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Five Friday Faves

Turbo Fire Pizza

Just last week, my family and I had an afternoon where we needed to run errands and an evening when we needed to be at church.

Eating out is not the easiest thing for my crew since we cannot eat gluten or dairy.

But Turbo Fire Pizza has become our go-to in Springfield, IL (sorry out-of-town folks). They offer gluten-free crusts for the same price as regular pizzas. They also build your pizza right in front of you (think Subway for pizza). They allow us to bring our own dairy-free cheese. Each member of our family can build their specific pizza to order.

Then, around the time we are finished paying, the pizzas are cooked! There’s no waiting!

And it’s yum.

I get ham, onion, mushroom, spinach, and oregano on my pizza.

Again, yum.

 

For Salone Earrings

I just launched this last week (read all about it here), but I’m probably not going to shut up about it – be warned.

I’m loving my Jeriatu earrings. They are the biggest pair we sell. I have sold so many of them – especially the ones that are fire engine red!

All our earring styles are named after women in Sierra Leone. Jeriatu is actually a full-time employee of Lifegate. She is the mama of the boys’ orphan home. She is a petite woman with a HUGE personality. This earring style is so perfect for her name because of her bold character. But come on, she’s mothering a bunch of ornery boys. She HAS to have a big personality!

Message me if you’d like a pair of Jeriatus for $15! All proceeds benefit Lifegate in Africa.

 

Stainless Steel Straws


It’s the little things, isn’t it?

I’m not a fan of waste, and since I drink a smoothie almost daily, I hate wasting plastic drinking straws.

I’ve been through my fair share of smoothie cups with the reusable straws, but stuff gets gunked up on the inside.

Ew gross. No thank you.

But these stainless steel straws were a risk I took. I bought them on Amazon. They came with a teeny brush for cleaning. I could not love them more.

They do well in my dishwasher and there’s no more waste! I love them!

 

At Home In The World by Tsh Oxenreider

I’ve been a huge fan of Tsh and her work for a long time. Her previous book, Notes From A Blue Bike was my favorite book of 2015.

I have been anxiously awaiting this new release of hers. It did not disappoint.

Tsh’s family (including her three young kids) took nine months to circumnavigate the globe. They aren’t exceptionally wealthy people and they seem rather normal. This book detailed their adventures and Tsh’s realization of what “home” really means.

It’s a great read and it made me want to spend our whole summer traveling.

 

Postcards

I like to receive letters and cards, but I’m horrible about sending them. I’d be the worst pen pal with the best intentions.

Recently though, a friend shared about buying 100 generic postcards and a stack of postcard stamps. She keeps them on her desk and jots notes to friends and family whenever they come to her mind.

I purchased this pack of artsy cards that make me smile. I’ve adopted this friend’s philosophy to correspondence. When I think of someone, I write them a quick note. Easy as that.

And 100 cards for less than $10 makes it cheap as well!

 

 

 

Farmhouse Renovation, Before and After Photos – Nasko’s Room

When we moved into the farmhouse last May, we knew Nasko would not be at home much longer. We were actively seeking placement for him as his behaviors spiraled out of control.

But he is our son, and he would still have a room in our home.

His bedroom is actually part of the original servant’s quarters (more on that with the next house post). His bedroom is significantly smaller than the other upstairs bedrooms because part of it was closed off when indoor plumbing was added!

As we were renovating the farmhouse, we asked Nasko which bedroom he wanted. He first chose what is now the playroom, but since we shot that idea down, he then moved on to this room. He took great pride in being able to choose his own bedroom.

On to the before photos! It’s nearly impossible for me to believe we used to play pool in this room!

And now:

Decorating for a tween boy isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Add in the fact that Nasko behaves more like a preschooler, but desires the freedom of an older child.

I think though, with the black, white, and green, I was able to capture his personality well. I also kept in mind his love of dogs.

 

His bedroom was used as an office, several years ago. And before that, it was part of the servant’s quarters – which have a separate back staircase.

Now it houses Nasko’s stuffed dog collection.

When Nasko was accepted to his group home, we attempted to make his bedroom there reflect his bedroom here:

We wanted the transition to be smooth and the decor to be homey.

As you can see, he left many of his stuffed dogs behind, but also brought part of his collection with him! That boy is serious about his toy dogs!

And the final element of Nasko’s bedroom that always makes guests giggle –

Doggie tail hooks!

