Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hallelujah...Matt's First Blog Post

Greetings from Guatemala. Matt here. I arrived in Guatemala yesterday, after a mostly uneventul trip down. (See below for more details.)
Over the past many months, people have commended me on "our" blog. I have humbly confessed that I have nothing to do with "our" blog; it is Michele's blog. In fact and in general, Michele has been the heart and administrative hands of this adoption. I've been her gopher and servant: "Matt, Sign here...Take this to the post office...Email this person...Pray this prayer." Not to say I'm not THRILLED and EXCITED by Miranda entering our life. Just that Michele's been in charge, as she should be. What do I know about raising little girls? I'm just now getting the hang of raising little boys, and now they're not so little.
Anyway, it's time I made my mark in this adoption process. So I suggested to Michele that I make my own blog post. To this suggestion Michele said, "Hmmm...Are you sure you can do that?" I said, "Michele, I pastor a medium-sized church. Surely I can make a blog post." Twenty minutes later she was pointing to keys on the keyboard saying, "Type this. Now Return. Michele is spelled with one L. Geesh."
In a further effort to demonstrate my independence and contributions to this process, I took some pictures of Miranda and myself BY myself. Michele offered to take them for me, but as a self-made man I insisted I could do this myself. Here are those pix.
I know she doesn't seem especially happy to be with me, but she is. Trust me.
Perhaps you notice the resemblance between Miranda and I. My brother Brad and his wife Allison recently had a baby named Lucy, who is a sweet and adorable little girl who is the SPITTING IMAGE of my mother at Lucy's age. (She has the pictures to prove it.) Well Brad, Mom, Allison, Lucy...if you want to talk about spitting images, surely you agree that a father and daughter never looked as much like each other as Miranda and I do. It's in the eyes, the cheekbones, the forehead. If you can't see it, picture Miranda with a gotee and it'll jump out at you.
Anyway, my trip down here was nice, except having to sit at the back of the plane from Houston to Guatemala. (Why don't people want to sit at the back of the plane? It's because after breakfast everyone needs to take a big early-morning poop, and those lavatories do NOT contain very well the smells of early-morning poops.) Also, our plane in St. Louis had some hydraulic problems, so they had to reload us on a different plane. I didn't complain. Thank God for plane inspections. But it did make catching the next plane in Houston a bit too close for comfort.
Once here, I had a nice conversation with Marvin (Mar-veen) on the way to Antigua, where Michele and the kids (not just "the boys", anymore) are staying. Mar-veen was the driver sent to pick me up at the airport. In broken Spanish we talked about politics, family, life, religion. Mar-veen told me that in Guatemala more and more people are leaving the Catholic Church for the Evangelical Church because evangelical preachers preach better. They use illustrations, humor, they talk about peoples' lives. They keep it interesting. I said "Amen, hermano!" Apparently they don't need me down here.
Miranda is beautiful and lovely. She really seems to like me: she smiles at me, laughs at me. However, I think Miranda likes everyone. And, of course, everyone likes Miranda. Among all the Guatemalan babies God could have given us, he seems to have chosen one of the friendliest and happiest and prettiest kiddos in America de Central. We're grateful and blessed.
Today we are going to continue bonding. We're going to go on a walk, we're going to go to the market. We're going to go see the sites of Antigua. I brought a bunch of church stuff to do on my down time here in Antigua, but this morning I agreed with God that getting work done was a distant second priority to my first priority of family-bonding. (Some of you are thinking it shouldn't be any sort of priority while down here.) So while I have church email access down here, if I don't respond your church-related email, deal with it. And God bless you.

April 30

Matt comes to Guatemala tomorrow! We are all so excited to see him. He will hopefully arrive in Antigua by 1:30 pm. Nothing too exciting to share today. Miranda decided to wake up in the middle of the night last night and wanted to eat. Today, she took two great naps, so we'll just wait and see how she does overnight. Just some photos to share from our past two days...

This is what we normally look like when we get ready to head out to run errands or whatever. Miranda is still a big fan of the Moby wrap and it is super helpful for me to have two hands to grab onto the boys!
Just after bath time.Look! I scooched myself all the way into this little corner between the bench and the table! Aren't I funny!? Max being a totally awesome dish-washing helper!
I love to roll all over the floor! Thank goodness for Patty who mops our floor every day because it gets really dusty here!

