Friday, April 29, 2011

Oh, A Year ....

One year ago today we met one of the most beautiful babies I have ever laid eyes on (humility, yes I know I completely lack you when it comes to my children's beauty).  And we got to witness some of the coolest people on earth meet their beautiful babes for the first time too.

I was amazed how well Joseph seemed to do when these strange looking, red-eyed, pale folks rushed in and swept him away from all that he'd ever known.  I thought he wasn't scared.  I thought his transition was not traumatic.  Looking back at pictures, knowing him the way I know him now, I know different.  The look on his face in some pictures - it reads fright.

I anticipated this day ... one year home, take a deep breath, adoption stress behind us, happy, relaxing family of six ahead.  Oh crap, did I get that one wrong!  Bring on 2011, c'mon 2012.  It may not be the year of relaxation I had hoped for, but we are excited and we are blessed.

p.s.  Some of our travel companions are posting (much more frequently and eloquently than I) about this anniversary week.  Go check them out:

Zehlahlum Family (you didn't know I was in the company of such fame, did you?)

Semi-Feral Mama (warning, pictures contain explicit sexiness)

Journey 4 Hope (she's getting ready to head to Ethiopia on a mission trip in a few weeks. Go check out her plans)

Petals of Zuzu (Mrs. Deem - it's been too long, and I miss your blog.  Jump back on that horse)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Piano Bars, Deadbeat Dads and Sexy Lingerie

My little sister is getting married in one week! What better way to welcome Holy matrimony than going to trashy bars, I always say! When I was leaving for work that morning, I ran back inside to grab my wedding ring. A lot of times I don’t wear it because it is a little too tight, and I still have delusions of losing 7 pounds and then it will fit perfectly. Generally my string of children tend to keep the men at bay anyway. I was dressed for work (in scrubs) and Travis said “if that’s what you’re wearing I don’t think you have much to worry about.” Funny, funny man!

Fast forward 12 hours, and we’re at a dueling piano bar (whatever that means). I had a man approach me and start chatting. I didn’t mean to be rude, but he was flirty and I was not interested in wasting his time or mine. So, I pointed to my wedding ring (ha Travis! I did need it) and said as politely as possible “happily married, five children!” Instead of this chasing him off, he seemed more interested and started talking about how he’s from Nigeria and has nine kids there and one kid here (because "things happen"). Something in the way he was so flippant instantly had me enraged. So, I let him have it, asked him if he left a wife and nine children destitute to come hang out in bars, I hoped he fully supported them, etc. Typically I'm not the type of person who tells complete strangers just exactly what I think of them, but I figured if he had the nerve to use nine abandoned kids in Nigeria as a pickup line, social norms were out the window.  This has been a crazy emotional week, one in which my heart has absolutely bled dry for the orphan in Africa.  Poor dumb guy ... he could NOT have picked a worse woman or a worse time to try this line.  If the “happily married, five children” doesn’t chase persistent men away, this line of questioning certainly will. Turns out he made it all up, fake accent and all, and came over later to apologize. Whatever. Just so you know “nine kids in Nigeria” is the worst pick-up line EVER. Spread the word! Don’t use it!

Getting married at 18, I pretty much skipped the bar scene. So, these are the things I learned Friday night:

* A piano bar: My expectation was along the lines of classy establishment, 40 year-old man in a suit quietly playing Billy Joel music, small intimate, candlelit tables. The reality was the exact opposite, trashy music (hey, let’s see how many songs we can add the F-word to), pulling trashy girls on stage, loud, loud, loud!

* Bartenders get really irritated when you come every 15 minutes for a refill of your water, and they have a capacity to ignore you for a long time. I tried tipping, but that didn’t really seem to help (maybe I was being too cheap.  What's the going tip rate for 8 ounces of water?) All I can say is get bigger cups, and I won’t bother you so often!

