Sunday, June 27, 2010

Notes from Dubai

As much as we wanted today to go quickly, we are now wishing someone could just bring Addis to us here.  This place is incredible. 

No stone went unturned when building this city.  We spent a good part of the afternoon relaxing by the pool.  Then we made our way over to the Dubai Mall, which was very impressive.  I am not typically a mall walker, but today I was.  What was our first stop when we finally figured out how to get into the mall?  You would be right if you said the Gap.  We flew 8,000 miles to shop at the Gap. 

We strolled through the mall before heading to the top of the Burj Khalifa.  I am glad to report that I was able to navigate the outdoor viewing area on my own two feet.  I am not a big fan of heights, but I conquered the world's tallest building. 

You might get two different answers if you ask Sara and I what the coolest part of the mall was. 

I would say the huge fish tank in the middle of the mall.

Sara would say the huge candy store across the way from the huge fish tank in the middle of the mall. 

Can you see the shear joy on her face as she is attempting to shift my attention from the fish to the candy?

Before I saw the sign saying that you couldn't take pictures in the store, I snapped a quick shot of a little slice of heaven.

Our only strategic error of the day was our choice for dinner.  TGI Fridays.  Why did we eat at TGIF when there were 30 other options?  I am wondering the same thing.  But if that is the only error we made all day, I can live with that.  Speaking of Fridays, one of the servers asked us where we were from and we said the United States.  He then asked where so we told him we lived in Kentucky.  He thought for a minute and said, "Oh, KFC!"  The Colonel is well known even in the middle east.

After our trip to the mall and to the top of the Burj we took in the fountain show right outside of both buidlings.  I caught it on video but my battery is running too low to upload it right now.  Hopefully later.  Picture the fountains at the Bellagio in Vegas, only better.

Here is the building that we scaled today.

Our alarm is set for 4:30am tomorrow, we arrive at the airport around 6:00 and hope that we don't get charged for having too much luggage.  The issue on the way here was that in New York, the airline told Sara her carryone was too big, so we are going to do our best to get it on the plane without paying the stiff fee.  Cross your fingers.

Addis, here we come.

When in Arabia...

We can now adding visiting the desert in the Middle East to the list of places we have been lucky enough to see on this adventure that we call the last few years.

Dune bashing was awesome.  I took lots of pictures, but they really don't do any justice to the magnificance of the desert. 

Now we are off to relax by the pool for couple of hours (or minutes due to the extreme heat).  Then we will be off to the Dubai Mall (world's largest mall adjacent to the world's largest building) to try to find another carryone piece of luggage.   We are concerned about being charged for too much luggage tomorrow, which could cost us $175 and I can think of alot of other ways to spend that kind of money.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

One step closer to Addis Lidya.

We have arrived in Dubai.  We were greeted by sweltering heat, but it was equalized by very efficient air conditioning.

As cold as Russia is in the dead of winter, it promiseses to be equally hot here tomorrow as we venture out into the desert in the morning and checking out the sights and sounds of Dubai in the afternoon. 

Our hotel is about a driver and an 8 iron from the Burj Khalifa, so that was quite impressive to see as we drove by this evening. 

Tomorrow promises to be very enjoyable but we can't help but want it to go by quickly as we are very anxious to get back on an Emirates flight bound for Ethiopia.  The long leg of the trip is now behind us and knowing that she is only a 4 hour flight away feels very good. 

If you are making a trip to Dubai, I highly recommend the Qamardeen Hotel except for the fact that I am unable to watch the Americans take on Ghana.  Maybe that is a blessing in disguise and I really should retire for the evening.

If you happen to see our boys, tell them we miss them greatly and can't wait to bring their sister home.

By the way, forgive me if there are alot of misspellings in this post, the spell check told me every word was misspelled because I am typing in English and it is looking for misspelled Arabic words.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Leaving tomorrow

We leave tomorrow to go get Addis.  That is a bit hard to believe. 

We are busy making our final preparations for the next two weeks away from home, so I don't have a ton of time to write about all of things we are feeling, but let me tell we are excited to get back to Ethiopia.  We are excited to meet Addis and create memories that we will never forget.  With that being true, we are also not looking forward to leaving our boys for an entire week.  It's going to be tough to say goodbye to them (I am sure it will be more difficult for Sara and I than them because they are so excited to get to spend the week with their Grammy and Pop).

