Friday, December 26, 2008

Celebrating Christ's Birth!

Wednesday, we celebrated Christmas Eve at home with Susan's mom, Barbara, a.k.a. "Mema." We had a nice dinner of filet mignon, baked potatoes, asparagus, and pineapple upside-down cake. Oh, we also served Cheerwine, a cherry cola-type beverage found here in the Carolinas that contains caffeine. (We'll get back to that shortly.)

After dinner, William read the Christmas story aloud from the Bible while the children performed a re-enactment. Jeremy was Joseph, Marissa was Mary, Annika was an angel (demoted from baby Jesus in previous years), and Benaiah now had the part of Baby Jesus. Mary didn't labor as hard as she had in previous years, and Baby Jesus fled the scene as fast as he could. The holy scene quickly degraded into chaos! The Cheerwine had kicked in! The cast got too hot since it was over 60 degrees outside, and took off their clothes! We ended up sending them out onto the deck outside in their underwear to cool off and calm down. I'm marking my new calendar with a note to not give them any caffeine for Christmas!

Christmas morning, Mema came back for our gift exchange.

Jeremy was totally stoked to get an iPod shuffle! He is still SO EXCITED!! He only got the one package, and it appeared to be just 2 shirts until he took them out and found the iPod. What a happy boy!

The girls enjoyed wearing their new boots and playing with their umbrellas in the warm outdoors. They also got swimming Ariel mermaid dolls with which they were dying to take a bath!

got a rag doll that was made by another adoptive mama. We named the doll "Ezana." Benaiah loves him! I love it when he walks around with Ezana hanging out of his mouth by an arm or leg! Ezana frequently has baby slob on him! Benaiah also got a new top tooth for Christmas!

We were to celebrate with Susan's family later on Christmas day, but Barbara got sick, so we're hoping to see her and Susan's sister and her family on Sunday now. Then, we'll have another Christmas celebration next week with William's parents. We have just begun!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy 8th Birthday, Marissa!

Wednesday was our sweet, beautiful Marissa's birthday. She made blueberry muffins for everybody for breakfast. They were delish, of course!

Mr. Snowman came and rang the doorbell as usual. He likes to visit on Marissa's birthday. He used to be taller than her!

Jeremy gave her a Lil' Kinz cat that he purchased with his own money.

We went to our home school group's Christmas party. There were probably 70 kids there! William got to go too!

We celebrated at Mimi's for dinner. Her friend, Miriam, joined us for the festivities.

After dinner, Marissa opened her gifts. Daddy and Mama give her an add-a pearl and the next nesting doll each year. She got 4 Webkinz and was very, very happy!

Hoof and Mouth

This week we received some ornaments at our house. First, I had ordered a really cool ornament from another adopting mama, Kara. It came along with the really cool bib Benaiah is sporting in the photo. (It was hard to get a photo with him on the move such as he is!) Both cool items are for sale on her blog HERE! You can help them bring home their baby daughter.

At lunch time, we opened the package from Grandma and Grandpa that contained an ornament for each member of our family. The kids saw to it that they all were hung on the tree.

Later in the day, I caught Benaiah with something in his mouth. This is not unusual. Whatever he had was really good and he didn't want to give it up. Turns out that it was the hoof off of Santa's reindeer -William's ornament. Nobody claims to know what happened. I think the reindeer is in the shop with some super glue...

I just couldn't resist posting about the hoof and mouth.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Not everything that comes on a spoon is evil!

We have been trying to get Benaiah interested in eating some "real" food.  At first, he was totally uninterested in anything that didn't come out of the bottle. Then, one day, a friend suggested I create "banana foam". This is genius. I put a half a banana in a bowl and hit it with the stick blender. This turned it into liquid, and then foam. It was a big hit. Then we tried green beans the same way, and peas, then applesauce, and last night Shiro Wat (Ethiopian Yellow Peas). I'm not sure we have "turned the food corner", but things are definately looking up.  At least he dosn't push away the spoon and make unhappy noices when I try to put food in his mouth.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


We are adjusting pretty well. We went several weeks with night after night of bad sleeping. Benaiah was waking up every 1-2 hours.

While we were buying shea butter at the local African market, a wise man from Ivory Coast told us that the bumps on Benaiah's face were heat rash and shared that he also gets that. He cannot sleep with covers up past his waist. So, that night when we put Benaiah to bed, we did not cover him. He slept so well! No blankets or heavy jammies for him! He even gets uncomfortable when we leave on his socks.

