Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mere' turns 6

Mere' was the center of attention last night as we celebrated at Chuck E Cheese for her 6th birthday. I am amazed at how fast the time goes, as if everytime I turn around another year is over.

Mere's birthday is always an event in my mind. If I rewind, every birthday is another major milestone in her life.

She was born 13 weeks early, at one pound and 14 oz., to a crack mom who left the hospital after delivery and never looked back. She was the 5th child born to this mom who continued to make poor life choices while each child suffered more for it. I think I have dealt with my anger towards her, although when I see Mere' struggle with things that other children master easily, I feel my throat tighten and my stomach gurgle with the feelings.

I met Mere' in the children's hospital about an hour and 1/2 from our home. She had a feeding tube for nourishment that they had put in shortly after a major surgery that removed a huge portion of her small intenstine. Her tummy was a massive scar from hip to hip, and the TPN line was in her leg giving her life saving medications and nutrients her body was missing in order to thrive. My job was to learn how to care for her needs, bring her home as a foster child and keep her healthy until her adoptive family could care for her needs. I spent hours getting to know her, took instruction on caring for her TPN line, her feeding system and her wound care. I learned how to bathe a tiny baby that was hooked into all sorts of machines and tubing that sustained her. A month after meeting her, she came home, lock, stock and barrel. She began to turn her little head to the sound of our voices, while we stroked her rigid arms and legs, willing her body to relax. The longer I cared for her, the more possessive I became of what her future held. It seemed wrong to invest so much of my heart and soul into this little being, and then turn her over to someone else. We appealed to the state to adopt her, and at 18 months old, she became one of us forever.

She gradually ate on her own, advancing to the stage of removing her feeding tube and shortly after, having the wound repaired and closed. The surgeon also repaired the scars on her leg from surgeries just after birth, and we brought her home to heal again. Around 3 she had her first set of tubes in her ears, and her speech improved immediately. She advanced in her therapy sessions, both physical and speech, to the point where she was released from both. After a second set of tubes, she entered preschool. I would love to say she sailed through it, but school was a difficult time for her. She had her little brother in the same class, just 6 months apart in age. He thrived, she struggled.

By the end of preschool, Mere got glasses. What a huge difference that made!! She could hear and see now, and she was ready to soar!! This past summer we saw so much growth and change in Mere's whole personality. She seemed more confident and self assured, not as fearful and more willing to try new things. She often asks for the story of her scars, which I love to end with, "And God has a wonderful plan for your life!!"

So now, at her 6th birthday, I look back at all the ways she has grown, and it makes me smile. She runs and plays, laughs and giggles. Her sense of humor is so much like ours, and she gets the most enjoyment out of the simplest things. She's making it just fine in kindergarten, and has recently learned to write her name (although it's backwards and the e's are upside down!!)

It's been alot of work but so much more joy to help Mere get to this place in her life. She has so very much to offer with her joyful little life, and we are so grateful that our lives are entwined. We continue to watch her grow, constantly amazed at her grasp on reality, while enjoying the pretend world she creates with all her tiny toy horses, dogs and cats. She is alot more like her peers now, and we were not sure she would ever be at that level.

Happy Birthday, my tiny Mere'. I hope it's another great year for you.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Memories 2009

The most exciting things about the holidays are usually the small stuff that alot of people don't notice. Since we have several young ones at home, the small stuff happens on such a regular basis that I miss them if I am not careful. I especially want to remember several things from this Christmas season, thus today's post.

"Why are there so many Christmas's at our house, mom?" says Tommy.
"There is really only one Christmas, but a lot of celebrations." I said.
"Oh. So when does it all end?" he asked.
"Well, when the last party is over, I guess." I replied.
"I hope the parties are never over." he said.
Me too, Tommy, me too.

I love having all the family and friends around. I think Christmas this year, if there were no little ones in the house, would be almost boring. Their laughter, squeals and excitment have made it the most pleasant. The toys scattered all over, the paper wrapping pushed to the side until I can't stand the mess anymore, the candy and cookie crumbs throughout the place. That's the parts I look forward to.

We often talk about our kids "other families", their birth relatives whom, for various reasons, are no longer connected to our lives. Our Tommy, 5 years old, has two half- brothers that we keep in contact with on a yearly basis, typically through photos that their adoptive mom is great to send us. This year, like many other families, she choose to send online greetings instead of through the mail. Since it is a yearly updated photo, I still wanted to print it out for his scrapbook, and after viewing the Elf Dance video she had placed her childrens faces in, I froze one of the frames and printed it out.

"Look, Tommy. I have a new picture of your birth brothers. Want to see them??"
"Yes!" He was full of excitment until I showed him the photo. He got a disturbed look on his face and, in all seriousness, said, "Mom, they're elves."
I couldn't help but laugh, and tried to explain how it was just a way that their adoptive mom had 'dressed' them up for their Christmas picture.
Again, with a puzzled expression he says, "Now why would a mom do that to her kids?"

We made a gingerbread village on Christmas eve. It was a Norman Rockwell moment, or at least it started out that way. By the time we were done, Mike scraped icing off the wall, there were candy pieces all over the floor, and several of santa's sleigh's had to be reglued after moving the piece to a smaller table in the corner. Magical. Beautiful renditions of a manger scene, Grinch's cave house, and the neighborhood businesses that none of us could live without. You know, Starbucks, Chuck E Cheese, and the local Church. If you squint your eyes you can tell exactly what each one was suppose to be. Completed only by the licorice and candy pathways that separated them all.

Just after dark on Christmas eve, as our extended family was preparing to leave for their own celebrations coming to their homes in the next few hours, Nelly and Meredith put their boots on so they could scatter our homemade "Reindeer Food" on the front lawn, hoping to attract the lively crew to our rooftop. A plate was set for Santa with some of our best Christmas goodies, and Tommy said he hoped the fire would be cooled off before it got too late so Santa could make it down our chimney safely. All of these things must have worked, because the livingroom was overwhelmed with the gifts from Santa and the tree was laden with all the good things that would make our season bright.

Mike and I made it to bed about 2:30 am Christmas morning, just to be jolted awake a half an hour later, to Nelly saying, "Santa was here!!!" Little did she know that just prior to her arrival, Santa nearly forgot to drop his delivery here. We realized something was missing, traipsed back down to the livingroom to make sure all the Santa gifts were indeed in their places, and barely closed our eyes when Nelly appeared as bright as the full moon, waking us from our exhaustion. Oh Nelly!! We sent her back to bed, putting her off to the more reasonable hour of 6:30 am. I was so tired all day long that I had to fight off the urge to slap or bite her everytime I went past!

By noon, all gifts were fully opened, appreciated and finding their way to the other parts of the house. We had breakfasted on candy and cookies left over from the party of the night before, and were dressing for our trip to the Chicago airport to pick up our Jenni and Jeremy who had flown in from Oregon. Our timing was perfect, the coffee we drank on the way helped keep us awake on the 2 1/2 hour trip there, and the kids were peaceful,some even sleeping, as we traveled. We trudged into the small airport, all 7 kids in tow, when Mike said "Faith, look at your daughter."
I looked down at Mere, smiling up at me, and only then realized she was wearing her new clogs to the airport - without untying the string that held them together. Each step we took was accompanied by her quick paced shuffle - just as quickly as she could go with the distance of the string holding them together.

So when I look back at this holiday season, I will think of all the wonderful times we had with friends and family, all the things we did as our own family to celebrate the special days of being together, and look forward to the year ahead, knowing each year goes by much faster than the last one. So much is in store for our new year, but I hope I am not too quick to forget the fun and craziness of this one.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Things I Learned with a High Fever

If you could peek into my house right now, you would think it was nearly perfect. The Christmas tree is twinkling, little eyes are closed for a restful sleep and I am sitting in a darn near clean house, quiet and at peace.

But really, I am just waiting for the next storm to erupt. You see, our family has been battling the 'flu this week. The gut wrenching, run for your life type, that no matter how much you try to avoid it, it grabs you and won't let you out of its nasty grip until you feel like you were hit by a semi truck.

I am not sure who actually brought this gift of sickness to us this season, but Nicole and I were racing to see which one could reach the bathroom first on Wednesday night. We stayed neck-to-neck for about 24 hours, asking each other for assurance throughout the day if either of us were hurting worse or sicker than the other. We were miserable.

And then baby Bella got it. She fussed to daddy, and as he reached to console her, lifting her up to his shoulder, she "spilled her guts" and daddy about tossed his cookies right with her. I was slightly aware of their awkward rendezvous in the kitchen, but for the life of me I couldn't move a muscle off the couch to assist in anyway. I remember telling him to get the kindergartner's off the bus, and then slept until after supper.

The next morning I felt as close to normal as I did before the semi hit me, so I got kids to school, and went about the festivities of the "last day of school before the holiday break" mode, to which all was going as planned at the younger children's school when the principle showed up in the classroom and warned me that Nelly had gotten ill at school and was not allowed to ride the bus home.

Parties were nearly over, so we headed to her school to get her home safely before she decided all the party options were not all that attractive anymore, and then she went to bed without any complaint. So far, if you are keeping score, that's 4 down, 5 to go.

We had plans to cancel for the evening, dinner was carryout pizza, and we tried to watch a family movie, although some of the kids were not really up to much of that on this particular Friday night. Saturday morning, 5:30 am, Tara decided to join in the fun the other 4 of us were having, and that meant, only 4 left to succumb to the holiday 'flu bug. It was vicious. By noon today, Mike was down for the count, although he had put up a great fight until the end (and no, coffee does NOT keep away the 'flu), leaving a solemn bunch of characters in various stages of disarray.

