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This is the post that many of you have been waiting for!

  1.  Meet our new daughter, Amina Noelle.  Amina was her name before adoption; we kept it as her first name and gave her a middle name that we chose.  She is 10 years old and will be 11 in August.  Amina pic 1Amina pic 2Amina pic 3
  2.  Peter, Simon, Clara and I survived our trip home from Sault Ste. Marie last Saturday.  We drove our RV there on Friday (7 hours travel time), had dinner with friends who live there, played at the playground, camped for the night, then took Don to the airport in the morning.  He flew from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, to Toronto, to Munich, to Lviv, Ukraine.  The kids and I stayed to see him board the airplane and watch the plane take off, then we made the long trip back home with no adult to focus on caring for Clara (since I was driving).  Clara didn’t nap as well as I would have liked and Peter wasn’t as attentive in caring for her as I would have liked; however, the trip overall went pretty smoothly. It took 9 hours and 15 minutes from the airport to our house (including border crossing, a quick grocery run, buying gas, and stops for lunch and dinner).
  3.  Several weeks ago, I came across the daily decalogue of Pope St. John XXIII.  I printed it out and have tried to make a habit of reviewing it daily.  It struck me on our trip that traveling with children is a very good opportunity to practice living “only for today,” especially number four: “Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.”
  4.  “Come on already, tell me more about Amina!”  Okay, okay.  Don arrived in Lviv on Sunday and traveled to Amina’s town on Monday.  He visited with her in her orphanage Monday afternoon/evening.  On Tuesday, he and the facilitator couldn’t make much progress with the “paper chase” because the woman who had to sign something for one of the first steps was out of town, so Don spent most of the day with Amina, walking through town with her and bringing her to the hotel, then returning her to the orphanage in time for dinner and bed.  Wednesday, he and the facilitator spent the whole day dealing with paperwork and bureaucracy, so he didn’t get to see Amina much.  However, they accomplished what they needed to do, so Wednesday night was Amina’s last night sleeping in an orphanage.  They picked her up yesterday (Thursday) morning and headed to Lviv to finish her passport application (she doesn’t become a US citizen until she lands on American soil, so she needs a Ukrainian passport to travel home).  Don and Amina are spending a couple days in Lviv doing touristy things before heading to Kyiv on Sunday.  Amina has to do medical and US embassy appointments in Kyiv, but the passport is the real hold-up.  They can’t go to the final embassy appointment to get her visa until she gets her passport.  Don was told that it should take about 18 calendar days, so we’re looking at an early July homecoming.
  5.  This week has gone well on the home front.  Simon has been going to Totus Tuus (basically, the Catholic version of vacation Bible school) during the day with the elementary-school-aged kids, and Peter went in the evenings with the middle-school- and high-school-aged kids (elementary kids are Mon-Fri, older kids Sun-Thurs, so Peter’s done now).  They were only home and awake at the same time for about three hours a day, which made the atmosphere in our house a lot calmer.  All the parishes in our area combine for Totus Tuus and the location rotates from year to year.  The parish hosting it this year is 11 miles away.  They hire a school bus to drive around and pick up the elementary-aged kids from the various parishes in the morning and drop them off in the afternoon (which gives homeschooled Simon the opportunity to ride a school bus and it means I don’t have to drive as far for drop-off/pick-up), but there’s no bus for the older kids.  Fortunately, our parish set up a carpool this year, which was a lifesaver for me.  It’s meant I’ve only had to make three trips a day instead of four to get kids to/from Totus Tuus and I’ve been able to get Simon and Clara to bed more or less on time (it’s still tricky to do bedtime for both of them by myself).  I’ve been busy, but I’ve been keeping up with everything so far.  Next week will be more relaxed and we’ll start getting into more of a summer mode, though we haven’t completely wrapped up our homeschool year yet.
  6.  Amina’s room is ready and waiting for her.  We brought over four paint color samples when we traveled for court and let her choose which color she wanted for her room.  The rest of it, we decided (keeping the existing carpet and curtains).IMG_9092 smallIMG_9098 smallIMG_9099 small
  7.  Sunday is the deadline to send in photos for the photo collage poster that I’m going to have made for Amina’s room.  If you’ve been meaning to participate in our Hearts for Valentine fundraiser and haven’t gotten around to it, now is the time to act!