* There were so many young, beautiful girls there.  First it made me feel old and frumpy.  But, after watching for a bit, it just made me feel sad for them. A few of the cutest girls were clamoring so hard for the attention of men, and I just wanted to scream at them “Don’t you know you are beautiful? Don’t you know you are treasured by the Creator of the universe? These men don’t care a thing for you. They just want to get in your pants! Which won’t be too difficult since half your hiney is already hanging out. Good grief - cover up!!!” Clearly I had already solidified my crazy old lady status with the interaction with the fake Nigerian deadbeat dad, and so I managed to restrain myself.

* Every style does apparently come back around. I’m pretty sure I saw some nasty elastic jumpers from the sixth grade.

* Lots of my brain cells are being wasted on stupid songs from the 80’s and 90’s. Precious, precious brain cells. I can’t think of a single benefit of knowing every word to Baby Got Back, Friends in Low Places, Let's Talk About Sex and every other song that was played from those decades. Nope, not one! Perhaps if I could selectively purge this junk, I would be able to remember when the water bill is due or what birthday party my kid needs to go to on what day?

Despite bar fights with fake dead-beat dads and sympathy for slutty low self esteem girls, the evening was really fun. I am so proud of my sisters and their friends. I wish I would have had friends like them when I was young. I wish every 22 year-old could have friends like these girls.

And now, for pictures!

I’m the one with the shades. I told the girls this was my cover-up-those-wrinkly-eyes-and-try-to-look-20-something-disguise.

Nothing says gorgeous like my little sisters. Clearly they got the youth and the beauty.

Nothing says beautiful like head back, mouth wide open, tongue out.

Nothing says reality like size 18 granny panties and nothing says our mom more than a gag gift.

Nothing says “I’m so proud of you little sister” like buying you slutty lingerie.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Melkam Fasika

Melkam Fasika - also known as Happy Easter for you poor schmucks who don't speak Amharic (ahem, or you poor schmucks who don't have a billion friends who have adopted from Ethiopia and put Melkam Fasika all over your facebook feeds) ... poor poor schmucks!

This has been a crazy busy weekend, and it's not likely to slow down for the next ten days. I should really spend this post speaking of The Resurrection of our Lord and how amazing our God is and just how much He loves us. But, that kind of public pontification requires more than half my brain, and I'm running on about 10% right now. Actually I'm typing this on my smart phone as the babes play in the bath - multitasking at it's best!

My little sister is getting married in six days. The words come out, but I still don't believe it could be possible. I had a moment of insanity, forgot I'm not 16 anymore, and stayed up until 3 a.m. Friday night for her baccalaureate party. It literally took me all day Saturday to recover from the lack of sleep. On the bright side, a night spent at bars really made me thankful to be "old and settled," but more about that on another day (a day not spent on my smart phone).

Lyla came down with a fever around noon Saturday, so we made her stay home from our church's Egg-stravaganza.  Tears were free flowing as we left, and I felt horrible.  How was I to know she would be perfectly fine when we got home and fever free for the rest of the weekend?  Had I let her go, you know she would have single-handedly given pneumonia to every kid in our town.  What's a mom to do?  Timothy and Lyla's buds Jacob and Jaxen sacrificed some of their candy and stuffed some eggs to send home to her and Timmy hid them in her room.  She repaid his kindness with grumpiness, but we let it slide since she was "sick."

I will leave you with practically the only two pics I got of the entire weekend (and yes, they were taken with my smart phone.  How did I function before this beauty came into my life?).  Too bad too because, as you might have guessed, my kids looked super cute for church on Sunday.  I even broke out not-jeans, which lately only happens a few times a year.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

And Then We Saw Your Face

On December 27, 2010 we received The Call That Changed it All.  And the labor pains began.  But, unlike conventional childbirth, these labor pains progressed with no proof, no visible signs of life.  We were shown no heartbeat, no kicks in the womb, not even a fuzzy sonogram picture.  We pressed on toward the goal, but the goal was a blur of unknown form.  We knew we would love that blur and do anything for it, but sometimes we wondered if the form was a ghost that would disappear as soon as we were close enough to touch it.

We spent time fantasizing about whether our boys would have the indescribable blessing of looking like each other, having strangers stop them in stores and say "you two must be brothers" instead of the intrusions we are most accustomed to of "are you his real mom/dad/brother/sister?"