We continue to pray that Nasko’s behavior would calm and he would be able to return home to us. But for now, his toy dogs and his bedroom are waiting patiently.

 

[In case you missed my other before and after posts, I’ve written about Louis’ room, Edward’s room, and the playroom so far!]

Let Us Be That For Each Other – Encountering Special Needs in Public

As a mom of children with special needs, I have learned to let my pride fall and apologize quickly. When my son calls a stranger fat or my other child licks our neighbor’s ankle, I am humbled and often embarrassed.

A few weeks ago, we took our sons out to eat. The restaurant was having a fundraising night (unbeknownst to us) for one of the local school districts. The store was packed and children abounded. We bought our sandwiches and even supported the local school. We ate, and our boys expelled their energy in the playplace.

As my husband and I sat after the meal, we unpacked parenting and the lives we’re living. Soon, a gentleman and his son appeared at the table behind us.

From the moment I saw the boy, I knew.

There wasn’t anything about his appearance that might trigger this knowledge, but watching his interactions and his demeanor, I saw my sons in him.

I saw that this boy was special.

His father was struggling to keep the boy close. The child was overstimulated by the large number of patrons and the busyness of the restaurant. Within an instant, the boy appeared at my side.

He hurriedly nabbed the card game from my sons’ meal. The young man opened the game and began to examine every piece. His presence was near and he leaned against my arm as he bombarded me with one hundred questions.

I smiled.

He was close in age to my oldest son and had similar social boundaries. I delighted in this boy’s presence.

His dad, on the other hand, was mortified. He quickly apologized and pulled the boy away. He returned the game and hung his head.

I nodded and reassured him everything was fine.

Soon the boy was seated. He spoke fast and loud as he inquired about everything in his surroundings. His father seemed exasperated and tired.

The boy grew bored of his father and turned back towards me. He began to show me the letters he knew in sign language.

He obviously had no idea I had studied sign language in college.

The next thing I knew, the boy was practically in my lap, and I was teaching him to sign “sea turtle” and “rabbit.” Again, his father was stressed. He apologized profusely and pulled the boy away again.

But the boy would not be dissuaded. Chance and I spent the rest of our meal talking with the boy, practicing sign language, and encouraging him to try the fruit in his cup. At one point, this sweet child peppered my arm with kisses.

As my own children grew tired, and it was time to pack up, tears flowed from my eyes. Chance saw me and nodded in agreement. He knew what I was thinking.

Chance stood and walked over to the boy’s father. He shook the man’s hand and thanked him for sharing his son with us.

Chance thanked the man for letting us love his son. He explained to the man about our oldest son. Our son lives in a group home because the actions that accompany his autistic diagnosis have led him to be unsafe. We have spent years on the side of apologies and attempts to keep him within the confines of social boundaries.

We, too, have dreaded taking our son in public for fear of the public’s reaction.

But along the way, we have met warm and forgiving people. We have been accepted and loved. Our son has been engaged and encouraged by strangers.

More often than not, our son’s hugs have been received with open arms and his inquiring utterances have been answered with grace.

That day in Chick-fil-a, we were given the opportunity to be that for another child with special needs.

The tears came to my eyes because until you have a child who pushes boundaries and forces apologies, there is no way of understanding the kindness of strangers who accept your children for who they are.

To the tired father in Chick-fil-a, I want to be that for you.

Dear readers, let us all be that for each other.

Let us be forgiving and kind as children explore and question. Let us be the village of support parents need as they struggle through bringing their special kids into public.

Let us be loving, accepting, gracious, and kind. Let us be that for each other.

 

[Please feel free to share pass this message along as we all need reminded of how to interact with those who have special needs. They are a blessing.]

Trust In You – A Page From My Journal

I have walked a very difficult journey this past year. It began last November when I briefly contemplated suicide. I am finally ready to share some of what I have experienced, and some of where I have been. I pray that sharing my story might help others in a similar situation. I share to bring hope.

Overcoming depression, trusting in God.

It was almost one year ago, November of 2015, when I sat in my driveway and experienced a breakdown. I questioned my worth as a mother, as a person, and as a Christ-follower.

I parked my car and gazed into the dining room window. My husband had prepared a meal for my sons and was corralling them to the table. I paused and questioned whether this life would be better if I were not in it.

By God’s grace, I had enough mental clarity to recognize these thoughts as whispers from Satan. I quickly confessed my struggles to Chance and we sought a professional counselor.

Letting go of every single dream.