April 28-Monday

Yesterday I think I told you about Shreesh and Neena (maybe I didn't...I can't remember), our new friends at our hotel. Anyway, they are travelling all throughout North and South America and are driving the entire way. They have been as far as the Arctic Circle and are now headed south. They are chronicling their journeys on their blog and have given me permission to link you to it:

Check it out! They are both computer people professionally, so their blog is really the post about the mezcal in Mexico. This is a liquor that is made from the agave plant--Shreesh told me it is similar to Tequila. Anyway, tonight we shared one of their own drink creations--the "alacranes," with mezcal, lime, salt, and I can't remember what else. It was very good...Kind of a lemon/lime-aid with a "kick." Here are Shreesh and Neena with the alacranes...
Today we mostly stayed around the hotel, dropped off laundry, picked up laundry, walked to the store, and spent a few hours this afternoon at a local playground with a friend from Truman who is adopting her son from Guatemala and is also living in Antigua. One of her housemates and her son also joined us. It was very nice for the boys to have some room to run around. The lavanderia is just around the corner and Lily does our laundry for around $9. It comes back all nicely folded in a bag. Can anyone relate when I say it really is a glorious feeling to open up the nice, clean laundry already folded and ready to put away?

And now, leaving you with a cute photo of Miranda.

April 27

We did get everything done today that I wanted to do! We walked to the town square and went to the ATM, went to Pollo Campero for lunch (the boys actually wanted Pollo Campero over Mcdonald's!) and went to the grocery store, La Bodegona this afternoon.

There is a nice couple that have moved into our hotel. They have been travelling since October and will continue to travel until the end of this year. They are driving and have been all the way north past the Arctic Circle and are now heading south. They have a blog, so once I get the address, I'll post it.

No plans yet for tomorrow. There's a park a few blocks up that we haven't tried yet, so we may do that.

Miranda is doing GREAT. She wakes up happy, eats, plays, naps, and continues the cycle again. I'm trying to keep her from taking a nap around 4-4:30ish, so she gets pretty cranky and wants to be held all the time right around 5:30 when I'm trying to make dinner. So far, the routine has been for me to put her in the high chair with some toys while I make dinner for the boys, give her a bath while they eat, clean up the dishes, put a movie on for the boys, feed Miranda around 6:30, then put Miranda down for the night. The past few nights she has gone straight to sleep, no crying at all. And then sleeps for 12 hours!! After she's in bed and the boys are watching their movie, I'll make dinner for myself, read, call Matt, and just relax. After their movie is over, the boys go to sleep and I get the computer for internet time!

A few photos from the day for you all! Keep up the comments. It really is one of the highlights of my day when I get to read all the comments on the blog!

More Adventures (April 26)

First of all--I don't know what the deal is with the date that is posted on the seems like everything says April 21. So, I'm going to start posting the date in the title.

For lunch today, we went to a little store called Culinaria. It has a small patio in the back with a lawn and a small playset. The people are very nice and don't mind if you hang out for a while. I bought a yummy salad with olives, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and olive oil. The boys each got a drink and ate sandwiches and oranges we had brought from our kitchen. It was especially nice for Max to have more area to run around and burn off some energy. The only problem is that there aren't any trees, so there is very little shade. I put a sheet down under the slide and that was where Miranda hung out and played!

Rachel--this was when I was trying to call you!After Culinaria, we walked home and while Miranda napped, the boys and I read and had a little "rest time." We then got Miranda back in the Moby wrap and headed out to find Deliciosa--to try some excellent chocolate as recommended to us by my fellow St.Louisan/blogger/adoptive mom, Katie Mohr. Katie: this picture is for you. We will DEFINITELY go back for more chocolate!

We then walked back to our hotel via El Arco, the street with the famous yellow arch. Along the way we stopped at a textile market and took some pictures. We're getting a lot of walking in while we are here in Antigua. I enjoy it, but have to tune out the boys when they are complaining about how tired they are. Doesn't Mitchell look like he's having a GREAT time!!!??Tomorrow we have to make another trip to La Bodegona (the grocery store), go to the ATM, and I promised the boys that we could go to McDonald's. If we get all of that done, it will be a successful day! The McDonald's here is crazy nice...a beautiful courtyard. I'll definitely get pictures for you to see!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Another day in Antigua

Today, we ventured out a bit more into Antigua. The boys and I dropped off laundry with Lily, who is just around the block. Then, we went to a small store to "reserve a chicken." Yes, that's what I said. They have a rotisserie-style oven and people go early in the morning to reserve their chicken. We are going in a bit to pick it up and will have it with rice and broccoli for dinner!

For lunch, we met a few other adopting families and their children at a local restaurant.

Mom--Mitchell took some more pictures of our courtyard especially for you.

Herndon/Bernekings--we miss you!! Hope you're having a great time in August at the golf weekend. Take care of Matt for me!

Mitchell has been an awesome he's making lunch for all of us--PB&J's.

This girl LOVES her toes!Here she is in the Moby wrap again. As you can see, I actually took a shower this morning. Future note: hairspray and make-up are not really necessary to pack, as I haven't used them at all.Typical stret in Antigua. I'm constantly reminding the boys to watch out so they don't get killed by a crazy driver and to make sure they don't twist their ankle on the cobblestone streets!

