"'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

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Bonding 101

Here are my top 10 Bonding Moments of the last (almost) 3 months.
These are in no particular order!

  1. Watching Ben impersonate Elvis Presley following a family viewing of America's Got Talent
  2. Teaching the kids all the words for bodily functions, then practicing burping :)
  3. Praying together
  4. Playing soccer, basketball, baseball, puzzles, Uno, together as a family. (We actually have had to institute the Uniform Rule - if you are NOT wearing a uniform you cannot complain or get angry about a game). I have 7 VERY COMPETITIVE children - yes, I meant 7... Ben totally counts!
  5. Going to bed when the kids are not ready and listening to them laugh and throw stuffed animals at each other
  6. Teaching the kids to swim
  7. Riding in the Suburban singing 'Funkytown' with the Chipmunks
  8. Learning all about the kids life in Ethiopia and knowing it is OK for us to ask questions.
  9. Practicing for our "Family Band" - We are beyond horrible but have a great time playing our maracas, guitars, pianos, tambourines... you get the idea!
  10. Talking to Mesalech on the phone while the whole family gathers around to listen.

These past 3 months have been pretty much wonderful! I still get stressed out about the mess and the laundry and the grocery shopping - but I will get over it! I hope! :)

There are lots of things that the experts tell you to be sure to do... or not to do... but the best advice we got was to HAVE FUN! We have certainly done that! We have also done lots of things that the books say not to do... send them to school right away, take them out of the home the first couple of weeks, introduce them to extended family too soon... we have ignored all of that advice and it was the best move we could have made for our kiddos. Just tonight I overheard Ben and Joseph talking about the fact that the kids have been here for almost 3 months and Joseph said, "3 months very fast Dad. Very good."

Are there things we wish we hadn't done... yes, I am sure that there are, and the kids will probably remind us of them for the rest of our lives. But that is OK because right now I can hear the kids having fun (they are supposed to be asleep) while Ben is relaxing and watching the Mariner's... Life is Good!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Marta's Braces

Marta Grace got braces today. She also spent an hour getting a ring cut off by a jewler. It was a pretty crazy day around here! Marti is a bit sore but quite a trooper... she is so excited to have straight teeth. She told me all about how Mesalech told her that her teeth were very good until she turned 6...
Marti's last picture BEFORE braces!

Isn't she cute!

Thank you Dr. Ostler for this wonderful gift! The whole office is full of wonderful people and my 2 hours there flew by... I am pretty sure it didn't fly by quite so quickly for Marta but she did remember to say goodbye and thanks on our way out the door!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Home Sweet Home

I am writing to you from a VERY MESSY house! I am so glad to be home. We had a fabulous trip and the kids loved every minute of it! They loved the zoo, the Portland Children's Museum, THE BEACH, and the 67 people at our family reunion! I loved watching their eyes light up throughout our weekend. It was so much fun!
Hangin' With the Kids!
The kids loved the water and pretty much DOVE RIGHT IN!
We went out to breakfast to celebrate my birthday! The kids got a little tired of the "normal" pictures so we took a few silly ones too!We are making "fish faces" at Bonneville Fish Hatchery! Feeding the fish was lots of fun!

Monday, June 16, 2008

I absolutely love summer vacation!

What is not to love??? I actually sang, "It's the most wonderful day of the year..." in the hallway today as I greeted my teacher friends with a goofy smile! My kids (except for Joseph who had a FABULOUS last day) have all been done since last Wednesday and are now asking if today is Saturday everyday! They are in vacation mode! I am enjoying my first hours of freedom by packing for our trip to the coast! I am so excited to take the kids to the zoo and the beach! I am actually more excited than they are! :) We have friends staying here at the house to take care of the dogs, so I guess I better add cleaning to my list of things that need to be done before we leave early tomorrow morning!