I lay each one down at Your feet.

Through the blessing of a counselor who leans into the Spirit every time she speaks, I identified many errors in my thinking — I am a do-er. I attempt to control situations in order to prove my value. I am a perfectionist. I shield myself from being vulnerable for fear of being rejected by others. I try to earn God’s grace through my actions and obedience.

I’ve tried to win this war I confess.

My hands are weary I need Your rest.

In January, as I spent two weeks away from my children and the stresses of my daily life, I was reminded that God does not desire my perfection or my actions; all he asks is that I abide in him.

For a do-er, resting and abiding in an invisible God seemed like an impossible task. In February, I begged God to show himself through songs, scriptures, books, and sermons. In his faithfulness, he did just that. His spirit pulled me towards specific books in the exact times I needed their messages. The sermons preached in our church addressed issues that were a dominant struggle for me in the week prior.

As I abided in him, he maintained his perfect presence in my life.

Mighty Warrior, King of the fight

No matter what I face, You’re by my side.

Then in March, after four months of trying to find a group home for Nasko, we were told he had been accepted into a placement. The timing was perfect as Chance was leaving for a two-week trip to Africa. We knew Nasko would struggle with the schedule upheaval and missing his Taty, so moving into the group home seemed like an answered prayer.

The day before we believed he would move in, we received a phone call. His placement had been denied. He was too dangerous for this facility. His behaviors were seen as a threat to not only himself, but potentially the other children in the home.

The facility was right. I feared for the safety of the other children. Nasko truly was a danger to any other children in his home; this had been made clear in our home, with our younger sons.

The facility felt the need to protect their children, but who was protecting mine?

I was absolutely crushed. I cried while sitting on Nasko’s bed. He was in school, and I panicked knowing he would be home in just a few short hours. A mother should not be afraid to get her own child off the bus at the end of the day.

I was isolated. No one else understood our pain, and I was unable to be vulnerable enough to explain it anyway.

I felt completely abandoned.

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move,

When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through,

When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You…

I thought the group home was going to be our answer.

I continued meeting with my counselor. I knew I had issues to work on, but I also believed Nasko was the root of all my mental health issues. If he were removed from our situation and placed safely in a group home – despite the heartache it would cause – I believed I would eventually return to “normal.”

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings.

There’s not a day ahead You have not seen.

In June of this year, my eyes were opened. I marched into the therapy office and repeated the exact words my counselor said to me during my very first session, “This is not about Nasko at all.”

While there absolutely was stress from keeping my family safe, my mood and my behavior directly related to whether or not my life looked perfect. My life did not reflect a sovereign God – a God who loved me and my family, even when things were hard.

I was unhappy and could not allow God (or anyone) to love me because I could not keep control of my imperfect family.

I had not truly surrendered my life to the Lord.

I was willing to do God’s work and adopt his orphans, but only if it wasn’t too difficult. I agreed to follow his plans, as long as they made me look good and perfect. I would accept his grace, but only if I felt I had truly earned it.

I had not given my life over to Jesus and his will.

So, in all things be my life and breath.

I want what You want Lord and nothing less.

I had absolutely not trusted God with my life. I had attempted to earn God’s love by doing his work, but I refused to trust him and accept his grace when my life was hard, and messy, and imperfect.

The day after I realized my depression required a change of MY heart, and not a change in our life circumstances, a group home called and accepted Nasko’s placement.

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move,

When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through,

When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You,

I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I finally surrendered my life to God. I trust in him.

You are my strength and comfort.

You are my steady hand.

You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand.

We’ve walked a very hard road these past ten years. We’ve been let down by fellow Christ-followers. We’ve been hurt by the church. We’ve watched my belly swell and then flatten four different times. We were present at the birth of a sweet baby only to return to an empty nursery. We’ve waded through the waters of the adoption process twice, only to be greeted with much more severe diagnoses and behavioral issues than we planned for. We’ve buried extended family members and moved best friends around the globe.

Your ways are always higher.

Your plans are always good.

There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood.

But for the first time in my life, I have laid down my plans, my desires, and my perfectionism. I can finally see the glory in the suffering as I required a broken spirit before I could truly surrender.

It all changed this July when I realized my heartache and depression had nothing to do with Nasko. It had everything to do with not trusting God with my life.

Today, I can truly stand with my feet firmly planted as the storm of sin and unrest surround me, and I can say,

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move,

When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through,

When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You,

I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I will trust in You!