Supper was cans of spaghettios if you could handle it, or sprite and soda crackers if that had more appeal. I was feeling much better by tonight, and figured I could accomplish something yet today, like dishes that needed washing badly since our dishwasher decided to quit this weekend also. As I finished cleaning the kitchen, Tyler walks up the stairs, reports his bad intent, and grabbed a bucket to keep him company during the long hours he is facing tonight. Just as Bella falls asleep, Nelly reads bedtime stories to the younger ones, grabbing buckets "just in case someone else needs them tonight..." when Tommy says, "I am sleeping on the livingroom floor tonight. My tummy is not very well...." and falls asleep shortly after that at my feet.

Mere is the last standing. Kinda. She said if she slept with Tara she will get sick, although Tara is on the upswing, I think. If she slept with Tommy she will get sick, and if she went upstairs to sleep with Dad, he might get sick on her!

Poor Mere. It's hard to know what is ahead, but in this house, this weekend, it's pretty safe to say she's gonna get it sometime really soon, no matter where she lays her head tonight!!

Oh, looks are deceiving. The house if perfectly quiet for the moment, but I know above me in the girls quarters, and below me in Tylers room, not much real rest is being had tonight. And I am thinking if I get any sleep tonight, it may just be right here on the couch, dead center of them all.

I hope the 'flu bugs don't find out where any of you live this season!! Stay well!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Nativity

All the Christmas decorations are up. The twinkling lights on the Christmas tree glow, creating shadows on the livingroom walls. The printer hums with recipes I've collected over the past few weeks, and the television plays endless, feel good stories of the holidays.

Since we have an "open door" policy at our house all through the year, we have visitors nearly every day, so the coffee pot stays full until we finally turn in for a few hours of peaceful sleep, just to start the magic all over again in the morning.

I was straightening the livingroom just before bedtime, expecting a friend in the morning. The nativity sat on the far end of the livingroom, figures askew, after Mere' had spent much time setting it up and enjoying the bible story of the first Christmas. I know how much she loves babies, and listening to her coo and speak imaginary lines to the players in her drama I was reminded how wonderful the story of the season is, especially through the eyes of a wondering child.

As I knelt down to place the nativity figures in their "proper" places, I picked up the lonely shepherd first. The set had 2 shepherds and 3 wisemen the year it came out of the box for the first time, but after all the curious little hands the last few years, some of the figures have found their way to the bottom of toy boxes, doubtlessly found anytime throughout this years celebrations.

So I knelt with the lonely shepherd, carefully placing him next to the manger, where he could give proper due to the Holy Child. It's probably a good thing that everyone else in the house was sound asleep in their beds, and had been for some time, because I could not stifle the belly laugh that exploded when I saw the "holy child" in our nativity scene was a tiny plastic dalmation dog.

I should have known, especially since Mere' had been the one who last played with the Christmas setting, that it would not necessarily have been a "real" baby that she was cooing too. She's like that. She can turn any toy in her fanciful world of imaginations into whatever she needs it to be. And she loves dogs.

So, with no disrespect to the Christ-child, our nativity still holds one sleeping dog in the manger, with shepherds and wisemen gathered 'round the throne of peace.
I am not sure exactly where the baby Jesus figure has landed in this house, but I do know, no matter where the original piece is found later this year, we will give our ultimate praise and thanksgiving to THE ONE who makes our holiday real, the reason for the season, the umph behind everything we are trying to teach our children about goodness, peace, love and sacrifice.

Especially this year, even if the figure is a dalmation dog in our plastic nativity set, we know the REAL Jesus who came to earth as a simple child so many years ago to give us the gift of eternal life so that we can live with HIM forever.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

27 Days Til Christmas

I hit Black Friday Shopping with a vengeance!! I accomplished so much on Friday, and now the wrapping piles are much larger!! We do power wrapping after the kids go to bed at night, and hubby loves that part the most. We normally watch a cheesy Christmas movie or listen to the carols that I love while we wrap. Good family times!

We had a wonderful thanksgiving day with family. Both of our parents are in their seventies, so we cherish every holiday that we have with them all. We ate a big meal with alot of desserts and played games until bedtime. It was a memorable day, with our oldest daughter plus her husband plus his brother plus our kids plus our parents ... good times.

I love the holidays. Giving, wrapping, surprises, baking, cooking, family all around. I hope all of you are enjoying these special days too.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Time is flying by on the homefront. It seems like we had just opened our camper for the season when we emptied it and got it ready for winter. That's the first sign of November.

Planning for our thanksgiving feast is another sign. We know with a large family, it's usually much easier to host holiday events than to drag 7 kids to other homes. Besides, it's not like we get a ton of invitations anyway!! We sat down last week to prepare our dinner list, always including the standard fare, along with a couple of new dishes this year. We plan on having about 9 guests, so will be bringing all the table and chairs out of the basement, and washing up all the table covers. I think of the first thanksgiving and wonder what they would think of our use of paper plates, and disposable dinner wear. I love a fancy table, but when you feed a crowd, it's one of the sacrifices I am willing to make for it to be a day of fellowship, and not extra work.

We also started putting our Santa lists together this week. I admit, it's hard to write a wish list when the temps have been warmer than some parts of our summer this year. I think once the snow flies, I feel more in the holiday mood, and it seems much more real once the trees are lit. We started a family tradition last year with joining one of our children's birth grandma and taking an old fashioned wagon ride to the pine tree farm to pick out the perfect tree. Since we have a couple of asthmatics in our family, we put the real tree on the porch out front, and the artificial tree in the house. Both become spectacular sights, and we enjoy the decorating. Last year our house still had the outside wrap on it, since we didn't get the siding done until this spring, so we always teased that the lights on the tree made a wonderful advertisment for our local lumber company. I wonder if they will miss that this year? Our outdoor tree was (of course) the most expensive on the lot, and this year I hope to encourage the kids to find a perfect "cheaper" tree. Oh to be young again and not have to be concerned about money!

So, I started my christmas shopping, wondering how to teach the kids about the true meaning of the holiday, and still enjoy the American traditions that we all enjoy. We started by choosing 3 names of children off of our church Christmas tree that need some loving, and began purchasing gifts for them that may be the only thing they receive this year. We will begin our baking after thanksgiving, with the plan of making trays to give to our neighbors, and hopefully taking some to the women's shelter downtown. In times past we have made boxes that are sent to orphanages overseas, but this year I am looking for other ways to help the kids really be involved in helping some who are less fortunate than we are. I have asked them to consider what we can do either individually, or as a family, to help someone else. I am hoping they can come up with some good answers on their own.

In the midst of all the business of life, I am reaching into my own heart and trying to define the things I am blessed with, and express my thankfulness for them. I realize there are so many ways I am blessed by family, friends, and even strangers, and I hope that I am living my life as a blessing to others. The words I say, the things I do, the people I am around.

Our homestudy is finally nearing completion, and we hope to have the hard copy in hand right after the holiday. I hear rumors about international adoption closing its doors and I fight the panic response. I am more than ready to welcome our newest children into our home. I dream of them. I wonder throughout the day who they are, what they look like, when will they come home? I try to trust in an all knowing Father who knows our hearts and the hearts of Kings, and I won't give up the desire of my heart until I know for sure we have done all we can do to reach our children.

Until then, we go through our days, counting our blessings, reaching out to others, teaching the important things of life to our children, and praying daily for what is ahead. I hope you can do the same, and I look forward to hearing how you have succeeded in your life goals, also. God bless you and yours in this season of thanksgiving.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Travel, Homestudy and Steaks

I just got back last night from a 4 day power trip to North Carolina. Bella's grandma was going to visit relatives, and we tagged along. The mountains never fail to amaze me. The creeks running over stones, rough waters peaking in white foam over sharp rocks. Some areas the water meandered slowly around curves, while just around the mountain bend, it appeared to pick up speed and race to the next jut in the mountainside. Beautiful. Brought back alot of memories of our years in Coleman Falls, Virgina, living in a caretakers cottage at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I said power weekend, because the drive is over 13 hours one way, we visited with relatives for 2 days, and returned home the next. One thing I always enjoy about road trips is the hours of conversation you can have with the passengers. Some of the time Bella would sing at the top of her lungs, drowning out the words between her gramma and I. Then she would fall asleep, mostly content in her car seat with paci blanket in hand. I inherited Gramma with Bella's adoption, a first in our home of many adoptions. It's interesting to actually have biological information on a child not born to us, and it's fun to get to know how we are connected to others. An extended family. A new world we didn't ever think of 3 years ago as being possible.

Adoption does that. Opens you up to other people, other situations. Makes you think about things you would never consider otherwise. We want to shy away from these connections sometimes. Some conversations make me uncomfortable, and I find out things about her birth mom that I will have to explain someday. I pray that she will make better choices in the years ahead, because one day Bella will run into her, and I hope it can be a positive experience, not one that will cause her fear or doubts about where her life may have been had she not joined our family...

Then I think again about the current homestudy. Our caseworker said she was recommending that we are allowed to adopt two Ethiopians this time. That was our hope. As she completes the paperwork that we need to send to the Ethiopian government, I wonder how the picture of our family will unfold to the authorities there? Will they be assured that we will love the children they place here as if they were born to us? We intend to. Will they think we can provide to the best of our ability? We will. Will they recognize our home as one of laughter, growth and family times? It is. Will they agree with the social worker, and when can we begin this process of remaking and adding on to our family? We are ready.

