Monday, August 30, 2010

Panaca

On our way.. Josh wanted to "hold" Jonathan... it was the first time he asked and I couldn't say no. He's so happy about his baby brother. Jonathan didn't mind having the life squeezed out of him for just a few minutes.
Here's our close knit group... all equipped with strollers. The Castellon, Craven and Rodriguez families... :)


Ok so, I asked Daddy to take a pic of the three of us. What he failed to tell me was that Jonathan's face was all covered up. Poor guy the rain was coming in sideways and we were trying to make sure both boys were bundled up. No wonder Jonathan didn't comment much about the horse show...


The Colombian vaqueros did a great job! It was a really nice show.





It looks like even Colombia had an "Old West".


I'm thinking we might have to invest in a bunny sometime in the future. Our guide Jaime says they are very good to eat. HA!



Ok so, the first time we visited Bogota, I'm sad to say we didn't venture out much... I'm not even sure why. We went to Zipaquira (the salt mine) and to the Botero Museum and of course to Andres Carne de Res, but this time we wanted to make sure we did other things too. So, when the Cravens told us about this interactive animal park called Panaca, we were excited to go! We teamed up with the Cravens and the Rodriguez families and all went to Panaca. It's about an hour's drive south of Bogota and has LOTS of animals to see. The weather wasn't the best... unfortunately, so that kept us from seeing much. But we did get to see the horses (including a horse show, which was hilarious), ponies, donkeys, birds, turkeys and rabbits. From what we here there was much more to see, but that's when the rain set in and we couldn't see much more.

The park is actually set on a large area of land and you can walk throughout it via dirt roads. Our poor strollers! You can imagine the dirt on them at the end of our visit. Josh especially LOVED the rabbit exhibit. You paid 2,000 pesos (roughly $1) and the kids could go in and run around with the rabbits... play with them and even carry them. Even though it rained a bit, he didn't mind at all. He carried them and was surprisingly gentle with them. Anna Marie was a riot as she picked up the bunnies upside down but no harm done, I think they all survived.

There was also a place to feed the birds and ducks... really nice to see them all get pelted with food from my son. :) Ah, he's so gentle....

I wanted to do the zipline but then the rain set in... it was a good price too.... $20,000 pesos for the whole course (I think it was 3 ziplines). My chance at living the Amazing Race was not to be... so, I guess I'll have to come back someday just for that.

It was a great day with friends and we enjoyed ourselves so very much!

Good news is that it looks like we'll be back home by this weekend... hooray! I have loved every moment in Medellin and Bogota but I miss home too. We miss our family and friends, our dog (spencer), our BED, and church... those are the main voids. Now we can begin to get Jonathan settled into his new home, new room and forever family. We are so very thrilled that the Lord allowed us to go through this journey. I cannot say enough thanks to those who have helped us throughout this journey... and those we've met along the way. We will forever remember your love and be grateful for you. May the Lord bless you so very much! (and for those of you still in process... may the Lord grant you a speedy court process!) :)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Enjoying Bogota with Friends

Jackson and Jonathan are new buddies... they got acquainted as we parked them side by side.

Ruth Ann, Frank and I pose for a smile under the beautiful Bogota sun.
Ruth Ann still looks the same as she did 15 years ago! She is a blessing and I'm so happy God's brought her back into my life after so many years...


We've had a very exciting couple of days! My dear friend, Ruth Ann Craven and I grew up together. We were best friends in middle school and it's amazing that God's brought us back together again in Colombia! She and her husband Steve are adopting their second child from CRAN here in Bogota and happen to be here at the same time as us! Such a God thing... their daughter Anna Marie was adopted two years ago. This time they're adopting a little boy, Jackson who is actually the same age as Jonathan.. they're only 1 week apart. We actually got our referrals the SAME DAY... even though we went through two different agencies... so very cool. God is amazing and wonderful, I'm always blessed by the sweetness He allows us to experience.

So, after arriving here in Bogota, the next day we met up with the Cravens for a nice afternoon in the Park... oh yeah, and lunch at El Corral. So seriously, I know that in the US we have amazing burger joints like... Johnny Rockets and Fuddruckers, but seriously, El Corral tops them all. Their menu has like 25 different burgers to choose from... I'm not kidding, and they're HUGE! I ordered a Costalena burger with plantain chips and a crumbled cheese... it was delicious! It was so great to see the Cravens and catch up with them! From there we went to Parque 66, a cute little park close to the restaurant where Anna and Josh got to play while Ruth Ann and I caught up. Let me say that her kids are gorgeous and so very sweet. She has them dressed like Pottery Barn Kids models... and next to my children with their stained pants, one socked, bouched up on clothes, they look amazing! :)