I will trust in You!

I will trust in You

Maybe you are experiencing feelings of heartache and depression. If Satan is whispering lies over you, I implore you to seek help. It has been life-changing for me. If you are local, I have a counselor recommendation. If you need someone to talk to, please message me. My days are not perfect, but I am finally trusting God with all of my days – the good and the bad. I want you to do the same.

The poetic words and lyrics are by Lauren Daigle. This song ministered to me in my darkest days. Maybe you needed to hear it today.

Good Day

Reasons today is a good day:
1. The sun is shining.
2. My parents arrived last night.
3. The boys had a good morning.
4. I’m feeling more rested (probably getting used to the time change, just in time to come home this weekend!)
5. E’s Visa photos are done – one step closer to bringing him home.
6. And, well, most importantly, the gluten-free bakery was selling this:

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How’s your day?

Orphan-Grief: The Loss of Less

[This is a guest post by The Reverend]

It happened today. And it was not pretty.

We were walking through the zoo, and everyone was having a good time. We had just seen the giraffes, and the two littles LOVED THEM.* We stopped at the park to play, and then grabbed some water to rehydrate. As we were making our way back to the gate to meet our taxi, E lost it. For no apparent reason. He was inconsolable.

G couldn’t comfort him.
I couldn’t comfort him.
Goldfish crackers couldn’t comfort him.

When he refused the orange crackers of goodness, we knew it was serious.

We tried to figure out what the trigger was. Had an animal scared him? Did he want water? Did he need his diaper changed?

We tried everything, but nothing worked.

At one point, we were at a quiet part of the park (except for E’s wailing!), and I put him down. I sat on the ground several feet away, to give him some personal space, and I just observed. He just looked around and cried. I didn’t know what to do.

Finally, I thought to myself, “I wonder if he’s grieving?”

Orphan-grief is a real thing. When kids leave the only home they have ever known, no matter how bad it was, they miss it. The miss the subpar meals. They miss the inconsistent caregivers. They miss the hard mattresses.

It’s sad, but it’s true.

So in that moment, when I sat three yards away from my precious boy, I prayed, “Father, help this little man. I know he’s hurting. Comfort him. Help him to realize that life is going to be OK.”

I then got up, walked over to him, and said, “E, listen, buddy. You don’t have to worry. I know you miss your home, but it’s going to be fine. God told us to take care of you, and we are going to do it.”

In that instant, every bit of anxiousness left his body. He looked at me, I pulled him into my arms, we we walked happily out of the park. It was beautiful. And heartbreaking, at the same time.

Pray for E. This isn’t over.

But that’s alright. He has a Mama and a Taty that love him and want what is best for him. More than that, he has a Heavenly Father who cares for him beyond measure.

*Have you ever seen giraffes fight? It’s craaazzzzy!

What’s for Lunch?

June 30, 2014
As I looked back through today’s photos, I realized that almost all of them contained food! Apparently we were busy eating today!

All of Chance’s sleep yesterday caught up with him this morning, so he woke up about the time I finally fell asleep – 3:00 AM – and did some work, watched Netflix, ate some breakfast, etc. Nasko woke up around 9:30 while Louis and I (normally early birds) opted to sleep until 11:00.

I think our bodies are getting somewhat acclimated, so I am very thankful we came a couple days before we picked up E. This has given us time to adjust to the time change and learn a little bit of the culture before anyone required anything from us!

Since I slept through breakfast, we started our day with a very European lunch.

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Chance and I made our ingredients into sandwiches (Remember those overweight suitcases? One of them contained a bunch of gluten free food for me. I had my sandwich on Udi’s bread!)

After lunch, Nasko decided to take a nap, so Chance and I spent our time getting organized and getting cleaned up. Louis fought the idea of a nap (he did JUST wake up!) so he spent his time playing. His absolute favorite place in the apartment is this window:

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When Nasko woke up, we loaded up with necessities and headed out the door. We needed to buy a cheap cell phone (to remain in contact with our attorney) and find somewhere to eat dinner. After some reading, I decided we should head to the Origo Mall.

We contemplated using public transportation, but chickened out (it’s supposedly pretty easy) and decided to walk six(ish) blocks to the central station and mall.

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While walking through town, Nasko spied a dancing donut and was attracted to him like a mouse to cheese. He giggled the whole time he was near the donut.

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We went into the shop, but they had sold out of everything Nasko would have liked, so we promised to return another day.

