"'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

Friday, May 30, 2008

Email from Joseph

He is practicing sending emails and typing at school.  He sent this to Ben!  J


Hillo dad  this  josep  today  meed   good   God  help  yuo  I,love  yuo  MY  dad  today  lunch  I,like  taenkyuo  dad  I,love yuo  so much

Thursday, May 29, 2008

We're on a roll...

Seriously... what is going on around here?

Jacob and Danny had baseball tonight while Ben drove Joseph to soccer in Richland. I had 5 kids, he had 1 - wouldn't you know tonight would be the night of a very dramatic baseball game! Jacob was playing 3rd base when a ball bounced and caught him HARD in the nose. At first I thought he was OK (probably because he tried to make the play after the injury) but then there were 3 people surrounding him and I was running. I got to him and saw blood pretty much pouring from his nose. His shirt was soaked with blood and he was looking a little woozy. I helped him off the field and we administered ice and nose squeezing and other important things. I was so glad that one of the moms on the team is a nurse and also has a son in Kindergarten with Jacob so she knew all about him and was right there with me. After about 10 minutes I moved him over to the chairs and had him rest. He was dying to get back in the game and I was not about to let him go - he was still bleeding. After another 10 minutes or so he was ready, and he JUMPED out of the chair when I told him he could go back in! He finished out the game just fine and we headed to McDonalds for an ice cream - I really needed it! :)

When we got home I helped with showers and started soaking Jacob's clothes in the sink. While I was busy with that Addy was busy with nail polish and long wearing lipstick - all over her lips and fingers! I waited until she was sleeping to get this picture!

I sent everyone to bed...

Oh yeah, AND I dropped the bike rack thing on Ben's foot and he is limping and it is bruised - at the rate I am going, he will probably hurt it again tomorrow and will neet to be in a cast for 10 weeks! :)

You are welcome!

I am so glad that you all got such a good chuckle at my expense :)! My babysitter and good friends Alyssa responded to an email about how much I owe her for watching the kids with this:

I had 28 hours, and you owe me like $40 for groceries/haircut. Did you want me to contact Jan to have her pay me, Oh Blessed Mother of 6????? =0) Totally kidding.
My friend Lisa said:
just thought I should tell you that my stomach hurts from laughing. I am laughing becuase I am just so thankful that I haven't done that YET. I say "yet" because it is just inevitable.
Lisa continued her email about how she counts her kids at the grocery store... WE DO THAT ALL THE TIME! 1 2 3 4 5 6, sigh and relax... 1 2 3 4 5 6, sigh and relax... 1 2 3 4 5 6, sigh and relax... 1 2 3 4 5 6, sigh and relax... You get the idea! I am sure people think I have a tic disorder because I seriously do it all day long. Even at work I think about where I dropped everyone off and count again to be sure I didn't leave anyone at home! :)
Anyways... I am still here and have not been arrested. That is a good thing because for some strange reason we are having a Yard Sale this weekend. Didn't we just do one??? YES!!!! Are we insane???? YES!!! But somehow there is stuff left and with 6 kids we need some more space so there are a few things we should/could get rid of. There were also several things we forgot to take over to Jan and Dan's for the last Yard Sale and since there was no room to put it :) they didn't get anything out for the last one . Our goal is to make $200 - start praying, friends! We are going to the beach at the end of June and we are hoping to make enough to pay for our trip to the zoo on the way down and 1/2 the gas money! I cannot wait to take the kiddos to the zoo and the beach!!! I am definitely more excited than they are! :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Not a REAL woman

I seriously thought I was keeping it all together! Each day someone asks me a question like, "How are you surviving as a mom of 6?" And each time I smile and tell people it is easier than I thought it would be and that everything is going really well! I truly believe that it was harder to go from 1 kid to 2 than it was to go from 3 kids to 6. Language issues and all! I was even doing super well yesterday when Ben had school board and left at 3:30. I thought 'NO PROBLEM." I fed the kids, did homework, picked up the kitchen, got Joseph ready for his 1st soccer practice, got the other 2 boys ready for baseball, started laundry and left the house to take everyone where they needed to go. And I still thought all was well.

I dropped the boys off at practice, took Joseph to Grandpa's so that Grandpa could drive him to Richland for practice and then went to Fred Meyer to get gas in the van. I punched in my number to get my discount, pushed the button to pay at the window (I had 2 gift cards I was going to use) and happily filled up my COMPLETELY EMPTY van. It wasn't until the van was filled that I looked for my purse. It wasn't there. In one of those sickening moments when you are feeling both stupid and horrified all at once I remembered that I had left it in the Suburban and I also remembered that I had told myself at least 3 times to get it out of the Suburban before practices... OH.MY.GOODNESS!

I walked to the window and when Ken (the Fred Meyer gas station attendant) looked at me I started babbling incoherently. It went something like this, "I forgot my purse in the other car I can't believe I did this it has never happened before I know Russ the manager he will vouch for me I don't know what to do I don't have any ID I can't believe this happened and I have to go get the boys from practice and my husband is at a meeting and I can't believe I did this and what do you want me to do I have never done this before I thought I had it and I am so very sorry..." He sighed (very loudly) and told me that he had to register it as a "drive off" but as long as I come back soon to pay for it, it SHOULD be fine. (Meaning the police won't be looking for me - yet) He told me that he was getting off at 7 and I should come back before then.

I was panicking slightly as I got back into the van (the 3 girls were completely oblivious to the whole thing and were happily watching Mermadia). How would I get the boys, and get my purse and be back to Fred Meyer by 7? I called my most wonderful Mother-In-Law and asked meekly, "Are you going to Fred Meyer soon by any chance?" She told me that she was actually on her way to see Grandma and asked what I needed. I told her the story (probably without punctuation) and she laughed - sort of. She said she would go right now to pay for it and then go see Grandma.

I guess Ken was maybe slightly irritated when she got back to pay. He did not laugh when she told him that, "my daughter-in-law wants you to know she isn't a lunatic." He just responded, "Russ says Hi." Jan asked, "Russ who?" and Ken told her, "Oh, she will know".