Of course walking around with them in Colombia is fabulous! We found out from one of our friends who happens to be colombian, that men are NOT supposed to be pushing strollers around. It's not a "macho" thing to do... we found this to be extra funny since that day Steve was pushing the double stroller, followed by Frank pushing Jonathan's stroller and Ruth Ann and I talked behind them with Josh in hand. HA! So glad we are NOT married to the stereotypical Colombian man... both Steve and Frank are amazing daddies, they do it all! I'm very thankful that Frank is willing to play daddy all of the time, and he's GREAT at it! :) Both Josh and Jonathan are so blessed to have him... and they truly love their daddy. Even Jonathan's starting to say dadada..
From there we headed to Juan Valdez for a coffee. We then accompanied them to COMCEL to get new SIM cards for their iphones. That took awhile, but I was thankful since Ruth Ann and I got to chit chat and catch up. While we were there, a sweet older lady came to talk to us. She wanted to see if Ruth Ann would sell her double stroller since she knew a girl who needed one. I explained to her that we were adopting and she needed the stroller for the journey. The lady was so very sweet... she congratulated us and told us we were a blessing. She even hugged us as she walked away. The iphones were ready to go and we got some taxis (hard to do in rush hour traffic) and then it was back to Hotel Paris.

Friday we went to the Santa Fe mall with the Cravens and our friends the Rodriguez family. We were hoping to take the kids to Divercity, a kids amusement area similar to Wannado city in FL where they get to play dress up, etc. but it was closed. So we just walked around the mall and enjoyed each other. The kids get along really well... we feel so very blessed that the Lord has brought amazing friends into our path during this journey. They make it so much more special...

Here's a short video of Josh playing with his new friends at Hotel Paris. Maria's pushing the kids.. one of her daughters, Nicole is in the middle and on the right is another new friend, Marisa, who's 3 and was adopted from Los Pisingos. Her parents are here adopting another little girl from Pisingos named Isabel who's 5 months old.
Ah, life is good... love you all.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Lots to Tell from Bogota!!!

An "archive" picture of Jonathan from Casa de Maria... we were so happy to get some extra ones to add to his baby book after the tour.
One of Jonathan's nineras at casa de Maria... she said he was a very happy boy.

Both Nineras were so very loving and expressed their gratefulness at seeing "Samuel" go to a loving home. He was happy feeling all of the love.


A look at the room Jonathan lived in... and all of his friends still needing great homes.


One of the rooms for the toddlers at Casa de Maria.


A look at the playground...




A good picture of Casa de Maria's cafeteria.


Our magical ladies!!! On the left is our lawyer, Angela Maria, Blanca Velez (one of our Gladney reps) and Nora Velez (another lawyer and also our Gladney contact) We thank God for each of these ladies! They helped us so very much and made the process very smooth... thank you tesoros!


A photo of our night at Gloria's... MUY QUERIDA... she will forever be in our hearts, always. We went with Natalie and Isaac. I wish we could take her home with us!


Ok, so the only pic I have of us at Hotel Paris so far... (and NOT a very good one as I look like I'm picking my nose... but I'm NOT, seriously) We wer playing on the floor with the Rodriguez girls: Nicole (here) and Angela... I have to take some pics of them, they are ADORABLE!!!


Sorry I haven't blogged in a few days... we've been very busy! Our last day in Medellin was amazing. We finally went on a tour of Casa de Maria to see what Jonathan's home was like. It was wonderful. We went with our friend, Natalie and her son Isaac. The facility is wonderful... smaller than CRAN. They only have about 62 kids, ranging from a few months to about 15 or so. We were able to see Jonathan's room and meet some of his "buddies" who shared it with him. In that room there were about 8 children, more or less his age. So very sweet. I took a couple of pictures of him with his nineras. They hugged him and kissed him and said what a good baby he was. They also thought he looked bigger! You can tell that they love what they do and are so very good at it.

We saw other rooms too... rooms that housed the older children and the babies. The baby room is so fun! There are bouncy seats, cribs and swings that hang from the ceiling. It was a very sweet time, especially for Natalie as Isaac's nineras loved to see him! Apparently he left a big impression on many because they all were happy to see him.



As always, this part is emotional. I love to see where Jonathan lived and meet the wonderful people who took care of him, but of course, my heart aches for the children who are still there. The tears came when we went to see the toddlers... kids a little younger than Josh. There were so many! Like maybe 25 or so... all playing with worn out toys. They looked very happy and yet I prayed that each one of them would get a forever family too. Alba Lucia told us of a few sibling groups in particular to pray for... they are having a hard time finding families for them... please pray! There is a family of 4 brothers who will be split up into two homes, but near each other... also, there's a family of 3 sisters, twins girls who are 9 and one 7 year old. Our Lord knows them and their needs... I pray He'll call amazing families for each of them. I feel the Lord planting a seed in my heart for older children... I don't know why or for what, but I do pray that I'll be obedient and follow with whatever He asks of me. ALL of these children deserve families... and need them. Many of them have lived such hard lives already, I just pray our heavenly Father will present them with loving mommies and daddies who will cherish them as they deserve.