So, where does the Steak come in?? I will try to give the shortened version here.
Our school is doing conferences this week, so several days are 1/2 days, which also means several days the kindergarteners have no school. Today was one of those days, and being that I just traveled from 8:30am to midnight yesterday coming home from North Carolina, and the morning needed to start out slowly so I could catch up...
Tommy doesn't understand S..L...O...W...and he hit the ground running. By noon I had cleaned the livingroom twice, chased 3 little ones out of the mud in the back yard, chased the dog (oh yeah, we got a dog...) in from the back yard, and picked wet fun fruits off the newly cleaned carpet in the livingroom. While I was doing that, the little ones were destroying the diningroom....so, at 11:30, I decided a trip to Taco Bell would break the cycle, and give me a reason to leave the mess for later. In the plan making stage of getting out, the kids needed a bath to get the mud off, they needed to get shoes on, and get into their car seats. We grabbed a half loaf of bread, knowing that we could also feed the ducks at the river while we were out. A party was forming now. Picking up our taco's first, we headed to the riverfront. Of course our town has a huge (house-high) boulder that marks the site of our historical place in this world. The kids promised they would be good if we could "climb" big rock after we fed the ducks. The party was expanding. After duck feeding, chasing pigeons and eating our taco's, we climbed big rock. It was a Kodak moment, especially rolling down the big hill in front of the big rock. The only way I could persuade them to leave the historical site was to promise we would go "deer hunting." Our version includes driving slowly down the back roads of town, towards the old Indian cemetary, looking intently for wandering deer. No such luck today. So we ended our excursion with a quick trip to the grocery store. Emotions were still high, energy levels no where near the downslide yet. I promised each a candy bar if they were good (well, sometimes a bribe like this works well) at the grocery. I was pleased to find steaks on a great sale price, so I picked up extra packs for the freezer. Out to the van, and we were on our way. We stopped at gramma and grampa's house for a minute, and that's when the steak incident happened.

Talking briefly with the grandfolks was enough time for Tommy, Mere or Bella to open a pack of cold steaks, but I didn't recognize what was happening at the back of the van until Bella pushed a hunk of steak at my face in her dirty hands, and said "Look what Tommy did!" (He denied it all.) It took me a minute to recognize the red meat in front of me was not road kill, or the catch of the season but the steak I had just bought. My dad was laughing til he nearly fell down, mom looked surprised, and the little hands held tight to the fresh steak that was going to be supper....

If I had thought of it, another picture would have explained it better. But suffice it to say, all in all it was a successful day off of school. And tonight we are going for pizza, after all....

Monday, October 26, 2009


We found ourselves completely immersed in the kids school work this week. Taking 10 days to travel to the grandkids really cramped their styles at school, and this week was HOURS of catch up work for the 3 oldest. The younger kids were able to take theirs with us to Jersey, but the bigger kids had payback time this entire week.

By Saturday night, I realized I had omitted working with Tom and Mere on their regular homework, so we pulled out the book called "Hats" and they both "read" them perfectly. They love their kindergarten teacher, and I can hear her expressive reading when they recount what they are learning.

Part of their homework was to discuss the use of Hats and other things we wear. One question was, "What do we wear on our wrists?" Of course the Princess didn't skip a beat when she said "bracelets!". Tom took a half a second longer and said, matter of factly, "Handcuffs."

It made us laugh out loud. What does our little guy know about handcuffs? Ah, the surprises from little lips!

We have our last home visit with our caseworker this week. Not only are we finishing projects and touching up paint that has been scribbled on (only 3 of them are doing that these days), we are cleaning closets and sorting through the last of the summer clothes and hanging up the winter coats. It is Michigan, so day to day weather is hard to predict.

It seems like such a long year of getting to this point. So much has happened along the way, and yet, it feels some days as if time has been suspended. We try to picture who our Ethiopian born children will be, and wish we were closer than we are to meeting them. I try to be patient, knowing God's great plan will bring it all together in HIS perfect timing, but the very human, mother side of me is anxious to put my babies to sleep in their new room. Having met our newest grandson makes it even more real to believe there are children in Ethio that have lost their family and we need to bridge the gap as soon as possible to them.

We like our caseworker. She is working on her own adoption, so she is sensitive to our emotional journey. This visit she will meet our other children, and form her final opinions about our life, our home, and our plans. She has told us she will recommend us for 2 children, and there is no fear that it will all go smoothly (as possible for an international adoption!!) from here. It's just the waiting that makes it seem almost impossible to bear.

I love a plan. I love knowing when things are going to happen, how it will work out and what I need to do to make it come to fruition. In earlier years it was preparing sunday school classwork, and later on, Vacation Bible School at our home church. That morphed into starting a home cleaning team, and years later,an office position that allowed me to help with managing the office, and helping employees with their benefits. I had clear plans for every day, and time tables I could work with.

Once we started with foster care, most of my plans became dealing with issues "on the fly" while getting kids to counseling, doctor appointments and visitations. I kept a meticulous calendar, and thrived in the business of "doing." When I endeavored to homeschool 6 of our kids, ages 11 to 4, I still found solace in a well kept schedule of events.

Fast forward to now. I still have a house to keep clean, LOTS of laundry to maintain, and 6 kids schedules to adhere to with public school. Our Baby Bella is no longer in therapy (praise God!) and the only thing we try to do on a regular basis is to attend 1 hour of Library school each week. Sure, there are days of regular doctor appointments, and all the work of keeping a family healthy, happy and clean. But these days, life is much less busy, many less things to keep organized. I find myself wondering what to accomplish next.

That's where the waiting for our new children gets hard. I have read so many books on adoption, international most recently, and attachment issues. I have read blogs, articles and books on how to keep Ethiopian children's hair healthy. I have stocked the nursery with everything functional and am waiting to see who our children will be so I can buy the things they will need. And I am still waiting...

I guess on weeks like these, I should savor the peace, and relish the lack of business. I am slowing down, learning to take deep breaths and see the silver linings. Bella and I do not miss an opportunity to smell the roses.

And on weeks like this, I am so very thankful for the kindergartener that makes us laugh so effortlessly with his "handcuff" comment. Even in waiting and feeling less busy, there is so many ways to see the beauty of each day.

Saturday, October 17, 2009



We traveled to New Jersey to be with our son and his wife for the birth of their third son. We tried to pick a date that would get us there as close as possible to the baby's due date, but we really didn't want to miss his birth. When her contractions seemed fairly regular, we packed the camper as quickly as possible, and headed east.

We arrived, and her contractions stopped immediately. The larger wait began. While we waited, it seemed like a nice vacation with the grandsons and we enjoyed wonderful weather. We surfed, we looked for awesome shells, and Mike even caught a 6 ½ inch blue crab from the Atlantic Ocean. We took a lot of pictures, ate at some pretty cool restaurants, and every evening when we tucked the kids into their home-away-from-home beds, we would encourage our daughter-in-law that “tomorrow we'll have the baby!!”

I was able to go to two doctor appointments, and one we even saw another ultrasound that gave us a wonderful profile picture of our new little grandson. “Soon”, we would say every day.

Finally, on the 13th, we visited the doctor's office again, and dear daughter in law said, “I am ready to have this baby. Today.” With an understanding smile, Doctor said, “Go to the hospital and we'll have that baby today!”

Pa Pa settled in at the camper with all 9 kids (ours, plus 2 grandsons) and we registered mama at the hospital for the delivery. It probably wouldn't take long, this being her 5th day overdue, and her third birth. At 11:00, we were hoping for a quick delivery.

We chatted, laughed, grabbed a fast food lunch (for daddy and gramma!) while mama ate ice chips and drank clear liquids. At 5 pm, she was tired of sitting, baby was taking his time, and Doctor decided to induce labor. As Doc broke her water, started her labor inducing drugs, contractions came on strong. By 6:15, poor mama was begging for the Epidural, and “where is that anesthesiologist anyway?”
By 6:30 the kind man had gotten the injection and catheter inserted in her spine, and relief should have been coming quickly. Instead, baby Keane decided it was definitely time to show up, and mama dilated from 5 to 10 before 7 pm. Epidural was numbing her leg, making the urge to push go away while the pain stayed! Guess who delivered au naturale?

I held her leg, urging her to push and saying stupid things like “you are doing great” and “you can do it!!” when finally, his head appeared, and doc lifted the umbilical cord off his neck twice wrapped, cut it, handed him to the nurse and finished his business.

No cries.
“Why isn't he crying?” mama asked.
My son watches tentatively towards the bassinet that holds his new son, and a collective breath is held by all in the room.

Nurses work quickly and speak softly, one putting tools away as cleaning up the birthing area, while 2 others rub life into a quiet little baby. A squeak, a soft breath, and a slight cry, as the pinkness lightens his body. Suctioning his tiny mouth, every noise allows us to breathe deeper, rest easier.

My son says, “Mom, take pictures!!” I had totally forgotten my place in this birth. Overwhelmed by the process of the miracle taking place this room, at this time, I grabbed my camera and snapped photo after photo of the little life we had waited for nearly this whole year. Why we were so far from home. Who we had known for months by name, and now could learn to love anew upon meeting him for the first time. I touched his hand, thrilled by each cry and breath he took, and looked for all the familiar characteristics that labeled him part of our family, part of us forever.

This is the miracle of life. The waiting for his birth was the hardest part, until we waited for his first breath and his first cry. And now we have to say goodbye until we see him again.

Then a new wait begins.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Gray Cat

A loud knock on our front door Wednesday night startled the kids and caught Mike off guard. A family stood on our door step, begging help with an injured cat in the road.

Mike hesitated, wondering why they came to our door, as the injured cat was dragging himself across the road nearly 5 houses down from ours. It appears that our porch light was the only one burning on the street that night. The imploring eyes of the child in the family group made Mike grab a laundry basket, tell the littlest ones to stay inside, and took the route to the sad cat in the road. All in his bare feet, mind you.

He sized up the situation, terrified that our own young ones were now standing on our stoop yelling, "Is it OK dad? Did you find the cat?" and he was in the road several homes away, in the 9:00 dark.

He tried to scoop up the animal, who appeared to be full of spite and spitting his anger midst his painful injuries, nearly biting any of the rescuers that got close enough to help. The father of the group said, "Here, let me try." I never got the rest of this part, but someone got the cat into the laundry basket, and the laundry basket ended up in my bathtub.

