Sunday, April 29, 2012

Memory Lane; Waiting for Harold

While we were waiting and waiting and waiting to take Tizita home, I started thinking back to the months we were waiting for Harold. The entire adoption process for Harold was only 18 months, shorter than Tizita's adoption by a year. So it was a bit easier to be patient but we were still a little anxious for him to be home especially after they e-mailed these photos:


This was one of the first pictures we got of Harold. He was good looking from the very beginning.


We didn't have a blog and there wasn't facebook in those days so we sent the photos off via e-mail to a few friends a family. One of C.O.'s college friends photoshopped that Dew bottle in there. Once upon a time C.O. was a crazy Mountain Dew addict. It's bad, bad stuff boys and girls. But it did make for a great gag photo.

Harold and his foster mom
This one earned him the nickname, "Mondo-Baby."


After this, we called him "The Little Fat Man" and we realized he had curly hair. *awe*


And finally we called him "Handsome Harold."

I am beyond releaved that there is no more waiting for us. We're together, we're a family of four, everything is as it should be . . . for now anyway.  ;-)


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Poor Baby

Getting emergency(ish) medical care can difficult in rural Alaska because of the cost, the possibility of poor flying conditions for air transportation and the logistics of booking flights. Throughout our time in Brevig, we have been fortunate enough to avoid any last minute medical issues. That was until a couple weeks ago. We only had Tizita home for a few days when we noticed a large lump had formed on her jaw.

We called one of the PAs in town to come down and take a look right away. After examining Tizita, our PA made an appointment for us at the hospital in Nome. C.O. and Tizita took a trip into Nome the very next day. Though the pediatrician wasn't sure what it was exactly, all the scary stuff was ruled out. The doctor's best guess was that it was an infection. Tizita was put on antibiotics and we were told to wait a week to let the medicine do it's job.


Despite the medicine, nothing changed for the next week. We were contemplating our next move when these military folks arrived. A team of medical professionals including doctors, nurses, dentists, optometrists and a veterinarian came as a part of Operation Arctic Care to tend to the needs of people in Brevig Mission. We had met some of the team informally as they arrived to set up camp at the school. The doctors noticed the problem with Tizita's face immediately but we set up an appointment to see them officially later in the week.

About that time the lump started getting larger, the skin started turning red and it was obviously bothering her. The military doctors said she needed to get to Anchorage right away to have it operated on. C.O. made airline reservations, arranged for Harold to stay with our friends and was down to Anchorage in a matter of hours.

I happened to be in Anchorage already for a job interview when C.O. and Tizita arrived. I picked them up at the airport in the evening and we went straight to the ER at Providence Medical Center. We were checked in sometime after 11 p.m. which was the beginning of a very, very long night.

The first thing to deal with was getting an IV line in Tizita. She apparently has very small veins that are hard to reach. She was stuck and poked by a three nurses quite a few times before they were finally able to get a vein. It took well over an hour and it involved wrapping her up like a mummy in this sheet and three of us holding her down. It. Was. Awful.


Sunday morning Tizita went into surgery to have the abscess drained. The doctors in Nome were right, it was just an infection. The problem was that it was so hard that the antibiotics couldn't reach it. So, surgery was the only option.

I had gone home by this point to get back to work and take care of Harold. The Arctic Care Team was still in Brevig when I got back to Brevig and were anxious to hear about Tizita. The sincerity of all the medical folks was touching. The even asked to see her one more time before they left.

We had only had Tizita for nine days when she had this problem and was then gone for the next six as she recovered in Anchorage. Our time apart was very difficult, the flights were expensive and the whole ordeal was taxing on our family. This is another reason why it is time for us to move out of rural Alaska. Having easy access to medical care will be a huge relief.

But in the mean time, we couldn't have been more pleased with the quality of care and the kindness shown to us by the staff at the Brevig Mission Clinic, by the military doctors and nurses with Operation Arctic Care and by the amazing staff at Providence. Thank God for all these wonderful people!

Photobucket Photobucket

The last day the Arctic Care folks were in town, the Black Hawk helicopters flew over our house to pick them up and take them home. Tizita and C.O. ran outside to take photos and wave their goodbyes.


Monday, April 23, 2012

A Sweet Little Baby Shower

Saturday was a special day for Tizita and me. My coworkers threw a little baby shower to welcome this baby girl into our lives. 


At times like this I appreciate the resourcefulness of bush dwellers. Pretty wrappings and supplies aren't something we keep on hand so we just make do. For example, Misty had one of our coworkers make me a corsage from tissue paper.


It was a hoot to see what was used for wrapping packages. Karen hand stamped a paper bag with gingerbread men, Misty chose to use butcher paper, Angie repurposed her daughter's Easter basket wrapping and Elizabeth used one of her throw blankets to tie up her gift. She wanted the throw back though.


We seemed to have had an explosion of little girls amongst the teaching staff this year. About a year ago, Zoey (far left), was the only little girl among the teachers' kids. Now we have a whole bunch of sugar and spice and everything nice.

Thanks for the lovely afternoon ladies!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Donations Journey


Before we left for our second trip to Ethiopia we put out a request for donations for Acacia Village. Acacia Village is the facility in Addis Ababa where Tizita and many other children wait for their adoptive parents to take them home. Donations such as these help ease the cost of maintaining the home.

The response to our post was amazing! People from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Idaho and Alaska send diapers, clothing, formula and money to give to the orphanage. Thank you, thank you, thank you! We were so proud to be able to bring such a sizable amount of supplies on behalf of the friends and family of the Rudstroms. It was especially amazing considering that people had to first ship them to Brevig Mission somewhere near the edge of the Earth so they could make their way over to the other edge of the Earth.


