>Almost Wordless Wednesday


St. Patrick’s Well.  {Pozzio di San Patrizio} Orvieto, Italy.

A very cool 16th Century well, huge, 175 ft deep, 45 ft. wide. Built with a double helix stairway.  
One up, one down. Early traffic planning, to say the least. 496 steps.   

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>Almost Wordless Wednesday


Last day: Montepulciano 
(yeah, that Montepulciano…you crazy gals know what I’m talking about.).

 Our little town: Lucignano.  Home base, we all fell in love.
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>Clown Cars, Italian Style

>******NOTE: yes this is a travel post. But to any bad guys out there, while we are in Italy my big burly brother with anger issues is staying at my house, plus well trained guard dogs.  So, look somewhere else for your poor decisions.******

Today we are traveling from Rome to Tuscany. 
Which means we have to rent cars. 
Which  means we have to rent two cars. 
Which means we have to try to cram all eleven of us plus luggage into two cars, for a number of hours. 
Which means Tom and I have to each drive a car….on Italian roads…possibly into Rome! 
Which means I will be hoping that the owner of our villa greets us with some good Tuscan red. 

Which means we could use your prayers today:
for safe travel on the wild Italian roads
and also for peace and serenity with our sure to be squabbly kids who are stuffed into these two cars.  Sort of like a clown act at the circus. 
But without the funny wigs. 

>All about shoes

>Calling all Shoe gals!
Ok all, I am in need of some input.  Because I am at times an indecisive, dithering fool I am giving a shout out for experienced opinions.  Reviews.  Top picks.  Ratings.

On what you ask? 
I know, what fun right? 
I love shoes, you love shoes, we all love shoes!

 At first I thought I would just use these, below, the standard go to shoe in my closet. 

 But then I realized I might need some particular shoes…..Not just any shoes, but on the PERFECT shoes to take to travel around Rome and Italy.  Yup, I’m going.  Another post on that for the details.
But for now, I need shoes! And a good functional bag (tho I’ll probably go the unwieldy backpack route, since I’ll be working the mom angle…kiddles in tow). 

I need shoes that don’t look totally dorky or orthopedic or grandmotherly or ridiculous.
I need them to be crazy comfy as I have cranky old feet with a history of plantar fasciitis from when I used to run (and it still kicks back up and complains too often).
I want them to be stylish enough to wear with skirts (not fancy date skirts, just the regular old kicking around kind of skirt I live in all summer).
But I need to walk all over and chase children and go into many churches and cafes too.
I don’t want them to look too old or too young.
I want one pair to go with everything.
I want them to make my heart sing...
And I want them to only be twenty bucks.

Ok….I know…kidding. 
I realize my list is long and contradictory.

But I know a great pair is out there. 

I know it. 

If I could get away with wearing my Montrail flips all trip, I would.  But I can’t.  I love these shoes, they are my favorite most comfortable summer shoes, for the past few years.  
Mine are a cute pink/orange. I love them and don’t care what anyone else thinks.  But they are maybe not the Roman Holiday look, eh? Stop laughing, I realize this is an impossible dream…but admit it, don’t all of you really, inside, wish you could look like that as you flit through Rome? And yeah, I’m gonna “flit” through Rome with my eight children in tow.  Audrey Hepburn would’a……don’t ya think? Really. I am too. 

The little girls are gonna wear these…but they are probably too young for me, ahem.   They look totally adorable on the girls though, we have a pink, a purple, and an orange and they have happy summer skirts to go with them.  {I’ve been sewing…who knew? ‘Nother post there too} Fun.

 The little boys will wear these, and those boys look adorable in most anything they wear, but especially these shoes.  Gabey calls them his jungle shoes and goes outside to look for tigers.  

So I need a different shoe. We don’t really wanna be the dorky family that has ALL matching shoes, right? Right.

It’s gonna be hot, so I don’t want sweaty feet and I don’t want to walk around in running shoes and skirts (I did that for 6 months with the plantar fasciitis spell, fashion be damned…but in Rome? Love to skip that).
So, what’s a gal to do?
What’s a mom to do? {The big guys? They can get by with their runners, they’re guys!}

So, yes, this is a frivolous post.  It’s all I got today.
I know you shoe gals are out there. I know a lot of you gals have traveled the world.  Surely there are some sensible clever fashionistas out there.
Help me out, leave me some suggestions, please?