Mike closed the door to the bathroom, finished putting our little ones to bed, and shortly after 10 checked on the cat that he figured would have passed into cat heaven by now. Nope. It half jumped/dragged its pitiful body out of the basket that was in the bathtub, and spit and clawed it's way to the far back of the corner under our clawfoot tub, as far from Mike as possible.

I swear, hearing this story at 5 am the next morning, looking at the calm cat in the cage, I would never have believed his antics of the night before just by looking at his pitiful eyes. Mike went on to describe how the feral cat had tried attacking him more than once, and he had to fashion a neck strap from an old pole and a USB cable. Quite creative, and he mentioned more than once how he had seen animals captured on the old show, "Wild Kingdom." Or was it "Animal Cops" ???

However it was accomplished, the cat was caught, offered a bowl of milk with some crushed VICODEIN to make him comfortable (or very, very sleepy) and off to animal control in the morning. He refused the milk, but spent the night peacefully in the cage.

I was trying to be sympathetic to what Mike had been through the night before. I was up early to take my mother to the hospital for surgery, and really, I wanted to hear the whole thing. As I left in the early morning darkness, wishing the injured kitty a peaceful day, I told Mike this story was begging to be blogged. He said, "But you don't know how it ended!"

I kissed him goodbye, flippantly throwing over my shoulder, "I am a writer. I will write my own ending."

So now I am at the point of needing to end this story. I would love to say that as he opened the cage, the injured cat came out, full of energy and remorse for what he had put Mike through the night before, completely healed of his injury.

Instead, Mike and Bella took him in the cage to the Animal Shelter, and Mike assured Bella that "they would know exactly what to do for the kitty."

To the others who came home from school at noon, "Kitty has gone on a very long sleep and he is not going to be hurting anymore."

And for me? I was glad I was not home to make the decision. Incidentally, Mom's surgery went well, and the gray cat is just another chapter in our memory book.

Monday, September 28, 2009


In our area, the days are getting much shorter, and the nights grow longer. It's been really COLD today, and windy to boot!! It's the changing seasons that us Michiganders are used to, but change is not always so welcome. Especially when fall is coming before the summer really had much of a chance to evolve fully!

The change from one season to the next always allows me to rethink things. Like the huge boxes of clothes we store from season to season, most of which have been worn more than once by more than one kid, and the majority of it was donated kindly to our family. Some of the things we take out of the boxes have obviously seen better days, and some of it we are just tired of seeing!! Time for a change.

Last year we decided to store our change-of-season-clothing in a different area of the house, to make this whole process easier to manage. Bringing 30 plastic bins out of the basement was getting tougher to handle, so this year we are storing more in the main level of the house for easier access. I will have to report more on the success of that later! I hope it was a change for the good.

As the kids grow and mature at different levels, I am rethinking our sleeping/playing arrangements. Perhaps 2 of the kids who are sharing a room now are not really the best housemates for each other, and another one of the kids may need to be more in the main level so we can help him manage parts of his life better. That Change is needed is obvious, but not always welcome. Change can be hard. Sometimes we resist change because we are comfortable with how things are, even if on a deeper level they just are not working out for the best.

So I am entering another season of change. I am trying to be sympathetic to what really needs to be changed, versus, am I just seeking something new? I think I like change, but mostly if I am the one who benefits from it. IE: It's my idea.

I have a child who resists change. Even if it's the best possible option for him, and will give him the best opportunities. I want to plead his cause, help him "see the light." I want to "make" him change. And then I sit back and ponder just how little I am really able to "make" anyone one change - especially if they just dont' want to.

I mean, I can change living arrangements, I can change bedtimes. I can change diets, and I can change alot of other outward conditions. But where I think he needs to change comes from the inside out, and that is an area I just can not touch, no matter how much I believe he needs it, and how much better his life would be if he made those changes.

So the windy, darker days ahead signal change is in the air. It's in the house, in our clothes and in our schedules. It's all around us. But sometimes the change that needs the most attention is the one inside our selves. The very core of who we are may need a makeover. And not matter how much I want it, I just can not do it for someone else. I wish I could. And I wonder what change I may be resisting in my inner most being? Are you resisting change too?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

You're a Big Kid Now

Mere went to school with her pants on backwards. So typical Mere. Teacher says, "Mere, go to the bathroom and change your pants around."
Sweet, tenderhearted Mere says, "No."

Anyone who knows her teacher, Mrs. G, knows you don't say NO to her!!

Mrs. G said to Mere, "Don't tell me no. I am the boss at school."
Mere - "But I am scared."
Mrs. G - "You are a big kid now, and big kids don't get scared."
Mere - "I know I am a big kid but I still feel scared."

Mrs. G tells me later, "I'm and adult and I still feel scared sometimes!!"

In the end, Mrs. G and Miss K take Mere to the bathroom, wait while she changes her pants around and all is good.

Mere tells me how scared she was, and I think her stubborness was more about the feelings of being scared outweighing her fear of the teacher being mad!

Mrs. G won, but so did Mere. She didn't have to go to the bathroom alone.

It makes me realize how often our responses and actions are based on a deeper issue than what appears on the surface. Our fears can often trigger attitudes and reactions differently than we really want to respond.

There have been many times during this whole International Adoption process when I have been ready to throw in the towel. So much work. So much training. So many papers. So many email. So many phone calls. So much fear.

What if we spend all this money and never get our children because the country closes its doors to adoption? What if we are not approved to adopt from Ethiopia by their governing officers? What if my daughter doesn't want to go with me when it comes right down to it, and I have to face Ethiopia alone? Can I do it?

In the end, I finally have to realize I rely on a much bigger source for security than my fears!! I have the power to do what God has put on our hearts to accomplish, and there are children waiting in a foreign country for us to come get them. I am NOT going to be a prisoner of my fears.

And Mere will continuing to learn that too. Thankfully she has a teacher who loves her and will help her succeed. Kindergarten is full of fearful firsts, and Mere is conquering them, one by one. Me, too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chicken Dance

Anyone who does not wake up with two five year olds doing the Chicken Dance at the foot of their bed does not know how good life can be!!

I got in bed just after midnight after a day long meeting/training session for our Ethiopian adoption. It was stimulating and encouraging to see progress and movement in our homestudy situation, but 6:30 this morning came around much too soon!! I wanted to scream, "NOOOOOO!! The night can not be over yet!!" But when those adorable chubby checks are flapping arms and wiggling their tail feathers, sleep feels over rated!!

The kids are all in school. The bus drivers and teachers are helping shape our kids into the productive children they were meant to be. We are working diligently on our own home schedules, and learning responsibility for ourselves and our things. We look forward to weekend camping trips, and times with friends. We found out just how quickly a family of little ones can destroy a white table cloth with delicious chocolate, and love every little smudge on rosy cheeks. (Thank you Jon and Heather for making our kids feel so loved at your wedding!!) Life is good.

In our homestudy and international adoption experience thus far, we are wondering how we ever dared birthing 3 children without any training. And I know the state tries hard to prepare us as foster parents to take on children with multiple needs and issues, and so training is a necessity. However, the training we are getting as International Adoption Parents by far exceeds anything we have been prepared for in our lives!! So you would think we would be close to be experts any time now. Yeah, right. All we really know is that there is no right answers to every question when you are dealing with little souls.

We are excited, although tired of the paperwork, to be moving ahead in the adoption. In some ways I feel the majority of this year was wasted, and I wonder who the little children are that God has for us in Ethiopia? Maybe they are not born yet, but a desperate pregnant mother is contemplating what is ahead in her childs future, and stares at the poverty around her. Maybe the child has been taken to the orphanage, ill and balancing between this life and eternal life, trying desperatly to hold on to life long enough to get the medical attention he/she needs. Maybe there are children in a bed who dream of enough food, or maybe they are too hungry to dream. I wish I understood what their lives held and who our children are. I want to run to them, bring them home to be loved, healed and protected. I want to hold our children and begin the process of forming our extended family. I see faces of Ethiopia and pray for the children there who live with the hope of a new life ahead.

So much to think of. So many long days ahead. Regardless of the answers, I know our lives are full and will just get fuller!! Let the Chicken Dance begin!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Finally, sunshine. This has been the coolest, wettest summer I can remember. You would think my flowers would be stunning. There must have been a couple of days of sunshine that dried out some of the hanging pots. It's hard to remember those sunny days when there is so much rain in the between days.

I feel, in my soul, like I have weathered a huge storm. So many of the things in my mind that felt/seemed insurmountable days ago are finally resolving. I will spare you all the details. Suffice it to say that it's really comforting to see the things I feel connected to are now giving me peace instead of confusion.

In a great turn, we now have an appointment for our homestudy. That is a huge relief. Our social worker seems pleasant, open to our situation. We had fears of a repeat from the previous start to our homestudy, so this is a real relief.

Our newest goat, Frankie, had pneumonia. For $55 we were able to see her health improve drastically, and she is on the mend. Ashleigh, our oldest daughter, had half of her thyroid removed last Thursday, and a biopsy of her tumor appeared cancer-free. Much more money, and not nearly the desired results we got from the goat yet, but she is on the mend. Slowly. I hate seeing her pain and would have done anything to go through it for her.

I am now looking at the last week before our school year starts. There is still a part of me that wished I could have made the homeschooling work for us. I hate the negative influences the kids are subjected to on the bus, in the school, at the playground. I would love to keep them home and more protected. But it is not enough to "want" what's best for them. Several of their special needs can be met by professionals who are trained how to reach them. Some of their needs can not be. But I have wisdom to know that our team approach can work best for the kids we have now, and we have already met with several of the school team members in preparation of a promisingly good school year. I am keeping my fingers crossed, and praying hard already. I would love the weather to hold off, and make one last weekday trip to the beach, zoo and park. Does it seem to anyone else that this summer has flown by, and dragged by at the very same time??