How could I not miss these two fellas...

I mentioned creating memories.  Sara and I feel very fortunate to have the priceless memories of our first meetings with Lleyton and Parker, and the same will be true for Addis.  I am looking forward to writing an email not unlike the following one that I sent to our families and close friends during our last trip to Russia. 

I will be doing my best to update the blog during our trip.  That being said, the Internet in Ethiopia if far from reliable, so my fingers are crossed.

Hello again from Russia,

Sara and I arrived in one piece on Sunday night after

crossing the Atlantic Ocean and then traversing the

English countryside via bus. Our flight got into

Moscow at around 8pm and, lucky for us, two other

flights arrived right around the same time (one from

Seoul and one from Warsaw). So the small baggage

claim area at Sheremetyevo 2 became even smaller. We

made it through that and my luggage even came with us.

We spent Sunday night in Moscow and Monday morning we

rendezvoused with the Colles for a day on the town.

It was quite enjoyable actually, Red Square is very

impressive. We did a few of the touristy things like

going into St. Basil's Cathedral and walked through

the Gum, which is an incredibly nice shopping mall

right on Red Square. We scouted out areas for family

pictures on Thursday and of course had a meal of food

at McDonalds on Red Square. The arches are


Last night, Monday night, we flew from Moscow to

Samara on the 9:30 flight which put us into Samara at

around midnight local time. We finally arrived at the

hotel, our home away from home, at approx. 1:30am

local, 4:30pm EST.

After a brief sleep we were up for what we thought was

going to be a day of sitting and traffic and filling

out paperwork. To our surprise, the paperwork was

very minimal and we were able to pick our little buddy

up this afternoon. Thus, I am now the proud father of

a beautiful little boy. He is absolutely perfect. If

Sara and I could have drawn up a blueprint of the

perfect little guy, he would have fit that description


We arrived at the orphanage around 1pm maybe. We

spent about an hour there playing with him and picking

up up some paperwork. The orphanage doctor even took

us into the new children's room that they are about to

open so that we could see the curtains that our

donation on the last trip paid for. She was very

thankful that the Colles and Sara and I made such a

generous donation. So that was very nice to see.

The exit from the orphanage was a bit sad actually.

All of the caretakers came and said their goodbyes to

the little guys. It is because of these hardworking

women helped to make our Lleyton who he is to this

point. So to see them as sad and happy at the same

time while watching the boys leave, was a bit surreal.

Lleyton was enamored at first with the car ride back

to the hotel (I am not sure that he ever left that

orphanage other than the two trips he made to the

hospital). But very soon after we left the orphanage

he fell right asleep into his mother's arms.

He has been so playful all day and he has not even

thought about crying once. We ate dinner with the

Colles and he just had a ball playing with a couple of

the toys that we brought for him. The one difficulty

we have run into in the brief time that we have had

him is that he is not too sure he likes formula. But

I just hung up with our doctor in Cincinnati and she

said that was normal, and just try to give him whole

milk or anything else and she will assess the

situation next week when we go to see her.

The gist of this email is that we couldn't be happier

right now. We have the child that we have always

wanted and our journey back home will begin very soon.

We are leaving here tomorrow to head back to Moscow.

We will have a doctor from the US Embassy come by our

hotel tomorrow to examine Lleyton. Thursday is an off

day, so we are really looking forward to getting him

out on the town and taking a bunch of family pictures

in his homeland. Friday we visit the US Embassy so he

can get his visa and then Saturday we are on our way


We can't wait to get back home and begin our lives

with this little guy and we certainly look forward to

being able to introduce him to everyone. Thanks so

much for all of the help and support that each of your

has given us over the last year.

I am going to head back upstairs now to start learning

the words to more Raffi songs and hopefully nail down

some of those more difficult Wiggles dance moves.

Hope all is well back home, see you soon.

Matt, Sara, and Lleyton

Monday, June 21, 2010

Turning on the charm.

One thing that I failed to mention about yesterday evenings visit from Lleyton's little friend and her parents was that our little guy turned on the charm as soon as Liya arrived.  He laid it on pretty thick.