As we rounded the corner near the mall, we found McDonalds!

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We’re not anywhere near homesick enough for that yet, so we kept walking. Even Nasko knew what it was, just because of those Golden Arches!

We made it to the mall!

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While there, we were able to activate a cheap phone, buy stuffed puppies for Nasko, and window shop in hundreds of stores – making note of what might come in handy later.

We also decided to eat at an Asian restaurant called Gan Bei.

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Louis took a nap on Mama’s back during our mall tour, so he was rambunctious after dinner. Can you spot him in this panoramic shot outside the mall?

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On the way back to Flat 31, we made a quick stop at our grocery store for more water and pastries (Chance swears they taste horrible, but I’m pretty sure it’s just to help me in my jealousy, because they seem to disappear rapidly!)

We spent some time playing tonight, and Alex came by to hook up a hot water heater (the one for the whole building is having maintenance done, and won’t be in working order tomorrow.)

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It was good to get out and become more oriented today. Tomorrow (almost exactly twelve hours from now, actually) we will leave our flat to go to E’s orphanage in order to meet him for the very first time. I can’t even begin to describe how I’m feeling about that at this point!

Sleeping In Flat 31

Sunday, June 29, 2014
Today was the day for catching up on our sleep. Here’s how the sleeping went down:

Saturday
6:00 PM
Louis and Nasko asleep

7:00 PM
Chance and Ginger asleep

Sunday
1:00 AM
Ginger awake

1:30 AM
Louis awake

3:30 AM
Chance awake (because tired Ginger said, “Your turn!”)

4:00 AM
Ginger asleep
Nasko awake

6:00 AM
Chance and Nasko asleep
Ginger awake (to nurse)

6:30 AM
Ginger and Louis asleep

12:30 PM
Chance, Ginger, Nasko, and Louis awake (to eat lunch)

3:00 PM
Louis and Chance asleep

6:00 PM
Louis and Chance awake

(If you got out of that the fact that Chance sleeps more than anyone else, you nailed it. He has been having sinus issues today.)

I got some things done around here – finished unpacking, figured out the dishwasher, and mastered the washing machine (with the help of multiple European friends in my online babywearing group).

Nasko and I spent quite a bit of our afternoon talking with my cousin Lauren (it is her birthday!) and my aunt Nancy over FaceTime. Nasko asked to see their dog, so he spent most of the time observing her while I talked to our family!

We had meatless spaghetti and frozen peas for lunch along with a couple Oreos. For supper we got adventurous and walked a couple blocks (in the rain) to a restaurant called “Lido”. Chance had “chicken casserole” which was potatoes, chicken and peppers baked together with cheese on top. I had a skewer of spiced chicken served on a vegetable rice. Nasko had some of my chicken and a plate of French fries. Not thinking, I told the server that he would want ketchup on them. The ketchup here is thicker and much sweeter. Nasko tried it, but then chose to eat around it.

At the grocery store we bought more water, ice, meat, cheese, bread, oranges, snow peas, and sausage. Sausage appears to be a big deal here, so I’m going to attempt to cook this with our breakfast tomorrow. We also picked up a donut (betcha can’t guess who that’s for!) and some chocolate that we used to eat while we were in Bulgaria.

While in the grocery store, we bumped into our landlord, Alex. Considering we only know two people in this country so far (landlord and van driver), you’d think the odds of seeing someone we know might be rather slim… Come to find out, he lives in this building! He gave us a couple food pointers and shared his email address with me. He promised to send the link and address to the pool where he takes his kids swimming.

We then came home, put away groceries, made popcorn, FaceTimed Chance’s sisters (who happened to be with his dad), and played with toys. Both boys started acting tired around 9:30, finally, so we tucked them into bed!

Tomorrow’s job is to explore (if it’s not raining) and purchase and activate a local cell phone.

I took a few photos of the apartment so you can see our accommodations. It is very nice and seems to be perfect for us. I found out about this apartment through a blogger who wrote about spending a few months in [EEC] while on holiday from her job in the UK. I emailed her with my questions, and she was very kind to respond and give great recommendations.

Here is “Flat 31”:

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Right inside the door is a coat rack and a shoe rack.

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To the left of the shoe rack is the entrance to Nasko’s bedroom.

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I managed to fit all three boys’ clothes into a cabinet in Nasko’s room.

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Next up is the living/dining room. I considered cleaning it up for these photos, but toys-strewn-about is my life, so I didn’t!