We have a couple more camping trips planned yet this fall, and several more home remodeling projects to finish. Days and weekends are busy as usual. Kids are growing and changing, learning to face this world. I weathered a storm. Life is hard, but Life is Good. "Keep calm, and carry on."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hello's and Goodbyes

I am still reeling from the week of my daughters wedding. The sun was shining, the grass was green, the flowers in full August bloom, and my oldest daughter was the picture of beauty. She had wanted to do everything on her own, but with her current health issues stemming from a bad thyroid full of tumors, we are amazed at all she was able to accomplish.

She made a simple, beautiful dress, cut flowers from her own garden, and her sister and I helped with the cakes. Her new inlaws arranged most all of the food, set up tables and chairs, and welcomed my sweet daughter into their family with open arms.

So Ashleigh has a husband who works hard and promises to love her forever. We have another son, and he has a pleasant, fun family. They danced into the dark night hours, after the sun went down, in the coolness of a perfect summer evening. We have never seen so many smiling faces in one back yard in our lifetime!! Other than tired feet by midnight, I can report it was successful, and another step in her life.

Because the family gathered for the wedding, we were happy to have all of our children together, not only in one state, but in one town, in one yard, in one house. That makes my mothers-heart very happy. It meant a week of dinners together, beach trips, breakfast out, laughter and chaos. I loved it all. We snapped pictures unplanned, and set up photos for the memory books that I can't wait to start developing and savoring all the good times it will remind me of. We appreciate how much our new son in law has brought into the family, and we are grateful that she has found such a nice man to share her life with. He promised to love her in sickness and in health, and he's no stranger to the health issues ahead for them. I believe he will be her continued support and she will get well sooner because of his love and devotion to her. What a great feeling for a mom to have.

But having the kids all here meant numerous goodbyes in the end. I absolutely HATE saying goodbye and watching them pull out of the driveway. I cry and sink into a place in my mind that takes some climbing out of - every time. I know we will be together again, but it's so hard to get everyone together at the same time each time, so this almost felt magical. The end is just hard to swallow after all the times of togetherness.

Menial things have happened during the week too. We got a new young goat pal for Milton and her name is Francine. Or Frankie if you want to be on a nick name basis with her. Mere says it's a weird name for a goat. Like Milton isn't??? Our bunny Oliver has cemented himself into Bella's life as the most important part of living each day. She never cares if he leaves his little turds on her lap. To her, it's just a part of loving that adorable bunny.

We still are waiting on the homestudy to be completed to send our dossier to Ethiopia. It's soooo hard to wait on something you have absolutely NO power to change. I guess that will be the preparation for the long referal process wait. I told my niece last week that we have 10 kids, and this one is the longest "pregnancy" ever!!

My dear friend, Robyn, flies out of town in the morning. She totally wrapped our hearts with hers about 2 years ago, becoming more like another daughter than a friend. I cried when we said goodbye, but I am happy for a new life for her. We wish her the best, but we selfishly wished she could have found the best here so we didnt' have to say goodbye to another loved one.

Today we discussed how we can get out (in time) to New Jersey for the birth of our third grandson. Since I was able to be with them for the first two, I really want to be there for this one too. I have an image in my mind of what he will be like, but is there anything more beautiful than being one of the first to welcome a new little life into the family?? I hope to be posting pictures of the newest in about 6 weeks or less!!

Life is good. But life is hard. Our Pastor spoke today on "Keep Calm and Carry On." I think I will be adopting that motto for my life the next few weeks. It's a good one to think about.

And, for the record, I would MUCH rather say HELLO than GOODBYE. Anyday.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Our New Additions

While I would love to be writing about our Ethiopian children joining our family, today I have news of others who have now become official family members.

Oliver Gilbert Thumpy Jr (As we all could not agree on his name)is a timid, black and white miniature bunny that my children are completely enthralled with. So much so, that we have to put time limits on how much they hold him, and he gets mandatory cage time (for his own good!!) They can cradle him like a baby, and Mere, especially, loves that.

Milton is a young goat that just finished up a week at the local fair. His pal, who would have been named "Bradley" had she been a he, made Reserve Grand Champion, and went home with a new family. Milton came here. He sounds sad, calling the children to come play. We are looking for another young one for him to pal around with, but that may have to wait until the Youth Fair comes to a close next week.

My favorite comment this weekend was from Mike. As he's stringing new fencing for Milton, he's muttering "of all the things I have to do..." Isn't that just like LIFE?? Right when we thing we have a plan, something else comes along to change that!

Our oldest daughter is getting married this next Saturday. Since it's an outside wedding, of course we are praying for sun. An alternate plan? Nope. We will either be wet or dry, but the wedding must go on!! We are excited that all of us will be together, since the troops are coming, literally, from the East (New Jersey) and the West (Oregon). One thing I know for sure, her fiance comes from a Polish family, and the food preparations have already begun!! It will be a fun, family and friends event, and who doesn't love a party??

So I am looking around at the mess. When we should have been cleaning for company, we welcomed Oliver Gilbert and Milton. When we should have been finishing painting projects, Mike was stringing fence and I was wedding shopping for all the last minute things. Today there is no getting around it. There is MUCH to be done to accomplish my goals for company (yeah, even tho' it's just the kids!!) and today is the day.

Once again, life is never dull at our house. And I think the nesting urge has hit more than just me...although Mike will never admit it, for sure!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009


There is nothing more exciting than waking up to a 5 year old in a camper. Tommy was on his back, feet in the air, at the foot of my bed.

"I am hanging upside down, actually."

I opened one eye, but had to sit up to see what he was doing. Precious. Mere' was in my way, and Bella was still snoring beside me. I smelled coffee in the kitchen and the day had begun. We slept in. It was 7:30.

The winds on the beach yesterday disguised the fact that we were getting terribly burned. Sleeping was not easy last night. Have you ever burned the back of your knees? I fell asleep after jumping waves with my 7- month- along- in- her- pregnancy daughter in law, and she was perfectly fine after the wave jumping and body surfing. I was trashed. Fell asleep on my stomach on the beach, woke up to pink legs...ugh!! But there is no better rest than after a bunch of rough water playing, so I wouldn't trade the knee burn for nothing!! Great memories to tuck into my winter doldrums box in my mind.

Mere' was explaining to Tara about how to pull a tooth. Tara has a front tooth that is hanging by a small root. It's a front tooth, her second that needs to come out. With her sensory issues, combing her hair is a small feat most days, so pulling a tooth goes waaaayyyyy over her comfort zone. She will let it fall out like the first one before she will let anyone pull it, or before she will pull it herself. The whole vacation everyone has taken a turn explaining to her that the tooth fairy will come when it is under her pillow, and everyone has a method to help her get it there. Mere has lost about 4 teeth now,so she's an expert.

"Tara, if you eat a 'pupcake' it will come out in there and you will eat it."

You wont' get an expert opinion on losing teeth more than that one.

I realize I should have been writing down all the adventures we have had this week as they happened. Now the week is over, and we are headed home. All I can think of is how long it will be before I can hold my grandsons again, and how long a drive is ahead before we get back to our homebase.

The homestudy is finally in the right hands, and is moving along. I try not to focus on the fact that we lost 7 months with the last agency fiasco, and I think how wonderful it will be to have our new children before vacation next year. A miracle is in the making, and we are so greatful for that. Life continues to move along, even when we try our hardest to stop the clock and enjoy the moment.

The best part of waking up is not coffee. It's that 5 year old who is 'actually hanging by his feet' at the end of my camper bed. And all the other vacationers that are sunburned, tired and full of memories themselves. Precious memories that will last in our minds forever.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Unwelcome Guest

I was out with a friend when I received a phone call from my pre-teen son.
"Mom." Then the phone hung up.
As a mom, we are prepared for any emergency. But dad was home, it was well past Tylers' bedtime, and before I let my mind start racing with unspoken possibilities... I called him back.

He answered immediately. "Mom, there is a racoon in the basement. I saw him eating the cat food."

Whew. Of all the things it could have been, I was relieved.
For a brief second.

Oh my - a real racoon in my basement?? Last week it was a chicken. Really.
Or a pheasant, or some sort of fowl.

Mice, bugs, spiders. Those are all expected in an old house. Even a stray bat would be understandable. Racoons? Chickens???

As I dropped my friend off and headed home to survey the situation (or at least to be a part of the action!!), I thought how the night before I couldn't sleep due to the amount of little children that had infiltrated my bed in the dark of night. After squirming between kicking legs and little arms that assault my slumber, I trudge downstairs to the couch with my pillow to see if I can redeem the night with a few hours of shut eye.

Five minutes into my peacefulness, I hear a scritch-scratching sound in the livingroom wall directly behind the entertainment center, and by the time I jumped up from my pillow, I had convinced myself the critter in the wall was waiting to jump out at me as I snuck past it's hiding place, and a wrestling match would ensue, most likely making me the loser.

I sprinted upstairs, woke up Mike, and told him of the dangers that awaited us in the livingroom. He grabbed a flashlight, peered in any and every oriface in the vacinity, and deemed our habitat was safe. We sat quietly until the scritch-scratching began again.

"It's definately too big to be a mouse."
"A rat?" I asked, with a frown.
"Nope, but maybe a squirrel or chipmunk."
Oh man, those little critters lost their appeal immediately. They are not adorable cartoon characters when they are in the walls of our farm house.

So, back to the racoon eating our cat food. It dawned on me that this must have been the wall terror of the night before. It must have been looking for a way to get out, but how did it get in?

Through a series of detective work, Mike found the opening. He closed it, hoping the critter didn't stay in the old crawlspace, but he set a trap inside for 2 days (not effective) and then outside the old access doorway for another 2 days. We did catch a young opposum, but that was not what Tyler had seen devouring our cat food.
(and yes, the children wanted to keep it as a pet, but had to say goodbye when we released it into the woods at the back of our property.)