That is my 7 Quick Takes post for this week.  You can find other bloggers’ 7 Quick Takes here:

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I’m sorry I didn’t get a 7 Quick Takes post up on Friday.  With being busy and being tired and fighting back the panic of knowing that in less than a week, our current version of “normal” will disappear forever, it’s been hard to find the time and energy to write.  If only I could dictate blog posts from inside my brain to a computer while changing diapers and making lunches, you’d get lots of posts, but since I am required to find the time to sit at a computer and type everything out, you get only a small fraction of what I compose in my head.

Realistically, I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up writing 7 Quick Takes.  Although they’re supposed to be quick, by the time I write seven of them, edit them all, and usually add some pictures, it actually takes up a good chunk of time.  I fully intend to keep blogging regularly, at least through the summer, but I think I may need to let go of the pressure of producing seven well-written takes with a weekly deadline.

We leave Friday morning.  “We?” you ask.  “I thought Don was going alone to pick up Noelle.”  That’s true.  However, you might recall that we live in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan, far from any major airports.  We flew out of Detroit on our first trip to Noelle’s country because it was the cheapest of the airports near Don’s parents’ house (we left Simon and Clara with them).  Chicago was the cheapest airport to fly out of for our second trip, when my mom came here to stay with our kids.  This time, flying from Toronto is significantly less expensive.  So we are going on a family road trip to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, where Don will board a plane on Saturday morning to fly to Toronto, from where he will fly across the Atlantic Ocean.  Then I get the joy of a five-hour drive back home with three kids.

I’ll be holding down the fort myself for three weeks or so until all the paperwork is done and Don and Noelle come home.  We’ve already decided that, no matter the cost, they will fly into Chicago so that they can fly to the small airport near our house (Chicago is the only place they fly to/from).  That way, Noelle won’t be subjected to a long car ride to get home after all her plane travel.

The first week that Don is gone, the boys will be going to Totus Tuus (basically, the Catholic version of vacation Bible school).  If you think that will give me a nice break, you are sadly mistaken.  They are in two different age groups–the elementary-school-aged kids go during the day, and the middle- and high-school-aged kids go in the evening.  That means four round trips daily to drop off and pick up kids.  It was challenging last year, when Don was here to help.  Now I get to do it all by myself.  Woo-hoo!

Besides Totus Tuus, we still have homeschooling to keep us busy.  This adoption disrupted our schedule so much that we aren’t ready to wrap up for the year yet.  I’m planning to go until the end of June, or when Noelle comes home, whichever happens first.

Noelle had her last day of school on Wednesday, May 30th.  I’m sure she is now very anxious for Don to come, since she doesn’t have school to distract her anymore.

One final piece of news–I got an amazing surprise on Thursday when the woman who runs the local “Mom Prom” contacted me and asked if she could meet me sometime that day.  They gave us another grant, for $3500!!!  I couldn’t believe it!  That will help enormously with the travel costs for this final trip.

God is good.  I’ve heard so many stories of families beginning the international adoption process without the necessary funds and how the money came when they needed it.  Still, it’s hard to have the faith to start such an arduous journey when you can’t see a clear path ahead of you all the way to the end.  Back when I started feeling a strong urge to pursue adoption again, in December 2016, I prayed and told God that if He really wanted us to adopt internationally, we would need His help to pay for it.  He has definitely come through.  This has not been an easy process, but I’ve never doubted that it’s what God wanted us to do.  He has helped us make it this far, and I trust Him to see this through.

7 Quick Takes #66

Okay, so I wrote all of the following and then went to link up and realized that 7 Quick Takes isn’t happening this week because of Memorial Day.  Oh, well.  You, my dear reader, get a list of seven supposedly-quick takes anyhow.  Enjoy!