Benaiah is comfortable with sleeping in-between us in the king bed now. We like having him there. We were taken aback that he didn't care to sleep with us right away, but now that he has claimed us as his own, he is good with it! He still uses the crib when he first goes to bed and for naps; however, yesterday, he managed to flip himself out of it! YIKES!

We have yet to declare publicly that WE HATE BOTTLES!!! Nursing is so much more convenient! Benaiah is getting 1-2 bottles of Susan's breast milk each day, but it is still a bottle. We are constantly rounding up the dirty bottles and running the dishwasher.

We have put 2 pounds on the boy in the 5 weeks he has been in our care! He is going on 17 lbs. now.

We are easing back into a school routine only to be derailed by the birthday and holidays in the next few weeks. Ahhhh! (Marissa's is the 17th, and Annika's is the 31st!)

The kids are dying to put up the tree, but William and I know the battle that lies ahead with Benaiah in the house. He is RUNNING, and he puts EVERYTHING in his mouth. This is an unbreakable ornament year for sure.

As you can see, Jasmine is taking it easy these days. She really enjoys a nice nap outside on the colder days. When she isn't sleeping on the deck, she is on the couch -sometimes, sunny-side-up! I just missed that photo!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

We celebrated Thanksgiving at Susan's mom's house with her sister and her family and Barbara's childhood friend, Donna from Ohio.

We had sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry orange relish, cole slaw, corn, green beans, rolls, stuffing, gravy, and Turkey smoked on the Big Green Egg. We also had pecan and pumpkin pie. Mom and Donna stayed up late the night before condensing soy milk to make a pumpkin pie for me and Annika to eat. It was wonderful!

Donna passed out goodies to all of the kids after dinner and we enjoyed hanging out while Saint William took on the chore of cleaning up. (I'm keeping him!) Benaiah showed off his walking skills until I took him for a walk in the baby carrier to get him to shut down for a little while. He was a little overwhelmed by all of the people, noise, and activity at first.

It was a very nice day, and we have so much for which to be Thankful! We are so grateful to have our son home with the rest of us!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Going for the Gold!

Got it!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy, Smart Guy!

Yes, that is drool all down the front of Benaiah. He discovered the joy of popping tissues and wipes out of their containers and discovering that there is always another there to pull out.

Apparently, wipes are tasty. He trolled all around the living room with the wipe in his mouth and his magic wand.

What a happy guy!

This morning instead of smacking me in the face as Benaiah has done for the past 4 weeks, he rubbed his hand down my face. The "soft touches" lessons have w finally taken! Yeah!! I enjoyed my soft touches even though they included my glasses. He smiled from ear to ear when acknowledged his accomplishment!

What a smart guy!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Last Week

Tuesday it snowed. The kids all ran out (the girls were bare-footed) onto the deck to enjoy the 3 minutes of snow.

All of the kids are great with Benaiah. Jeremy even took him to watch him for a little bit on Saturday morning so that Mom and Dad could rest a bit more. Benaiah is attaching nicely and showing familiarity toward his siblings. He knows that Jeremy is for playing! He likes to pull the girls' hair, and Annika especially likes to avoid that.

Benaiah is such a cute and happy guy! He could do better in the sleeping department, but we'll get there some day. He is getting a couple bottles of breast milk most days and likes it. He still lights up when we call him "Meteku," but is beginning to turn his head sometimes when we say "Benaiah." His two little teeth on the bottom are sharp, and he is walking back and forth, back and forth across the livingroom with his arms up! He's getting pretty good! We get lots of comments on how funny he looks walking around and being so tiny. Benaiah turned 10 months-old on Wednesday.

Jasmine turned 14 years-old on Wednesday! We knew when she ripped open a bag of dog food and began eating it that she had recovered from her surgery, and we wouldn't need to put water on her food anymore! Crazy imp dog!

This was the end of our semester for our home school co-op. Jeremy especially enjoyed his class in puppet making. LOVED IT!! We did not know how creative he is! His favorite creation is the one with the eyes all over it. At one point, it had 72 eyes! The blue oven mitt is Michael Phelps complete with a gold medal. He also created Indiana Jones and the main cast of the Star Wars movies. (I don't think he has seen any Indiana Jones movies and has seen 1 1/2 Star Wars movies.) Marissa enjoyed her classes also, but they didn't have any displays or presentations. She happily toted home her own Curious George doll and book last week from the birthday party that the teachers threw for everybody in the class! Annika loved her class too. Her teacher hopes to return to teach next semester after she gives birth to her 5th son next month!

