November 21, 2009

Just pics...

Nathan says hi :)

Olivia lost her first tooth!

So proud of Nick, he graduated from the Police Academy this week :)

November 02, 2009

Birthday's, Halloween, etc...

Once again it has been wayyyyy too long since my last blog post. I am going to post a quick update and some super cute pics. :)

We just celebrated Nathan's 1st birthday and Olivia's 6th birthday! For Halloween Nathan was a pumpkin, Olivia was a witch, and Austin was a boxer or "Rocky". All 3 were sooooo cute!!!! Austin just started wrestling season again so we are very busy with that. Nathan is almost walking, it won't be long now. He stands on his own but won't take actual steps unless he is holding onto something. Nick graduates from the police academy November 17th, he will be on the road starting in December EEEKKK! I am so proud of my hubby. This has been a dream come true for him and he has worked very hard for this. We have our 2nd post adoption visit tomorrow! I can't believe it has been over 5 months since we brought our little man home from Ethiopia. While it seems like he has always been in our life at the same time it seems like we were in Ethiopia only weeks ago. Well, Thanksgiving and Christmas are right around the corner, are you ready??? :) This year we are trying to keep our focus on what really matters which is family and the birth of Jesus Christ. All the shopping, holiday decor, presents, stress over buying everyone the perfect gift; it all is NOTHING in comparison. Now...on to the super cute pics :)

The cutest pumpkin ever!

Prettiest witch in town :)

"The Champ"

September 13, 2009

Long overdue pics of Nathan

Is he beautiful or what?!?!? :)




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September 10, 2009

I am a bad blogger....

Yes, we are still here... :) I can not believe how long it has been since I wrote a blog post. We have been so busy and had so much going on. Facebook has consumed any "cyber time" that I do get. This post may be long, I have a lot of catching up to do.

We have had some tough times since coming home from Ethiopia. Nick was laid off from his job and we have had to make some lifestyle changes. He played Mr. Mom for a while when I had to return to work. Nick has always been in the trucking/trailer industry which has taken a hard hit in the recent economy. He decided to pursue the career of his dreams as a police officer. He has recently been hired on as a new recruit with a local police dept and starts the police academy next week. We just moved into a new house this past week, it is in the town I grew up in and my parents live about 2 miles away. I am not sure yet if that is a good thing or a bad thing. :) LOL The town itself is still small but close to all the good stuff. Moving stinks and I have decided I am NEVER moving again!!! It is ridiculous the amount of junk we have accumulated over the years. At least the move is forcing me to clean out and I am having a huge garage sale in a couple weeks. If we don't need it, it's going! Austin and Olivia like their new school and have already made lots of new friends. Sports are starting back up, Austin will be playing Upward Flag Football and Olivia will be doing Upward cheerleading. Wrestling will start back in a couple months and then my weekends will be gone! Even though things have been chaotic over the past few months there is a shining light at the end of the tunnel. I know God has a reason for everything we have been through. I know it will only make us stronger and wiser in the end.

Nathan Updates:

Nathan is doing GREAT!!!!!! I don't remember life without him anymore. It is like he has been with us since day one. :) He is such a "happy go lucky" baby and melts the hearts of anyone he meets with that big gummy grin. He just cut his first tooth last week. He looks like a jack-o-lantern. :) He is crawling everywhere now and trying to pull up, he just has not figured out how to get his feet under him yet. We had our re-adoption court hearing September 3rd which went great. We have officially changed his name to Nathanael Elias Thornton and his new birth certificate and SS card should be on the way! The judge said this was his first Ethiopian adoption and was impressed that we did everything without an attorney. Nathan started daycare this week. He seems to really like it so far. The teachers were amazed at how good his motor skills are and how observant he is. They have cameras in the room and I can watch him online which is sooo cool. It is hard to not sit and just watch him all day. His hair has gotten really long and curly, I am afraid I will have to cut it soon, it is getting a little pouffy. :) So cute!