Lleyton is a big fan of Liya's. 

So much so that he told Parker and I the other day that she was his girlfriend. With that being the case, he made every attempt to take full advantage of the opportunities he had to to impress her during the visit. 

Lleyton is not your ordinary guy.  He didn't just smile at her and show her all of his books and toys.  He didn't take his shirt off to show her his muscles.  He didn't show her how fast he can run or far he can jump.

What did he do? 

He turned it up a notch by showing off his cooking prowess.  He came up with a mean batch of cookies, a delicious birthday cake, some fantastic looking vegetables, a perfectly cooked pepperoni and mushroom pizza, and much more.  All in the span of about 30 minutes.

What girl wouldn't be smitten with a guy like this that isn't afraid to show his softer side?

Have I mentioned that we are going to have our hands full with this little guy...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lleyton impresses again.

With this being our last weekend with the boys before their little sister comes home we wanted to make sure to do a few things the boys really enjoy.  One of those things was taking our little guys to see the much anticipated Toy Story 3 movie. 

Much like our adventure to the Reds game last weekend, we weren't quite sure how Lleyton was going to handle being in a movie theater that long. Once I again I am thrilled to be able to report that he did great.  He loved the movie so much that he was high fiving those around him at the end. 

Parker loved it too.  His first question after leaving the theatre was when can we see Toy Story 4?

Other activities today included watching the Ivory Coast fall to Brazil, watching the US Open, and we enjoyed a visit from one of Lleyton's best friends and her parents.  They hail from Ethiopia and brought us  some incredible Ethiopian food that was leftover from Liya's 3rd birthday party yesterday (we are very excited for dinner tomorrow night).

I had a great Father's Day thanks to Sara and my boys. 

World Cup Fever

Never before have I been interested in watching soccer.  I simply do not enjoy the sport.  But that has changed a bit now the World Cup is here.  I have found myself scurrying home to catch the England vs. USA game last weekend, listening on the radio to the Americans take on the Slovenians yesterday, and looking forward to the next match for the red, white, and blue. 

But the coolest part of this World Cup has been hanging with Parker watching the African teams and rooting like heck for them to win.  We were pulling hard today for Samuel Eto'o and his Cameroonian comrades.  Last weekend we were watching from the edge of our seats as Ghana took the pitch. 

Here's our big man taking in the action while wearing his Ethiopia headband and wristband.  You know, just in case he breaks out into a sweat.

I love so many things about our boys, one of them being that they both introduced me to two areas of the world that I would never been connected to.  A couple of years ago I would have never looked twice at what the score was of a soccer match between Cameroon and Denmark, and there I was today pulling for the red, green, and yellow not unlike I pull for the Bengals on any given Sunday. 

Now if only the Russians had a good soccer team.

If you need me tomorrow, in the midst of packing for Ethiopia, taking the boys to Toy Story 3 and preparing for what will hopefully be an epic final round comeback by Tiger Woods, I will be watching the Ivory Coast try to steal a win from those pesky Brazilians.

I love soccer.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Goodbye Wendell

After a really tough few days, Sara and I and the boys said goodbye to Wendell this evening.  He had fought so hard to stay with us, but in the end his body had failed him and we were forced to make the decision that no pet lover ever wants to make.

Over the past couple of days the boys have been so sweet to Wendell.  They made every attempt to make him as comfortable and well taken care of as possible during his last days.

Max got into the action as well by helping keep Wendell company.

Losing a pet is never easy, but I must say that as hard as it is not have our old buddy here right now, I do feel good that he is in a better place. 

A place where he can walk again. 
A place where there is a never ending supply of Pop Tarts. 
A place where Arthritis doesn't exist.  
A place that Wendell is certainly enjoying.

If anyone out there knows how to get plane ticket to heaven, let us know.  Lleyton asked this evening after Wendell had passed away if he could fly to heaven to see his buddy.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Crash course on holding a baby

Yesterday afternoon we took a few minutes to gauge how comfortable we may be with the boys holding Addis.  How did we do it?  We asked each boy to pretend a glowworm was Baby Sister and show us how to hold her.

By the looks of this picture, Lleyton won't be responsible for much one on one care.

