Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Feety Jammies

Have I mentioned before how much I love feety jammies?

My 6 year old and 4 year old love them, too and absolutely couldn't wait for the weather to get cold enough to wear the "jammies that cover our feet!"

Too bad I can't talk my 8 year old into wearing them!

P.S.  I realize the technical term for these pajamas is "blanket sleeper" but in our house they are "feety jammies".

Monday, November 28, 2011

My 3 year old lives in Ethiopia

I was reading an adoption-related article recently, and there was a feature on a particular couple.  I don't remember the main content, but what struck me is that near the beginning as the article introduced the couple, it said, "They have one son who lives in Ethiopia."  I thought to myself, "Wow, that's cool.  I wonder what kind of work he does in Ethiopia, maybe mission work?"  Then I saw a picture of the couple and thought, "Hey, that's really strange, they look so young to have a grown-up son living in Ethiopia!"  Then I read a bit further and realized their son is actually an infant, living in Ethiopia, while they live in the U.S.  Even though we are intimately familiar with this scenario and international adoption, the ludicrousness was still striking.  I mean in what world do infants and young children live entire continents apart from their families?  But, I know of many families besides us living out this exact scenario right now as they await the approval of the U.S. government to be able to bring their children home.

My 3 year old daughter lives in Ethiopia.

The American embassy sends us emails with her name that includes our own last name tacked right on to the end of her first name, she's officially on our health insurance, her monogrammed hooded towel hangs on a hook in our kid bathroom next to her brothers' and sister's towels.  But she does not live here with us.


That yet is huge because we are very thankful to have reached a point in our adoption where her homecoming may just be a few weeks away.  But it is a very odd, tough place to be living apart from your young child.

I've bought her Christmas presents, guessing what I think she might like, but fully realizing I really don't know my daughter.  I've spent a grand total of 3 hours with her, spread across 3 different days, nearly 4 months ago.  Isn't a mother supposed to know her child better than that?  I have no idea what her favorite color is, favorite animal to have on her jammies, favorite princess for her little toddler panties.  What makes her laugh?  What is she like when she first wakes up in the morning?

I've been to a few kid parties lately to celebrate the birthday's of my kids' friends, and oh how I pity the mom I'm meeting for the first time at the party who innocently asks me how many children I have and how old they are.  There is just no short answer to that question, and what she thought was small talk turns to the topics of orphans and third world countries and adoption roadblocks.  It has actually become an interesting social experiment to me (hee!  hee!), because in my experience people react in one of two ways at this point, either they are very excited and enthusiastic, interested to hear more and full of questions OR there is a completely awkward silence when the poor other mom has no idea how to respond and looks so completely relieved when we are interrupted by a child who needs something!

I know that most likely this living-apart-from-my-daughter is short-lived, that we will be able to take custody of her soon and begin to get to know about her all the things parents typically know about their children (well not everything, of course, there will always be parts of the first 3 years of her life that we'll never know).  I've heard that once she's been home a while, it will be hard to even imagine life before she was here, that this waiting for her to come home will be a memory, rather that our reality.  

I also believe that there will come a day when we are not living one day at a time, not knowing exactly when we'll wake up to an email that will give us permission to bring our daughter home, the day when we'll frantically book tickets to Ethiopia on just a few days notice to go get our daughter.  There will be a day I don't have to respond to all requests with, "I'll be there next week, if I'm not in Ethiopia."  There will be a time when we don't have to explain to family members who want to make Christmas plans with us that we have no idea where we are going to be around Christmas time (even though it's less than a month away) or what life will look like for our family this Christmas.

But, for now, for today, for this phase that we are in, I'd just like to acknowledge the craziness of it, the sheer ludicrousness!  And then with that done, I'll go to Target again to stock up on toilet paper, because apparently I have no idea how to prepare to bring home a 3 year old child from a third world country, my experience just lends itself to hurricane preparedness.  See?  Craziness!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Images

Thanksgiving morning, my 6 year old washing potatoes with some help from our furry little friend!

Friday we cut down our own Christmas tree.  It was a beautiful day and so much fun, likely to be a new family tradition!

Enjoyed some homemade hot chocolate while decorating the tree!

Hung 4 stockings over the fireplace, praying our 4th child is HOME for Christmas!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We're gonna need more circles

We're praising God for our blessings.

Listing them out,

naming them,

scribbling them down on imperfect circles,

and hanging them up,

on fallen branches from our own yard,

so we can reflect, 

so we can remember,

so we can thank Him

from whom all blessings flow.

The very same God who guided the Pilgrims safely to the new world,

across seas so rough they thought they'd surely perish in the journey,

is guiding and sustaining us today.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving 

full of counted blessings!

Psalm 107:1 "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever." (NIV)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Submitted to the Embassy!

Today our adoption case was submitted to the American embassy in Ethiopia.  Hooray!  One big step closer to bringing our girl home!

So, now we wait to get an email from the embassy which typically takes 1 to 2 weeks.  The email will either let us know we have been cleared and can schedule an embassy date (for often as quick as 1 week later), which we will travel to Ethiopia for, pick up our daughter and get to come home with her, OR the email will be a request for more information.  Lately the embassy has been requesting something on nearly every case, it seems.  They have requested an interview with birth parents for relinquishments (even though the interview was already done by the Ethiopian court), requested to interview police officers for abandonments, asked for more documentation or corrections of documents already submitted.  Then once you submit whatever the embassy is asking for, they can still come back and ask for something else, or send your case for further investigation with USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration).  All that to summarize why we still don't know when we can go get our little girl -- could be 2 weeks, could be 12 weeks from now.  Please pray we clear quickly!

Ethiopia is 9 hours ahead of us, so the email from the embassy will come between 12am and 8am our time -- hmmm, think we'll have any trouble sleeping these next few weeks as we wake up at all hours of the night just dying to check our email and see if maybe we have one from the embassy?  And people wonder why pre-adoptive parents suffer from adoption induced psychosis!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dryer Dough

I think I've shared here before about my little trick of rising bread dough in the clothes dryer.  I run the dryer for a few minutes on the hottest setting, then turn it off, stick the pan with the dough in, and close the door quickly before all the hot air escapes.  It works wonderfully to cut rise time in half!  However there is a key point about this method:

The dryer must never be turned on while the bread dough is inside!!!


No idea how it happened!

Thankfully the clean-up wasn't too bad and really I had a good laugh the whole time I was scraping the dough out of the inside of the dryer!

And a plus: every load of laundry smelled of fresh baked bread for days afterward!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Whole New World of Hair Products!

My 3 year old officially has more hair and skin products than I've had in the last 10 years combined!

I've studied websites, I've watched some videos, I've got some products, I now know what the terms "pre-poo" and "no-poo" mean, but I still feel pretty unprepared for our new daughter's hair.  Somebody tell me it's really not as hard as it sounds!  I must say, though, that I think my Ethiopian daughter's curly hair is awesome and I can't wait to style it!  I have fought my straight hair my entire life, trying to get just a little curl or body, so learning about curl patterns and detangling is pretty fun!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Those Two

My kids are friends.

They really, really are.

And for that I am very grateful.

I pray they will always be close.

Those two, in that picture above, can play together for long periods of time without me having to settle anything.

Which is so wonderful!
But, I have to be careful,

because the peaceful play allows me to slip away and do laundry,

or help the 8 year old with homework,

and those two?

Are legendary mess-makers!

Oh yes they are!

They are obsessed with gathering dirt and leaves and sticks and flowers by the bucketful.

That I am actually fine with.

Dirt brushes off. 

Dirt is no problem.

But those two, through various sneaky methods (like coming inside for a drink of water to take outside), add water to their dirt concoctions and invariably end up coating themselves, the patio and the dog in mud!

I cannot tell you how many times those two have assured me, "We won't make a mess!"

And I've bought it because they look so innocent and seem so believable.

But, minutes later there is always a mess.

Usually a head-to-toe kind of mess. 

