Friday, 8 August 2014

Our Little Spitfire!

As we have been home for a couple days now I wanted to take a post to introduce you a little more to our new addition. Z is a very different character then her big sister.
Once comfortable she loves to make people laugh and is a total comedian.  While D doesn’t love being the centre of attention Z lavishes in it.  She is incredibly smart and has picked up a number of tricks in the short weeks with us.  She can say “Mama, Dada, a version of D, up, ta da,” and her new favorite “all done”.  Today she walked up to me and said “Up Mom”.  D has taught her a couple songs with actions.  She now waves at EVERYONE she sees. Thanks to Gene’s waves in the front seat mirror to distract her while driving she picked that one up pretty quickly.  She is a terrific dancer.  If she hears the slightest tune she is busted a move in no time.   She loves to laugh and thinks everything is a game.  
She is also incredibly independent.  When Z is told not to do something she usually laughs at you and then does it again.  When told “no” she will often lash out at whoever is talking to her whether she hits or tries to bite.  She loves to pester her big sister and needs to copy everything that D does.  She does not sit still and wants to be running free whenever possible.  While in South Africa we had done our best to keep her fairly close to us but now that we have arrived home we will be doing some serious “cocooning”. In the adoption world it is the steps taken to create a healthy attachment to her new parents after we have upset all she has known for the last 15 months of her life. 

1.We will be spending a number of weeks just creating routines at home.  No unnecessary outings and lots of us time.  When we feel she is ready we will slowly integrate her into our outside society.

2. Adam and I(and only us)will meet all her primary needs: feeding, changing, bottle feeding, face cleaning, nose wiping etc.  All of life’s necessities need to be met through us and us alone.

3. If she is upset, injured or just angry one of us needs to be her immediate comforter.

4. We need to be her primary instructors/disciplinarians.  This is tough, as when you see a kid put sand or dirt in her mouth you want to tell her not too and pull the item out.  If one of us as parents hasn't noticed, tell us.  If we don't seem to react it honestly because we have just decided to let her eat sand. . .  

 Overall, Z has done incredibly well over the last couple weeks.  Considering she had spent her entire life in basically the same bed and essentially one room we have changed locations over the last 5 weeks over 8 times.  She has learned to ride in a car seat(though still hates it).  She has experienced her first airplane rides.  She has slept in make shift beds on the floor when a “camper cot” wasn't available.  She has popped 4 teeth. 

We are madly in love with this new addition and look forward to encouraging her to develop into the child God has destined her to be.  We ask for your continued prayers and patience as we all adjust to new routines and limitations at home.  

Thursday, 7 August 2014

3:30am-Probably Time to Start the Day

As we appear to be starting the day here at 3:30am I thought I would take a quick minute to fill in the trip details.
The girls did really well on the first flight both getting about 6-7 hours of sleep.  We were given a bassinette for Z so she could then lay out plus it gave us the front row with way more leg room so mom and dad managed a couple of hours as well. 
We waved bye to Gene and Corry as their flight for their week layover in Amsterdam left shortly after we arrived.  Although we talked about it a lot D was very confused by the fact that they weren’t on the same plane as us. It was such a gift to have them along.  I honestly don’t know how we would have managed this trip without them.  The extra hands and eyes were invaluable!  Thank you Gene and Corry! 
One last wave!

We tried to keep Z awake to save her nap for the plane but no such luck.  She of course slept for 15 minutes just before they announced boarding, just enough to make it a little miserable to get her to nap on the plane.  She did eventually give in and both girls napped for almost 3 hours of plane ride.  Pretty sure the long naps contributed for this 3:30am morning rise!

We made it through all lines quickly at the airport and in no time we were greeting Nina and Papa at the gate.  We were welcomed home to a stocked fridge and dinner courteousy of Nina.   A pot of great Oma's homemade soup was on the counter as well which will be greatly enjoyed after days of airport food.

We officially arrived home at around 6pm which means we were gone almost 37 days to the hour.

It is so good to be home!

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

We are Home!!

We made it!  There is luggage everywhere, we all feel like crumb but couldn't be happier to sleep in our own bed.  Will post more when I'm not so tired and jet lagged.

Monday, 4 August 2014

One Last Night

We finally have Z's passport in hand!!
Gene and Adam left this morning around 9 to make the hour drive to the Canadian Embassy.
Sign posted on the main highway to Pretoria.
Gene said "they weren't stopping the car for anything"
First there was construction right in front of the building so they had to park down the street.  They describe the building as a modern Fort Knox.  Gene didn't even go in as it was quite the security ordeal.  It is fence upon fence, armed guard and bullet proof glass.  After high security and about 15 minutes of waiting Adam filled out a form and was given the passport.  It is times like this that make us extra grateful for having Gene and Corry on this trip.  Having to truck the kids on these errands would have been an added undue stresser. 
While the boys were on there mini-road trip Corry distracted D and Z hung out while I tried to organize our carry ons for our 26 hour journey.  I was a little surprised to find out when we picked up Z that she is still on formula.  Apparently it is the norm for kids here to be left on formula until age 2.  Z also is used to mush food still which mean she spits out a majority of textured food we feed her.  Makes for a little more thought process and hassle dealing with cleaning bottles, packing formula and which food she will eat while we travel. Cereal, pretzels and banana it is.
I stayed back while Z napped and the others went to a local mall.  We wanted a couple last minute things to take home and now seems the best time to get them.  D was super excited upon coming home that her dad bought her a pair of Monster University pajamas for the airplane ride home.  
We ate supper at a restaurant on site and enjoyed a little time by a campfire outside our room before calling it an early night.  
Melted chocolate, peanut butter and cracker, Yum.
Have to finish of those groceries somehow.
Tomorrow we are going to leisurely leave this B and B.  We have plans to visit with Hilda for tea, the lovely owner of the beach house, in the afternoon.  She lives only 10 minutes from the airport and therefore it will be really convenient to head over at around 5.  
Our last sleep in this country!  It has been an amazing trip! We have been so blessed and amazed! 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