But after watching how careful Parker was when holding pretend Addis, Lleyton got the hang of it a bit.  Enough to actually hold Addis anytime within the next few months? 

Probably not, but we shall see.

Reds #1 fans (thanks to the popcorn)

After last week's Florence Freedom game we were a bit concerned about our upcoming trip to watch the first place Reds. Well, I am happy to report that the boys proved to us that our concerns were unwarranted.

It was a very hot day and Parker had a game of his own this evening, so we didn't quite last 9 innings, but we saw a good portion of the game. Parker had a great time watching the game and Lleyton had a great time eating the popcorn. Here are the fellas enjoying themselves.

While Lleyton is a Reds fan, and he likes it when they score runs, I believe he would rather they played small ball instead of hitting home runs. Reason being, like his father, he isn't the biggest fan of the fireworks that accompany each Reds long ball.

I am also happy to report that no unsuspecting fan beneath us was surprised by a falling object from the hands of Lleyton.  He was too interested in polishing off the popcorn and going to the bathroom every half inning to consider throwing anything over the railing. 

So considering the behavior exhibited by our boys, the fact that we went to a Major League Baseball game and only spent $4.75 (we brought our own drinks), and both boys came away loving the Reds, I would say this outing was an absolute success. 

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Please keep our very handsome dog Wendell in your thoughts.  We adopted him from a Golden Retriever rescue about a year and a half ago knowing that he was a "senior", but we weren't expecting his health to deteriorate as quickly as it has.  Our buddy has really been struggling as of late and Sara and I are very concerned about him.  

Your thoughts and prayers are much appreciated. 

Update on fundraising

With our travel dates rapidly approaching, Sara and I have opted to postpone the yard/bake sale until later in the summer.  The extra time will allow for us to better plan the event and gather more items in an effort to raise as much money as possible.  For those that are wanting to donate to the cause, you can still do that now and whatever donations we receive we will take with us to Ethiopia and all donations will be given directly to the orphanage.

Thank you so much to everyone that has supported us in our effort to make a difference in the lives of the children living at Miskaye.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Recap of a fun (exhausting) evening

Parker and his fellow Bats teammates were special guests of the local minor league baseball team this evening.  We were joined by Grammy and Pop to witness our big guy take the field with the Florence Freedom.  Before the game all of the guys and Lleyton and a few of the other boys' brothers were able to get down on the field to get autographs from their new favorite players.  Shortly after rubbing shoulders the major league hopefuls, each of the boys were introduced with a player and ran out onto the field for the national anthem. 

Here are a couple glimpses of the boys before the game.

Following the first pitch, we made our way down to seats in the front row behind home plate.  That is where each of the boys got a chance to sit with their Pop while he taught them the finer points of the game.

We are scheduled to take the boys to their first Reds game this Sunday, but after this evening I am not sure that Lleyton is up to such an outing.  The little man is non-stop action and was pretty tough to handle this evening, so the thought of taking him to Great American Ballpark is a daunting one right now.  I am picturing the little guy wanting to run up and down the aisle, attempting to throw anything he can get his hands on over the railing and onto unsuspecting Reds fans seated below us.  But maybe he would love it and sit quietly watching the Reds dismantle the Royals.  I guess we will never know unless we try. 

Details to come.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Travel plans

It's official, our embassy date is July 1, which means that two weeks from this Friday we will be en route to Ethiopia to meet our beautiful daughter.  We are going to be taking a quick detour on the way there to experience Dubai for a couple of nights.  Our plans include venturing out into the desert for what the locals call dune bashing (driving up and down the dunes in a 4x4), a camel ride, and then conquering my fear of heights as we ascend to the top of the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa

Speaking of fears, I have read that dune bashing is better than any rollercoaster in the world.  What's the only thing I like less than heights?  Rollercoasters. 

Should be interesting.

After our mini-vacation in the Middle East, we will be off to Ethiopia.  Awaiting us there will be the daughter we have been patiently waiting for.  We will arrive in Addis on Monday and have plenty of quality time to spend with her at her orphanage, in our hotel, and throughout the city she calls home before boarding our flight on Friday evening bound for the United States.  Our trip back home will ultimately lead us to South Carolina, which is where we will meet Lleyton and Parker and the rest of my family for vacation.

