Thursday, August 27, 2009

Alive and...Adjusting

How beautiful is she?! Our friend Keren took this photo last weekend. I realize I have been quite remiss in blogging these days. Life has been, shall we say, heavy these days, and its hard to trim down into blog form. Just for fun, however, I thought I would post a quote from my son from a week or two ago, followed by a bit of an update:
While watching Bed Knobs and Broomsticks, the kids were particularly taken by the dancing montage from the "Portabello Street" song. This scene features various styles of dance, at one point a group of African-Americans dancing in a swingish sort of style. At this point, Melat began clapping and bopping with the music. When Allan and I commented on this, our eldest (age 6 1/2) chimed in, "Its because they're brown," he said matter-of-factly, "She's not color-blind, you know!"
Said little one is not very little. She's 10 months+ now and weighs a hefty 22 lbs. (90th percentile in weight, 75th in height) Our pediatrician is simply in awe of her and can't fathom how a child from an orphanage has done so well for herself. Last week at her check up he said, "She must have been a favorite!" Truth is, she's a demanding little thing. Oh, she can be cute and cuddly all right, but every three hours on the dot she'd better have her food in hand. Or else.
One of the things that I've been meaning to blog about but haven't is the challenge of adjusting to this strong-willed baby girl. Its been hard not to have happy little stories full of love and bliss to post. Oh, we have grown attached to her and all, but its hard to feel unconditional fondness for a child who spends a good portion of the afternoon shrieking at you. (Like right now, she's screaming like her heart has been broken because I'm not keeping the Cheerios coming fast enough.) Its also hard to write about without sounding like a whiner among throngs of happy adoptive bloggers. Obviously, we didn't expect adopting to be a breeze. In fact, we expected more difficulty than we have. But after the early months of newness and the fawning of strangers and family alike have passed, you're still left with a new child who, out of some inborn desire to survive, thinks not only that the world revolves around her, but that it should do so at the speed she dictates. I told one friend its like having a perpetual colicky newborn...who weighs 20+ lbs and crawls really fast.
The boys are doing well with her. When people ask how they are adjusting to Melat, I tell them that the boys beat up on her now, so they must been accepting her as their little sister.
Really, she has a very sweet disposition -- with everyone but me. She is attached to me, in a master to slave sort of way, and needs to know where I am at all times. Melat loves people -- so very social -- and loves to be outdoors. She loves to swim and swing and steal her brothers' toys. I have a feeling that everything is going to turn out just fine, but for now the adjustment continues.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bare Ne-sesames

(In the words of my 4 year-old after watching The Jungle Book.)

I won't lie. This has been a very challenging summer. My husband is still without work and we're unsure of just when things will improve. We've been surviving by the grace of God and the kindness of family and friends...and some creative living. (ex. Paying for our camping trip with literally the leftover change from the adoption!) I have been learning some significant truths in a whole new way.

For example, Matthew 6:25-30, 33-34: "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?...But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (ESV)"

I've known this passage since childhood and have relied on it many a time in regards to general anxiety about the future. But, for the first time in my life, thank God, I find myself applying it in a very specific way. As I wander WalMart looking for the best deal on lunch meat -- no more organic here! -- I see the aisles and aisles of school supplies and clothes and I wonder just how we're going to buy those things in the coming month. I praise God for His mercy in the past, for the times when I never had to worry about whether or not we'd have food in the house. And I look to those promises and remind myself that if my treasure is truly laid up in heaven, if I'm seeking His Kingdom, then we're going to be just fine.


I apologize for the lack of posts lately. For one thing, our camera has died. This greatly limits the amount of cuteness I can publish. We've also been remarkably busy the past two weeks.

After surviving Allan's business trip, we spent several days just trying to get our home back together again. Allan and I also got to go out alone -- for his birthday -- for the first time since having Melat home.

Speaking of having Melat home, one of the most precious times we've had was the annual picnic last weekend for those in our area who have adopted through our adoption agency. (We borrowed a camera and took a few photos, but they all have other people's children in them and I don't feel comfortable making them public without their parent's permission. You'll just have to trust me that we were swamped with sweet and adorable little ones from Ethiopia and Guatemala!) It was such a blessing and encouragement to be surrounded by other adoptive families, even for just one afternoon. I wish we could do it more often!

