Connie Norman
Connie Norman

Posts Tagged ‘Ethiopian adpotions’

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

E is for Ethiopia (The ABC’s of ceramics again and more!)

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

E is for Ethiopian Coffee Pot

Holy cow!  I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve posted an ABC’s of Ceramics entry.  I looked at my past posts and it will be a year this month.  I got hung up my pots that start with F, but I will tell that lame story when I do my F is for…post.  In the past year I’ve added five pots to my collection. But the five I added, did not help me out with the letters that I’m missing, Q, X, Z.   I thought was going to start with F, but then I realized I have this beautiful Ethiopian coffee pot now, given to me by Tigist, she is the master potter of Vision of Africa, one of the organizations that I worked with while I was in Ethiopia this summer. 

Tigist burnishing a vase while pots are heating up to be pit fired.


One of the reasons I decided to revisit E because this post is all points Ethiopia!  And if you frequent my blog you will know that Ethiopia is near and dear to my heart.  (I still have to do a blog post about my trip to Ethiopia.)

While I was in Ethiopia this summer I met the most amazing couple Jeff and Holly.  We immediately connected and became fast friends, although we are separated by 6 states and 1,251 miles, but our friendship will endure, and I long to see them again.  Jeff and Holly adopted an Ethiopian girl Elle, and because of contaminated water Elle was ill for months after coming to the U.S.  The reason they went to Ethiopia last summer was to install a water purification system.  And I was lucky enough to be able to help them. 

Jeff and Holly are going back to Ethiopia in May to install two more clean water systems, with One Child Campaign.  As you can image it is very expensive just getting to Ethiopia, but they are also fund raising for the purification systems.  Please help them by purchasing one of these T-shirts.  For more information on their next trip and a link to purchase the T-shirts go Holly’s blog, Bird’s Words

Also, I am donating one of my old kilns to Mission Ethiopia.  The women of Mission Ethiopia are HIV positive and suffer from leprosy; these women are considered outcasts and unemployable.  They are currently pit firing beads, and want to expand to glazed beads.  My little Skutt 714 will be the perfect kiln for them, it’s a very small test kiln.  Perfect for beads.  My question to my dear readers; how do I get it to Ethiopia?  I have been slowly researching that question, but if any of you have ideas please post a comment.

Here are the women of Mission Ethiopia stringing beads together, after they have been pit fired.

Happy Gotcha Day! My Prince of Ethiopia!

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

Happy Gotcha Day! My Prince of Ethiopia! 


Three years ago today, our son made us a family!  We were in Ethiopia, we had just stepped off the plane, driving through a strange city, on our way to a new way of life, a family way of life.  And even before I could get out of the car, my son was in my arms. 

I know this is a bit of a cliché but I can’t image my life without Vander now.  It’s truly hard to remember what it was like to have so much time to myself.    I have been humbled by this curious, active and independent four year old.  In watching Vander grow and bloom into this remarkable little boy all of my secret fears seem absurd.  Thank you, thank you,Vander for making us a family!  And to quote our little man, “I love you to the moon, to the stars, to the sun, to big blue, to the trees, to Miss Sherry’s house and BACK!”

Melkam Genna or Merry Christmas 2012

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

An Ethiopian Christmas card.

January 7 is Ethiopian Christmas.  We ventured to The Ethiopian Evangelical Church in Aurora, Colorado to celebrate.  My family had an amazing time.  This year we went down with a Wyoming contingent, we were three families that celebrated Genna (Christmas), from the Cowboy State.  My husband and I very much want to teach Vander about Ethiopian cultures, but we are at a huge disadvantage living in Wyoming.  I am so thankful for The Ethiopian Evangelical Church and Pastor Ermias he is so generous and cares for our children.  I am so pleased that Vander gets to be around many families that look like us. 

Vander and Mihretu enjoying their Doro Wat.

We ate delicious Doro Wat, a spicy chicken stew and Injera, a sourdough pancake that is like a giant crepe, with Ethiopian coffee.  Then we played games, the church set up tons of stations with Ethiopian games for the kids.  We didn’t make it to very many, Vander loved every game he played and didn’t want to leave each game to try another one. 

Vander learning how to eat Ethiopian style.

