Thursday, August 26, 2010

A New Home...

We started this blog over 3 years ago (!) to chronicle our adoption journey.  It turned into much more.  Yet, for so long, I felt that this blog was "done" and had a hard time posting.  So I stopped.  But I've missed it.

:)

Our life has taken SO many twists and turns these past few years. I'm not the same person that started this blog.  I've grown - in so many ways.  And seeing that I have SO MUCH growing to do.  But, I'll be doing that in a new place.


Please feel free to follow our family... our post-adoption learning and growing... our homeschooling (!) adventures ... and just everyday life with a crazy family.

If this is crazy... sign me up.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Chirp Chirp,,, All Quiet on the Western Front


yep... it's been quiet around here.

I think my blogging days are numbered. When we were in the throes of adoption, this was a great way to unload those confusing, frustrating, joyful and sad thoughts and feelings. It was also a great place to share our family happenings.

Selam has been home with us over 8 months now. We are finding our new normal and settling in nicely. With both Mark and I working, 4 kids in school (Al in daycare full time), 3 in sports ... well, free time is practically non-existent. When we do squeeze a few drops, both Mark and I have been investing a little more into some new hobbies, which has been good for us.

The truth is - I still have a lot to share. Lots of thoughts and feelings, especially about adopting an older child. And thoughts and feelings about our first adoption - completed OVER TWO YEARS AGO - wow. And yet, I'm feeling very hesitant. I think that sharing these experiences, concerns and joyful moments would have a lot of value for other families. Maybe for moms in my position - or prospective parents, searching for more information before taking the leap. I know I SCOURED blogs during both our processes.

But I can't.

Maybe it's Selam's age. And the other kids are getting older. And we've shared real names. And photos. And personal information. This blog is far from anonymous. And although I think that being honest and sharing would have value - for me perhaps, for other parents - I think there is too much risk to my kids. And their needs trump right now.

I guess if there is anyone left out there reading (which I kinda doubt!) that would like to talk (or email) with someone about older child adoption or the like, I'd love to do it. Please leave a comment and we'll figure out how to connect. But I'm not comfortable putting our lives out here quite as openly as I am tempted to.

So, for the time being at least, I don't plan to pull the blog down. It's now about 3 years old (!) and the thought of deleting it makes me sad! But I may. Or, I may pop back in now and then. I've learned to never say never. Maybe now that I've posted this, I'll get all kinds of inspiration (and time!) .

For now, I'll just say that I do not regret starting this blog, silly as I thought it was at the time. :) It got me through some really hard times. And it meant a lot to share those with you. And the joyful times - you sharing our joy just made us feel exponentially happier. The friends and the connections have been priceless.

Thank you for all your love and support.







I guess we'll just see where things go from here...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Little Dose of Cuteness


Happy Friday!








Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Worth the read

I wish this post was mine. But I couldn't have said it this perfectly. You have to read it for yourself. I stumbled across this blog over the weekend through some other link ups. So glad others were willing to share her words.

Please, head on over to It's Almost Naptime and read:

Monday, March 1, 2010

2 kids better than one?

I originally wrote this post as a (very long) comment on my friend Lisa's blog. She asks questions weekly and I was offering some input. This week's question was:

"What are the pros/cons of adopting more than one child at a time? We are considering also requesting a preschool boy in addition to an infant girl…and we’re willing if God asks us to do it, but quite honestly, it SCARES me to think of helping five children adjust to a major life change!"

Here are my thoughts:

I can only share from our perspective, but we were a family who initially planned on adopting one child (toddler/preschool boy) and ended up pursuing another adoption as well (preschool girl). There were a number of reasons we decided to do this. One, to be completely honest, was money. We really thought we’d want to adopt again and it was far cheaper to do two at once than 2 separate adoptions. Now, we would have never based our decision SOLELY on finances. But we figured… all other things being equal, we’d like to save a few $$. And we figured, we are already going to be outnumbered (we had 2 bio girls at home) so why not jump right from 2 to 4?

We also thought it would be easier on the kids. Putting myself in their shoes (well, as much as one can), it seemed like it would be easier to come with someone familiar, someone who shared the culture/skin color/etc. I think this definitely proved to be true – in many, many ways it was easier on our adopted children.