>Day Four

>Day Four.
That is a label that has come to have new meaning.

We just went on a road trip for a long weekend to visit my eldest, so we could all be together for Easter and also get to participate in the entire Easter Triduum liturgy at one of the most glorious ones in the country.
We really enjoy doing this and the Vigil Mass gives me chills and makes me cry and makes our hearts soar.
It’s stunning.
It’s a great way to spend Easter, mindful, rich, and so nice to be all together.

But it’s a busy weekend. Some folks have half-jokingly called the Triduum (the Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday liturgies, culminating in Easter Sunday) the Catholic Olympics or Decathlon. Because, yeah, its a spiritual and physical workout.

And there is that day….Coffeedoc has pointed it out over the past few trips.
But it’s the Dday. Day Four.
It’s the day that any trip, for us at least, is a bear.
That shiny excitement of a trip has worn off.
That out of sorts, out of your element, out of your comfort zone has crept in.
And for us, Day Four is the day of cranky tired family travel.
No matter whether we are at the beach or in Addis Ababa, visiting family or touring museums…it’s the day: Day Four.

And the reason for me to post this is twofold: one, to be honest enough to show the gritty parts of family life. And two, to hope that others have been there done that and are recovered enough to laugh about it and remind me today.
We will be too…..but it’s gonna take at least a day or two of re-entry settling back in and regrouping, remembering that it is all good, most of the time, not all crabby more of the time (by which I mean, yesterday).

On another note, this makes me rethink Coffeedoc’s other point.
Lately, he has been mildly pushing, erk, presenting, the idea of a bigger car.
“We’ll never fit all everyone into the car and we can’t go anywhere as a family,” he says.
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I say, “we can just squeeze in, we’ll be fine. We’ll put the jump seat back in the car. We’ll tow our bags. It’ll work. I’m never driving a bigger car! I don’t want a bigger car!”
Well, so we did.
We put the jump seat back in the cargo space.
We squooshed Little Man back there and squeezed everyone else into every last available inch.
And it worked…by which I mean, we arrived at our destinations together and in one piece.
But…..by Day Four, yesterday, it was a very very long drive home.
Nine and half hours.
Like in a clown car.

Between the squeeze and the infamous Day Four (granted aggravated by not nearly enough sleep for all due to late vigil Mass and too much sugar) it was a pretty grouchy day.
For all of us.
It is the sort of trip that someday, we will tell stories about, small ones…be able to tease a bit, remind each other of the scary diner and crazy-bad five year old’s jokes.
But really, considering that next year (or, this summer) we will have one more teen in the car?
We have to either add a seat or take two cars, or……
I am rethinking Coffeedoc’s car ideas.
And once again, I am reminded, “Never, never, say never.”
Day Four.

>Beach Baby

> We are happily settled in to my favorite place on earth, well, at least one of my top two or three, for sure. This is always a sort of coming home. We get to see my family and spend long lazy days on the beach. MUCH better than the bustle of LA! A better fit all around.

The kids are being beach bums. All day, hunting for shells, digging holes, snoozing in the sun, surfing, boogie boarding, jumping waves. We are getting a world class collection of shells, and what we lack in quality we make up for in sheer quantity! Sbird is the shell hunter extraordinaire, such dedication. She is my little naturalist. The divine Miss M has to be puuulllledd in from the beach at night. She would sleep on it if I let her, no such thing as too much time on the beach or in the water for her! Booboo has already begun to teach his little brother to dig the deep holes (which yes, we fill in later, no hazards left). Two are already sunburned, our fairer members. And little Gabriel Tariku….LOVES the beach! Sand is fantastic fun, great to throw, stomp, squish, rub in hair, and best of all: EAT!!!! Yes, he wants to eat it by the handful. Oy. As for the water, he loves to be taken to its edge and point. But freaks out if any attempt to go IN the water is made. Not ready for that yet.

On another note for Gabriel: he has grown two pounds, two inches. He is big and strapping and strong. He is becoming interested in finger foods, you cannot feed him with a spoon except for a bite or two of rice or spagetti. But, he has found his voice. But not in a charming baby words way. No. He has found the POWER of screeching bloodcurdling screams. For glee, for fury, for frustration. It is his omni-comm tool. All purpose, all the time. He has found his very strong will as well. That, combined with this alarming yell….well, it’s pretty fun stuff. Watch people around you jump and heads around a restaurant swivel in your direction. Better belt out another round or two real fast…….

