Sunday, August 31, 2008

I have been nominated for a DIAMOND BLOGGER award by my friend and Ethiopia travel buddy, CARRIE at Thanks Carrie! I'm blushing!

Obviously not an expert on Ramadan

OK, after rereading my post I realized I stated that Ramadan starts after the last day of SEPTEMBER! is true, I often don't know what month it is!

Ramadan starts after the last day of August or when the new moon is sighted at the end of AUGUST...not SEPTEMBER!

Guess where we are going for Eid holiday?

At the end of Ramadan, Muslims throughout the world observe a joyous three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking). The kids and hubby will have a three day holiday from school and work and we are going on a vacation. Seeing the world is definitely one of the best perks of the expat life.

So, guess where we are going? I will give you a hint.

Located in Africa.

Twas the Day Before Ramadan

Ramadan begins with the sighting of the new moon or after the last day of September. Since the moon has not been seen, Ramadan begins tomorrow. So, we went out to lunch today anticipating not being able to go out to lunch for awhile.
We went to City Center Mall in Downtown Doha. It is probably the biggest mall in Doha and it was all decked out with Ramadan decorations. This big castle was one of the main decorations. Our little friend that was with us commented on the characters in the castle, "Look Mom, it's Jesus!"
One of the challenges living here is keeping our children grounded in their beliefs.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Something New

I have added a ticker to my blog counting the days, weeks, months until we get a referral. I believe we will wait 4-9 months for a referral. Of course we are hoping for 4 months, but it is just something we have absolutely no control over. It really is all in God's perfect timing...and we trust him.

We are still waiting to hear from immigration in Athens, Greece (our closest CIS office) regarding our 171H which is a document that allows us to bring an adopted child into the US. This office is not known to be speedy or very communicative.

In the meantime, we are getting settled into our Doha lives. Our big kids had a great first week back in school. We went to church yesterday (church is on Friday in Doha) and had lunch with some old friends and a couple new to Doha. Our church was packed with people sitting in the foyer and all up and down the stairs. Our church is starting an AWANA program for the younger kids and our oldest son is now old enough for youth group. Our women's bible study kicks off on Wednesday.

I am going to be taking an Arabic class this year from a woman that lives in our compound. I am not very good at speaking other languages. My Texas accent seems to come shining through. But, I want so badly to be able to communicate with the local Qatari people.

Ramadan gets started on Sept. 1. During Ramadan, things slow down dramatically during the day in Doha (all Muslim countries). Most businesses and restaurants are not open during the day. Even many major companies close at 1pm. This can be inconvient to say the least.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Thinking about Adoption

Before you do anything else, grab a box of tissues and watch this video of the Alexander family meeting their baby boy!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back to School-Doha Style

This is our new middle/high school. It is very nice.

She was so glad to see her favorite friend. They aren't in the same class this year. bummer.
A crowded hallway on the first day, just like your school, right?
Ourdoor walkway between lower and upper elementary.

7th grader........

First day of fifth grade!

The kids are back in school. At least two of them are back in school. Kindergarten - 2nd graders don't start until Sept. 7 due to some unfinished construction. So, my 2nd grader gets a two week vacation....he is so bored with me already.

Our kids attend an American school here in Doha. They ride the bus everyday to school. The bus picks up at 6:50 and we have 5 buses pick up in our compound (lots of kids). It is about a 45 minute bus ride depending on traffic. The buses are nicer than the big yellow school buses in the US. They have seat belts, cushy seats and a bus monitor that assist the bus driver. A lot of kids bring their game boys and ipods with them to entertain themselves on the long bus ride.

Their school starts at 8:05 and they get our at 3:00. Every Tuesday they get out at 12:30 and the teachers have a prep day. My daughter's fifth grade class is part of the upper elementary. They have nice, newly constructed classrooms this year. She has a male teacher for the first time. I have only heard great things about him. She switches classes and has a new female teacher for math for part of the day. Her art teacher is also a guy. One of the things I like about international schools is they tend to have more men teachers.

My son is in middle school which is 6-8th grade. He is in 7th grade this year...yikes, I can hardly believe it. He also has a male teacher for homeroom. One of his 6th grade teachers moved up to 7th, and he has her for Language Arts and Social Studies. We liked her last year, so that is a good thing. He also has the same Spanish teacher. She is good, but tough. There are really no middle/jr high sports program, but middle schoolers can play with the high school kids. Our son ran cross country last year and loved it.