One of the games Vander played is called Quileblebosh.  The concept of the game is like Jacks, but with stones.  I was harder than it looked because in Jacks you catch the ball after the bounce, in the game you throw a stone and try to pick up five pebbles. 

Football! (Soccer!) The Ethiopian past time!

Learning to play Suzy 123!

The next game Vander played was Suzy 123, it is a version of Chinese Jump rope.  And it is also known as bladder in Kenya. 

Suzy 123

Mehareben - Ethiopian Duck, Duck, Goose!

The last game Vander played was Mehareben which is an Ethiopian version of Duck, Duck, Goose.  The way Ethiopians play, they say the verse, “Mehareben yayachu?” Have you seen my hanky?  And the seated children reply, “Alayenim.” We haven’t seen it.  The child with the hanky drops it behind someone who is seated, then that person becomes “it” and tries to catch the hanky dropper, who tries to get in their seat before they are caught.  We could not pull Vander way from this game to try any others.  They had nine other games to go to, plus hair braiding.  Hopefully next year we will be able to experience a few more. 


Vander & Mihretu learning how to dance Ethiopian style!

Ethiopians follow a different calendar than we do in the U.S.  They follow the Ge’ez or Julian calendar, which Christmas is January 7.  Several other countries that also follow the Julian calendar are Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, The Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Moldova.

Melkam Addis Amet! Happy New Year! Enkutatash2004

Friday, September 16th, 2011

Ethiopia’s New Year’s Day (or Enkutatash) is celebrated in September towards the end of the big rains.  New Year’s Day in Ethiopia marks a new season and a new beginning.  Normally celebrated on September 11, this year is leap year so the day fell on September 12.  After my last trip to Ethiopia I had the pleasure of learning much more about the culture.  Ethiopia still follows the Orthodox Julian calendar which consists of 12 months of 30 days and a 13th month of five or six days.  This makes the Ethiopian calendar 7 years behind ours, hence it’s 2004.  We decided to celebrate Enkutatash, but for us the question was how do we commemorate the day?  Obviously we decided to go and eat Ethiopian food!  We tried a new restaurant, The Nile, in Aurora, which is a suburb of Denver.  I’ve been told that Aurora has a huge Ethiopian population.   Our dinner was delicious!  We feasted on a variety plate and a lot of kitfo.   It’s a traditional dish that consists of raw or slightly cooked marinated beef. 

As a part of our Ethiopian New Year celebration we decided to ride our bikes in the Tour De Fat.  The Tour De Fat is sponsored by New Belgium Brewing Company and the beverage Fat Tire!  The ride brings out thousands of costumed bikers through the streets promoting all things bicycle!  Van has mastered riding without training wheels but not watching where he rides, hence we put him on a tag-a-long bike, so we didn’t have to worry about all the bike wrecks he would cause.  We may not have brought in the new year like true Ethiopians, but we definitely marked the day!!  Here we are in our traditional Ethiopian clothing. 

Presently in Addis Ababa, New Year’s Eve is spent feasting and partying. On New Year’s Day, the house is decorated with pretty little yellow Meskal daisies. Children make gifts of colorful paintings or spring flowers to give to their family and friends. Girls, dressed in their new Ethiopian dresses and armed with a kabero (small drum), go from house to house singing a special Enkutatash song, in return for some money. The main religious celebration takes place in the 14th-century Kostete Yohannes church in the town of Gaynt, in the Gondar region. Three days of prayers, psalms, hymns and sermons, and huge colourful processions mark the advent of the New Year. Closer to Addis Ababa, the Raguel Church, on top of the Entoto Mountain north of the city, has the largest and most spectacular religious celebration.

The Winner is…..

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

The Winning Ticket

Van showing off one of the winning tickets!

  Our son Vander drew the winning tickets for my raffle at Plinth Gallery Sunday morning! 

I want to thank everyone that bought a raffle ticket; it was so generous of you.  Your support will go a long way for the needy.  A little over $1,300 dollars was raised, which will go for much needed supplies.  This was more than I ever expected!!  I would like to especially thank Jonathan and Dorothy at Plinth Gallery; they were especially instrumental in this endeavor. 

Since everyone was extremely generous, I decided to add two more pots into the drawing.  So, there was a first, second and third place winner.  Again, many thanks to those that want to make a difference in the world, I can’t express my gratitude. 

And the winners are…. 

