"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'"
Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Ethiopia Mom

Jacob got in trouble yesterday because he wanted to ride his bike around the block like Joseph. I told him "No!" , and then told him "No!" again and then he started to ride around the block -- onto our busy street! He came back when I started yelling like a crazy woman!

Of course right before that Danny had fallen and was crying and Addy was wanting to be carried like a baby! Marta had also gone around the block because I thought she was asking to have her picture taken and I said yes... to the picture! NOT TO RIDING AROUND THE BLOCK! So when Jacob asked, it was a very clear, "NO!"

Jacob came back and was sad and mad and embarrased. I told him no more bike today and made him sit and watch the rest of the kids. He was TICKED! When Ben got home, Danny was done crying, Addy was playing, Marta was back (and had her bike taken for the day), and Joseph was there to translate, we explained how scared I was and how he CANNOT do that again! Joseph was busy talking to him explaining everything and kept looking at me while talking. We finally asked him to tell us what Jacob was saying... Joseph looked away and said, "he want Ethiopia Mommy" My heart was crushed -- I think it still is. I did what all good parents would do... I said, "well that' s not gonna happen - Jacob, I am your mom and you have to stay here!" I am not sure what came over me... I wish it was sympathy and compassion but I think my heart was still racing from the image of a smooshed Jacob in the street.

After a very pitiful apology from Jacob I marched him up to my room and MADE him sit with me on my bed. He was not going to bend and he was still ticked. I knew that the rest of the night could go 2 ways, he could pout and mope and be rotten to be around OR I could try to mend and establish a stronger bond with his American Mommy. I started talking to him about school and he gave very short answers or ignored me completely. I sat there and prayed, "God tell me what to do!" Suddenly, I was telling Jacob... "When Jacob is 8 - I am your Mommy, when Jacob is 10... when Jacob is 12, when Jacob is 100 I will always be your Mommy and I will always love you and you will always be with me. " This monlogue went on for several minutes and then suddenly he grabbed me and kissed me and said he loves me and that he was sorry. He cuddled into me and kissed me again... THANK YOU, GOD for the words to say to a little boy who is hurting and missing his Ethiopian Mommy... the one who understands what he says, makes the food that he loves best, and smells like home!

The rest of the evening was better... not great - but better! I guess the whole 2 steps forward, 1 step back is so very true!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Our good friend Alyssa, who also is our babysitter, made us dinner the other night. We all loved it! It was Chile Enchiladas and the kids were pretty sure it was buffalo enchiladas... when Joseph
asked what it was I told him that it was tortillas, meat and beans.

He got a horrified look and made this flying motion... "no, Mom, no buzz!"

He thought I had said meat and bees!

Hee Hee

Fine Line

It's a very fine line between being "mean" and "training" our kiddos in the ways of our home and their new home. Jacob has a wonderfully strong personality and knows his likes and dislikes. He will also share those very passionately at times. Yesterday he came home from school because he was "sick". His sickness was due to a peanut butter sandwich that did not look good to him. I am sure that part of his illness also came from being tired - but he was magically healed when the bikes came out after school. We had a little chat before school today that if he was "pouting or moping" (which I did a great charades routine to demonstrate) then he would get no TV or bike today... mean, I know! We also did charades for "EAT YOUR LUNCH" at school. I think I got the point across. I just called to check on him -- for the 2nd time today -- and all is well! He semi-reluctantly ate his lunch and was happy to go to recess. Phew...

The other "training" opportunities which present themselves include:
toilet paper roll replacement, toilet seat positioning, dishwasher loading, garbage taking out, laundry recepticle useage, spitting etiquitte, remote control - control, volume control, singing 6 different songs in the car - ALL AT ONCE, being quiet when people are sleeping, not turning on the lights when people are sleeping, speaking Amharic at the dinner table (outlawed at dinner as of last Saturday), saying, "No, Thank-you" when you do not want somehting, eating at least a few bites of whatever is offered for dinner - I am NOT a short order cook, computer care and useage, the use of a refridgerator and freezer, bicycle and car safety issues, seatbelt use, shower curtain use - it MUST BE INSIDE THE SHOWER to work properly....

I am sure there are more but that was the list from THIS MORNING :) Just kidding - sort of! It is such a funny thing to have to do so much of this all at once. I bet their brains are just spinning! I think about how much my brain absorbed while in Ethiopia and how many things I completely missed because I was so busy being overwhelmed by the sights, smells and experiences... I try to keep this in mind when I have to repeat things over and over...

Thank you God, for patience and your PERFECT PEACE! Amen!

Monday, April 28, 2008


Our weekend was a lot of fun, the kids enjoyed Open Gym at a gymnastics studio and 2 hours at the play land at Carl’s Jr. We had the entire place to ourselves and the kids were worn out when we were done. We spent a lot of time talking… the kids English is improving daily! The following is my favorite conversation from the weekend!

We had just gotten back in the car after a wild and crazy soccer game at the park…

Danny: It’s too hot in here.

Lilly: It’s too hot in here.

Addy: It’s too hot

Joseph: it’s too hot

Jacob: It’s three hot!

English is so hard to learn! It is cracking me up the both Lilly and Addy are learning Amharic! J Very fun!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Last Night

I would like to give you a great update on yesterday, but I can't... I was asleep at 6:45! I slept most of the night and only got up to help with a cranky and sick Addy - but really, Ben did most of it! He is amazing!!!