"I was carrying the bucket with both my arms around it and it all sloshed out!"

Perhaps, though, these mud soup making (and spilling) days will be what creates a relationship between those two so strong that they'll be there for each other as adults especially in the muddy, messy times!

Find more Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tell me your wall is the same!

I had the semi-annual experience this week (and no it is not exactly every 6 months that this occurs because no way could I stick to any sort of FlyLady schedule) of feeling sure my house would be less filthy if I lived with zoo animals than with my children!  What could possibly make me think such a thing?  

The wall nearest my dining room table.  

Usually I don't notice it much at all, but roughly twice a year (typically by accident rather than by purposeful cleaning) I get a close look and see amazing, disgusting amounts of food and drink remnants splattered, dripping, and crusted all over the wall!!

So, instead of writing an actual blog post today, the 409 and the Mr. Clean eraser and I spent some quantity time.

You'll be glad to know that despite my lack of quality blogging, other people have written some excellent things.  I'm only going to link to two because then it's more likely you'll read them and they are definitely worth your time!

This has been circulating around the internet for several days now, but if you haven't seen Jen Hatmaker's post How to Be the Village go read it.  It covers the ins and outs of how to support an adoptive family with hilarious honesty!  I can relate to so much of what she shared.

Then after you read that, come back here and click through to this delightful post written by blogger Boo Mama about meeting the child she sponsors through Compassion International.  We were beyond blessed to get to meet our Compassion son Mathews while we were in Ethiopia this past August and I cannot more highly recommend how awesome it is to sponsor a child!  Boo Mama's account of her day with her Compassion child is really sweet and in typical Boo Mama fashion, hugely funny!

Happy Friday Everyone!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Sick Day

Here's what a sick day looks like at our house:

Also around our house, actually throwing up at school in the 2nd grade entitles you to a free day off at the slightest hint of a stomach ache in 3rd grade.

I'm thankful the 8 year old was feeling much better by this afternoon, ate a good dinner, and that there was never any actual throwing up!!

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New Pictures from Ethiopia!

Today we got some new pictures of our little 3 year old daughter in Ethiopia.  I'm rejoicing in the fact that this month, since we've passed court now and she's legally our child, I can share the cuteness from our new pictures!  And also, praying hard for the day we no longer get monthly updates on our daughter because she is HOME with us every day!

 Her precious, sunshiney face:

And the face we are going to have a very hard time ever saying "No" to after she comes home:

Find more Wordful Wednesday here.

Monday, November 7, 2011


I have so much to be thankful for every single day, picking a few to reflect on today:

  • The fun my 6 year old daughter and I had doing her 1st Grade Family Turkey project.  The  instructions were to cut out the given turkey, decorate it creatively, and mount it on posterboard.  My daughter chose to make her turkey into a "Rapunzel turkey" like from the movie Tangled.  It turned out ridiculously hilarious - purple sequins and long yarn hair!
  • Matching doll and little girl nightgowns.  Thank you Kohl's for a cheap, sweet, will be worn over and over again blessing and smile for both my 6 year old and me!  May she never outgrow delighting in dressing like her doll!
  • Some weather cool enough to inspire me to get our the "winter blanket" for our bed.
  • And discovering Madeline the puppy is the exact same color as the blanket!
  • She is really not allowed on our bed, but who could resist such a soft, fluffy blanket?  I snapped the picture and then made her get "Off!".

  • My children's schools and teachers!  Because I won't be able to do much once our new daughter comes home, I have been spending a lot of time lately in my kids' classrooms (pre-K, 1st grade and 3rd grade) - going on field trips, reading in the class, assisting with in-class projects, etc, and I am so grateful for the 2 amazing schools my kids attend (the elementary is even a public school) and wonderful teachers they have!  Really, I could not be more pleased!
  • My 4 year old who has said for a while he wants to be a pastor when he grows up (my husband has encouraged/planted ideas), the other day told me, "Now I want to be something like a pastor, you know what it is?"  Me:  "No, what?"  Him:  "A priest!"  It made me laugh so hard!  We are not Catholic and he's never been to a Catholic church, so I have no idea where he got that one!  That little guy makes me laugh every day!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How Does God Feel About Orphans?

In honor of Orphan Sunday which is this Sunday, November 6th, instead of sharing my own views and beliefs regarding orphans, I want to defer to God's words to all of us:

"Learn to do good; Seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow." Isaiah 1:17

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27

"When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands." Deuteronomy 24:19

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Psalm 68:5

"God sets the lonely in families." Psalm 68:6a

“I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you." John 14:18

"To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more." Psalm 10:18

"Your princes are rebels and companions of thieves. Everyone loves a bribe and runs after gifts. They do not bring justice to the fatherless, and the widow's cause does not come to them." Isaiah 1:23

"Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute." Psalm 82:3

"He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing." Deut. 10:18

"And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do." Deut 14:29

"But you do see, for you note mischief and vexation, that you may take it into your hands; to you the helpless commits himself; you have been the helper of the fatherless." Pslam 10:14

"The Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, but He thwarts the way of the wicked." Psalm 146:9

"Do not move the ancient boundary or go into the fields of the fatherless, for their Redeemer is strong; He will plead their case against you." Proverbs 23:10-11

Can we call ourselves followers of God and ignore these verses?

There are 147 million orphans in the world.

"2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians. The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left." from Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis

So what can you do?

Love them, pray for them, visit them, feed them, speak out for them, care for them, provide for them, adopt them.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Slowing Down Life

For a while now, but more in earnest the past two months, we've been trying to slow down the pace of our family's life. We don't function well when more time is spent telling our kids to get their shoes on and get in the car than is spent encouraging them, teaching them, loving them.

We know this.

Also, with our new daughter coming home from Ethiopia hopefully within a few months? weeks? (My standard response now to ALL THE QUESTIONS I'm getting about WHEN?! is "could be 4 weeks, could be 4 months" and that is the sad truth!) it is going to be imperative that we have a slowed down life for a long while as she transitions into our family and our world. Imagine being a 3 year old who spent an entire year in one room of a care center, with the the exception of occasional walks outside to the other care center down the street. Do you think a trip to Target might be a tad overwhelming? How about the observation room at your new sister's gymnastics? Church? A school carnival?

We are very excited to introduce our daughter to a bunch of new experiences, things we totally take for granted as regular, every day stuff. BUT, we are going to have to ease into those things, slowly. And, she is going to need a whole lot of our focused attention, meaning less attention for other things.

Hence again, the need for the slowed down life.

But, I'm going to be honest here. After 2 months of really trying to slow it down, of feeling like I say "No" to outside requests for my time about 50 times per day, LIFE IS STILL NOT SLOW!

So it begins again, another attempt to clear our plates and calendars.

And maybe it's just because I'm really noticing now as I'm forcing myself to hyper-evaluate every request, even if it's just a one time, one hour commitment, but doesn't it seem like the demands are rather relentless?

To complicate things, the demands are for good things so it's hard to say "no".

Really, many come from my church, some even as boldly as "You were recommended for this committee, let us know which time slot every other weekend would work best for you to volunteer." Me: "Huh? They're not asking if I want to sign-up but just which time slot?" Yeah, I wasn't probably as kind as I should have been in my response where I detailed all that my husband and I already do for the church, our family situation with a new child on the way via adoption and that we just couldn't commit to any more. But, thank you for thinking of me!"

I'm sorry if this sounds like ranting, I don't mean it to be. I actually am not one of those people who believes God has me on this earth to just serve my family. I do believe in volunteering outside of my own little world, in Mark 16:15 Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." But, there is such thing as too much.

So in a society that seems to value "busy" and "multi-tasking", I feel like I'm swimming upstream, but thankful for the opportunity to keep trying and asking for God's discernment.

Romans 12:2, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."

Find more Thankful Thursday here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dog Mop

The good news is that I have a dog that doubles as an automatic, self-propelled mop for spills like orange juice.

The bad news is that once the spill is cleaned up, the furry dog mop needs a bath!