1st place for the vessel Anya Peterson-Fray, 2nd second place Jennifer & Fred Rife, 3rd place Roberta Hawks!! 


In other but related news….
I am very honored that Ethiopian Orphan Relief, Inc. asked me to make a bowl, for the inaugural Lights of Hope Ambassador Award. Here is John and Anne Ferguson receiving their award.  Congratulations!

Ethiopian Orphan Relief, Inc. has long recognized the importance of the commitment to their donors and the orphaned and vulnerable children in Ethiopia. The Lights of Hope Ambassador Award recognizes a donor for their extraordinary commitment to supporting children in Ethiopia.

This year at Lights of Hope in Portland, Oregon they celebrated the inauguration of this award.

This award also reflects all that is great in people and how with their support of Ethiopian Orphan Relief we have been able to help so many of the orphan and vulnerable children in Ethiopia.

For more information: please visit their blog.
Lights of Hope Ambassadors

Lights of Hope Ambassadors Award for Ethiopian Orphan Relief


And my friend Abi Aldrich Paytoe Gbayee, saving the world one Band aide at a time!  She collection band aides for me to take to Ethiopia!  Thanks Abi for all your hard work! 

I’m going to Africa and I’m raffling off one of my vessels!

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

I’m going to Africa, specifically Ethiopia this summer on a humanitarian trip. I will be working with two organizations called One Child Campaign and Vision on Africa.  One Child Campaign focuses on helping orphanages and Vision on Africa assists women to become self-sustaining through selling craftwork. I will be traveling for three weeks visiting and providing much needed supplies/knowledge to the needy.

Since I’m going on this big adventure I am raffling off one of my art pieces to raise money for the children. The orphanages need many things, and I am going to pack my suitcases with as much as I can to bring to Ethiopia, or buy supplies in-country.

Please note that every penny raised will go directly to buying supplies (absolutely no money will be used for personal expenses).

The tickets are $5.00 for one or $20.00 for five.

Just look for the donate button on the right side of my blog!

The drawing will be May 28!

This piece is called: I Dream About A Faraway Place

12″ x 6″ x 6″

Please pass this along to a friend! 


Here is a list of the supplies I am bringing to Ethiopia!  If you are in my area and want to donate some of the supplies, please shoot me an email!


Gloves (Surgical and Disposable)
Hand sanitizer
Liquid Hand Soap
Multivitamins (gummy type)
Alcohol swab

Antibiotic cream
Antifungal cream
Cough Syrups

cold medicine

Band aides



Hygiene and Skin care Supplies

Tooth paste
Liquid Soap
Hair bands
Shampoo & Conditioner

Baby supplies

infant formulas

Diaper (Large Size)

Baby body wash
Diaper underwear

Basket balls
Soccer balls
Clothes and Shoes 


(7-15 girls and boys)
Trousers, & pants,

Skirts, & Dresses
Jackets, Sweaters,

T-shirt, tops,

Shoes for children Crocks
Shoes (7-15 girls and boys)
Pajamas for children Socks

Underwear teens

Educational Supplies
Drawing/writing board, drawing pad
Markers (permanent & removable)
Story books
Hard construction Paper
School glue

Toys, Puppets
Cars big and small

movies, (VCD/DVD/VHS)
for toddlers/kids,

Children Diaries

Melkam Gena or Merry Christmas!

Monday, January 10th, 2011

 Melkam Gena

 Gena Ethiopian christmas 019

Ethiopians celebrate “Gena” Christmas on January 7.  We drove down Saturday to Aurora, Colorado, to celebrate Gena at the Ethiopian Evangelical Church.  Pastor Ermias and Alemeshet Teklyoneis, the Director and Founder of Abenezer Children’s Home in Gebre Guracha, Ethiopia, invited American/Ethiopian Adoptive Families in the Denver Area to celebrate Gena.

It was an incredible evening!  We so humbled, and honored and left speechless by the incredible night.  We ate amazing Ethiopian food, played wonderful traditional games, made great connections with other adoptive families, and heard many words of thanks for adopting the children.  At the end of the night we were sent home with gifts from Ethiopia.  This was not just a few gifts around 250 people attended the Gena Celebration. 