Packing for 8 is a science and as much as I love lists and organizing - it is still making my brain spin! I made flash cards today with the following:
  • 1 stuffed animal
  • 4 pairs of shorts
  • 5 t-shirts
  • 3 sweatshirts (it is supposed to be cold)
  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 1 towel
  • sleeping bag
  • jacket
  • flip flops
  • swimsuit
  • 5 pairs of underwear
  • 5 pairs of socks
  • 2 pairs of pj's

My plan is to give each child a card so that they can find the required items and then return the card and items to me. I will write each kiddos initials on the back of the cards when I receive the items and then give them the next card... It SHOULD work. Maybe.

Can you think of anything I forgot? I am actually buying everyone a new toothbrush so that I can pack them tonight and we won't have to worry about them in the morning! My list is a bit longer so I had better get to work! Have a great week and if you get a chance to pray for gorgeous beach weather - that would be terrific!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Random Thoughts

It is hard not to think about what life would have been like for the kids if they were still in Ethiopia... Our agency stopped "offering" adoptions for children over 12 the week we decided to adopt our kids. Joseph and Marta had already had to stop going to school because of the cost for their books (about 90 cents each), and they already didn't have money for food some days. What would it be like if they were their now? Would they be hungry? Probably. I am certain Joseph would be working full time - but the rest remains unseen. I am so glad. And seriously, if it weren't for so many of you who have prayed for us and helped support us financially so that our kids to come home, I really don't know what would have happened. The kids would probably still be in the orphanage, waiting for us to come.

Marta talks a lot about the other kids from the orphanage and how each of the kids moms look in the photo albums sent from America. It is very evident that they looked at our pictures often. But that makes sense too. While I was waiting to travel I looked at our kids pictures constantly and memorized each hair. So today when Marta told me that my hair was, "very beautiful in picture, very curl, mom" I knew that my straighter hair now must be strange. When I told her I was going to get it cut after school today she was so surprised. Maybe even a little sad. I wonder if she would have liked it if I had worn the exact outfit from my pictures on the day we picked them up. Maybe everyday. She is great with change and such a kind and caring girl but I wonder if it would have helped her a little bit.

2 nights ago I asked the kids to pray in English - it was a selfish request - I have been dying to know what they say when they pray. I want to know the "format" and I want to know why they pray for 10-15 minutes each and every time we pray. (You know it's bad when you decide NOT to have prayers because we have to leave the house in 20 minutes :)) They all prayed for their mom and gave thanks for their brothers and sisters. They thanked God for Ben and I too. As we were waiting to go to Ethiopia to pick up the kids I was really afraid that they would never love me as much as they love Mesalech. I knew their relationship and love for Ben as their dad would be fine because 1) he is such a fabulous dad and 2) they haven't had a dad in so long that I knew they would be ready for him. But for me, I was worried. Really worried. I don't worry anymore. Do they love me as much as they love Mesalech? No. But it is OK, truly and absolutely OK. I have God to thank for that because it is NOT MY PERSONALITY to be OK with being 2nd. But it is OK and I am glad. Glad that I can hold the kids when they miss her, glad that God has chosen me to be their mom here. I love them with my entire being. They way they smile and laugh, the way they will cuddle into me on the couch, the way they will hold my hand when we walk down the street. Mesalech will ALWAYS be their Anat (Ethiopian Mom) and I am so glad that I can be their Mom too.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Defining Moments

I will be 35 very soon and I am so thankful for the 35 years I have had... So here is a breakdown of the last 35 years... give or take.

  1. I was born

  2. My sister was born

  3. We moved to Idaho

  4. We learned how to make snow forts and were sure that Santa landed on our roof. There was also a bat in our living room. I can still hear my mom screaming.