And I’m not sure it was any harder on our bio kids at home – there were adjustments there too, but there were going to be whether or not it is one kid or two. You just don’t know. You could bring home a baby girl and a young boy who just fit seamlessly into your family. Or, you could bring home just one sweet baby girl that locks horns with one of your existing kids and they are like oil and water from the start. You just don’t KNOW. This is true with bio kids too. I think this is more of a personality thing vs a number thing. When we were deciding, it was a positive factor for us that our oldest daughter was very go-with-the-flow. We were confident she could handle the changes and disruption. Our younger daughter was only 12-18 months at the time and we didn’t think 2 vs 1 would make much difference to her either. I don’t think it did, for the most part.

So, I would say that it was financially advantageous, it eased the adjustment for our adopted kiddos, probably did not make much difference for our bio kids… and as for us parents?

IT. WAS. WAY. HARDER.

Now, I have nothing to compare it to, because our first adoption for two kids at once. BUT I honestly think it made Mark and my adjustments harder. Snap - We went from 2 kids to 4. We’re outnumbered! We had our two new children (who happened to now both be middle children) who desperately needed our attention and affection. We had a 6 year old who was excited to have new siblings, but needed some affirmation herself. We had a very cranky 18 month old who was NOT pleased to have been left behind for 2 weeks while we were in ET… (translate to super-clingy for MONTHS)

And so many days it seemed as if we just didn’t have enough arms to go around.

It was 2 little bodies infected with giardia. 2 little bodies that were scared to death at night for months. 2 little bodies with millions of doctor appointments. 2 little bodies with needs – physical and emotional – that [understandably] just kept coming. 2 little bodies that didn’t speak a word of English and were just so frustrated. And us poor, na├»ve, tired parents, often felt like we just couldn’t keep up.

BUT.

The first 3 months passed and things grew easier. Then a few more months passed. We adjusted. We were a family.

Our kids had a dream transition, at least in my opinion. And yet, those first few months were so hard! I actually think it was more than twice as hard. But only for a short time. And with all the other pros… well, I have never regretted our decision. It was the right one for us.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Anyone still there... In which I talk about everything... and nothing...

It’s been a long time. Is anyone still out there???



The past few months have been busy and blogging was quickly discarded. In the back of my mind I often have flickers of ideas to post or thoughts like “I should really write about this experience.” And then, before I know it, that urge is gone and I’m back to wasting time on Facebook.
J



It’s interesting – I started a new job back in October. A job that requires far less hours from me that the position I was at the three years before that. Yet “life” seems busier than ever. Whenever I say that, people always mention the whole 5 kid thing. But I’m not sure that’s it. Especially since adding Selam, in many ways, has barely been a blip in terms of disruption of our family life. I say in many ways, but there are exceptions… those days. We do have some of those days now and again… But, generally speaking, the days just fly by. The kids go to bed (still, by 8-8:30!) and I’m exhausted. So many things on my to-do list, yet I often can do no more than read a chapter of a book – and often, much less. Although I did finish our taxes last night…



Wow, barely blogging a few moments and already rambling! Ahhh, back to normal!!!



With just a few moments to write, I’m not even sure where to start…

Last week we had our 6 month post-placement visit with our social worker. In so many ways it is hard to believe Selam has already been home six months! Yet, in many MORE ways, I can’t believe it has been ONLY six months!! She’s really fit right in and we are clearly a family. She said something the other day that summed it up nicely. She had started sweeping the kitchen floor (voluntarily!) and I thanked her for doing that. She responded, “no problem, it’s my house too.” Then, more quietly, she added, “forever.” Love it.



Not to paint an overly-rosy picture. We’ve had our days. The days when she tells us she is ONLY happy at school and doesn’t want to be happy any other time. The days where I think her eyes will fall right out of her head if she rolls them once more. The days where she is so angry that we have said “no” to x, y, or z. The days when she wants to fight with the other kids as if she’s 4 years old. Those are not easy days – for us or for her.



Next month she will be 13 years old. In so many ways she is already growing into a beautiful, responsible young woman. Yet, in other ways, she is emotionally stunted and no where near as mature as her counterparts. We struggle with how to handle the babysitting situation with snow days and and the like. Sometimes she is the picture of responsibility and handles the leadership role remarkably well. Yet other times she is more akin to a loose cannon. And I worry. Probably overly-much.