  1.  Last week, Kelly Mantoan mentioned me on her blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum.  That makes me almost-sort-of-a-little-bit famous!  Of course, it was the week that I decided to skip writing a 7 Quick Takes post because I was still recovering from jet lag (I was sleeping through the night by then, but hadn’t slept past 6 am yet, and I wasn’t getting to bed early enough to make up for my early rising times).  The thought crossed my mind that I should put together a welcome post for visitors to my blog who found me through her blog, but tiredness-induced laziness struck, along with rationalizing that it was already the end of the day by the time I realized my sort-of fame and so I had probably already missed much of the possible great onslaught of visitors.  Anyhow, if you’re new here, the best quick summary of our adoption story is probably to be found on our Reece’s Rainbow page.  If you’re interested in orphan hosting specifically, you can read about our experience last summer in my series of orphan hosting reports (I apologize for the fact that some of the previews are messed up, but you’ll get the right text when you click the links).
  2.  I’ve been tired of telling our story lately.  I went to the dentist last week and the dental hygienist, who cleaned Valentine’s teeth when he was here, asked about him.  I just didn’t feel like telling the story all over again about how we tried to adopt him and it didn’t work out and who we’re adopting now.  Since the weather has finally warmed up and we’ve emerged from hibernating for the winter, we’ve caught up with our next-door and across-the-street neighbors whom we haven’t talked with in months and who haven’t been following our story on social media, so we had to update them also.  Fortunately, by now, most people we interact with reasonably often know what is going on.  It’s helpful to blog and to share info with friends and family on Facebook; we only have to write something once and many people can read it, so we’re not repeating ourselves as often.  I’ve been making a point to share our story, both because I was inspired by reading many adoption blogs over the years before we started our own journey and in the hopes that it might help our fundraising efforts by giving people a greater feeling of connection with our story, but it does take a lot of time and effort to write and it can be tricky to find the right balance between sharing and maintaining privacy.
  3.  We (mostly Don) have been working hard on Noelle’s room.  We brought four paint color samples for her to choose from on our last trip and she chose pink.  Now the trim in her room is freshly painted white, the walls of her room are pink, and the closet doors, the inside of the bedroom door, and the doors to a storage closet in her room are painted a brown that the paint company recommended as an accent color (the carpet is a brown berber, so we figured that brown would work).  Although we have an unoccupied twin bed in Clara’s room, we needed a dresser for Noelle.  When researching dressers, Don talked himself into ordering a bedroom set, with a bed, dresser, and bedside table.  They’re not top-of-the-line or anything, but they all match, which is more than you could say of the furniture in any of the other kids’ rooms.  Plus the woman at the furniture store gave him a pink lamp when he went to pick up the bedroom set and he told her about Noelle.  I’ll post pictures once we get the room done–we’re waiting on wall decals and haven’t bought bedding yet.
  4.  Our Hearts for Valentine fundraiser will be ending soon so that I can get the photo collage poster for Noelle’s room printed and hung in her room before she comes home.  The deadline for sending me your picture to include is Sunday, June 17th!  If you miss the deadline or just don’t care about sending a photo, you can still make a US tax-deductible donation to our Reece’s Rainbow FSP account up until Don and Noelle come home.
  5.  We won’t know for sure when Don and Noelle will come home until just before it happens.  It depends on how long the paperwork takes, particularly getting Noelle’s passport.  (She has to travel with a passport from her native country because under US law, she won’t be a US citizen until she lands in the United States.)  Based on the recent experiences of other families, we’re expecting it to take 2-3 weeks.  Don starts the paper chase on June 12th, when he picks up the court decree and goes to get Noelle a new birth certificate listing us as her parents.  Thus we are expecting them home in late June or early July.
  6.  On to non-adoption-related matters…  Clara has started using two-word phrases.  These have included, “in pocket,” “pants off,” “shoe-shoes on,” and the endearing, “Daddy home!”
  7.  The weather here is rather ridiculous.  We still don’t have full leaves on all our trees; a week ago most trees had nothing more than buds.  Yet, it’s been in the 80’s (Fahrenheit, of course) for the past several days.  This heat feels foreign, like there’s some kind of mistake.  We had a late, cold spring and now we’re fast-forwarding to get to summer.  My brain isn’t quite ready for summer, especially because we’re behind in our home school year due to adoption-related disruption so we’ll be homeschooling pretty much until Noelle comes home.

And that’s my update for this week!  Thanks for reading.

 

 

Adoption and loss

Adoption stories are not just happy stories.  Hopefully, they have happy endings, but all adoption stories are stories of loss.  For the child, the losses can be tremendous–birth family, friends, community, birth country, cultural heritage, and language, depending on the situation.  Adoptive parents also face losses.  Some come to adoption after struggling with infertility and must grieve the loss of their dreams for a biological child.  Adoptive families also experience a certain loss of privacy; they open themselves and their homes to scrutiny during the home study process and, particularly if they adopt a child who is of a visibly different background, they receive more attention in the community.  All members of an adoptive family lose their “normal” pre-adoption life and must adapt to the changes that occur with an adoption.

