Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cures for "Mom, I'm bored!"

This week's Works for Me Wednesday theme is the "Mom, I'm bored" Summer Edition. I have to say, one benefit of having 3 children close in age is that I really rarely hear "I'm bored" when they are all home. There's always someone to play with and with the creativity of the 3 of them, always something interesting going on. I truly have more problems with the boredom complaint when my older two are at school and just my youngest is home and wants me to be his constant playmate and entertainer. And then I hear, "Mom, I'm boring!" Which is way cuter and less annoying than, "Mom, I'm bored!" But, I'm still very excited for his older brother and sister playmates to be home full time to keep him entertained this summer!

We are still holding out hope for a trip to Ethiopia this summer for our adoption court date. But in the mean time we do have several things we're looking forward to doing over the summer, many are on this Summer fun list from a couple years ago. But, I've really learned it doesn't take elaborate plans for my kids to have fun, give the three of them a bucket of water in the backyard and they'll surely be entertained for a good while, although there will be mud involved and much clean-up required at the end, including a bath for the dog!!

Along the simple lines, my 4 year old's preschool teachers gave the kids a great end of the year gift. It was a gallon size Ziploc bag filled with all kinds of random things to create with - paper cut out in various shapes, bottle caps, a paint brush, washable paint, glue stick, cardboard, adhesive letters, etc. Then they included a label that said, "Have a creative summer!" No doubt they compiled those bags with things they had left-over from the school year, but it was such a great gift idea and way better than a junky toy! My little guy has already enjoyed making some creations!

This would be an easy idea to do at any home, just find all kinds of random small things -- paper plates, rubber bands, paper clips, old magazines, etc. and put all the stuff in a box or bag with some typical craft supplies like crayons and glue sticks and let them go at it! For older kids you could even challenge them to create a robot or a boat or building and give them a time limit.

And if that doesn't work, there's always cleaning to do!! Ha! I waited tables in high school and early college and there was a manager that had the saying, "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean!" Anytime she saw any of the staff standing around, leaning on a counter talking, she'd say her famous line and send them off to tackle some dreaded chore! But, seriously the few times my kids have complained about nothing to do I've given them a list of chores to choose from and strangely enough now I don't hear that complaint much from my two older kids!!!

But on the chore note, the kids will play a much more active role in the household duties over the summer because they have more time. It's a great time for me to teach them to cook, sew, clean out cabinets, etc. My 8 year old is actually really excited to help me cook this summer; he has a list of several of his favorite foods he wants to learn to make!

And my last tip is workbooks. I buy my each of my kids a large workbook (from Sam's) at the beginning of each summer for the grade level they're going into and they love it! I don't even have to make them do the work; they just want to! I think the fact that it's not work they have to do, but just can when and if they want to, helps it be more fun!

For more summer ideas check out We are THAT Family.

Monday, May 30, 2011

What To Expect When You're Expecting a Two-Year-Old

If you've been pregnant anytime in the past 25 years, chances are you've read it. What to Expect When You're Expecting is the book that answers every question you could possibly have about pregnancy and many you couldn't even have dreamed up on your own. It breaks down each month of pregnancy and let's you know what symptoms to expect and also what developmentally is happening with the baby. I remember pouring over that book with my first baby, eagerly reading each month as my pregnancy progressed, delighting in discovering when his fingernails and eyebrows developed! Of course by my 3rd pregnancy I could never even remember how far along I was, people would always ask and I'd just quote my due date!

Recently they've even come out with the book What to Expect When Your Wife is Expanding: A Reassuring Month-by-Month Guide for the Father-to-Be, Whether He Wants Advice or Not, I'm really not sure how my husband survived my pregnancies without such a reassuring month-by-month guide!

But, search as I might, I have not yet found the reassuring month-by-month guide answering all my questions and letting me know exactly what to expect now as I'm expecting a two and a half year old!

A friend and I were discussing the adoption this past weekend and she asked me, "So, what's it like? I mean it's not like you are pregnant, but you are expecting, just with a two year old!"