Both my big kids like school and love learning. They have been exhausted though and falling into bed right after dinner. We will have been home a week tomorrow, so they still are affected by jet lag. My poor baby girl has been sick with a cold all week, but no fever or sore throat, so I thought it would just get better. Tomorrow we go to the doctor. I don't think its a big deal, but I want to get her well, so she will feel good again. She is also complaining that her wrist hurts. I bet she has turned 1000 cartwheels since the Olympic gymnastics competition aired.

School in Doha is very much like your school. But, there tends to be a more relaxed, laid back attitude. The kids are allowed to walk around the school during lunch and recess, fairly unsupervised (which freaked me out at first). The classes are quite multicultural. I think my youngest son's class last year had 15 different countries represented. The kids are taught the American curriculum, although it isn't nearly as academically challenging as our old school in The Woodlands, Texas. They have art, music, computer and PE classes and library, of course. They have a school cafeteria which serves hot lunches, although some of the items on the menu are reflective of the diverse student body. The teachers tend to love their jobs and have a special quality that calls them to teach internationally. A lot of times a husband and wife will both be educators and travel the world teaching in international schools.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

I hardly ever read the big time blogger's blogs. But, when it's 11:00 at night, the night before school starts, and I can't sleep because I took a long nap today (can I still use jet lag as an excuse?), sometimes I read everything saved in my favorites.

I read this on Big Mama's blog and it was so good and was just what I needed to hear/read. So, if you have time, you should read it. It's that good!

Go Team Alexander I have been reading this blog, for a while now. This family (gorgeous family) is on their way to pick up their baby in Ethiopia. They are in Dubai today and they have a really great slide show of pictures from their day in Dubai linked to their blog. Take a look!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Our Dossier is on its way to Ethiopia!

And this is what it took to get it there......

Mailed Application to AAI (Adoption Advocates International) early February

Home study February 23, 2008 with Randy Barlow, Adoption Pros Abroad

Received home study draft, February 29 (super fast)

Received contract from AAI- March 13 (expected end of April)

Received Texas Child Abuse Registry Reports – March 16

DHL I600A to Athens Greece – March 17 (still need to send home study and agency name and departure dates)

Wired $670.00 to US Embassy in Athens, Greece – March 18

Attempted to get Police Clearances from Doha – March 19, 2008 – we need to get letters from our embassy saying we have a clear record in the US, before they will do the local police clearances.

Lynn gets fingerprinted at local CID - March 20, 2008

March 24, 2008- Unfortunately we still have to get local clearances to finish up home study. I am going tomorrow to Embassy to see if they will write a letter for us stating we do not have a criminal record in the USA based on search I did on the internet. I’m praying they will! If not we have to send our fingerprints to get checked and that could take a while. (They would not!!)

March 25, 2008 – Bill mails contract back to AAI in Port Angeles Washington by regular mail. We will see how long it takes to get there. They will send us the dossier packet soon.

March 27, 2008 – Bill gets fingerprinted by local police station. I get everything ready to mail to Texas and to FBI for police clearances. I hope this works.

March 29, 2008 – I DHLed FBI clearances. Bill mails TX clearances later this week

April 7 American Express processed payment to FBI for record request

April 14 Texas Department cleared check for police check request

April 17 We get our dossier packet…yippee! Now I have to get to work on getting it ready, but we are still waiting to hear back from FBI and Texas police clearances.

April 20, 2008 We got our FBI clearances today. I also found out that Dr. K is out of town until May 20…eeek. Got our very official Texas police clearances, too.

April 30, 2008 Dr. K is back and I have our medicals.

May 21, 2008 We went to the Embassy to get everything notarized and the notary would not do our birth certificate copies and our marriage license.

May 28, 2008 We finally have both our letters from the Embassy stating we have no record in the US and I took them to the police station here to get a police clearance. The first trip I forgot the passport pictures. The second time I had only one picture and needed two. The helpful man went ahead and processed them and said bring the pics when I come to pick them up. The clerk said 20 days….I don’t have 20 days, so I asked helpful man and he said come back next Wednesday. If they have it ready, we will email to Randy and we will be finished with our homestudy.

Still need Bill’s employment letter, certified copy of our marriage license and a letter from our bank. Should get the employment letter on Sunday. I will get the m. license and bank letter in TX and Fed Ex it to AAI when I am home in June.

Bill got his employment letter on June 2, 2008 He needs to take it to the embassy to be notarized.

Today, I am going to pick up the long awaited local police clearances, June 4, 2008. I will scan and send to Randy and then our home study will be complete. Yahoo!

