Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Settling In

Well, we've been home three and a half weeks, and I've been blog-silent. Sorry. Been a bit busy. It seems having a husband who stays home at our Colombian apartment all day to assist me in parenting our girls spoiled me a bit.

Philip has returned to work, and the little ladies and I have been busy settling in to our new life.

Caroline and Luisa are the best of playmates. Before we met Luisa, I was worried that Caroline would be frustrated when they played together. I thought that she may get frustrated with Luisa not being physically capable to play the same way she does or that she would be irritated that Luisa doesn't understand English perfectly. I needn't have worried. Caroline is (for the most part) very patient with her sister. There have been few questions regarding her limitations. At first, she asked, "Why is she three and still wearing a diaper? Why doesn't she walk?" It seems that her curiosity is pretty easily satisfied at this point with a discussion of how God creates all people differently. Also, there was NO need to be concerned with Luisa's ability to understand us. She picks things up so quickly. There has yet to be a time that I felt like she wasn't understanding me. Though Luisa is nonverbal (which shouldn't be mistaken for nonvocal, because she is supremo vocal), she is able to get her point across very clearly. We've taught her a few signs, and she combines that with effective sound effects and gestures. It is rare that we don't know what she is trying to let us know.

A happy discovery we have made is that Luisa seems to be ready to potty train. I haven't been extremely consistent in it, but if we are home and I put her on the little potty, she will do her business in it. She will stay dry most of the day if I am consistent in putting her on the potty. She doesn't yet ask to go, but we are making strides!

Overall the adjustment has been much easier than we ever dreamed it could be. Luisa sleeps well in her bed, plays well with her sister, DEFINITELY eats well, and seems to be very secure in our little family. On nights I have to head out to tutor, she grins and waves at me from the security of her daddy's arms as I leave. She still gets a bit nervous/clingy when new people come to the house. For the most part, we are sticking to home or activities with which she is obviously comfortable (going to the store, library, park).

Luisa loves riding on Grumpa's shoulders as much as her big sister does
Sweet sisters
Movie night!
Carving our pumpkin
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Sunday, October 7, 2012


One month spent in Colombia, and now we are HOME! It feels so good to be back under our roof, at our table, in our beds. The trip home was, well, trying. (At least, for us grown ups. The girls were fantastic.) We left for the airport in Bogota at 10:30 am on Friday. Our flight was delayed by two hours, so we were pretty sure we would not make it through immigration in time to make our connection home. We had three seats together and one 10 rows up, so the girls sat with me and Philip had some nice alone time sandwiched between two strangers.

Leaning on me to the left

Leaning on me to the right
We were in immigration at the Miami airport about 2 hours.  We made it out at 9:30 pm.  We headed to the American Airlines desk to rebook our flights for the next day.  The girls are usually in bed by 8:00, so we were hoping to stay at an airport hotel and be in bed soon.  Unfortunately, 3 hours later, our van finally made it to our hotel in Ft. Lauderdale.  We would be at the wonderful Harbor Marriot Resort for 6 hours before making the 45 minute drive back to the airport.  (There were reportedly 40-something flights cancelled that day due to equipment problems, so everywhere was booked.)

With Aunt Joy at Miami airport
The upside was that we got to spend about 15 minutes with Philip's brother, Daniel, his lovely wife, Joy, and our nephew, Danilo.  This was the first family Luisa got to meet, and they happened to speak Spanish (Joy is Colombian). 
Doesn't everyone play ring-around-the-rosie while checking in for their flight?
Cutie Danilo
We had an easy 2 hour flight back to Birmingham. The kids were tired (so were we), but we were so glad to be almost HOME!  My parents were picking us up, and we had a few friend greet us there as well.  It was so sweet to see smiling, familiar faces who have waited and prayed for so long for our daughter to come home.

Luisa loved riding in her car seat, which was a relief.  We drove up to signs welcoming us home, and walked in to find our house cleaned and decorated with all my fall decor, which a fabulous friend had apparently crawled up in our attic to retrieve.  It is my favorite time of year!  The weather has been so nice and COOL this weekend.

The girls have been playing so well together.  Caroline takes her role as big sister seriously.  I get reports on ANYTHING Luisa is doing that may be questionable.  Luisa has been a rock star.  She has taken good naps and slept all night in her crib.  She (of course) eats well; she had her first Ryle-typical GF lunch (hummus, veggies, olives, and cheese) today and loved it.  She is a bit scared of the dogs, but she did voluntarily touch Ellie tonight, so we are making strides.