And it got me thinking about the pregnancy book and wishing I had some sort of guide for this journey to our 4th child because somedays the unknowns, the unexpecteds, the unanswered questions can just about drive you nuts!

Maybe if such a book existed it might have warned me that despite having a to-do list a mile long, my husband and I would spend hours researching the region and city our new daughter is from, digging through the internet for maps, photos, news articles, even YouTube videos showing people from that region, anything to glean just a bit more information about our daughter and her life before us.

Of course the book couldn't outline what is happening with our daughter developmentally, because unlike fetuses, 2 year olds can vary drastically from one another. So, we rely on the referral write-up, cling to each picture we've gotten, and relish any details provided by other adoptive parents who have met our daughter while visiting their own child. And the couple videos we've been blessed to get? Well, let's just say we've watched them several times, with our faces pressed right up to the computer screen because that's as close as we can get to our girl. But, I have to say those videos of our 4th child, of her smiley 2 year old self, are way cuter than the sonograms that gave us glimpses of our other 3 children before we could hold them in our arms and stare at them face to face!

And though there is no guidebook for this journey, no due date or end in sight, and that makes things scary sometimes, we are grateful to have the best guide ever. He just happens to be the greatest expert on adoption, has adopted billions of children! "He predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will," Eph. 1:5

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Sweet Life

Have a sweet weekend!

You know, the kind where

you get to savor every last bit of a pudding pop

while the chocolate runs down your face, arms, shirt and legs

and somebody else cleans up the mess!

Find more Finer Things Friday here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Life with kids is always an adventure!

One of my favorite things about doing life with children is that even the most ordinary, every day things become adventures!

For example, today my car chimed that the gas was getting low, I pulled into a gas station to fill up the tank, which I've done countless times in my life, nothing exciting there, right?


I pulled opened the door to the gas tank, reached in to unscrew the gas cap and jerked my hand back in surprise because this is what I saw:

Yep, someone had wedged a plastic spider inside the little pull open door, right next to the gas cap! At first I thought such an elaborate prank was beyond the abilities of my children and surely must have been the work of my husband. But, I plucked the plastic spider out of the gas compartment, opened the car door, and showed it to my 4 year old son, "Look what I just found while I was pumping gas!"

He said, "Yeah, I found it yesterday and put it in there."

If he can pull off this prank at four, what am I in for at fourteen?

Life will not be dull, that is for sure! I'm thankful for the adventure that is life with kids!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Doesn't everyone have teff flour in their closet?

I'm not sure, but I think this may mean I've officially gone off the deep end.

For several reasons that I can explain but don't fully understand, there is a 25 pound bag of Teff Flour in my under-the-stairs closet right now.

My attempt to explain the madness:

Teff flour is what they use to make injera, the Ethiopian sour spongy bread that is a main staple of most meals in Ethiopia. In fact there are no utensils used to eat traditional Ethiopian food, you pinch up bites of the meat and lentils with pieces of injera. We've eaten at an Ethiopian restaurant a few different times in the past year and our family (well, minus my 5 year old daughter) has really grown quite fond of it. And ever since we found out that the child we are adopting is a toddler rather than an infant, I've been determined to learn to make Ethiopian food. So, I was super excited to discover recently an Ethiopian grocery store just a few miles from our home, and we visited it over the weekend.

We got a cook book, some spices, each of our 3 kids picked out a small bag of Cheetos (random, I know! I'm assuming those are not Ethiopian but just something extra thrown in for American benefit!), and we should have just left it at that. But, no, they had the teff flour we'd heard is used to make injera and you can't find that flour in regular groceries. I flipped to the page in the recipe book for injera and saw the ingredients: "Teff flour, water, and yeast" and that was it! Considering I judge a recipe's difficulty by number of ingredients required, I was all, "I can do this. I can make injera from scratch. Let's buy the flour!" Nevermind that all they had was a TWENTY-FIVE POUND bag, I buy regular flour in huge sacks at Sams, the quantity did not scare me!