So, in addition to Gabriel learning that sand is not for eating, we are trying to swiftly teach him other sounds and hopefully words soon. He is a baby in a big toddler body. So we are in a weird but wonderful spot with him and are relishing it, he keeps the family laughing and reminds us how quick this time goes. And for those screams, that part, really quick we hope.

I’ll try to post more if I can get some pics up. It’s so beautiful here, and kids and the beach…..such great stuff. We are all inhaling that perfect smell of salt water and sand that you can only get here. It’s not fancy, it’s better. It’s simple. Life is so good. Even with the screeches on beaches.

>The land of Pinocchio: Pleasure Island


Disney, of course.

I always remember that scene in Pinocchio when the kids and I visit LA, you know the one: I always remember it as “Donkey Island.”

You know, the one where sweet little Pinocchio goes to the fun zone and starts turning into a donkey as he overindulges in all the kind of forbidden things: sugar! whirly rides! no rules!!

That’s a little what it’s like for my kids visiting my sister in LA. It’s a version of pleasure island for my kids: an aunt is crazy about them and doesn’t see them enough – who will indulge them utterly. And it IS vacation so we DO relax some things, after all. All the things we normally don’t have (or have much) are here for the taking. Sugar! (ok we have it, but not like in quantity or forms like this) No rules! Endless Wii, late nights (ok we have those too, but not like this). FUn fun fun FUN FUN. TOO MUCH FUN swirling around like a tilt a whirl….and you know what happens then…

Then, they start to turn into donkeys. It’s more so for the smaller ones, (the big ones have learned over the years how to navigate the funhouse) worst for Little Man. Poor kid. It’s just so crazy fun here, that the sassy levels skyrocket because, hey, why not give that a try too? But the problem is, I’M still here, and I am no fun at all. Mean mom. I still enforce a few rules and tell them it’s late and almost bedtime, and worst of all, scold for that utter flaunting of rules. Time out for hitting the golf ball at his sister’s head. Inside.

LA is a strange place to us in many ways. Oh, the opportunities……the potential for sheer glorious ‘donkey island fun.” And so, it is time for us to drive down to a simpler life. A better fun: beach, sun, sand, water, simple tired out at night from salt air fun. My sister will join us again down there and it will be different. Because it is not LA. And so it’s time we drive.

Last night, I think I might have heard a bray. Today, we hope to restore Little Man back to “real boy” by tonight.

>A small nation

>Preparing for our visit:
My nephew, dear Matti-mo, told his mom and all others for the past few days,
“We are being invaded by a small nation.”

Well…feels like….looks like…sounds like…..hmmmm he’s got a point!

>California Dreaming


Is it a dream? Nope, we made it!

We are happily ensconsed in my big sister’s lovely home, my favorite guest room in the world (kids spread out all over). Our flight was late, Little Man had a hard time, he can’t sleep on planes either (like his mom) and got mega fussy. I ‘baby wrestled’ with a very wired Gabriel for about half the flight, then he threw up on me and felt good enough to fall asleep. The little girls both fell asleep I think before we were off the tarmac and slept until landing. And a 5 hour flight feels like a walk in the park compared to 17. So altogether a successful night, capped by late late night In N Out burgers (to the utter joy of my teen boys).

We are so happy to be here, it is so beautiful. They say it’s scorching here, but it’s not compared to home so we are delighted! My sister has taken all my girls and Little Man to her office and then shopping, clearly wanting to earn time off purgatory! (that’s a Catholic joke, sorry). I will meet her for lunch and earn some MORE time there for me (sorry, again, I can’t help it).

Otherwise I am hoping to meet with a dear old friend or two and just relish being here and being surrounded by my sister and nephews and bro in law. Life is good, we just don’t see each other nearly enough. In a few days, we hit the beach!

>Works for me, Wednesday: Buddy up!


Ok, we are on the road again.
Well, in the air again.

And while in years past, this flight has made me want to commit hari kari, I think that it might be just a hop and skip today. Meaning, compared to 30+ hours of travel, with flight legs of 17+ hours, a mere 4.5 hour flight is a walk in the park! I laugh at a mere 4-5 hours…I hope I hope!

However, in the spirit of it “Works for Me Wednesday”, I am posting one of our more successful travel tips for the summer season: Buddy up!