I think about Ethiopia a lot...I want to go back... I know it may sound odd but I think about Nathan's birth mom often. I wonder if she is ok. I wonder if she thinks about Nathan and misses him. I wonder if she knows he has been adopted and is now half way around the world. I wish I could have met her, I wish I could thank her for the amazing gift she has given us. I imagine what she may look like. I imagine a thin, beautiful, young girl with big dark eyes. It brings me to tears to even think about her. I feel sad for her. Sad that she will never know her son, sad that she will never see his beautiful smile, hold his little hands, or watch him grow up. I love her even though I have never met her. I know she loves Nathan. She was desperate, she wanted him to live, she wanted him to have more than she could provide. I know she did what she thought was best for him. She had to make a very difficult decision, one that we could not even imagine having to make. (Sniff Sniff) I can't wait to go back to Ethiopia. Did I already say that? It is a place like no other. It is hard to explain. Yes, there is tremendous poverty and despair but the things that stick out in my mind when I think of Ethiopia are not the bad. While in Ethiopia my spirit felt a peace that I don't feel here. It is a simple place, a beautiful place, it moves slower, it is more carefree. All of the stress we as Americans live with on a daily basis are really self inflicted as a result of our lifestyle and society. It is difficult to escape and I am just as guilty as the next person of letting it consume my own life. I don't want it to be that way though. I must try harder, remember more... There is a lot we can learn from Ethiopia.

Our agencies in country representatives from Ethiopia will be in the US later this month. They are having a meet and greet for all the adoptive families. I WISH so bad that I could go. If only I could figure out a way to St Louis and back... It would be so awesome to see them again and for them to see "Naty". They truly love and know every single child. They are amazing people.

These pics of the kids are from a couple months ago. I will get some new ones uploaded and posted soon. :)

July 12, 2009

Summer Fun

I know I have neglected my blog. I have a lot of catching up to do. Things have just been so crazy around here.

Nathan is getting bigger every day. He is now sitting up and scoots himself around, not yet crawling but he can get where he wants to go. His hair is getting longer and really curls up in the Georgia humidity. He is trying to cut his 2 bottom teeth and any day now they will finally push all the way through. He has such a huge gummy smile, he is going to look so funny with teeth. :)

The kids are ready for school to start back. Just a few more weeks and Austin will be in 4th grade and Olivia kindergarten. I can tell they are getting bored hanging out at home. Soon we will all be back in the routine of work, school, and sports. Blahhhh

We went to a Braves Game with Nick's family. We had a great time hanging out with family. We let my parents babysit Nathan, it was just too hot to take him, which gave us some one on one time with Austin and Olivia. It ended up being a great game, the weather was perfect, and they had fireworks afterward.

4th of July was very busy running from one party to another. It was a fun day of swimming, food, fireworks, and just hanging out with friends and family. Nick's grandfather, Eston, came down to hang out with the family and met Nathan for the first time.

Friday we had a wonderful day at the Zoo with several "Ethiopia Adoption" families; the Carley Family, Head Family (who we were in Ethiopia with), and Coffey Family. We have made so many new friends through the adoption process which has been such a blessing. It will be cool having the kids grow up together.

June 18, 2009


Finally, Nathan slept through the night last night for the first time. We had a busy day swimming again, this time at my aunts. It was very late by the time we got home and I think he was just exhausted! I kind of panicked this morning when the alarm went off and I realized Nathan had not woken me up all night. I took a sneak peak to make sure he was still breathing. :) Hopefully he will realize just how good sleeping all night is and continue it.

I have more pool pictures to share. Maybe I should update my swimming montage. I am amazed at how much Nathan LOVES to swim. He learned to splash yesterday, it was so cute! He would splash himself in the face big time and it would not bother him. The water was pretty cold too and he did not care at all. He is learning new things everyday and when he does something once that is all it takes. He is so smart!

Austin and Olivia both love to swim but do need some official swimming lessons. Austin will not leave the shallow end, even though he does swim pretty good. Olivia screams if you take her off the pool steps but she will hang onto the side and go all the way around by herself, go figure. Most swim teachers are booked solid for the summer. I will have to make sure to get lessons booked early for next summer.

Nathan with his uncle Trey

Olivia posing for the camera, on the steps

Nathan with his uncle Christian

Austin enjoying the pool

Nathan and his cousin Craig

June 16, 2009

Nathan's first swim...

Today I took the kids swimming at Grandma's and Granddad's. This was Nathan's first time in the pool and he LOVED it! I am sure he would have stayed in there all day just chillin in his floaty. Austin and Olivia would splash water in his face and he would not even flinch, it did not bother him at all. Austin was wearing a big snorkel mask and Nathan thought it was funny and laughed.

June 13, 2009

10 Year Anniversary and Nathan Pics

Yesterday was our 10 year wedding anniversary. Wow, 10 years have gone by so fast. When I look back on the past 10 years and see how far we have come, how much we have accomplished, and the beautiful family we have made I can't wait to see what the next 10 years have in store for us.

