Wednesday, December 29, 2010

the long awaited envelope!

inside this envelope holds the results of what gender baby sweeney #2 will be!! after much anticipation, and an uncooperative baby, the results are finally in!!!

thanks to a very patient and persistent OB doc, we will know tomorrow night whether or not i can start buying tutus and hairbows, or if i need to stick with overalls and baseball caps. our doctor was so sweet to us today, despite baby #2 insisting on being pretty modest and sticking his/her bottom up against my belly button the whole time she was trying to check out the goods. after trying to determine the gender herself on a portable machine, our doctor resolved that we couldn't leave without knowing our answer. thankfully we were there around lunch and one of the ultrasound rooms was empty, so she snuck us back there for a clearer view. after conferring with an ultrasound tech, they both agreed that they are 99% sure they have our answer! the doctor fold up the piece of paper multiple times so we can't cheat and sealed it in the above envelope.

i'm headed on my way now to the bakery to place our order for our reveal cake for tomorrow night. if all goes well, sometime around 8:00 p.m. tomorrow, all our waiting will be over!! yeehaw :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

the 2nd best christmas gift ever

wow. what an amazing christmas we had this year! no, it's not because of any of the presents we received or gave, but it's only because of our immense and undeniable love for our awesome God and our amazing new son. seriously, our little greer is the 2nd best christmas gift ever!!! {the 1st being the gift of our sweet Savior, of course!}

isn't he a doll?!?!

i'm still somewhat in shock that we passed court and that everything went so smoothly. thank you, dear Lord!! i also can't believe that our first trip is already over and it's almost been a week since we passed court. we are praying that the next few weeks pass quickly as we wait for our embassy appointment to go back and bring greer home, but i've got plenty of stuff to do before our little man makes his appearance in the US!! i'm sure the next few weeks will be spent in full on painting mode as we try to prepare greer's room for him and also turn another bedroom into a playroom for him and baby S.

we've heard that we could be getting a possible embassy date around february 23rd but we are holding to that date very loosely. it has been our prayer all along to not only pass court before the end of 2010, but also to bring greer home in february so that i can still travel with ryan to get him. at last check, my doctor would prefer for me not to travel after march 15 because of my pregnancy. i think i would be devastated if i can't go back, but i am trusting that God's plans are more perfect than any of our plans.

celebrating christmas was a little bittersweet without greer home, but i'm so thankful to know that he's in a really great place with caregivers that love him to death while we wait to bring him home. it is also such a comfort to know that while we are away, God is still sovereign and is taking care of all his needs while we can't. it is our prayer that during this time apart, God is whispering to our sweet son in his dreams about his mommy and daddy, and our love for him. we can't wait to hold him again soon and to finally be together as a family once and for all!

ryan and i are recovering pretty well so far from the jet-lag, but i think that's mostly because of the timing of our return. we got home at 6:30 p.m. on christmas eve and had to hit the ground running with all the holiday festivities so we haven't had time to worry about the time adjustment. i'm also feeling really great recently with my pregnancy, and know that my good health is a gift! up until when we traveled, i was still getting sick {aka vomiting} at least twice a week but i haven't gotten sick since we left for ethiopia. praise the Lord!! we return to the doctor this wednesday to try again to see the gender of our 2nd child and are keeping our fingers crossed that our child is less modest this time around :)

i cannot thank you all enough for your prayers and sweet words while we were gone!! your emails and comments meant a ton to ryan and i!!!!! we can't wait to tell greer about the people all over that prayed our sweet man home.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

merry christmas!!!

Sweet Holly Story Christmas 5x7 folded card
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Thursday, December 23, 2010

a hard day of goodbyes

Well, we are now sitting in the Addis Ababa airport and waiting to board our 17+ hour direct flight back to the States. It has been a hard day, just because of saying all our goodbyes but we know that God is good! We aren't looking forward to traveling for the next 28 hours, but what a wonderful trip this has been for our growing family. We have loved every second of being in Ethiopia and would not have traded this trip for anything. The country, the people, and Greer {of course} are all so beautiful and we could not have asked for more this Christmas.

Yesterday and today we spent most of our day at the transition house loving on and getting to know our son more and more. He is a little pistol for sure and we definitely know that we will have our hands full when we bring him home!! He slept in his new nursery room at night but we got to play with him during the day whenever we wanted. He is only 1 of 2 babies in his new room, instead of 1 of 15 like he was at the orphanage. It was really neat to hear all the nannies telling him in Amharic that we are his mommy and daddy {enat and ababa}, and we didn't mind reminding him too!! He was pretty cold to us on Tuesday when he first arrived at the transition house but I'm pretty sure it was just because he had a traumatic day. He had been at the same orphanage since he was 5 days old, so add in a completely new environment and a 2 hour car ride, and that's enough to throw any one for a loop. However, when we walked in his room on Wednesday morning, he was all smiles! He reached for me immediately and didn't want us to put him down. We had our battles throughout the day, as he's very quick to throw a fit if he doesn't get his way, but overall, our time together was perfect. Today we spent some time with him in our room and it was really sweet to get some alone time together.

He's doing really well adjusting to his new environment and we could not ask for a better place to leave our son. The nannies and all the transition home staff already know his name, and frequently pop in his room just to visit and tell him hello. He's had a bit of stomach trouble since arriving though and was also coughing quite a bit today. We talked with the on-site nurse about our concerns, and she gave him some medicine and assured us that she'd take good care of him while we're gone. She also told us that she would make sure they fattened him up a bit before we come back to get him. She said he'd look like Santa Claus next time we saw him! I don't know if we want him to look exactly like Santa, but we'll be glad to see him out of 3-6 month clothes finally!!

Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things I have ever done. To know that he's finally our son but still have to leave him is torture. After a wonderful day together, it nearly broke our hearts to say "ciao" to him. When we finally got around to it, both Ryan and I were crying, and I'm sure Natty could sense that something was going on. When we handed him over to his nanny, he cried and reached for us. That was very hard to see, but we are also thankful that in our 5 days together, he's recognizing our love for him more and more. He is definitely the best gift we've ever received and we are praying for a quick trip back to bring him home!!