Today, I feel like a new woman! Adoption is tough, people. So much harder than I ever imagined and at the same time... so much better! Our 6 kids are truly amazing and watching them form relationships with one another makes me smile! Lilly and Joseph have been bonding lately... yesterday they were listening to Joseph's Amharic music on the Walk-Man from Aunt Rebecca. They were sharing headphones and it was super cute! The day before it was praise music in English on the iPod from Grandpa - it is great to see them come together!

Keep praying for the kiddos and for Ben and I as we battle exhaustion and a sick kiddo... please don't let the rest of them get it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Doctor Appointments and Bicyles

We spent the day yesterday driving to and from Portland, visiting with Aunt Rebecca and seeing an Adoption MD. It all went well and we were glad to get home! The kids favorite part was seeing Aunt Rebecca, Jesse and THEIR NEW BIKES!!! They are so cool and the kids were beyond thrilled. I will post pictures soon!

I spent a lot of time thinking about the kids last LONG car ride. It was when they left their mom and were taken to the care center/orphanage in Addis. That car ride was about 8 hours and I am guessing one of the saddest times of their lives. I wonder what parts of our drive yesterday stirred memories? Did they have any of those moments when your stomach feels like a giant pit and you want to curl up and cry? Did they think about looking at their mom in the rearview mirror that one last time as they drove away from their home and EVERYTHING they loved?

The kids are adjusting so well that I often forget what a horribly hard road they have traveled to get here. They watched their dad, the man who they loved deeply, get sick and die. They grieved and then soon found that their mom was sick too. And right after that they were told that they were being adopted. What a day of rejoicing it was for us - but the day they were told must have been incomprehensible. I think about that day, that conversation, in terms of Danny - and I get sick to my stomach. Because I cannot imagine it. I cannot believe it is possible. And yet here I sit in a house with 3 kids who have lived it, are adjusting to it and will survive it.

Thank you, God that you were in the car with them as they drove away from Sodo, from their mom, from all that they held dear. Be with them Lord as we adjust to a family life that is so very different. Amen.

I ask that you keep the kids in your prayers this week -- I anticipate that the shock will begin to wear off and the emotions will come. I anticipate that, while they will still be wonderful, it could be a hard few weeks/months as we all adjust and bend to meet each need and fall in love as a family.

There is an old Tanya Tucker song... 'Strong Enough to Bend' That is what I pray we are in the coming weeks!

Here are the lyrics

There's a tree out in the backyard
That never has been broken by the wind
And the reason its still standing
It was strong enough to bend

For years, we have stayed together
As lovers and as friends
What we have will last forever
If we're strong enough to bend

When you say something that you can't take back
Big wind blows and you hear a little crack
When you say "Hey well I might be wrong"
You can sway with the wind till the storm is gone
Sway with the wind till the storm is gone

Like a tree out in the backyard
That never has been broken by the wind
Our love will last forever
If we're strong enough to bend

When you start thinkin' that you know it all
Big wind blows and a branch will fal
lWhen you say "Hey this job takes two"

We can sway with the wind till the skies turn blue
Sway with the wind till the skies turn blue

Like a tree out in the backyard
That never has been broken by the wind
Our love will last forever if we're strong enough to bend
Our love will last forever if we're strong enough to bend.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Today we are on our way to Portland to see an Adoption MD. She specializes in Adoptive Medicine and I have hear she is great. When I told my students that I would be gone today one of the students interrupted to ask what I was doing. I have been working really hard to teach them to wait until I call on them, so I kept explaining that even though I would be gone for the day I wanted them to be good. While I was explaining my expectations for their good behavior I overheard one of the kids say to THE INTERRUPTER, "OH! She's going to pick up more kids!" At that point, while laughing, I explained that I was just taking the kids to the doctor and that I was NOT going to be picking up any more kids! :) We WILL be visiting Aunt Rebecca (the kids are so excited to see her), eating some yummy Ethiopian food, shopping for injera and maybe Merinda (Marta's favorite drink). It promised to be a busy day!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Dentist and Communication Problems