Right now I'm still trying to coerce our 4 year-old into using the potty, with very little success. Just this afternoon he had an accident on the couch, while I was rocking Melat to sleep, waking her up with his announcement of said accident. So, I had a wet couch, a wet boy, and a screaming baby. Good times. Not being motivated by any form of reward -- including preschool -- he just plain doesn't care. He also doesn't mind being wet or sitting in his...well, you know...whether in a diaper, a swim-diaper (now that's nasty!) or underwear. I've tried training diapers that make it uncomfortable to be wet -- like being in a wet regular diaper isn't uncomfortable enough! -- and, in my less than stellar moments, reminding him that he is the ONLY 4 year-old we know that still wears baby diapers. Our pediatrician half-jokingly mentioned putting him in pink pull-ups, something my husband seriously considered, but I just don't know how we could afford the therapy bills when he's a teenager. Preschool starts in just over a month and I'm just not sure what to try next. If he weren't so dang indifferent to it all, I'd worry that there might be some sort of physical issue here, but he is literally untroubled by accidents. I'm all for not pushing them if they aren't ready, but at 4?? He will go in the toilet and recognizes when he needs to poop, at least -- though that doesn't mean he won't just go in his diaper or underwear -- but will only pee in the toilet if he's on there for another reason. Any advice??

Friday, July 17, 2009


Melat isn't the only one who's toothless these days!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Spouseless in Seattle

Well, boo. Hubby left before sunrise for a 4-day conference in Denver. Together with his brother he will be signing sample copies of their book coming out this September. They will also be meeting with publishers regarding a new book series. In the meantime, I'll be having my first go at parenting three kids alone for four days. We're filling our schedule to the brim with grandparent visits, playdates, and whatnot in order to make time fly by that much faster...and keep boredom to a minimum.
Having Hubby gone means less laundry and more of the bed. It also means that I don't have to cook, per se, because my boys would happily subsist on peanut butter and jelly for all eternity and I'm content with a sandwich or salad. See how I'm looking for the positives here?? So, yeah. Talk to me in a couple days and see how positive I'm feeling!

Now where'd I put those Kleenex??

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, July 6, 2009

Back in the High Life Again

For some strange reason I decided to reactivate my Facebook account today. I took it down over a year ago because...well, to be honest, I'm insecure. I got tired of reading about everyone's social exploits. It sort of felt like being in junior high again, riding the bus and overhearing other girls making plans with each other and then having to hear all about what they did the following morning. When your days are spent keeping siblings from killing each other and appeasing a demanding baby the last thing you want to read about is some event to which you weren't invited. And Facebook just lays it all out right in front of you.

So, given my bad attitude, why did I rejoin? Mostly just to be able to reconnect with old friends. And to stay connected with current friends. So I'll be around...but I'll be keeping it simple.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Short of It

Ha! I posted new photos of myself on the blog, then I went and chopped my hair off. Those who have known me a while know that I'm no stranger to short hair. For most of the last 12 years I've had a sort of pixie cut -- in contrast to the first 18 years of my life in which my hair was down to the middle of my back. A year ago I started growing it out, but kids and acne have made it more work than I like, so for that yearly occasion on which I got a year older, I got it cut off again. The gal who cuts my hair talked me out of chopping it all off, though I did have my husband's permission to do so. (He met me when my hair was at its shortest and holds a certain fondness for it at that length.) It is, however, nice and short again. I don't have photos yet -- and I'm not one to take a picture of myself just because -- so those of you in say, Virginia, Maryland, or Wisconsin, will have to wait a bit, but I will try to get something up soon...because I know the status of my hair is your top concern these days!

Your second-most important interest, I'm sure, is my children. Specifically, photos of my children. So let me just satisfy your curiosity with some from our weekend, during which we enjoyed the many outdoor opportunities the great state of Washington has to offer.
On Saturday we got together with my parents and my brother, his wife, and my nephew at a park on the beach, to celebrate that occasion which I alluded to above but shall not mention. Sunday we headed up towards Mt Rainier and spent a few hours playing in the river. (Both of these activities are an hour away, but in opposite directions. Its the best of both worlds, as Hannah would say. And I think its a very good reason for people in Virginia, Maryland, or Wisconsin, for example, to move out here.)
The Beach
My nutty Nugga

This child could live in the ocean, if given the chance.My adorable nephew, CyprianNothing but boysMelat meets the ocean. Well, technically the Puget Sound, but salt water none the less.

The River

Thankfully Melat loves the out-of-doors!My Handsome HubbyI'm happy as long as I have something to chew on! (No teeth yet!)One of my little dam builders, pausing to pose.Crocs are the BEST kid shoe ever!A lovely view!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Regardless of circumstances described in the prior post, life does indeed go on, so I thought I should bring everyone up to date on the fun things we've done and how things stand in other areas.