  5. We moved back to California

  6. Mrs. Richter (my 1st grade teacher) said I should stop saying I was sick when I wasn't.

  7. I found out that I absolutely love to read.

  8. I had 2 cats named Tuffy and Mrs. T

  9. I got braces - which I wore for the next 4 years.

  10. I started babysitting for money. Cody was 2 and Casey was a baby.

  11. I went to Mt. Giliad camp for the first time and learned about God.

  12. My parent's seperated

  13. I got my braces off

  14. I started High School - I was a cheerleader! :)

  15. My mom met and married Paul - he is a great step-dad

  16. I got a car for my 16th birthday and my brother Luke was born

  17. I worked as a cook at Mt. Giliad (actually I did that every summer throughout HS and part of college)

  18. Went to California Lutheran University - I was so nervous.

  19. Decided to become a teacher

  20. I met BEN!

  21. Turned 21 -- need I say more???

  22. Graduated from college with my Teaching Credential

  23. Taught 1st Grade at Bethlehem Lutheran School and got engaged!

  24. Got married!

  25. Taught 1st and 2nd grade in Mesa - went on a week long rafting trip on the Salmon River

  26. Had 2 miscarriages...

  27. Gave birth to Danny Paul - one of the greatest kids ever!

  28. Learned to be a mom

  29. Had Lilly - one of the cuddliest babies ever - with the cutest cheeks.

  30. Went back to work "full time" teaching 1st grade.

  31. Started working "part time" in my new job as Math Teacher

  32. Had Addy - oh what a sweet baby girl!

  33. Loved being a mom!

  34. Adopted 3 of the most terrific kids ever, traveled to Ethiopia and learned to be a mom to 6 great kids!

  35. My hope is that the next 35 years are just as fabulous!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Famine in Wolayta

The International Federation of the Red Cross and the Red Crescent, one of the aid agencies working in Wolayita, says the rain came too late, meaning the people in the Woredas or villages could not plant in time.

The organization’s disaster management co-coordinator in the area, Nanci Baffo, told on Monday: "The situation in Wolayita is rather interesting because, as you said, everything looks very green. This is a result of recent rain in the last three weeks. But the reality of the situation is that the crops you see in the field are only this -- one foot high. And obviously people cannot eat crops that are one foot high. They have not had a harvest out of these fields for more than nine months and so they have completely exhausted their stocks and they have no food in the house."



Please be praying for our kids’ family that they are able to find food and are continuing to be able to make a living.  Mesalich makes comforters for her job and I am pretty certain that people who are starving don’t usually buy new comforters.    



Monday, June 9, 2008


People ask us all the time about the "sibling bond" and how that is going. The last 2 nights Danny and Jacob have been sleeping in bed together. They are so stinkin' cute! They also got in trouble for hitting each other at Dairy Queen. Things are great! Ben and I both reprimanded the boys and then gave each other a little smile because we have been waiting for the time when they could be mad at each other - when the "politeness" would end. It ended tonight and that is a great thing. Right now all 3 boys are upstairs laughing hysterically about something... who knows what! It is 2 hours past their bedtime and I don't really care - I am just glad they are bonding so well.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Good News

The kids got to talk to their mom today and were so happy. She is sick with malaria or yellow fever or some other yucky sickness. She is hoping to go home tomorrow. I am so thankful that she was up to talking to the kids - they were so happy to hear her voice.


Mesalech is sick. She is in the hospital and the kids are terrified. Being in the state run Soddo Hospital is not a good thing necessarily. Gurneys line the halls and people wait for days to be seen. We stayed home from church today so that we could call their mom. The kids were so excited. We are calling back in 30 minutes. Pray that the kids find peace in Him. Pray that Ben and I have the right words. Pray for the doctors and staff.

thank you

Thursday, June 5, 2008

2 months ago today

  • 2 months ago today we got off the plane in our matching red shirts.
  • 2 months ago today we watched our kids hug each other for the first time.
  • 2 months ago today I saw so many of the friends who have prayed for us throught this adventure as they greeted us at the airport.
  • 2 months ago today I sat grinning at all 6 of my kids cuddling in the Suburban.
  • 2 months ago today I knew without a doubt that God had brought us to this place.
  • 2 months ago today I knew I would never be the same.
  • 2 months ago today I had no idea how much fun my life would be!

