Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Parker's journey to us begins in less than 2 days

When we got the good news last Tuesday that Parker was ours, we were told that we may know when we are going to be slated to travel within 2 weeks. So at this point we are just waiting to hear. We do know that Parker and one of his friends will be leaving Kamashi on Thursday for a 14 hour drive to Addis Ababa, where he will stay until we pick him up.

It is a bit sad to think that in a day or so he will be leaving everything he has ever known and venturing into a world completely unfamiliar to him. I am praying that the journey is easy on him. I am also feeling for his aunt, who was caring for him. I pray that she knows that we will provide a wonderful home for him and that we will always be very thankful for her giving us this opportunity to welcome him into our lives.

I can't imagine being 5 or 6 years old and being asked to somehow grasp the change is he about to endure. It is my understanding that he has probably never seen a TV, probably never seen an airplane, never had a bedroom full of his own clothes and toys, never seen or done most of the things that we do on a daily basis. He is in for a treat.

On a very positive note, I have been in touch with a few other families over the last week that have recently adopted older children from Ethiopia. Each family has said their transition has gone very well. The children seem to just soak up the language very quickly. One family said that within 8 weeks, their child was fluent in English. Being able to learn from other families experiences helps us so much with what to expect during the first months with our little man. We were also told that one of Parker's friends, the one he will be traveling from Kamashi with, is also being adopted by a family in the US and we will probably be traveling with that family. Having another family traveling with us in Russia helped a ton, and I am guessing that would be the same case with this adoption.

Hopefully I will have more details to report soon.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Busy weekend

We have been doing our best to cram some home improvement projects in before we travel over to pick up Parker. We are figuring that once he gets home, most of our time will be spent just hanging out and getting our new little man adjusted. With that being the case, we tackled one of our bigger projects this weekend. Grandma and Grandpa McMain made the trip down to help with the undertaking.

We did find some time to enjoy the nice weather as well and Lleyton go to fly his first kite, which he really seemed to enjoy.

Here are some of the best pictures from the weekend.

Taking a break with Grandpa Paul.

Going for a ride in the wheelbarrow after cutting the grass.

The maiden voyage of his Elmo kite.

What would we have done without Max and Lleyton's help?

It looks like Cousin Nick taught him something last weekend.

He really enjoyed getting hosed down after playing in the dirt.

This is what he looks like right before he says he has a "boo boo".

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Parker Lelesa Ritzmann

Sara and I could not be happier to announce that our family of three is now a family of four. We passed court this morning (two days earlier than we had thought) in Ethiopia and we will hopefully travel to pick up our little boy very soon.

Introducing our strikingly handsome son, Parker Lelesa Ritzmann.

This is the picture that we first fell in love with.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Parker's room

One of our favorite things to do while waiting for our referral for Lleyton was putting together his room. The same has been true with Parker's room. We just put the finished touches on it, so here it is. I think he is going to love it.

When entering Parker's room you will be warmly greeted by some of my favorite Reds from back in the 80's. We found an auction for about 1,000 baseball cards on ebay from back when I was collecting, and we (by we, I mean Sara) filled a shadow box with them and hung it right inside the door. There was some obvious favoritism shown towards Reds players when placing the cards in the box. It is my favorite thing in the room.

We plan on instilling the love of basketball in Parker at a young age, so what better way to introduce him to the game than with a Larry Legend jersey from the 1992 Dream Team.

We will undoubtedly be having some heated games of family HORSE on this old school favorite, the Nerf basketball goal.

Well, as you can tell, I am excited for his arrival. Our fingers are crossed that it will happen soon.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Last weekend before being the parents of two children? Hopefully.

With this being one of our only free weekends prior to us hopefully traveling to Ethiopia, we thought we should take advantage of having no plans. So we picked up on Saturday afternoon and headed for Indianapolis to visit some family and friends. Not only did we get to spend some quality time with his cousins, we also met up with our friends Kirk and Melanie for dinner at Bazbeauxs. They have a very cute 1 year old girl, Audrey, that Lleyton really took a liking to. The dinner went quite well until Lleyton attempted to give Audrey a high five, but instead smacked her in the face. Sorry Audrey.

These were some of the better pictures we took of Lleyton and his cousins over the last couple of days.

Wendell's dog bowl often becomes Lleyton's hat.

Could there be a better dog?

Acting silly with cousin Claire.

Cousin Drew really seemed to enjoy the chocolate icing.

Cousin Nick is not shy about showing off his washboard abs.

After seeing the exhibition Drew put on with his piece of cake, we elected to strip Lleyton down when it was his turn to have a slice.