For almost four months now, labor has wore on and made us weary with little to no additional signs of life.  We had seen no pictures of MB and little to no information about the progression of his case....

Until last night.  I'm not sure why it took me nearly four months to have this idea.  MB was relinquished to a different orphanage/agency.  For better or worse, we chose to pursue his adoption through the agency with whom we adopted Joseph, which is part of the reason we have been left for so long with no information.  Because of his age, he was very likely on a waiting child list with the first agency.  The internet is a magic and scary record of things long past.  What if it was possible to search archives of waiting child lists from his original agency in order to find his picture?  And so, dear hubby took my idea and worked his magic.  About 30 seconds later, we had a picture of a smiling, striking, gorgeous little boy with the same name and age as our MB.  There was no real proof this was indeed him, but it was just enough of a faint heartbeat to give us some momentum to keep pushing.

And so we pushed hard through one long contraction.  And our reward was sent today in the form of an email from Holt with three glorious pictures and a long note with a status update.

We are blessed, our boys are blessed.  The resemblance between the two of them is striking.  There are two pictures of MB smiling, and he has that same mischievous sparkle that makes Joseph Joseph.  There is one picture of him pouting, and the likeness in their pouty faces is astonishing.  They have the same eyebrows, eyes, nose and ears.

Labor will still be long, hard and painful.  I delivered three huge-headed babies the old fashioned way but that doesn't even hold a candle to adoption birth pains.  At least now though, we have proof of life, proof of beauty and hope to keep pushing.  If there's one thing I learned this week, it was just keep pushing.

Want to see a pic of MB?  Well, you know I can't show you the real one here.  But, picture a skinnier 5 year-old with less cheeks and more teeth, and there you have him.  I seriously thanked God for the amazing priveledge of raising not one but two such heart-stopping beauties, and I grieved for Ethiopia and her country's loss of such loveliness.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Dinner, Appliances, Romance and More

All that stuff I said about losing control and hubby bringing home rodents.  Well, I take it all back, because my man is THE man and he can bring home as many hamsters and trampolines as he wants (just a figure of speech.  Honey, please don't bring home anymore animals for a while).

Here's what happened:  Travis won a big flat screen TV in a raffle at some work event.  The TV, though really really nice, wasn't something either one of us really wanted.  We already have an over-sized (in my opinion only - Travis would totally beg to differ) TV for the amount of time we spend watching it and the fact that we don't even have cable or satellite.  We knew it came from Best Buy, but since we have numerous times been the victim of their crappy return policy, we figured there'd be no way they would take this TV back without a receipt.  On a whim, Travis decided to give it a try.  And guess what?  They said they'd take it back!!!  IF we spent more money on the exchange than what the TV cost, and we had to do it that day.  For a teensy weensy second, Travis had visions of I-pads, kindles and 60" TV's dancing through his head.  Then he called me and said "what do I buy?"

Seriously, he has to be the best guy ever for even calling to ask.  I instantly crushed his dreams told him my little hearts desire to have a fancy shmancy front loading HE washer and dryer set (especially since my friend Tesi got this glorious present).  BUT, if he really wanted something electronic, that was totally fine because the TV exchange would probably only cover the cost of the washer or the dryer, not both, and it was okay if he didn't want to spend the extra money right now because we have some big bills coming up, yaddy yaddy yaddy.

He didn't want to decide without me, so he lugged this ginormous TV back out to the car, came and got me, lugged the TV back into the store and proceeded to let me pick out the most amazing magic clothes cleaning machines you have ever seen.  Not to brag ... but, I got the largest washer known to man (I'm thinking of trying to stuff my couch in the thing in hopes of finally getting that kid stank out) and the dryer steams the wrinkles out of clothes.  No more basket full of clothes that will never in a million years get ironed ironing for me.  You can keep your designer purses and fancy cars.  Seriously, this is what turns me on.