We are Pink!

To all of you out there who are unaware, being "Pink" means that we have our U.S. embassy appointment date!! Our appointment will be May 5 at 8am. We then have to pick up Miranda's Visa the following day, so we'll all fly home on the 7th! Matt is going to fly to join us in Antigua sometime next week and we'll all travel back to Guatemala City on the 4th. We're going to be coming home so soon!

Today we went to the local grocery store to stock up on supplies. I had Miranda in the baby carrier and we walked quite a ways...I really like my Moby baby carrier and Miranda seems to like it as well. It was super helpful as we walked home from the grocery store and I could have my hands free to carry groceries and also keep the boys from being hit by a car on the crazy streets of Antigua!

Even though I think I look like a total dork, I am going to let go of my pride to show you a picture of me with Miranda in the Moby baby wrap. She really likes it and seriously, almost every Guatemalan smiles at her as we walk by. And they say wonderful, heart-warming things like "Que linda! Que bonita! Que preciosa!" (How beautiful, How pretty, How precious!)
It is 10pm Antigua time and I'm off to bed. Apparently tonight is the weekly "mass for people with problems" (as our front-desk person described to me) and the local Catholic church rang it's bells for close to 30 minutes and people were setting off tons of fireworks. When the bells kept going off, I seriously thought it was like in the emergency maybe the volcano was erupting and we all needed to evacuate. Yes...I know I have a tendency to jump to conclusions. Good night.

In Antigua

We arrived in Antigua yesterday. Our little hotel is very quaint. We are in the back courtyard, right next to the kitchen. So far, the only other guests are an older gentleman and another adopting mom with her 17 month old daughter. She and I have bonded a bit---it is nice to have another grownup to talk to! The boys are having a great time playing outside in the courtyard. They did some homework this morning and after Miranda naps, I think Susan (the other mom) and I might venture out to the local grocery store. I bought cereal yesterday, but no milk! I also bought muffin mix that you just add water, but there aren't any muffin pans and the oven isn't marked with temperature degrees on it! Not sure what I'll be doing with those mixes...

Here are some more photos. Mom--I took a lot of these courtyard/flower shots for you. I thought you'd appreciate them. Their geraniums and salvia are CRAZY big.

Here is Mitchell in the hammock, showing off his Lego creation.

Here are the boys in our room, watching "The Empire Strikes Back" on the laptop.Here are the boys doing homework at the table right outside our room. Miranda is being entertained, just watching them.The courtyard is full of sun and flowers. It is very warm during the day when the sun is out, but gets cool at nighttime.We should hopefully be getting an e-mail from the U.S. embassy sometime today or tomorrow, which will let us know when our embassy appointment will be and when we can come home!

A great day!

Miranda's foster mother, grandmother, and the facilitator were right on time this morning. Miranda is doing great...rolling over both ways, almost sitting up on her own, weighs around 16.5 lbs. Just about perfect....except for the big, huge mosquito bite on her nose!! We had a nice morning at the pool. Miranda took a nap in the stroller and we had a little birthday party for Max poolside. The workers at the Westin were awesome...balloons, singing, the whole works!!
I'm now on hold with Bank of America trying to figure out why my ATM card won't work!!!! AAAHHHGG!! I just want to get some Quetzales so we can buy Pollo Campero!!

I could write a ton more, but I'm too tired...I'll just post another for you! I just got off the phone with Bank of America...hope it works now.

We are here!

We arrived without incident around 2pm today. Thanks so much to everyone who prayed for our safety. God totally provided for us by having our friends who are also adopting be on the same plane with us from Houston to Guatemala City!! We met Alex (and her daughter Rachel) here in February and this time she and her husband Sam are coming for their pick-up trip. Sam was totally awesome with helping with our bags at the airport. I was so grateful!! I think it helped Matt to know that they were going to be there with me. The airport was a breeze, hardly any lines.
We've already gone swimming. Now we're going to watch a movie and walk to a local restaurant. Miranda arrives tomorrow morning at 10am!! I'll post pictures by tomorrow night. We're going to have a little birthday party by the pool tomorrow afternoon for Max. The hotel is going to have a cake and I'm going to order the boys' favorite Guatemalan fast-food chicken---POLLO CAMPERO!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Big Thank-You Post

I've been composing this post in my head now for weeks. Over the past days, weeks, and months so many people have helped us out along our adoption journey. It really is humbling to see the love that has been poured out on us by our family and friends! I am so thankful for everyone and below is just a summary of things that Matt and I are grateful for.
  • so many people praying for us
  • helping us out with $ for the adoption
  • giving us adorable gifts for Miranda
  • giving us gently used girl clothes for Miranda that are sooo cute
  • helping watch our boys
  • calling and sending encouraging notes to us
  • lending us stuff for our trip, like books and a laptop and a laundry hamper and DVD's and CD's
  • buying us a new set of luggage
  • buying the boys fun activities and toys for the trip
  • driving us to the airport at the crack of dawn
  • picking us up from the airport
  • having a "Herndon family of 4-no more" party for us
  • giving baby advice
  • being so totally excited for us
  • AND leaving us comments on our blog!! I love comments!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

DNA is at the lab!