Guess I'd better try to post more small posts.

Monday, November 17, 2008

NC AWAA Gathering

Saturday, we met at Pullen Park with several other America World Ethiopian program families! Rebecca, our social worker, and her daughter were there, the Harbaugh family from Ohio was on its way to the beach, and the Forrests drove up from SC, so we got to see all of them too!

Pictured are the Harbaugh, Forrest, Cordell, Kepley, Dragovich, Raymer, Coen, and Schmidt families!!!

It had dumped rain right before we were to gather at the park, so there were LARGE puddles and lots of wet sand. Since we had church that evening and they had just had baths, our children decided to go swimming in the puddles. I apologize to all of you to whom I was talking to for my sudden and frequent outbursts at my children. Most of you missed them getting nekid in the parking lot for the ride home!

I had found out several months ago that Seth and Apryl had both graduated from the same high school as my sister and myself. Turns out that my sister was Seth's section leader in band! Hahaha! Too funny! She says that she remembers him being a cut-up!

Most of the group moved on to the Ethiopian restaurant for dinner, but we knew we'd *really* be pushing our family's limits if we tried to do that!

Thank-you, Candy for organizing and reminding us all when it was! Thank-you, Marshall and Jill for getting this awesome photo out to all of us!! It was so great to see you all!

Update from home: Marissa also lost another tooth on Saturday. Speaking of teeth, Jasmine had surgery on Friday to remove a tooth that had been abscessed and two others that had exposed roots. She looks a lot like Marissa now! (Not really.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Three Generations of Girls Night Out

Friday night, Mom, Marissa, & I went to see Phillips, Craig, & Dean at church. The concert was held to kick off Josh Hamilton's Triple Play Ministries.

Phillips, Craig, & Dean hold a special place in my heart. They were my dad's favorite group. When he was in hospice, we played PCD's "Trust" CD over and over and over again. I'm sure that Daddy could hear it. It really grew on me, and after he passed away, I decided that I really wanted to see them in person. I can't believe it has been almost 10 years... December 10.

Mom was able to share with Randy Phillips that we had "Crucified with Christ" sung at my dad's funeral as a testimony to his life. Randy hadn't heard that one before and said that it was an honor.

Pastor Mike and Josh Hamilton drew ticket stubs to give away a bunch of autographed Texas Ranger stuff. We didn't win, and that is OK. I would have been more excited if he were still with the Reds.

I'm still unclear as to what Triple Play Ministries is doing. They mentioned something about an orphanage in Uganda...

Crucified With Christ

As I look back on what I thought was living
I'm amazed at the price I choose to pay
And to think I ignored what really mattered
Cause I thought the sacrifice would be too great
But when I finally reached the point of giving in
I found the cross was calling even then
And even though it took dying to survive
I've never felt so much alive.


For I am crucified with Christ and yet I live
Not I but Christ that lives within me
His Cross will never ask for more than I can give
For its not my strength but His
There's no greater sacrifice
For I am crucified with Christ and yet I live


As I hear the Savior call for daily dying
I will bow beneath the weight of Calvary
Let my hands surrender to His piercing purpose
That holds be to the cross but sets me free
I will glory in the power of the cross
The things I thought were gain I count as loss
And with His suffering I identify
And by His resurrection power I am alive



And I will offer all I have
So that His cross is not in vain
For I found to live is Christ
And to die is truly gain


Words and Music by: Randy Phillips, Denise Phillips, Dave Clark, and Don Koch
based on Galatians 2:20

Monday, November 10, 2008


Saturday, November 8, 2008

Walking With a Tooth!

Funny, I forgot to mention in my post yesterday, that Benaiah Meteku had his first tooth cut through his gums on Thursday. He's been pretty good about it, but we did have to give him some baby Motrin yesterday evening.

Also, we has taken up walking! He takes up to 7 steps to get to one of us.

We are grateful that he saved these special moments for his family!

Friday, November 7, 2008

We Are Alive

This week was all about survival mode. Even though William is not working, we still have so much to do in keeping up with the new baby, the old kids, and the mess of stuff we brought home with us.

Monday, Benaiah got to meet the pediatrician. He has an ear infection, and she swabbed a wound on his arm where he received a TB vaccination. He is on an antibiotic for his ear and is as difficult to medicate as our Marissa was when she was a baby.

Our assignment this week was to collect 9 vials of baby poo. This was disgusting, and William is a wonderful daddy and husband.

Wednesday, Marissa went to the doctor for her ear. She has fluid in both ears and an infection in one of them. She is also on an antibiotic.