Well, it is time for us to begin boarding so I better cut this short. We are sad to leave but are excited to finally be back on US soil by 7:30 a.m. tomorrow. Blessings to you all and Merry Christmas from the Sweeney family of almost 4 :) 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


How can we even begin to put into words how good it feels to finally call Nathanel our son! What a gift from God he is to us. We cannot wait to continue to get to know him better and to bring him home hopefully sometime in February!! Here's how it all unfolded…

Today did not go as originally planned, but instead went much better! This morning we planned to go shopping and arrive at the courthouse around 1:00 p.m. to wait our turn with the judge. However, around 10:30 we got the call from Woudneh {our adoption agency's In-Country Director} to come to court right away. Thankfully, we were driving to a shop not too far from the court so we were able to make it very quickly. When we got to court we were told that our cases would be heard early. The waiting room was packed with other adoptive families and also birth families waiting to relinquish their rights. Not but about 5 or 10 minutes after we arrived, we heard Nathanel's orphanage get called and saw a group of birth parents go back to meet with the judge. We immediately began speculating if Natty's birth mom might be in the group, and picked out one young woman in particular that we thought it might be. A few minutes later, after the birth parents were dismissed, our names were called along with 2 other families from our agency. We went back together to meet with the judge and had our court interview together in a group. This was a surprise to us because we hadn't heard of the judge doing this before. {Turns out she had a 1:00 p.m. meeting that popped up so she needed to finish her cases early so she decided to hold group interviews for the first time.}

We were asked about 5 yes or no questions, and the judge said that she would receive a report later in the day to finish our adoptions. We all left the room a little confused and disappointed. We were under the impression that we did not pass yet but were still waiting on some paperwork. After the rest of our agency's families were called back, Woudneh told us that we were finished. As we all walked down the hall long-faced, Woudneh asked us what was wrong and we said that we weren't sure if we had passed court or not. He immediately got a huge smile on his face and assured us that we had passed!! He said that the judge just had to write up her final report and send it on later in the day, but the kids were ours. SUCH A RELIEF!!! Tears definitely flowed and we knew that it was finally time to celebrate.

After we left the courthouse, we were taken to a local branch of Natty's orphanage and were told that we would have a chance to meet his birth mom there. Two other families were also meeting their birth families at the same place and their birth families were already at the orphanage when we arrived. However, Nathanel's birth mom was not. We began to worry that she was not going to show up and were both pretty disappointed until we heard a knock at the gate about 15 minutes later. As the gate opened, we saw the same beautiful, young woman that we thought could possibly be his mom from court. Our translator greeted her and told her who we were, and we had several hugs and lots of tears. We thanked her and she thanked us, and it was a moment that we will cherish forever! We were able to get some photos of her and hope to be able to share as much as possible about her with Nathanel as he grows up. As we had expected, she is very young but also a very wonderful person! We loved getting to spend time with her and wished it was easier to communicate to her our love and adoration for her. We gave her the photo album we put together of pictures of Nathanel and ourselves, and she cried as she thumbed through the pages. I don't think she was expecting it at all so I'm so glad we came prepared!

After finishing up our meeting with her, our group loaded back in the van and headed to the beautiful restaurant in the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Addis for a celebratory lunch.  Everyone was so thrilled and it was just a great time to talk about how grateful we are for God's provision and direction throughout this crazy process. Plus, we couldn't ask for a better group of people to be experiencing this with! We had a great lunch, were able to call home, and update facebook with the good news. We were so thrilled, but were even more excited knowing that Nathanel was on his way to the transition home as we were having lunch. When we finished up, we continued a little bit more of our shopping but we were much more anxious to finally make it back to the transition house to see the kids.

When we got back to the transition house where we are staying, our little guy was hanging out in his new {temporary!!} crib waiting for us to come for a visit. He even brought us a present…our first stinky diaper J After a quick, and very grumpy, bath, he was ready to visit for a while. Ryan and I took turns passing him back and forth, and we were excited to see that his disposition eventually changed and he seemed much more relaxed with us. We know we have a long way to go with attachment when we get him home, but we can't wait to get started! We already love him so much and can't wait for him to fully understand that we are his forever mommy and daddy. We said good night to him and left him with his new nanny for bedtime and were whisked away to a traditional Ethiopian meal at a local restaurant. The restaurant was complete with a lot of traditional dancing and singing so we had quite the cultural experience! We are now back at the transition house and ready for some much needed sleep. Tomorrow and Thursday, our main priority is to get as much time as possible in with our sweet son before heading home. He is such a sweet baby and we are so proud to finally and officially be able to call him our son!!

Attached are some pictures from the last few days…

Thanks again for all your prayers, love and encouragement. We love you and will be seeing you soon.

Welcome to the family, Greer Nathanel Sweeney!!

~Ryan & Lesli

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ready for court tomorrow!

Hey again from Ethiopia. Ryan and I are back at the transition house tonight in Addis Ababa, and are anxiously awaiting our day in court tomorrow. We got to see our little Greer again today for about 2.5 hours and it was definitely a much needed time with our little man. He seemed to recognized us and even fell asleep in our arms today as we rocked him. We got to play with him on the floor and he was definitely a mover and a shaker. He crawled around on the floor and was fascinated with our water bottles. He was much more smiley today but we were disappointed because the orphanage would not allow us to take any pictures :(
After our time was up at the orphanage, we made the 2 hour trip back to Addis. We met up with the rest of our group and went to the market to buy some souvenirs. We got quite a few gifts for Greer so we can give him a little something from Ethiopia on each of his Gotcha Days (the anniversary of his adoption). Ryan had a great time haggling for good deals and made several friends with various shop keepers!! Tonight we came back to the transition home and had dinner, then a wonderful coffee ceremony with all the other adoptive families. We can't wait to post lots of pictures when we get home and have a better internet connection!
Anyway, we have been prepped by our adoption agency about what to expect tomorrow at court and we definitely feel more ready. Greer's birth mom is required to appear in court during the morning and we are required to come around noon. We could be at court as long as 4 hours waiting for our turn which usually only lasts about 5 minutes. Your prayers are coveted and we will do our best to update everyone as soon as possible about the outcome. If we pass court tomorrow, Greer will be moved from Nazaret to Addis Ababa to live at the transition house where we are staying so our last few days we will get lots of extra time with him. There are also 4 other families from our same agency here with us going to court tomorrow, so please remember them too!!
We love you guys and appreciate you sharing in our joy with this experience. Blessings!
~Ryan & Lesli