My own Grandma would actually be horrified by this story - I think about her EVERYTIME I leave my purse. When we used to watch Dukes of Hazard and Daisy would get arrested (again) she would ALWAYS say, "That Daisy Duke is not a REAL woman! Real women never go ANYWHERE without their purse!"

Jan is holding onto the receipt. Ken told her to, just in case. Gas theft and "Drive Offs" are serious business around here so if you see the police hauling me off - just call my mother-in-law, she has the receipt.

When I called Jan this morning she asked right away if there were any other bills she needed to pay... :) Funny.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Prayer Time

Each morning, as I drive the 4 little kids up to drop off Lilly and Addy at the babysitter we say our morning prayers. We use the little tiny cow farm on the way as our reminder. It is our time to pray for our day and our friends and the girls ALWAYS thank God for "the sun and the rain." Addy made sure we didn't forget today when she said, "Mom, we need to say our pray real quick!" :) I am guessing that I say that everyday without knowing it... "Hey, it's time to pray real quick!"

I must now remind the kids that we are praying QUICKLY because we could probably drive all the way to Finley and they would still be praying... what a fabulous problem to have!

In case I haven't said it lately -
I LOVE having 6 kids!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Nap Time

I love nap time...
I mean I REALLY LOVE nap time.

It is not quite the same with big kids at home, but it is still pretty wonderful! The girls take naps, the boys USUALLY read books and rest and Ben and the big kids often work on a project or visit Grandpa.

Life is GOOD!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Road Trip

We took our first road trip today! We had our first Post Placement visit with our social worker who lives in Spokane. She works from home and was willing to let us come on a Sunday! The plan was to leave our house at 7:30 and get to Aly's at 10:00. We actually didn't leave until 8:05 because it takes a long time to get 8 people out of the house and we forgot Addy's shoes so we had to come home to get them. Thankfully we were only 2 miles down the road when I said to Ben, "Did you get Addy's shoes?" He responded with, "I thought YOU got Addy's shoes." This happens to us all the time. :) Once we were at Aly's the kids were sent to play and all was going well. We answered all her questions, were told we were doing a great job... etc. etc. It was super low key and was really good to just get a chance to talk about all the transitions going on. She was being paid to listen and has heard it all before - it was great! The next part of the plan was to leave Aly's and go see Ben's cousins. The kids were SO excited to see them and couldn't wait! Addy had been asking every 10 minutes when we would see them... But just as we were winding things up Marta came to get me to tell me Danny needed me. He was green. It wasn't pretty. After several minutes of good-bye's we started loading into the car where Danny promptly jumped out and threw up all the over their street - and maybe a bit on my shoes. Poor guy! Change of plans. Do we go straight home (it is a 2+ hour drive)? Do we stop for lunch? Do we go to our cousins (and infect them)? After a bit of DISCUSSION we decided to try out Cabela's so the other kids could at least do something a little fun and we could grab lunch too. It was about 6 minutes down the road (in the other direction) but well worth the stop. Danny slept in the car and Joseph has a new favorite store! The kids loved it. Ben REALLY loved it! We will go back. We made it the rest of the way home with no more throw up. And really, it wasn't a bad "First Road Trip" after all.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I thought I was smart!

I know it is a combination between a cultural thing and a teenage thing... but it drives me pretty crazy! I have a Master's Degree in Administration - I am NOT stupid!

Really it is getting better everyday. Really. I think. Or maybe I just got enough sleep last night that I don't feel quite so stung by it. "IT" refers to my oldest son telling me "NO, Mom" on pretty much everything. Not when I ask him to do something, but when I show him how to do something, he thinks I am showing him wrong. When I helped him mow the lawn last week, "No, Mom! I know Mom!" When we played Hide N Seek in the house yesterday too.

Maybe he thinks that I think he is stupid. Could be... I guess I should stop being so sensetive and watch very closely how I talk to him. I am so used to talking to 7-year-olds as my oldest that I suppose I could be talking the same way to my new oldest. This is the same young man who fed his family and worked and went to school. I suppose he probably doesn't appreciate me treating him like a 7-year-old. Hmmm...

OK, so maybe I am not so smart after all!

Friday, May 23, 2008


Last night Jacob was reading to me while I was cooking dinner! The book was something about a Boat that floats but while he was reading I had to run upstairs because I heard A LOT of water flowing! I walked into the bathroom to find an overflowing toilet with Addy standing sheepishly next to it! She had gone potty on her potty chair and decided to put the potty AND an entire roll of toilet paper into the toilet. She then flushed several times! So I quickly plunged out the toilet (so glad we bought a plunger for EACH bathroom), cleaned up the water, took the 5 soaking towels to the laundry room, started the towels in the washer, put a new roll of toilet paper on the holder, straightened up the bathroom, had a talk with Addy about toilet paper, put her infront of the TV and went back downstairs to read with Jacob. As he read to me I would get things out of the fridge for dinner, help him with a word or two, chop veggies and then read some more. It was working really well until I was stirring dinner and couldn't stop and he got stuck on this sentence:

I will ride my bike and see a red hen.

Jacob read, "I will...."

I said, "Spell it for me honey"

Jacob read, "I will spell it for me honey my bike..."

I stopped cooking and sat with him while he finished reading his book! :)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

So very sad

Maria Sue Chapman 2003 - 2008Photo by Mary Beth Chapman

Last night Maria Sue Chapman, adopted and youngest daughter of Mary Beth & Steven Curtis Chapman, was killed in a tragic accident in the family driveway. She was LifeFlighted to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital but for only reasons God can explain she went home to Him... not back to Franklin as we all so desperately wanted.