I had all intentions of arriving in the US and getting the necessary marriage license and bank letter and having everything sent to our agency by mid or end of June. Alas, our home study had an error on the last page where it was signed and dated by the notary and we had to get new copies of the home study. It took a while. Also, one of our friends had yet to submit her reference letter, which she sent shortly after my reminder. Also, we needed a letter from our accountant that stated we were filing an extension on our taxes. Well, needless to say all this took a while but I can finally say that TODAY, August 20, 2008 I got a letter from our agency that all our documents are in order and our dossier is ready to be assembled and sent to Ethiopia. Now we can be on the waiting list. Yippee! It took us about 4 months to assemble the dossier…not bad for living overseas.

We also were able to be fingerprinted in Houston for USCIS on Friday, August 15. So everything is in order for our immigration stuff.

TODAY, August 22, 2008 from an email from our agency
"Your Dossier was assembled into final form and shipped to Ethiopia yesterday. You are now on the referral waiting list. Typically families wait 4-8 months for the referral of a child under seven years of age. Those families requesting young sibling sets or single toddler children frequently wait 8-12 months for a referral. Please feel free to check-in each month regarding your position on the referral waiting list."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I am still in that weird half asleep, dazed jet lagged stage, but my kids are in kid-heaven. Today, they reconnected with friends and spent the day playing tennis, playing video games, riding bikes and just hanging out with some of their best friends.

Our youngest has two of his good buddies spending the night and I can still hear them talking up a storm.

Only two more days of summer break! School starts on Sunday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I just got the sweetest email

from our adoption agency.

our dossier is complete.....

and ready to be assembled and sent to Ethiopia.

I am not sure how long that takes, but I don't think very long. When the dossier heads to Ethiopia, we will be on the waiting list for our sweet child.

Home Sweet Home

We are home! We left Houston on Monday, at around 4:30pm. Really, around 6:00 after sitting in the plane on the runway for a while before take off.

We had just enough time to make our connection in DC and arrived in Doha around 6:30 pm Tuesday.

We all went to sleep shortly after and now the kids and I are wide awake at 3:30am, wondering what to do with ourselves. Jet is just unnatural! Fortunately, my hubby is sleeping, he has to go to work in the morning.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Kimchee with a side of Fries

We leave today to fly home to Doha. I am ready to go back. We had a great time seeing friends and family and enjoying all the wonderfulness and convenience of being in the USA, but God is faithful and has prepared our hearts to want to return to Doha.

This weekend we got to spend time with my husband's sister and brother and niece and nephew. My kids had a great time with their cousins. Our nephew was born the day before our eldest and they always have a lot of fun playing together. We had a wonderful time just hanging out and watching endless Olympics, cheering for the Americans, the Ethiopians, the Koreans, and the Chinese.

Yesterday, we ate lunch at a local Korean restaurant to celebrate hubby's sister's birthday. If you haven't ever eaten Korean food, it is definitely a yummy experience. You cook your own meat on grills on the table. The kids were old enough to cook for themselves, which was a first. We usually get bulgogi and galbi. Bulgogi is thinly, sliced marinated beef and kalbi is short ribs. It is served with rice, of course and a bunch of little bowls of side dishes. Kimchee is another main dish on the Korean menu. It is basically fermented spicy (red pepper) cabbage. I really don't like it very much, but there are other varieties that I do like that aren't fermented, cucumber kimchee and white kimchee. My youngest loves sushi and he is eating a Korean sushi like roll called kim bap. We usually have to order a side of fries for our eldest whenever we eat anything unusual, but he loves bulgogi. In fact we had to order more, that's how much they love it.
One day, I will put my mother-in-law's recipe for bugogi on here, so you can try it at home. In the meantime, here is a recipe for it that I found online. When we make it at home we cook it in a frying pan in a little sesame oil. You can wrap it in lettuce leaves with rice and shredded veggies, but normally we just eat it with rice.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Right now

We are in a hotel this morning in The Woodlands. We left my mom's yesterday. It was a hard morning, but not impossibly hard. We had everything loaded and we had an appointment so the goodbyes were short and sweet. I know my Mom loves having us, but I can't help but think it must be a little bit of a relief when we leave. We had so many suitcases and bags that all the floorboards were full and the kids and I had to curl up like pretzles to fit into the car. I wish I had a picture.

On the way into town, I called a couple of our old friends and can I just say I have the best friends in the world. We loved spending a few hours of sweet fellowship in the home of one of our good friends and were joined by two other families that are precious to us.

Today, we go somewhere in Houston to be fingerprinted for our i600A. If you are in the international adoption world, you know that this is paperwork for the immigration of your adopted child. All this must be done prior to adopting.

We also found out that our agency just needs ONE more piece of paper and our dossier will be finished and can be sent to Ethiopia and THEN we will be officially on the waiting list for our child. We need to get our accountant to send them a letter stating we filed an extension on our taxes this year. That's it!