The kids had their first dental cleaning ever. For Marta and Jacob it was their first trip to a dentist ever. Joseph had a tooth pulled in Ethiopia and was very nervous about this visit. He kept asking, "Why dentist?" Super Grandpa picked up the younger two from school and he said it was a very somber trip. Poor kids! Amazingly they do not have a single cavity! That is fabulous. They all received flossing lessons and seemed to be happy when were done. I am so surprised to be able to tell a difference already! Their teeth and smiles were beautiful before, but today they are gleaming! The dentists and hygienists were so good with the kids and helped them along through the entire process. The teeth cleaning went well, took forever, and the kids were still speaking to me when it was over. I would say it was a success. When we first got there I realized I probably should have waited to do this for at least another month... but we were already settled in and the kids were fine. Ben had a softball game so between Grandpa and I we ran between rooms, calmed nerves and did a little bit of translating along the way. Joseph, we learned, has 6 wisdom teeth (if I understood correctly) and will need to have them pulled sometime this summer. Poor guy!
The big news today was that Dr. Ostler, an orthodontist in town, gave Dr. Matheson and his office 1 Orthodontia package to be given to a patient in need of braces/work (I am not sure of the details yet). They chose our sweet Marta to receive the gift. I cannot tell you how wonderful that moment was. I cried a bit and then gave Dr. Matheson a big hug. Ben and I had been wondering how we were going to pay for those! What a huge blessing for Ms. Marta.
Now for the Communication Problems... we were leaving the dentist office and I was overjoyed about the braces gift, and for those of you who know me well, that meant I was bee-bopping around and so excited! I turned to Marta and tried to explain braces and teeth straightening (while driving of course) and when she didn't understand I asked Joseph for the Amharic word for braces. He also didn't understand so I pointed to my teeth and said something... Joseph told me the word for braces was "Necatess". So with a huge grin I turned around to Marta and said, "Marta you get necatess." and was already imagining the excitement! Instead she got a HORRIFIED look on her face and began pleading with me, "No, Mommy please no necatess!" "Jesus no like necatess, Marta no like! PLEASE." Right away I begin saying "Marta necatess good, Jesus likes, Mommy likes, Mommy and Daddy necatess -- It's OK! Your teeth (pointing to teeth) straight! IT GOOD!!!!" My heart was pounding by this point as I am frantically trying to figure out how I will get this across and wondering WHAT KIND OF STRANGE RELIGION my kids were??? Would they not get a shot when the time came for immunizations? What about cold meds and the flu shot??? I was in a dizzy when I turned to Joseph to ask him about necatess. He and Marta then began showing me that necatess are tattoos which are often put on the gums and cheeks of women in their village. Ohhhhhhhhhh.... "No Marta, necatess different, these are BRACES! BRACES (yes, I was yelling) ARE GOOD! NO NECATESS for Marta (I am laughing at this point)! Marta, BRACES are different!" I believe that at that point she began to understand that braces are NOT NECATESS and looked a bit relieved -- not totally convinces but certainly not horrified. After a few more pronoun-free sentences she understood and Joseph and Jacob began laughing hysterically... they just kept saying, "Crazy Mommy, Crazy Marta!" I didn't stop them, I just laughed along with them... phew!!!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

To Ethiopia and Back -- Part II

To Ethiopia and Back Part II

From Part I...
We headed back to the hotel, prayed, and fell asleep right away.
We both slept pretty well, all things considered!

We woke up and I felt like I was in a movie... the alarm went off and my eyes popped open and I said, "TODAY IS THE DAY!" We could hardly believe it! We quickly got up showered and dressed. It was then that I realized I had left my curler, that would make my bangs somewhat normal for the next 8 days, at home... I asked the front desk for a pair of scissors and went to work chopping! It was bad. We spent less than 2 minutes praying for safe travels, for the kids, for grandparents and off we went. We got to the airport to find that our flight had been delayed... we were told that we would make our next flight so we settled in! It was at that moment I went looking for hair help! Did you know they have a salon in the Portland Airport? The kind hairdresser trimmed/fixed my bangs and I was off to find earrings (which I had also forgotten). I found a cute cheap pair and went to hang out with Rebecca and Ben. We were all giddy at this point and I think the people around us may have thought we were a tad bit crazy. We were making jokes and having a great time! When it was time to board our plane we were worn out (it was only 9:30) and were looking forward to a nap on the plane. I remember pretty much nothing of that flight except that the houses near Dulles are BEAUTIFUL! I was amazed at the mansions and beauty of DC in March! We got to DC and were put on this really weird PEOPLE MOVER thing! It is like a giant boxcar that gets driven all over the airport. We were taken to our gate where we were told that our flight was delayed... panic set in and we got stressed!

We quickly called our travel agent who assured us that we would be fine... a connection at the Cairo airport would not be a problem. We had dinner (paid for by Lufthansa) and settled in to wait! We finally got on the plane and endured the worst part of our travel. The flight was really hot and completely full. I prayed throughout the night that some day I would forget how horrible it had been! When we arrived in Frankfurt we discovered that we had missed our flight by 10 minutes and were sent to see an agent. We waited in line for about 2 hours with 20 - 30 others who were also traveling to Ethiopia. Some of the men had been with us in Dulles and I dubbed them THE TENNIS TEAM -- it didn't matter that they only had 1 tennis racket among the 12 of them... they were, and forever would be, The Tennis Team. We were told that we would be flying through Cairo and would arrive in Ethiopia only 6 hours later than planned! We enjoyed another meal which was partially paid for by Lufthansa... It was actually a $116 meal but we did have about $40 worth of meal vouchers.

I would say that the only good thing about our layover was that Ben got to have a beer in Germany and we all got to change clothes.
By this time we had been traveling for about 28 hours (not including our night in the hotel in Portland) and it was so good to have clean clothes on. When we boarded our plane to Cairo we were so excited to each have an entire row to stretch out on... I slept for about 3 hours which was by far the most sleep I had had yet! I was so relaxed and getting so excited for the next part... then we landed in Cairo! EEEKKK!