Back to this weekend. Figuring we had secured the entrance into our basement (which was my big concern!) how would be make sure it was not setting up (or continuing!) housekeeping in our crawl space?

Walmart to the rescue. Mike determined we could bug bomb the crawlspace, and after we chased the critter convent out of our dank, dark area where no one ever wants to go, he could repair the ancient doorway that had rotten under our deck which lead to the start of our unwelcome guest in the basement in the first place.

I think we took every bug bombing kit on the store shelves, set them off, spent the day running errands and having fun, and returned to replace the rotted doorway with a new one that would secure the space that future critters could not infiltrate.

Success. I think. No other sightings, nothing else going bump in the night.
Well, except the human critters that somehow always find their way back into my dreams and my sleeping space.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


We sat in the cool evening air last night with kids at our feet stretched out on thick blankets. With family around us, and snacks galore, I wondered how much of this evening would pile up in the little minds in front of me and just what they were thinking as the bombs burst in the air?

Aaah! OOO!! The fireworks stretched above our heads, just slightly outdone by the shine of the nearly full moon shining high to the right of our seats.

They lay on their bellies, feet swaying. "Glow sticks" around all their necks, ankles and wrists, they were easy to find in the deep darkness. But they were not going far from us anyway.

I traveled back to my own childhood, where we sat in the same spot, surrounded by some of the same people. We are much older now, but the memories come back at me strongly, seeing them through wiser eyes. I remember falling asleep on the way home, pressed together with my brothers in the back seat of the car, listening to the other cars around us trying to escape the frenzy of tired drivers gathered in one common area. The radio played static music as we drove through town, headed back to our country home to land into our warm beds and dream the dreams of sleepy children whos lives are perfectly right with the world.

In the midst of memories, I wonder what my children will remember from these days of family times? And as I watch the bright moon peering through the clouds drifting past its splendor, I realize it's the same moon from my childhood that has shone brightly over me every night of my life, the same moon that now shines over the tow heads and curls of my children, and our world is at peace.

So we journey to our home, sleepily landing in warm beds, ready to dream the dreams that others have dreamed before us. Sleep. Sleep.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Dollar Tree Incentives

Around here, if I need someone to help out extra special, or be on their best behaviour, I have found out a little incentive that goes a long way is the promise of a trip to the Dollar Tree Store.

Today we had to take baby Bella to the Orthopedic company about 45 minutes from home. The only appointment we could work into our schedule this week was an afternoon one for today, which immediately sounded like a precarious plan. Mostly, because the 5 youngest kids would be joining me.

Jeeves, my ever-present "Manny" (who hates when I call him that!), travels with me on these therapy/dr. appointment trips. The kids were hyped up, and pretty excited to be seeing the way they were going to cast Bella's feet to make her new braces. The ride up was loud. VERY loud. Taco Bell was finished, pop had been spilled and I needed an incentive - quick!!

"If we can all be on our best behaviour today, after the appointment with Bella we can go to the Dollar Tree!" I tried to sound really excited, because I needed them to buy into the idea. Shouts all around : "yay!!!!" The last 10 minutes of the ride was calmer!! It was working!!

After jumping and running around the office, they settled in fairly well (for them). The office staff is very nice and the guy making the braces didn't seem bothered to be tripping over 10 little feet and before we left he had given each of the kids a rubber glove to blow up like a balloon. Good times. On to Dollar Heaven, uh, Tree.

I think one of the reason's I will try to shop at this particular store more often than the ones closer to my home is because with all the things my kids handled and misplaced in the store today, not one of the staff said anything nasty, hateful or out of place. And a couple times they could have had plenty to say with good reason. Usually we leave this type of store with my head hung low, wishing my kids could show a little less enthusiasm when we were out and about. We already stand out enough, you know.

But after handling all the possible options, each kid picked out one new treasure, one item, each, to take on our beach trip friday and ALSO an ice cream treat that was just begging to be devoured immediately. I had the kids move to the side and begin their ice cream as the cart full of items were being rung up and bagged, while people all around us commented on how brave we were to take this many kids out shopping.

I really didn't have the guts to say I was just making good on a bribe, but instead, I smiled, my friend Jeeves commented "they are all hers, and there's 2 more at home!!", and I loaded the cart to head towards home. Opening my own ice cream - a nice drumstick with nuts on top!! - we corralled the 5 youngun's to the door, and my ice cream plopped off the top of the sugar cone, leaving me with only half the treat I suddenly realize I had a huge craving for!!

Oh, but getting in the car, happy, sticky, ice cream smeared faces and treasures in the bags, I drove home thinking, how bad is it really (?) to bribe kids for just a small treat from the dollar store? Even though it ended up being 3 treats each, and a half hour of clean up in the van once we pulled into our driveway at home, it was worth it. Every penny.

Because they were all smiling, or sleeping soundly, all the way home.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


A sweet time in the evenings in our family is when the youngest 4 sit with me around my laptop and view pictures of children in Ethiopia. We are learning about their culture and Mere will often point to a child and say, "Aww, is that one our baby?"

She is also quick to notice children of color in our local market and will often pull on my shirt and whisper, "Is that one ours?" It's all such a mystery that even the little ones are excited to move forward and get introduced to who our next baby will be.

So, I trudge on. I printed the formal application to our new homestudy this week. The frustration mounts in my chest as I survey the whole process beginning again, and I try to reason myself out of the tedious, but needful, paperwork.

After all, we have another grandchild on the way. We are planning a vacation to the east coast to visit our two grandsons in July, and hope to go back in October for the new baby.

And our oldest daughter is getting married in August. Busy time for our family to make new memories.

And my parents are facing a tough decision with my youngest brother who will need to be transitioned into a new living facility that can meet his mental, social and emotional needs. They need our support right now, and they are not getting any younger.

My brother just had a heart attack and 4 bypasses. I have nieces having babies, other nieces going on mission trips, and cousins getting married. I have a son that is going to hit his first teen year in October, and he's already needing more attention and alot of help if he's going to be successful in Junior high in the fall.
Plus, I have a daughter who's 11 going on 16, not to mention the younger 5 sibs that keep us on our toes.

So, who needs Ethiopia??? Why are we driven to follow our heart there??

As the evening sun sets and little hands began rubbing sleepy eyes, the littlest ones gather around and want to snuggle as we look at pictures of children that resemble the ones implanted in our hearts many months ago. The children that God impressed us with who are waiting for us so many miles away.

Because of Mere, who tells anyone who will listen that we have a new baby brother or sister waiting for us in AFRIOPIA - and as it warms my heart, it also gives me the next push to grab that pen, finish the paperwork and send it off to the ones who are responsible to get us going in the right direction.

God implanted the desire in our hearts, and the little hands and eyes around us remind us that someone is missing from our clan, and soon, very soon, all the setbacks will be over and we will be with the child who is meant to be a part of our family forever.

Keep searching, Mere. Afriopia, as she says, is not so very far away if you can believe in the plan God gave us with the simple faith of a child.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Horrible Homestudy Nightmare

Well, we did it. We actually found a new agency to conduct our International Homestudy.

Yes, we thought we were past this point too. Like, six months ago. We kept contacting our agency and we finally got a letter from them on Friday that said, "____(insert social worker name here) is no longer with our agency."

They returned our money, and said there was no one else in our area, so SEE YA!! I was in disbelief at first, then tears, then panic set in. Six months and intensive paperwork, and it's all over???

I immediately got ahold of our placement agency, for direction mostly, and let off alot of steam. My chest hurt, and I knew it was from holding my breath. I can not believe God had lead us this far toward our Ethiopian child, just to be at a serious stopping point now. What to do?

A new plan formed. I was going back a half of year to start at the research phase - again. Would we ever get past this dreaded point?? How could we have sailed through our 7 domestic adoptions, just to be disappointed that we couldn't seem to obtain that important piece of this international puzzle? My second oldest daughter spoke words of wisdom all the way from Oregon. "Mom, maybe this is the part where you concede and stop trying for another child."

Ah, the joys of adoption. Plans change, obstacles need overcoming, attitudes have to be checked again and again, and here we are at a crossroad. Which way to go now?

Then, a kind voice at the end of the other line speaks comfort to me. Finally. Yes, they can do our homestudy. No, we are not too old to adopt from Ethiopia. Yes, adding another child is perfectly understandable. No, for some families, 10 children is NOT enough. Whew. Has God lead us here? Yep. Is HIS hand still guiding our steps? Sure is!! Is HIS will still our focus? Definately!!

So I began the process (again) of filling out homestudy paperwork. Since I have been here before, maybe it won't seem so daunting this time...


At least there is hope again. And hope is waiting for us in Ethiopia!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rainy Wednesday

I think we are getting our April showers in June this year. I used to love a lazy, rainy day, but with 7 kids out of school, the rain keeps us cooped up too much and makes me pine for sunny days.

Yesterday the kids painted rocks. I had 2 tons delivered on Monday as a birthday gift from my husband, so they had plenty to choose from. The big kids found several clumps of clay in the pile and spent hours fashioning items that they dried out and painted along with their rock creations. Tara asked me this morning at 7:30 what our craft was today. Oh, I am just not sure I am into crafting today!! I was hoping to put my solar lights in the front garden, and then place some more rocks around the back fence gardens today. The question is, do I want to work out in the rain???

So maybe today will be a baking day. Anything we do is an adventure. I am also ready to hang decorations in Tom's new room, and iron his new curtains. After weeks of him wanting to paint his walls chocolate brown, we convinced him to go with a nice deep blue color, and we finished painting about midnight last night. He may be able to sleep in his new room tonight!!