Both CRAN and Casa de Maria are wonderful organizations... my feelings for Casa de Maria were more personal because it's smaller, more intimate and the people were so very sweet and amazing. Alba Lucia, who spent much time with us... even gave us additional pictures of Jonathan from his time at C de M, I'll post a few of those. My sweet boy... that was very wonderful for us to have.



After our tour we were invited that evening to our guide, Gloria's house for dinner. She hosted and her cousin cooked a wonderful meal for us. It was so very sweet of her to open her home and we felt honored. She was a very special part of our trip... and we will never forget her. The lasagna was delicious and of course as a thank you we brought her favorite... carrot cake from the hotel! Thank you Gloria so very much! We will always think of her when we hear the phrase "Graicias, muy querida/o" as she says that to everyone!



We left on Tuesday for Bogota. It was emotional for us... we had to say goodbye to the wonderful friends and families we met while at the hotel. I admit I was a bit sad... I think sad to leave the place we've called "home" for 24 days, but also sad about the process... the possibility of never doing it again. It's so wonderful... knowing what I know now, I'd never trade it for a "normal" pregnancy! The time you spend as a family together is so very precious and intimate. You learn so much and you enjoy Colombia. We adored Medellin and I truly hope we can visit again soon.



Our flight to Bogota was very short... about 30 minutes. I was a bit worried about Jonathan but he did great. I shouted Hallelujah! When he did his poopie BEFORE we got on the plane... that was my nightmare... you can imagine, I've already suffered so much in this department! It's definately harder to travel with 2 kids... Josh insisted on sitting by me, so sweet, but that meant that I was the first access for toys, help with the juice, etc. That would've been ok but then I had a baby who was restless on my lap too. There was another girl who traveled with a toddler close to us... I thought "oh good, my kid won't be the only one making noise" but that wasn't the case... as soon as her little one started to cry, she whipped out the "lactating device" latched him on and that was that. I admit I was a bit surprised, especially since she had a stranger sitting next to her, but she didn't seem to care. With the toddler latched on, she took a snooze. Ah... I think I'll stick with my situation of two restless children, thank you very much. :)


I have to say that in Colombia, mothers get red carpet treatment... I'm not kidding. For example, checking in for the flight, Avianca had a really long line. They saw us and asked us to move to the "family" section... we were taken right through to the front. Each time I visit Exito or Carulla, if anyone sees me in line they immediately pull out a seat for me to sit in with the baby. It's like babies are VIPs here! so very sweet! I love it and I'm definately taking it all in now as I know when we get back to Miami it'll be like, "Hey lady, can you hurry up and load all of your groceries onto the conveyor belt and calm that screaming baby... I'm late for work!"

Arriving in Bogota we were met by Jaime, one of our Gladney reps. He was very kind and drove us to Hotel Paris, the same hotel we spent 2 months during Josh's adoption. Walking in was so very nice... we were met with hugs and yelps of excitement from the hotel staff (those we knew) which was lovely. I was surprised they remembered us, considering so many families come in and out of here, but they did! We've spent some time getting to know families staying here at Hotel Paris (that's my favorite part). It's a full house here with mainly toddlers but some older children too.



A very special family we've met are the Rodriguez's. Omar and Maria live in Orlando but they are adopting two sisters, 2 year old Angela and 5 year old Nicole. They are gorgeous! They are a gorgeous family, very sweet and full of God's presence. We are blessed to be here with them and pray they receive sentencia quickly! Josh is thrilled to have 2 playmates to run around with.



So, the next few days we'll spend working on more paperwork and enjoying Bogota... not sure exaclty when we'll be back home, but hopefully we can transition soon. We miss our friends and family very much. I'm adding a few videos... Jonathan's big into "copying" these days. The first is of me singing a song in the hopes that he'll do the motions (I call it "Jasmine's song" since she does it so well!) but he ended up trying to sing after me! He does that with sounds too... like he seems to call Frank "A-DA", he's said Ma only once maybe... but he still looks for me everywhere so, I don't mind if he says dada first! The 2nd video is of Josh and Jonathan playing at Hotel Intercontinental.. Josh says we're going to BOBOTA, which I thought was hilarious. The last one is Jonathan's payback... Josh constantly is pulling his ears so, this was sweet revenge for the little bro... trust me, he holds his own for a little guy.

Love you all and we'll post more from Bogota!




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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hanging out with Friends

At dinner, Jonathan decided his high chair would be more fun if he sat on it backwards... gitty up horsey!
Jonathan's latest is to PUSH for his bowl movement with his hands raised above his head like Superman... yeah... this kid just keeps them coming.

Here are the three Casa de Maria babies: Jonathan, Ariana and Isaac. Aren't they cute? Jonathan's the oldest at 10 months, and Ariana and Isaac are both 9 months.