In the 2 months we have been home we have laughed a lot, learned a lot, cried just a little, smiled, joked, teased, cleaned, laundered, sung, tickled, prayed a lot, and learned to be a family of 8. Has it been easy? No and Yes! It has not been nearly as hard as I thought it would be but it is still hard. There are nights when I go to bed feeling like I got nothing accomplished... that no one got enough "mom time". And there are nights when I lay in bed thinking that I am the luckiest woman alive - I have 6 pretty much perfect kids and a husband who is nearly perfect too!

I truly love being a mom of 6 and the past 2 months have been some of the best times of my life!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Stupid Me

I was feeling very sorry for myself today as I looked in my rearview mirror to see those dreaded flashing lights. Especially because I knew I was busted. I wasn't wearing my stupid seatbelt... just being lazy I guess. AAAARGH! Do you know how many things I could do with the $124 I just "threw away", I could scream! No birthday presents for me this year... :) Just kidding, sort of!

On the upside, I got to watch my oldest kiddo play soccer tonight! That was a blast. To see him run like crazy, pass the ball to his new friends and make some incredible shots - it really was the highlight of my day. So many times as I watched him and saw the smile that was permanently etched on his face I couldn't help but be thankful for the huge blessing we have been given! He has a huge heart for God, for his family (both of them), for Ethiopia and for America. What a fantastic kid!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sick is just not the same in Ethiopia

We just got back from taking Marta to the doctor because Marta and Joseph are convinced that she has malaria or yellow fever. We knew that it was the same "crud" that everyone else has had in the past to weeks, but to put her at ease we took her in. When Marta was throwing up this morning I reassured her that Danny had been sick like that too. She said, "No Mom. This no the same. This very very bad." If you could have seen her face you would know what terror looks like, and maybe defeat. Joseph told Ben about all the kids in his neighborhood that die from malaria. In the newspaper today it said that every 30 seconds a child dies from malaria. Joseph told Ben all about the time he got it when he was 7 and his mom RAN to the hospital while carrying him so that he could get the medecine. He remembers how sick he was.

When I pause too long, and begin to think what it means to be a mom in Ethiopia - I have to stop. A mom in Ethiopia doesn't worry about the broken backpack zipper, the cupcakes for lunch or making sure the car gets cleaned before the next field trip. A mom in Ethiopia worries about being strong enough to run to the hospital. A mom in Ethiopia hopes she has the money for the hospital. I couldn't survive as a mom in Ethiopia.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Fun Times

Can you tell how much Lilly LOVES having a big sister! She loves her new big brother too!
We had a fabulous weekend. Our earnings from the yard sale was $523!!!!!!!!! Can you believe it! We certainly made our goal and that is wonderful! I had been trying to explain 'yard sale' to the kids for 2 weeks - I have decided that it is one of those things that you must see to understand. Joseph cracked us up, he kept pulling things out and deciding he would fix them. Genetics aside, he is so much like his grandfather! :)
Marta has the same crud everyone else has had, she is in bed sleeping. I really hate it when they are sick because I KNOW they must miss their mom. I would. The soothing voice, the special touch, the certain drink that helped make it better are all impossible for me to recreate. So I do my best, trying to let her sleep and cuddle on her and leave her alone... figuring out how she wants me to be. Lilly hates when other people are sick, she says it's not fair that they get more attention :). For Lilly, I know just what she wants when she is sick... with Marti, I am learning.
On another note, Marta's best friend from Wolayta was at the care center with her in Addis. She has been adopted and her family lives about 4 hours from us... Isn't that amazing??? Unfortunately, there is a problem with their paperwork and they may need to stay in Ethiopia for a month!!!! The family is all there and are so frustrated and could use our prayers! So please pray for Kuri and her family that they can all come home soon!