Until the cashier rang up the purchase! Let's just say the teff flour? Is a bit more expensive than the white flour at Sams!

And the best part of the whole story? The Ethiopian woman who was the cashier looked at me with an amused look on her face and said, "You make injera?" And I said proudly, "I'm going to try! Do you make it?" Totally expecting her to say "Yes" and give me cooking tips, but instead? She said, "No! It's too much work!"

So there we were hauling our super expensive 25 lb bag of teff flour out of the tiny Ethiopian grocery store while our 3 children ripped into their Cheetos with me wondering, "Why oh why didn't we just buy some of the ready-made injera they were selling!"

I blame the crazy dialog in my head that went like this, "When sweet little girl finally comes home from Ethiopia she may want some injera!" And my immediate next thought, "Then this mama's going to learn to make some injera!"

And the last bit of the crazy explained, it's in the closet because it won't fit in the pantry and I can't store it in our overstock pantry in the garage because all my large plastic containers are in use storing the white flour I bought in a huge bag at Sams and I'm afraid bugs would get to it if I don't have it stored in a tub!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

One man's trash is my little girl's treasure!

My 5 year old daughter loves hunting for "treasures," you know random things she finds on the ground that most people would call "trash". She's had some really exciting finds on the playground at her school this year, like the time she found a deflated balloon! A balloon that I wouldn't let her attempt to blow up (so mean of me, I know!). "Why not, Mommy?" she asked. "Because we do not put our mouths on balloons we find on the ground," I replied. I file that one in with many, many other life lessons I never imagined I'd have to teach my children, but would just be obvious. Don't even get me started on the, "We don't lie down on the floor in a public restroom!" I mean, seriously!!!

But, back to the "treasures". My daughter was changing out of her school clothes one day this week and a ton of random junk, I mean "treasure," came tumbling out of her pockets onto my freshly vacuumed floor!
A water bottle cap, a sticker, some rocks, a button, some string, a colored popsicle stick, and a dirty straw! Awesome!!!!

My little girl who goes to school nearly every day in a dress or skirt with a bow or bows in her hair comes home with pockets or a backpack full of trash!!


When we had a family outing to one of those frozen yogurt places where you get to choose your own toppings and then pay by the weight, that same little girl picked out mint chocolate cookie flavored frozen yogurt with the following toppings: fruity pebbles cereal, cinnamon toast crunch cereal, oreos, and gummy worms!

I overheard my 8 year old son describing the concept of an umbilical cord to my 4 year old, "It's a black rope that goes from a baby to the mommy and the baby eats through it."

I'm sure he thinks it's black because he has memories from when he was 4 and the now 4 year old was a newborn with that black stump on his belly button!


Hope your weekend is full of treasures!

Mommy's Idea

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Still praying for that Texas Sized Hug in Ethiopia!

Considering everything that has happened with Ethiopian adoptions in the past year (feel free to snicker at the fact that last July I thought we'd travel to Ethiopia "some time in the next 8 months") and all the new complications and possible/probable delays, it's crazy that along with praying to be able to bring our daughter home soon without further delay, that I'm also still praying to be able to meet our Compassion child on one of our trips to Ethiopia, but I am! I know I'm asking a lot, a whole lot, multiple miracles, but I'm still asking! And I'm thankful for a God who hears!

1 John 5:14-15, "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him."

**Originally posted July 26, 2010**
I'm from Texas and it always cracks me up when I meet someone from afar who's never been here and they just assume they can pop over to any town in our state like it's such a quick trip. But in reality I can leave my home in Texas, drive for 8 hours, and still be in Texas!

But, that's pretty much the way I treated Ethiopia.

We're going to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the capital city of Ethiopia twice some time in the next 8 months (God willing!).

When news first broke that we'd now have to travel twice to complete the adoption of our daughter when Ethiopia used to only require adoptive families to travel once, after the initial disappointment over the added expense and effort, I began to see positives. Like, we'd get to spend more time in our daughter's birth country. And maybe we'd get to see Mathews!

Mathews is a boy we sponsor through Compassion International, financially providing for him to have food, clean water, medical care, education, and teaching about Jesus. We also write to let him know we are thinking about him and praying for him, caring for him from the other side of the world.

He lives in Ethiopia, so I reasoned since we're going twice, each time for a week, surely we can see him while we're there!

But, like Texas, Ethiopia's a big place and we discovered Mathews lived near Awassa, a city pretty far from Addis Ababa, and thinking roads would be bad in Ethiopia we were deflated and thought that meeting Mathews probably couldn't happen. And the idea was moved to the back-burner.

Until last week, when I noticed some of the first families to have to make two trips to Ethiopia had gone on their first trip (there was a period of time where families who were well into the process were grandfathered in and only had to do the one trip). So, I clicked over to one family's blog to try to learn more about what that 1st trip (where you testify in court and meet your child but cannot bring them home) looked like. And as I saw things like "free day" in their agenda I dared to hope and pray again that we'd get to see Mathews.

The day after I began the prayer, I was reading this blogger's description of her time in Ethiopia a couple months ago adopting her precious twin boys through the same agency we're using, and lo and behold she wrote about a side trip they did to Awassa from Addis Ababa! It was a 6 hour trip over a good road with amazing sceanery along the way. And I got so excited realizing it was possible to make the trip!

Then 2 days later I was reading this blogger who is doing an internship in Ethiopia for the summer and reading to kids at the Gladney Foster Care Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and she wrote about a trip she took to Awassa!

And just tonight I read about another adoptive family who made the trip from Addis Ababa to Awassa and highly recommended it!

God blows me away with His attention to the details!

Here I am thinking it's not possible to make the trip and in the week after I pray about it, I "happen upon" the stories of 3 different families/people from the United States who made that drive!

Mathews is the same age as my oldest son. He'll turn 8 this fall on my exact birthday. His picture hangs on our refrigerator. And to be able to see him in person? To be able to hug his neck and show him with our presence how much we care? Hand deliver him a backpack of goodies? Well, that would just be awesome!

Now, there are still hurdles to clear before this dream can be reality. Compassion says they need 8 weeks notice before your travel date and we may not have 8 weeks from the time we find out our travel date until we need to travel and our dates can change if there is a glitch in the Ethiopian court system. And there are tons of other details about this travel and adoption where we are already asking God to do huge things.

But, my God is big, really big, and I'm daring to pray!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It Will Pass

I was thinking today about kid phases that in hindsight passed so quickly, some terribly missed, some not so much.

I can happily say it's been over a year and a half since this has happened, although there did seem to be a season in there when my youngest child was coating his bedroom in powder or some equally messy antic at least every other day!

So, if you're currently elbow deep in a powder mess, know it won't always be that way, it will pass!

Find more Wordful Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, & Not So Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's not bragging, right?

I have had the biggest blessing in the past week of hearing from other people in the process of adopting children who have met our daughter in Ethiopia when they traveled for their own court date. It has been so wonderful to learn more about her personality!

And since I had absolutely nothing to do with shaping who she is right now, it's not bragging to share the great things I've heard about our girl in Ethiopia, right?

She's been described as always smiling, gorgeous, lovable, social, confident, happy, charming. And she loves to be held, hugged, cuddled, and kissed!

Can I just say how proud I am of this little girl? If I'd been through what she has been through, I'd be curled up in a corner of the orphanage. But, not this girl, she has chosen (whether it's a conscious decision at age 2 or not, it's still a decision she made) to be lovely, smiley, and happy. I'm grateful and honored to even be considered to be her mommy!

I really can't wait to be the one holding her, I pray that God protects her sweet spirit until we can get to her and bring her home!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Random Snippets of Life

Blogger was down last Thursday night and Friday morning, so that's my excuse for the lack of blog posting the end of last week. I know, I know, many have told me Wordpress is better, but I can think of a million things I need to do and a trillion things I'd rather do than spend the countless hours it would take for me to figure out how to move my blog over to Wordpress, so I'm staying and if Blogger sometimes needs an unanticipated day off, I get it, happens to me, too, sometimes.


I hope you're ready for some random because that's all I've got!


I took my 3 kids to the pediatrician one day last week for check-ups because we are currently in the process of re-doing a bunch of adoption paperwork that is expiring. I really do not know how this happened, but this was the first time we'd been to the pediatrician's office in about 6 months!!!!! Just to help you understand the hugeness of that, we were there just about every other week for the past 8 years! Sometimes (and I'm not kidding here) we were there even more than once a week -- you know one kid would get sick and I'd take him to the doctor and then 3 days later another kid would come down with it and back we'd go to the pediatrician. So, our recent visit was like a reunion! It's a family practice with a father and son doctor team and then the older doctor's wife is the office manager, and they were all so excited to see us, hugging and kissing my kids, commenting on how tall everyone had gotten! So funny and wonderful!


While at the doctor they did a vision test on each of my kids and for my just-turned-four year old, instead of a letter chart they were shapes, like heart, star, and triangle. He had to cover one eye and read off the shapes from different lines. And when my little guy came to the plus sign and said, "Cross", I could not have been more proud! He didn't think of that "+" shape as a "plus" or even a lowercase "t", nope to him it was a "cross," as in Jesus died on the cross for our sins!

We wrapped up soccer season yesterday. My 8 year old son loved it and wants to play again in the fall. My 5 year old daughter? Well she didn't hate it and I think she actually made contact with the ball once or twice during each game (like at kick-off when the ref. handed her the ball to kick), but we're definitely hanging up the cleats for the foreseeable future. I feel a little bad that I'm kinda happy about it, but at this point, ruling out a sport really makes my life easier! We signed her up for soccer because she hadn't tried a team sport yet and we didn't want to always wonder if that was something she would have loved. But, now we can just focus on what she does love -- swimming and gymnastics! She recently tried out and made it onto our local swim team for the summer and she is having so much fun! In fact, her workout got cut short due to thunder one day last week and she cried she was so sad to stop swimming early!


My 5 year old has another interest that I just may be a little excited about -- sewing! Today she and I used these instructions and made this skirt for her. It was fun to make and came together really quickly!
I have an extremely long list of sewing projects we can work on over the summer -- just have to keep those boys occupied with something so we can sneak off and sew!!


I just figured out there is an Ethiopian grocery store really close to our house, so we are definitely planning an outing over there very soon, and are so happy to know that once our new daughter comes home we'll be able to easily keep her supplied with injera should she so desire!


Happy Monday!

Miscellany Monday @ lowercase letters

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bring On The Summertime!

I'm not sure who's more excited about the approaching summertime, the kids or me.

I cannot wait!

I love the slower pace of summer!

The not having to part with my older 2 kids from 8am to 3pm each day!

The we-have-nowhere-we-have-to-be-today days!

Wearing only a swimsuit or pajamas for days on end!

Making and eating homemade ice cream!

Multiple trips to the library in the same week!

Running through the sprinklers!

Building massive forts out of sheets in their bedrooms!

And using every bit of our Thomas the Train tracks to build the longest railroad, winding through much of the upstairs!

I can't tell you how many friends have approached me recently telling me all about everything they've signed their kids up for the summer. "This week he'll be here from 9 to 3 every day then the next week is 9 to 5 at this camp, then there's lego camp, it's just 9 to noon. . ." There are the friends sending their kids to overnight camp for 2 or 3 weeks. And all of the friends have invited my kid or kids to join their kid, even offered to carpool, which is so sweet. But, call me selfish, and perhaps my kids will one day, but I say summer is my chance to spend a lot of time with my kids. School gets so much of their time during the other 9 months of the year, for these 3 upcoming months, all those camps can't have them!

The two oldest kids are doing swim team and we'll do 1 week of VBS at our church and a family vacation, and of course we are praying for a miracle summer court date so we can make a trip to Ethiopia to meet our new daughter/sister!!!

But the rest of the time will be unscheduled fun and relaxation and time together.

And I can't wait!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Sure Sign Your Puppy May Need Some Training

In all my life of having dogs, I've never witnessed quite this level of inappropriate dog behavior. ALL FOUR PAWS up on top of the dining room table!

We'd all gotten up from the table, cleared our plates and left the room, until we heard a commotion in the dining room that brought us back in and had me running for my camera!

You know the adage, "Adorable puppies grow up into obnoxious dogs." We may be leaving the adorable phase and entering obnoxious!

Find more Wordful Wednesday, Wordless Wednesday, & Not So Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, May 9, 2011

More than Coincidence

We've had several things come up throughout our adoption process that we know are definitely more than coincidence. They are things that really seem too crazy to have just happened by chance. We believe they are God showing us that He's all over this story.

The past week brought two huge "only God" moments.

First, was in relation to someone who has recently become a very good friend of ours, someone who
shares a heart for Africa and orphans, and she traveled to Ethiopia a few months ago and visited among other places, the orphanage where our daughter is. We've been saying, "Hey, maybe you met our girl!" but we weren't really serious because there are over 100 kids there and we didn't even know who our daughter was back then! But, last Monday after seeing our pictures, she broke down in tears and said, "Yes, I met her, she sat on my lap for a long time! We colored together!" What are the chances?!!! Right now this friend lives here in our city, we became friends recently before we even knew who our daughter was and somehow God arranged things so she held our daughter, colored with her, even, half-way around the world!! "God, you are awesome!" is about all I can say about that!

Then on Saturday we got some m
ore pictures of our girl from our caseworker; they were some older pictures than our referral pictures that she was able to obtain from the in-country personnel. I sucked them into my computer's iPhoto so they filed in by date all mixed in with our other family pictures and the earliest picture we now have of our new daughter happened to fall right after the picture I'd taken of a book I bought for her for Christmas (of course we didn't know who she was then, but still wanted something under the tree for the little girl that felt a part of our family already). The book is "God Found Us You"!!! So, when you scroll through the month of Dec. in my iPhoto, you see the "God Found Us You" picture and then immediately after are the earliest pictures we have of our daughter in Ethiopia! Does that make a statement, or what?!!!
Some might call these things coincidences but we believe they are sweet reminders that God is involved in every detail of this adoption! And we are so thankful for the encouragement and comfort we've gotten from seeing His fingerprints so clearly. It's like He's saying, "Don't worry, I've
GOT this!"

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Post-Referral Vortex

In the past 18 months of watching several other blogs of people adopting from Ethiopia I've noticed many blogs with frequent updates throughout the wait until they get their referral, then there is a post or 2 with all the details of The Call and then nothing for months, sometimes not even another post until the "We're Leaving for Ethiopia in 3 Days!" post. And I've always wondered what is going on during that time after referral, why do their blogs get so quiet?

Well, I'm beginning to understand.

My mind is mush right now. Complete mush.

There are a million thoughts running through my head at any given moment, but it feels near impossible to string them together in any coherent way.

I have a child on the other side of the world. A walking, talking, eating, sleeping, playing, crying child. And I can't go to her.

How is it that every day, regular life can go on?

I think if life did just stop for a few days, I'd feel better. But right now regular life is May and May to a mom with school-aged kids is the equivalent of December, maybe even more busy. End of year parties, open house, musicals, art fair, last field trips, preschool water day, elementary school field day, parent appreciation dinner, teacher end of year gifts, and swim team season is overlapping with soccer season for three crazy weeks! All combined with the usual wash, errands, cleaning up messes, and feeding people.

But at the forefront of all else that goes on, is this precious child we know only through pictures but feel certain is our daughter just the same. We are so thankful and overjoyed with the referral, to know who she is, to be able to gaze at her face in pictures any time we want! But with all that happiness comes the questions.

When can we bring her home? We have no idea, literally no idea. Could be a few months, could be several months. Halloween? Christmas? Next spring? No idea. And that's hard.

Is it wrong to get this attached, refer to her as daughter/sister when she is not legally ours yet, and with adoptions anything can change right up until the whole thing is finalized?

What do we call her? Is there a way to meld her Ethiopian name into something more pronounceable in America? Are we even pronouncing her Ethiopian name correctly? Our other 3 children all have names that begin with the same letter, shouldn't we give her a name that begins with that letter, too? The baby name books have been dug out from the way back of the bookshelf, dusted off, and combed through. Lists have been made, debates had, children consulted. We may have a verdict. But, what if she hates what we've decided? She'll likely be 3 when we bring her home and 3 year olds have been known to be opinionated! But at the same time, if you'd allowed me input into my name at age 3, it's quite likely I wouldn't be happy with that name now as a 30-something year old person!

Where should she sleep? From the photos it appears she's in a crib right now in Ethiopia at the care center, but she'll be even older when she comes home, shouldn't we just go straight to a bed? And if so, then toddler bed or regular twin bed?

When is the right time to get the bed and prepare her space? After court when we know it's official that she's ours? But, what if we get a quick embassy date and only have a few weeks between court and bringing her home, I'll likely be busy recovering from one trip to Ethiopia and preparing for another and won't have time for bed shopping or room decorating!

What is the necklace she's wearing in many of the pictures, sometimes tucked inside her dress with just a bit of its black cord showing around her neck? Was it just a freebie from other adoptive parents bringing gifts to all the kids at the care center or is it something more personal to her? With my other children I had by birth, I know every bit of their history, pretty much every item they've ever had, I know the story, where they got it, how long they've had it, how much they love it, etc. This little girl has a past, two and a half years of life (and counting) that I was no part of. There's so much I want to know about her and will probably never know. How old was she when she began walking? What was her first word? Was she a fussy baby or easy-going? Did she spit out her first taste of solid food or eagerly swallow it and reach for more? And so many more questions.

Also, there are adoption issues we now feel totally unprepared to handle. For example, along with sharing the news of our referral and showing people her pictures have come the questions about her past and the uncomfortable conversations because we don't want to share information that is very personal and painful to our daughter, a story of great loss. But what is okay to say? We thought we had this all figured out, decided even, before we got our referral, but now with her real story it feels different.

To illustrate what all that crazy swirling around in your head can do to a person:

My husband and I traveled out of town for a few days last week to attend some optional adoption training offered by our agency (my husband's parents came into town to keep our kids). In our defense we attempted to pack light so we wouldn't have to check bags on the plane, which is a challenge for us over-packers, but upon our late-night arrival to our hotel we realized he'd forgotten his razor and I'd forgotten my toothbrush, so the next morning he shaved with the razor I use on my legs and I used his toothbrush! Too much information? Perhaps, but it gets better. We went by a store before heading back to our hotel after the first day of training and got a few things we needed, but I forgot to buy a toothbrush!!

Now that I'm back to using my own toothbrush again, I'm hoping to get back to regular blogging (although after this rambling, long-winded post many of you may wish I'd just be quiet until we're heading to Ethiopia!). If anything maybe I can work through these thoughts as I write them, and I can attempt to record them for our sweet girl in Ethiopia to see someday when she is older because we really do believe one day she will be home with us!

Thank you for bearing with me, for being a sounding board, for your encouragement and prayers!

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Phone Call of a Lifetime (Part 3)

More of the story of The Call. . .

When the phone rang last Friday at 3:45 pm, no way did I expect it to be The Call (and yes, I do believe you have to capitalize that term) we'd been waiting on for nearly 13 months!! In fact, by about 1PM I was like, "Okay, so today's obviously not going to be the day and that means this week has not been the week and now we have to wait out the weekend."

I was busy with my kids and when the phone rang I had to scramble to get it, I saw the number was from our adoption agency's area code and I answered it but still I didn't really think it was The Call! After initial hellos, our caseworker said, "I hear you guys are coming for the training next week and I wanted to make sure I got to see you while you were here." I made small talk with her about the training while opening a snack for one child and cutting a "too scratchy" tag out of the swimsuit of another child (I really think I was babbling incoherently) when in my head all I could think was, "Please don't let that be the only reason you're calling!!!"

Then she finally got to, "There's another reason I'm calling . . ."

And I just about fainted thinking, is this really it are we finally going to know who the little girl is we're going to adopt?!!

When she told me she had our referral ready, I didn't ask her anything about the child, yet, because my husband and I had already decided if at all possible we wanted to find out her age together. Since my husband was at work, I asked if we could call her back and would she be in the office. She gave me the direct number to call her back and I'm so glad I repeated it back to her because I'd written it down wrong my hand was shaking so much!

I called my husband and he agreed to come home so we could be together to get the news and see the pictures. I began flying around my house like a crazy person saying random things to my kids and wildly rubbing sunscreen on them. I dropped my older two kids off at swim team practice and then came back home, started a movie for my little one, then my husband drove up and we called our caseworker back.

She said, "Okay I'm hitting send."

And my email in-box churned for what felt like at least 90 minutes but in reality was about 1 minute. I have no doubt I hit refresh about 120 times during that 1 minute!! And then it was there! The first email introducing our new daughter with about 12 photos attached! Then there was another email with many attachments with medical info, etc., etc. We talked through all the attachments with our caseworker for about 30 minutes. And I have to say, the whole experience is just about as surreal as anything I can imagine! But yet, my husband and I both had complete peace at saying "yes" right away without taking any time to think about it or discuss amongst ourselves, even though we were told we could have several days!

It may sound crazy, but it was instantly there, this bond we feel with our new little girl. I told my husband later that night before we went to bed and were staring at the pictures we'd printed out, "She looks really familiar to me for some reason, like she reminds me of someone, but I can't think of who." I still haven't thought of anyone she reminds me of, I really just believe she looks familiar to me because God intended us to be together all along.

My mind is a whirlwind of crazy, so I'm sure this blog post is incoherent at best, but I'll wrap up with telling the kids. It was late evening before we could tell them because my husband had some key work stuff he had to finish, so he went back up to work and ended up staying late to make up for the time he was home in the afternoon, and we wanted to both be there when the kids heard the news (they knew we'd gotten our referral, but just didn't know her age, yet and hadn't seen the pics.).

We hooked up the computer to the TV to show the pictures really big and the three kids gathered in front of the screen. I'll never forget my oldest son's reaction, upon seeing the very first picture he smiled huge, raised both his arms, and cheered, "Yay!!!!"

Makes me cry just writing about it!

My 3 year old (who is now 4 -- it's been a busy last few days!) said, "She's as cute as Madeline!" Madeline is our new puppy. We may or may not tell the little sister someday what he said. But for the record, our puppy is pretty cute!!

My 5 year old daughter was rather quiet so I asked what she thought, and she asked, "Is she a baby?" and I said, "Well, more of a toddler, but she'll always be your baby sister because she'll always be younger than you. And, this way maybe she can share a room with you right away, she may not even be sleeping in a crib when she comes home." My 5 year old was very pleased with the idea of sharing a room with the new sister (she's always wanted someone to share her room with, like the boys share a room)!

Then all then kids began asking about how we'd teach her English so we talked a bit about how someone learns a language. I said, "Just like you guys learned, you can help her learn. Like you can pick up a ball, show her and say, "ball" and that's how she'll learn. Then my 5 year old, being too smart for me, said, "Well how will she ever learn to say 'hi' and 'bye'?" You know because "hi" is not a thing you can show someone! Thank you kindergarten for teaching the concept of a noun!

Anyway, the kids are very excited to help her learn English and I'm afraid she's going to be bombarded by too many eager teachers when she comes home! The 30 children she's living with in her specific house of the care center may seem quiet compared to her 3 siblings!