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Off of the living room is what we are using as a spare bedroom. There’s no dryer here, so we have clothes hanging on a drying rack. We’re also storing things like our double stroller in this room!

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Back through the living room and into the hallway is our bathroom. The boys enjoyed playing in the tub this morning, and Louis figured out how to turn on the bidet and walk around carrying the toilet brush. Needless to say, the bathroom door usually stays shut!

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Next down the hall is the kitchen and breakfast nook. Most European apartments don’t have all these amenities, but ours included an oven, almost full-sized fridge, a dishwasher, and a microwave.

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The final bedroom is our master bedroom.

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We have tons of space for our things, and we’ve even created a changing table out of a desk!

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The only downside to the apartment is the five flights of stairs we have to climb, but with the right perspective (it’s great exercise) and a high-energy kid (Nasko) the stairs aren’t so bad!

Little Plane, Big Plane, Medium Plane

Friday, June 27, 2014
After some of our wonderful friends prayed with us this morning, we loaded our bags into the truck and headed to Springfield’s airport.

We knew our luggage was all close to the weight limit, so we began by weighing each bag on the “official airport scale.” One bag was two pounds under and two bags were three pounds over. With some quick switches and math that I don’t comprehend, we got all three bags under the weight limit without leaving anything behind!

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Next, we ran into an issue with Louis’ ticket. We had this same problem (even though we used a different travel agency) when we flew to Africa. Thirty-five minutes and multiple agent phone calls later, we had been issued our tickets.

Because of these delays, we rushed through security and listened to them announce our names over the loud-speaker (even though the lady who announced it was the lady who wasted all our time!) before wedging ourselves and our insane amount of stuff onto our tiny airplane.

Because of some crazy oxygen mask rules, Nasko had to sit with a stranger while Chance and I sat together since we are the ones who can hold Louis. Nasko spent the flight leaning over his seat-mates’ large belly in order to “see the clouds” out the window. Fortunately Mr. Seatmate was kind and even pretended to sleep when Nasko started asking obsessive questions. Sorry sir! United Airlines made the policy, not us!

Louis, on the other hand, took a nap. That flight is extremely short and we had arrived in Chicago in no time.

Unfortunately, we had to wait for almost 30 minutes on the runway in Springfield and we only had a fifty-five minute layover in Chicago. The pilot made up some of the time in the air, and we booked it to our connection. We were the last to board this flight as well!

Once we were on that flight to Frankfurt Germany, I think I finally began to breathe again — too many close-calls in a short amount of time.

The flight to Germany was long, but I just kept reminding myself that this trip is almost ten hours shorter than the trip to Africa; this is easy-peasy comparatively!

Louis slept some again on this flight (melatonin, how we love thee), but then was awake for a few hours. He watched Sesame Street, read books, played, and entertained everyone within a six-seat radius. Nasko played with his toys and iPad and refused to nap, despite our best efforts.

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Saturday, June 28, 2014
In Germany we had a four-hour layover. We found a children’s play area as soon as we landed, so we spent a little time allowing the littles to stretch their legs there. Nasko enjoyed watching out the airport windows and was able to speak intelligently about some of the goings on because of an iPad game we got him a while back. The game is very realistic and asks the player to move cargo from plane to plane and deliver the food service before departure times, etc.

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After playtime, we located our gate and convinced both boys to nap. Mama even snuck in some internet time and a great nap!

We had additional trouble printing my ticket this time, and one agent said that it showed that we were traveling with two infants (thank you Springfield agent), but we got that squared away and boarded the flight in a less-hurried manner than we had done all day!

This flight was also uneventful, except for the list of questions I had to field from Nasko. Until we boarded the third plane, his main concern about our trip was riding on the airplanes. He knew we were going to [Eastern European Country] to pick up E, but he hadn’t thought to ask many questions about that. All he knew was that we would be flying on one little plane, one big one, and one medium one. Once we boarded the medium plane, the questions began:
Pick up E? Bring him home? Stay [in] apartment? Two days? Three days? Sleep [at] home? Ride bike [at] home? E ride bikes? Play toys [at] E’s orphanage?

So, I spent most of that flight answering his questions and reviewing the itinerary with him while Louis slept again!!

On that flight, we sat near a missionary team heading from Virginia to [EEC] in order to assist with a summer camp for underprivileged kids. Many of them had participated in this trip before, so we enjoyed hearing their stories and thoughts about the country.