I’ve been doing some unexpected grieving over the past few weeks.  Three years ago, I renovated our small downstairs bedroom.  I chose the carpet and paint color and did the painting (with a little help from then-three-year-old Simon).  Then I furnished it with bookshelves, a small table and chairs, a clock, and color-coordinated art prints to make a beautiful little room for Simon to do Montessori activities.  Now Peter has moved into that room and Noelle (the girl we’re adopting, not her real name) will be moving into the room that was Peter’s.  We haven’t been actively using the Montessori room for a while (Simon has moved on from most of the Montessori activities and we do the majority of our homeschooling on the couch and at the kitchen table), but it was difficult for me to dismantle the orderly and aesthetically pleasing room that I worked so hard to assemble.  I won’t be able to do Montessori activities with Clara in the Montessori room when she is a little older.  It won’t become my office any time soon, which was the eventual plan for that room.  I’ve had to let go of those plans to follow the path God has set us on; it’s for the best, but not always easy.

I experienced an even greater loss when we returned from our first adoption trip, that of my breastfeeding relationship with Clara.  She was still nursing several times a day before I left for Eastern Europe.  I expressed milk while I was gone and hoped that we could continue when I returned.  However, after two weeks apart, she refused to nurse again.  I tried a few times, but she would just turn away and shake her head.  It broke my heart.  In some ways, it feels like it’s my payback for the trauma I caused her by disappearing.  Even though I tried to explain it to her before I left, I don’t think she could understand; I never left the boys when they were that young and it was very hard for me to leave her.  I nursed the boys for 27 and 35 months, respectively, so I wasn’t expecting Clara to be weaned at 20 months.  I know that 20 months is still a good length of time; I’m not upset so much by the fact that our nursing relationship was shorter than I expected as by the fact that neither of us were ready to give up that relationship when I left.  This painful loss resulting from our adoption process is one that I hadn’t anticipated.

I know that my losses are relatively small in comparison with those Noelle will experience.  She’ll be losing almost everything that is familiar to her.  As soon as Don picks her up, she will lose her home at the orphanage, her caretakers, her friends, her school, her teachers, and her town.  When she comes home, she will lose her country and some of the foods that she’s accustomed to.  Over time, she will lose much of the language and the culture of her country.  This is a tremendous amount of loss for a child who has already suffered the loss of her family.  That’s why international adoption needs to be a last resort—families should be supported so they can keep their children if possible, and if not, it is better for children to be raised in families from their own countries.  For reasons that I won’t share here, international adoption is likely the best option for Noelle, as it is for a distressingly large number of children worldwide.  It will be my job, as Noelle’s mom, to support her as she faces her losses.

Preparing for Noelle to come home feels much like preparing for hosting.  We expect her to come home within a couple weeks of the time that Valentine arrived last summer.  Our plans for Noelle’s first months home are similar to what we did last year with Valentine; we’ll be participating in fun summer activities at home and in our community, while also doing some structured English-as-a-second-language instruction.  However, there is an important difference between hosting and adopting—Noelle won’t be leaving at the end of the summer.  That will save us all the pain of saying good-bye, but it also opens up other pain for her.  Valentine didn’t have to grieve the loss of his home, friends, country, and culture because he knew he was going back at the end of the summer.  Noelle will have to grieve those losses.

Ideally, the gains in an adoption offset the losses.  A child in need gains the love and nurturing of a permanent family, and often access to more resources and opportunities, while a family gains a precious child.  However, even in the most wonderful adoption situations, there is still loss.  As we celebrate adoption, we must also recognize and respect the associated loss.

I love to fly.  Perhaps it would lose some of its charm if I did it more often (I’ve averaged about one round trip by plane every two years since Peter was born 13 years ago), but I find flying fascinating.

There is so much to see in airports—a great variety of people, lots of activity, and specialized equipment and machinery.  There are uniforms and vehicles and lights and signs unlike those I see everywhere else.  

I always prefer to have a window seat on an airplane so that I can see what is happening outside.  Watching the carts driving around on the tarmac, the luggage being loaded and unloaded, the people in reflective vests doing their various jobs—these are all interesting. 

Take-off is the most exciting part of flying.  The plane goes faster and faster and faster and then this huge, heavy object starts defying gravity and lifting into the air!  I am always amazed by how quickly the plane climbs.  Suddenly, I’m way up high!  All the normal-sized features on the ground shrink rapidly until buildings are tiny and vehicles are indiscernible.

I am entertained by looking out the window as we fly over land, particularly in daylight.  Recognizing items on the ground from a different perspective gives me a certain thrill.  (There’s a swimming pool!  That’s a baseball diamond!)  It’s best when I take off from or land at an airport in an area that I know reasonably well, so I can identify landmarks below.  When I am higher in the air, I observe the shapes and patterns on the ground—the dimensions of fields, the serpentine rivers, the clusters of houses and clumps of trees.