Josh has loved this new toy he got... ironically as a "happy meal" prize at Mondongo's restaurant. It's a Ben 10 disc shooter that wraps around his wrist. This thing follows us everywhere and yes, you can imagine the discs too. :)

Jonathan and Isaac have a playdate.


Baby Hugo is being adopted by a Swiss family. He's big and cuddly... but will smile when tickled. Both he and Jonathan have the exact same birthday... isn't that funny? Yeah, I think at this stage though, he'd take Jonathan for sure.

Josh got a "golf lesson" yesterday. His swing's gotten much better... he doesn't look like he's swinging a baseball bat anymore.


Jonathan's learned to give me these "kisses". He basically sucks on my cheek... it's cute. I think he thinks that's what I do to him all day long. Josh always says that my kisses are "slimey".

Yesterday and today have been great days of just hanging out with friends. Yesterday we went to Exito with Gloria to buy a few last minute things and last night we had Natalie and Issac over for dinner. Frank "reheated" as he calls it... spaghetti and sauce with garlic bread. We had a great time and both Isaac and Jonathan had a great time playing. Isaac is the sweetest baby... very smiley and laid back. We are thrilled to have them here in the hotel with us... but sad that Tony, Hayden and Carter had to go back home. We hope to keep Natalie company, at least until we head off to Bogota on Tuesday.

Today we went to a different mall here in Medellin called Oviedo. It was really nice! We went with Natalie and Isaac and another great family we've met recently, the Gitkins. James and Jennifer have twin boys Josh's age (who are at home in Weston) and they are here adopting Ariana (13 months old) from Casa de Maria. She is gorgeous! We are so happy to have met them... and knowing they live in Weston, very close to us is so cool! Now we have another family to include in our adoption group picnics, parties, trips, etc. I told them that we have to get together when we all get back since Josh would LOVE to meet their boys Jacob and Dylan.

Tonight we all ate dinner at Hatu Viejo... and it was delicious. So nice! Tomorrow we hope to travel to Casa de Maria in the morning for our tour and farewell and then go to Gloria's house for dinner with the other two families. I will miss everyone here so very much, but especially Gloria. She has been a godsend... without her, Medellin wouldn't have been so very amazing. I keep telling her she HAS to come to Miami to visit us! She is very exceptional and extremely great at what she does. During this trip she has gone above and beyond with us... driving us around, helping with paperwork and even just being here (for example when Jonathan needed to see a doctor, she insisted on being here). So very special. Frank said to me today... he has NOTHING but amazing things to say about everyone who has helped us here in Medellin... from our Gladney staff, hotel staff to Casa de Maria staff, it has all been truly amazing. I'm really sad that we may not get to do this again... although, I guess you never know. What God has in store for you is what's best. I'm hoping we can continue to open our home and hearts to children who need families.... they all deserve mommies and daddies who will love them.

So, by this time on Tuesday we should be in Bogota... ready to embark upon our next leg of this journey. We'll be staying at Hotel Paris... where we stayed for Joshua's adoption so, we are very excited to come full circle, back to the lovely place where it all began for us as a family.

God is so very good.... and I thank Him so very much for my beautiful boys.... I'm blessed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sentencia :) and Sicky... :(

Good morning sunshine!
Carter and Josh get some funny power from our friend, the Colombian Mime. They thought he was a trip... so did we. :)

The Uribes family... Natalie, Tony, Hayden (Carter's head is in front) and little Isaac. We are so blessed to have met them on our journey!



An after supper smile... he was so happy to eat Strawberry yogurt! Since his throat's bothering him, I'm trying to feed him colder foods to soothe it.


He loves that thumb! :)

We are thrilled to announce that Jonathan is officially OURS!!!!! Samuel Jose officially became Jonathan Samuel Castellon Ricardo (that's right... here they use the mother's last name too).Whoo hoo! We received our sentencia (rather quickly, thank God) and Frank went to court to sign the paperwork. We wanted to all go, but Jonathan's been sick with fever the past few days, so we opted to keep him here at the hotel so that he wouldn't get worse. Originally we thought that teething was the reason for the fevers, but yesterday the fever went a bit high (about 102) and we knew it had to be something else.

Our hotel has free medical service so, we asked for them to send a doctor to take a look at him. Last night at about 7:30pm the doctor and his assistant arrived to look Jonathan over. Our guide Gloria (our sweet angel) came too for support. After giving him a checkup, the doctor noticed that his throat was infected... extremely red. That would explain why the poor baby made a funny face when I would feed him. I suspected it might be an ear infection but I guess throat was close! So, the doctor prescribed an antibiotic and some vitamin C drops. Today he's still been a bit under the weather... but still happy. This little guy doesn't stop smiling at all... even sick. So, we're trying to make sure he gets his rest and feels better.

