Visiting, Shopping and the Spa: our last relaxing days in Ethiopia

In February 2014, we took our daughters back to Ethiopia for the first time, since their adoption in 2009. This is one of many blog posts we have written about our family’s homeland trip. I also go to Ethiopia every year with our charity, Vulnerable Children Society, so there are additional blogposts from all my trips to Ethiopia to enjoy!

After five eventful days in the sun at Lake Langano, we were ready to head back to the capital. We still had a few things to do… Visit friends, visit the folks who run the orphanage the girls lived in, go to the spa and spend the girls’ saved allowance on Ethiopian toys.


It was a peaceful ride back from Langano, but a long one.



First, we stopped in at the orphanage where the girls lived for the better part of a year. It’s a different building than then, but the folks who run it, Selam and Wondu, are the same. We’ve visited and kept in touch over the years, but it was the first time we had visited them with the girls. Wondu was delighted to see them. I thought it was so interesting… He’s the only person in Ethiopia who asked about their personalities, their likes and dislikes. Most people, after seeing the girls and knowing they are ok, well… That’s enough for them. But he was genuinely interested. Selam was on her way back from Addis that day, so we met up with her for a brief visit at a truckstop. She was amazed to see them in person… They were such puny pants when she saw them last in Addis.


Then we stopped in at my friend Menbere’s family’s house. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been there… Maybe four? But anyway, it feels like visited extended family. The girls quickly grabbed their friend N’s cousin, and they played coffee ceremony on the floor and outside, while the real thing was brewed in the living room. It’s was sweet to see Menbere’s sister teaching her daughter about coffee ceremony. Apparently now that’s she old enough to be going to university, (she was just home on spring break,) she’s old enough to take over coffee ceremony duties. Or at least, be schooled by her momma.




I should also mention that Amaye’s house is my favourite locale for Ethiopian food, in all of Ethiopia! Seriously, Menbi is such a good cook, but here sister might even be better. I’ve eaten in countless Ethiopian restaurants, and she always has them beat. And just for me, they make countless fasting dishes… Let’s just say we all arrived with empty stomachs, and let groaning and and happy!

We had a quiet night at our guest house in Addis, and then our last day in Ethiopia were spent doing the last thing on the girls’ “to do” list: going to the spa!


I can’t even express how excited the girls were… This was their number one thing to do in Ethiopia. You see, they’ve been seeing pictures of mommy going after each Ethiopian trip, and it’s something we could never afford at home. So we had a gorgeously relaxing day at Boston Day Spa… I mean, look at this kid’s face!


They were treated like little little princesses! They didn’t have flip flops small enough for their feet after the pedicure, so the ladies carried them bodily over to the manicure table. So sweet!


The girls had saved their allowance for weeks to spend in Ethiopia, and our last stop before the plane was… You guessed it… The toy store. Yes, my kids go to Ethiopia, and return with more stuffies. Do judge.. They have an addiction.


And then that night, we left Ethiopia. It took a few days to get home, with three cancelled flights, but we returned happy and healthy. Well, happy, anyway! Lol



On the discussion board I belong to, a popular topic is “what age should I take my kids back to Their birth country?” Well, my answer is this: as soon as you can financially swing it. I’ll be back in the fall, but id can’t wait to bring the whole family again. Especially our two little Habeshas.

Stay tuned for my tips on successful homeland travel!

Spring Festivities


The last week has been full of festivities around our house, celebrating the coming of spring, and a visit from my wandering husband. (He’s been loccuming in Saskatchewan for five weeks, so it was a lovely four day visit home.)

First, we had a wonderful backyard potluck, with many of our local friends. One of my friends from the college suggested I celebrate quitting my job with a party, and I reminded her that I was now officially broke and unemployed. She laughed, and said “then host a potluck!” Which was the perfect idea.

We caught a lucky break in the rainy weekend weather, and the kids ran around outside, decorating eggs (pre Easter,) skateboarding on the street, and blowing bubbles. The adult’s typical sitting and chatting activity was priced up by a wonderful folk artist, who joined us for an hour in the evening. Much to everyone’s delight, a couple of our guests jumped in, and we had a great music session on the back porch.









It was great to host a party… I love hosting and socializing, and somehow, that’s fallen off the radar in the last year or so. I also love bringing people together. We invited our adoption and Ethiopian peeps, but also a good handful of fellow neighbourhood granola crunchers. It’s so neat to hear people who haven’t met before find commonalities and strike up interesting conversations. And one of the funniest things is when people run into others that they already know at your house. One of our guests remarked with a laugh, at a chance meeting: “well, there are only so many cool in our community, so it’s not a shock when we run into each other!”

Ok, so I just have to add in a little picture of my munchkins and their chocolate puppies. The Easter bunny, in a moment of weakness, forgot about buying fairtrade chocolate and went for the shaped waxy stuff instead. They are so cute! But they didn’t finish the whole thing, since they like the richer stuff…


The next day after the potluck, we went out for an Easter egg hunt in the park beside a friend’s house. There were twenty some odd kids there, and their respective adults, standing around and eating fruit. Good times!






