"'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

Monday, July 28, 2008

I am dreaming of a pantry...

Seriously, last night I dreampt of a pantry that had paper towels lined up and kleenex next to that and toilet paper next to that. Nearby were my cleaning supplies and across the room (next to my 2 washers and dryers) was my canned food. It was beautiful. It was a lovely dream.

I am not sure if my dream was inspired by my trip to WinCo and trying to find room for my case of green beans (they were super cheap) in the garage or by the fact that Extreme Home Makeover is looking for a family to help here in the Tri-Cities.

I can't stop thinking about it.

I can almost hear Ty Pennington yell, "MOVE THAT BUS!" and there in front of me would be a house that won't flood AND has enough showers that getting ready in the morning won't look like a scene from 'Yours Mine and Ours'. I love that movie. The part where he puts up the shower schedule cracks me up.

The television program Extreme Home Make-Over would like to come to the Tri-Cities and build a home for a family in need. Nominations can be emailed to emhewashington@gmail.com

Nominations need to include the following:

1. The names and ages of each member in the household
Ben (35), Brooke (35), Joseph (14), Marta (12), Danny (7), Jacob (6), Lilly (5), Addy (2)

2. A description of major challenges in the home
Our 1700 squre foot home has 3 bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms. It flooded in 2005 and we still worry it will happen again. It is hard for me to list the "challenges" of our home because I am so thankful for it. It has served us well these last 5 years. But I must tell you that I would love to NOT worry about a flood everytime it rains. I hate it that Danny and Lilly still worry about it too.

3. Explain why this family is deserving

:) You are on your own here....

4. Please include contact information
I am guessing most of you know us so getting our address and phone number should be OK.

5. A photo of the family
You can use any from the blog. Just right click on the picture and it will save to your computer and then you can email it to the nomination people.

Nominations are due by August 2nd

Is this a shameless plug for nominations????????? Maybe. Are there families who are more deserving???????????? Absolutely. But I got to tell you, the dreaming is a lot of fun! :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Vacation Pictures

We have just returned from a fabulous vacation! Thank you Grandma, Grandpa, Auntie Karla, Uncle Tim, Uncle Joel, Auntie Mary, Lance, Erika and Abby for a fabulous week! We loved our vacation so much!

On the way home our conversation went like this:

Me: What was your favorite part of our trip?
Joseph: Fishing and sports and snow and boat (kayak)

Marta: My birthday, sheep (at Glacier), snow fight, swim

Jacob: I don't know - I like sports with Lance

Danny: Fishing, kayaking, swimming, the high dive

Lilly: Everything

Addy: I like sleeping with my pillow on da floor. (she really slept in a bed)

By the way... we used checklists for packing this time - it worked well. We still have some kinks to work out (like deoderant on some lists but not on others) but overall it worked well. We also bought tubs for packing and that was fabulous. Everyone had their own so no more mixed up socks for us.
PS Addy started fully potty training this week... here we go!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hello from Montata

Right now I am enjoying wireless internet at Trinity Lutheran Camp in BigFork! I feel like I am back at Mt. Gilead (my summer camp/job/favorite place from my high school and college years). We are sleeping in a cabin that is maybe 20'X15' and walk to the bathrooms and dining hall. It is totally beautiful and we are loving jumping off the dock, swimming, kyaking, canoing, and hiking. It cracked me up our first day here because when I asked Joseph how he liked it he wrinkled his nose and said, "Mom, it like Ethiopia."

I never realized that this "roughing it" would not be seen as a VACATION by our Ethiopian kids. For them, this was reality... Walking to the bathroom, living in a 1 room home, keeping warm by fire outside, cooking outdoors was the way it was.

That is not to say that they are unhappy. They are having a blast and loving their vacation. They are jumping off the high dive into the lake and having so much fun.

Last night my friend Jenn and her family came to the camp to visit. I have never actually met Jenn... we just talk on an adoption web board often. When she went to Ethiopia in December to pick up her kids she took pictures of our kiddos and gave them kisses for us. We had 11 kids between the 2 of us (I know... crazy) plus 1 extra kiddo who was spending the night with her family. We had so much fun swimming and hanging out. It was really a fabulous evening. My kids remembered her kids and had fun playing with them and teaching them some of the Ethiopian games and songs they learned while together at the "care center/orphanage".

We celebrated Marti's birthday on Monday. I will post pictures when we get home. Let's just say that she LOVED HER BIRTHDAY!

signing off for now... I can hear a rambuctious ping-pong game going on and think Ben may need back up! :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

English Language 101

We have so many funny moments around our house as the kids learn English and try to correct their daily mix up of their f's and p's... Flip Flops are Plip Plops and Kung Fu Panda is Kung Pu Fanda. Chipmunks are Chipmonkeys and next week we are going to BigFork Lake in Hannah Montana. I must laugh 59 times each day. The kids are working super hard to learn English and seem like they have a list of words each day that they don't understand. Today I did great pantomimes of the words "bratty", "knight", "night", and "continents". Apparently Marta missed that part of 5th grade in Ethiopia and she was mightily confused. We got out the globe and a map and Ben did a great lesson!