The folks at Bering Air were generous enough to waive the extra baggage fees for the donated supplies. Alaska Airlines was equally as kind. Alaskans are just kind of nice that way.


The donations got a little driving tour of Washington D.C. during our layover on the way out. No one seemed to wonder what we were up to in Alaska, D.C. was another story. The taxi drivers and hotel staff were a little more curious about our diaper boxes and rubber maid totes.


We used some of the money that was donated to buy formula in D.C. Turns out formula eats up money at an astounding rate. We spent $200 on formula and decided to save the other $120 of donated money for excess baggage on Ethiopian Airlines if they weren't willing to waive the fee.

The day of our flight, we stepped up to the counter of Ethiopian Airlines and asked if they would be willing to cover the extra baggage for a good cause. The agent checking us in didn't say a word, he just shook his head "no" sternly. He didn't seem like the kind of guy to argue with so we just let it go. It was right about then that C.O. pointed it out to me that extra baggage cost $150 per bag. We were allowed two check in bags each which meant we had two extra pieces that would be charged. $300 was quite a lot to add to the cost of transporting these items. I was feeling a little sick to my stomach but had no choice but to accept Ethiopian Airline's policy.

When the ticketing agent finished checking us in, we waited for him to ask for payment. Instead, he handed over our boarding passes and said, "Have a nice flight," and sent us on our way.  Bless his heart and what a relief! God put just the right person in that place at that time.


The donations made it to their final destination at Acacia Village in Addis Ababa. The remaining $120 that wasn't used on excess baggage costs will be sent to the home to be used for day to day expenses.

Again thank you to everyone who had it in their hearts to give to children halfway around the world and to ease the cost for the families who are waiting to take them home.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Movin' On

We have told our friends, we have told our families, it's been announced on facebook and on twitter but we have yet to tell our "blog only" followers our big news. After ten years in bush Alaska, we decided it is time to move out of the little community of Brevig Mission. As much as we love our quirky life in the ruralest part of rural Alaska we know that it is time for the next phase in our life.

Why? You may ask. Well, there are many things that affected our decision. Though we love it here, there are also many difficulties and hardships to bush living. You should know that our decision didn't come lightly. We will miss the people of Brevig Mission, the slow pace of life and the good feeling that comes with being part of a small community. We will NOT miss the cost of living, the crazy cold, the nonstop wind or the painfully slow internet connection however.

We plan to move to the Kenai Peninsula near the towns of Soldotna, Kenai and Sterling about 150 miles south of Anchorage. I have been looking for a job in that area and hope that someone will take me on board. I feel like my years of experience in Brevig will help me stand out as a strong candidate for a teaching position.

I know some of you read this blog because of your interest in bush life. My hope is that you will continue to look in as we explore another part of the great state of Alaska.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

100 Flights!


Recently Harold hit a milestone in his life. He flew on his 100th flight. We decided to start tracking his flights when it took five hops just to get him home from Guatemala. Since then he has traveled to San Francisco, Baltimore, Minnesota, Ethiopia, throughout Alaska and back to Guatemala.

Unfortunately we were not able to be with him on his 100th flight. He was returning from Elim on his way to Nome with my parents on this epic day. But they caught this great shot with the Bering Air pilot who was very impressed with Harold's extensive flying experience.

Can I just say this again? What a kid, what a kid.


Monday, April 9, 2012



On Saturday, March 31st America became a richer place when Tizita was granted her US citizenship.
The type of immigration visa issued to Tizita allowed her to become a citizen as soon as she was on American soil.


We opted to have a two day lay over in Washington D.C. on our way back to Alaska to recover from the transatlantic flight.  There was really only on thing to do with this opportunity: buy a little American flag, visit a few monuments and celebrate her citizenship properly.

Welcome to America kid.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Long Journey Home

Our Beautiful Princess

The past two weeks have been the most exhausting days of my life. Rushing to make travel arrangements and preparations for our time away from Brevig started the craziness. Then came the ridiculously long airplane rides as we crossed 12 time zones to finally welcome Tizita into our family.

Some final paperwork at the CWA office in Addis
The day after we arrived, it was time to pick up our baby girl. Before going to Acacia Village, we had just a little more paperwork to do. The paperwork for international adoption is extensive and overwhelming. I am thankful for agencies such as Christian World Adoption that guide you through each step to ensure you don't miss any little detail.

 Saying goodbye at Acacia Village
Here are just a few of the staff members and volunteers at the amazing Acacia Village facility. The children are happy and well cared for both physically and emotionally. Tizita's nanny (not pictured) prayed over her before we left, asking for God's hand and protection in her life as well as patience and wisdom for us as her parents.

Everyone is smitten with Tizita.
These are a couple of the ladies who worked at the guest house where we were staying. Is it just me or are Ethiopian women exceptionally beautiful?


We had an appointment at the US embassy on Wednesday, had our gigantic stack of paperwork stamped and approved in a matter of a minute and were done, done, done with all that headache. Well, actually there's more to do but I will choose to ignore that for just another day or two.

On Friday night we turned around to tackle the grueling 15 hour flight back from Addis Ababa to Washington D.C. via Rome. We spent a couple nights in D.C. recovering from that flight. By Monday I was beginning to wonder if we'd ever make it home.

At Airport Pizza in Nome and almost home!

But at last we did get through the next few flights. Hey, I just noticed we were in Rome and Nome and home in just a matter of a few days. Cool.

Brother and Sister
Tizita meets her grandparents
C.O.'s folks, Mac and Mary stayed with Harold while we were away. We can't thank them enough for giving us the peace of mind knowing that Harold was in good hands. The day we came home they decorated the house with streamers and balloons and baked a cake to help welcome Tizita.

We have many very special memories of the whole experience. But the best part of all is just beginning!