Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day 26: Strep Throat

Caroline woke up this morning with the tell-tale white spots on her swollen tonsils.  The hotel staff called the doctor, who came to the hotel to check her out.  It looks like she is following in my footsteps as far as throat ailments are concerned; the poor girl has strep.  The doctor called in an antibiotic, which was then delivered to the hotel.  I love the service!  No waiting in a waiting room with other sick kiddos.  No dropping off a prescription at CVS and picking it up an hour later.  Hopefully the meds will help her get to feelign better soon.

It was a low-key sick day, with a movie in the morning and another one after a nice, long nap (which we all four partook in).  Homemade pizza for dinner, which was delicious.

Our embassy appointment is tomorrow at 1:30.  We SHOULD walk away a few hours later with the last piece of the adoption puzzle, Luisa's visa.  We would then be able to return home at any time.  However, due to the enormity of the cost to change our flights, we will most likely be keeping our original return flight, which is Friday.  We are aching to be home, especially since C keeps getting sick and staying the whole week will mean Philip gets little or no time off once we are home, but it is what it is.  We will try to make the best of it and tour Bogota a bit.

Also, there was a rather substantial earthquake (7.2) that struck just south of Cali, Luisa's birth city, today.  I have heard from friends there that it was very strong, but there was little to no damage and no injuries.  The children at Chiquitines, which is to the south of the city, are all safe.  Praise the Lord!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Days 24 & 25: Parks and Sickness

Yesterday we ventured out in the morning to some parks nearby. Caroline LOVED having somewhere outdoor to go play; we really missed that in Cali. There was a small park very close by and a larger park about a 5 minute walk further. The larger park is situated in a nice garden area with archways covered in orange flowering vines every few yards. They are beautiful, but definitely designed for someone about 5' 6" to walk under.
She loves her Daddy!
So nice to exert some energy and climb
All the girls
We only played at the larger park about 5 minutes before a swarm of hooded lawn workers descended on us.
We had also been told by a fellow adoptive mom here at the hotel that there was an artisan shop, Maku, nearby with three floors of handcrafted wares. We went in and bought some more souvenirs.

After lunch at the hotel (burgers and homemade potato chips), we took a quick nap. Luisa and I then headed to the lab to have her TB test read. It was negative, so we were able to make an appointment with the doctor for that evening at 6:30. The doctor was running behind, so we didn't make it back to the hotel until 8:30. That was a half hour past Luisa's bedtime, and we had not had dinner yet. We inhaled dinner (fried fish and a coleslaw made with strawberries, which I could tell would have been amazing had I had time to taste it). Then off to bed we went.

Then came the night of little sleep. Caroline threw up twice (the first time completely in her sleep). Luisa was just restless all night long, which is not her norm.

We all awoke exhausted this morning, and Caroline looked a little like death warmed over. She ate nothing at breakfast (not even toast with jelly, which is shocking), but felt a bit better later. We pretty much hung around the hotel room all day except for a quick trip to the drugstore to get some Eptavis (miracle probiotic). She is running a fever, but hasn't vomited since last night. Her tonsils are also pretty swollen. I am hoping she is feeling better tomorrow!
Don't adjust your monitors; she's really that pale.
Happy girl!
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Days 22 & 23: Bogota

We are all settled in at Hotel Paris in Bogota.  I feel very international.  Hotel Paris is a small establishment that specifically services adoptive families.  The staff here is so incredibly friendly and helpful.  The downside:  all being in one room (it is a largish room with a king bed, two twins, and a crib).  The upside: all three meals provided!  Yahoo!  I enjoyed cooking all of our meals in Cali, but it has been a welcome break to just walk downstairs and have our meals served to us.  And the food is SO GOOD.  Our first lunch here was rice and plantain soup.  Last night for dinner we had baked potatoes, steak, and steamed local veggies (which I couldn't identify, but were super yummy).  Breakfast everyday is eggs, toast, or french toast.  Lunch today was red beans and rice with sausage and fried plantains (Colombians traditionally eat a BIG lunch).  Dinner was salad, fried chicken, and french fries.  They are even accommodating to our picky 4 year old.  They said, "Oh, we know how American children are."  They will whip her up a sandwich or hotdog anytime.  However, we have a "try it" policy in this family, so she has had a lot of new experiences.  Luisa, of course, will eat anything.  The next time beans are served, however, she is abstaining and having a ham sandwich like Caroline.  There has been some major stinkiness coming out of her today.