Our big boy, Toby, finished out his kindergarten year last Friday. His report card and IEP update are simply amazing. He has made so much progress, especially socially. Back in September we really didn't know what to expect, particularly when things started out a little bumpy with the person in charge of his IEP and special services. It was a constant joy to see him blossom, make friends, and be so excited about what he did in school each day.

Our now middle child, Henry, is having a pretty rough time. He is four and thus frustrated with life in general, but now he's had to give up his baby position AND have big brother home from school each day. Alas, big brother takes the brunt of much of his anger, which big brother doesn't know how to cope with appropriately. Things get pretty ugly around here most days. Henry is one angry little man. We have since established some set alone time with each child and lots of space between the two boys. We are also trying to potty train...still. Its not going well. He is stubborn and sensitive and not at all motivated. Gotta love the little guy though!

And, of course, the Princess Herself. She has kept us busy with all of her busyness. You know, growing, eating, scooting around the floor -- backwards! -- occasionally napping, eating, getting her ears pierced, eating, throwing tantrums because she's not eating, eating, pooping, eating, almost sleeping through the night, eating, and generally being a happy baby. She has a bit of a mommy obsession, but that's not necessarily all bad...except when mommy needs to cook dinner.

Finally, I know the most important part of an update is pictures, so here are some from our Father's Day visit to the zoo:

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

He Gives and Takes Away

When you're self-employed there are many months when you don't know where your income will come from. For the last year or so, due to changing contracts, we have known that we would probably be reaching the point where we had no income. Literally, no income. There were a few possibilities that were potentially available to tide us over until other work could be found, but as of today those have pretty much been ruled out. Another characteristic of barely scraping by each month is that its nearly impossible to maintain a savings account. What money is saved goes quickly when the van needs new tires, or someone visits the ER. (And then the Lord calls you to adopt....)

So, here we are. We will get our last known paycheck this week and then its up to the Lord. Not only will we not have the means to pay our mortgage or other bills next month, but the business will likely not have enough money to pay such things as our health insurance and the cell phone bill upon which our family relies. (We have no land line.) When you're self-employed you aren't eligible for unemployment. Our state has stopped accepting applications for state health insurance. Things are looking pretty bleak.

I am well aware that the Lord could have made all those pending pieces fall into place, but He chose not to. So, I have to believe that He will provide an alternative. Even if it involves watching the demise of our credit record and the possible foreclosure of our home, I guess He has more important things in store for us. He has carried us thus far.

Please pray for our family and that of my brother and sister-in-law, that we will be wise and seek the Lord -- and of course, that the Lord will provide work for my husband and his brother.

He gives and takes away. My heart will choose to say, "Blessed be the Name of the Lord."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Condensed Version

I am working on merging our family site and our adoption site into one. By "working on", I mean that every several days I sit down at the computer and log in, only to be pulled away by some other pressing issue (read: child). I thought it would be fun to make a little project out of it and design it myself. Well, its slow going. I should have just hired somebody to do it (or had my husband do it -- which would have taken like 30 seconds) but now I refuse to give up.

This whole endeavor is an excellent example of just how much time I have right now to even post on a blog, but I have determined to keep something going, mostly for the sake of extended family and as a means of keeping in touch with other church/adoptive families. (To you AGCI folk: Ya'll don't abandon me now!) Its not like I have impressive wisdom I need to impart or that I think I have that interesting of a life.

Anyway, the family blog is coming soon...hopefully by this weekend. I will try to at least get some photos up in the meantime.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Looking for Advice

My little beauty hides a dirty little secret. With nearly every bowel movement we have a blowout. Usually up the back. And its not necessary diarrhea. It just always shoots up that way. Sometimes up the back AND the front. I'm changing her and washing her clothes constantly. We have a spare car seat cover that I've had to change frequently too. I've had two boys -- one of whom had serious digestive issues -- but I've never encountered this before. Sure, we had our share of blowouts -- always at the most inopportune times, as blowouts by definition tend to be -- but this is different. And very frustrating. And more than a little disgusting.

Anyway, its not the poop itself that frustrates me. Its that the poop is everywhere, all the time. So I wondered, is this more common with girls or something? I mean, things are a little different down there. Or is it related to her, um, chunkiness? Or does she just have uncommonly, shall we say, strong, um, movements? I don't know. But since she's not going to be potty trained...or even having more solid movements, for some time now, I'm wondering if anyone has found anything that works to contain said movements. We nearly always layer in a onesie because that at least keeps it in her clothes (EW!) and not on the person holding her, per se. But that requires peeling off a poopy onesie every time (again EW!). We've tried fastening her diaper (disposable) in different ways and even different kinds of diapers, but its always the same. Diaper covers (like the kind that come with dresses) and shorts/pants with wide elastic waistbands don't help.

So, anyone have any creative ideas? We would ALL be so grateful!

(And, yes, I just finished changing one. And changing the car seat. Again. Hence this post.)

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Swingin' Good Time

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Its Just Not Right have a social worker come visit your home when you just brought home a baby a month ago!

I mean, seriously. But adoption requires post-placement visits/reports, the first being 3 months after you take custody...then at 6 months, then at a year, then each year until the child turns 18. The hitch the first time around is that a social worker visit is required and the paperwork is due to the agency at 2 months, so it can reach Ethiopia by the 3 month due date. Hence, the social worker visit TODAY. Did I mention that we'll only have three hours advance notice of her arrival?? Yikes.

Not that I'm worried. Its just that our month-long adjustment period had kind of left our house (and yard) in a not-so-cleanly state. But after several long hours -- put in mostly by my wonderful hubby -- he's THE MAN! -- the house may actually be presentable. Now its my job to keep it that way until she shows up. No easy task, people!

If our house has been in a sorry state, the blog has really fallen behind. You'll notice I did finally take down our countdown ticker and update my ever-so-brief profile. Like many blog slackers, I've composed a number of great postings in my head at night, between feedings...but they never come to fruition once daylight hits and the chaos/children takes/take over.

Melat continues to be a happy little trooper -- even despite an ear infection and an antibiotic-requiring diaper rash. Its sort of an extended family joke that you can only tell when she's sad by looking at her face. If you see tears, she's sad, otherwise you'd never know because she just sort of whimpers when she's upset. We know she's hungry when she thrashes around and smacks her lips. We know she's tired when she smears her face on our shoulder. Other than that she loves to smile, roll around, and watch the exciting world that is our family.

We were able to have her dedicated -- along with like a dozen or more babies -- at our mass-baby-producing church on Mother's Day. She still loves to be vocal and so felt the need to try to out-speak our pastor. What a nut. Actually, she tries to do that every Sunday, so we spend a lot of time in the church lobby.

The following week was our second son's 4th birthday -- and Melat's sort of "coming out" to much of our extended family. We love how attached she has become to us...she will go to others, but Mommy and Daddy always have to be in her line of sight. That's a good thing! She had a blast interacting with all her cousins and other family members.

I'm sure there is a lot more to report, but that's going to have to do for now. We're coping well, but still working on controlled chaos as opposed to just chaos. I know I still have to post travel photos, but that's a process that requires much thinking, so its still going to have to wait. I miss all my travelling a three month reunion a little too soon??

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Love is in the House

So far the question we are asked most is how our little one is adjusting. The answer? She's doing very well. She's a happy chunk of a thing -- pretty content to roll with whatever we've got going on. We're trying to keep things mellow for her, but our life is a little too crazy for that. Plus Mama gets a little stir crazy sometimes. We've walked the mall a few times, hit the playground in the stroller, and made our debut at church, among other things. We've also started rice cereal, which she loves but hasn't figured out how to swallow yet. Its a work in progress!

The rest of us? Well, we're getting there. The biggest issue isn't surprising: sleep. She still wakes 2 or 3 times a night for a bottle and will only nap for short periods of a crowded room. If its too quiet, she can't sleep. We have her in our room, with a nightlight, which is an adjustment in and of itself for us. Our boys spoiled us by sleeping in their own room fairly early on, and were definitely sleeping through the night by this age. Its tough to go to sleep at 9, wake up at 7, and have only gotten 5 or 6 hours of sleep.

The boys are doing fairly well. The eldest was pretty wild our first week back -- his way of coping with change -- then he got sick. Our youngest is being a royal stinker...but he was starting that before we left. He has a will of steal...and he's not afraid to use it!

Really, though, things are going so much better than I hoped. I had really prepared myself for a very difficult time -- you know, worst case scenario -- but we're actually doing okay. I have no doubt that its the prayers of so many people that makes the difference. It was really tough with all the travel and sickness and preparations to miss church as much as we did -- I came back desparate for some quiet time with my Bible.

If nothing else, we are just soo glad to be back. We are being spoiled with meals and prayers and love -- and a baby shower next Wednesday!

I promise to post more about our trip the next time I have a spare moment, which translates to lots of pictures!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

First Bath with Mom and Dad