After the “medium plane” landed, we quickly claimed our luggage (thank you Jesus. I had my doubts about its arrival considering our quick connections.) and found our driver who was holding a sign with my name on it. He was very nice and took us to his large van (good thing it was big – we had lots of luggage). He then drove about fifteen minutes to the city and introduced us to our landlord, Alex, outside our apartment building. He accepted US dollars and was on his way!

Alex took us up five flights of stairs (elevators are rare here) and showed us our home for the next month. It is very nice. It has three bedrooms and could technically sleep seven, plus a baby. It could even house two more on the couch-bed. I love that it is very sterile and plain – makes it easier to clean.

He went over the contract with us, and showed us how to get on WiFi. When I asked how to use the washing machine, he was not at all helpful (I’m guessing his wife does all the laundry), but he did point out the instructions – which were in Italian!

After some unpacking and a quick supper (at 4:00 PM!) of Ramen noodles, apple slices and Oreos (all brought from home), we went across the street to the small grocery store. It is a nice store with lots of great things – fresh and packaged. I even found gluten-free noodles, crepe mix, and flour! I brought gluten-free foods with me, but it’s exciting not to have to ration them as strictly.

Louis fell asleep on Chance’s back as we shopped, and Nasko groggily started to follow a stranger out of the store, thinking it was his taty. We grabbed some essentials (eggs, oil, spaghetti sauce and noodles, frozen peas, and milk) and made the trek back upstairs.

Nasko promptly fell apart (crying because I told him I wasn’t sure there were trains in [EEC]), so we rushed him to bed while putting away groceries.

Chance bought aluminum foil at the market, to cover the windows of the apartment. Because we just passed summer solstice, it is light from 4:00 AM until 11:00 PM everyday!

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We were all in bed by 6:30 PM.

(I’m awake again at 1:30, but everyone else is sleeping well!)

Plans and Procedures

I wanted to share some general information about our trip, so this is a modified version of our itinerary. [Eastern European Country] is eight hours ahead of IL, but we covet your prayers on our court days, etc.

Chance, Ginger, Nasko, (E), and Louis: 

While in [EEC], we will be reachable by Facebook Messenger international calling and FaceTime. We will be checking our emails: pastornewingham@gmail.com and chanceginger@gmail.com . The phone feature of our cell phones will be turned off after we leave Chicago. We will be buying a phone in [EEC] in order to maintain contact with our in-country attorney.

Emergency Contact Info:

Ginger’s parents will be our point of contact with the most up-to-date information while they are still in the US.

While they are traveling, Chance’s mom will be our point of contact.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Chance, Ginger, Nasko and Louis Newingham leave Springfield to fly to Chicago, Illinois and Frankfurt, Germany with the final destination being [Eastern European Country].

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Upon our arrival in [EEC], a taxi from Lilija Plus Real Estate Agency will pick us up from the airport and take us to our apartment.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Daina, the attorney in [EEC], will pick us up at our apartment at 9:30 AM to take us to the orphanage.

We will travel to E’s baby house and meet with the orphanage director and social worker. We will meet E on this day as well.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Newinghams will go to the orphan court and complete an interview before being given permission to host E.

(I believe) we will then travel to his baby house to pick him up after court.

During our stay, a social worker will visit E a few times in our apartment to ensure that our hosting is going smoothly.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The US Embassy in [EEC] is hosting an Independence Day celebration. The Newinghams hope to attend (with other families also completing adoptions at this time).

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Newinghams plan to attend church at Rita Zvaigzne (Morning Star Church of [EEC]). Services are at 11:00 AM.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Roger and Merry Ann (Ginger’s mother and father) will leave Springfield to fly to Chicago, Illinois and Frankfurt, Germany with the final destination being [EEC].

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Roger and Merry Ann will stay in the Radisson Hotel for their entire trip.

The Newinghams plan to attend church at Rita Zvaigzne (Morning Star Church of [EEC]). Services are at 11:00 AM.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Newinghams will return to court for a hearing in which we will ask to take E to the US on a visa for an extended hosting period.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

An interview will be conducted in order for a visa to be issued for E.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The visa will be available to be picked up.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Roger, Merry Ann, Chance, Ginger, Nasko, E and Louis will leave [EEC] to fly to Frankfurt, Germany and Chicago, IL with the final destination being Springfield, IL.

We will land (completely exhausted) in Springfield around 10:05 PM.