Our flight yesterday was delayed by an hour.  Thankfully the flight itself was under an hour.  It was a good intro to flying for Luisa.  She really liked it until the novelty of being buckled and not in Mommy's lap wore off, which just happened to be right when the seat belt sign went back on for landing.  We first went to Hotel Paris, where Philip and Caroline were fortunate enough to be served lunch and then go take a nap.  Luisa and I went with our facilitator, Gloria, to a lab to have her TB test administered (no crying from my brave girl).  The lab techs were almost an hour behind, so we didn't get back to the hotel for lunch until after 3:00.  Luisa was cranky (she really, really likes to eat, and the granola bars were not satisfying her), and I was feeling light headed.  We were served a late lunch, and then we went up to the room to hang out with Philip and Caroline until dinner.

Today, we went to ICBF to fill out some paperwork.  It was a quick trip, although the traffic on the way back was awful.  We finally saw the cause: the rear axle of a bus had come completely off.  No idea how that happened, and glad I was not on that bus.  Overall the traffic here is much worse that Cali, but the driving is much more tame.  People (for the most part) stay in their own lanes, and there are fewer motorcycles weaving around. 

After ICBF, we walked to the supermarket to get bananas (neither of the kids will make it long without at least 2 a day) and apple juice (which Caroline will perish without).  As is common in Colombia, the hotel serves different fresh juice everyday.  Today we had guanabana juice at breakfast.  It tastes like a smoothie.  Caroline, of course, requires Mott's.  She doesn't know what she's missing.

Bedtime story

Caroline, a.k.a. Little Mommy, teaching her sister storytime etiquette
Tomorrow we will go to have the TB test read.  Depending on the outcome and if we can get in to see the embassy doctor, we will have a better idea when next week we will be headed home.  HOME!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Day 21: Bogota, Here We Come!

Just a quick post tonight, because we have a plane to catch in the morning!  Today, while Phil and Caroline made a last trip to the pool (she will dearly miss the whirl pool), Magnolia took Luisa and me to get baby girl's passport.  It only took about a half hour, and then we were on to the airline to buy our tickets to Bogota.

We fly out tomorrow morning and hopefully will get the TB test administered tomorrow afternoon.  The ball is rolling!

Waiting for Momma to buy the tickets
Colombian Passport
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Day 20 (Part II): A Visit with Libia

I know, two posts in one day. What can I say. It was a big day!

It's official. She is a Ryle! (Actually, she is currently Luisa Joy Ryle Sumrall per the Colombian custom of two last names, but we will drop the Sumrall once home). We have a birth certificate listing us as her parents to prove it.

I guess today should feel like a huge deal, but I was telling Philip just now that it is somewhat anti-climactic for me. I guess I have felt like her mother for quite a while now, so having it on paper (though quite a big deal legally) doesn't change anything for me.

It might also be that today felt like a normal day for me and the little girls. We took our new friends (the adoptive family that arrived last night) to the market this morning and then came home and had lunch. Magnolia took Philip to sign the paper at the courthouse and meet the judge while I stayed at the apartment with Caroline and Luisa during naptime.

However, even if Sentencia doesn't feel life-changing, it DOES mean that we will be headed home soon! We will get Luisa's passport tomorrow and fly to Bogota on Wednesday. There, we will see the embassy doctor, have a TB test administered and then read two days later, and then get her visa once she is all checked out. It will be about a week-long process.