I got an e-mail this morning from the nice lady at LabCorp. She said that the 2nd DNA sample arrived at the lab in the U.S. today. I have looked back at many of my online friends' timelines and it seems that for most of them, the time between the arrival of the 2nd DNA sample at the lab and their U.S. Embassy appointment is anywhere between 16 and 22 days!! YIKES!!! That's so soon! I may be staying in Antigua for a shorter period than I had imagined.

We've been busy here, working on Miranda's room. Below are some pics of the boys working on the crib and what her room looks like today...with all the suitcases spread out all over the floor!
We ended up using the crib bumper and ruffle that we used with the boys. It is a light colored denim. We bought cute flowered girly sheets to go with them and they look good together!
Here is a picture of the cute bag that my friend Melissa from work gave me last night for Miranda. It's the first thing we have with her name embroidered on it!! Thanks so much Melissa.
Finally, I have to give a shout-out to our friend Lisa from church. She has basically served as our private notary over the past 9 months, helping us with all of our documents. Thanks so, so much to her for saving us lots of money in notary fees and for being so excited for us in our adoption!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The countdown continues

We leave in 9 days! There has been a change in plans regarding where we are going to stay in Antigua. We are now staying at a place called Posada La Merced. Here is their website:

A friend from college is living in Antigua fostering her son and she went to visit Posada La Merced for us and took a few photos. We will have a two bedroom suite---one room has a double bed and one room has a twin bed. We have use of the shared kitchen in the hotel. This place is much more family-friendly than the other inn where we were planning to stay. Here are the pictures of looking into the room with the double bed and of right outside our rooms. Apparently, the table is "ours" so I imagine eating there and having the boys do homework there.
The only thing I'm a little worried about is that our suite is right by the kitchen, so I'm afraid it may be a little louder than other areas of the hotel. Well, that's what earplugs are for, right?

We found out on Friday that the Guatemalan facilitator already has Miranda's new Guatemalan passport and birth certificate. These documents state her given first and middle name, but have "Herndon" as her last name! We expect that her DNA test will take place Monday or Tuesday.

Friday, April 11, 2008


I have been busy making so many plans! It is hard to think about much else besides getting to Guatemala and picking up Miranda!

The boys and I are going to be leaving on April 21 to fly to Guatemala. We will stay in Guatemala City for two days, then the boys and Miranda and I will drive to Antigua, where we will live for 2-3 weeks while we wait for our U.S. embassy appointment. Matt will come down sometime near the end of our stay.

Here is a link to the hotel we will be staying at:

We will have the apartment, which is two rooms and a bathroom. There is a shared kitchen where I will be able to cook lunch and dinner. Breakfast is provided.

I have talked with the assistant principal from the boys' school and we will be taking lots of schoolwork with us! This will help to fill our days, but otherwise we will just be spending time together: walking to the market and the town square, relaxing in the courtyard, visiting with other families in Antigua.

I am taking a laptop (thanks Dan and Michelle!!!), so OF COURSE I'll keep the blog updated while we are there!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Say Goodbye to PGN!!!


It really is true!! Miranda's case has been approved by PGN!! Anne called us today and told us that we were approved and out of PGN sometime last week, the final decree has been signed (that means the birth mom has signed off for the final time), the new birth certificate should come later this week, and the 2nd DNA test should be next week!!! CRAZY!!! Thanks so much to everyone for all of your prayers and support. We'll keep you posted!

Monday, April 7, 2008

The room and the boys' new (old) toy

If you've been wondering, here's Matt painting Miranda's room. The color is a bit brighter than we were wanting, but it's on the wall and paid for, so we're going to make do!

Last Tuesday night after small group, our friend's Dan and Michelle brought in the box seen below for the boys. This had been in their attic for at least 10 years (Dan's sons are in their late teens now). Matt swore that we were going to wait to set it up until AFTER our houseguest moved out of the basement, because he didn't want it to take up the whole living room. Well, that lasted about two days and it is now, indeed, set up in the living room. The boys love it and had all the neighborhood kids over this weekend to play. The last picture is Mitchell playing it with a neighborhood friend.