Let me start by saying that Cairo is beautiful. They have these ornate street lights that light the entire city, you can see them from the plane and it looks almost magical. When we landed in Cairo we were herded into a waiting bus... much like at Portland Airport. I didn't realize that anything was amiss until I noticed that there was only 1 other woman on our bus. Then I thought about the fact that I was wearing a t-shirt, carpi's and sandals. Not innapropriate by our standards, but certainly not modest by Muslim standards. It was at that moment when Ben glared at me. Rebecca and I had been talking and there were 2 men on the bus who were scowling at us and it made Ben nervous. We were quiet for the rest of our trip - but we did NOT know where we were going. After about 15 minutes we arrived at a wing of the airport where men were standing holding signs for arriving guests. We were very confused by this and became concerned -- they told us to go stand in a room with the other passengers. This room was windowless and had only 1 exit and was comprised of 50 or so men and Rebecca and I. The cigarette smoke was overwhelming and we were so very confused. A long and somewhat nerve racking 20 minutes passed before we were told to get on another bus. We truly had NO IDEA what was happening or where they were taking us. We ended up in another terminal of the airport where we were led into a building with a security checkpoint. The checkpoint moved fairly quickly but we were leaving in less than 40 minutes... After examining our bags, passports, and tickets we were led to another security clearance point. The podium that they use for the initial passport screening had a Muslim prayer rug folded and ready and many of the men working at the airport were wearing traditional Muslim clothing. It truly felt like we were in another world. By now we knew that our plane was leaving in less than 30 minutes and somehow we kept moving farther away from the front of the line... the Cairo airport did not have a good NO CUTTING rule in effect :) We were all getting stressed knowing that there were no flights for 2 more days to Addis and we were wondering if they would even let us into the country without visas. Ben (in a moment of clarity) grabbed all 3 of our passports and PUSHED his way to the front. He says now that the clerk must have seen the desperation in his eyes because he quickly processed us and allowed us into the real airport. We left behind about 30 other passengers (including The Tennis Team) who did not end up making it onto the flight -- I keep wondering what happened to them. We then walked to our gate where we were screened again and were finally able to sit down at the gate. Can you see the pure joy and relief on our faces in the picture?

After less than 10 minutes we were screened AGAIN and then loaded onto another bus which took us to our airplane. We were on a fairly full flight but were still able to sleep. Throughout the 50 hours of travel we must have said 1,000 times, "can you believe we are going to ETHIOPIA???" The last 2 hours of our flight was surreal. We were so amazed and thankful that God had brought us to this place to bring our children home!

When we landed in Addis we quickly got off the plane, got visas, exchanged money, picked up our bags (THEY ALL MADE IT) and met Kassahoun who was employed by our agency and loved by our kids. He looked almost as tired as we did and was anxious to get us settled. He told us that he would be back at 11 to take us to pick up our kids. Woo Hoo! Driving through Addis at 4 am can lead you to believe that it is just like downtown LA or Portland (almost). We arrived at the Hilton and were surprised to see guards with AK-47's at the gate. We took our zillion bags inside and checked in quickly. A bellboy (that certainly cannot be politically correct) took our bags ahead of us and we all got into the elevator. Rebecca got off at the 5th floor and we pushed the button up to the 7th. As soon as the doors closed the power went off. We heard Rebecca yelp a bit but somehow did not panic. We attempted to pry open the doors, in our sleep fatigued state we must have thought we were Mr. and Mrs. McGyver, but we were stuck between floors. As we began to pray the power came on and we were on our way to our floor. We got to our room and felt like we were in heaven. It was lovely (not by American Hilton standards) and was to be our home for the next 6 days. We were so glad to be there. We ordered room service and ate the pancakes while unpacking and organizing. It was SUPER important to me that our room, the kids clothes, the kids backpacks ready, the bathroom be clean and WELL organized... I even wished I had brought some baskets to make it easier and more beautiful. I realize now that it was a bit silly but have chalked it up to Sleep Deprived Nesting which I have heard can be fatal :). So after 2 hours of frantic organinzing and bossing Ben around we fell asleep. We were surprised that we slept so well and woke up around 10:15. We showered and headed down to wait for Kassahoun in the lobby. I wandered over to the bakery and picked up a couple croissants and pretzels but we were all too excited to eat. Around 11:30 (considered on time by Ethiopian standards) we were loaded into the van to meet our kids. We rode to the Care Center with Nancy who was picking up her 8 year old twins, we had met at a training in Spokane back in November -- it was so fun to be together for this amazing day. Seeing Addis during the day was completely different and yet my mind was so focused on what was happening that I didn't even truly see it! I remember pulling up to the gate and getting out of the car. I remember saying something to Ben about not being very nervous and he agreed. I remember hearing Rebecca (it sounded as if she were underwater) saying something about our brain not processing things when it is so overwhelmed. I remember praying as Kassahoun knocked on the gate, "God prepare me so that when I am disappointed that it doesn't show... prepare me so that if the kids are sad or even angry that I don't take it personally". And then the gate opened!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Phone Calls

The kids were in a funk today... certainly to be expected! The last 2 days have been more emotional for them and we even have had a couple of "Time Out's". After church Joseph was especially having a hard day. He is rarely grumpy but today was different. No smiles, no teasing... We decided to let the kids call home today -- we had planned on doing it next week but felt that today was the day! Their mom does not have a phone but a neighbor does so we spent about 20 minutes trying to get through! We finally reached Bereket (the neighbor) who ran to get Mom! The joy that shone on the kids faces was indescribable. Ben and I both got to talk also. When I talked to Anat (Ethiopian Mom) our conversation went like this:

American Mom (Me): Hello
Ethiopian Mom: I love
American Mom: Thank you
Ethiopian Mom: Thank you children
American Mom: Amasayganalo, Xabier (thank you, Jesus) Konjo (beautiful) children
Ethiopian Mom: OK
American Mom: I love you, I love you!

It sounds very dorky when put like that... but trust me, it was wonderful!