Tonight we were honored to have over some very special guests for dinner.  Magnolia (our facilitator), Trudy (our lawyer), and Libia and Diego (a Chiquitines volunteer and her husband) came to the apartment for vegetable beef soup and lime pie.  Libia, who is a retired nurse, has dedicated herself for the past two years to working extensively with Luisa in her therapies. She came to Chuiquitines once a week to work with Luisa and other children there. She and Luisa share a very special bond. When Libia would arrive every Monday, the caregivers would say, "Luisa, look! Your mami is here!" and Luisa would light up with excitement. We were told on our first trip to Chiquitines that everyone referred to Libia as Luisa's Colombian mommy. We couldn't be more grateful to Libia for the love and care that she has given Luisa that past two years. There is no doubt in our minds that the ease with which our bonding with Luisa has happened is due in large part to the bond that she and Luisa shared.

James 1:27 mandates that we, as part of the body of Christ, care for orphans and widows. Our family has been called to fulfill this mandate in part by bringing Luisa into our family. We feel that more Christian families should consider stepping up to fill this role.  However, of the approximately 145 million orphans in the world, only a small percentage is adoptable.  The large majority will spend their lives in orphanages, institutions, foster care, or on the streets.  There are so many other aspects to orphan care than just adoption.  If you are a believer, please determine where you factor in to the orphan crisis.  I am so thankful that Libia is playing the part that she is for the orphans at Chiquitines.

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It is our great honor and joy to introduce our daughter

Luisa  Joy  Ryle

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day 19: More of the Same

{Day 18 was rather uneventful, with a swim in the pool for Philip and Caroline and a trip to get a burger at the food court. I went to bed at 8:15. It was fabulous.}

Today, a Sunday, was a great day to go to the market. It is nice and uncrowded on Sunday morning. (It is normally a free-for-all event, which necessitates elbowing your way to get to the onions and reaching over half a dozen people to grab some yogurt. This is where my full six feet come in handy.)

This our lovely apartment building:

This is the hill we walk down to get to the street the market is on:

Streets that are walked down must be walked back up (unless you ask my dad, who walked to and from school uphill both ways through the snow in Mobile, Alabama). I don't envy Philip the job of pushing two kiddos and groceries back up this hill (or my dad his fictitious walk to school).

Other than our market trip, we had another low key day.  We played, napped, and had breakfast for dinner.  There are these little potatoes here that make up into the best breakfast potatoes.

Tonight, another adoptive family is arriving to stay in our apartment building.  They are adopting two kiddos and bringing nine kiddos with them!  We will have lots of playmates for the remainder of our time here in Cali.  Again, for any families looking for a home while in Cali, this apartment has been so accommodating.  I peeked in the two units the staff was preparing for them, and they have added in lots of extra twin beds.  They will actually have a bed for each of the 13 of them.

We were also excited to see that the gait trainer that Keely had brought from the US for Luisa to use has been taken by Abby to another orphanage where it will be used by another precious little boy.

We are expecting to receive our Sentencia some time in the coming week, which will be followed by a short plane ride to and about a week in Bogota. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Day 17: Cristo Rey and Pandebono

The hotel hosts tours on Fridays for those staying here. This is our second week to go, and both times is has only been us with Oscar and Yolanda, two of the hotel staff. (Last week was the fruit market.) Today they took us first to the Cristo Rey that overlooks Cali.  According to Wikipedia (the source of all reliable information), it is was commissioned in 1954 and stands just over 100 feet tall.  This statue of the Christ is said to protect the city of Cali in the valley below. There is a stunning view of Cali, which is much larger than we imagined, from the base of the statue.  Unfortunately, the city is masked by a layer of pollution, so the photos didn't turn out very well. 

There is a rather precarious playground next to the Cristo Rey.  The slide is just about a vertical drop.  The monkey bars speak for themselves!

On the drive up the mountain to the Cristo Rey, there are carvings in the rock/mud along the side of the road. Cali is a city burgeoning with artists. We actually saw one sculptor working on one of the carvings on the drive up.

After the Cristo Rey, we stopped at a bakery for a sampling of pandebono and other traditional Colombian breads. Our sister in law Joy's father, who lives in Miami, has made pandebono for us before. It is a fabulous cheese-infused bread (which just happens to be naturally gluten free) best eaten warm. This bread was good, but not as good as Joy's dad's. Philip also got a traditional Colombia drink, Avena. It is basically oatmeal, milk, and sugar blended up.