Because Jonathan's sick... we don't want to leave for Bogota just yet. We want to give him ample days to get better so, sometime early next week we'll travel to Bogota for the last leg of our journey. I have to say... I adore Medellin and part of me doesn't want to leave! :( We have made such amazing friends here and the hotel staff has been nothing short of amazing with us. We are thrilled we were able to get a good court and can now proceed, but honestly, I feel deep down in my heart that we're not through with Medellin.... the people we've met, the places we've seen and this entire experience has been a true blessing. Not only are we bringing back the BEST souvenier ever (our son) but we also bring with us the love shared with many.

We also had a lovely time today having lunch with Gloria, Nora and Blanca Velez, (our Gladney reps), as well as the Uribes family. We went to a great restaurant called Mondongos. Josh was thrilled since his kids meal came with a Ben 10 toy, and Frank and I had delicious meals too (without the toys of course). Jonathan was still a bit under the weather, but he did ok. I finally got a pic of the Uribes family to show you all... they are so sweet. Dr. Tony is going home tonight with the older boys, Hayden and Carter so, Natalie and Isaac will be here waiting for the paperwork to be completed. Hopefully we can hang out with her and keep her company, at least until we are off to Bogota. It's so very sweet the connection between Jonathan and Issac. Today again, Isaac reached for Jonathan and you can tell they recognize each other. I wasn't fast enough to capture the moment, but I'm hoping they'll be more of them so I can finally get with it and snap the picture!

While outside the restaurant there was a funny mime who had us all laughing hysterically. He posed for a pic with Carter and Josh. He even stopped traffic for our minibus to pull onto the street... poor mime almost got in trouble with a taxi driver for it. I tell you... the drivers here are intense! All in all, it was a wonderful day... the lunch was so great, thank you Blanca and Nora! Seriously, we have been taken care of almost to the point of being spoiled while here in Medellin... I think that's one of the reasons I don't really want to leave! :)

Frank had to travel to the court office of Jonathan's "district" in order to get a copy of his birth certificate for the sentencia. He said it wasn't in a good area of town... close to where we had gone for the metro cable. I just look at both my babies... ok, my big boy and my baby and I'm amazed. God chose them for us... our family. He wanted them to have a Mommy and a Daddy who love them, no matter what. Looking into the eyes of my boys, I know... they may not look like us physically, or carry our genes but they were created in the image of our heavenly Father and they are perfect for US. They are our boys and always will be. My heart prays for them so much... that they'll grow to love Jesus and want to be like Him, serve Him. That they'll make good decisions which will keep them in God's will. That they'll choose good friends.... and eventually (a LONG time from now) choose godly wives and raise a household with the Lord at its center. I know they'll make mistakes... I did... many. So did Frank. But, God led us through those mistakes to repentance, forgiveness and restoration. He can restore anyone... with a willing heart. No matter what you've done... God can forgive and forget. He will, if you let Him.

I pray my boys will always be willing... to go to the arms of Jesus, love and stand for Him, and to love others. It'll be a rocky road, but I'll fight, on my knees. The Lord's taught me that sometimes that's the best line of defense... at his mercy.

So, today I'll post pics of our outing... as well as some video we've taken in our lovely "home away from home". One is just of Jonathan being himself... (mind you, he's sick in this video... you would never tell), one of Josh playing the role of "skivy boy"... he's had me laughing most of this trip, and the last is a sweet one: I sometimes put Jonathan in his crib for a few minutes to try to get things done. He doesn't like it one bit and ususally cries for awhile... well, I did that and heard him and then he stopped. When I went to see why... I saw Josh showing him a toy and trying to calm him down. I melted. It was so sweet, so I had to capture it on video. Josh is showing Jonathan the toy we sent to Casa de Maria with our pictures on it. For some reason the baby loves it... he looks at them often and smiles.

Please pray Jonathan will feel better soon... and that all will continue to go well as we look ahead to Bogota.

Love you all.

PS: You won't believe this, but tonight I was feeding Jonathan his bottle when Frank noticed a small brown liquid on my pants... yeah, that's right! I got hit AGAIN by Captain Poopypants! You wouldn't belive... I was wearing the SAME PANTS that I had on that day at Crepes and Waffles.. I will NOT be wearing those pants anymore on this trip! For sure!

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Wet and Rainy, yet Still Smiling!

Jonathan proving that he'll eat anything these days.
Some of the great friends we've met on our journey: on the left is a couple from Germany traveling back on a Heritage trip with their son, Fabian. In the middle of the picture is Frank, Max, Fabian, Josh, Marina, Juan and David.

Josh testing out one of the activites at Pies Descalzos. Our clumsy boy managed to NOT fall off of any of these... hooray!



The Pueblito Paisa


Monica giving Jonathan some "love".

Josh and David playing Nintendo... in Spanish! :)


Our dear friends the Serranos: Juan, David and Monica

Yesterday we relaxed in the hotel... it was very nice. We took a short trip to Exito to buy a few needed groceries and came back to the hotel. The afternoon was spent with our friends, Frank and Marina (from Germany) and their kids Max and Juan by the pool. Josh had another swimming lesson, since it had been awhile, and we truly enjoyed the day. Even Jonathan was able to get two naps in... a rare thing these days.