We could paint, bake, clean, or snuggle with a movie today. I guess on a rainy wednesday our options are open for whatever we want to do. What a nice middle-of-the-week plan. Rain and all!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Red Chips

Everytime I say "chips," my kids immediately envision SALSA!!
I returned from another doctor appointment this morning with my oldest daughter and found 2 yards of red chips in my trailer for the garden!! Yay!! I am revamping the front landscaping of our home, which happens to be my stress reliever, and was short of mulch when I put my tools away on Sunday night. That wonderful husband of mine surprised me with two more loads so I can finish the project. He values my hobby and he has been so helpful getting this yard work done. I make the messes, pulling weeds and old vines, and he faithfully picks it all up before I can even get off my knees. What a great team.

Tyler, 12, loves gardening with me the most. He's got the strength that I lack and definately more stamina for the long haul. That puts Nic and Nelly in charge of watching the younger ones as they play around us. It's a great summer for getting things done.

Tommy has a big black eye and cheek today. No, he's not the one with the broken nose! He will be 5 on Saturday, and for some reason, it looked fun to him to ride down the stairs in a rubbermaid plastic bin. I don't believe he thought it thoroughly through. The last time he did it there was an open doorway at the end of the ride. There is a wall there now. He hit hard, really hard. Boy, this would have been a great week to have an automatic ice maker!! Tyler, on the other hand, is looking more normal, his nose is not as swelled today, and Tom actually got more of a black eye with his escapades than Tyler did. Boys.

I bought 2 comforters yesterday at our resale shop. For some background, when our first daughter was born, Mike's mom had embroidered a small blanket for her crib and finished the patchwork squares off with a delicate gingham print material. After it was too small to wrap her in, we used it as a wall hanging. It's in her keepsake box now. When I saw the comforters at the shop, they were the very same embroidered patchwork squares that my mother in law had constructed 27 years ago for Ashleigh, and I was captivated by the intricate stitches, and the adorable colors. I toyed with the idea of walking away, but I felt a huge compelling to purchase those comforters and then found pillows to match!! I was so excited about getting them at a reasonable price, that I totally forgot to use my $5 coupon!! So, after some spot treatments, I plan to launder then and put them on the beds for our Ethiopian girls. Did I just say "girls?" I guess when you have 7 girls to 3 boys, it just felt right to believe that's who is coming home (eventually!!) It was so exciting to purchase our first "real" decoration for the new ones, and the connection to our first child was not an accident. Ash said we could use that original baby quilt to decorate their room, so there it is. Brown walls, pink handmade comforters and pillows to match. Baby girls, here we come!! And if you just happen to have a little brother that belongs with you, we have just the plan in place to welcome you all!!

What a good day. Chips, blankets and dreams. Now, back to gardening!!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Broken Nose

We celebrated Tylers 6th grade graduation with a broken nose. Well, actually, the celebration started before the break. He invited a good friend, Mitch, to celebrate with us, and it was a perfect night for pitching a baseball. Good throw, bad catch. Tyler ended up with a double size nose, Mitch felt terrible, and we are going through ice in this house like crazy this weekend. The good news, Tyler is now an official 7th grader, Mitchell is still his friend, and school is out for the summer!

Nicole is going into 6th grade now. Tyler will have his first year in the Jr. High, while Nicole will be enjoying her last year at the elementary. She's at the "top of the food chain" now, and has hit the girl drama phase. Never a dull moment in Nic's life. She hopes to spend alot of time drawing and crafting this summer.

Nelly - going into 5th grade, ready for playing all summer long. She gets more freckles as the sun comes out, and she just got an adorable haircut that accents her petite face better than the long bob cut did. She is a girl that truly just "wants to have fun."

Tara sailed through kindergarten. Yay! She is learning to read, and is enjoying putting words together on her own now. She drew a cute picture of baby Bella, and sounded out her name. It's a keeper for the scrapbooks. She has seen the "Up" movie twice, and could own it. She still surrounds herself with stuffed dogs, most of which are named "Hunter." She will spend next year in first grade, the first all day of school. That will be interesting!! She loved riding the bus back and forth to school the last 2 weeks, and came home starving at 12:15 every day.

Mere scored second highest in her preschool class for kindergarten readiness. All year was a struggle, she cried alot, and hated leaving home. Go figure. She threw so many fits that the teacher (wonderful lady) let her fall asleep on more than one occasion, and the naps always helped. Mere is totally sleep deprived, and if she ever learns to sleep in her own bed we will celebrate. She already dreads kingergarten, but hopefully she will learn to write her name before school starts. She and Tom will be in the same classroom again, and if they get the teacher I asked for, she will love the humor and fun.

Tom found a social life in preschool. Prior to school, his only experience with kids, other than siblings, was mostly in sunday school. Wow, did he love it. He draws pictures of his friends, and loves writing their names above it. He is constantly wanting to play with his buddy next door, and would rather be outside playing than eating or anything else. He hates taking a bath, but once he's in there, we can't get him out!

Bella. What a treat. Is there any age better than 2? She says a new word everyday, and keeps us in belly grabbing laughter. Just now she came from a quiet gathering upstairs, and has her entire face covered in halloween makeup. Gorgeous. She carries several fleece mini-blankets with pacifiers attached, and for her, the more the merrier. I know at her age I should be breaking the paci habit, but when she's the baby, and she pleadingly says, "please?", how can we resist. My mom keeps it in perspective. She's never been to a wedding where the bride had a paci in her mouth. I am not going to worry about it for a while yet. Maybe potty training will get done first.

We are looking forward to a busy, fun summer. Camping trips planned, visits with grandkids on the horizon, and late night marshmallow roasts on the back deck. Stay tuned for more....

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Adoption Blues

You would think after 7 adoptions, we would be well rounded in the ups and downs of the process. But somehow, this international adoption feels much more overwhelming.
We seem "stuck" in the homestudy phase right now. We assumed (incorrectly) that the Social Worker would be completing his paperwork on our behalf as we completed the construction projects that we are working on to make room for our new additions. However, after the first visit from the SW, we heard nothing until the day of his scheduled second visit. Of course, at the time I opened my email, I was not expecting him to put us off, and we had gone to all the trouble of preparing for a guest to visit, when in all actuality, he had decided much before the appointed time that he wasn't coming. The trouble was, he did not tell us that!! So, to handle the last minute disappointment, we went to the local steak and salad bar, and drowned our sorrows in all the fats we could handle. Even the kids were disheartened that we would not be having our second homestudy visit when we expected it.
So, the rest of the visits are now determined by the projects being completed before the SW returns. It seems to us that he could have done his work while we did ours, and then make the final visit as a "let's see what you have finished" type visit. We are really discouraged that we have been working soooo hard, and the projects to finish do not even have anything to do with where another child would sleep, eat or play!
I know I am anxious to meet our children. I am ready to move on and out of this horrible paperwork phase. I am feeling the tick tock of time moving quickly past us, and I am concerned that our next children will not have to languish in the orphanages too long, waiting for the process in America to be completed so the Ethiopian government can complete their process. It's frustrating to be so out of control of a situation, and dependant on the time frames of other people. I want to know what child is coming, so as I paint his/her/their room, I can decorate it especially for them. I want this paper pregnancy phase to be over, so that we can go through the labor pains and onto the growing years!
Sigh. It is hard to hand it all over. But one night last week, I took the names of the waiting children that I had prayed over and hoped for, handed them back to their loving Father God, and released my emotional hold on them. Will that matter to them? Not really. Will it matter to their government or our government? Nope. But in my heart, I felt like I was trying to keep God in MY BOX under my timing, in my own way. I had to pray that He helped me trust HIS sovereign will in the lives of these children, and that HE would continue to prepare us, and the children we need to bring home will be steadily kept in HIS hands until we meet. It was a big emotional step for me, and I think it brought me more peace.
I am determined to trudge ahead. I want to focus on the joy awaiting us when our children come home. I want to trust in HIS timing to make it all what it needs to be for our family. And more than anything, I want to be able to say, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this path we are walking is exactly where we need to be, at this time, in this way. Because I believe it to be true.
Little children, we are coming. It is our hearts desire to make it to where you are so we can complete our family with your smiling eyes.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Homestudy in the Bag - LIFE IS GOOD

I feel as if we passed a significant milestone on Saturday. We put a FEDEX packet full of homestudy paperwork into the box, and yesterday we were notified of the few items still needed to proceed. One step forward, 2 steps back. We are nearly complete with our dossier paperwork, which will go directly to the Ethiopian government so they can match us with a waiting child/children. Whew. It really has been time consuming, alot of internet research and overwhelming. But we are so close.

Many other things have happened this past month. This morning I went with Ashleigh to have a biopsy on a thyroid tumor. The ten days prior to today was challenging because it was immediately assumed after her first ultra sound that it was a cancerous tumor, and we have been so scared. No insurance, no regular doctor, and the nerves of steel came crumbling down around our family. Fortunately, the surgeon is under the impression that even if she is in the 5% bracket where it's cancerous, it would be 100% CURABLE! Today was another reminder that if I could have taken away her pain, I would take it in a heartbeat.

Meredith, 5, is going through some testing and surgery during this summer. A kick back from her extreme premature birth. I found myself getting really, really mad at her birthmom this week. Fighting, spitting mad. She lived a deplorable lifestyle, at Mere's expense. I have no idea where she is now, but I do know that Mere' will struggle the rest of her life because of her birthmom's choices. I got past the worst of my anger, but I am still mad. For Mere's sake.

Another one of the older kids is having trouble with their school work. One of the younger kids is needing a medication change. No one sleeps all night right now and there are usually 3 or 4 extra kids in our bed by morning. Life is full. Life is good. Sometimes life is a struggle. Sometimes it's very, very hard.

And then the sun shone brightly this afternoon. The 4 littlest were able to play outside, and although there is mud traipsed through the back of the house, they are happy and ready for baths. The biggest kids are just getting off the school bus, and they will be ready to share the excitement of their days. Somehow things seem so much brighter when the sun shines.