Our last stop of the day was San Antonio, a mountain near our hotel with another great view of Cali. It was quite warm by this time of the day, but Yolanda said it was a popular spot in the afternoon. Around 4:00 everyday, the city gets cooler and the winds come in. I am talking very strong, gusty breezes. I can see how San Antonio would be a good place to go in the afternoon. Apparently it is also a favorite spot of local artists.

We are really enjoying our time getting to know Luisa's birth city. Magnolia is gone for the weekend, so we will be taking the opportunity to relax around the hotel for the next couple of days. Our explorations will begin again next week as we await Sentencia and our subsequent trip to Bogota.
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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Day 16: Caroline Quotes

Today Magnolia drove us to a local mall, the Chipichape.  We ate at a McDonald's there.  (First food Luisa has not liked: McDonald's hamburger.  She did love the fries.)  Then we went in a few shops to browse.  It was a fairly uneventful day.

Which leads me to share some Caroline quotes:

Before we traveled:

Philip and I were continually asked, "Can we go get Luisa TODAY? Why not?"  We would tell her we were waiting on a piece of paper before we could travel.  This is not an acceptable answer to a three year old.  (Or to this 30 year old, for that matter.)

On Gotcha Day:

  • "We got Luisa today!  Yea!" (repeated over and over, even sung and danced to)
  • "We didn't have her.  We just got her today."
  • "She'll still be my sister when she's all growed up."
  • "She'll be with us FOREVER."
  • "She can be my sister even if we look different than each other."

A few days later:

{Obviously after she had spent some time considering her new life with a sibling}
  • "When we go to Target, we can get a two-kid buggy!"
  • (Said with a look of concern:) "There are only three Wonderpets, and we have four family now!"

And one of my favorites:

"She's smiling when I'm angry, and she CANNOT do that!"
I'm sure Luisa was thought, "But smiling's my favorite!" 
(She does have the ability to smile even when being reprimanded.  It is rather maddening.)

A Philip quote for good measure: 

{When we first arrived at the apartment}
"I strongly advise multiple flushes.  I don't know how to ask for a plunger in Spanish."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Day 15: Feeling Better Poolside

Our fabulous facilitator, Magnolia, recommended some over the counter natural medicine for Caroline. It was some kind of concentrated yogurt bacteria, and it worked wonders. She seems to be much better. (Unfortunately, Philip began experiencing gastronomical problems this afternoon. We dosed him up with the same stuff immediately. Hopefully it will work as well for him.) For any families traveling to Colombia, write it down: Eptavis.

Since Caroline was feeling better, we headed to the pool this morning.  Luisa enjoyed it much more than our first time.  I think her comfort level with us allowed her to be more confident in the water.  We mostly hung out in the small pool (which just happens to have a jet-powered whirlpool swirling in it, and thus achieves a high level of awesomeness in Caroline's eyes) because the large pool is quite chilly.

View from the pool deck
This girl loves to jump in!
Hanging with Mommy in the whirlpool.  She ventured on her own a little bit, but mostly likes to be holding onto (or being held onto by) Mommy.
Snacks are quite necessary to have poolside.  Caroline often ends up in the sun in her coverup due to her propensity to shiver.

Philip was able to log in and work a few hours this afternoon. He may try doing this a few days a week if things are going smoothly. We hope to not eat through all of his vacation days while here. The girls played sweetly while he worked and I got dinner ready. Caroline is constantly assigning everyone roles to play, and below she is Bonnie having a tea party (Toy Story 3). Philip and I are Bonnie's parents, and Luisa was Bonnie's friend. We are more often Andy, Andy's parents, and Molly (Andy's little sister), but you have to just go with your assignment.

We are now able to tuck the girls in, leave the room, and close the door at bedtime and naptime.  I hope the transition to being in a room by herself at home is as easy as this transition has been for Luisa. 

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