We are all humbled by the incredible outpouring of love and support at this difficult time. I have watched you, the Chapman friends, overwhelm website servers and jam phone lines with your gracious words and heartfelt prayers. The Chapman family is so grateful. Obviously, we cherish your prayers for all in the Chapman family, and we welcome you passing this along to others to pray and encouraging them to sign up for Steven's e-mail list to receive continuing updates.
If you'd like to express your condolences and get a glimpse of this beautiful little girl through a short video clip, click here.
In lieu of flowers, the Chapmans request any gifts be directed to Shaohannah's Hope, click here.
In closing, as many of you know, the song "Cinderella" was written by Steven to help him (and us all) grab a hold of the special moments with those we love we might otherwise rush by. It was inspired by a bath time that Steven tried to "hurry," Maria and her sister Stevey Joy were not exactly cooperating. : ) Let us all be reminded again today what Steven compels us to with the lyric of this special song.
Maria, we already miss you so much, and we only take comfort in The Hope that assures us we'll see you again soon.

On behalf of the Chapman team and family, Jim Houser (Manager)

The God of Details

Throughout this process I have gotten worked up over both major and minor questions and details!

How will we ever afford the adoption? Will we survive in Ethiopia (figuratively not literally)? Can I love 3 more kids? Where will they all sleep? Will they ever learn to read in English? Will I have time to kiss and hug on 6 kids? Where will Ben fit in? When will I study for my National Boards? Will my birth certificate EVER get here? Can our fundraiser and dinner be a success?

These questions and literally 1000's more plagued my heart and mind every day.

Over and over again I reminded myself that:

God did not bring us to this point, to abandon us to the details!

Now that the "newness" is wearing off and the STUFF of life is needing to be taken care of... I remind myself again that HE will not abandon me to drown in the details. Details like: making dinner, tuition, groceries, swimming lessons, soccer fees, new shoes, graduations, car rides - you know, the DETAILS that are part of life!

The details will work themselves out... I know they will! And I will be thankful that my biggest "fear" right now is how to pay for their summer activities!

Our kids are so wonderful - it is truly amazing! Marta read to me IN ENGLISH last night, she is one smart girl! Jacob drew a picture in church on Sunday. He wrote Jacob srs. Jacob serious. To him "serious" means paying attention. He also sang in his first school musical this week. The program was called "AmeriKids" and watching him sing: "AmeriKids that's me..."was pretty wonderful! Joseph got an A on a science test last week - Ben was so proud! "A straight up A, Brooke. He earned an A!" Yesterday Joseph told me that he thinks doing 8th grade again next year is a good idea! He said, "English language hard. Joseph beautiful English...(then) University EASY!"

I look at the kids sometimes and think 1 year ago they didn't have enough food and their mom was worried about getting meat for them 1 day each week. Now they dream about Universities and playing on a soccer team. Here I am worried about swimming lessons! The details will be fine - maybe my priorities are what need to be changed!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


As a child, I used to watch TV and cry because of the pictures of the children starving in Ethiopia... and now it is happening again.

I seriously don't WANT to read about it, or even know about it for that matter. My heart breaks that much more now.

There was this little girl whose eyes still haunt me. Addis Ababa is a city of more than 6 million people, she is the one I remember. Her ragged green dress and swollen belly reminded me so much of those pictures. She kept saying, "1 birr mam, 1 please!" But I kept walking. She was begging infront of the Kaldi's Coffee when we went to buy bags to bring home to our friends in America. We went in with 1000's of birr ready to spend it on gifts. We had been told NOT to give money to the kids... it is dangerous they said. But I couldn't help myself... it was the only time I was scared. I tried to buy a couple things from the vendors outside the shop, thinking maybe they were her family, but they kept shooing her away. When we finally got back to the car (scared and heart broken) our driver told us we could give money out the window to these children and women who had nothing. We started passing it out the window and the hands reaching in for a gift are scarred into my memory.

This article - these children - they ARE REAL... they could have been mine.

SHANTO, Ethiopia - This year's poor rains have nearly killed Bizunesh.
The 3-year-old weighs less than 10 pounds. Her long limbs, weak and folded like a praying mantis, cannot carry even her slight weight. She cannot speak. She doesn't want to eat. Health officials say she is permanently stunted.

Bizunesh — whose name, sadly, means "plentiful" — is one of untold numbers of children hit by this year's double blow of a countrywide drought and skyrocketing global food prices that has brought famine, once again, to Ethiopia.

"She should be bigger than this," said her mother Zewdunesh Feltam, rocking the listless child. "Before there was maize, different kinds of food. But now there is nothing ... I beg for milk from my neighbors."
The U.N. children's agency said in a statement Tuesday an estimated 126,000 Ethiopian children urgently need food and medical care because of severe malnutrition — and called the current crisis "the worst since the major humanitarian crisis of 2003."
Millions will need food aidThe U.N. World Food Program estimates that 2.7 million Ethiopians will need emergency food aid because of late rains — nearly double the number who needed help last year. An additional 5 million of Ethiopia's 80 million people receive aid each year because they never have enough food, whether harvests are good or not.

In Shanto, a southwestern agricultural area that grows sweet potatoes, recent rains arrived too late to save the harvest.

The crisis here is vivid. A feeding center run by the Irish charity GOAL has admitted 73 starving children in the past month. Some, like Bizunesh, are frail and skeletal. Others, like 4-year-old Eyob Tadesse, have grossly swollen limbs in a sign of extreme malnutrition.
Eyob, whose mother said he used to be a lively, talkative child, sat in a stupor, unable to speak, not moving even to brush away the flies that swarmed over his face. The sunny room humid with a recent, too late, rain shower was made gloomy by an eerie silence despite being full of sick children. Chronic malnutrition can affect children for life, stunting their growth, brain development and immune systems, which leaves them vulnerable to a host of illnesses.
Many mothers said their families were trying to survive on a gluey, chewy bread made of the root of the "false banana" plant — one of many wild or so-called famine foods that Ethiopians depend on in times of trouble.

It's not known how many children have died or are starving now. Local and international aid and health workers say between 10 and nearly 20 percent of Ethiopia's children are malnourished — 15 percent is considered a critical situation. In 2006, Ethiopia had 13.4 million children under age 5, according to UNICEF.

Hunger will get worse Samuel Akale, a nutritionist with the government's disaster prevention agency, said the hunger will get worse. "The number of severely malnourished will increase, and then they'll die."