I loved watching the kids talk. Anat (Mom in Ethiopian) was so excited to hear that we have a piano IN OUR HOUSE! Joseph played a quick "tune" for her... Note to self: Joseph definitely needs lessons! Jacob yelled into the phone for 10 minutes and then sat on my lap while grinning from ear to ear for the rest of the hour. Marta talks like me and Anat - her hands were flying around the entire time she was on the phone. Joseph is such a man but his joy at talking to the woman who loves him more than anyone in the world was very obvious. I am so glad for the time they had on the phone. We also got an address (probably a neighbor) so we hope to be able to send pictures soon. I wonder what she will think of the pictures of them riding bikes, going to school and being kids?

Does this hurt our bonding to let them call home? Is it harder for their mom when we call? Are we sure that we should be calling and letting them talk to mom every month or so? The answers to those questions are hard. We have used our heart to direct this part of the process and feel that their connection to Anat and Ethiopia is as important as their bond to us and America... if they felt that is had to be a choice between the two -- which would they choose??? I am thankful that we don't feel that it has to one or the other!

God has blessed us with 6 amazing kids. 3 kids who have loved us their whole lives and are now willingly sharing us. 3 kids who have lost everything that was dear to them and are learning to love us and trust us with their hopes and dreams. Amasayganalo, Jesus!

Friday, April 18, 2008

To Ethiopia and Back -- Part I

This is part 1 of hopefully a several part series about our trip and experiences in Ethiopia. I cannot promise exact details or quick additions to the series but here it goes.

Ethiopia and Back Part I

Leaving on Thursday was surreal. As I dropped off Danny at school he did not cry -- it was only me who shed a couple tears. We had never left our kids for more than 2 nights and I was having a very hard time knowing that we would be too far away to help in an emergency. The girls and I spent the morning reading books, picking up a few last minute things (like matching red t-shirts) and enjoying time together. I dreaded taking them to their babysitters but knew that it was time. Again, there were no tears (I was SURE Lilly would have several) and I headed to work. WHY was I working??? The minute I pulled into work I realized what a horrible idea that had been, but I only had to be there for 2 hours and it turned out fine.

Ben and I met home and loaded the car, took all the "kid supplies" to Grandma and Grandpa's and tried to visit GG (Ben's grandma). She was at a hair appointment so we went home and finished packing! My friend Kelly drove our suburban to the airport for us because we knew our 5 HUGE bags and 4 carry-on's would not fit in her van. After a quick picture, a hug goodbye and a $100 fee for our extra bag we went through our first of many security checks. We waited with about 100 people who were on their way to Vegas and I felt a tad jealous of their "brainless" vacation. I know that sounds mean and I don't mean it that way but everything about our trip was so intense feeling and I craved a bit of brainlessness! :)

Soon we were boarding our flight to Portland which was uneventful -- unless you count the 100 times I said to Ben "next time we are on the flight there will be 5 of us". And then I would giggle! We arrived in Portland where Rebecca and Jesse picked us up and loaded our bags in the truck to take us to our hotel. We went next door for a quick dinner where I realized that I had forgotten my swimsuit. To buy or not to buy was the big question. We also had no car and didn't know what was open at 9:00 on a Thursday. We called a cab (who didn't come) then called again... we were whisked off to K-Mart and ran inside. I had 10 minutes to find a swimsuit from the VERY limited choices... one of which was truly the ugliest swimsuit I had ever seen. I bought a relatively cute black swimsuit and cover-up and headed out to our waiting cab. I am fairly certain that it was the most expensive suit ever (partly because of the cab fare) and I thought K Mart was supposed to be cheap. :) Oh well! We headed back tot the hotel, prayed, and fell asleep right away. We both slept pretty well, all things considered!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


One of the ladies who has adopted from Africa shared this link from her sister Beth. A box of kleenex and 15 minutes is required :). Make sure you click the link to Joel's story too... It was worth the time!

On the home front things are continuing to go wonderfully well! We now have 3 GOOD bike riders (Joseph, Danny and Lilly) with Jacob and Marta well on their way to being proficient soon! It is a labor of love to teach 3 kids to ride bikes at the same time -- with Lilly insisting that she is ready for 2 wheeling fun now too! I stood in front of our house for more than 2 hours yesterday watching the kids ride, and I loved every minute of it! I felt like a bobble head doll because I was constantly turning my head, counting kids, and then off to help another rider get started! If I do not lose 50 pounds from running around after these guys I will be shocked!

PS Trinity Saints -- thank you so much! Your prayers and card are very much appreciated! Can't wait to thank you all in person! :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Kids In Church

3-year-old Reese: 'Our Father, Who does art in heaven, Harold is His name. Amen.' ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A little boy was overheard praying: 'Lord, if you can't make me a better boy, don't worry about it. I'm having a real good time like I am.'
After the christening of his baby brother in church, Jason sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied, 'That preacher said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I wanted to stay with you guys.'
One particular four-year-old prayed, 'And forgive us our trash baskets as we forgive those who put trash in our baskets.'
A Sunday school teacher asked her children as they were on the way to church service, 'And why is it necessary to be quiet in church?' One bright little girl replied, 'Because people are sleeping.'
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin 5, and Ryan 3. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson. 'If Jesus were sitting here, He would say, 'Let my brother have the first pancake, I can wait.' Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, 'Ryan, you be Jesus!' ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A father was at the beach with his children when the four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore where a seagull lay dead in the sand. 'Daddy, what happened to him?' the son asked. 'He died and went to Heaven,' the Dad replied. The boy thought a moment and then said, 'Did God throw him back down?' ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A wife invited some people to dinner. At the table, she turned to their six-year-old daughter and said, 'Would you like to say the blessing?' 'I wouldn't know what to say,' the girl replied. 'Just say what you hear Mommy say,' the wife answered. The daughter bowed her head and said, 'Lord, why on earth did I invite all these people to dinner?'