Tomorrow we are going shopping for Marta's birthday at the story. :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How many is too many?

I have always wanted 6 kids. Always. I NEVER thought it would actually happen. And in all honesty when I heard someone tell me they had 6 (or more) kids there was a small part of me that thought they were nuts. Sometimes I still do. I don't mean the kind of nuts where you try to hit squirrels with your car... more like the kind of nuts that wonders how you do the dinner and the laundry and the kisses.

Lately I have become very aware of the stares we get being a family of 8. We definately attract a bit of attention wherever we go. At the store the other day the lady asked if I had more kids... at my daycare. I quickly responded that they were all mine and she looked at me like I was nuts. I wanted to tell her that my kids all get kisses and clean clothes and reasonably healthy dinners. I wanted to tell the people in line behind me that we love having 6 kids and we would even consider adopting more because we love being parents. I wanted the entire store to know that we aren't nuts. Why???? I honestly don't know.

The great things about having 6 kids...

  • There is always someone who wants to cuddle on the couch.
  • The kids always have someone to play with.
  • There is always someone to play with the dog and water the flowers on the porch.
  • I never worry about wasting food - someone always eats it.
  • Someone always remembers to bring the camera - and take pictures!
  • Someone always eats those last cookies that are too crunchy or old and cereal never gets stale.
  • There is almost always someone singing or laughing.
  • There is always someone to read with.
  • Eventually they all go to sleep! :)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Right Now...

Marta and Ben are upstairs watching the African Children's Choir video. I can hear Marti clapping.

Jacob and Danny are arguing over the CORRECT way to play their baseball game. (obviously my "you have to be wearing an athletic cup or uniform if you are taking the game seriously" rule is not working).

Addy is drinking juice while sitting in the sun.

Joseph is watching a local cable channel that is showing a church service.

Lilly is complaining about the wet grass.

Ooops... now Lilly is wanting to change her clothes and the boys are now pouting - just a little.

I told Ben that I wanted matching referee uniforms and whistles for our anniversary.
I haven't seen them yet.

Addy is crying because, "the ground bumped her head."

Now Danny, Lilly and Jacob are getting ready to swim and Addy is running around the house to find Daddy to help her with her swimsuit.

Oh, and the dogs are barking at something!

Daddy is now sleeping.

And my house is a mess. :)

I think I am changing the name of this blog to
Never A Dull Moment
I want to clarify that I am not complaining at all. This is actually making me laugh. Sometimes Ben and I look at each other with amazement and say, "We SIGNED UP for this?????????"

Friday, July 11, 2008

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

We had such a great time last night! The kids experienced their first semi-pro baseball game and their first chicken dance. We had so much fun! The kids each got a ball too - seriously we had a blast! One of the families from school had 10 tickets in a box that is basically on the field - it was the perfect spot to enjoy the game. Addy got to run around and the kids got to watch all the plays up close and personal! It was great.
Tomorrow we are celebrating Marta's birthday with her friends from school. This will be her first birthday party and we are really looking forward to it! Her real birthday isn't for another 10 days but we will be out of town for the real birthday so we decided to celebrate this weekend.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Happy Tuesday

Ethiopia abounds here in Washington!  Tonight we will be having a delicious Ethiopian dinner to celebrate... Tuesday.   We aren't actually celebrating anything, just enjoying the time to cook a traditional dinner.   Grandma and Grandpa are coming over for dinner too... I wonder what they will think???  We also made an Ethiopian friend yesterday.  We were at swimming lessons and Marta turned around and stared when she heard a woman speaking Amharic.  She QUICKLY made friends with the woman and her daughter.  We are so excited to make that connection and will be calling her soon to get together.  Marta was super excited to hear that our new friend has lived in America for 6 years and still speaks Amharic.  The kids (especially Marta and Joseph) want to keep their native languages while becoming fluent in English. 
This week began swimming lessons and athletic development camp for all the kids!  They are having fun and working really hard.  Joseph and Marta are also spending each day with Grandpa catching up on math skills and making sure that they are ready for the fall.  Thank you Grandpa!!!!!!!!!!  We worked through a story last night about fossils and the I taught the kids how to do an Image search on Google for words they don't know.  They used it several times for magma, fossil, roadway, and extinct.  I stayed close by in case something "iffy" popped up but all was well and it was so helpful for them as they read through the story.
Danny is working his way through the Magic TreeHouse series, I love watching him devour the books and read with such expression and understanding.  Jacob and Lilly are both reading well too.  I am so proud of them both and they are taking their "silent reading" time very seriously and love learning to read.  They are both pretty independent and only accept help when they cannot figure it out themselves. 
Have I told you lately that my kids are FABULOUS????????