This morning we went to breakfast as usual but had a nice surprise! The Uribes family has moved to our hotel so we were able to see them at breakfast. Their boys, Hayden, Carter and now Isaac are adorable and Josh loves them. The cutest thing was when Isaac and Jonathan reached hands to kind of "kid shake". I imagine their conversation went something like this:

Isaac: Hey, how's it goin' man?

Jon: Not bad... how about for you? I haven't seen you in awhile.

Isaac: Yeah... I'm getting used to this great family. They keep wanting me to eat more.

Jon: Eat, huh? Well, you'd better do what they say... the food keeps getting better and better. Just look at me.... I'm already downing all my baby food and bottles. Don't I look "fuller" to you?

Isaac: Yeah, ok... let's see who can put down the most food.

Jon: You're on!

You know... I have a wild imagination. But hey... I'm sure they do remember each other from Casa de Maria... they were like roomies from what we've been told. I'm going to have to get a pic of them. I think they even look alike... :)

So, after yet another great breakfast we went to El Parque de los Pies Descalzos (the Barefoot Park) with our good friends, Juan, Monica and David. The day was a bit rainy, and the bummer was that parts of the park were closed. The water area where you can dip your feet was not working because they're having a concert tomorrow night and they wanted the park to be "dry". I thought that was funny considering it was raining... hee. But we did get the full tour from one of the guides and Monica and Juan insisted on participating to the fullest... which made for great entertainment. I'm posting some pics of our adventures there. We also met the Uribes there as well. The boys had a great time together. Natalie even told me that Isaac ate more today than any other day... (so you see, Jonathan and Isaac's breakfast conversation HAD to be about food)

From there the Serranos (Juan, Monica and David) and us went to El Pueblesito Paisa (the little village of Medellin). It's an old replica of what Medellin's first town's were like. So cute! We sat to chat awhile (until it stopped raining) and then walked around the village. It's so gorgeous! They had a replica of a schoolhouse, a telephone operator, and a sweet chapel in the center. You look at the town (and even the early towns in the US) and you kind of miss the simplicity of it all. Small towns where everyone knew each other... Sundays were for family and life was good for them. Of course... work was hard. No microwaves, hairdryers or my favorite: dishwashers. Hmm... ok, so, maybe simplicity with a few modern conveniences. :)

Our last stop of the day was a yummy Italian restaurant for lunch with our friends. They were so sweet to take us to this place and we truly enjoyed our day with them. Both Monica and Juan are AMAZING with kids... Monica adores Jonathan (and Jonathan likes the attention!). It was such a fun filled day... we came back pooped but so filled. I am so very thankful the Lord has brought such wonderful families to us on this journey. We hope to stay in touch with them! The Serranos said we must visit Spain (they live in Barcelona)... and of course, our German friends keep trying to teach us words and phrases in German. They are very impressed with my "Sound of Music" dialect.... so I am now referred to as "Aidelvise" girl. I'm going to add some pics of them too.

Know we send our love to all of our family and friends back home. Praying the Lord will fill you all with His love and peace. xo

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tesoro, Metro Cable and Icky!

Brother Bonding at Tesoro
Blanca and I decided to "relive" our childhood by riding the Bumper Cars with Josh... it was lots of fun! We didn't realize how hard those things hit... Blanca bumped into us and Josh hit a tooth with the steering wheel... that was the end of the experience. Thank God, no blood or loss of teeth!

Josh poses at a fun spot.


One of the Metro Cable views of Medellin's suburbs.



It took alot for Frank and I to get on one of these again... the last time we did was in Glenwood Springs in Colorado. We got caught in a storm and had 60 mph winds while in one of these.... not fun. Being that it was a gorgeous, sunny day, we weren't too worried of that happening again. It was a gorgeous view.

Abuela bonds with the boys during the trip... Josh showed a bit of his "jealous" side on the railway when he insisted on sitting on my lap with Jonathan. Overall, he's been great with him but I think he is feeling a little jelousy at all of the attention Jonathan's getting. Poor baby, we're trying to spread the love!


Yesterday we went again to El Tesoro (the mall close by with the outdoor amusement park) with Frank and Blanca. We had a great time. Blanca and I got to go shopping and Josh was thrilled to get to play skee ball most of the afternoon with Daddy. Jonathan was just happy to stroll along and people watch. We took a Taxi to the mall early (around 11am) from the hotel. Unfortunately, our Taxi driver wasn't very nice... he scolded Blanca for closing the taxi door too hard and then scolded me because I needed to be "teaching my son NOT to walk on the seats to exit the taxi". Needless to say we took his taxi info and reported him to the Hotel staff... lucky for us, that's the ONLY rude taxi driver we've had after 2 weeks in Medellin.