Sunday, December 19, 2010

meeting our boy

Hey everyone,
To say that today was amazing would be a complete understatement! We had a full day of activity but by far the best part was finally meeting the sweet boy we've been staring out in pictures for the last 3 months. After a pretty good night of sleep, we woke up early this morning and made the 2 hour journey to the Nazaret, Ethiopia. Our little man has lived in Nazaret his whole short life and we were thrilled to get to see his original hometown with our own eyes. The scenery alone to Nazaret also made the trip very worth the drive. It was funny to be driving along the road in a large, modern van and then pass a herd of goats or a man on a donkey pulled cart. It felt like we had stepped back in time!
When we finally made it to Natty's orphanage, we were both immediately tearful just from seeing the orphanage's name printed on the gate. After what seemed like a lifetime, the guard opened the gate and both of our hearts began racing knowing that we were finally so close. We were then led on a tour of the orphanage with our final stop being the infant room. The room's walls were lined with cribs which held around 15 babies. At first we were led to a crib of a little baby boy who we thought they were saying was our baby. The more we looked at him, the more we realized that this was not our Nathanel!! We were starting to get a little worried that we had been given the wrong referral picture or that there was some drastic mistake but then one of the nannies walked in with our freshly bathed little guy. We realized that our tour guide was just showing us one of the cute boys in the room, not trying to tell us it was Nathanel! They were just waiting for our little guy to finish getting ready for our special meeting :) When the nanny brought him in the room, she walked him over to put him in his crib and he just stood there looking at us. He was {of course} wearing his favorite color, pink, and looked just like his pictures!!
We scooped him up and didn't let go for the rest of the time we were there! He was a little fussy at first but as soon as the nanny brought his bottle over, he was perfectly content. Ryan and I took turns feeding him his lunch and he seemed a little confused about who we were, but that is to be expected since we just met! After he drank his bottle, we sat outside passing him back and forth and giving him all the hugs and kisses we've been waiting to give for months now. He was pretty serious the whole time but we were determined to get a smile out of him before we left. We finally found a tickle spot and saw his smile and heard his sweet laugh for the first time. It was definitely music to this mommy and daddy's ears! 
After about an hour, we took him around with us so we could pass out candy and a couple soccer balls to the rest of the kids in the orphanage because we were told that our time was drawing near. All the kids were preparing for nap time so they were in their beds spread out over about 4 rooms. In the bigger kids' rooms, almost all the kids slept 2 to a small bed, with a few sleeping 3 to a bed. Despite their circumstances, the kids were so sweet and gave us the biggest smiles when we handed out the candy. Nathanel was a trooper and went along with us on our hip and seemed content to walk around visiting with the other kids. After passing out the candy, we took Natty back to his room so he could lay down for a nap. We weren't sure if we'd be able to visit with him again today or not so we gave him kisses and promised to be back soon.
We left and were on cloud 9 pretty much for the rest of the day! After the orphanage, we had a great lunch at the hotel where we are staying tonight in Nazaret. We sat outside a the hotel's restaurant next to the pool and we couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day {70 degrees sounds a lot better than the 27 degrees in KY today}! It was definitely a surreal experience to be eating next to a lush swimming pool, especially after what we have experienced so far on the trip but we were thankful for a mental and emotional break. Later today, Hannah, from our adoption agency, and our driver, Yonas, took us to a park in Nazaret to feed the wild monkeys. Before going to the park we stopped to buy 7 kgs of bananas, and it only cost us only about $2.50 for all those bananas!! We were definitely shocked by the price. At the park, the monkeys were everywhere and pretty much swarmed when they realized that we were handing out goodies. Some of them would come right up to us and eat the bananas out of our hands so obviously they are used to a lot of visitors!
After hanging out at the park for awhile, we headed back to Nathanel's orphanage to pick up another couple so we got to see him for a few more minutes. When we got back to his room, he was standing in his crib and we put him on the floor for a few minutes of playtime. He crawled around a little bit but we were most impressed when he grabbed onto a plastic chair, pulled up on it, and started walking around the room pushing it. He seems so little to be cruising already but we forget that he's already over 13 months old! We kissed him goodbye again and are now settled into our hotel room for the night. The hotel's accommodations are very nice to say the least, and Ryan loved the price...only 365 birr {equivalent to about 21.00 USD}/night!!!
We will get to go back to the orphanage again in the morning for one last visit with our little man before heading back to Addis tomorrow afternoon, since we have to appear in court on Tuesday. We can't wait to spend more time with our little guy tomorrow and will update again as soon as we can. We also hope to send and post some pictures of our growing family if and when we pass court Tuesday!!
Thanks again for all your prayers, sweet emails and support!!!! We are overjoyed and can't wait to bring Nathanel {Greer} home soon to introduce him to everyone. Blessings to you all from the beautiful Ethiopia!
~Ryan & Lesli

Saturday, December 18, 2010

we are here!!

Hello from the other side of the world!
Ryan and I have made it safely to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and have officially begun our journey to our son. We had a very smooth but long flight here and arrived about 10 hours ago. We are now dragging and emotional drained, but are loving every minute of being here! We just finished up dinner and are about to have some prayer time with our travel group and then crash for the night.
We were hoping to get to see our sweet Nathanel {Greer} today but were disappointed to learn that he was not moved to an orphanage in Addis Ababa as we were previously told. However, we will travel to a town about 2 hours away tomorrow morning to spend the night and to finally meet our little man :) Today we got to tag along with 2 other families as they met their kids for the first time and it was such an amazing experience to be a part of. We can't wait for tomorrow for that to finally be us!! The kids here are so precious, joyful, and anxious for families to come for them. Just at the 2 orphanages we visited today, there were probably a total of 90 children which is just a drop in the bucket of the waiting children in Ethiopia.
We are all tired and about ready to crash so I apologize for this being short. Hopefully tomorrow night we will have a better internet connection at the hotel so we'll be able to write more and share about our first meeting with our boy! If you don't mind, please be praying for our first meeting with Nathanel. We are praying that God would already begin binding his heart to ours, and that it would be love at first sight!! We are also getting anxious about our court appearance Tuesday afternoon, so please say a prayer for that too. If all goes well, at that time we will legally become Nathanel's parents and will be one step closer to bringing our son home forever.
We are so grateful for you and for your support of us through this process. Thanks for lifting us up along this journey.
Ryan & Lesli

Friday, December 17, 2010

About to board

We are about to board our flight from Washington DC to Addis!! It's been a very smooth trip so far and we cannot wait to be in the same country as our boy!!!!! I hope to be able to post and send email updates from Ethiopia but we will be at the mercy of our guesthouse's Internet. Thanks for your prayers! They are definitely sustaining us.