He watches Elmo videos very intently, so he doesn't miss anything Elmo teaches him.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Play-Doh and baking cookies

One of Lleyton's former teachers at his daycare gave our little buddy a Play-Doh set for his birthday last year. We have been holding out on introducing him to this childhood favorite of ours until we were pretty sure that he wouldn't eat it. That time came last weekend. Two things I learned during our playtime were that Lleyton loves Play-Doh and that Sara missed her calling. She could have earned a handsome living making Play-Doh sculptures.

Here is the proof.

Lleyton loves acting silly with his mother.

It was a busy weekend, as we also baked Easter cookies.

And Wendell let Lleyton put a "hat" on him. He is such a good sport.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lleyton now loves chocolate

We were worried for quite awhile that maybe Lleyton didn't like candy, but thank goodness, that isn't the case. One of the contents of the basket that the Easter Bunny was nice enough to give to Lleyton was Reese's bunnies, and Lleyton loved them. I don't know if it is right or wrong, but he has had Reese's bunnies for dinner the past two nights. I was quite jealous of him tonight as he ate peanut butter and chocolate bunnies while I ate some sort of Healthy Choice or Weight Watchers frozen meal.

Here are a few pictures of our day yesterday.

It's tough getting a really good picture of Lleyton as of late because each time he looks at the camera he likes to say "CHEEEEEEESE", which isn't the most attractive face he can make (but darn cute nonetheless).

Lleyton enjoying one of the above mentioned Reese's bunnies.

Preparing for our court date

I have slacked off as of late when it comes to blogging. I will do better from now on.

Since the last time I posted we have been preparing for hopefully the arrival of a new member of the family sometime in the next month or two. Our court date is rapidly approaching, and with that nearing, we have thrown our preparations into overdrive. We have turned our guest room into Parker's room by repainting, installing crown molding, and refinishing the furniture we bought for him. I am very excited for the post that details these changes, I just want to wait until the room is totally put together before revealing the transformation. To no one's surprise, the room will have a sports theme. Mom and Dad were also nice enough to give us the globe that has been sitting on the other side of their basement for the last 20 years so that Parker can have that in his room. Thanks Mom and Dad! It looks very cool on his dresser.

While the big day approaches we are also trying to put the final touches on his wardrobe. We have found it very enjoyable shopping for our new little man. We have also found that we have quite an affinity for patterned shorts, whether it be plaid, patchwork, or any other kind of pattern.

The latest on possible time frames goes like this: Our court date is April 23rd, if we are lucky enough to pass court that date, Parker will be moved from Kamashi into Addis Ababa, where he will stay until we travel to pick him up. Upon arriving in Addis, he will be tested for TB. There is a new regulation that all children have to be tested before they can be allowed to come home with their parents. If his skin test comes back negative, there will be no further delays and we should be in Addis on either May 19th or June 2nd. If the skin test comes back positive, he would then need a chest x-ray to show whether or not he has, or is likely to have, TB. If the chest x-ray shows no signs of the disease, we are free to travel shortly thereafter. In the worst case, he has TB, he will need to stay in Ethiopia and be treated daily for 6 months. Obviously we hope that isn't the case, we want our little man home.

April 23rd is a big day! With Ethiopia being 9 or 10 hours ahead of us, hopefully once we wake up that day, we will know how court went.

We have purchased the equivalent to Amheric for Dummies, as we would like to be able to learn at least a little bit of amheric so that we can communicate with him when we meet him. We aren't even sure that he speaks that language, but that is the most common of all of the 85 languages spoken in Ethiopia. As I have found from glancing through the book and listening to the CD, it's not going to be an easy language to learn.

Our hopes are up right now that everything will go well on the 23rd and we will be packing to head over to Africa sometime in a month or so. We have found a couple of flights that look attractive to us. One of which gives us a day in NYC followed by a night in Dubai. Both places that we would love to be able to spend some time in during our travels.

One more thing we have been doing during our wait it gathering donations to take with us to Ethiopia. I had sent out an email to family, friends, and coworkers asking people to take a quick look around to see if there is anything they could sacrifice in order to help a little boy or girl in Ethiopia and the response has been fantastic. Sara and I are so pleased to be able to have such great people around us that really want to help the children that Parker will be leaving behind as he joins our family. We are grateful for everyones support and we will make sure that all of the donations make it to those that need it the most in Ethiopia. Thank you so much to everyone that has helped.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

KISSES IN THE WIND (The Waiting Child's Lullaby)

I hold you in my heart and touch you in my dreams.
You are here each day with me, at least that's how it seems.
I know you wonder where we are... what's taking us so long.
But remember child, I love you so and God will keep you strong.
Now go outside and feel the breeze and let it touch your skin...
Because tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.
May God hold you in His hand until we can be with you.
I promise you, my darling, we're doing all that we can do.
Very soon, you'll have a family for real, not just pretend.
But for tonight, just as always, I blow you kisses in the wind.
May God wrap you in His arms and hold you very tight.
And let the angels bring the kisses that I send to you each night.

© Pamela Durkota, written for Josh