Gena Ethiopian christmas 006

Gena Ethiopian christmas 013

This is a marble game.  I didn’t write down the name or take a picture of the station like I did for the rock game Qeleblebosh.  The objective of the marble game is you shoot the marbles down and try to knock out the other marbles that are lined up on the other side.  If you knock out certain marbles you get all the marbles in the group. 

Gena Ethiopian christmas 017


Qeleblebosh is a traditional game mostly played by girls in the Ethiopia.  It is like Jacks, but you use rocks instead.  It will teach them how to be disciplined, self-controled, focused in the game as well as social skills.   It teaches the kids how to count numbers. 

Gena Ethiopian christmas 027

Street Hockey, a lot of the boys were in traditional Ethiopian clothing. 

Gena Ethiopian christmas 028


Ethiopian Coffee!!!

Gena Ethiopian christmas 035

Thank you Pastor Ermias and your entire church community. Your generosity was overwhelming.  We were THRILLED with all the games, we had SO much fun! We appreciate your kindness and generosity!

For more information on Ethiopia and the insurmountable  amount of orphaned children read; There is NO Me Without You by Melissa Faye Green.  It is a powerful and informative bookof the terrifying story of the AIDS orphans. 


Every 15 SECONDS, another child becomes an AIDS orphan in Africa.
Every DAY 5,760 more children become orphans.
Every YEAR 2,102,400 more children become orphans (in Africa alone).
There are 143,000,000* orphans in the world today. The population of orphans theoretically makes up the 7th largest nation in the world.
Orphans in the world today spend an average of 10 years in an orphanage or foster home.
Every YEAR 14,050,000 children grow up as orphans and AGE OUT of the system.
Every DAY 38,493 children AGE OUT.
Every 2.2 SECONDS, another orphan child AGES OUT with no family to belong to and no place to call home.
Many of these children accept job offers that ultimately result in their being sold as slaves. Millions of girls are sex slaves today, simply because they were unfortunate enough to grow up as orphans.
*Reliable statistics are difficult to find, even the sources often list only estimates, and street children are rarely included. But even if these figures are exaggerated by double, it is still an unacceptable tragedy that over a Million children would still become orphans every year, and every year 7 Million children would still grow to adulthood as orphans with no one to belong to and no place to call home. They are totally vulnerable and easily fall prey to predators and slave recruiters.
(Data provided by UNICEF)

Our Biggest Adventure: Bringing Vander Home

Thursday, April 30th, 2009


Adoption Process:

We started the adoIMG_0014ption process approximately September/October of 2007. We adopted through Children’s Hope International out of St. Louis, Missouri. The adoption process was very arduous and time consuming. We completed more than 100 pages of paperwork, and  had several interviews. The adoption had to be approved by several different agencies; State of Wyoming, Immigration Services, U.S. Secretary of State, FBI, Wyoming Department of Criminal Investigations, Family Services and the Ethiopian government.

We selected Ethiopia because we like what the program had to offer and the time table for the adoption to be finalized.

Children’s Hope International Adoptions


Day 1 Feb. 1, & 2

Todd and I went to Washington D.C. to see our friend Gene and visit my Dad in Arlington National Cemetery. We put a picture of Vander on my Dad’s headstone, and wished he could be there with us.  It was an emotional moment, but I was glad to see my father before we departed.

At the Dulles International airport we meet Julie, one of the parentsIMG_0008 who was adopting the same week as us.  We exchanged pictures of our awaiting children, and confided how nervous and excited we were.

We stopped in Rome, Italy for a three hour layover. We didn’t get off the plane while they cleaned and refueled.  The plane trip to Rome was very relaxed, except for the American missionaries who kept singing at the top of their lungs.  

Day 2 – Feb. 3 Tuesday

After 25 hours on plane we arrived in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. With much confusion trying to leave the airport. We were bombarded by Italians getting through customs.  After finding our luggage we finally were out of the building. We had three rides waiting for us, (our friend Patrick, the Z Guest House and the House of Hope) but only connected with one of them; the House of Hope Transitional Orphanage (HOH) for Children’s Hope International Adoption Agency. Efrem whisked Todd, myself and Julie off to the HOH, to meet our children. As we drove through Addis Ababa, we noticed many uniformed men standing around with machine guns; we were told it was because the African Union (A.U.), was meeting. The A.U. consists of 53 African counties, and they meet twice a year in Addis. This meeting was headed by Libyan leader Gaddafi, which apparently made things much tenser, and added many more machine guns. We were told not to take pictures of the soldiers or the places they were guarding.  If we did, we would be shot. We did not take any pictures!