Anyway, much love from us! We can't wait to get our eyes on our boy at last :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

2 more sleeps!!

i can't believe our trip to ethiopia is finally almost here :) wowsers! it seems like the last few weeks have absolutely flown by. i guess my procrastinating and ignoring the trip so that it would get here sooner has finally paid off...except that now we only are 2 days away and i have TONS to do. oh well! i'm still excited!!

we've been collecting donations for our adoption agency's in-country non-profit organization, and last night ryan and i finally sat down to begin sorting through them. we were floored with how much we received. if you gave, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! we are estimating that we'll be close, if not go over, the 150 lbs. limit of donations that we were planning on taking this first trip. if we have anything left over or receive additional donations at this point, we'll just take them on the next trip. we are just so grateful to be able to take some things to show our love in a tangible way for the orphans waiting for families and those who are not available to be adopted.

without embarrassing myself too much, here's the chaos that is strung about my house right now {this is all stuff for the trip and mostly donations!}:

my goal for tonight is to get more organized and actually start packing away some of these donations. i also need to get some laundry cranked out so ryan and i have clean clothes to wear!

ok, well that's all for now. let the packing begin ;)

a call from R

i know i've been pretty tight lipped about R & P the last several weeks. mostly it's because there has not really been any thing to say. ryan and i have been dealing with the realization that the relationship we were hoping and praying to have with the boys is not a reality, and it may never be. while we both still think of them and talk about them often, our contact with the boys has been extremely limited since they went back with their mom...but not for our lack of trying.

we've tried calling their mom's cell to talk to the boys several times but were usually told that R was asleep, unavailable or not at home. we planned to go to one of R's basketball games, only to find out the day of the game that we were given the wrong time for the game. we asked to have the boys in our home for thanksgiving since their mother usually works that day but she told us that she got the day off to cook for them. after a quick and anonymous call to her work that day, we soon realized that she lied to us and began to get the hint. i emailed R on thanksgiving to tell him how thankful we were for him, little P, and our time as a family but never got a response. the only time we had seen them since they went back was about 5 days after they were returned, when we met them to give R his iPod that he left at our house. truthfully, ryan and i were beginning to feel like we'd done all we could and were ready to step back for awhile because it was too hard to keep trying only to get shut down.

last night, i woke up to go to the bathroom {pretty typical these days!} and i could not go back to sleep. i found myself beginning to stress and grow anxious over our upcoming trip, finally meeting our little man, and passing court. my mind also naturally began to drift to the boys. i wondered how different their christmas morning would look than year, and my heart ached. i prayed for the boys for quite some time last night and asked God again to show us where He'd have us go with our relationship with them. it was beginning to look hopeless from our perspective so i told Him that i wasn't sure we'd be able to keep trying to no avail for much longer.

after finally dozing off again late into the morning, i woke up around 7:25 a.m. to my cell phone ringing. i look groggily at the phone and was shocked to see that it was R's mom calling. i answered the phone and R asked me if i was at home. he thought we might be in ethiopia already! i assured him that we can't afford to take phone calls on our cells from ethiopia so i was at home still snuggled in my bed :) he then told me that his mom's car was completely frozen and wouldn't start so he had no way to get to school. huh? we hadn't heard from them in 4 weeks and now they were calling about us giving him a ride to school. i was definitely surprised and at first a little disappointed that was the only reason they were calling. i told him that i would be on my way shortly and jumped out of bed to get ready. hey, at least he wanted to go to school, right?

ryan was already up for the day getting ready so i went in the bathroom to tell him what happened. he had been to the boys' new house once previously to drop off all their belongings so ryan decided that i could follow him down there since it was somewhat on his way to work. i got dressed and was just kind of dumbfounded the whole way to their house. {mind you, they live on the complete opposite end of town from us now!! 30+ minutes in rush hour traffic each way, but it was worth it to finally see R!}

when we got to their house, ryan and i were both disappointed to hear that little P was not there. the boys' mom said that she had already walked him down to daycare for the day. we haven't seen him since early october so i can only imagine how much he's changed in over 2 months! R came out and he looked so different himself. i'm pretty sure that he's probably grown another inch taller and hasn't had a hair cut since the last time we took him so he was a bit shaggy. we both gave him a big hug, and i was immediately overwhelmed with the smell coming from him. as we were walking out to our car, he handed us a copy of his school picture that he had taken while living with us in september. the comparison between the boy in the picture and the boy riding next to me made me sad. i couldn't help but to notice that the hooded sweatshirt he was wearing {one he got from ryan's parents last christmas} was covered in dark black stains and that his school uniform looked unwashed. he generally looked dirty and unkempt, which was hard to see. i know appearances aren't everything, but seeing him that way makes me wonder what type of nurturing he's getting now that he was back with his mom...

we pretty much made small talk our whole way to his school. for once, i was actually thankful for the rush hour traffic because it gave me a few more minutes with him. we didn't talk about anything major, mostly just little things about school, basketball, our family and baby P as i didn't want to push my luck. i primarily just asked him a lot of questions and he answered. it was surprisingly natural and seemed liked we'd picked up right where we left off. while R lived with us, we always had wars over which radio stations to listen to in the car. he'd always change the station i was listening to sad, depressing country songs and i'd make him change it! as i was driving, i had the radio on softly in the background and i saw him eying the radio a couple times like he was going to reach up and change it. that made me happy and sad all at once.

as we got closer to his school, i told him how much we missed him and that we'd love to see him again soon. he smiled and nodded, and we agreed that we'd try to go see the new n@rnia movie when we got back from ethiopia. as i dropped him off, i told him again that we loved him and missed him, and to call whenever. he smiled, gathered his things, and told me goodbye.

it was a hard morning but also a good one too. here i had just asked God a few hours before to show us where He wanted us in our relationship with these boys, and He opened the door again. i'm not sure what today will lead to in the future, but i hope it's more than just panicked phone calls when they need something. i hope we can continue building our relationship with the boys and their mother so that they'd know how much we love them, and more importantly how much the Lord loves them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

we're having a baby...

we have no clue!!! sorry to keep you waiting all weekend for nothing but when we went for the ultrasound on friday, our little girl or guy was quite modest and would not allow us to see whether we'll be adding a son or daughter to our clan!

ryan was pretty disappointed which i thought was kinda funny since he didn't want to find out in the first place, but i was surprisingly ok with waiting a little longer. i think i've just got so much on my mind since we're getting ready to meet mr. greer that i'm ok with finding out about baby S a little later on.

we did see a ton of change in little baby S. he/she was soooo much bigger and way more active than last time. our ultrasound tech even had a hard time getting readings of little peanut's brain and heart because of all the activity. after a lot of effort she did finally get the pictures she needed and our doctor was happy to report that every thing is on target and little peanut is growing perfectly! i was so surprised to see how in 5 weeks, his/her little arms and legs have sprouted and are getting so long. last time the little kiddo looked almost like a little gummie bear but not any more!!

we got some new pictures but they didn't really turn out very clear, so here's the only one that doesn't look like a complete blob:

our kiddo's head was resting nicely right next to my bladder, face down with his/her legs crossed and up towards my ribs. last time we couldn't see his/her spine or ribs but this time both were much more obvious.

what a miracle!! we are so thankful for our healthy little baby :) our sweet doctor is kind enough to let us come back on december 29th for another look, so hopefully we'll be able to reveal his/her gender for real at that time. thanks for hanging in here with us!!