We then went out for a fabulous adult dinner with live music, back home to a kid free house and a movie.  Could date night be any more amazing?  (thank you Murry family for watching our kids)  The only down side - there was a woman at the restaurant who looked very familiar, she waved at me and said hello.  But, for the life of me, I CANNOT remember who in the world she is and two days later it's still bugging me.  Does this happen to anyone else because it happens to me all the time?  All these children are sucking away brain cells.  I'm convinced of it.

I suppose I should now remove Best Buy from my list of top 10 Evil Entities and remove Country Strong from my list of movies to see (FYI - it's a good but depressing show.  Be sure you watch it at the END of date night because it's a total mood killer, if you know what I mean)

Friday, April 15, 2011

School Choices

My children had an interesting conversation at breakfast this morning. It started off by Timothy, not wanting to get up and get dressed for the day, said "I wish I was home-schooled." We have lots of friends who home school, and apparently they are making it look way too easy. Next time your child is in tears from a major math meltdown, could you call me and I'll bring Timothy over?

Anyhow, Lyla instantly corrected his wayward thinking. "WHAT? You want MOM to teach you? Are you CRAZY?" 

Timothy, "ya, I want to be home schooled and then I can sleep in."

Lyla "Are you nuts? You would be so bored. And Mom would NEVER give you breaks. You would cry ALL day."

Mom "Why do you think this?"

Lyla "because Mom, you don't know anything about teaching, or school.  It's been like a million years since you've been!"  (She doesn't have anything against home schooling in general, just huge reservations about this particular mama attempting it)

I take back everything nice I said here about that little turd (even though she's probably right, and many many days would likely end in tears - his and mine).

It was about this time of year, three years ago, hubby and I sat down, deliberated, prayed and spread-sheeted our way through this monumental decision.  We had a two-page graph with our schooling options (public, home and two local private schools).  We had about fifteen categories that were important to us, listed in order of importance, and in corresponding columns each school choice receiving a grade (A through F) for each category.  We graded each school and then met with the varying school administrators, showed them our grading scale and gave them a chance to be highly offended agree or disagree with our analysis.  After all the meetings and Kindergarten round-ups, we took each school's grade card and analyzed the data using a central limit theorem and Chi-squared distribution.  Okay, I might have made up that last sentence using big words I don't know the meaning of, but the rest is true and a perfect example of type-A personalities at their best.  A match made in high-strung heaven!

Should we ever be in a position to reevaluate our decision (aka, husband loses his job and we can no longer afford the pricey private school we chose, gas continues to sky rocket and we can't afford the 20 mile drive twice a day, etc.), I'll be sure to add the category of "Gives Breaks" and "Amount of Crying" to our calculated decision.  Come to think of it, not sure our original list had any thought or mention to diversity, but that would certainly be high on the grade card (and one category our current pricey private school probably only scores a "C-" or "D+").

Huge props to all you home school mamas out there.  Whether your kids get breaks or cry daily, I know you have one of the hardest jobs in the world.  And, should any of you want to take on a 6 year-old pupil next year, I have a little boy in the market.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Proof I Have Totally Lost Control

As if the rodent named Betrayal wasnt enough, dear hubby came home with this beauty the other day. Clearly Dad's launching a campaign to make himself the hero and me the evil one.  Either that or he's taking the opportunity to live out his youth, and fulfill all the childhood desires his mean parents neglected him of.  Either way, my daughter's bedroom smells like a pet store and my backyard now looks like a daycare yard sale.  I think I need a refill of my OCD meds.  But, on the bright side, baby bottom butt print on my wall is still cute!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Itty Bitty Voice

A few days ago I got a request from We Are Grafted In wanting to publish one of my blog posts on their website.  If you've never been there, it's a diverse collection of stories and experiences from people who love the Lord and have a desire to care for orphans.
In college I majored in biology partly because I loved science and partly because it was the degree that required the least amount of writing.  Honestly, I couldn't think of anything more painful and torturous than having to sit down and write something, anything.  I had perfected the art of increasing margins, spacing and font so as to meet the minimum page requirements with as few words (and effort) as possible.  So, the idea that I now write this (overly wordy) blog for fun borders on absurd.  The idea that people outside of my immediate family actually read it ... well that is just ridiculous.  The idea that my itty bitty voice might possibly be used some day to encourage just one person to love an orphan or care about a continent thousands of miles away, well that's pretty awesome!