I never used to be a worrier. But I worry now. Maybe that’s just a mom-thing.



We probably aren’t really fair either.



In many ways, we long for her to BE 13. To act 13. To have the complete confidence that she could manage (most) of the kids for an extended period of time or to handle certain other things (e.g. homework?) without checking up on her (and holding her hand through it…). That’s when we complain about her lack of maturity. And sometimes… it is very frustrating. Even though we know that she just can't "be" that just yet - how could she? There are many 13 year olds that have spent their entire life in one family (and one country!) and still have the maturity of a 5 year old! She's fighting against a lot. We all get frustrated with that at times. It's not fair (stamps foot).



And yet, I’m having a hard time figuring out appropriate privileges. After all, Grace is only 8! That’s all I’ve known… what DO other 13 year olds …do? Bedtimes? Privileges? Help around the house? She does that. She’s actually a big help in many ways. Yet, I can’t seem to give up the laundry. Or cooking. Which is funny – because I hate both tasks! And she probably would enjoy it. And how late do these kids stay up? Because I have to drag her out of bed as it is… Movies… good grief! She’s been bugging us for horror movies. Yech. Not really my thing…



And a birthday coming up – her first in
America. Her first with GIFTS. What does she want? A cell phone and an ITouch. Umm… no.



Yep. We’re a work in progress.



And thanks if you are still here. ;o)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Steady Days

I'm really looking forward to reading this book!


Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood


Product Description

You can apply the same techniques of efficiency, intention, and purpose that you've used in other careers to your most important position in life--motherhood. Steady Days takes you through the process of becoming a professional mother: one who is organized and excited to spend time with your young children. If you've ever felt overwhelmed by a lack of direction in your parenting, this book can help.

Written with busy moms in mind, Steady Days contains 40 short, manageable chapters. You will discover how to:

* Develop a plan for your day to efficiently juggle the many jobs you hold
* Spend creative, flexibly-structured time with your children
* Revel in your children's natural curiosity, and join in as you learn together
* Keep track of the memories you will make with your little ones
* Find inspiration to help you maintain your enthusiasm, even in the face of challenges


See details about the giveaway here!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Melkam Genna!

It's Christmas! Again!


Well, at least in Ethiopia. I don't really have time for a post (never seem to lately...) but here is a link to the post I wrote last year about ET Christmas with some helpful (I hope) links.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!


Monday, November 23, 2009

Rewarded for Laziness!


Okay, the title is misleading. But I did get a blog award from the amazing Miss Leslie. (and yes, I know it was awhile ago!) I found it somewhat amusing given that most of my posts lately were thefts of the amazing thoughts of others. :) But I'll take what I can get! Thanks Leslie!

Here are the blog award "rules" (and they are very, very strict):

1. Thank the person who awarded me the award, and link that person's blog on my blog. (check)
2. Identify seven things about myself. (see below)
3. Award seven bloggers with the "Kreativ Blogger Award," post links to their blogs, and leave a comment on each of their blogs, to let them know of the honor. I don't really know what a "Kreativ blogger" is, so you can just give it to whoever you like!

Alrighty, seven things about me...

1. I am currently addicted to craft blogs - it is amazing what people come up with! And the best (or worst?) part is that most of the good ones link to OTHER good blogs, so the fun continues! I have spent (wasted?) HOURS jumping from blog to blog to website to website in search of fun things to make. How many projects have I attempted? Sadly, not many. But I have a big list. ;o) My new goal is to now spend more time MAKING the fun things, rather than reading about the fun things made by others!

2. I will admit that I read the Twilight saga. I will admit that I read them all ridiculously quickly (24-48 hours each, give or take) - the books are kind of like candy. Or crack. But I must also admit that I thought the first movie was dreadful and I don't have any big desire to see the new movie, especially since the 2nd book was the worst of the 4. Interestingly, I actually like the books less and less the more time goes by since I finished them. They are kind of like junk food for your mind. Not necessarily a bad thing. But I wouldn't say you are missing much if you don't jump on this Twilight/Twinkie bandwagon.