So yeah, it's been a week like that. It's been a month like that. And even today with the sounds of the leaf blower running just to find out that Tommy is blowing popped corns off the back deck, today is a good day. This week is a good week, overall, and this month is a good month.

The paperwork is in the mail. That's a very good thing. Life is good.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Hero Status

My dear husband made a 14 hour trip to New Jersey yesterday with Nicole to pick up our sweet grandsons and daughter-in-law, Britt, for a 3 week visit. He said as he pulled up to their condo, three year old Kaiden ran into his arms. Kaid has been excited for 2 weeks, since he found out his beloved PaPa was coming to get him. It was a Kodak moment, for sure.

Since my hubby is traveling, I have been "man of the house" since 3 am Saturday morning. I don't really like the job. I am great with the mom role and I think I do it really well most of the time. And I love the fact that Mike is great at the dad role. But when he's gone, wow, what a difference a day makes!!

Mere woke up at two o'clock this morning with a leg ache. We are used to that around here. It may be her vitamin levels are off again, due to her short-bowel syndrome, or it's those darn growing pains (although we aren't seeing any evidence of that!!)It usually means daddy gets up, trudges to the kitchen, gets the tylenol and a cup of milk, and heats up the bean bag to soothe her aches until the meds kick in. But daddy was in Jersey. So, I knew the routine, and took care of it all. Just as Mere was drifting back to sleep, she told me she thought her leg would hurt forever since daddy was gone. It seems the kids are used to our roles, too.

Hopefully, today will fly past as the crew travels back from Jersey, expected arrival, 2 am Monday morning. I am braving taking six of the kids to church alone this morning. Well, actually, 2 of them have already left with our friend, Dana. So, it's really just the 4 youngest that I will have to get there. With daddy gone, and his expert assistance, I feel more alone in the task and it's a bit overwhelming, even with 3 of the kids gone!

So, after church we will get back to cleaning the house and getting ready for our company. I am looking forward to having Britt here and getting some time to talk about her pregancy. Baby number three on the way. She had her ultrasound yesterday and at 10 weeks along, it already looks like a miniature baby!! She is the most excited about our Ethiopian adoption and she will dream along with me.

It's time for the day to get rolling. Now that everyone is ready for church and things are running smoothly (oops, did I just jinx it??)I can honestly say I know who our Hero is. And he's going to be home in about 13 hours.....(yes, I am counting!!)


Friday, March 13, 2009

The Dossier

Today we recieved our email dossier packet. It is a full 26 pages of forms for filling out, signing, authenticating with the State and sending to our agency. MORE paperwork in the path of our international adoption!!

It's an exciting week. After sending our application and contract to the agency we chose, getting the "infamous" dossier is a milestone. Our homestudy paperwork is almost complete, and we will send all that out after we get our physicals and doctors paperwork. Then we will be able to do our 12 hour training and have the social worker come visit. After 7 domestic adoptions, none of that is daunting.

But, then I read through the dossier. This appears to be the paperwork that separates the weak hearted from the determined!! So may forms, so much information, and soooo much to do!!But this is the next step to building the "walls" of our home, and the middle part of the international adoption plan.

With all that, I am excited to be at this phase. I know the next several weeks will be stressful and confusing, but I will stay the course. At the end will be the blessing of a child, or children that are waiting for us now.

So, dossier, here we come. Baby Cameron, dear child of our heart, we are working hard to bring you home. Nothing will stop us from the plan that God has placed in our hearts. Stay safe. Sweet dreams.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Adoption Paperwork

When my adopted kids ask me "Where do babies come from?", for the last 7 years we havetold them "Babies come from the agency." That was: 'as in foster agency.'

Now we are on our official track for an International Adoption so we can say, with excitement, Ethiopia!!

We view pictures, read blogs from other Ethiopian Adoption families, and we listen to music from their country. We admire their beautiful skin, dark eyes, and gentle smiles. Our youngest children scan each picture, asking, "Is that our baby?", or, "Will that little one come to live with us?"

I lay in bed at night wondering what type of child the Ethiopian government will refer to us. Will it be a baby girl, a toddler, an older child? Will she speak any of our language, or will he be shy or outgoing? Will he want my hugs and kisses, or will it take alot of time to break through the barrier of his painful past?

The paperwork is intense. It examines every thought I have ever had on adoption, and challenges every answer I write down. I feel my heart wrapping around this unknown-to-me child, and I wonder how long the wait will be. I am impatient to finish the process, as impatient as I was to finally begin it!! I recognize the opportunity, and I sense the deep responsibility. I know I can love this child without reserve, and I hope that she will be able to love us the same way, some day.

We are ready for the first notarized copy to be mailed off tomorrow. As I collect important papers for copying, filing forms and creating our complete history, I understand the importance of what is ahead. I know there will be trials, painful waiting periods, and even disappointments. I realize there is nothing I can do to speed up the whole process, but I faithfully fill out form upon form in the hopes that the sooner I get this part done, the closer we will be to meeting the child or children God has waiting for us in a country far away from here.

Waiting. This is the pregnancy of adoption. This is the long haul before the realization of our prayers and desires. This is the growing stage, the morning sickness stage, the tired-before-I-really-get-worn-out phase. Waiting.

As I connect with others in the adoption process, I share in the joy of their referrals and court dates. I am amazed even more every day of how God brings the homeless into warm and loving homes, even from so very far away. My mind and heart are stirred into action, and I finish the final draft of what seems to be taking us forever to finish!! But mostly, I wonder about the child who is patiently waiting for us. And I smile inside as I realize we are another step closer to bringing him or her home. Soon, baby. Soon. Don't give up waiting for us. We will keep waiting for you until God has our hands entwined, just as our hearts have become as we wait for you.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Feb. 25, 2009 Be Careful What you Say

We have been working hard on compiling all of our international adoption forms the past two weeks. Right now, Mike and I are doing our "self assessment" forms in preparation for the homestudy. Besides all the documentation we have to pull together since we were 18 years old, we have to complete a writing project that describes our childhood and families, along with our views on racial issues and adoptions in general. Since we have 7 adopted children, we have a good picture on domestic adoptions and how family dynamics change with each new addition, but they want us to understand how much different it will be with a child from another culture or race.

I find that the hardest to process. I mean, I know for a fact that the living standard in Ethiopia is extremely different than ours in America. I can't really remember anytime in my life where food was not readily available, even if it were not my favorite food, I have never gone hungry. I have not lived midst the fear of wars in my hometown, or drinking water that was unsafe. I have not lost my parents or siblings to a dreaded disease, and I have never been persecuted for my religious beliefs. But when it comes to loving and accepting a child into our home, I can do that. Sure, this child will come from a different landscape and lifestyle than me or my friends. An Ethiopian child will be set apart from us in color and hairstyle. But will it really be that much different than loving a new child and learning all about them than any of the other children who have come into our lives through birth or adoption?

This Ethiopian child may face discrimination in America. I can not control that. This child may have medical issues that will take time to figure out, or language differences that we will have to work hard to learn to communicate with. I will try my best to make those issues as least traumatic as possible. A child who has lost her family of origin, but who can be enveloped and loved in another family that God has put together by bits and pieces, this is the child that waits for us in Ethiopia.

I know this is an imperfect world, but I hope to offer this new child a resting place, a place of peace and opportunity. Food when he is hungry, comfort when he cries. A security of sleeping in a soft warm home at night, and an active lifestyle where she can become her best. I want to be able to teach this child the importance of love and kindness, and to accept what she can not change, and embrace with fervor the things she can. I want this child to know the love of God and the wonder of herself as a creation of a loving Saviour. I want to be able to offer him fun and family and fellowship in a church family who cares about how he lives his life.

It is just hard to express all of this on a written form that is intended to help you identify why you want to adopt another child in the first place. I know the need in Ethiopia is great for parent-less children to find forever families. I know the expense prohibits many families from taking the step to bring a child home. I also know that deep inside of me is the desire to make a difference to at least one more life, and for us, the desire it to complete that through international adoption. I just do not know that the words I wrote on the agency form is going to convince them of that.

My car broke down yesterday. In the midst of my early morning travels, I found myself on the side of the road, thankfully dialing my cell phone and then feeling the comfort of knowing Mike was on his way with a solution that would have us back on the road in a short time. What I didn't know until hours later was that when I called Mike, he was taking the 3 youngest to school, and Mere' heard her daddy say "Mom. Car. Died." There were more words, but what she heard was devastating to her little mind. She started her school day out fine, but as time wore on, she started worrying and replaying the words her five your old mind retained about that early morning phone call, and began pacing in worry that if mom had died, she would be at school forever, and she was frightened. When I picked her up, she looked at me with shock, and described, with prompting, how she worried and cried at school and figured I would never be able to pick her up again.

After a day of comforting her while she was velcro stuck to my side the rest of the day, I was able to put her to sleep last night with the promise that if I were not able to pick her up for any reason, I would make sure that someone would be there for her. I would not just leave her at school, but someone that we loved and trusted would step in if I were not able to be there for her.

Mike commented later on how he should be careful what he says. He had no idea only a few of his words would stick in Mere's mind, and it would be of great trauma to her little day. But I kept thinking how important it is to be careful of what we say, and it added up to even more in line with the words I have written in my adoption assessment. Did I say all the things that mattered? Did I express how much I wanted to express about my desire for this unknown to us (yet) child of our heart? Was I careful to use words to convey that desire?

Mere skipped off to school today just fine. She is secure in knowing she is loved and taken care of, and her fears, so real to her, have been soothed with our words of comfort.

I can't help but wonder if we will be watching another child skip off to school one day, a child from Ethiopia that may not have had the opportunity of an education had he not been allowed to join our family. And I just hope the words we speak and the love in our hearts that is growing daily for this unknown child will be enough to send her off into the world, confident and secure in knowing a family waits at home so she never has to feel alone and scared again.