I know, this is Kindergarten teacher 101. But it’s easy to forget as you are slogging through the airports, especially with many kidletts in tow. But long ago we learned: get the bigs to be buddies to the littles. And I’m not talking about suddenly having them be actual “best buddies” and getting along with no more squabbles or pettiness (if I had found that secret, I’d be rich, rich I tell you!).

What I’m talking about is assigned duty, like it or not. Each small one has a big one to help them and keep track of them, in every shape and form. From snacks to potty, to general assistance and cheering up and distracting. That leaves me for the littles or most needy one and able to swap as necessary. It also keeps me from turning into a scary Ursula Octopus witch mom. Cartoon character: Disney, of course.
Me, on a bad day.

Last year I got off the plane, beelined to the first airport bar, banged on it and demanded a lemon drop martini, double. Ok, kidding, but a gal can dream. And I did, yes it was that bad. I’ll spare you the recounting, just trust me.

So, I will let you know how well we succeed. Our numbers have grown. Gabriel is a touch needy, he got a few shots on Monday. The others are just amped, which means running around like maniacs. I will be hauling er, escorting, seven kids by myself (but with BUDDIES!). Prof is staying home for a bit to work, he will come and go on this vacation/family visit. Yes, we have someone at the house, so that helps with the to do list. So, we are packing and zooming around, California dreaming. I’ll do my best to post and check emails.

And I am praying, without ceasing, for all the Gladney families on hold, I promise! If anyone has a mind to throw a few our way for safe peaceful travel, we’ll take it!

Top two photos: first is successful buddy effort, looks good eh? Second is another, in Albuquerque airport, looks like it’s working don’t ya think? Hmmm. You can see how good we are at this, but hey, we keep trying!

>"While we are there……"

>Those are the words that made me do a double take. Anytime you hear a spouse say “While we are there….” or “While we are at it…..” you can pretty much fill in the blank with a dismayed cry inside your (ok, my) head of “are you kidding? really?” We’ve ripped out all sorts of plumbing and kitchen cabinets with that phrase and found ourselves in various spots around the globe and country. Living with my dear husband is never, ever dull and I am so grateful!

This time, as the fantastic Susan Parr Travel worked feverishly on our travel arrangements my husband said, “while we are in Africa, we could stop in Egypt!”

I don’t know why that surprised me, really. That sort of phrase is actually SO typical of my husband. Because what some might know about him, but many do not, is that one of his great passions in life is travel. He is a travel maniac. Anytime he gets a chance, anywhere, anyhow….he’s game!

So that is the start of the how and why these teens and my adventurous husband found themselves in the desert sun, on a camel, in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza. (for those of you nudging me about this story, you know who you are ….here goes!)
Anyhow, as I said, we passed court and we were ecstatic and immediately switched into “hair on fire” mode and started making travel plans.

As we were having flying emails and phone calls my husband said, “ask them if we can get to Cairo.” What??!

So then we talked. He pointed out that it was so close, we might not get another chance and if so not for a long time, hard to pass up opportunity etc etc. I was a wee bit balky, ok more than a wee bit. Of course, he felt like that was no big deal. Hmmm. We had thought about going on a stopover beforehand and had talked about that, but as it turned out, both BuddyBug’s finals and my babysitter’s finals got in the way. Those darn college tests! So we couldn’t go before we were supposed to be there {and there was NO way either one of us wanted to postpone our arrival date and get that baby in our arms}, and we couldn’t go after as Booboo had finals as well. Hmmmmm. That left either cutting it short for all of us or splitting up.

So, not sure how it could possibly work out, surely it was impossible…… but what could it hurt to get more info?
As the travel agent checked into it, we were going ’round and ’round with this crazy idea – should we, could we?
And besides…… we needed one more thing to try to figure out as we prepped to go to Africa in two weeks, right? It’s not like we were leaving our kiddos for the longest time ever and going halfway around the world or anything……oh yeah, yes, it was.

My husband made the excellent point that we homeschool and Bananas had been studying ancient Egypt all year long. It was a homeschool mom’s field trip opp of a lifetime!

Oh. Score!

But the baby couldn’t get a visa to Egypt. We even checked. Not that I was wild about taking a new (to us) baby to Egypt anyhow. Staying and bonding sounded good to me. It is required to present yourselves in person in Addis at the Egyptian embassy and then wait for 6-8 weeks to see if you get a visa for Ethiopian nationals (as opposed to American’s getting visa’s in a few hours). Oh. Score for staying. And yes, we called the embassy’s. In Addis. And Cairo. And D.C. We are thorough.