WFP officials say the drought has affected six of Ethiopia's nine regions, stretching from Tigray in the north to the vast and dry Somali region in the south, though not every part of each region is affected.

Spokesman Greg Beals said the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is preparing an appeal for additional tens of millions of dollars.
"This is a real crisis that needs to be addressed," he said.
Ethiopia is a country with a history of hunger. It's food problems drew international attention in 1984 when a famine compounded by communist policies killed some 1 million people. Pictures of stick-thin children like Bizunesh were broadcast onto television sets around the world.

This year's crisis is far less severe. But drought and chronic hunger persist in Ethiopia, a Horn of Africa nation known for its coffee, a major export. In 2003, droughts led 13.2 million people to seek emergency food aid. Drought in 2000 left more than 10 million needing emergency food.
Drought is especially disastrous in Ethiopia because more than 80 percent of people live off the land, and agriculture drives the economy, accounting for half of all domestic production and 85 percent of exports. But many also go hungry because of government policies. Ethiopia's government buys all crops from farmers at fixed low prices. And the government owns all the land, so it cannot be used as collateral for loans.

Aid agencies say emergency intervention is not enough and are appealing for more money to support regular feeding programs.

"What we're doing at the moment is waiting until children get severely malnourished, taking them into the feeding program, getting them back to a level of moderate malnutrition and then watching them cycle back," said Hatty Newhouse, a nutrition adviser from GOAL.

There are fears that the next harvest also will fail.

"We are crying with the mothers and the children," said Akale, the nutritionist.


I googled myself this morning! I was actually hoping to find some sort of link that said, Nationally Certified Teacher Brooke.... but alas - it was not there. I will not find out if I am nationally certified until DECEMBER! The wait is not going to be pretty! So, while I was looking for the link declaring I was in fact certified and I was so special they scored my paper early... I found the following post from my sisters blog. As you read it... please remember that:

1. I am a people pleaser
2. I had already been on bed rest for several monts
3. It really does look good on paper
4. Danny was born 2 days later

The crazy hours of pregnancy
created by nerdygirl

Fri Feb 01 2002 at 18:29:10

The rude awakening

It was 7:30 this morning when my sister called and woke me up. She always calls me before 8:00 expecting me to be awake. I tell her to stop it and she always does it again; this morning is a perfect example of that.

There I was, deep in slumber, and the phone rang. My first thought was "Brooke's having the baby!" so I answered it, rather alertly for having just woken up, and Brooke feigned alarm: "Oh, did I wake you up?"

The script rarely varies in cases like this -- she asks if I was sleeping, I pretend that I don't mind that she woke me up, she offers to call back, I tell her she should just let me know why she called, she pretends she's not going to, and then she finally relents and tells me.

Araulmas. This is what she had to tell me this morning. Her baby's middle name should be Araulmas, she thinks. "It grows on you," I was informed.

"You've got to be joking," I said.

"No, think about it. Write it down. It really does grow on you."

I hung up. "She's on drugs," I told my pillow.

Araulmas is a combination of names/middle names in my family: Ar from Arthur, aul from Paul, mas from Thomas. other variations included Parthumas and Parmas. Apparently, the child is going to be a Greek deity.

I called back. "Just have his middle name be Thomas."

"I like Araulmas. Did you write it down? Write it down."

"What kinds of drugs did they give you for your blood pressure?"

She says they didn't give her drugs, but I remain skeptical. I told her I'll continue to come up with better alternatives until she finally relents and accepts one of them.

In the meantime, I think we should all start praying for the poor kid.

The e-mails that followed
I sent this to my friend, Dale, and we had the following conversation over e-mail...

Dale's reply: I am afraid your sister has succumbed to the crazy hours of pregnancy. The name Araulmas does not grow on you no matter how many times you write it down. Like a kind of spider you've never seen before, it gradually loses a bit of its power to appall, yes, but that is not the same thing as "growing on you."

Actually, the name gets worse, not better, when its derivation is explained. Just by itself, it can almost pass as an old Romanesque name, perhaps something they plucked from their reading of Virgil or Ovid. But this goes straight down the toilet when we learn it is three English names cut and pasted together.

Yuck. Please make it stop. Innocent children should not be burdened with hideous names like "Araulmas" or "Elwood." This person this child becomes will always have the legal opportunity to change his name to Araulmas (or Elwood) if he so desires.

I replied: I called my sister and used your e-mail as supporting evidence that she should give up this whole Araulmas thing. She continues to stand by it, but only in the sense that she knows she's lost the war, but she wants someone to admit that Araulmas is a good name. I'm not budging on that score.

The most compelling argument, so far, has been this: when the kid gets in trouble, she will have to shout, "Daniel Araulmas!" It's too much, and really, it puts the blame back on her. How could you expect anybody with such a stupid name to behave?

Dale sent: Like a dorky wierdo, that's how. Any kid with Araulmas in his name is bound to spend most of his time with his finger up his nose Please, make it stop. It sounds like a forgotten holiday.

Conclusion: Happily, Brooke did give up on the idea of naming her child Daniel Araulmas, opting to name him Daniel Paul instead.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I am home from 30 hours away and it FEELS SO GOOD! I walked in the door to huge hugs and kisses (it was so sweet) then Ben whisked me away for a quick date! Thank you Grandma and Grandpa for watching the kiddos - it was a wonderful treat for us!

My test is done and it went pretty well. I COMPLETELY bombed 1 question and another 1 is causing me a little anxiety but overall it went well and I didn't cry! :) In fact, I did cartwheels (REALLY) when I was done - I did wait until I got outside!

Joseph asked me, "test good, mom?" I said, "4 tests good, 2 tests bad!" All the kids started clapping and saying, "Yay, mom! 4 tests good - YAY!!!" I love these kids!

Now, what???? The past 9 months have been totally and completely swallowed up with Natioanl Boards and adoption.... I think it is time to just be - and maybe exercise a bit too! Thank you all for your prayers - what a blessing!