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." - Psalm 139:13-16

Thursday, December 9, 2010

a poll

i'm taking a poll. do you think baby s is a little bows and tutus kind of girl or a little dump truck and dirt type of boy?

now's your chance to voice your opinion!! see the poll on the right sidebar? well, VOTE!

i think it will be interesting to see if you're right :) we go to the doctor on friday to find out one way or another but we're not finding out at the appointment! ryan and i are going to have the ultrasound tech write our results in an envelope and we're going to find out together with our family sunday night at our "gender reveal party". cute idea, huh? totally unoriginal on my part though!! we got the cute idea from some friends in our small groups' sister. here's ginny's cute post about her sister's reveal party.

so, you have until midnight on sunday to cast your vote. by then we'll definitely know one way or another but i'm guessing i probably won't get a chance to blog about it until monday.

happy voting :)

ps - we seriously are happy either way but it's fun to debate about!!

Monday, December 6, 2010

weekend recap

we had a stellar weekend but it was soooo busy! all last week, whenever i would look at my planner i would get stressed out!! maybe because our month of december looks a little like this...

yikes! we seriously have something going on every day until we leave for ethiopia. i'm not complaining though. i would rather stay busy so that the time passes quickly and we're on the plane before we know it. oh, and by the way...yes, i do still rock an old school planner, and i'm proud of it!! i never felt like i could get a good picture of what my week looked like by using just my iphone so i went back to a planner where i write everything down. if you're looking to do the same, i can't say enough great things about my adorable one from here. check them out :) it's a modern momma's planner. ha!

so, what did we do this weekend??

-we got to attend a wonderful airport homecoming for 2 families from arise. one family brought home a sweet little 4 year old girl, and the other family, vince and kelli, brought home their two sons, ages 6 and 4. we started the process around the same time as vince and kelli, so it was really exciting to see that they are already home with their children and deeply in love. while they were in ethiopia last week picking up their boys, they said that they got to visit with our little guy and that he's doing really great while he waits on us. i seriously love the tight knit community that our agency offers families, and the friendships we've built along the way! the Lord is not only blessing us with a new son, but also a great support group through this process too.

-after the airport, we went out to celebrate the 9th wedding anniversary of some friends from church. we had a great meal at bonefish grill with four other very fun couples and then went to do a little karaoke. having never done karaoke before in my life, i decided that friday was not my night! a couple guys from our group did brave it out though and it was a really great time. i'm not sure if all karaoke bars are this way or just the one we went to, but all the music people picked was depressing!! perhaps i'll open an "only happy music allowed" karaoke bar. that would be fun {as long as i still didn't have to sing in front of strangers}!

-our church had a women's christmas brunch and it was super fun. one of my besties, lindsay, and i volunteered to host a table which meant that we were in charge of our table decorations. we both love doing stuff like that and so it was fun to team up and design our table. {sorry, i once again have no pictures to share :( i really need to find our camera cord so i can start taking and uploading pictures again soon!} i was also asked to give a little testimony about our experience fostering and adopting at the brunch. i don't really like speaking in public so i was pretty nervous, especially to talk about such personal subjects publicly. i was nervous and cried pretty much through the whole thing...pregnancy hormones, perhaps? it was good to share though about what the Lord has been teaching us through this process and how we got here. maybe if i muster up enough time, i'll post some of what i shared.

-after the brunch, my mother-in-law graciously offered to come over and help me clean my house. boy did it need it!! i don't think i've really deep cleaned it once since the boys left, so now it looks sparkling compared to what it looked like before. we chatted, cleaned and grabbed a quick dinner together since ryan was busy reffing a middle school wrestling tournament all day. {have i mentioned that he's doing this on here yet? probably not. he just started 2 weeks ago and is loving it. he wrestled in high school and has a great personality for reffing. if coaches or parents yell at him, he's not intimated at all. after all, he did raise a teenager for a year so not much scared him anymore!!}.

-saturday evening, ryan and i headed over to my other bestie's house for a pre-christmas get-together. elizabeth and matt got married in july and this was the first time i'd been to their house since they got hitched. it was fun to see how they turned what used to be elizabeth's house into a married house for both of them! lindsay and her husband, joseph, joined in on the fun too so we had an evening of lots of laughter, food and fun. i was so tired when i got home after spending 2 nights in a row out until after 11:00 pm. since i found out i was pregnant, my new bedtime is around 9:30 so i was feeling a bit like a party animal :)

-ryan and i headed off to church sunday morning and it was our weekend to teach the preschool class. i really enjoying teaching that age and seeing how the Lord is already penetrating the hearts of the kids with His word. this sunday though, it seemed that many of the kiddos were hyped up. i don't know if it's the impending excitement of christmas or what, but at one point during the class ryan looked at me and asked, "how are we supposed to do this in real life?". ha! i assured him that while i love children, i doubt we'll ever have 13 preschoolers residing in our house at once :)

-after church our small group came over for a christmas party/lunch. i felt kind of bad because we are probably the least festive house for having a christmas party at this year. after having my husband drag all 5 rubber bins of christmas decorations from our shed into the house, i decided against putting anything up. i figured that without a christmas tree there really was no point. we can still celebrate Jesus' birthday without all the hub bub of green and red strung throughout our house! the party was very low-key but fun. just what the doctor ordered after a busy weekend. ryan actually ended up taking a nap on the couch while the rest of us hung out and watched some HGTV. i love just doing life together with our small group and they are a real blessing to us!