The Last "Resort"

Our last home away from home!
Upon getting up this morning we still hadn't gotten any replies from any of our stay inquiries so onto the internet we went again.  Gene found a nice little place that looked like it would work and booked the Farm Yard Inn straight away.  We had searched the area for churches to attend and only came up with ones in Africans.  D had a hard time understanding why we weren't going to church as it was Sunday but I think she finally got it(or just forgot it was Sunday).  Our new location has lots of green space for the girls to run, comfy beds and is a quiet retreat before flying out on Tuesday. We have a large room so hopefully I can take some time to organize for the trip home.  We are staying here for 2 nights so allows a little more time to settle.  I'll be glad when I pack up these suitcases for the last time!

Tonight's dinner. . .(guess what's on TV?)
We have stayed at self-catering for a large majority of our stay but since we have been on the road we haven't had the luxury.  When the place we are staying offers something reasonable or extremely delicious we eat there otherwise we make due with what we have.  The current residence comes with breakfast and has a great restaurant which we will use for dinner tomorrow but tonight we are eating our leftovers.  Might as well eat up all those groceries we need to get rid of in the next couple of days anyways.  

This is on our current bedroom wall.
 Pretty sure D owes some money. . . .
Not sure what the saw above it is all about but super funny!
Tomorrow after breakfast Gene and Adam are driving to the Canadian High Commission in Pretoria to pick up Z's passport.   It will be just over an hour from here so we are praying that the trip goes will and will be excited to have that passport in hand!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Taking the Long Road. . .

Thursday morning we left Southbroom at around 10am.  We had one last coffee at the coffee shop and said bye to some really sad waitresses that will miss the kids morning visits(and our tip as well I’m sure).  Our first stop was in Durban.  We stopped to say good-bye to Robyn our representative while in SA.  This wonderful lady truly believes every child deserves a home and puts in a bounty of hours to make that happen.  Assisting in international adoption is a side project for her as she works at a children’s centre for special needs children as her day job.  She knows the system inside and out and is one of the reasons that things run so well for the families while they are in SA. Many thanks for all the work she does!
Our first destination was Richard’s Bay.  Gene and Adam simply looked at the map and picked a reasonable driving length.  Richard’s Bay put us just outside the game reserve we were planning on seeing.  The 4 bedroom home fit us well. 
Richard's Bay 

We were up early and on the road by 9am as it took us an hour to get to the game reserve and then 4 hours of driving in the reserve. We were going to find some elephants!  Low and behold immediately after entering the park there was a large male elephant!  Thank goodness because the rest of the drive was a little bit of a bust.  We saw a whole lot of fire!  In SA they burn their grass on a regular basis and did we every drive through some firestorms!  Also explains why there weren't a lot of animals in the section of the park we drove through. 
Finally an elephant!!

We arrived at our guesthouse in Hluhluwe around 4:30pm.  We drove a couple km down the bumpiest gravel road ever to get there.   We bunked in lovely individual cottages with thatched roofs.  There were warnings out for leopards!  They have 3 that have been frequenting the residence as of late.  We were told to keep the children closely supervised and not wander about the property at night.  We enjoyed a lovely full course meal under the stars by candlelight.  They told us not to rush in the morning so the girls got a little splash time in the pool as well before leaving on our next 4 hour drive.

Perfect size for a little splash.

Our cottages

Fireside candlelight dinner
This next leg felt like the longest so far.  Our stop for the night was in Ermelo.  This was extra exciting for D as we had our own TV in our room!  This has been the most “hotel” like place we have stayed at so far.  It is neat to be in such a new unique place every night.  It is always a surprise as Gene is doing most of the bookings from his phone so we don't even know the name of the place we are headed.  The girls continue to travel extremely well.  Z still hates the car seat but generally spends a large chunk of driving napping. D still talks the entire time she is In the car and asks “why” every 2 minutes but we are surviving. 
Ermelo; one of our last "homes" in SA

From this point we have about 2 ½ hours left until our last “home” here.  We plan to stay somewhere between Pretoria and Johannesburg which are about an hour apart.  We will need to pick up the passport Monday morning in Pretoria but fly out of the Johannesburg airport Tuesday night.  We haven’t gotten any replies from our stay inquiries yet but God’s taken pretty good care of us so far so we are fairly unconcerned.    We still have 15 hours to find something. . .               

Friday, 1 August 2014


We are excited to post that we got news Thursday morning that Z’s passport is in Pretoria!!  We have managed to change our flights to THIS TUESDAY night!  We leave Johannesburg at 8:50pm Tuesday to arrive in London at 6:55am.  Our flight then leaves London 1:10pm to arrive in Toronto at 3:50pm. We are currently about 1/3 of the way on our roadtrip.  Our plan is to arrive in and around Johannesburg by Sunday so the kids can have 2 nights to settle before our long flights home. 
We are so completely excited to know that we will be on our way home.  Our own bed. . our own couch. . my garden…create some routine. . .our pool. . .normal toys and so much more we are ready for!! 
We are currently at an ecolodge with thatched roofs and leopard sightings!  Every day is an adventure(don’t worry we are safe, Nina and Papa)!  Will post more about our adventures in driving to Pretoria when I have better internet access. 

Praise the Lord!!  4 more sleeps here and 1 in an airplane!