One of the people waiting for their test had 1 Corinthians 13 written on a post it on the book she was reading. I thought that was such a strange verse to encourage you for a test. But as I read it again - I have decided it was the perfect verse and I am thankful that God helped me glimpse it today. It puts it all into perspective for me! While National Boards are important (and the raise will be nice) God has much greater things for me - eternal blessings and the love of 6 perfect kids! Thank you, Lord!

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels (or National Board Jargon), but have not love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love,
I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.
When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Few Quick Notes

  1. I am on my way to Spokane to take my test.............. eeeekkkk!!!! Pray that I know all the JARGON needed to sound super smart!
  2. Marta's hair is so super cute today - and I DID IT FOR HER!!! OK, well really we washed it and conditioned it and she left it loose... then I did this cute twisty thing in the front for her! I am SO proud!
  3. Pray for Ben while I am gone - he will be completely fine I know... but pray for him anyway.
  4. I grew up LOVING Moon Unit Zappa and the Valley Girl's song... I realized I must still talk like them when I went to change Addy's diaper the other day and she said, "Gwody to da max, Mom" Hee Hee!
  5. The kids are going to have great fun in my birthday present this weekend. Every year I get one of those dorky inflatable pools for my birthday (which isn't until June) I think they are so much fun! We are supposed to have super hot weather which will be perfect!
  6. Seriously, I just checked and my blog has more than 15,000 "hits" - that is pretty amazing and also mighty intimidating! :) Although, my brother-in-law says that my sister-in-law counts for more than 1,000 of those! Thanks, Debbie!
  7. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Easy Dinner

Tonight we had what I would call one of the 3 easiest dinners ever... Hot dogs, chips, carrots and root beer - nutritious, I know! The boys have baseball and then Ben has school board and I am trying to study for my test, we are trying to put up our new inflatable pool, the house is a mess and Ben hurt his back - so an easy dinner was on the menu.

I was telling the kids how much I love Easy Dinners when Marta said she also liked to make easy dinner. She told us that she "start at 6 and finish at 7 - I LOVE EASY DINNER! " I replied - "Easy dinner, cook 1 HOUR!!!" to which Lilly replied, "Mom, you would go crazy if you cooked for 1 hour!" It's true - if I am REALLY cooking a nice dinner then MAYBE I am in the kitchen for an hour... maybe! It is amazing to me what their life was like 2 months ago... it is amazing to me that they have slid so easily into their new lives and home and family!

I am so glad that Marta does not have to be in charge of cooking anymore - she loves to help and I am glad for that. But most of all, I am glad she just gets to be a kid again!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Doro Wat by Benji the Ferenji

On Friday, afterschool, my friend Becca presented me with a gift that is pretty much priceless around our house – FRESH INJERA!!!!!!!!!!!  Injera is the staple food of Ethiopia; it is a sourish flat bread that is eaten with most of the food made in Ethiopia.   Our kids absolutely and totally love injera and were so excited to have it!  I liken it to the way I felt about milk when I was in England and Ethiopia – I wanted it, I NEEDED it and craved it the entire time I was gone!


OH! But can I serve injera with cereal??? I was seriously planning on doing waffles and cereal for dinner that night!  Oh well! 


I quickly whip out (for the first time) my Ethiopian cookbook to make Doro Wat (Chicken with spices).  I breathe a sigh of relief that I have all most the ingredients I need:  eggs, chicken, berbere (spice), salt, oil, butter, pepper, comubatgetare (that is not really what the spice is called but I can't remember the name) ginger, lime, and onions!


Meanwhile Marta is DYING to take out her extensions and needs help.   So, I put Ben in charge of the Doro Wat and I head out to begin the 2 hour process of taking out Marta's braids! 


The pictures say it all!  Ben is the KING OF DORO WAT and once again proved that he is the man of my dreams.  It was seriously better than the Doro Wat we had at the Ethiopian restaurant in Portland


Way to go, Benji the Ferenji!

A Prayer Request!

I am taking my exam for my National Board Certification for teaching on SATURDAY!!! Please pray for Ben as he is home with all 6 kiddos by himself and for ME as I take this big test! I would REALLY LIKE TO PASS THE FIRST TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)


Hair, Hair and more hair...

I already told you about the traumatic haircutting incident for Jacob the other day - now I must tell you about Marta's hair!

Before we adopted people would ask me often about Marta's hair. "What will you do with her hair?" "Do YOU know how to do her hair?" "What product will you use on her hair?" And the comments came from EVERYONE! Strangers and friends alike were worried about my ability to DO Marta's hair. I on the other hand thought it would be fine - I usually responded with, "I read some books" or "I talked to some friends - it will be fine"

OH! I was SO wrong!

Marta's hair is a labor of love all right! It is gorgeous and curly and so far out of my area of expertise that I actually dreamt about it last night. I took her to a salon yesterday for help - I am STILL confused. I posted a question on my Ethiopia Adoption Web Board - I am still wondering. I asked my friends who have kids from Africa - they ALL had different answers. Today I am taking her to another salon...

The good news is that she can braid it completely on her own - and she does it REALLY well. She knows all about taking care of her hair in Ethiopia but it is different here. The water is different, the conditioners are different, even the comb she uses is different! Her hair is so dry and I don't know how to fix it!

I have mixed feeling on how glad I am that she knows how to take care of it! Part of me is EXTREMELY relieved that she can braid it (not my gift) but at the same time it would be nice if she NEEDED me too. She needs me to teach her to use the right products but she doesn't really know that she needs me yet... she is nearly a teenager after all! :)

So anyway... that is my little concern/question for the day - HOW DO I TAKE CARE of her hair! If you have any advice please leave me a comment - you can do it anonymously if you like! :)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

English + American Movies = Confusion

We watched 2 movies last week and over the weekend. One was Alvin and The Chipmunks and the other was Snow Buddies. Both had animals that talk and do funny things! At one point during the last movie Marta (who is VERY smart) leaned forward and with creased eyebrows asked, "Mom, in America... dogs talk???????????????????????????????????"

OK, so I had to work really hard not to laugh! But as I started thinking about it - that isn't such a goofy question after all. Since the kids have been here they have learned and witnessed first hand that dogs sleep inside (ON A DOG BED), get baths (WITH SHAMPOO), have toys, are talked to, and the dogs sometimes even follow directions. On the movies they do all of this and SO MUCH MORE!