Our family time was spent relaxing, and enjoying the sunshine. Jason has been in the still snowy wilds of Saskatchewan, so he was pretty stoked to enjoy little bits of spring. We went for icecream, mini golfed, went on walks, and even went out to the Woodfire bakery for some carnivorous deliciousness. For the record, Spice did not actually eat all that. It was leftovers for days! Lol






Sacrificial Goat

20130704-113945Just talking to my dear friend Menbi in Ethiopia right now… you’d recognize her as one of neighbors and one of my closest friends.

I lent her my Ethio cell phone so she and Haile could stay in touch, and communicate more easily with their family while traveling around for two months.

I reached her, with only a few tries, in the middle of a party with her family.

We were catching up, and it seems like her son (Canadian born) has had much the same experience as my girls did : not understanding everything, but happy and feeling at home. They are doing well! for any of their fiends reading, and their health is doing really well too.

Anyway, we were just saying goodbyes, when Haile jumped on the phone: “Arnica! They are killing a goat for us! (Lots of background excitement) … I’m getting a video!” HE jumped back off the phone.

Menbi came back on the phone: “Ahh!! They just slit its throat!

I can’t believe it!

This is just not right! …. I like getting my meat at Superstore instead!”

Too hilarious. Having a goat butchered in my honor was one of the things I thought might happen with our Ethiopian family, but blessedly, never did. Listen to me as I howl with laughter all the way across the phone line to Ethiopia!

And apparently, I have a video to watch when Haile gets home!

Frugal Fridays: the Latte Factor


David Bach coined “the Latte Factor” to describe any senseless habit that leaks money out of your bank account every day. But what about taking him literally? Do you spend two-five bucks regularly on a coffee, or a soy chai latte?

Now I’m not dissing spending time at the coffee shop… It’s one of the cheapest dates Jason and I go on, and I use coffee shops instead of having an office. It’s remarkably thrifty if you are paying for drinks instead of rent. But that daily habit of having a morning drink through the drive-through window, well, it’s just a waste of money.

When I came pack from my (fourth?) trip to Ethiopia last May, somehow I, and my friend T, coincidently, got hooked on having coffee every day. It’s not something I’ve done as an adult… In fact, I drank copious amounts of coffee as a teen in Germany, but gave it up for fifteen years since it irritated my stomach. I found on that trip, the stomach irritation was gone. Yeah!

But drinking coffee (macchiatos, specifically,) in Ethiopia, is like drinking first growth Bordeaux. There is nothing like it in the world. Starbucks simply does not cut it. And Tim Hortons? Sorry, but that’s the coffee equivalent of Yellowtail.

20140425-101758.jpgMy friend Haile had given me a package of Marley espresso for Christmas that year, and I hadn’t touched it. He always gives me some fair trade Ethiopian coffee for Christmas, bless his heart, so that I have some to make for guests the year through.

But I popped open the espresso, and made some with the espresso maker I had bought baclpacking through Italy when I was 20. That espresso maker has been in 7 countries!

And voila. Damn good coffee.

Since, every day or two, I have a morning espresso. I’ve invested in a one-cup pot, and a properly sized cup that matches the rest of my dishes. And I order Marley espresso via American Amazon and pick it up every couple of months in my post box in the USA. (I’ve tried other fair trade Ethiopian espressos, but none are as good as Marley.)

I even invested in a jar of those little amaretti cookies, for five bucks, which will last me a year….

And you know what? Totally worth it.


Financially, I save a bundle. And honestly, I could never get this quality of coffee at a coffee shop.

The added benefit is that I actually have to sit down and sip for 5 minutes a day, which if you know me, is more than I usually sit still. It’s become a ritual, and my latter factor makes much more sense, finically and emotional health wise, than the Starbucks drive thru.

Thumbs up! Spice is recovering


Several hours after my last post…

Spice was giggling and making funny faces with the drug they gave her. She didn’t exactly go under… Just completely spaced out. The little operation was conducted right there in emergency, and was a first for the doctor. He said he had never before done a procedure with another person in the bed. Because you see, Sugar kept her arm around her and watched a movie while Spice had her thumb put back together. The nail was taped on until it falls off, and her thumb was set, as he suspected there was a little break.

Bless the doctor for letting me stay there with her… I felt much better being involved and sitting by her side.

As we left just after midnight, I had one child draped over my shoulder with her thumb hanging out, and another drearily plodding along beside me. Sugar, by the way, had been an angel all evening.

The doctor called out to us: “sure have a nice family there. It was lovely to meet you.”

It was lovely to meet him as well, but I’m hoping that I will not see him again anytime soon.

My babies are such troopers! I can’t believe there hasn’t been one off behavior or whining with all this medical stuff in the last couple days. Truly, they are tough little birds.