Watch This... and be moved to action...

The first 3 minutes is all it takes!!! We know that many of you are considering adoption... we are praying for you! Some of you are feeling called to make a difference, be praying how you can help. I encourage you to watch this and be moved to action!

New Pictures

Marta is ready for school! She had a great day and had no problem finishing her homework! Her friends told me she did GREAT!!!!!!! (Their exclamations, not mine)
Danny and Jacob wore matching clothes on Jacob's first day of school! Don't they look cute! They have insisted on being matchers each day since... Jacob loves school and is doing really well! He likes the kids in class and they have all been very helpful! A special thank you to his friend Hailey who noticed that Jacob was trying to eat the blue ice pack and called the teacher for help! In his defense, they do look a bit like Capri Sun bags which until 2 weeks ago were new to the kids too! :) Thanks, Hailey! :)

Lilly and Addy watch the "hullabaloo" each morning as I rush to get the 4 big kids off to school!

Joseph and Ben begin their first day TOGETHER! Joseph said that the kids were nice and that he was not scared to go back! I couldn't believe how much more English they were using after 1 day at school!

Joseph and Marta in front of the house in traditional FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL STYLE!
We keep praying that sending the kids to school so soon was the right decision for our kids -- so far I think it is... we will let you know if we change our minds! I always wonder what the 6 kids will talk about during Christmas vacations when Ben and I are in the other room. Will they say that they had the best parents in the world or things like...
Mom and Dad are SO embarrasing!
I can't believe they made me wear that to school?
Remember how mad mom would get when we didn't come to dinner
Remember the way Dad would think he was so funny all the time?
I can't imagine what they will say, but I am sure that they will know how much we love each and every one of them with every part of our being.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

School Days

I love the first day of school – maybe that is why I became a teacher…  Today Joseph and Marta started school!  They were both pretty nervous, perhaps even terrified!  Marta is at Bethlehem with Jacob and Danny, that should help things a bit!  Joseph is at Desert Hills with Ben and gets to check in with Dad often.  Jacob loved school yesterday and was so excited!  As he was leaving one of the kids asked, “Are you Jacob’s Mommy?” to which I proudly responded YES!  I am so glad to be a Mommy of 6! 

Monday, April 14, 2008

School Days

Today is such a fun and exciting day for Jacob (even though he doesn't know it yet)... he starts school today. He got to see his classroom the other day and meet his teacher :) -- who happens to be his Grandma! He is very excited but got upset when we told him he would be in Kindergarten. In Ethiopia Kindergarten is for 3 and 4 year olds and he had been in "2nd grade" which by our standards is probably 1st grade (we think)! Oh, the tears! Jacob is nearly as tall as Danny and just a couple months younger but for both their sake it is best if they are not in the same grade... we hope that Kinder is the right place for him! The school part is the only time I get stressed out and cranky! I just want to be sure that we are doing the right thing for everyone and that in 15 years they won't hate me for the decisions we make now! :) The big kids start school tomorrow and are super excited! Please be praying for them as they begin this next chapter.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Prayer Time

We have always prayed together as a family each night... we do this in chronological order starting with Addy.  Her prayers are sweet, cute, and lasts 1-2 minutes (unless she is interrupted - then she starts over and the beginning).  Lilly's prayers are also sweet asking blessings on pretty much everyone she knows and thanks for the "sun and the rain".  Danny's are very Lutheran-like, short and to the point with deep conviction.  Our new kids prayers last 2 to 10 minutes each!  Last night we set a new prayer record with 37 minutes of kneeling prayers.  Since we have been back from Ethiopia we have averaged 1 child per night falling asleep during prayers - one night we lost 3 kids...  Tonight's prayer lasted only 23 minutes but during that time Addy found the clean clothes and put on Jacobs underwear, Marta's underwear and a bra... then ran around the house!  We told Joseph and Marta that tomorrow they would say a short prayer with the little kids and then their LONG (and I do mean LONG) prayers with just Daddy and me.   I hope they don't think we don't like their prayers - we are just not sure we can keep the little ones awake for many more nights like that! :)  The language barrier during times like this are especially difficult - but we manage to muddle through! 
FYI -- we are immensely thankful that our biggest "problem" is long prayer times! 

Friday, April 11, 2008

Adopting BIG kids

I just have to blog write now or my heart will burst. Today while my 2 big kids were watching Christian music videos in Amharic AND singing their hearts out they folded 4 loads of laundry AND PUT THEM AWAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you hear me smiling from wherever you are????? I am truly blessed! Thank you Joseph and Marta - you two rock!


I meant to take a picture... but the kids ate it so fast that it was gone in a flash! Benjie The Ferengie just made delicious Habesha Eggs with injera! I am not sure what shocked the kids more, that it was so good or that Ben made it! :) He used 15 eggs which were gone in less than 5 minutes... we will have to use 18 next time! :) I think we will be buying a lot of eggs in the next couple of months!

For those of you still learning Amharic... Ferengie means foreigner and Habesha means Ethiopian.