I explained to Marta that dogs do not talk and she looked at me with this smile that was mixed with relief and the knowledge that America wasn't so crazy after all. She then said, "Mom, in America dogs no talk. Dogs listen... dogs understand!"

See, I told you she was smart! :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day - Party of 8

I loved yesterday…  it was a day that was perfect in every way!


7:00 am  - sleeping


7:30 am – sleeping


8:00 am – awakened by Lilly, my most enthusiastic daughter, who BOUNDS into my room with a plate of waffles, an apple and followed by Ben who is carrying my hot chocolate.  He says she has been planning this for 2 weeks.  My heart swells.  Breakfast is followed by a “mommy sandwich” this is where all the kids (minus Joseph who was still sleeping) pile on top of me to make a sandwich – cute huh?  I am then serenaded by the most “beautiful” rendition of “Happy Mother’s Day To You” which seems to go on and on and on.  The kids then head off to watch TV, read, play and I get to take a really long shower – all by myself! 


9:00am – I am surrounded by 6 kids who are shoving  sweetly pushing their homemade cards in my face towards my waiting hands.  I cannot tell you how much those cards mean to me.  Later, as I was cleaning up Marta saw me pick up the cards and the wrapping paper and head to the kitchen, she pointed at the cards and said, “garbage???”  I quickly told her no and hugged them to me – I wish you could have seen her smile!


10:00 am – we head to Ice Harbor Dam to watch the fish… it was so fun and the kids all enjoyed seeing the salmon swim upstream.  Ben showed them the pictures and models of the dam and after a while I think the big kids understood (maybe) how the dam makes electricity.  My favorite part of the day was when we sat in the theatre at the dam.  The kids jumped up on stage and each did a fantastic “show” for us!  It was fabulous.  I think we might have the next Partridge Family!


12:00 – dinner at Grandma and Grandpas with GG…  We gave them all digital picture frames and it was so fun to watch the Grandmas enjoy the pictures.


2:00 – home to play and hang out!  The kids LOVE to play outside


4:00 – haircuts for the boys… OK, this part of the day was NOT SO GREAT!  Jacob cried when I cut his hair – whatever made me think that I could cut their hair??????????????????????  Danny actually laughed when he saw it!  Seriously – I was really stupid!  It looks much better now, but next time I am letting Ben do it!  J


5:00 -  Off to Pet Co to buy dog food – the kids think that BUYING rats is the strangest thing they have ever heard of… closely followed by the act of buying TOYS for the RATS!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


5:30 – I get dropped off at Bible Study (an hour early) so that I can enjoy some Starbuck’s and my devotion/lesson in solitude! 


8:30 – Home in time to kiss everyone goodnight and asleep by 9:30


Life is GOOD!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Caution! Stones found in Costco Muffins

I was so proud this morning when I walked downstairs to find that Joseph had gotten his own breakfast and was happily.... what in the world! What IS HE DOING?

I walked into the kitchen to find him dissecting his Costco muffins - there were muffin pieces everywhere! Ben came in right behind me... here is a transcript.

Ben: Joseph, what are you doing?

Joseph: (Looking up from dissection) stones

Brooke: Joseph what is wrong with the muffin?

Joseph: (Concentrating on dissection) stones, mom... stones

Ben and Brooke: (Looking at one another with confusion... then clarity)

Ben: There are NOT stones in the muffin (leaning in to look carefully) JOSEPH THAT IS CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Brooke: Joseph - it's CHOCOLATE -- YOU LIKE CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!

Joseph: LOOK, MOM THERE ARE STONES!!!!! (Yes, we are yelling at this point - laughing and yelling)

Ben: Joseph, look, not stones - chocolate! (Eating a piece)

Joseph: (Watching for dad to choke on stone... seeing that he is OK - smiles sheepishly) Oh

Brooke: SEE JOSEPH!!! IT'S CHOCOLATE - I would NOT feed you stones (yes, I am still yelling, laughing, and smiling).

Joseph: (Grabbing the PILE of stones - begins to eat them happily)

Brooke: (kisses Joseph's head - then walks away shaking hers and smiling)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

To Ethiopia and Home -- Part III

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!
From Part II

It all is a bit fuzzy right now, I remember this... I pushed my way to the front of the group and looked up as the gate opened. Standing in front of me was this gorgeous and skinny Ethiopian boy who was grinning and smiling and lunging at me... I knew right away this was my Addisu and I RAN to him as he ran to me. He clenched me and hugged me and said, "I love you, Mommy... I love you!" At the same time I was clinging to him and saying, "I love you, Addisu!" I was also blabbering incoherently and trying to get Ben who was a few feet away with tears streaming down his face to come here. I peeled myself from Joseph and watched father and son meet for the first time. They are about the same height and were both wearing orange and then were hugging so tight that in my teary eyes they looked like one big blob - a happy blob. As I was taking this all in I realized that Esrael Jacob should be here and looked up in time to see a little person launch themselves into me! Esrael just held tight and let me kiss and hug him! He was so sweet and cuddly and his eyes just sparkled. The kids gave Aunt Rebecca kisses and shared smiles and hugs with her. All the sudden Kassahoun decided to give us a tour of the area. From pictures and even from the outside it looks very nice and cozy... it is, in a sterile and very minimal way. The kids proudly showed us their beds and sat on their bunks so we could take pictures then we met their friends and were shown the room with the babies, the bathroom (I only saw 2 for 40 boys and their nannies), the courtyard and the eating area. It was clean and well run but broke my heart for the kids. We wandered around and were shown so many things, many of which I cannot remember -- I just keep thinking how happy I was and how I wasn't disappointed at all!