-for dinner that night, the armstrongs, another local arise family, invited us over for dinner. they made some yummy ethiopian food and i hate to admit it, but it was our first time trying ethiopian. ryan and i {well, probably mostly me} are not super adventurous eaters so we had been putting off heading over to our local ethiopian restaurant for quite some time, but now we have to go! we both liked it so that gives me hope that i won't be overly hungry during our entire upcoming trip :) we loved getting to know brittney and james better and hearing about their experiences in ethiopia. they adopted a sweet little guy from the same area as our little man so they gave us some tips for our trip.

so, that's our weekend recapped. i'm honestly just tired thinking about it!! it was a great one but i cannot wait to get on the plane to ethiopia and final relax a bit. yeah right :)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

the countdown is on!

today we are officially 2 weeks and

4 christmas parties,

2 dinners with friends,

1 band concert for Ryan's little brother Zachary,

1 anniversary party,

1 airport welcome home party for 2 other adoptive families,

1 board meeting,

1 ultrasound,

1 gender reveal party for baby peanut,

1 arise waiting family meeting,

and 14 sleeps until we board our first plane towards ethiopia!!

*praise the Lord and may the time pass quickly :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

ramblings in bullet form has it really been a week since i've typed anything in this blog? i guess so. sorry for the silence but i feel like my brain and my body are each being pulled into 100 different directions. we had an absolutely wonderful thanksgiving weekend, but i'm in the post holiday daze today for sure. i honestly hit my snooze button so many times this morning that i thought i was going to cause my alarm clock to malfunction. overall, our little family participated in 5 thanksgiving dinners. yep, my stomach definitely is showing evidence of all that food!!

so, since i have lots to say but i don't have the wherewithal to actually type a cohesive update, i thought i'd just post some ramblings in bullet form. bear with me!

  • we are only 2.5 weeks away from our departure for ethiopia!!! i can't believe it's sneaking up on us so quickly but i'm pretty sure i'd board a plane today, no luggage or anything, if i could.
  • i'm currently in my 15th week of pregnancy and am very hungry. ha! i had several people tell me over the weekend that i'm starting to show. i have mixed feelings on that. on one hand, i love seeing my body change because i know our little peanut is growing and doing her {or his} thing, but on the other, i'm thinking about how massive i'll probably be by the time we can go back to ethiopia to get greer. thinking about sitting on a plane for 17+ hours straight twice in one week while feeling/looking like a beluga whale doesn't sound super fun but i know it's worth it!
  • i have maxed out my free subscription to pandora radio already for the month. this makes me really sad because i was really loving listening to christmas music pretty much 24/7, and i don't have anything good on my iphone. i guess i'll have to stick it out the next day or so with no festive music. boo.
  • ryan and i have made the difficult decision not to put up our christmas tree this year :( i know that it may sound bad, but we really don't want the headache of taking it down after we get back from ethiopia. plus, with us being gone a whole week leading up to christmas, our time is precious so we decided just to decorate the rest of the house but not worry about the tree. i feel like this is majorly anti-christmas but then i just remind myself that the real meaning of christmas has nothing to do with a christmas tree!
  • i have been begging my husband for the last several weeks to paint greer's room, but it's still not done. this is not necessarily my husband's fault but really just a testimony to how insanely busy we've been. i cannot wait though to begin decorating and pulling together our little man's room! we've already purchase his crib, bedding and have some wonderful window treatments on order courtesy of my mother-in-law. i haven't done anything crafty in WAY TOO LONG so i've got a few things up my sleeve for our little man that i'm excited to share when i'm done with them.
  • i am almost done with my christmas shopping! i know, you can be jealous :) this never happens to me but i've done so much of it online this year that it really saved me a lot of time. plus the pressure is really on to get everything purchased soon because of our trip so that i can wrap everything before we leave. i doubt that i will want to wrap when we get back to kentucky at 6:30 p.m. on christmas eve!
  • last night my sister and i played matchmaker, and i think it went pretty well! we set up one of ryan's sweet cousins with one of my sister's co-workers. my sister, her husband, ryan, and i all went along on the date so it wouldn't be super awkward but between our two crazy husbands, they might have made it worse! oh well, it seems that both parties liked the other so we'll see what happens from here on out...
  • we will be finding out the gender of our little girl {or guy} on december 10th, and the anxiety is killing me! i can't wait to finally know if i should begin whipping out some more hair bows or if i need to let that dream go for a little while. ryan and i are still trying to decide on a creative way to tell our families so your input is appreciated!!
  • we are still in the middle of collecting items to take with us to ethiopia for the after school program/transition home for our agency, arise for children. if you are interested in helping out, please let me know. we've received a lot of school supplies and a brand, spanking new printer/scanner combo so far, so we're pretty excited about that. i can't wait to fill our bags with all the goodies for the kids over there!
ok, enough random ramblings for now. i have every intention of writing a post about thanksgiving and everything i'm thankful for this year but i'm not sure if those intentions will pan out or not. i hope so!

enjoy your second to last day of november :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

christmas cards time!

every year i look forward to selecting and mailing out our annual sweeney family christmas cards. this year is no different! i have already picked out my cards of choice and have begged my sweet husband several times to get a hair cut so we can take a picture for our 2010 card.

this year i'm particularly excited about our christmas cards because the wonderful folks at are offering free cards to bloggers. i mean, come on, what's better than that?

i've used shutterfly for 3 out of my last 4 christmas cards, and they are by far my favorite source of wonderful cards. their selection and layouts are much better {and cheaper} than many of the other card sites so you can't beat that!

as a recap, here are some of our previous shutterfly cards:




do you notice a changing trend with our cards? until last year, we always featured a photo of our beloved dogs every year on our cards, but last year, they did not make the cut. ha! i guess kids trump dogs :) i still haven't decided if they should make an appearance on our 2010 cards or not. i guess i'll see how photogenic they are feeling this year.

hopefully, our 2010 cards will be hot off the press some time soon...depending on whether or not my husband gets a haircut sometime soon! we're rapidly losing time before leaving for ethiopia to get them done so i need to get my order in soon. yikes!

so, in case you've never visited shutterfly are some of the cute items on shutterfly's website that i've been checking out lately:

photo calendars for 2011:

want to join in on the fun? blog about shutterfly's wonderful services and follow this link for your 50 free cards!! yay!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

happy national adoption day!