Our friend Nancy took Jeremy to swimming on Monday and Tuesday which was so helpful. Mom made chili for us on Tuesday and Cindilee brought our dinner on Wednesday.

Jeremy, Annika, Benaiah, and I went to home school co-op on Thursday morning where Benaiah was a rock star! He really got a little overwhelmed and withdrew a bit. He got to see his old friend, Mercy Bethlehem. Their stays at the transition home overlapped, and Mercy's parents got to meet and love on Benaiah 5 months ago.

Mercy and Benaiah at the transition home in June.

We met with our social worker that afternoon. NC required a visit within 10 days of placement. Not much to say, but it was good to see Rebecca and her children!

I can't believe that William's week off of work is over. I'm gonna cry! He brought me flowers today.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Photos From Our Last Day in Ethiopia

This is Meteku in his bed at the hotel. He liked it because it was very similar to his bed at the transition home.

William with Aster, the director or Kids Care and Duni's mom.

Kids with their gnomes!

We were able to visit Gelgela Orpahage where Meteku spent his first few weeks as an orphan.

We bought a mesob! We had it shrink wrapped at the airport and it made it home safely!

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Well, we made it home Friday!! We actually arrived at RDU a half hour early!

Our flight left Ethiopia around 10:40 pm, Ethiopian time. We had more trouble with our plane tickets. The baby didn't have the seat that was paid for. We did get our seat, but somebody ended up sitting in a jump seat because Ethiopian Airlines over-filled the flight.

Meteku was *the best* baby *ever* on the plane! People around us commented on how wonderful he was! He cried just a tiny bit when he got hungry and another little bit when he was frustrated with not being able to crawl around.

We were greeted at the airport by our parents, Susan's sister, Patti with her children, Tabitha, Benjamin, and Isaac, and Leslie-Jean, Carl, Bethany, and Miriam Colglazier!!! Thank-you all for the wonderful welcome home!!!!

Thank-you all for your prayers! We knew that we had a whole army of prayer warriors asking God for our good health, safety, and smooth process! THANK-YOU!

We will be posting photos and thoughts from our trip as we can.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Last Day in Ethiopia!

We are sad to leave, but oh so happy to be going home today!

This morning we visited Kids Care Orphanage.  We were able to pass out gnomes and candy and see several of the little ones referred to our friends in the Yahoo! Group.  (After we were there your children were moved to the transition home!)  (Candy, HM didn't appreciate William picking him up!  The nannies say he is a good boy!)

We did some more shopping.  Daddy picked out something special for Marissa and Annika!

We had pizza for lunch.

We visited Gelgela Orpahnage where Meteku lived for a few weeks and passed out more gnomes! 

The children at both places loved the gnomes and smiled and nodded as they received them.  The toddlers were especially excited and bounced for joy!  We will post some photos in a few days.

We are at the hotel packing up to go to the airport soon. 

I can't wait to get back to the U.S. to see Jeremy, Marissa, and Annika and give them the biggest hugs.  Sorry, I will probably smell funny!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

And here is the picture

I know that what you all really want to see is this. This was taken
Tuesday in the hotel room. Benaiah / Meteku is such a happy baby and
we are all doing well.

Success at the embassy

Sorry, no pictures today. We were at the US Embassy and pictures are
not allowed, so the camera has been in the safe all day. All five
families got approval for their Visa today. The only small hurdle
left to get over is that the Wempe's and us need the visa tomorrow (it
normally takes two days). Rachel made sure they knew this, and I am
confident it will work out fine.

Getting into the Embassy is an ordeal, two metal detectors, an x-ray
machine, and MANY MANY guards. Tip for families coming later, only
take what you NEED to the Embassy. Of course, you never know how long
you will need to wait in the reception, so you may need baby supplies.
Dietrich concerned the guard with his small roll of Charmin. It was
pretty funny when the guard pulled it out and asked him what it was.
At first, Dietrich didn't know, then he had some trouble explaining.
Thankfully, it did not get as far as a demonstration.

After the Embassy, we had a short shopping trip to get soccer jerseys
and some jewelry. Back to the hotel for room service dinner and some
packing and hopefully an early night.

Benaiah is doing GREAT still. He slept well last night although Susan
and I were up a lot checking on him. He took a nap and had some
snoozing in the van. When in the room, he crawls around and plays and
even laughs a little. We are all doing really well, and I just pray
it keeps up for the plan ride tomorrow.