When it was time to go get Marta I became excited all over again. The girl's area is about 100 yards away from the boys separated by an alley in a nice part of Addis Ababa. We walked up a tiny hill towards Marta and I remember saying something about the altitude making the walk hard -- or was it my nerves? We knocked on the gate and I remember thinking that I should be holding their hands but how would I hug Marta at the same time. I really don't remember the next part -- just being hugged harder than I ever have in my life for a REALLY long time! She just kept hugging me and we were rocking back and forth and we were saying, "I love you and Thank you, God" I think we were both saying it, but I am not completely sure. After several tries, I finally handed her to Ben and grabbed the boys so they wouldn't feel left out. We were given another tour of the area and I remember taking a picture of Marta on her bed but I don't remember when that was. After a while the girls began crying and holding Marta and it was so very sad. They were clinging to her and saying, "Marti we love you." Ben said later that he never expected to feel bad for taking them from the care center - but we did. After a while the nannies pulled the girls away and led us upstairs for a prayer. The nannies prayed over the kids and over us -- it was a truly amazing experience. The Holy Spirit was very much present in that room, it gives me shivers to think about it now. We finally left the girls area to go back to the boys area where our car was. Addisu Joseph and Jacob Esrael decided they needed to say a more proper good-bye to their friends and we spent quite a while with this. At this point, we were emotionally done in and really ready to go but we were told that we would stay here while the driver took the other family back to their hotel... so we were going to stay. Hmmm.... there was a flat soccer ball at that was it. We didn't bring their backpacks so we didn't have anything to do. The kids were sent back to their room to watch America's Funniest Videos and that left us with our 3 and Aunt Rebecca. After a few panicky seconds we decided to look in their zip-lock bags which contained all their possessions. Jacob had the photo album we had sent him and we talked about the pictures a little bit. Marta had her same photo album and some pictures of the nannies and her friends and we looked at those too. At this point the boys started playing basketball with the sad looking flat, pink, soccer ball - they had a blast. I wondered to try to find the babies of my web-friends but my brain couldn't remember a single babies name. I had the video camera and began showing her a video of Danny, Lilly and Addy doing a "show". She laughed and laughed! Then the kids went to eat - all of them and I got to see the kitchen and the area where they cooked for 85 kids. It was smaller than my kitchen, had no running water or refrigerator and was outdoors. I was amazed! The kids 2 and older washed their hands in the communal hand washing bucket, got their plates and sat down. The babies were placed on a large bench and fed spaghetti one handful at a time by the nannies. I will never forget that. The kids were served HUGE plates of spaghetti and bread. They ate and ate then took their dishes to the washing area. They all headed for naps and it was time for us to go. I must admit that I was relieved to be leaving.

We got in the car, blew kisses every which way and headed back to our hotel. I don't remember who sat where or what was said... I remember thinking that I had 6 kids and then I remember thinking that Jacob was going to hate car seats (I was right).

We got back to the hotel and headed into the elevator. Their eyes were HUGE when they saw the gold and mirrors and fancy buttons. Their eyes doubled in size when we started moving. They were gripping the bars with all their might and were really scared. We dropped Aunt Rebecca off at her floor and then headed to our room. We took them to the room and showed them around. They looked at their backpacks, we showed them their new clothes (big eyes again), showed them the view from the balcony to which Marta said, "My Christo" in a scared and excited way and then they sat down on the bed. It was at this point that I looked at Ben and said, "Now what... why didn't we figure this out before... what should we do...... oh, boy" I babbled on like that for a while and in a stroke of genius he turned on the TV to ESPN. The kids laid on the bed and watched for a good 20 minutes while I tried to come up with a plan. We decided then that we would take them swimming... yeah, brilliant plan - take 3 kids (who have never swam before) to the pool after knowing them for less than 3 hours! GREAT IDEA! We thought that Marta knew how to swim - we were wrong. After showing the boys how to put on their suits (super easy) it was my turn to show Marta how to put hers on. That was not so easy, she had never worn one before, was modest, and confused by my charades routine. We finally got it figured out and headed down to the pool. I remember being so excited, I remember laughing hysterically at Jacob as he jumped right in and moved around the pool like a maniac. We kept saying, "he and Danny are TROUBLE". I remember laughing at Marta as she tried to walk in the water, it was so awkward for her and she was so funny. I remember laughing at Mr. Cool (Joseph) as he just lounged in the pool - I know now that he was completely unsure of what to do and was observing everyone else. We swam for about an hour and then headed back up to the room. It was at this moment that Jacob said his first words to me since we had left the care center. He looked up at me and in this sweet voice said, "ice cream?" I was so sad to tell him that it was closed and that we would get it tomorrow. I asked one of the Hilton employees to translate for me and he was happy again. We decided on fresh fruit smoothies instead. The kids were excited about the fancy GLASSES and Jacob loved his first drink with a straw.

We headed back up to the room for showers and new clothes. It was so fun to watch them choose what to wear from this pile of new clothes. They were even more excited when they got to try on their new shoes. It was so much fun to watch. Marta and I headed down to have her hair done. She was really scared and I kept saying, it's OK... over and over.... it wasn't until we got to the hair salon that she relaxed and was giddy with excitement. I think she was scared because she thought I was taking her back to the care center. She had so much fun having her hair done in a salon and all the workers made a huge fuss over her. Marta lit up when we got back to the room and Ben said, "Konjo, Marta, Konjo." (Beautiful, Marta, beautiful) While we were gone the boys enjoyed bonding over a soccer match on TV and they both quickly learned the ins and outs of a remote control. We decided to call home and it was so fun to watch the kids talk. They were so happy to talk on the phone and it was so wonderful to be able to tell them that everything was wonderful. They were on their way to church and Grandma was happy to be able to tell our church family that all was well!

Dinner was next on the agenda... so we headed to the pizzeria downstairs. Pop, pizza, and enormous bread sticks were a hit! It was really hard to communicate but we kept the conversation going as much as possible. Jacob had brought a book from our room and we looked at all the animals and learned their Amharic names.

By this time the adults in the group were exhausted. We had slept for less than 6 hours in 3 days and it was time for bed. We went upstairs, put on PJ's, prayed and everyone was asleep by 8:30. I woke up around 4 and was praying in bed when I hear Marta talking. I went over to check on her and found that she was crying and praying too. I sat with her as she prayed, the laid down next to her where we both fell asleep again. Around 7:30 we woke up happy and ready for our next day together!

