home.

Feeling thankful, humbled, taken care of, energized and something slightly past exhausted. Thank you to our community of family and friends who made our homecoming so special. I literally am at a lack for the right words to describe just how much your love, care and support (expressed in so many different ways) means to us during this time. Thank you. I’m excited to share more of our homecoming story with you later, but tonight’s priorities are in getting settled and prepped for the rest of the week. It’s a big day tomorrow- Macy and Owen’s first day of school! These two have been such troopers for these last 7 weeks, making so many sacrifices without complaining, that I’m making their first day back a little extra special this year. The table is decorated and the red plates are out. I can’t wait to have some fun celebrating their first day. #reallifefeelssogood #returntonormal

Celebrated our last night here with this family that has literally held us together for the last 7 weeks. They have helped us get settled, provided meals, driven us on errands, introduced us to friends, tagged along with us on outings (and included us in their own outings), been our photographers, printers, conversation partners, and encouragers.

We have celebrated 6 birthdays together between our families in the last 7 weeks and have seen each other through more transitional times in the lives of our families than is normal in such a short period of time. This family has challenged our idea about what it means to be a neighbor. We could not have made it without them. Thank you Homeyers.

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At Samurai sushi on Ggaba Rd. If you are ever in town, go there. You’ll be glad you did.

happy birthday Elias and Cora B. Ludwig

The twin’s turned  2 today. Here are a couple highlights from the day:

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Elias feeds Cora some pancake at Prunes.

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Family boda-boda ride to dinner. Note the irony: for Owen’s bday we rode horses. For the twins’ we rode bodas. Seemed like a good way to embrace and immerse ourselves in the twins’ culture while having a little fun. The kids LOVED it. (That’s Adam riding backwards with the go-pro to fully capture the experience. Footage will be used for our full-length adoption documentary, ha)

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This, probably the best moment of the day (though it was hard to capture on film because we were outside in the dark). The expressions on Cora and Elias’ faces while we sang Happy Birthday to them were priceless to say the least. They are starting to get a taste for how loved they are.

reason to celebrate

We have a walker! Two to be exact- Cora with 9 steps in a row and Elias with 6. I think this is the start of an ongoing competition between these two- watching them try to keep up with what the other is doing is pretty hilarious! This is big news for Elias especially because doctors initially thought he would not be able to walk until after his surgery. He will still likely need surgery, but at least he is learning to walk in the mean time. Good news!

It’s crazy how quickly the twins are developing already- not just with walking, but also with talking, hair growth, body mass and general motor skills. 4 weeks of good nutrition, sleep, and a lot of love make a huge difference.

superheroes, chocolate, and riding horseback

The main agenda of the day today: celebrate! It was Owen’s 5th birthday and we wanted to make sure he felt extra loved and special. His requests: hot chocolate, swimming, a family horseback ride (yup, even mom and dad had to get on a horse), and dinner (pizza of course) at the Speke Resort. We decorated the house, cooked a tasty breakfast, opened presents, ordered a special cake (one that Owen had been eyeing) from Prunes (it can be hard to find authentic birthday cake here but Prunes is legit), invited some friends to join us for dinner, and completed the other items on Owen’s wish list. He also had a special video from some of our family and friends from back home, and a special playlist- all dedicated to his birthday. He felt so special and so loved. While watching the video he turned to me and said, through the biggest grin you can imagine, “I like this so much.” All throughout the day, he kept thanking me for making the day special, for his gifts, for his cake, and for celebrating. He is one thankful kid, and I am a proud, proud mom.

To be almost 5 years old and to spend 6 weeks in Africa, missing all your buddies, the start of Jr Kindergarten and your birthday, and to joyfully welcome in two additional siblings as if they’d been there all along, is no small deal. Owen is a kid who daily “fights for what is right” and who loves others well. Just ask Elias and Cora… one day I know they will tell stories about their brother and how he embraced them from day 1, making them feel like a beloved gift (Macy is exceptional at this, too… it’s just not her birthday today, ha). He lives with a lightness and an ease that puts others at rest as well, and he is darn funny. His imagination is vivid, his reasoning and intellect incredibly sharp, and his knack for all things sports related is impressive.

To all of you who love Owen, teach him cool stuff, encourage him as he grows, and especailly to those of you who are just your amazing, passionate, talented selves in front of him- thank you. My children’s birthdays always make me feel so thankful for the community of people we are surrounded by and today is no exception.

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The morning festivities.

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Add this to our growing collection of awkward family photos from this trip.

A little chocolate cake/happy birthday magic to close out the day.

for those who are visual learners (our progress in photos)

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Macy and Owen have mastered the art of the waiting room (it’s especially helpful when the waiting room has a television since we haven’t had one in 4 weeks now). I am so impressed by these two and their willingness to do whatever it takes to bring home their brother and sister. Somehow, at the end of the day, even after sitting for hours in waiting rooms, they conclude that “it was a really fun day.”

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I call this a make-up photo. It was taken the day we got the kids’ passports (note, Macy and Owen proudly displaying the passports). I tried to snap some cool shots at the passport place, but they threatened to arrest me so I didn’t press the issue. Instead, here we are happily at our next stop, IOM, where we were able to file our paper work and make an appointment for the following day. #makingprogress #thingsnottodoinuganda

the best view in kampala (beauty found amidst a difficult week)

Cassia Lodge- located atop a Kampala hill, overlooking Lake Victoria. The sign boasts it has the “best view in Kampala” and I can’t argue as it’s certainly the best I’ve seen so far (though I’m quite fond of the view from our bedroom and kitchen windows). We have enjoyed a few dinners here, celebrating the birthday of friends. These shots were from the most recent dinner, where we were lucky enough to watch the full moon rise over the lake while we ate.

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The table is always good news, but especially when it’s lit by the full moon and the distant city lights.

Status

Currently: Jess laying on the bed. Twins napping soundly in cribs nearby. The room is dark and the low hum of the fan in the background is intermittently interrupted by claps of thunder outside. It’s a warm winter day in Uganda and a storm is blowing through. It is perfect nap weather. Hard to imagine that minutes ago the house was not so silent as crying babies tried to negotiate their way out of a nap they so badly needed. I think I’ve won for now- at least it feels like a victory. I think I’ll celebrate by napping too. Rainstorm nap = gift for sure. #firstdayalonewiththetwins #morestorieslater #embracingcrazy #goodmorningamerica