Flying above the clouds is surreal.  To be in bright sunlight, surrounded by blue sky, and looking down on fluffy white clouds that extend as far as the eye can see—it’s like nothing you experience on earth.  Just think of how many thousands of years humans have lived on earth, and not a one of them ever experienced this until only about a hundred years ago.  How lucky I am to be part of the relatively small fraction of humans in history who have seen this incredible view!

Some of the longer distance flights I’ve taken have screens on the back of the seat ahead of me where I can see real-time information about my flight.  It’s so cool to be able to look on the map and see that I’m flying over, say, Nova Scotia, then to look out the window and recognize the coastline of Nova Scotia from the map.  On a couple flights I’ve been on, they have also had cameras on the tail and underneath the plane, and I could choose to see the view from one of those cameras on my screen.  I enjoyed seeing the world from even more different perspectives than just looking out my window.

To some people, flying is just a way to get where they’re going.  To me, it’s an adventure in itself.  It’s probably for the best that I don’t fly more often, because I wouldn’t want to lose my child-like fascination with flying.

This week’s edition of 7 Quick Takes comes to you from Eastern Europe, where Don and I are on our second trip in our adoption of “Noelle,” a 10-year-old girl.

  1.  Don and I left home early last Saturday morning.  Fortunately, my mom was able to come to our house to watch the kids this time, so we didn’t have to make the grueling drive to the Detroit area with them.  Skipping the drive with the kids is definitely less stressful, and I think they’re happier staying at their own house.  We made the ~7 1/2 hour drive to Chicago, because we don’t live near any major airports and that was the cheapest one for us to fly out of.  We had great weather for the drive and no problems until we reached O’Hare.  The on-airport economy parking lot where we planned to park was closed because it was full, so we were directed to another lot that was twice the price.  Then we anxiously drove up and down and all around the huge lot, not finding a single empty parking space anywhere.  We finally gave up in frustration; the parking attendant didn’t charge us and gave us directions to the area where off-airport parking was located.  We made it to an off-airport lot, then had to wait for their shuttle to take us to the airport.  Although we had budgeted some extra time, we were feeling stressed and nervous until we finally made it to the airport, through security, and to our gate.  Our flights from Chicago to Vienna and then from Vienna into Noelle’s country went smoothly.  We had a layover of about four hours in Vienna, where the sun was shining brightly, although it felt like 2 am to our bodies.  They had nice couch-like furniture in the airport where we could lie down and rest, so that’s what we did before eating breakfast/lunch and going to our next gate.
  2.  We spent two nights/one day in the city that we flew into.  (I know, it would be a better story if I told you the name of the city–hang in there!)  Despite the fact that we spent two nights there on our first trip (one on the way to Noelle’s region with our facilitator and translator and the other before we flew home), we hadn’t been into the city.  This gave us a chance to explore the more touristy areas, learn more about the history and appreciate the heritage there, and start working through the jet lag before meeting Noelle.  (A seven-hour time change is challenging.)

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    Don enjoying eating outdoors on a pedestrian street.

