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A mild vacation (and spicy food)

Chad Dykstra - 2011-04-18
2 comment(s) - View or write a comment

We traveled somewhere sunny and warm for spring break!  You may be thinking we went to Florida or (insert Southern state here).  We did contemplate a Florida trip, but quickly reconsidered.  20 hours in the car sounded less than ideal for our first road trip as a family of six, and we sure didn't want to pay for six plane tickets!

After talking to our friends the Cayleys from Wisconsin and the Meyers from Holland, we decided on a road trip to visit the Cayleys in sunny Eau Claire, WI!  There may still be ice on the lakes and snow in the shadows...but at least while we were there, it was sunny and warm - even when it was cold and rainy back home.  Who knew you could go north for nicer weather.

The main purpose of our trip was to have an "Ethiopian Reunion".  On our first trip to Ethiopia we traveled with both the Meyers and the Cayleys.  We were scheduled to do the second trip with them as well, but the Cayleys unfortunately got delayed due to their case being investigated by the US Embassy in Ethiopia.  I won't go into the confusing details, but our five adopted children are all related in one way or another or at the very least lived in the same village and were good friends.  They were all very close and we wanted to give them an opportunity to spend some time together.  In addition to the Meyers and the Cayleys, the Scott family from Minnesota came down for two days as well.  They adopted another cousin and friend of the kids.

We did some planning and hit the road with the Meyers.  We decided on an overnight stop in Madison, WI to break up the ~8 hour trip.  To date, our longest trip with the boys had been Grand Rapids.  After an evening of swimming and a morning trip to the Madison zoo, we were back on the road and headed to Eau Claire.  We visited with the Cayleys for 3 days.  Lots of fun was had by all - multiple parks with play structures, an indoor water park complete with big slides, and most importantly lots of time for the kids to play together.  Every day was packed with exhaustive fun-filled excitement.  I'm not sure how they did it, but they were up late every night and awake by 6:00 or 6:30 every morning.  It made for a tired mommy and daddy by the end of the weekend.

During much of the trip, we had 8 adults and 11 children running around!  We were so thankful for the great weather. All the children, whether biological or adopted, had a great time playing together. With the kids playing outside, that left the adults to spend time talking, telling stories, and comparing experiences.  It really helps to talk to other families so we all know that we aren't alone in our experiences!

It's hard for the boys (specifically Zinabu) to deal with the emotion of spending so much time playing with friends from Ethiopia and then returning to real life.  They don't really understand the concept of vacation and consider it a fun new thing to do.  They have asked angrily and insistently over the past couple days to stay in a hotel and go on another trip.  We've had quite a few ups and downs over the past week and had some very hard days...some of our hardest days in a while.  We also had a few moments that were really good.  The last few days we have kept very busy (and the boys have been busy, which helps redirect them).  Things seem to be leveling out a little which is most welcome!

On our way home, we stopped at an Ethiopian market in Chicago to pick up some Ethiopian spices.  We've been meaning to make Ethiopian food for a while but didn't come home from Ethiopia with all the supplies we needed to do so.  This weekend was the time for us to do that!  We made injera (the Ethiopian signature flatbread), Doro Wat (Ethiopia's national dish - a spicy chicken), Mesir Wat or "Wuti" according to the boys (red lentils - made at the boys' request), and Gomen (collard greens).  It all turned out great!  It is nice to finally be able to make injera.  It's quite a process to make it and many Ethiopians who move to the US even buy it because as I understand it's much harder to make here in the US.  I finally found a recipe online that is pretty complex compared to many other recipes I've seen, but it actually works.  The Frost family came over and the food was received to rave reviews!

This week, we have kindergarten testing for Z & A.  It will be interesting to see how that goes, since the boys are still working on their English, letters, numbers, etc.(though it gets better every day).  Our preference right now is to put Zinabu in Kindergarten and Abatu in young fives.  Ben will be in Pre-School.  That means we'll have a pre-schooler, a young fiver, a kindergartener, and a first grader.  The school years will never be boring around our house!

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Posted by gwyn on 2011-04-18

Love the picture of Abi on the slide!

Posted by Belinda Geertsma on 2011-04-19

Oh my much fun and busyness. What a great idea and blessing that you all got together. Glad to hear things are leveling off with the boys. No surprise that there was some regression. Congrats on working at mastering making Ethiopian food. I am so proud of you guys. You are doing such a good job in the midst of all this transition - in so many ways. Shows the great strengths that you both have.

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