Obviously I'm kind of a big deal.  They even gave me this cute little button to prove it.  So, go check out my article and give me some comment love, will you?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mystery Photo Revealed

Megan, at Our Life Together, you have apparently walked a mile in my shoes because you hit the nail right on the head.

Picture naked baby boy freshly baby-oiled from the shower (caution:  slippery when wet) manages to slip loose from my grasp, streaking with pure delight through the house.  I finally cornered him in my bathroom, wherein he backs himself up against my wall, leaving the above pictured butt print (and elbows), cheap flat builders-grade paint sucking in every bit of oil, the wall never to come clean again.

Which brings me to my next point:  There should be a federal law prohibiting builders from using flat paint this cheap in a bathroom.  Period.  If any issue is worthy of a government shut-down, I believe this to be it!

Normally the OCD in me would convulse every time I walked by the stained wall.  Maybe I'm relaxing with the more kids I have, or maybe I've realized a clean, well-organized house is a battle I. will. never. win.  Either way, walking past that cute little butt silhouette a foot off the ground for the last few weeks just makes me smile.

Mystery Photo

And now for the mystery picture of the week. Any guesses?

a close-up

 (hint:  it's in my bathroom, and it's been there for a few weeks)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Another Missed Milestone

Today, on the other side of the world, you may not have known it, but you had a milestone birthday little boy.  I doubt there was a cake with a candle in the shape of a big 5 and I'm sure there were no balloons or presents.  There might not have been anyone who even said 'Happy Birthday'.  But, your birthday was certainly not forgotten.  Half a world away, there was a family who longed to shower you with gifts, love, hugs, kisses and high fructose corn syrup.  Your older brother and sister really wanted to throw a party in your absence, but this mama wasn't sure she could take that.

There seems to be a monumental difference between ages four and five.  Four year-olds still talk with cute toddler voices and say things like "mom, I willy willy wuv you."  They have imaginary friends and want to hold their mom's hand and keep her in sight.  Five year-olds, on the other hand, speak more like adults than babes, have put their imaginary friends behind them and begin to navigate this big world on their own and with confidence.  Five year-olds will soon begin school, and their priceless, sheltered time at home alone with mom will quickly come to an end.

Tears well up in my eyes as I write these words, because today especially it is painfully obvious just how much of your little life we have missed.  I will never know what you were like as a baby, when you took your first steps, whether you cooed in your sleep, sucked your thumb or slept with your butt straight to the sky.  I will never know if you were an ornery, explorative, trouble-seeking toddler like your baby brother or a thoughtful, cautious snuggler like your little sister.  But, we will spend the rest of our lives getting to know you, trying to make up for lost time, lost birthdays and loving you with all the strength and courage we can muster.

Last night, as Timothy was getting in the tub he said "Mom, when MB gets home, I'm gonna hug him like I've never hugged anyone before in my whole life."  All I could think was 'me too buddy, me too!'

A scary notice was published today by the Department of State regarding the MOWA slowdown that, should this change be true and permanent, it would be very unlikely MB will be with us for his sixth birthday either.  Please please join us in praying for another solution and that MB's next birthday will be spent with a family.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Mother of the Year

The other day we were performing our usual morning routine.  Insanely late for school, last minute packing of the lunch, cramming breakfast down our throats as we run out the door.  You know, the usual.  Lyla asked if I would slice her apple for her lunch.  I said "I don't have time, just eat it like a big girl" and off they went to school.  It wasn't until later in the day (when I was actually eating an apple "like a big girl") that I realized, my daughter currently looks like this ....

What kind of mom sends a whole hard apple for her child with no front teeth, and side teeth that are super wiggly?  We're gonna blame it on the Mad Cow Disease, alright?

Amazingly enough, somehow my determined little daughter managed to eat that entire apple, although I have no idea how she did it.