IMG_0015 After about driving twenty minutes we arrived at the House of Hope. As we were getting out of car Vander was in our arms. We were thrilled to finally meet him. He was very quiet and just took everything in, while looking at us with his  big beautiful brown eyes. We were served lunch and Todd and I tried to eat, but really couldn’t. Vander set right next us with a bowl of what I thought was oatmeal, but found out later it wasn’t. Todd and I fed him, the nannies fed him, it seemed anyone who walked by helped us feed him. Then he threw up. Welcome to parenthood!

House of Hope:

 IMG_0217 The House of Hope is a transitional orphanage for children that have been referred to Americans, by Children’s Hope International. It houses around fifty children and  consists of three structures. The largest structure has two small offices and a sleeping area for the children. Each sleeping area is separated into age groups. The second structure is the dining area for families and an apartment on the second floor. The third building is used for cooking, storage, laundry, etc. There is a courtyard in the middle of all these buildings where the children play. The courtyard is all concrete. The House of Hope is located a few blocks off a main street in a semi-industrial area. The surroundings are very crude and uninviting.

We eventually made it to our apartment at the Z Guest House, which was about another 20 – 30 minutes drive across Addis. Todd and I were exhausted not having had much sleep in the paIMG_0025st 30 hours. We had requested a crib from the guest house, but were too terrified  use it. It looked like an old soccer net, draped over an old metal frame. Todd wove blankets through the netting to make it more secure and we all went to sleep for the night. Vander kept waking up throughout the night and quietly peering over the crib at us, wondering who we were.

Z Guest House

This was a nice place with a beautiful garden and lawn. We rented a small second floor apartment. The staff was wonderful and cared for all of our needs. There were two women that cared for the daily cleaning and meals. Both women fell in love with Vander and constantly held him.   The owner was a very nice and gentle man. He and his wife spoke excellent English and assisted with travel and cultural questions. The guest house was located in a residential area, but still close to shops and the national museum.

Z Guest House



 IMG_0137 IMG_0131

Day 3 - Wed. Feb 4

Was a blur, we were still so jet-lagged and trying to catch up on sleep. Vander waIMG_0250s awesome, he just went along with everything, not complaining or crying. We went to the HOH to prepare our paperwork  for the visa appointment. Tsegay the director helped us through all that. Hung out at our guest house and got to know Vander and the wonderful staff there.


We went to Castelli’s Italian Restaurant. This was a fine Italian restaurant with excellent food. The waiters all wore tuxedos. Interesting how such a nice place is right in the middle of what looked liked a pretty bad neighborhood.

Day 4 – Thur. Feb. 5

Thursday was our visa appointment at the US Embassy. The U.S. IMG_0039 Visa appointment was February 5, 2009. This was held in at the U.S. Embassy in Addis. We left the Z Guest House and went to the House of Hope for lunch with the other four families. After a very nice traditional Ethiopian meal, we all departed to the U.S. Embassy. The Visa appointment was very “matter of fact” and simple. Basically, after going through a long series of security checks we were escorted to a lobby area. The lobby was on the first floor and the interview area was on the second. We were the last family to be interviewed, which was a little nerve racking. Finally, our name was called over the loud speaker. We walked up the stairs to window number four. The interviewer was behind bullet proof glass and was a young man from Washington D.C. The interview tooIMG_0035k less than five minutes. He asked questions such as; “How did you come into contact with Yeabsera?” “Have you had any contact with his relatives?” “When is Yeabsera’s birthday?” and various other simple questions. The Visa was approved and we received the paperwork the following day.  Yeabsera is Vander’s Ethiopian name, which now his middle name.

  That evening we went to Patrick and Jeanne’s house for Pizza and to watch the movie “Holy Grail.” We had a fun time, and Vander enjoyed playing with their children. Going to their house that night made me feel like we were just driving across town to visit friends.  Just a taste of what life will be like in back Wyoming.  It was wonderful to see them.  I think this was the first time Vander saw a white child his age.

 IMG_0104 IMG_0112

 IMG_0119 IMG_0122

Day 5 – Fri. Feb. 6

We walked to the National Museum in the morning. The place was just so-so for a museum, but did have some interesting artifacts. The new museum was being built, which looked like a nice building.