I know, I know... I am going to finish our trip details hopefully tomorrow or Monday. :) I am dying to share details of my trip to the orphanage. I just need some "quiet time" to be able to finish.

I wanted to quickly post a few pics. I have been trying to capture the many cute faces Nathan makes. Here are a few of my favorites. Enjoy!

Yes, I did the cheesy blanket background thing but look at that face!

I love this picture. He was sitting in the Bumbo Seat, which he LOVES, and I wanted to post a bunch of these but forced myself to pick my fave!

Nathan has a "thing" with textures and loves to scratch at stuff, especially fabrics. He had just discovered the smooth texture of the Bumbo mixed with drool. :)

Ok, one more. Nathan loves to chew on his "little" fingers and I think he is teething so he is often chewing and drooling on his hand. I love this face he makes as he is laughing while shoving his hand in his mouth.

June 10, 2009

Part 2 - Journey to Ethiopia

Tuesday - May 26th:
We ate breakfast at our guesthouse which consisted of bread, meat & cheese, sweet honey made by Zeyede, the best scrambled eggs in the world, coffee, and fresh squeezed orange juice. Yummm, I miss that... Tesfu picked us up early. We drove to the HOH guesthouse to pick up the other families which now included Nathan & Stefany and their baby Jordan; we all headed to the Lion Zoo.

The lions were beautiful but it was so sad to see them just lying in empty cages. No grass, rocks, trees, water...nothing. They had a male and female lion in each cage. There were also a few other animals including monkeys and a very pretty animal that looked like a deer with stripes. They had a beautiful garden with bright flowers. The best part about the Lion Zoo was the garden and trees. You don't see many tress, grass, or flowers in Addis. We then went to the Hilton where we could use the Internet. Our cell phones were not working and we had not been in contact with any family since before we left for Ethiopia early Sunday morning. In knew at this point my family would be worried sick. I sent an email to my family letting them know we had arrived, we were safe, and Nathan was doing great! I later found out that my parents were freaking out and my Dad had passport in hand ready to board a plane for Ethiopia to come find us. :) The Hilton was like being back in the U.S.; there were lots of American tourists, businessmen, and other adopting families. Nathan did great while at the Zoo and Hilton. He loved hanging out in the Baby Bjorn and I think he likes being on the go. He did seem to zone out while in the car and around lots of unfamiliar faces & places. Once back at the house he would get more active and vocal. We ate lunch at the HOH guesthouse; all meals there consisted of lots of veggies, a little meat, and usually a rice or pasta. The food was good and healthy! Nick and I both lost 5 lbs while in Ethiopia, but not due to lack of food just eating healthier. After lunch we met with Teseguy to get paperwork ready for our Visa appt at the U.S. Embassy the next day. We then had the remainder of the afternoon to hang out and relax. We crashed Nathan & Stefany's room and enjoyed hanging out, watching movies, and episodes of "The Office". After dinner we headed back to our guesthouse. That night I started feeling so sick and nauseous. I think it was a combination of the high altitude and smog that did me in. Another sleepless night...

Wednesday - May 27th:
Again Tesfu picked us up early after breakfast and we headed off to meet the other families at the House of Hope, the HOH where the kids are! YAY! I was so excited. I had 9 kids to take pics of and one very special little guy to meet. Teseguy's assistant walked around with us to help me find the babies I needed to take pics of. There was room after room of babies. Each tiny room was lined with cribs and there was just enough room for the nannies to walk through the middle. It was REALLY crowded once we were all in there trying to play with the babies and take pics. It was kind of a weird situation. The nannies were very nervous around the cameras and did not want anyone picking up the babies. Plus we were really rushed about making it difficult to spend adequate time with each baby and take good pics. Every single baby stole my heart, they were all so beautiful and I wish I had known which family each child belonged to. I loved to make them smile, touch their hair, and hold their little hands. It was just such a beautiful day and an experience like no other. I only wish I had more time... We came to one tiny room and I recognized "The Adams twins". I knew Nathan had been in the same room as them, it hit me! This is Nathan's room, this is his bed, OMG this is HIS nanny. I turned to face her and realized she was crying. She took "Naty" and hugged him tight trying to hide her face to keep me from seeing her cry. I hugged her and thanked her, I am not sure how much she understood. I just bawled, Nick was tearing up; it was such a difficult and emotional time. I knew how much she loved him and knew her heart was breaking, my heart was breaking for her. It makes me cry now just thinking about that day and his beautiful nanny. I wish I had learned more Amharic so I could have thanked her properly.