Friday, November 19, 2010

missing R & P

i know it's been awhile since i've mentioned anything about R & P. this is mostly just because the boys are still a pretty hard topic for me to talk about. although they have been officially back with their mom for 6 weeks now, the loss is still fresh and i have found it increasingly hard to put myself out there about this and to be vulnerable. perhaps it is my sinful desire to appear like ryan and i have it altogether. or, perhaps it is just easier to avoid the topic so i don't turn into an emotional train wreck. either way, i figure it is time to break the silence...for no one really except myself.

looking back, i am beginning to think that the first few weeks after saying goodbye to them were almost the easiest for two reasons. number 1, the idea of it just being me and ryan again in the house was pretty novel. we no longer had to rush around from here and there picking up kids after work, and no longer had to arrange babysitters when we had plans by ourselves. number 2, we were both very hopeful about the type of relationship we'd get to maintain with the boys in the future. we thought for sure that we'd still see them every few weeks and even had hopes of picking R up on sunday mornings for church.

now, 6 weeks removed, it almost seems like we're fighting an uphill battle. the reality of the boys being gone and the reality of being able to maintain almost no sort of relationship with them has finally hit us. it's not quite as novel to come home to a quiet, empty house any more. it's also very painful to realize that we'll never have the chance again to be involved in their lives as we once were. it is hard every day...hard to walk by their rooms, hard to hear certain songs on the radio that R loved, hard to see all the toys tucked into the playroom instead of strung about the house. this is our new reality.

now, i cannot tell you how many people have told us over the last 16 months that there is no way they could be foster parents. most people say that they have no idea how they could love children and have them in their homes only to have to let go. truthfully, ryan and i cannot do this either {see exhibit A above}. i can't tell you how long i told God the same thing. i told Him that i didn't want to foster because it was too hard. i just wanted to love a baby that i knew was going to be mine forever because i'm too emotional to handle such a loss. i told Him that i would gladly adopt, but i didn't want to have to go through the rollercoaster of foster care. well, He didn't listen. He kept speaking truth to my heart through friends, through His word and through my times of seeking Him in prayer. He didn't give up on me or on His plan. thankfully, even through this recent heartache of saying goodbye to R & P, He's still yet to give up on me. it's true - ryan and i cannot love children and just let them go...not on our own at least.

this has been one of the hardest times of my life, despite all the joy and blessings that have been outpoured on our family recently. BUT, God is seeing us through. even as i write this, i cannot keep back the tears. these days, it only takes the slightest mention of the boys' names and the floodgates are open! however, despite the pain, i know that God is weaving and crafting a beautiful plan out of all of this. i know that He brought those boys into our lives at the perfect time for a reason. i also know that He allowed them to go back to their mother at the perfect time, also for a reason. while we still are too shortsighted to know what those reasons may be, we are trusting Him, even though it's hard, and He is giving us the strength we need to make it through the hardest of days. to Him be the glory!

"to grant to those who mourn in zion-- to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified." -Isaiah 61:3

Thursday, November 18, 2010

packing lists

ok, i've been trying to hold off on thinking about our trip for as long as possible but now that we're less than a month away, i can no longer stand it!! plus, with thanksgiving next week and a very busy schedule leading up to christmas, the planner in me is ready to get the ball rolling on some things.

so, if you have been to ethiopia recently {or even not necessarily recently}, would you please send me your packing list from your trip? keep in mind, this is just our first trip so we won't get to bring our little man home but i would still love to see any suggestions you have!

i've started my list but i know there are many things i'm missing!! please email me your lists at mrsleslisweeney {at} yahoo {dot} com. thanks a million!

ps- as i'm thinking about getting packed for the trip, don't forget that we're going to be taking donations for eyes that see in ethiopia when we go. if you'd like to help stock up this awesome organization, please email me about that also. here's my previous post about the things we're collecting. merci beacoup!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

happy 1st birthday little man!

i'm sorry that i'm just now getting a chance to blog about this, but our little man's 1st birthday was on sunday. what a bittersweet day!! it was so exciting to think about how this time last year we didn't even know he existed and now God has given us the privilege of falling in love with him from afar. however, it was also sad to think that we could not be together to celebrate such a sweet occasion together.

on sunday little greer was pretty much all i could think about. {well, that's somewhat true of any day though!} i wanted so badly just to hop a flight to ethiopia and be there to usher his wonderful day in with a big cupcake, lots of brightly packaged gifts, and the singing of our special family birthday song. obviously this was not possible and would probably have freaked him out any way, but it was a nice thought :)

i did have plans to make a fuss over greer's birthday and have a little celebration in lieu of his presence, but things just didn't work out. ryan ended up being out of town for a very fun reunion with some really great guy friends from college, so i was pretty much solo most of sunday. plus, i have just been feeling tired a lot lately so i took it upon myself to veg out most of sunday evening. we did however have a little celebration at lunch on sunday though because my little brother stuart also had a birthday this weekend. stu turned 19 on saturday and we got to celebrate his special day as a family on sunday afternoon. during our celebration, my mom and dad gave me a few gifts to open up in honor of little greer's big day. it made me feel closer to our little guy and definitely reminded me that it won't be long {Lord willing}, until he's home with us forever!

so, even though it's overdue...HAPPY BIRTHDAY little boy!!! we're coming to meet you in less than a month! WOOHOO!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

donations for ethiopia

ryan and i will have 100 lbs of excess luggage space with us on this first trip to ethiopia, and we want to use it wisely. we have decided to carry over some items for our agency's partner non-profit organization, eyes that see, and we want to invite you to join us!!

eyes that see is a christian, non-profit organization that recently launched in ethiopia and is dedicated to fighting poverty and injustice while coming alongside the children and families that remain in ethiopia. i love that! while we all know the importance of adoption, it is definitely not the only answer to the global orphan crisis and poverty as a whole. as much as i wish it was not the case, not every orphan in ethiopia is going to be adopted. children will be left behind, and many have very little resources to pull from or hope for their future. eyes that see is changing that for a few ethiopian children right now, and we want to help with that.

specifically, eyes that see has recently launched an after school program for ten children, almost all who are at least single orphaned {meaning that at least 1 parent has died}, ranging in age from 12 to 18. these kids could not afford school, uniforms, food and many of the very basics. through eyes that see's program, these kids are now receiving school tuition, uniforms, books, after school tutoring, meals, and clean water to take to their homes. they are also getting spiritual nourishment, encouragement and love that unfortunately many orphan children their age do not receive. in the words of matt ness, one of eyes that see's founders, he said that these particular children were chosen because, "they are usually the last to get help, and the first to give up hope".

if you'd like to be a part of the hope for these children, here's what we are collecting to take over to them:

*school supplies:
-loose leaf paper
-glue/glue sticks
-pencil sharpeners

*art/craft supplies:
-paint/paint brushes
-colored pencils
-coloring books
-drawing pads
-scissors {keep in mind that these kids are 12+ so we probably don't need the kiddie type}

*office supplies:
-1 printer/scanner combo {if you have one you're not using that's in working condition, or if
you see one on sale somewhere, please let me know! this is a high priority item since they
are having a lot of trouble with their current one}
-reams of printer paper
-paper clips

*Bibles {used or new, english is fine}

*kitchen supplies {keep in mind that we're having to travel with these so the sturdy plastic kind would probably be best}:

-granola bars
-hard candy
-other things that won't melt or get crunched in transit!