We walked around a bit and then decided to eat lunch once again at the famous Crepes and Waffles. For lunch I fed Jonathan a small Mango baby food jar. I think this may have upset his tummy a bit. A little while later I hear the famous pushing and decide I need to change his diaper in the bathroom. When I opened that diaper I nearly died! It was everywhere! I'm not kidding! All over his clothes... everywhere. So, after saying a quick prayer... something like, "Dear Jesus, help me!" I stripped him and dunked him into the bathroom sink (lucky for me the bathroom was a personal bathroom... oh yeah, and it was the men's because the ladies was taken). With one elbow I would press the water knob... with the other soap up his little behind. He didn't much like the cold water but after a few minutes thought it was real fun. Lucky for me, I had brought a change of clothes... so I change him all up and then notice, I had it all over me too! My pants, my blouse... UGH! So, I sat him on the counter and then proceeded to TRY to clean myself off... it was so gross. When I finished, Blanca was coming up the stairs to try to help me... I gues I had taken too long (like 20 minutes) and Frankie was worried. Yeah, needless to say... it was the grossest experience ever. But, it did get me a new blouse so hey! All things in perspective. I was the brunt of all kinds of jokes all day... and rightly so... it was funny, after the fact.

Today we woke up and Gloria took us on a short tour of the Metro Cable. The Metro Cable is a suspended cable car system that transports people to Medellin's transit system so they can access jobs, stores, etc. in Medellin. Today was a holiday in the city so the railway we had to take to get to the metro cable was packed. People are so very friendly though... they see an older person or someone with a baby and they immediately offer their seat. We had to travel on the railway (similar to the MetroRail) to get to the Metro Cable. On the way there you could see very poor areas of the city... which run parallel to the Medellin River which is completely contaminated. You can tell because it's brown and smells like waste. It's so very sad to see how some people live. Shacks contstructed from scraps of metal... clothes hanging to dry on anything they can find and people roaming the streets. When we arrived at the Metro Cable system it got a little better. The cable cars take you up the mountain and you get a wonderful view of Medellin. Gloria, our tour guide told us that she likes to show adoptive families this side of Medellin so they can get the whole picture. I understand and appreciated that we were able to see it. You think of the families who are trying to make it... those who work hard, selling whatever they can on the streets. My heart goes out to them. It makes you once again remember how very thankful we are to be to our Lord who has blessed us with so much. So much we often take for granted.

The trip was short and we were back on the railway again, ready to head back to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon was very nice... we rested, relaxed and then all went to dinner with our good friends Frank, Marina, Max and Juan at San Carbon. We had an amazing time with delicious food and great friends. All in all, a good night.

I leave you with pics of our trip to Tesoro yesterday and some of the Metro Cable trip today. Tomorrow we say goodbye to the abuelos... I know both Josh and Jonathan will be sad to see them go... they've bonded with them very much on this trip. Thank you Abuelo and Abuela for coming to be with us! :)

May God bless you all... and keep you in His hands always... love, Sandy

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

La Piedra del Peñol Tour

Josh and I share an " I did it" moment at the top of Piedra Del Penol.


I thought this was a funny pic as he is "trying to break out".






This statue is supposed to represent the homeless children in Colombia... those living in the gutters/sewers. I was so thankful the Lord gave us our beautiful boys and helped them escape the life many other children lead. Lord, be with those precious children and help them find homes too.

Here's the whole Castellon gang.




Here's a pic of the side of Piedra Penol... all of those "stiches looking things" are stairs. Yup. All of them.















Summit Pics




Sorry I didn't get to write yesterday... we didn't really have much to update. Frank's parents, Frank Sr. and Blanca arrived yesterday and we went to pick them up at the Medellin airport with our guide, Gloria. After packing into her car, we drove to the hotel and spent the rest of the day showing them around this gorgeous place. We ended the day having a nice dinner at Piedra del Fogon, the Hotel restaurant. Of course the grandparents are oogling and smothering Jonathan (and Josh) with kisses and hugs. They love that they are here. We are so happy they were able to come and spend a few days with us to enjoy Medellin.

Today we all went on a fabulous all-day tour to a wonderful site close by called Piedra del Peñol. Our guide Gloria contracted a "autobus" for us with a wonderful Christian driver named Jaime. He was so very sweet and patient with us! We left at 10am this morning and drove all around the mountains, through nearby towns such as Guatape and Peñol. I was afraid the trip would result in someone getting car sick, but thankfully we all made it there and back without any stomach problems. :) Our driver Jaime was mostly cautious and drove well... but I have to say, if you think people in Miami drive crazy.. they don't hold a candle to Colombians! Medellin is better than Bogota... but there are a lot of what I would call motor scooters here (not even motorcycles). No where near as sturdy as Harley Davidson's for example... and the scooters manuever between cars. Passing cars on a one way highway isn't uncommon either. Of course since car seats aren't mandatory, no one uses them so, we do our best to strap into the seatbelts and pray for safety!