Minutes later we were rushed on to the next room as I tried my best meet the remaining babies while wiping tears off my face. As soon as we got back in the van I started bawling again and just could not stop. We went back to the HOH guesthouse, quickly ate lunch, and changed clothes for our Visa appt.
I felt like a zombie while driving to the Embassy. I was emotionally and physically drained and still felt nauseous. I was afraid I would either pass out or throw up. The U.S. Embassy was scary. You can not take any pictures even close to the embassy and go through several security checkpoints before being allowed in. Everyone is squished into a hot room and you wait for your name to be called. The room was filled to the rim with adopting families. It was neat to see all the precious children and meet the other families from the U.S. Finally it was our turn. A really mean white American lady interviewed us at a bank teller type window. We almost screwed up one question and when she asked about the birth parents I told her that he was found abandoned in Sebeta, she freaked out and acted like she had never heard of Sebeta. She even kept Teseguy after our appt to question him more about it. Later I looked at the very documents that lady had handed me which included his birth certificate and all official court documents. Guess what all of those documents said his place of birth is? Sebeta!!! What an idiot... I think she just wanted to be mean. BTW, Sebeta is a small city south-west of Addis Ababa in the Oromia region. By the time we made it out of there my stress level was at an all time high. We got in the van and everyone was so quiet. That mean lady had given each of us a problem of some sort, but we all passed, that was what mattered most. We could now breath a sigh of relief and prepare for our trip home. While waiting in the van a few young boys, street children I am sure, approached the van excited to see us. One boy came to the open window and was blowing kisses at Elias and waving goodbye, it was such a beautiful thing to see and it made me tear up. I will never forget that young boy, who had nothing but the tattered clothing he was wearing and was covered in sand from head to toe, blowing kisses to that baby through the window. That is an image that will forever be sketched into my mind and my heart. We returned back to the HOH guesthouse for dinner and then back to our own guesthouse. This was the end of a VERY exhausting day!

More to come, Nathan is awake and it is lunch time! :)

June 09, 2009

Our Amazing Journey to Ethiopia

We have now been home a week, a week! How weird. The wait to bring home Nathan seemed like forever and now it has come and gone and we are settling into our daily routine of life. I am way past due for this post sharing all of our experiences in Ethiopia and our first week with our sweet baby boy.

Saturday - May 23rd:
We spent the day finishing packing, making final arrangements, and getting Austin and Olivia settled in for us to leave. We needed to be at the ATL airport that night at 3:00 am for our Sunday 6:00 am flight to D.C. We decided to just pull an all niter, my poor Mom was recruited to take us to the airport so that included her. :) At 2:30 am we head for the airport, get there in perfect timing, walk up to the United desk and there is a sign saying they don't open until 4:30 am! What!?!? We had been specifically told to be there at 3:00 am by United Arlines. Oh well, we found a table to hang out at for a while and prayed that out entire trip would not have similar bumps. Our United flight was great, especially since I was scared to death it would be a little propeller plane since I knew it was "United Express". The plane was actually very nice and the flight was smooth.

Sunday - May 24th:
We arrive in D.C and get checked in to our Ethiopian Airlines flight with time to spare. We got a bite to eat and waited for boarding to begin. The plane was huge and I started getting butterflies in my stomach just looking at the plane. Wow, we would be on there for 16 hours and flying over the ocean. This was the first time Nick and I had ever been out of the country. We boarded the plane and off we went. We thought for sure we would sleep the majority of the time but nope, we both were wide awake. We did toss and turn through a few hours of sleep somewhere along the way. I don't know if it was trying to sleep sitting up in squishy seats or the excitement of the journey that kept us awake. I was convinced I was getting blood clots in my legs. Half way during the trip we landed in Rome to fuel up. Unfortunately it was dark so we could only see the lights from the city. Bummer... As we approached the continent of Africa the sun started to rise. It was amazing! The horizon turned orange against the black sky and then suddenly the sun peeked over the edge of the earth. It rose over the horizon so fast and looked like a huge red fire ball. It was so beautiful!

