wrong! Peer pressure is helping turn it around. If we tell the truth we don't get in trouble. If we lie, we lose TV watching. If it's serious enough - like the toothpaste incident, everyone loses TV until the truth is flushed out. We let them stew for 15 minutes "alone" (we were listening from around the corner) and suddenly we got the whole story - in stereo!

But those are the little things that will work themselves out after they know what the expectations are. Everyone wants to be "good." I catch them being good all day long - sharing toys, helping mom, cleaning up their things, making beds without being asked! Truly great things.

I survived taking all 4 kids to the Mall of America to buy school shoes today! Phew. I was sweating a little when they got a glimpse of the amusement park and I had to explain today wasn't a good day for going! Poor kids! Cruel mom! But buying shoes was such a treat for all of them - they didn't mind.

They are so excited for school. It will be hard to let them go! Thank goodness kindergarten is only half day and J & M are still at home for a while longer.

Look at these picts! Gorgeous kids, huh!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

anyone out there?

One, two, three, jump!

Now that we're home from Ecuador, I don't know if anyone is still checking in here because it's easier to just pick up the phone and chat, but I got one request for picts, so here it is. We've been spending a lot of time out on the boat and swimming in the lake. The girls are doing really well. We are falling into a regular routine and the 4 seem to be melding into true hermanos. It is so precious to see them look out for each other and comfort one another.

We get along with Spanglish in our house. The girls seem to truly understand everything, but speak back in both languages. "Puedo more," "quieres swim," "Yo too!" these are the most frequently spoken phrases here - even F is speaking like this. It's adorable.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Almost there!!!!!

This is very cool. Delta has WiFi on our plane. Fitting that our last plane ride home has WiFi and I can blog!

We have had an insane travel day. Last night, or this morning rather, our 11PM plane pushed back from Guayaquil, Ecuador at 3:30AM. The kids slept for 2.5 hours in an airport lounge and they slept reasonably well on the plane too with one exception. Poor F got sick to her stomach and threw up. Pobrecita. She did it in amazingly good style though. She was in the aisle seat and leaned over and gave Delta a lasting present, barely a drop on her clothes. Well done F! The flight attendants were pretty happy with dad too for doing an expert cleanup job on aisle 3!

We were originally supposed to land in MSP at 10:30AM, but now are due to arrive about 2PM. Not too bad. It seems a little surreal and bitter sweet. Our daughters are leaving their birth country and former home. While their future presents many great opportunities and experiences, a chapter in their life, and life as they have known it, is changing today forever. It's also bitter sweet because we have aboslutely loved visiting and learning about the culture and life in Ecuador.

I suspect N will remember it especially well as she is older than J and because today is her 6th birthday. Feliz cumpleanos!!

All in all, Ecuador is an amazing and wonderful country. The people, the culture, the landscapes are all fantastic. Suffice to say that Ecuador far exceeded my expectations and is even a place that I would love to call home.

The M Family adventure has been memorable. I have to thank the many people that helped us while in Ecuador, but especially our two lawyers, C & X. They worked tirelessly for us and did everything they possibly could to accelerate the process. Also, it could not have been more clear to us, how much they truly care about the girls and how committed they were to helping them. We are forever grateful for their role, their support and their results!!

I think it's fair to say that this experience has changed all of our perspectives forever as well as changed our lives forever. I believe we will all be in a better place because of this adventure!! We were definitely all pushed outside our comfort zone, but it is well worth it!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

All the stars have aligned...well most of them.

Yesterday we got the ID cards and passports. This morning, K flew to Guayaquil with N & J. I waited for our attorney to hopefully pick up the last certificate from the National Council for Children & Adolescents this morning. My flight with M & F was at 12:15PM, the last possible time for me to get the certificate and fly to Guayaquil to get the visas at the US Consulate. Our attorney got the certificate!! The only problem was she got it at 11:40AM and was 20+ minutes away. At 12:03pm, my attorney came running up to me at outside the airport. I grabbed the docs, gave her a hug and sprinted to the security checkpoint. Oh yeah, I was pushing a stroller, carrying two carry-ons and holding F's hand. Long, story short....we got the certificate, made it to Guayaquil with 8+ suitcases, and got the visas. We're headed home!!

It was one of those days where everything was too good to be true. That is, until we went to get on our flights. We were supposed to depart from here at 11:10PM tonight (Friday) arrive in Atlanta at 6am and connect to MSP, arriving at 10:30AM Saturday. At the moment, we are sitting in the airport with a delayed outbound flight, delayed until 2:50AM. Our connection was changed and we will now get home at 1:45PM Saturday.

Frankly, if we get home on Saturday some time, I will be happy. So far, 1 of the 4 kids is sleeping. Hopefully, soon all will be!

I've never been so delayed by a flight, so inconvenienced and yet still so happy and content. There is tremendous sense of relief and completeness that we are on our way home. This has been an amazing and trying experience. We are so grateful for our new, expanded family and can't wait to get home and make more memories.

The last 24 hours!!

Have been rather insane!! Yesterday, after much waiting and running around from place to place, we got new ID cards and new passports for N & J. The civil registry for the ID's and the passport center made a NJ DMV look like a well-oiled machine of the 21st century by comparison!! But that's ok because we got it done!

Later today, we hope to get one last certificate we need. Then, we are off to Guayaquil this afternoon to get the visas so we can travel home. I am knocking wood as I say this, but it looks most certain we will be home by 8/15 and possibly even sooner if just a little bit more luck comes our way! Cross your fingers!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another day in paraiso

We got word of more progress today; we have new birth certificates! We won't be able to meet with the Council for Children until next Tuesday, August 11th. We should get new ID cards and passports the same day. Then off to Guayaquil on Wednesday, August 12th for their visas at the US Consulate. Then we should be able to depart Thursday or Friday depending on potential delays and flights; we're getting so close!! We are anxious to be home.

The beach house is fantastic. So much space, pool, great park in the development, steps to the beach, a chef and a butler. Yeah, it's pretty awesome. At the same time, all I want is to sleep in my own bed. It's a long time to be away from home. The ambiguous process doesn't help much either. On the bright side, it looks (dare I say) nearly certain that K and I will be home to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary on August 21st.

Here's a link to all pics since my last pics link.

OK, so while I was writing this post, our lawyer called. She now wants us to return to Quito on Wednesday of this week, 8/5. On Thursday, we will get the ID cards and passports. She is going to try and get us in front of the council on Friday. We will still need to go to Guayaguil for visas on Tuesday 8/11. It might not necessarily speed up the process, but I do like completing at least 2 more steps of the process this week. We'll see what happens....