The drive to Pinon was a bit long... the boys behaved very well. I changed a diaper at a pit stop and Jonathan napped on the way up. Jaime was so very nice to stop whenever we wanted to take pictures (which was often). When we finally saw the rock we were amazed. It's so very big! Not only that, but it looks so out of place. We asked questions like... how did it get there, what exactly is it, etc. Gloria and Jaime said no one knows. Long ago it just appeared. The main theory is that it's some sort of meteor that landed there. Looking at the rock, you can definately see why. It's very striking. Once we pulled up (which was a very steep drive, might I add) there are several little shops and restaurants at the base of the rock. We all got down, streched out a bit and proceed to look for restrooms.
Ok, the only reason I mention this is because I've NEVER used a restroom like this one before. One thing I've noticed here in Colombia is that most toilets don't have covers... not even in the airport. I guess at first that seemed strange to me, but then I thought... hey! I'm sure that must save a lot of people the trouble of having to pull up toilet seat covers to use the facility... not to mention it must save money... I guess. The women's restroom was very tiny, a single facility with a door (thank God). Once you squeeze in there and do your business, both men and women use a sink outside to wash their hands. For the men... the restroom is just a saloon door where they walk in, face the wall and when finished, walk out. In other words, everyone can see who's in there and there isn't very much privacy. Man, was I very thankful to be a woman! hee, hee.

Enough about the restrooms... so, Frank (Jr), Joshua and I decided we were climbing to the top of the rock. Blanca, Frank Sr., Gloria, Jonathan and Jaime stayed below to feed Jonathan lunch and just talk until we got back. While I was a little hesitant at us climbing 640 stairs to reach the top and 640 steps down, I kept telling the boys we could stop periodically and catch our breath. Up we went. I'm not going to lie, it took us awhile but we made it. We actually even met some guys from Boston vacationing in Medellin while going up. We talked for a bit after I told them we have family in Boston... well, it was more like... breath, breath, I, breath, have, breath, breath, family, breath in breath, breath Boston. We made sure to keep Josh in sight as the stairs were steep in places and very windy. When we made it to the top, the view was spectacular! I don't consider Frank or I in shape (not even close by any means) but I was thankful we made it and felt accomplished once I looked out at the Medellin countryside.

You can see for miles... beautiful mountains, lakes, several houses, even boats. The air is breezy and nice up there. We stayed at the top for about 20 minutes. Josh fell as he was running and tripped on a rock. Poor little guy got a huge welt on his forehead, but he didn't cry at all. Sweet one. He always amazes me at that... he comes for a hug and some love and then is fine. Then we all took the stairs down. Josh was much more cautious going down as it was dark in some places and VERY steep. We took it slow and got down to the bottom.

We all had a nice lunch at a small restaurant and were amazed at our steaks costing about $7 a plate. Delicious! Then we all piled into the bus again to return back to our hotel. Before arriving we stopped at a little store for some authentic Colombian crafts and piled back in again. We arrived at our hotel around 6:30 pm, so it was a VERY long, yet great day. Jaime's fee was about $85 to drive us the whole day. Gloria, sweet lady, was a joy to be with. So, all in all, it was a wonderful day.

On the parenting note... I have to say we had a bit of a "hard night" with Jonathan yesterday. Since we ate out, he fell asleep in his stroller and then woke up when we got back to the room. When it was time for bed, he didn't want to sleep at all. I'd rock him a bit and put him in bed and he would cry so he would get picked up again. Sucker... I'd pick him up and try again. This went on for about 5 times, until finally I said, "Jonathan, it's time for bed, good night." He screamed his little eyes out for at least 40 minutes! I layed down next to him in the bed and pretended to sleep. finally at around 9:30pm, he cried himself to sleep... but, he did sleep the WHOLE night. He's definately testing his limits and it was a battle of the wills. Point for the parents. whoo-hoo! Tonight when I put him down, again he cried but I just left him and 10 minutes later he was out. (Of course we made sure he didn't fall asleep during dinner tonight). So, lesson learned... no more picking up.

Of course I know this... but I have to say, when you have an "adopted baby" you always worry about their background... did they get enough love? were they held a lot? ignored? It all plays on your emotions. Needless to say, these boundaries are good and Jonathan's learning that Mommy, Daddy and Josh love him very much and we're always here but he needs to obey and go to bed when he's asked. I think it will still take some learning but we're getting there.

On a last note, I have to explain the video I'm posting today. I've been trying to capture moments to most and this morning in my attempt to capture Jonathan and Josh's morning meeting (where Jonathan usually gets all excited) I seem to have created an America's Home Funniest Movies clip. I was videoing both boys when Jonathan became curious of the camera. He tugged on the camera strap and I dropped the camera, hit Jonathan in the forehead and then grabbed it back to caputre his "what happened, that hurt" face. I will only show it for its comedic value... as I am shown in my "morning glory". I promise never to allow that footage to be released ever again!

I miss you all... love you much. Lots of hugs!


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