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Happy Anniversary to US

It is our anniversary today. We have been married for 12 years today. In fact, 12 years ago at this precise moment I was waiting to walk down the isle into Ben's arms. Wow! We got a card from Ben's parents that said, "My how your lives have changed in 12 years." That is the understatement of the century! :) It is amazing to me that I love Ben more now than I did even 3 years ago -- I never would have said that was possible.

I heard once that men marry women hoping they will never change... and that women marry men hoping to change them. I guess I would agree with that statement, at least a little. I hope everyday that Ben will pick up his towel and put it away after his shower -- but I pray that those little things that make him my best friend will never change.
I am sure that I have changed too... I would love to say that I am less bossy now than I was way back then... but probably I am MORE bossy. Oh well. He still loves me bossy or not.

We are going out to dinner tonight with the kids. My dad sent me money for my birthday and what better use is there than to take my family out to eat so that I don't have to cook??? :) I told them that we are going to the restaurant where Daddy proposed... Lilly replied, "so it's a really old place???" It is funny to think that in their eyes we have been married FOREVER - and for Ben and I, it has flown by! :)

When we get home tonight we will show the kids our wedding video... it shows me falling down on 3 different occasions (and I wasn't even tipsy). It also shows me doing a little hop when pastor pronounces us husband and wife. I know it is cheesy, but that really was the best MOMENT of my life.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July

The kids enjoyed their first parade in America and loved all the candy that was thrown their way! We ended up with 10 adults and 12 kids in our little group - it was so fun to watch the kids having fun with friends!
Tonight we will go see the fireworks - the kids have never seen them before. Joseph said that in Ethiopia they had fireworks for their millineum celebration (on our calendar it was 9/11/07) but that all the people thought it was a war starting and ran home. I hope they enjoy them tonight! Joseph also talked about parades back home they were for the police and military only. I am wondering if they were used to intimidate... hmmmm???

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Our 1st Fourth

The flags are by the car. The blanket and chairs are in the Suburban. The red, white, and blue clothes are clean. The Frog Eye Salad is in the fridge. The cooler is ready to go. The hotdog buns are on the counter and the ingredients for homemade ice cream are in the fridge. We decided that our kids first 4th of July should be special! So in honor of all things American (ooohhh... I forgot Apple Pie) we will be heading off to the parade tomorrow morning and then enjoying a good ol' picnic dinner with Grandma and Grandpa tomorrow evening. For the fireworks we will either go to the free spot we have discovered and enjoy them on blankets in the dirt... or maybe we will pay the 10 bucks and sit in the park and enjoy the "ooohs and ahhs" of all the people around us. Whatever we decide will be great and I am super excited to share this day with our kids.

The freedoms we enjoy in America are very foreign to our kids. There is no Free Press in Ethiopia, no citizens own land. They are controled in every way by a misguided government. I heard someone once say that women who are born in America are the luckiest woman alive. So tomorrow I will enjoy my freedoms, my newspaper and internet, being able to drive, my home and my children and I will thank God that I can spend the day with my family!

Happy 4th of July

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How things have changed

People ask us all the time about how life has changed with 6 kids... I decided to make a list of the ways our home and life have changed and how we keep sane!
  • Chore Lists!!!!!!!! Addy is the only one who does not get a list. The list includes bed making, teeth brushing, room cleaning, 1 daily household chore, 2 "school periods", and 1 big chore each day. By big chore I mean cleaning the family room or the van. It has been working well (but it has only been 4 days).
  • Putting away all my cute little pots and pans and bringing in the humongous pots that I used to only use when Ben's basketball team came for dinner.
  • Paper Plates - bad for the environment -- GOOD for me! I am weaning myself though.
  • A new cell phone that has a super easy calendar that has an alarm to remind me of everything.
  • Grandpa taking over math tutoring for the 2 big kids.
  • I asked for silverware for my birthday -- and I got it! 2 huge Costco packs of pretty silverware!
  • Benches instead of chairs for the kitchen table.
  • Water bottles instead of cups for meals and quick drinks. We keep them filled in the door of the fridge and the kids grab those instead of cups, usually.
  • Colored towels... each kid has a color.
  • Laundry baskets for each child to store their clothes. We got rid of all our dressers and it is going well!
  • Mandatory nap time for the 4 little kids - the boys read and Ben and I work on school stuff with Marta and Joseph.

I am sure that I am forgetting a couple things, but these are just a couple of ways that we are making life work!