If you would like to pray for us today, please pray we can get the accountant letter faxed to our agency and pray that we can get all our stuff loaded back into the car, with right attitudes and happy hearts.

One more thing, our youngest had his follow up appointment with the ENT and she released him to run, jump, play ball and eat crunchy stuff. He is healed.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I want you to meet someone!

There is a lady who writes a blog and takes gorgeous pictures of her kids. She doesn't know me (yet), but I love to read her blog. Her name is Jody. I think you will be inspired by her.

Gator Country

We got to celebrate my great-nephew's birthday at Gator Country! It was a crazy, fun experience. The kids got a kick out of holding a giant snake and a baby alligator. It was so good to see another one of my sisters and niece. I was glad to get to visit with them before we leave to go back to Doha on MONDAY!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Happy Birthday to my MOM!

Today is my Mom's 75th birthday. She is such a sweet, wonderful mom. We love her so much!

Twilight books

I got the second book in the Twilight series, New Moon. I am barely into it, but I am reading it with new eyes after my friend asked if the books were OK for her 12 year old.

After reading the first book, I seriously considered recommending it to my 12 year old son. He is an avid reader, loves fantasy, but thought he might not enjoy the romance part of it. I couldn't remember anything inappropriate. It is scary a bit.

The second book in the first couple of chapters has used the phrase, "what the h---" and the main character is said to silently curse. Also, there is a discussion by the father vampire about God and what happens to vampires when they die. Also, the vampire stays the night in the girls room, but he doesn't sleep (vampires don't have to sleep apparently)and nothing goes on, except sleeping.

SO, taking all that into consideration, I am not sure about recommending the series to 12 year old girls, although I am sure lots of them are reading it. If you want to be completely sure it is OK you should probably read it first.


We are all together again! The kids are loving having their Daddy back. It is so good to be a family again. It is such a relief to have my husband here.

We are kind of unsure what the next couple of weeks will look like, but we have to take our son back to the ENT on the 14th and we will probably say goodbye to my Mom then and spend the rest of our time 4 or 5 days in the Houston area.

I am dreading trying to pack up all our stuff. We brought too much and then added new school clothes and supplies, etc. etc. etc. It will be a miracle if I can get it all back in our bags.

On the ADOPTION front, I mailed the homestudies to our agency and will call them when they get there, to confirm that we have indeed completed all the paperwork. I am trusting in God's timing for a referral, but if it were up to me, I would go get our little one this afternoon.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


The big kids and I are going to pick up our favorite guy tomorrow morning at 10:48. We are so glad he is coming to Texas. We will spend about 10 more days here and then he will take us home to Doha!


  • Our little one is still recovering from his surgery. I didn't realize it takes about two weeks to fully recover from a tonsillectomy/adnoidectomy. He is still not eating much and his throat hurts.
  • My big kids absolutely, positively LOVED camp. The camp strives to be the best week of the kids summer and I think they may have succeeded.
  • I got an email from the Immigration people in Houston and they needed our full names to send us a letter for fingerprinting. Not sure what that means, but I am hoping it means we can be fingerprinted in Texas since our first set of fingerprints (done in Doha) were rejected.
  • Our new home study was sent to Doha and is on it's way to Texas in hubby's suitcase. We will fed ex it tomorrow to our agency and then (crossing fingers) maybe all our documents will be in order.
  • I read a good book. Have you heard of the Twilight series by Stephanie ___________? It is a good, clean, romance about humans and vampires (weird, huh?).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The expat life.

While the expat life certainly has its perks, I am getting suitcase burnout.

In the past 6 weeks we have..........

Stayed in 4 different hotels.

Stayed at 5 different houses.

Ate fast food way too many times.

And it's not over sweet, wonderful husband arrives on August 7 and there will be more hotel hopping, I am sure.

All this is making me consider a nice, little townhouse in Texas to call our own.


Our little guy is doing much better today. He went through his surgery really well and the doctor confirmed that his tonsils and adenoids were indeed huge and infected. The worst part was when he first came out from the anesthesia.

I wasn't prepared for his deep, painful cries. He kept saying he couldn't breathe and that he was going to die. They released us from the surgery center soon after and as soon as we got back to our hotel and he got a dose of his "special" Tylenol, he went fast asleep.

He woke up about 5pm and said he was feeling a little better and asked for his Nintendo DS, a sure sign he was on the mend. He ate his pudding and soup and slept through the night.

This morning we decided to drive back to my Mom's house. We originally had planned to stay in the hotel until Monday.

We are glad to be back at Grandma's house. Tomorrow I go pick the kids up from camp. I can hardly wait to see how they liked it.