IMG_0116 Todd was looking forward to seeing Lucy the superstar fossil, a 3.2-million-year-old adult female; she represented the oldest and most complete skeleton of an early human ever found. Unfortunately Lucy was in Seattle, so we only got to see a poster of her. He Was a tad disappointed!

We went to Vander’s orphanage Yehitsanat Merja Mahiber . By far IMG_0178 this was the most emotionally draining place we visited. We first went to the main office, which is separate from the orphanage. This place was directly off the street and was very presentable and clean. We talked to several staff members. After our conversation we took a short five minute walk to the orphanage. It was located down a dirt alley. Once we entered the children ran over to us and immediately grabbed our hands. We took a short tour, and found the facility to be very run-down.

IMG_0160  IMG_0168IMG_0178  IMG_0171

There was one little girl at the orphanage about five or six years old. She really broke my heart. She held my hand for almost the entire visit. She is so cute and had a vivacious personality; she sang and danced for us, and had the most beautiful smile. When it came time to leave the orphanage director asked the children to sing a good bye song to Yeabsera, “ Vander”. The little girl was holding my hand at the time, and suddenly she clamped down with a rock-hard grip. The weird coincidence is here name is also Yeabsera, and she thought we were taking her home.  That was emotionally tough. 


Day 6 – Sat. Feb. 7

IMG_0230 Efrem from the HOH took some of us shopping, and Todd and I bought a few things for us and our friends and family. I thinking my shopping experience was pretty well fulfilled while in Ethiopia. Patrick took me to a few great sIMG_0207pots and Todd and I ventured out on our own. Shopping on our own wasn’t the most successful day we had. I bought a few things, but never found the spot we had gone with Patrick. But it was an adventure. After we were finished shopping we went back to the HOH for our final visit. They had prepared a wonderful traditional Ethiopian meal. It was delicious. I wish I could find a place around here that made Ethiopian food that tasted as good. We have an  Ethiopian restaurant in Ft. Collins, it isn’t bad, but I loved what we ate at the HOH.



Preparing Injera!

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Chicken Dinner Part One & Chicken Dinner Part Two

I joined Patrick and Jeanne for dinner that night at Serenade. Todd stayed in with Vander. Serenade was a quaint beautiful restaurant, perfect for Valentine’s Day or a marriage proposal. It was very close to the Z Guest House, every day I had seen the sign, but all it said was “Serenade” and had a reproduction of a Modigliani. I had wondered what it was every time I went by it. It was up a road literally two or three blocks from the guest house, but the road was almost impassable by a 2-wheeled drive car. We arrived at a huge metal gate, which opened for us and let us into a beautiful garden area, and a very fancy restaurant. I was really surprised. I was finding Ethiopia to be the land of extreme contrasts

Day 7 – Sun. Feb 8

I was starting to get sick. I still felt well enough to do things, but  didn’t want to miss out on seeing Ethiopia, so we can tell Vander about our experiences there. Todd and I tried to go shopping on our own. As I said before, we could have used some assistance.

IMG_0285 We made it back to the Guest House for the Traditional Coffee Ceremony. It was fascinating to watch and learn about coffee Ethiopian style. First Eyalam started with green coffee beans, and she roasted them on a charcoal stove, and wafted the smell of the roasted beans around to all of us. Then she heated the coffee in a handmade clay coffee pot, lit some frankincense, and served the coffee with sweet popcorn.

That night we went out to dinner with Simon. He is a German reporter we met at the Z Guest House. He was there to write about the African Union and to interview the Ethiopian Soccer President of Fila. We really enjoyed getting to know him.





Day 8 & 9 Monday, Feb 9 & 10

We had rented a car and driver to take us out of Addis and see some country side, but unfortunately, I had a temperature of 104 degrees. I ended up in bed the entire day. Todd hung out with Vander.


Feb 10

This was our departure day; we flew out of Addis at 10:30 PM. We spent the day with Patrick and his kids.  I visited their international school, which had a relaxing atmosphere.  It was so nice to have Patrick and Jeanne in Addis. 