Dressing up
With Pop
and Mimi

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 30: Last Day in Colombia

Philip took the girls to the park this morning so I could rest (I'm not feeling so great).  We rejoiced with the other mom staying here as they got their SENTENCIA today for their baby girl.  We took a nice, LONG nap.  Philip went to the market to buy me a can of Campbell's chicken and rice (it was about $5, and so worth it).  We PACKED UP to begin our trek home in the morning!  And I had about 5 mugs of aromatica (mint tea). 

Our flight is not until 2:00, so it will be nice to not have to wake the girls in the wee hours.  We will leave for the airport about 10:30.  My wonderful parents are stocking our fridge and getting our house ready for us and then picking us up late tomorrow night at the airport.

Here are some things I am looking forward to getting back to:
  1. Consistently hot showers
  2. My laundry room (no dryer in Cali, and $20 per load in Bogota)
  3. My car
  4. Carseats
  5. Somewhat consistently observed traffic laws
  6. Coffee creamer
  7. Canned tomatoes and beans
  8. Football
  9. My king sized bed
  10. The ability to communicate with people around me
  11. Stroller-friendly sidewalks, stores, etc. (especially bad in Cali)
  12. My chiropractor
And some things I expect I will miss once home:
  1. Meals being prepared for me by the fabulous Juanita of Hotel Paris
  2. My laundry being done, even if it is $20 per load
  3. The fact that there are people on the sidewalks, in the stores, and just out and about all of the time.  We are so secluded in our SUV's and vans at home.
  4. Not having a smart phone.  It is liberating to not have access to social media all the time.
  5. Not having Philip home with me all the time!
  6. The fabulous parks of Bogota within walking distance
  7. Having Family Movie Night every night
I am so thankful that we have had this month in Colombia together to get to know each other and learn to be a family of four together.  Not having the distractions that will inevitably occur at home have been invaluable.  In a few days we will back to regular life.  I will be teaching on Sunday afternoon, and Philip plans to go back to work mid-week next week.  We will pick up with doctor's appointments, gymnastics practice, church, and all of the other things on our calendar.  But for this month, it was just the four of us focused on nothing other than playing and bonding.  It has been fabulous.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Days 28 & 29: Parks and Unicentro Mall

Caroline was finally feeling better yesterday, so we went to the park again. These girls love to play there. Luisa is getting more comfortable with us, and as a result is getting more confident to slide, swing, crawl through the tunnel, etc. The merry go round was still a favorite.

After lunch and nap, we went to Crepes and Waffles with another mom and her baby that are staying here. We just went for an afternoon treat of ice cream, but it pretty much ended up being Caroline's and my dinner (of course, Philip and Luisa still ate when we got back to the hotel).
Today we walked down to Unicentro, which is a huge mall nearby.  We wandered around for a bit (it is really big) until Caroline walked straight into a plate glass door and gave herself a bloody nose.  We had some sweet mall employees trying to help us, but all we could make out was "agua fria" (cold water) and "helado" (ice cream).  I guess they thought that would be the best treatment.

We eventually found the play area we had been told about.  The girls loved the rides.  They both had a huge melt down when we left.  It was the first time (of many, I'm sure) that both were seemingly inconsolable simultaneously.  We just walked it off.

This mural is on the way from the hotel to anywhere we are walking.  Caroline loves to stop by and see it every time we pass it.
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Monday, October 1, 2012

Day 27: Embassy

Today was our US Embassy appointment.  This is the VERY LAST STEP before we can bring Luisa home, and it is now DONE!!!  Philip actually took Luisa (along with our facilitator Gloria and our lawyer Lucy) as I was feeling a bit under the weather.  Luisa has been doing so great with Philip recently that we felt she could handle a half day with just him.  It is about 45 minutes to the embassy, and then we were told to expect a 3 to 4 hour wait, and then a 45 minute drive back.  All during her usual nap time.  He was a brave man.  She did amazingly well, though, and the embassy wait was the shortest that Lucy has ever seen.  They were there for under 2 hours total.  And we now have her visa!!  The last piece of the adoption puzzle.

Caroline started feeling better this afternoon, about 24 hours after starting antibiotics.  I think she will be feeling like her normal self by tomorrow.  Now if the rest of us can stay strep-free!  She wasn't 100% yet this morning, though, so we hung around the hotel again.

We will be headed out of here on Friday.  As much as we would like to come home now, there are NO tickets to be had for earlier in the week.  In fact, we got the LAST ticket on our flight (which is actually the last ticket from Bogota to Birmingham with our airline for the entire week) for Luisa.  Praise the Lord!  It would have been a mess had there not been a ticket to be had at all.  And we don't have to pay any change fees (although Luisa's ticket cost as much as mine, Philip's, and Caroline's combined).

So, we have chosen to look on the bright side, which is that we have more time to get to know Luisa's birth country.  We haven't been able to see much of Bogota due to illnesses and appointments, so now we can get out and do more.  And we'll be headed home in four days!
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