-soccer balls {preferably deflated with small pump}
-jump ropes
-any small trinkets that kids might like

we would like to receive all donations by sunday, december 12th so that we have plenty of time to pack and shift around things that we are taking. if you live near me in the bluegrass state, i would be happy to pick up these items from you. however, if not, please email me at mrsleslisweeney{at} and i can give you my address for you to ship items. also, if you would prefer to send a gift card or to donate through my paypal/chip-in link, i will be happy to shop for you. just make sure if you make a donation through paypal/chip-in that you put in the notes "eyes that see" so i know it's not for our adoption account :)

we would love nothing more than to get so much stuff that we cannot possibly carry it over all on this first trip. rest assured that if that happens, there are plenty of other arise families traveling in the next few months and we'll have our second trip too!

thanks in advance for helping us out with this fun project, and for more importantly bringing some hope and encouragement to these kids in ethiopia!!!!

an update on Greer

a week or so ago, i was reading another waiting mom's blog that i've been reading for a little while now. i knew from following her story that she was going to ethiopia for court but i was absolutely floored when i read one of her trip updates to see that she was at our little guy's orphanage visiting her son!! with her son only being a few months older than our little greer, i anxiously sent her an email to find out if she could have possibly had any contact with him while she was visiting her son.

to my delight, i received this response from her last night:

"Oh, I certainly know that face!!! I cuddled with him for a moment, when he stopped moving for two seconds... He is a mover and shaker. He did not want to sit still for a moment and was crawling around the room the entire time. Big smiles as the staff tried to catch him to return him to the mattress. He looks healthy and well. Rest assured he is in good hands."

it looks like we're going to have our hands full, huh?

i mean talk about something making my day!! i don't really know how to explain waiting to meet a child you love with all your heart but don't even know, but the feelings are definitely very real. little things like the email above mean so much. just to know even the tiniest bit more about our little guy helps ease the anxiety of the wait. plus, just hearing her words about him being happy, smiley and busy, just makes my heart warm!

thanks, laura for the note :) you made my day week!

adoption & pregnancy updates

i haven't been much of a blogger lately but i'm beginning to feel the itch again so i thought that i'd just share some random updates on both our adoption and our pregnancy today. nothing super exciting but at least it's an update, right??

first things first - our adoption:
*we are currently just anxiously waiting to make our first trip to ethiopia on december 16th. our official countdown is 36 days until we board the plane! i CANNOT wait!! ...well, except for the whole part about being pregnant, uncomfortable, hungry, and unable to stretch my legs on an 18 hour plane ride. i can definitely wait on those things, but i'm sure they will be completely overshadowed by finally making it to our son's home country and getting to meet him :)

*today is the first time in about 2-3 weeks that i actually figured out how many days until our departure. my latest strategy for the wait has been just to think about how far away the trip is and push away my overwhelming urge to be planned, packed and ready to go. now any time i am in a store and see christmas decorations or hear christmas music, i laugh to myself and think about how silly it is that the stores are already thinking about christmas! i convince myself that there are still many weeks until christmas and not to get too excited. {kinda crazy, huh? don't judge me. it's sorta working}

*however, my above mentioned strategy was made difficult yesterday when our agency sent us our travel packet with all the info we needed to know for our travel. while it sent me into a relapse of wanting to leave yesterday, i'm seriously thankful for the information! i read the entire 18 page packet as soon as we got it just to be sure that we hadn't forgotten something important. it was very helpful and i'm thankful for our agency's great care of us throughout this journey.

*speaking of our agency, arise for children, this past weekend marked their 2 year anniversary! in the past 2 years, our small agency has been obedient to the Lord and helped bring 69 children into loving, godly families!! way to go! we got to celebrate this wonderful occasion with a reunion party for all the families who've previously adopted through arise, are in process, or are considering adoption. i missed a good portion of the beginning of the party, but i was lucky enough to still see many of the children who are now home. as i saw the kiddos playing and running around together, God just struck me again with the reminder that adoption is truly a miracle. just to see the faces of all those children whose circumstances used to be so different, now united with loving families who are able to provide for them was heart warming to say the least!

our pregnancy:
*it's hard to believe but i am currently already 12.5 weeks pregnant. it seems like just yesterday that we found out! this means that i will be almost 18 weeks when we leave for ethiopia the first time, and hopefully no later than 28 weeks when we go back. my doctor has said that i can travel back to ethiopia up until march 15, so we'll definitely be praying to receive our embassy appointment not long after we pass court in december so that me and baby #2 don't miss out on our second trip! sooner rather than later would be great.

*i wish i could say that i have overly enjoyed being pregnant so far, but that would be untrue. i keep telling myself that when i start feeling better, i will enjoy it more and i hope that's the case. it's not been too awful lately thanks to the wonder drug, zofran, but the first few weeks were really rough. more so than i expected because i hardly remembered my sister being sick with either of her pregnancies...except for once after smelling popcorn at the movie theater but i'll spare you the details :) the highlight of my pregnancy so far was definitely our first ultrasound last week. seeing our little girl or guy put things in perspective for sure, so now when i'm feeling sick i try to remember that it's for a great reason!

*there has been much debate, even long before we were pregnant, about whether or not ryan and i would find out the gender of our first biological child. ryan really didn't want to and i really did, so we both tried to stew on it for awhile before making any decisions. however, i think last week we finally reached a compromise and have decided that we will find out! i think ryan finally changed his mind after some convincing arguments from me about the expense of re-buying everything if it's a little girl. i mean, come on, i could not deal with dressing my little bundle of girlieness in green, yellow and orange for the first year of her life. plus, dresses, hair bows, and all things pink would not be cheap, so my sweet husband decided to concede on this one. my doctor wants to do another ultrasound on me before we leave for ethiopia so there is a good chance that on december 10, our wait will be over!

well that's about all i can think of for now. ryan keeps telling people that we've got "lots of irons in the fire right now" and that truly sums up how i'm feeling. there's a lot going on, but mostly a lot of great things that we are truly grateful for!! we are excited that now we can not only praise the Lord for the life of our sweet greer nathanel, but also for baby #2. blessings all around!