3. Speaking of Twinkies, I don't like them. To my recollection, the first Twinkie I ever ate was consumed during my freshman year of college. The sole reason was that my roommate discovered I had never eaten one and needed to remedy the situation. It tasted stale. I also have trouble eating many Little Debbie items - the concentrated sugar hurts my teeth. But I luv oatmeal cream pies. They could be the death of me.

4. I am a ridiculous klutz. And Ally takes after me. A lot. Poor kid.

5. Along the same lines as #1 above, I really enjoy sewing. But give me a straight line any day - basic quilts are my favorite because they are easy (although time-consuming). I have pledged to sew some doll clothes (pledged to myself only of course - not stupid enough to promise the kids!). But we shall see. That seems very tedious. And this klutz does not always handle tedious well.

6. For the past several months I have had an on-again-off-again fantasy about homeschooling. It isn't in the cards for us right now for many reasons, and may never be, but I LOVE to read about the experiences of others via books, blogs, whatever. This new-found interest of mine continues to baffle me given my embarrassingly-low patience level, but whatever. It's a fantasy. ;o)

7. I have a deep desire to be ridiculously organized - this is probably the OCD and control freak in me. As a result, I love planners. Love to look at a clean page that can be quickly marked up with appointments and "to-do" items. However, I often have a problem filling up said-planners/calendars. Not because of lack of things to do (!) but because I get lazy on actually following through on my OCD tendencies. Ah well. :) Also, I will publicly admit to writing items on my "to do" list that I have already completed, simply for the satisfaction of crossing them off. Yep, I'm that gal.

Now I get to pass this lovely honor on!

1) The Kladder Adventure - Check out Holly's interesting thoughts on parenting, adoption and everything else! She also has some lovely art and photography of northern Michigan - can't beat it!


2) A Family Without Borders - Although Amanda has been relatively quiet this month as her family adjusts to adding a daughter, I've enjoyed her blog for awhile now and I think she tackles some very worthwhile issues. And seriously - her kids couldn't get much cuter! Be sure to check out this post - truly heart warming.



3) Mt. Hope Chronicles - This is a deviation from my standard adoption and crafty blog reading. Heidi is an interesting homeschooling mom to 3 young boys. And her blog is pretty. And informative. I just started reading it in the last couple of weeks, but I think it will be a regular check-in for me now.

4) A Bushel-and-a-Peck - I have been reading Lisa's blog for quite some time now and have really enjoyed watching it develop, especially over the past year or so. As a mother of
eleven beautiful children, seven by birth and four gifts from Ethiopia, her writing delves into such topics as parenting, attachment, building family memories, homeschooling, HIV awareness and education, and a slew of other interesting and informative topics. Lisa's blog is a can't-miss. Although I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Lisa in person, I have been lucky enough to share several phone conversations and email communication with her and appreciate her mentorship.


5) Better Than Good - I've been following Andrea's beautiful family for awhile now and enjoy her candid and uplifting honesty. As someone that has been putting more energy and thought into my faith-life lately, I really enjoy Andrea's sincere posts about her faith exploration, as well as other topics.

6) The Return of Idealism - Marissa's adjusted the privacy settings on her blog recently (for good reason!) but I'm hoping she may eventually change her mind some day and make it public again. She tackles some deep issues with great thought and frankness and I always enjoy her updates. :o)

7) Destination Desta - Mandie's blog has gained significance for me in the last year because she is now the mother of two good friends of Selam! Selam loves to check in and see how her friends T and K are doing. Mandie has also generously tackled the AAI Holiday Gift project, raising funds to bring the kids at Layla House (where Selam lived) a wonderful Christmas holiday. Check it out!

THERE.
Back into the world of blogging. Knocking on wood, we are all healthy and doing well. I have lots of updates I need to do, especially on the topic of education, but that will have to wait for another day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I'm out.

This whole posting-every-day-thing...


Seriously - what was I thinking???

Poor Hana has been home sick since Sunday. Today we finally went to the doctor (they've been telling everyone to stay home so I listened!).

Seriously?

Strep throat AND influenza (probably H1N1).

Come on people.

The ironic thing is that I have all these post topics floating around in my head... and no energy to write them! Someday... until then....

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Orphan Sunday

This year I happened to share my birthday with a meaningful event - