Monday, September 9, 2013

The Start of School

Big transitions at our home.  Andrew went back to college.  Eliza started college.  Zach started high school, Bella is in first grade and Efa started preschool.  I am back in nursing school.  The school year starts with such a force that I have found that the first few weeks everyone is suffering from a little whiplash.  If you do this long get better at preparing and sometimes even avoid serious injury.

So much to update but today...I am just going to share a story.  Eliza texted the riding coach on Labor Day, while still in bed asking for more info on the riding team (a Div 1 team).  The coach responded...saying tryouts are right now, I will send someone to pick you up in 15 minutes.  Eliza threw on her boots, riding pants, chaps, and a t-shirt, only to find that all the girls were in full show dress.  Her response...Oh well, at least I get to ride a horse today.  She actually was offered a varsity spot.  That's my girl!  Except...I can take no credit.  No credit for the reaching out to the coach.  No credit for not being defeated when everyone else is dressed much more formally.  No credit for being grateful for the opportunity even when it looks like you won't win or succeed.  No credit for being self aware enough to say no thank you to the coveted position when you realize it may take away from your studies and leaving the door open to next year.  I was very different at 18.  I am reminded how much I have to learn from my children.  They are perhaps my greatest teacher.  I am struck by the faith that they were handpicked for teach me so much.  Hopefully, I will be a good student.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Finding the Joy

My mom has been gone for one month shy of 10 years.  She was a unique woman.  I could go on and on about her.  I wish I had appreciated all that she was when she was alive.  But I was young and stupid.  One of the greatest things I learned from her was finding the JOY.  I grew up in a family that adopted trans racially, in a time well before there were books to read and therapies to try.  My mom knew that love was not enough....but it was a great place to start and end.  All adoption stories have loss (and trauma) and with loss comes sadness and grief.  I have thought long and hard about this, I have attended seminars, webinars, and read countless books.  Just recently I had to put everything I have learned into practice.  A practice that is mine.  Not what the experts say.  Not what other adoptive parents would do.  I had to be authentic.  I want my kids to know JOY.

Bella recently asked me if I could tell her about the day she was born.  I told her that I was not there but I could guess what happened on the day she was born.  She wanted me to guess.  So snuggled up together, I imagined what that day was probably like.  I imagine it was as special as the day my other children where born.  I told her how big she probably was, and who was probably there, and what she probably looked like.  I told her what her first few days were probably like.  Some of it I don't have to guess too much on....She was one happy baby!  She probably rarely cried.  Bella loved her story.  She found the JOY among the pain and loss.  She has asked me a couple times to tell her her birth story again and again.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring, how she will continue to process the losses.  But for now, my sweet girl finds the JOY.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Pebbles and Bam Bam

Efa has been home 7m and Bella has been home 3 years.  I love that they have each other in our family.  I love that they have a sibling that looks like them.  I love that they have a sibling that shares in being adopted.  These two could not be closer.  Efa asks, "when is Bay-ya coming home from school."  Bella watches over Efa.  If someone gives Efa a treat, he shares it with Bella.  This is what a normal day looks like.  I am thankful for a full house and heart.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Fall Update

I was blessed to be able to go to the Empowered to Connect Conference a few weeks ago.  It was a luxury to be able to sit and listen without trying to solve a problem or resolve a conflict.  I walked away with so many great suggestions for both my adopted kids and my bio kids.  I think that Karen Purvis is amazing.  Some of my take-aways:

Motivation:  Motivation influences expectaion.  Be able to answer the question..."Why did you adopt me?"  

Saying "yes":  By the time a bio kid is 2, they have heard yes 1000's of times.  Yes, I will feed you.  Yes, I will change you.  Yes, I will hold you.  These yes's give no meaning.  Find ways to say yes.

Voice:  Tone, volume, and body language is 97% of communication.  Kids often don't even hear the words.  (Big for me and my teenagers....)

Going to the conference, has made me think even more about adoption than I normally do.  When you make brownies from mix the eggs, flour, sugar, and vanilla.  You bake in a heated oven for about a half hour.  Voila!  A yummy dessert.  However, you can't "unbake the brownies," if you  then need the eggs.  I have noticed that kids are not too dissimilar.  Adopted kids, particularly.  It can be hard, if not impossible to tell if a behavior (i.e friendliness) or fear (i.e. of babysitter) is an adoption related issue.  Or is it personality.  Or is it a function of a good fit in family.   Is it some past trauma or life experience?  Why do some kids have a really difficult time transitioning when others don't?  I don't have any answers.  Just wondering.  Truly, I think that this is also true of bio kids, too.  If you have a rambunctious boy born into a girly girl family....the fit may be an on-going work in progress where as if that same baby had been born into a family of all boys, he may not even be seen as rambunctious.  Recently we had our social worker visit and again, she and I were talking about this specifically.  Is everything going well because I expect so little?   My social worker laughed.  We will never know because we can't "unbake the brownies."

All this to say...we are good.  Really good and blessed.  I am still tired.  But we are good.  Efa and I are taking a Mommy and Me art class.  Bella has started kindergarten and loves it.  Zach is juggling soccer and school.  Eliza is working on her college applications.  Andrew is busy as his fraternity president and his classes.  Hmmm.....maybe this is why I am tired:)  
Mommy and Me Art Class.

Bella getting some last minute instruction from Eliza.

Playing soccer against a big brother (love how much a size difference there is and yet how determined Efa is).

First day of kindergarten for Bella.

Going to work with daddy.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Start of Summer

They are really sweet together!

It seems wrong to write and post this on a rainy overcast day.  Summer is about to start.  We are busy.  Busy in a new way.  My house is mess.  I am tired by the end of the day.  Bone weary.  I am so thankful that I am not starting clinicals in the fall.  I could not do it!  Instead I am taking American Sign just keep me from withdrawing and re-applying.  I am excited for that class.   I guess I am older, humbling to feel it.  I have resurrected a word that we used all the time when the older kids were little.  Peace-ability.  The ability to be peaceful.  At 5pm I feel like I am using it all the time.  Efa is super busy.  I can not let him out of my sight.  He has been known to turn on the stove, try to open the door of a moving car-being-successful, once (thank the Lord for child safe locks), tried to flush the phone.  The list keeps going.  He is sweet.  He is smart.  He does not care for the word "No!"  His new word is "Dangerous!" for a reason.  We actually refer to him as "Bam Bam" because he is running, kicking, throwing, and making noise in way that only a boy could, all the time.  Bella has become known as "Pebbles."  He wants to do anything and everything Bella is doing.  When she is at school, he is lonely for his partner in crime.  Summer starts tomorrow.  All school is over!  I love summer.  I love the release from structure and routine.  I love coming up with the bucket list for summer....blueberry picking, joining the library program, pizza on the beach, ice cream visits, family walks, family vacation, raw oysters (we are the talk of the restaurant....because Bella even loves to try them), study of Nehemiah.  I will post it when we are done crafting it.

Eliza leaves for Ethiopia on Friday.  She is meeting Emily and crew in Frankfurt.  This will be the second time she has been to Ethiopia.  She is so excited.  Please pray for her safety as well as the the following:

Thursday, May 31, 2012



"Beep beep"


"Let me tell you..."

Enough of the pictures...

A handful of kids is good.  5 is good.  2 years old is a handful, but good.   Efa is doing really well.  He is fitting in beautifully.  He is funny and sweet.  He does not like sitting still for pictures.  Bella loves having a little brother, most of the time.  She said, "I am so lucky to be his big sister."  And then a morning later..."I miss the old days."  Oh so normal!  I speak on a panel this weekend...for couples considering adoption.  I am excited to share our stories.  

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

God is Good!

I have gone to write about our time in Ethiopia, and every time I try, I get caught up in the timeline.  We are home.  We have all fallen, hook, line, and sinker for our sweet boy. He is funny, smart, sweet, and busy.

When we adopted Bella, Bella preferred me to Jason.  So we knew to expect that Efa might prefer one of us over the other.  I just did not expect that to be someone other that me!  Well, it gave each of us perspective on the other's experience.  Hard.  My feelings were hurt.  Truly wrestled with what the other parents on the trip would think of me.  Aren't all kids suppose to love their mom?  Childish, I know.  Because we went through it before, I was patient.  Efa rewarded my patience with such sweetness that it got me through the next day.  When we got home, he started to warm up to me.  He wanted me at 3 in the morning.  He wanted me when he ate.  So I went to bed earlier than I have in years and was up at 3 to feed and snuggle.  We have built on that time and now, I would say he is pretty balanced between us, Jason and me.

Efa loves his siblings and they adore him.  Bella needed to be reassured that we would not have to bring him back to Ethiopia.  After that, it was lights out.  She loves that they are both from Ethiopia and that they both have curly hair.

He loves:

our grace that we sing before every we inevitably have to sing it several tiems.
cream of wheat, mashed potatoes, cheerios, buna
balls (he sleeps with one)
playing jokes
a baby doll that he has named Mamita (after his BFF at the TC)
moving his eyebrows in funny expressions

Watch out!
Got you!
Big sister, finally.
We are truly blessed to be his parents.  Like labor, the pain of the process has lost some of its edge.  We will be working to get all 5 children (or at least 4 of the 5) in same spot for a complete family picture.