The best deal in town...

I took the kids to the Court Club last night because Ben had his last softball game and Lilly has been asking to take Marta to the Cheerleading class since we got home. So away we went... Marta and Lilly to Cheerleading, Danny and Jacob to Dodgeball, Addy to the nursery, and Joseph to the "Starcade". They all had a great time and were sad when it was time to go!

Last week when Ben took the kids to the Court Club he decided he would give the kids a lesson in Foosball in the "Starcade" Room. He was really excited to impart this American wisdom and skill on them... oh, he was disappointed.

In Ethiopia they do not have Arcades, they have Foosball tables on the side of the road where you can pay 1 birr for a turn. They also had a table at the orphanage (although it was broken when we were there). I guess if you are paying 1 birr for a turn you want your turn to LAST a long time!

The kids were good. REALLY, REALLY good!!!!!!!!!! They are also REALLY INTENSE when they play - it is pretty funny to watch. Ben laughed at himself all weekend - so much for imparting skill! :)

We have decided that the Court Club is the best deal in town... for $100 a month the kids can swim, rock climb, play basketball, take classes, and beat their dad in Foosball... what a deal!

Monday, May 5, 2008

"No Hylium Gas Ethiopia"

This weekend the 4 little kids got balloons. I offered Joseph and Marta one, but they said, "no thank you". I asked them if they got balloons in Ethiopia and Joseph said, "Yes every Christmas!" So I figured they were too old and we headed home.

When we got home and everyone piled out of the car Lilly started crying. We ran around the car to see her balloon floating away. Marta started chasing it and then they all just stopped. I turned to see Jacob, Marta and Joseph just staring at the balloon as it floated away. They all started talking at once and Ben explained Helium to Joseph who TRIED to explain it to the other two.

Amazed does not even begin to describe their faces!

I keep wondering what they were thinking while holding the balloons all the way home in the car! I am guessing that they did not even notice that the balloons were floating. I wonder how much of everyday life is still going unnoticed for them? People ask us all the time if they are wandering around in shock at the stores and other places... and really they aren't. But now I wonder if they just aren't seeing it all. If their brains are so overloaded that they don't notice the things that are so common to us.

Later that night, Ben inhaled the helium to make funny voices for them. It was probably the funnies thing I have ever seen. The kids were HYSTERICAL in their laughter. We let Joseph and Marta try to talk funny too but they were laughing too hard to make it work. Joseph spent the rest of the night shaking his head saying, "no helium gas Ethiopia... no helium gas Ethiopia."

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Photo Updates

All is well -- we had a great weekend and are so glad to have time to all be together! Here are a few pictures to enjoy until I have time to write!!!

Marta and Addy have been enjoying an occasional tea party. Jacob is LOVING baseball -- he and Danny ALMOST made a great play in their last game. Joseph is enjoying the freedom to go on bike rides by himself. Lilly had a great ShoeBox Derby, she was the only student to bring her own Pit Crew (Grandpa knew just the right fix for a bent wheel).

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Late Nights

I really thought I was going to miss staying up late with Ben watching TV in our room. In fact, if you had asked me, "What will you miss most, what will change when you have 6 kids?" I might have said the TV thing, or maybe naptime which often involved catching up on an episode of Lost... I really loved TV. Now, I rarely watch it and don't miss it at all. Our nights follow a very loose routine (I know... I can hear my friends being shocked) which MIGHT include the following:

6ish -- dinner followed by intense soccer or basketball games
7ish -- baths and showers - we almost always run out of hot water
8ish -- prayers and bed time for Lilly and Addy followed by bedtime for Danny and Jacob

This is where the fun begins... Marta, Joseph, Ben and I stay up and talk or just hang out. Last night they told us about life in Wolayta... they did fantastic impressions of the "rich" people in Wolayta and the way they walk around talking on their cell phones. They also told us more about school and their mom and their life at home. Wolayta is a largish village/town that has approximately 10,000 people. There are 11 schools (6 primary, 4 high schools and 1 brand new University). When you think of the schools and universities - do not imagine a typical American school. Imagine a very old building made of mud and wood that may have dirt floors. Imagine 30-40 kids of all ages in each grade. In Ethiopia you begin at Kinder - no matter how old you are. You only advance to the next grade if you are academically ready to move. The teachers regularly hit the children for talking, not paying attention or getting an answer wrong. Marta says, "America teachers VERY NICE." They also talked about work. Joseph built beds... that was his job and his boss was sad when he moved. He built them by hand - now power saws or drills. Joseph got paid each time he worked 6 hours. He was paid 10 birr for every 6 hours. That is less than 20 cents an hour - and he loved his job. He told us that each month he saved up for a ruler or a pencil or a pen to use at school. Their mom made custom comforters for beds. She could make 2 or 3 a month and sold them for 160 birr ($16) each. I guess that is why they didn't have money for Joseph's books or uniform the semester he left for Addis. I guess that is why they didn't have money for meat.

One of the funny things (I think it is funny anyway) was that Marta and Joseph both woke up at 7 to get to school on time, Joseph to eat breakfast... Marta to make it! She had to leave for school at the same time but had to make breakfast for everyone first! The first couple days home, Joseph would wait for me or Marta to hand him his breakfast (even if it was just across the table)... He is learning!!!!! Marta cooked on a stove type thing outside of their home... the kitchen was partially enclosed (I think) and she had to get water from a pump nearby. They usually had dabo (bread) and tea or coffee. The process of making coffee is amazing. She would first roast the beans over an open fire, then grind them by hand, then make the cofee.... And I have trouble remembering to turn on the coffee pot at home! At 7:40 they would walk to school. Each of them had about a 15 minute walk to school each day and they often walked it in shoes too big or too small for their feet. They talked about getting gifts... Marta had a doll, once.

I am constantly amazed at the changes they are accepting and embracing each day - with joy. But it still must be hard, I bet Marta misses her outdoor kitchen where she knew her role and understood how to help. I am sure Joseph missed knowing EVERYONE in town and being able to talk to them without worrying about using the right words!