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.