Rough re-Entry to the US

Ethiopian Air didn’t have our flight confirmed, although we did call them before hand. They also didn’t show we had bought three seats on the way home. It took forever, but finally they gave us the bulkhead with a bassinet. We had to go through two security checkpoints, and they really searched us. They took everything out of  our bags, it was a real mess. I could never get everything back in it quite right. We wanted to exchange our money before leaving, and it didn’t happen. I ended up doing last minute shopping at the airport.  Shopping at the airport isn’t always economical, but it was still fun.

We had a couple of rough days when we first got back. Vander travels really well. He slept most of the time on the plane. What a relief. But I gave him yogurt, and then he had explosive diarrhea and we had run out of diapers in my diaper bag.  We had more in the overhead, but they were too far away.  The people behind us came to our rescue, and started handing over wipes and a diaper.  Wow, we really lucked out. 

We missed our flight in D.C., which we thought we would.  We re-booked and had a burger while waiting for the next flight.  Eventually, we made it to Denver International Airport and headed back to Wyoming. 

IMG_0336 We pulled up to our house and Chad and Jeff made a yard sign in  Amharic.  It was very colorful and had balloons attached to it. After that all went downhill. Todd and I had made a plan how we were going to deal with Molly our Golden Retriever and Vander. We were going to go in the house one at a time to say hello to Molly, then bring Vander in. That’s not at all what happened. Molly saw me and ran in into the garage and Vander IMG_0447 screamed in terror. He kept screaming in terror for the next two days. When he saw the cats more screaming. We live in front of a field which has 11 horses. When the horses came close to the fence he screamed. It was awful for him and us.

Vander and Molly now best of friends; they compete over and share  food and toys. Vander will just go up to her and grab whatever he wants from her, she is not bothered by it at all. He is fascinated by the cats; the cats do not share his fascination at all. And he runs up to the window now whenever he sees the horses.


Many people tell us Vander is so lucky to have us, but really we are the lucky ones to have him in our lives.


I found Ethiopia to be the land of contrasts.  According to UNICEF, it is estimated that there are six million orphans in there.  Yet Ethiopians LOVE children.  Where ever we went people were always kissing and IMG_0103 pulling Vander into their arms.  Every time we went to our guest house he was whisked away into the arms of the nearest Ethiopian, and they showered him with hugs and kisses.  While we were visiting the National Museum, a large school group also toured the museum, as we passed by them the children reached out and grabbed Vander’s hand and kissed it.  It was very strange and heartwarming at the same time.  Maybe because they love their children so much, the parents are willing to give them up, to hope for, dream for, and to chance for a better life. 

The Ethiopians are the warmest, friendliest people we have ever met. 

Yet, another contrast….     Addis Ababa on first site seemed to be very poor, very much like how you would imagine any developing country’s city to be, with almost no infrastructure and shanty shacks everywhere.   As we toured the city we found some of the most beautiful places behind giant gates.  Truly spots of paradise in the mists of dire surroundings. 

Driving in Ethiopia was very exhilarating.  Seat belts, baby car seats,IMG_0253 mufflers and vehicle emissions standaIMG_0043rds are nonexistent.  Traffic laws are not enforced.   The driving requirements seemed to be a working horn and a cell phone.  One of the drivers we had said, “Driving is by negotiation.”  What he meant is using the horn, and who could squeeze into the lane faster than the other driver.  Soon we could understand the language of the horn.  The smell oIMG_0053f the city is extreme vehicle exhaust, mixed in with a few unknown spices and coffee. Ninety percent of all the  cars in Addis were 10 to 15 years old or older, and made to run in any possible condition.  The nick name of the taxis is the “Blue Devils”, because there are so many of them and they are very aggressive.  By far, they are the majority on the streets.

The sounds of Addis were interesting and many.  One of the most IMG_0090 memorable was the 5 AM call to prayer by the Muslims and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  These were pumped through loudspeakers for entire city to hear.  We were fairly close to one, therefore no need for an alarm clock. It was a novelty at first, but towards the end of our stay it would have been nice to catch a few more winks.  There were plenty of animal sounds, since it is very common to see all types of livestock walking the street.  Addis is a busy city, which can lead to sensory overload.




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thank you


Thank you


While we were in Ethiopia we met four incredible families.  The Stienecker’s and the William’s have blogs about their experiences. 


Bloom Where You’re Planted: Stienecker Family Blog

Williams Family Blog