So we were at a stalemate.
He wouldn’t go if I gave it the big VETO. I didn’t want to do it but hadn’t hit a comfort level.

And no, the issue at this point was not be being in Addis alone w/ baby. At this point the only option was them going for a few days and leaving me in Addis. For my part, I was totally ok with that. I knew I could handle the time. I knew I would have the baby safe and sound. I knew I had helpers in the Gladney staff and if I needed anything it was for the asking. So that wasn’t it. At this point it was the money and the security and having my family spread out in three different countries. I didn’t like that.
But then we got the call from Kari at Susan Parr agency, “Did you know, I found that we can book your husband and teens with a stopover in Addis and all the way to Cairo, and it doesn’t change the fare.” Excuse me? We can fly them five hours to Cairo and it is the same cost as DC to Addis and back? Yup. The Addis part is considered layover, albeit a long one.

SCORE for the Egypt leg.
Slam dunk. Final Game.

As a homeschool mom, this was pretty hard to turn down. It WAS that opportunity of a lifetime that he said it was. Dang.
So, I still had security concerns. I didn’t want to sit in Addis and worry myself sick over them. I do that sort of thing.
But I really DIDN’T want to play that big veto card. I could have. They would have accepted it with grace. I know it. But I didn’t want to.
So, my husband agreed to use the travel agent recommended by Susan Parr, Yalla Tours, someone that they had used with success in Egypt before (and therefore accountable and with a track record instead of the hundreds, literally, who were sending me info on my email after I put in a search. Travel tip: don’t do that, use an info search for foreign travel agents website. But I digress).
So, in another flurry of emails and faxes and phone calls, we settled on all the travel arrangements and travel insurance (travel tip: GET THE TRAVEL INSURANCE, things happen) and we had a once in a lifetime trip planned.

My big kids were going on the most amazing homeschool field trip. Ever.
Now we had to get BuddyBug home and BooBoo off crutches. Because we were going to Ethiopia, and Egypt!

Buddybug’s last final was the day before we left. His school is eight hours away by car. Bananas and I were going to drive up get him, but it would mean two extra days gone from the littles. Not good. Happily, a dear friend (thanks MA!) was going to pick up her daughter on the campus next door to my son’s and she agreed to get my boy home. So she did, she brought helper sons to get them all moved out of their dorms (they had to do that too!) and into the van and home. They got in just before midnight. We had to be leaving for the airport by nine a.m. But luckily, we didn’t cut it close or anything.
So, after all this crazyness, we flew to Addis. We met our sweet Gabriel Tariku. We had an amazing week.
You know all this if you’ve been reading, if not, scroll down.

On Friday, one of the hardest days, we woke up early and met Tariku’s extended family. That was amazing and profound and made me/us cry. And that’s for another post. Then we went to Enrico’s and had a nosh and some coffee. Thank goodness! Also another post. We met up with other traveling families and Travis and Belay at Kolfe. Also another post. Then Kebebetsehay and Kechene. These orphanges were wrenching and wonderful all at the same time.

We had to leave Kechene to bolt back to Wagayu’s and throw clothes in bags for them to make their flight. As they packed, I found their tickets. It said “all travelers MUST confirm their return flights within 48 hours of arrival.” {That’s another, kind of buried but important travel tip…I’m gonna have to make a list, I know.} uh oh. We didn’t do that. Who knew?? So now I worried about them being allowed to get on their flight to Egypt, plus us being allowed to leave on our scheduled return home, if our embassy date passed after all. I kissed them all goodbye with tears and then went in to start calling Ethiopian Airlines. Until my cell phone (borrowed from Wagayu) died. And the power was out for the night.

Heartsick. Exhausted. So baby and I decided call it a night and take a much needed early bedtime. I went to sleep praying for a safe flight and trip for my bunch to Cairo.Later that night, I was awakened by Wagayu. My husband was calling him, for me. He couldn’t get through on my cell. Because it died. Wagayu woke me and then took me to his house and gave me his land line phone so I could speak to my husband in private. He told me to take it into the house for the weekend. He is a dear man, Wagayu. A bit later, they called. They were boarding! All was a go. They were on their way to Cairo. I didn’t think I’d talk with them again until I saw them the following Monday night. But oh, it was so good to know that they were good to go and on their way!Next stop for the adventurers: Luxor!
More to come (don’t worry…more pictures less talk).

