Thursday, July 28, 2011

That Texas-Sized Hug in Ethiopia is Gonna Happen!

Remember this post about how I was told "the odds are certainly against you," when calling with only 2 weeks notice instead of the required 8 weeks to set up a visit with our Compassion child we sponsor in Ethiopia?

Well, God did it! Against the odds!!

I got an email today that a visit has been arranged for the Thursday we'll be in Ethiopia! Our 8 year old Compassion boy will travel with a chaperon to the city of Addis Ababa from his home in Awassa and we will get to spend a good part of the day with him. (Some day we'd love to travel to his hometown as it is supposed to be beautiful, but the logistics were too complicated on this trip.)

I really just cannot imagine the moment when the 8 year old boy from America who lives in our home every day meets our 8 year old boy from Ethiopia who we've written, prayed for and loved for years now, but only known through letters and pictures! Like a tiny picture of heaven when we'll all be united as one family.

I spent the morning taking my mom to tour a senior day center where she may begin going during the day when her husband is at work. Her Lewy Body Demetia has progressed to a point that it is very concerning for her to be home alone. It was tough. The center was amazingly great and the staff very friendly, but despite my good intentions my mom still accused me of trying to "put her in a nursing home". My kids went with us because it was too complicated to arrange a babysitter among the other Ethiopia travel-related madness. But the kids were a huge hit, all the seniors loved them and smiled huge smiles upon seeing them. I remarked to my husband later that I think most people touring the place with a parent don't bring small children with them because once a person gets to a point of needing a senior center for their mom, their children are usually grown.

As I returned home and was able to take off the happy face I'd plastered on for my mom's benefit, I was tempted to lament, "Why? Why has this disease claimed my mom so young? Most of the people in that senior center were 15 to 20 years older than she is! Most of my friends have moms who babysit their kids and generally provide them with a lot of support and help. I, however, must not only raise my children and run my household without my mom's help, I must help her."

Oh, yes, the pity-party was coming, but then I opened my email and amid children complaining over the lunch choices, a barking dog, an irritating intermittent Internet connection, and crumbs all over the floor, there it was. The email with God's amazing answered prayer that we could meet Mathews on this first trip to Ethiopia!

And instead I must ask, "Why? Why does God care so much for me to answer this prayer that began over a year ago? How is it that He has been so faithful to very distinctly show His presence in our lives so many times?"

I am unworthy to even play a bit part in His plan, unworthy of the divine arrangements that have been made so that next week we will not only meet our new daughter for the 1st time, but our Compassion son!

You better believe there will be some serious Texas-Sized Hugs in Ethiopia next week!!!

And hopefully pictures I can share with all of you the following week but until then this blog will likely be very quiet! Everyone who is praying for us, know that it means so much! More than you pray for our safety, pray that we will be His light. I am certain we will return from Africa changed and am thanking God for that. May we never be the same!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Somehow, some way we will be ready to go to Ethiopia.

Right now I'm thinking that nearly 15 hour plane ride for the 1st leg of our journey sounds like the extra long nap I really need after the whirlwind of cramming 2 months worth of getting ready into the past 2 weeks!

Since I'm busy packing, there's nothing to read here, but this post by Andrea who just got back from a mission trip to Zambia is awesome!

Monday, July 25, 2011

We're Signed Up For Even More Crazy

So, already we're heading to Africa for 10 days

with 2 of our children,

for a total of 39 hours of in-flight time round-trip,

coordinating leaving 1 child behind in the U.S. with grandparents,

for longer than we've ever left any of our children,

to meet our 4th child,

a 2 year old (nearly 3 year old) we've never seen in person before,

but fully consider her our daughter none the less.

we'll appear in an Ethiopian courtroom and tell the judge we want to adopt her.

we will visit with our little girl a total of 3 times and then have to leave without knowing when we can go back for her.

i put together a photo book for her this past Sunday,

pictures of us, her new family, that the care center staff will give to her when we are officially hers!

we will tour 3 government orphanages,

we will spend 7 nights in a guesthouse with 50 degree F nights and no heat,

and hope we're not in the unlikely 50% of people who travel to this region and get traveler's diarrhea!

this weekend we purchased a backpack and stuffed it full of all kinds of things,

including a t-shirt from our hometown football team,

held it right up to the back of the 8 year old who lives in our home,

to see if it would be the right size for another 8 year old half a world away,

the backpack, shirt and goodies are for our Compassion child that the "odds are against us" actually getting to meet during this trip,

the backpack will go to Ethiopia (along with the mounds of diapers, wipes, and hand sanitizer orphanage donations) just in case we get to see him in person.

we'll spend time with our friend in the mission field and come face to face with great need.

so, why not add to the crazy?

we've made plans to fly from the capital city, Addis Ababa, north to Mekele, the area our new daughter is from.

It's an hour and a half flight, totally do-able as a day trip, right?

Only for crazies like us!

But, to see her heritage,

the chance to fill in some missing history from her past,

to visit the orphanage where she spent a month,

talk to the nannies that cared for her then,

to get to play with the kids at that orphanage who only rarely get visitors,

and to be able to deliver to them some donations to hopefully make their lives better,

sure, why not?

sign us up!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Apologies to Africa

Many, many times in my life I've said the phrase, "Wow, it's like AFRICA hot out here!" For as long as I can remember I've used "Africa hot" to describe instances of extreme-feeling heat, and we live in a climate where the temps are in the 80s or 90s or even near 100 degrees F for about 6 months out of the year!

But, lo and behold, now that we are actually preparing for a trip to Africa, do you know what we had to do?

Buy LONG-UNDERWEAR for the trip!

True story. Oh YES we did!

Apparently the temps. in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia range from 50 to 70 degrees F this time of year and the guest house where we are staying does not have heat!

Now I realize 50 degrees in not all that cold to many of you Northerners, but to us, it's winter, y'all!

So, I really must extend my apologies to Africa for grossly misrepresenting it as a completely hot continent! I will now refer to unbearably hot weather as "Texas hot" or "Oklahoma hot".


While shopping for long-underwear on, my husband came across these

and we had a good laugh over the thought of actually purchasing them, but in the end decided to go with 2 piece models. I know the other families sharing the guesthouse with us are sad with this decision.


Another funny moment from our Ethiopia trip planning was when my husband was studying the Ethiopia Amharic phrasebook and suddenly announced: "Wow, the Amharic word for 'diarrhea' is like 8 syllables!"

Praying we don't have cause to actually utter that 8 syllable word during our trip!

I am packing multiple toothbrushes because I know at least one of the four of us (and likely we'll all do it at some point) will forget and run our toothbrush under the faucet instead of going to the bottled water!

Speaking of not being able to drink water from the faucet. Remember this post about 1st world problems? Well, I did show my kids the video, they requested to watch it several times. And I've heard them say to each other several times since, "That sounds like a 1st world problem" when they catch each other whining about something minor. I love it!


Happy Friday Everyone!

Mommy's Idea

Against All Odds

"Well the odds are certainly against you."

The lady at Compassion International told me when I called them last Friday after learning of our court date and upcoming trip to Ethiopia. I want to try to see Mathews, the boy in Ethiopia we sponsor through Compassion International, while we are there. I know Compassion requires 8 weeks notice and we are giving them roughly 2 weeks notice and asking them to do the near impossible, to set up a visit with all the logistics that must be in place, communicating across time zones and languages.

But, I almost smile when I hear the statement, "the odd are against you." Because, that's nothing new to us. And really it doesn't scare me any more. Because honestly the odds don't matter. My God can do anything. He is not confined to operating within the odds.

I don't mean to say that God always works things out like we want, because that is certainly not true, or that I expect He will always give us what we ask for. But, it just means that I believe He can do big things and when He doesn't do what we'd like to see happen, I trust that there is a greater reason for that, a plan He knows and works for good according to His kingdom purposes.

So, I tell the representative on the phone I understand the odds and would like to request the visit anyway. She tells me of a form we have to fill out and a fee we'll have to pay that she'd just hate for us to do and then not get to see Mathews. I tell her we're going through an adoption, forms and fees no longer scare me.

And sure enough, the form and the fee are nothing compared to what we've been through.

And way more than worth doing for even the small chance at getting to see Mathews on this trip. To hug the boy we've written and prayed for, sent birthday gifts to, and gotten letters from for a few years. To see him eye to eye and tell him we love him and are so happy to play a part in his growing up.

And the good news of the phone call? The Compassion visit form and fee don't expire for 18 months, and the lady told me if we don't get to meet Mathews on this visit then there's a really good chance we will be able to on the 2nd trip.

But, we'd love for it to happen on this 1st trip because then our two older children will get to meet him, too. Praying we get odds defying news in the next week that a visit has been able to be arranged.

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Daddy's Arms

I love this picture of my 5 year old girl and my husband hugging!

Every little girl needs a daddy.

I can't wait until our precious girl in Ethiopia feels the love and security of those daddy arms, too!

We are desperately clinging to the hope that she will be in our arms forever very soon.

This upcoming trip to Ethiopia is like nearly everything else in the world of adoption, joy intermingled with heartbreak.

We will get to meet her! But only for three different one hour visits. And then we will have to leave, to leave her without knowing when we can go back and get her and bring her home! We won't tell her we are her mommy and daddy on this trip because we don't want her to think that's what mommies and daddies do, they leave. We don't want her to be sad when we go. We don't want her to spend the weeks or months in between our visit and getting to bring her home wondering if maybe she did something wrong and we decided not to be her parents. Oh how much we want her to know that we love her and that she has a family, but it will not be the right time to share all that with her on this first trip.

Praying our Father in Heaven holds all of us in His arms during that time we have to be apart!

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

Monday, July 18, 2011


We can take 2 bags with a max. weight of 50lbs per person before being charged extra.

There are 4 of us traveling to Ethiopia, so 50 * 2 * 4 = 400 lbs. of baggage we can take.

Don't worry it's not going to be our clothes filling that entire allotment.

We are going to try to squeeze into about 2 or 3 bags for our family's needs for the 10 day trip (only 8 days in country, rest are in travel).

So, the other 250 to 300 lbs of luggage will be filled with donations we are taking over.

Supplies the orphanages and our agency's care center need like diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer and formula.

So, the question of the night (actually there have been many questions tonight, so let's call it the question of the past half hour):

Just how much do 600 Size 4 Huggies Diapers + 720 wipes weigh?

What about 8 hand sanitizer wall dispenser refills?

We are filling and weighing and unfilling bags. And trying to figure out how much more we can get in!

Good times!

But, the luggage math is much easier than the equation of the morning, which was how to pull off 3 hours of VBS for 2,000 children with no electricity except emergency generators in our entire huge baptist church campus?

The answer to that one turned out to be obvious, though. Jesus! Only He could have done it. No children were turned away, we doubled up to utilize the rooms with windows, the kids had fun even without electricity and fancy lights and music and microphones and elevators (our classroom was on the 5th floor -- I made the trip up the stairs 4 times = no Shred workout for the rest of the week for me!) AND Jesus's love was still proclaimed RIGHT THERE IN THE SEMI-DARKNESS and stagnant air!

But the equation I most like dwelling on the most these days is 13 more days until we meet our little girl in Ethiopia minus 1. Each day we are one day closer!

Find more Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Friday, July 15, 2011

An August Court Date!!!!!!!

After my whiney, I'm not patient, we-don't-know-WHEN-we-will-even-get-to-meet-our-little-girl-in-Ethiopia post last night, we got a phone call at 9:15 am this morning with our court date! And it's August 2nd!!!!! Praise God for this amazing answered prayer!

We get to meet our little girl on Monday, August 1st!!!! Ahhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Really it is more shock than screaming going on here right now.

I mean can you even believe it? We will get on a plane and head to Ethiopia in just about 2 weeks to meet our 2 year old daughter for the first time!!!!

My husband had given up hope for a before rainy season court date (for those of you who don't live and breathe Ethiopian adoption news, the courts close for about 2 months every year, this year the closure is Aug. 8th-Oct. 3rd) by this past Monday, I still had hope but have to be honest that yesterday afternoon I really began to feel down that it wasn't going to happen, that we were going to have to wait until at least October to color with our little girl.

When I saw the 817 area code pop up on the phone this morning I had no idea if I was about to hear the amazing, wonderful news that we had a court date soon, or if it was going to be the sad news that our agency was now sure that we definitely wouldn't get in before the rainy season.

Our older 2 children will be traveling with us. The timing is perfect with their school not starting until Aug. 22nd, and our little 4 year old guy is super excited about spending a week with his Nana and Papa all to himself!!!

We are so thrilled and grateful for this news!

And we have a ton to do, it will be a busy next 2 weeks with all the travel prep. added on to the week of VBS (I'm teaching, our kids are going & we're taking a neighbor girl with us) plus the homestudy update we have early next week. If anyone has any travel advice, lay it on me! We've been thinking about this trip for nearly 2 years now and read tons of blogs from people who've done it, but now that it's really us getting to make travel arrangements and get ready, I feel like I've forgotten all I thought I knew!

But I like this hurry, hurry adoption phase much better than the wait, wait, and wait some more phase!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm not that patient either!

We have a dear friend who recently went to Ethiopia for missions work for the next 6 months or so. This week she got to visit our little girl at the care center. This friend actually met our daughter on a trip earlier in the year before we had even been matched with her -- God's amazing orchestrating! And this week she loved on our girl again for us, sent us some pictures, and this report:

"Oh my gosh I love her! We had so much fun coloring, playing..she is such a joyful little girl. Hugged me, kissed me, tickled me. She's such a happy child!"

We love that our sweet friend visited our little girl in Ethiopia, that she could be there when we could not. It means so much to us! But I can't help the selfish thoughts, "I want to be the one coloring with her and hugging her!"

Tomorrow makes 11 weeks since we first saw her picture, and we still have no idea when we'll get to meet her, let alone bring her home.

I had a friend say to me a couple months ago regarding our adoption, "I just don't think I could do it. All the waiting. I'm not that patient."

I just nodded and murmured a polite response. We were rushing our children to school, so there wasn't time for lengthy dialog.

But my real response is, I'm not patient either! And to be honest I really don't know how to do this waiting. It is only by the grace of God that I can get through the day sometimes. My husband and I both are more distracted in our every day lives than we can ever remember being. We know that she is worth the wait, that would be true even if we waited 10 years, but that knowledge doesn't make the waiting any easier. We know God loves our little girl even more that we do, that He created her, and that she is and will always be His, yet she is not home coloring at our kitchen table.

And I know of so many children who are not home, yet, who have families longing for them. And as often as I pray for God to help them come home soon, I've begun praying more for Jesus to just come back. To set all things right. Why not, God? There is so much wrong with this world!

But, God has some dearly loved children He's waiting on, too, children He's longed to welcome into His family, children He created and knows are worth the wait.

Find more Finer Things Friday.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Everybody Loves a Good Glue Gun Craft!

I have no idea where the summer has gone! Last summer I sewed a ton and this summer not so much. I have a million ideas bookmarked that I want to try, several projects I've even bought the materials for, but just haven't completed. Seriously it's a sickness, I am mid-project on way too many things and in the middle of reading, no joke, about 5 books right now!

But, enough with the negative, let's celebrate a project I DID complete (and with how scattered I've been lat
ely, if I was able to finish it, you know it's quick and easy!!!). I made this fun headband for my 5 year old using this tutorial from Ruffles N' Stuff.

It was really fun to make and she's gotten compliments on it a few times. I just used some fabric scraps I liked to make it and was happy to realize after the fact that it perfectly matches two of my daughter's dresses and coordinates with many other things!

So go finish yourself a project.

And if you're up for more crafty, here are some I have on my list of things I really want to try:

Interchangeable headband (Such a gre
at idea!)

Knuffle Bunny Tutorial (You know the book, right? my kids love it and how sweet would it be to be able to make them their own Knuffle Bunny?)

Six Pocket Bag (Oh how I love a good bag!)

Hamptons Hooded Beach Towel (My kids have hooded beach towels I bought a few years ago and they are w
earing out because we use them all the time! They are so great to use when they get out of the pool because with the hood then the kids are not dragging the towels through the wet ground and getting them all nasty like seems to happen with non-hooded towels.)

Find more Things I Love Thursday here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Don't Let the Pretty Bow Fool You

I've thought that it would be great to blog on the subject of adding a puppy to the mix of a family with young kids, but I'm too tired tonight. And to be honest, who knows if that blog post will ever happen. But I can give you the short version of advice I've given to several mom friends who've asked me about having a new puppy because they were thinking of getting their kids a puppy . . .

"Don't do it!!!! Puppies are way too much work! It's like combining the trouble of a newborn baby and a toddler all in one furry package!"

I'm not kidding, that is actually my reply, but then (depending on how good or bad of a puppy day we've had) I typically follow up with some of the positive aspects of having a puppy and all the joy that Madeline brings to our lives.

For example, I can send all three of my children into immediate fits of laughter just by clipping one of my daughter's hair bows onto the puppy's head!

Please bear in mind, with that adorableness comes the stuffing from the throw pillows off my couch strewn all over the house!

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

Monday, July 11, 2011

We'd Rather Be In Ethiopia

So where have I been?

On a whirlwind trip with my immediate family of husband and 3 kids but also 15 other family members from my side of the family. A trip that we didn't expect we'd be able to go on when it was booked for us last Christmas, because surely we'd have our new Ethiopian daughter home and she would not
be ready for such a trip, or else we'd be in Ethiopia for a court date or embassy appointment.

But, this past week we weren't in Ethiopia or home loving on a new daughter, instead w
e were here: And although it was an amazing time, my husband and I definitely couldn't help thinking. . .

We'd rather be in Ethiopia!!!

How 'bout here?
Yep! Still, we'd rather be in Ethiopia!

A few times we paid for by-the-minute internet access and logged on long enough to see if we'd gotten the coveted news of a court date so we could go to Ethiopia.
But, that email didn't come.

We did get an update on our girl with a recent picture which, like so many other aspects of adoption, brought simultaneous joy and heartbreak. It was really great to see a new picture of her, to see her smiling and appearing healthy, but
she looked so much older that we couldn't help lamenting, "She's growing up without us!"

We got home super late last night, the kids schedules are completely off after being on time zones 2 and 3 hours behind our own, eating entirely too many treats,

staying up late. But, while I'm dealing with re-entry and mountains of laundry, I'm still hoping and praying for a miracle that we'll get a call this week for a first-week-of-August court date, right before the Ethiopian courts close for the rainy season! If nothing else, in the past week I've learned how to pack for a week-long trip. I can do it on short notice. Seriously, Ethiopian Court, just give us the word we'll be there! Gotta go see our 2 year old girl, before she becomes a 3 year old girl in October!

Friday, July 8, 2011

A New Perspective

Want to be thankful for your problems?

In 13 words I give you a new perspective:

A Chinese proverb: “Well-fed people have many problems, hungry people have only one.”

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Selfless Love

***Originally published April 12, 2010***

He was the most active of my three children in the womb, my 3rd child. His jabs and kicks and rolls were always making his presence there in my belly known. He was also the biggest baby of my three, born weighing 8 lbs 7 oz.

My doctor and I worried he'd be too early, his older sister came 3 weeks early when my water broke. So I was tested for preterm labor risk a few different times. He wasn't early, staying in there right up until the morning of his due date.

For 40 weeks I carried that child, longer than the 39 weeks of his brother and 37 weeks of his sister. He was a part of me; a very known and loved person before I ever saw him face-to-face.

He was born with the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around his neck. He was very blue and not breathing.

I knew my Ob. well, she delivered my other kids, she was always so calm and comforting. I'll never forget hearing her say to the nurses that day, "Somebody call Neo.! Somebody call Neo.!" Her voice was forceful and urgent, like I'd never heard before, as she worked on my boy, squeezing the oxygen bag attached to the face mask against his little mouth.

Neonatal intensive care came and took my baby away and my Ob. came to my side to check on me. All I wanted to know was, "Is my baby going to be okay?" As a mother herself, she understood, I'd be okay once I knew my baby was okay. So, she went to find out.

She returned a few minutes later and let me know that he was fine, crying and his color was coming back. They brought him back to me just a couple minutes later. Aside from looking a little "rough" for the 1st 24 hours with blue bruising around his mouth and nose, there were no lingering issues associated with my little guy's traumatic first few minutes of life. And actually the cord being wrapped around the baby's neck is a common occurrence, and wasn't really even medically significant.

But, I will never forget what it felt like to have carried a baby, loved a baby, bonded to a baby for 40 weeks and then have him suddenly gone. Thankfully it was only for a few minutes.

But for some mothers who give their babies up for adoption, if they decide not to see or hold the child, their baby is taken away right after birth and never returned.

I cannot imagine how empty those mothers must feel.

As we are in the process of adopting a child, I think often of birth mothers. I think in our society mothers who give their babies up for adoption are negatively stereotyped, but I know they are an example of amazing strength and selfless love.

Because in those moments after birth the choice to parent that baby has got to be much easier than the choice not to.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

13 Unexpected Things Motherhood Has Taught Me

***Originally published May 5, 2010***

1. Most of the time a kiss really does make it better.

2. Sometimes the best answer is to laugh.

3. Hand-sanitizer gets Silly Putty out of carpet.

4. Never leave powder in your toddler's room during naptime, even if it is in the top dresser drawer much higher than he can reach.

5. The ability to determine if a child has a fever with just my cheek.

6. It is possible to hold the hands of two children with just one of my hands.

7. The knowledge of the entire layout of our local zoo, including the names of many of the animals, such as, "Okay, everybody say bye-bye to Jonathan the lion," or "Hi, Boomer the grizzly bear." or "Look, it's Miles the giraffe over there."

8. The ability to make up arbitrary rules on the fly like, "You only get a band-aid if it's actually bleeding." or "You can only sword fight other children who also have swords."

9. There is really no such thing as toddler-proofed!

10. It is possible to memorize entire children's books and recite them word for word.

11. Disposable swim diapers leak!

12. Never go anywhere without wet wipes.

13. That although it is hard and there are very few vacation or sick days, being a mom is the best job in the world!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

10 Steps to Getting Your Kids to Eat a New Food

****Originally published June 15, 2010***

How to get your children to eat something new (my tested-in-my-own-real-life-with-100%-success method):
  1. Fix your children their usual lunch and have them sit down and begin eating it.
  2. Fix the new food item for yourself.
  3. Sit down at the table with your kids eating their lunch with your plate of the yummy new food that you do not intend to share.
  4. Do not offer them any (this is key!)
  5. Begin eating without saying anything.
  6. It will take about 11 seconds before one of your beloved children will inquire, "Mommy, what are you eating?"
  7. Answer them matter of factly, still do not offer them any.
  8. And wait for them to say, "I want some!" Because they will.
  9. Then reluctantly give them some from your own plate (I did not have to fake the reluctant part because I really didn't want to share!).
  10. Be amazed as they suddenly love homemade hummus, greek yogurt with fresh fruit and granola, or grits (the 3 things I've recently unintentionally converted my kids into loving with this method)!