Susan and I have been calling him Meteku (his given name) since that
is how he is known here. At the transition home, and the court papers
and the visa all have Meteku William Schmidt as his "official" name.
We need to work on transitioning him to learning that Benaiah is him
as well.

One person in a shop today asked Robel (our Ethiopian guide) if
Benaiah was Susan's child. He explained that we adopted him. The
shop-keeper apparently saw a resemblance, and we already treat him
like our own child loving on him and interacting with him.

It's raining today which everyone says is quite unusual for late
October. In fact, we had thunder and lightening which Rachel said
never happens. It's a bit depressing and makes it no fun to be out to

I am more then ready to come home although there is a lot more "loot"
I would have liked to get before we leave. I just want to get back to
NC and get on with the next stage.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Day 2 in Ethiopia -We've Got Our Boy!

This trip is crazy!  We both took Ambien again last night, and it seems that we have adjusted to the time change now.  We are just exhausted for all of the activity and the emotions.

This morning we had our paperwork party where will filled out 3 more forms for the US to grant us a visa for Meteku.
Amy Lusse passed out a motion sickness drug that begins with a "B."  All of the folks who partook did much better in the car today including William.  William definately had motion sickness.

Then, we went shopping.  We got lots of good stuff!  It was fun, but we found the haggling over prices to be taxing.  Just give us a fair price already!  But, it is the way here!  Too funny! Rachel is brutal.  I would have loved to have Lenka with us too!

We went to the Hilton to straighten out our seats on the Ethiopian Air flight home.  They have a service center there.  The Wempes' baby's ticket had be CANCELED, so it was good that we went!  We also had lunch.  That place is really nice! 

In the late afternoon, we finally got the the transition home where we had the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony, gave our nannies gifts, and gathered our babies! 

Meteku fell asleep in the sling and slept all of the very bumpy way to the hotel.  He enjoyed exploring the room.  Meteku is so sweet and so smart!!  He got a bath in the wet bar and got greased up and some PJs.  He took a bottle and a half and fell asleep next to me in the bed.  When I went to get up, he reached out for me not to go.  It just melted my heart.  We am here for him now. 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Day 1 in Ethiopia

Today was our first full day in Ethiopia.  We both took an Ambien last night.  After I took mine, I broke my toe on the bed, fell onto the bed, and I couldn't get up!  I slept soundly until 5:30 am.  William says I was talking in my sleep.

We met our group for breakfast in the hotel restaurant.  It was very good AND included with our room.  We left the hotel at 10 am (or so) and met Rachel, the transition home director, at the Ethiopian version of Starbucks for a meeting, and then had lunch at some Garden restaurant.  William and I both got Ethiopian dishes.  The injera was much more sour than at home.

After lunch was the moment we came for!  We went to the transition home to meet our children!  It was very surreal.  Meteku (Beniah) was fine with being handed off.  He did not make eye contact with us at first.  William and I passed him back and forth and told him about his big brother and big sisters.  After about 15 minutes, he fell asleep in my arms. 

We really enjoyed all of the children at the transition home.  I know those of you waiting to go are just dying.  Your children are precious!  I was especially smitten with the Laughner's little one.  He is a sweet heart!  Of course, they are all wonderful!  The bigger kids are lots of fun, and the girls liked to show me how well they jump rope and enjoyed the praise they received.  We delivered the care package to the Forrests' adorable little guy.  He really likes his car!  We know you all are dying for more photos, but the connection here is SO SLOW that we cannot load that many photos.  The Lusses alone took over 700 photos today! 

We were really please to see that the photo book and the lovey that we sent for Meteku months and months ago were in his little bed!  When we handed him his lovey, he grasped onto it and gnawed on the tags.  We both got to feed him bottles, and he gazed into our faces and even grabbed my nose and William's mouth.  Ouch. 

The VanWettens were so blessed today to meet their older daughter's birth mother.  It was very emotional and a strong spiritual experience for them.  You'll have to check their blog whenever she gets a chance to share their story.

We went out for an Ethiopian cultural experience for dinner.  It was traditional Ethiopian food including the hand washing and dancers.  We loved it!

We went to a store after dinner and stocked up on water and got some bebere spice and one can of the formula that Meteku is eating now.  It was expensive -$9 for a small can. 

William is feeling a little ill in the tummy.  He thinks that part of it is motion sickness from riding in the van.  The roads here or lack of roads here are getting to him.  Riding around is a true experience!! 

The hotel is nice.  We have a lot of room.  We bought the noise machine that KP recommended and were not woken by the call to prayer at 6 am or whenever it was.