Last night at dinner Joseph informed us that he was a ferengie in America... interesting! :)

We are off to the court club for another rock climb and maybe a little 4 on 4 basketball. Who would have thought that we could almost make up 2 basketball teams!!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fun! Fun! Fun!

Each day is full of FIRSTS!!! Yesterday we had a couple firsts, a lot of laughs and fun all day!

The boys (along with Daddio) had a great time learning the rules of 1/2 court basketball. Of course they were all decked out in their sweatbands! :)

Here are Jacob, Lilly and Marta climbing the rock wall. Spiderman "Joseph" was up and back down before I could snap a picture - it was impressive!!!!

The trampoline was quite a hit with all the kids - Ben included... although he did have sore knees when he was done!

Each day things are getting better - which doesn't seem possible because for the most part things are really good... the kids English is improving all the time and the 6 kids have enjoyed some serious bonding time! We are all asleep by 8 each night - between jet lag, language barriers and intense soccer games we are exhausted! :)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Why I LOVE my kids.

Joseph - because he is kind and loving. Because every morning he gives me a kiss and says, "Good Morning Mom, I love you". He cuddles with Addy and reads his Bible whenever he gets a chance.

Marta - because she loves having a mom. She is so happy to cuddle with me, read with me, and help me cook. She is learning her role in the house and wants to be helpful, while I want her to be a kid. She is so good with Lilly and they have had great fun bonding!

Danny - because he is adjusting so well to not being the oldest, because he still climbs in my lap to give me hugs and because his laugh is my favorite sound in all the world.

Jacob - have you seen his smile??? Seriously what is not to love. He is funny (all 6 of them are) and smart and he loves to learn! I love that he is kind and tough and loves having a mommy!

Lilly - oh my little Lilly Bean. She is perhaps the most displaced out of all of them and yet her compassion and tenderness are allowing her to help the other kids adjust. She is waiting patiently to be able to paint nails - she can hardly wait. Lilly's spunk and kindness make her lovable and irrisistable. I often tell people that she is everything I ever wanted in a daughter

Addy - who has not let me put her down since we got home... is funny (she is SO funny), sweet and loves to cuddle. Each day her words come faster and more clear and she loves to love on all of us. She has decided that in the middle of all of this that she wants to use the potty - gotta love it! :)

Ben - my biggest kid of all... I love him because he is an amazing Godly man. Because in Ethiopia he was not uptight, stressed out, in a hurry or cranky... he tells people that he now runs on Ethiopian time (20 minutes late) :) He loves our kids, cherishes me and is truly amazing!

I am blessed indeed!

Today we are off to the climbing wall - can't wait to see the reactions!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

News from the laundry room...

To Korina, Teresa and all those whose kind and gentle reminders are pulling me to the computer to update you all on this adventure... :)

Right now Danny and Jacob are playing baseball, they are so stinkin' cute together. Marta is getting dressed but definitely missing home. When I checked on her a few minutes ago she was looking through her photo album of all her friends... she really misses them. We put all of her treasures (2 photo albums and a note pad) into a box on her bed. I told the little girls to keep their hands off her treasures - I think that helped Marta a bit and established some personal space for my Marta. Lilly and Addy are swinging and Joseph and Ben are touring Desert Hills so Joseph can know what it will be like when he starts school. These kids are beyond amazing and I am so glad HE called me to THESE children! Many times (well maybe 10 times) over the past few months I have wondered why God called us to big kids... maybe even a tiny bit wishing he had called us to younger ones... I no longer wish or wonder any of it - I just praise God that he gave us these children to love and call our own. They fit beautifully - we fit beautifully together. It reminds me of a puzzle when you can't find that last piece... you look all over under the table, in your lap and when you finally find it you fit it in and look back and admire how perfect it is... That is how it is for Ben and I. We keep looking at each other in amazement that it is SO GOOD!

Some of the fun moments of the last day have included...

Joseph in the battery operated jeep

The girls cuddled in bed watching Little House on the Prairie

The 4 little ones cuddled on the couch drinking hot chocolate

The look of wonder when I (Brooke) drove the car

The look of wonder when Ben cooked breakfast AND cleaned the kitchen

The way Marta came and got me to help her learn how to do laundry - WOO HOO

Life is great! Keep praying! :)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Covered In Prayer

We have been covered in prayer from BEFORE this adventure began. A few days before we got THE EMAIL THAT CHANGED OUR LIFE I had asked our pastor and small group Bible Study to begin praying with us for our plans to adopt. We wanted to be sure it was God's will, not just our own great idea. Then, a couple days later we got the email. Still today I think about the chaos in our house that night. I don't remember what was going on, just Ben saying... there's an email and you've got to read it. I remember getting up from the table and starting to the computer when Ben said, "no read it after the kids are in bed." For those of you who know me well, you know how much it drives me crazy to be told what to do - even silly things like that! So I waited just a couple minutes and while the kids were playing I read it!

There is a family of older children who need a family right away. You must have had experience parenting an older child and be willing to take all 3. The total cost to adopt all 3 will be about $10,000, please call right away...

That wasn't the exact email, but you get the idea. We talked about it a lot that night but kept going back to the fact that time and again we said 1 child YOUNGER than Danny. So we prayed that God would bless them with a family. I really don't know when it became clear that they were ours, maybe it just happened. But within 2 days we were SERIOUSLY thinking of becoming a family of 8. That's when the blessings began flowing - God must have been working overtime on us!

So now here I sit back at home with 6 fabulous children sleeping upstairs. The 2 big kids spent 2 hours last night watching Christian music videos from Ethiopia praising God and singing their hearts out. The 4 little ones watched TV and cuddled on the couch. Danny said that the day we got home was the BEST DAY OF HIS LIFE! To which Lilly agreed. It was so sweet.

Ben and I did laundry yesterday - for about 3 hours (which we will be doing for the rest of our lives). I have 2 more loads to put in, maybe we should just become one of those nudist families! In fact, if ever we become "missing persons" just look under the laundry in our bedroom - you will probably find us there. We will be squished by its weight, but if you hurry we may still be alive :)

The blessings continue to flow... Ben found out while we were in Ethiopia that he is getting a $4000 raise. It is something for his 2 years he spent counseling before working for the schools. We changed our withholdings on our paychecks and several hundred dollars were added to our paychecks -- will be fine buying groceries for 6 hungry kiddos - we can even keep buying fruit snacks! :)

Being covered in prayer is a gift. One I am so thankful for. We have been given this amazing gift by God - He didn't say it was going to be easy, but He gave it! Your prayers on our behalf have been such a blessing to us as we thrive as a family of 8!

Sorry for my rambling email. I was awake at 4:30 today and so thought I would come update you all... Talk to you soon!


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Rick Warren


We are so very, very, very glad to be home. What a fabulous time in Ethiopia and I would go back (with all of us) in a heartbeat. Our homecoming was everything I hoped it would be. Lilly and Marta have been kissing each other since they met! Danny and Jacob Esrael are already best friends and Joseph Addisu and Addy had a great time on the trampoline together. What an amazing time. Our first dinner last night was beautiful (thanks Alyssa) and it was so good to be all together. One of my favorite moments was when my Suburban was FULL of MY kids! I had thought about that moment 1000 times and it was better than I hoped. Everything has been better than I had dreamt it could be. We are so thankful! Please continue to pray for our family as we fall IN LOVE with one another. The kids have loved each other from afar for a long time... falling in love takes more time and I pray that the kids can do this. Tonight when I woke up and started praying for the kids, Ben, and our new life I stopped to check on the kids. I found Marta in her bed praying. This is the second time that I have woken up praying and found her doing the same. She had tears in her eyes and was praying so passionately. I am so glad to be home, the blondies are so glad we are home, and our newest kiddos while so happy are also terrified. I pray that they will know that we love them, that daily we are falling deeper IN LOVE with them and that all 6 of them are gifts from the Lord and EVERYTHING that Ben and I prayed for.

Friday, April 4, 2008

We are on our way home

I can hardly believe the time is here to come home... every time I say
HOME I feel guilty. The kids are leaving their home for at least 2
years. They are both sad and excited but I think really really sad most
of all. They know we will come back, we have promised - but still...
We love Ethiopia, it is an amazing place and we are so glad that now it
is part of our heritage. We will most definately be back! Today we
hung around, packed, and had Marta's hair done. She looks gorgeous and
loves her hair. It took more than 4 hours but I am so glad we had it
done -- I wish that we had not spent our last day here in a salon, but
oh well! We love it here... but to home we come. There was so much
more that we wanted to do and yet I am not wishing that anything was
differently. I worry about the food and that is pretty much it... these
kids are amazing and will do wonderfully well- see you all Saturday!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Last day approaching!

This is Aunt Rebecca again, just checking in with a quick update.  The kids continue to be wonderful.  They are already picking up quite a bit of English and teaching us some Amharic.  I'll confess that my brain is on overload and I don't remember many words.  My favorite word so far is cha-cha-ta (no idea how it's really spelled, but that's the pronunciation).  It means loud.  I think it's a very evocative word and have used it quite a bit to describe my lovely sister.

The only logistical things we have left to do are pick up the kids' visas at the German Embassy and get to the airport on time.  I don't foresee any problems with either of those, although the German Embassy has turned out to be quite a nightmare.  If you are in the midst of the adoption process and are planning your travel, be warned:  avoid Lufthansa.  We've had plenty of trouble with them already, and getting German visas for the kids has been icky icing on a soggy cake.  And this is all just to change planes in the Frankfurt airport.  What a pain.  We just talked with a couple who flew in on Ethiopian Air today.  They were quite impressed with them.  They had individual TV monitors, plenty of room to stretch out, and no problems with missed connections (though I'm sure that can happen on any airline).

We've had a wonderful time here.  I think we're all sad to be leaving so soon and happy to be going home.  It's been a wonderful journey, and I'm sure Brooke will tell you more about it as soon as she has a spare moment.  Which should be...  about never, by my calculations.  I told her she should write a book called "Six Kids, One Remote," but she doesn't think she'll have time for that somehow.

Lots of love to everyone from all of us here!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Weary and Wonderful

All is great and we have had a fantastic morning. We visited a
Christian bookstore and a museum. It is so weird to be stared at
EVERYWHERE you go... The kids are great and learning all about
elevators, taking pictures, remote controls (man they figured those out
fast) and relaxing! They have gone through their clothes to decide what
to leave and what to take home... very fun! Life is great and we are
more thankful than you can imagine! Rebecca will upload pictures again
tonight... so check back later!

Danny and Lilly and Addy -- we were glad to hear about the Mariner's
game and that you had a great time watching the game! We love you guys!

Kids at school -- I will see you in a few weeks, remember to work hard
and BE GOOD!