Monday - May 25th:We finally arrive in Ethiopia at Bole International Airport at about 9:00 am. The view as we landed was surreal and I choked back tears in awe at the beauty and the thoughts of Nathan waiting for us somewhere out that window. It was then that everything really hit me (tears in my eyes). We were really in Ethiopia and would really be holding Nathan in just a few short hours. Wow, the moment that we had waited almost 16 months for. The airport was nice but very small. I was so nervous; what if we did something wrong, what if we can't find our luggage, what if our driver does not arrive? We get U.S. dollars exchanged to Birr, get our Visa, make it through customs, and thankfully find all of our luggage. As we approach the doors going outside the view was a little overwhelming. There were so many people... Nick spots our driver, the owner of our guesthouse and our good friend Zeyede, whew. We takes us and our luggage to his van, a few young men come up and eagerly help put our luggage into the van and then turn for a tip. I later find out I tipped too low. :(
We arrive at our guesthouse, Melkam, which was in a nicer part of Addis. The house was surrounded by a large concrete wall topped with barbed wire and a large metal door with a guard posted there 24 hours a day. All of the nicer homes in Addis have walls around them and metal gates with guards. You will have small shacks nestled between these homes. After we settled into our room we walked with Zeyede onto the streets and to a little coffee shop were he treated us to a famous cup of Ethiopian coffee. The House of Hope driver was due to pick is up at about 2:30 pm to go meet Nathan. As we eagerly waited in our room I started feeling nauseous from being so nervous and excited. Tesfu, the HOH driver, arrived right on time and drove us through the busy streets to the HOH. That drive was quite an experience. This took us through some of the most poverty stricken areas of Addis. Small shacks made of sheet metal held together with sticks, mud, and wire were everywhere. They seemed to be connected to each other sharing walls. Thousands of people were on the streets walking, sitting, or working. Cars EVERYWHERE! There are no street lights, stop signs, or even lines to keep traffic separated. There are lots of blue and white taxis busting at the seams with people. Cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys freely walk the streets as if they know where they are going. We came close to hitting a cow, 30 people, and 50 cars while on the way to the HOH. You basically close your eyes and pray you make it there in one piece. Cars honk at each other constantly, but not to be mean, just to let other cars know they are there. People walk right in front of vehicles and come within inches of being hit and don't even flinch. The sights, sounds, and smells while driving through Addis are something I will never forget and I will share more later.

After driving down a bumpy dirt road we arrive at the HOH gates, I don't think I was even breathing at this point. We are here! Nathan is here! The gates open and there are lines of laundry, kids clothing, and cloth diapers hung out to dry. We are led into Teseguy's office, he is the director for our agency and the HOH in Ethiopia Teseguy is very nice and it amazes me how he knows even the smallest details about each and every child. There were about 56 children there at that time. I felt uneasy and unsure of how the events will unfold. Then he tells me his wife Almaz has gone to get Nathan or "Naty" as they called him. Then she appears in the door with him. I don't even know how to put into words that first time seeing him (sniff). Amazing... He was a chunky, healthy, little boy not the scrawny, malnourished, tiny baby we had expected. He have us his big, gummy, grin and came right to us. I held him and kissed him and was in absolute disbelief that I was really holding him. I felt instantly bonded to him. He was very relaxed with us, he would stare at our faces, smile, and coo at us. I felt like he knew Mommy and Daddy were finally there. After spending a few minutes with him Almaz gave us a can of formula, feeding instructions, and said we could go to the HOH guesthouse where we would be more comfortable to spend time with him. What? That was it? Do I need to like sign him out or something? It was so weird, they hand him over with a can of formula and he is all ours! He seemed a little zoned out in the car and falls asleep in Nick's arms soon after arriving at the HOH guesthouse. After his nap we changed his clothes so we could return the outfit for them to use with other babies. He was in a Mickey Mouse Baseball outfit, I got that off and he had a toddler size Batman muscle tee underneath. It was so cute! :) Wow, he had rolls everywhere and his 6-9 months clothing fit great! Not what I had expected. At dinner that night we met another family; Lorrie, her sister Sherry, and baby Elias. Nathan was very quiet at dinner and just starred at everyone. We returned to our guesthouse and once alone with Nathan he seemed to really open up and show his true personality. He smiled, laughed, and screeched in excitement. We had a sleepless first night. There was constant music from a nearby night club and it was noisy both outside and inside at all hours of the night. Nathan was a little restless as well and woke up numerous times through out the night.

Nathan is awake from his nap now and I am taking the kids to the movies today. I will resume this post on our trip shortly! :)