Sounds like a pretty unique and enjoyable two weeks to me. 


We were thrilled to be able to be at the airport late last night to welcome our friends' new daughter home. 

We have come to know this really great family over the last few months and couldn't wait to see the see little Eva Faith.  She was escorted home by our adoption agency director, so the family's first meeting with their little girl happened last night, as a large group of us eager well wishers were waiting with great anticipation for the first glimpse of the newly expanded family.

Emy seemed right at home holding her little dream come true.

The plane arrived a little past 11pm, so the boys were so excited to see how dark it was outside after we woke them up and walked out the door to the car.  Lleyton brought his best friend (leash), and he was holding onto him very tight because he thought it was so dark that if he dropped him he wouldn't be able see him well enough to find him.  Luckily we made it all the way to airport without losing him.

What would you do to pass time in airport while waiting for the big moment?  The boys chose to ride up and down the escalator with their Mommy.

We were happy to get see Sue, our agency director.  Parker remembered her from her visits to Kamashi, especially the time when she delivered the care package we sent to him.


By the way, Lleyton is Ben's #1 fan.  He woke up this morning asking if he was going to get to see Ben again today.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Parker's one year anniversary

One year ago today Sara and I arrived home with Parker, so we dedicated this beautiful afternoon to our big man and a few of his favorite things. 

Driving his Jeep

Playing in the backyard

Hanging with his little brother


Feeding the horses
(this is a new found favorite)

Happy anniversary Parker. 

We love the heck out of you and are so proud of how much you have progressed over the last year.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Start spreading the news...

...Parker's in first grade.  

Sara and I, and my mom and dad, were happy to take some time off of work on Wednesday for Parker's Kindergarten graduation.  As is evident above, he and his classmates put on a little show for all of the proud parents and grandparents who were looking on. 

Here is our big man with his Grammy and Pop.

We started off the day the same way we started off his first day of school, by taking a picture of our boys getting ready for the big day.

And we finished our day the same way we did his first day of school, with a trip to the Ethiopian restaurant in Cincinnati.  Trust me when I tell you that Parker would still be eating injera if we would have let him.  For those interested in trying new food, or if you are like us and really enjoy Ethiopian food already, go to Emanu.  I don't think you will be disappointed.  Here is what we will await you when you arrive.

There was absolutely nothing left on this plate by the time we were done with it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Raising money for a great cause.

As I have written before on here, Sara and I's decision to adopt was borne out of relatively selfish reasons, as we wanted to start a family and had encountered fertility issues that stood in our way.  Well, throughout our journey to Russia and Ethiopia our eyes have been opened to the need that exists to help those that are unable to themselves.  Orphaned children throughout the world rely on the help of others to survive.  One of the people that has stepped up to the plate in a huge way is a very inspirational woman that we have met through our adoption of Addis.  She and another adoptive mother have formed an organization, Ethio-American Family Services, whose mission reads as follows:

To educate, empower, and enrich the lives of Ethiopian orphans and their adoptive families.

One of the organization's main causes is supporting Miskaye Children's Orphanage, the orphanage that Addis has called home for the vast majority of her short life.  If you click on the link located at the top of our blog on the right side, you will be able to navigate through their website and see the many items that the orphanage is in need of to help continue make their house a comfortable place for children like Addis and many others to live. 

After talking with the co founder of the organization and seeing the pictures of Addis living in Miskaye throughout the last 8 months, Sara and I have committed ourselves to raising money for that very cause.

We are going to do that by having a yard sale/bake sale at our house next Saturday, June 12th.   For those of you that can't make it and are interested in donating to this cause, you can contact me via email at  For those of you that are close by, please stop by and say hello. 

On top of any money that we raise next weekend, Sara and I will also be personally donating $150 towards the cause.  Whether we raise $5 or $500, every dime will go directly towards helping improve the lives of orphaned children who need our help.  

If you can't swing by and you aren't able to donate to the cause, no big deal, we understand.  Everyone has causes they are passionate about, this is just one of ours.  Thank you so much for reading and helping us spread the word about people making a huge difference in the lives of those that are unable to help themselves.