  3.  We spent some time with Noelle before we had court on Thursday.  We took a train to a city near the orphanage on Tuesday, arriving midday, and the owner of the small hotel in Noelle’s town picked us up.  We walked to the orphanage in the afternoon, after Noelle returned from school, and spent about three hours with her until it was time for her to eat.  We showed her photos and videos, gave her the paint color samples so she could choose the color for her room (she wasn’t ready to decide right away, but we asked her again on Thursday and she chose pink), and then went outside to play.  We played catch with a fuzzy tennis ball and velcro mitt things, frisbee, and hide and seek.  Noelle and I played on some of the playground equipment and blew dandelion fluff at each other.  Then on Wednesday, it was a holiday here, so Noelle didn’t have school.  We went to the orphanage mid-morning and were asked if we wanted to go for a walk with her in town, which of course we agreed to.  The caregiver sent Noelle to change her clothes (she came back in a beautiful dress, like she was going to church), then we went out for a lovely walk.  Noelle showed us her school, we walked through a large park and around a small lake, went to another small park with various memorial plaques, then we went to a restaurant and had pizza for lunch. After lunch, we bought ice cream cones at a grocery store and ate them as we walked back to the orphanage.  We went back to our hotel for a short rest, then returned to the orphanage, where we played some more catch, shared jelly beans with all the kids, and then did a craft to make a ladybug with plastic beads.
  4.  We passed court on Thursday!  Our facilitator/translator (she was the translator on our first trip, not the facilitator who was a crazy driver) took the overnight train from the capital and arrived at our hotel at 8:30 am.  The orphanage had sent Noelle to school and our facilitator confirmed arrangments with the orphanage director and regional social worker by phone, so we didn’t need to be anywhere until 1:30 pm, when we were to meet them at the courthouse (our case was scheduled for 2 o’clock).  We walked to a grocery store, bought some food, came back to our hotel room, and ate and chatted until it was time to leave to walk to the courthouse.  (We can walk everywhere here, which is both good exercise and saves us money on transportation.)  Ours was the first international adoption in this city and our judge was very by-the-book.  The whole thing took two hours, but 10-15 minutes of that was waiting for her to type up the document saying that our translator was allowed to be in court and another 25 minutes was waiting for her to type up the decision at the end.  Noelle sat in the hall outside the courtroom for most of it (which was probably very boring for her), but she did come in and speak to the judge and jurors.  The first question they asked her was if she knew the people behind her (us), and she answered “Yes” in English.  Our ability to communicate was one of the things the jurors were concerned about, based on their questions, so I think that helped show them that she will quickly learn English.  After court, we gave Noelle a necklace with a small heart charm on it and told her that she can wear it and think of us while she waits to come home.

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    Noelle and me, just “hanging out” (I couldn’t tell you how many years it’s been since I last did that)

  5.  Now we wait to find out when we will be able to pick Noelle up.  There is a mandatory 30 day waiting period before the judge signs the adoption decree.  However, the 30 day wait is not based on the date of court, but the date that the judge registers the decision, which they must do within 10 days of court (so it can be up to 40 days of waiting after court). We were told that, for technical reasons, the decision wouldn’t be registered until the 16th, but our facilitator is trying to see if it can get done sooner.  I know that you’re eager to see photos of Noelle and learn more details, but out of an abundance of caution, I am waiting until the adoption decree is signed before I share those things out on the open internet.
  6.  Staying in this hotel is different from most hotel experiences I’ve had.  It’s a very small hotel, the only one in town, and so far we haven’t seen any other guests here.  The couple that owns the hotel lives next door; clearly, this isn’t their main source of income.  There is a housekeeper here regularly, cleaning the (presumably still clean) empty rooms, but she hasn’t touched ours since we arrived.  We ran out of toilet paper and just bought a package at the store.  Our garbage can was full, so we took the bag out ourselves and replaced it with a plastic grocery bag.  Yesterday evening, we came back from dinner late (9:30 pm), and the hotel owner, who was standing outside (possibly waiting for us) asked us if he could come in our room to water the flowers in the flower boxes outside our windows.  The blinds do very little to block the light from the windows; I am awakened early every morning as the light from the rising sun hits me right in the face as I lie in bed.  I assume that the towels are dried on a clothesline because they are the stiffest, scratchiest hotel towels I’ve ever used.  However, what the hotel owners lack in knowledge of hotel operations, they make up for in friendliness.  They frequently greet us as we are coming and going.  On our first trip, they invited us to attend the Easter Vigil Mass with them and gave us some traditional Easter bread.  This trip, they invited us on a day trip to a local attraction, which we politely declined, because we want to spend the time with Noelle.  This morning, they gave us a plateful of homemade cookies.  The husband is interested in ham radio (though he’s not a ham) and enjoyed looking at photos of Don’s ham shack.
  7.  We expect to be back home on Monday.  Today (Friday) we will visit Noelle at the orphanage after school.  On Saturday, we’ll spend time with her in the morning and the afternoon, before taking the train back to the city we flew into.  We’ll spend the night there, then fly through Munich to Chicago on Sunday.  After sleeping near Chicago, we’ll drive home on Monday.  Then my travels to/from Eastern Europe will be over, while Don will prepare to spend about three weeks here in June/early July when he comes to pick up Noelle.

Thanks for reading!  You can find other bloggers’ versions of 7 Quick Takes here:

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I’m skipping 7 Quick Takes today because I’m busy packing and preparing to leave for Eastern Europe in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow.  We plan to see “Noelle” on Tuesday and Wednesday before our court date on Thursday, the 10th.  I hope to get at least one blog post done and published while on my trip, as I intend to use some of the time I spend sitting around waiting in airports, on airplanes, and in our hotel room for writing.