Note: I know there are a lot of camel pics. I love camels and these pics. Camels are fun to draw and paint and just look at…I mean come on. They are on CAMELS! In Egypt!! How can I not put them up? Crazy!

>Worth a thousand words.

>Ok, I have to say that I have got to do a few posts about the Egypt part of our trip. Yup, that’s right, they went to Egypt in the middle of the Ethiopia trip. A long story. I’ll give you the shorter version, I’ll try, really. Not tonight. Tonight, I’m tired and heading to bed. But for now, I thought this might be worth a look. I love this picture, it just makes me smile every time! This is a image I never dreamed I’d see…who’da thunk it? My crew, on camels?! And they will rush to point out that the touristy photographer made them hold hands, but hey, I love it, clearly, he knew it was the shot to get! It’s a classic.

>Stuck? part 2

>Ok, you guys are good!! Now, keep up those prayers a bit longer, pleeeasee!

They say that “maintenance is just running a few tests on the aircraft {again, not very comforting, but then again, better than not I suppose} and that we are hoping to board in the next 30 minutes. 
I hope I hope I hope.  
And well, it’s not every day we get to watch mechanics walk on top of planes w/ big drills and open engine hoods w/ big wrenches…..  So, here’s hoping and God bless mechanics!!!!!
Please keep up the prayers, we’ll take all we can get!  Thanks to all of you!
If we get the clear, we’ll post and or in D.C….. well, when I can.  I’d post a pic of the guy on the plane w/ the drill but I haven’t figured out how to yet…I’ll try to get my techie sons to help me out.  
Fingers crossed, prayers flying!


>Stuck,  we are stuck.  

We are still in Nashville, waiting for the past several hours for them to decide if our plane can fly.  
Brings such comfort on a stressful day…….but it’s our only hope to make it to D.C. and then on to Addis on tonight’s flight.  If this flight can go in the next 1.5 hours, then we can make our connection if we run.  If it can’t, then we have to take a later flight to DC and call the travel agent for a scramble of new routing.  
I don’t even want to think about the 16 bags we checked (only four of them our personal items…..close your mouths, don’t be shocked).  Happily even though we were six bags over, they only charged us for three.  That was a nice ticket counter gal!  
However, I have some worries, so I guess I’ll beg again for prayers.  Seems like a bunch of things keep snagging….  I guess God wants me to really give over control and stop being such a control freak, eh????  Sigh, I hate flying.
Just need to get there……
Still waiting……

>Ready to launch?

>SO….we are strapping ourselves to the rocket….erm….almost packed and ready to go tomorrow…

And we are not quite ready, but well, are you ever?
Not even if your bags are packed and counted, list checked twice.

But we are going.
It feels very much like strapping to a rocket to space.
Hang on tight and here we go!

My stress has risen some, there is a snag in paperwork for the embassy that will surely work itself out, but until it does, I’ll worry.
But at least I’ll have my boy in arms to wait for it…

In the meantime, I will shamelessly beg for your prayers, and for those of the saints, for a safe trip for all and for the paperwork to clear up. For peace.

St. Vincent de Paul, patron of orphans, pray for us!
St. Louis de Montfort, pray for us!
Archangel Gabriel, pray for us and my boy!

We are on our way!

Three, two, one…..lift off!!!!!

>ET Phone Home

Ethiopia, phone home, that is.

Ok, I am calling out for tips: how did you seasoned travelers call home from Addis?

Did you use an international cell? Yours or rented?
Did you use Skype? How? On computer or land line?
Did you have access to land lines (to set up skype sessions)?
Did you use an international calling card? Where did you get it? Cost? (the site suggested by agency doesn’t list rates for Ethiopia, thus seems like I can’t buy a card)
Did you rent a local prepaid cell? Where did you get that? How much did it cost (if you don’t mind saying)?

This time next week we will be traveling and we haven’t got the whole communication thing settled, which is of course making me stressed and nuts. I’m sure I’m just being stupid and missing the obvious.

We really need to be able to check in with the kiddos at home, daily. So, I’m hitting you all up for advice, experience, and tips: how did you do it? Phone home!!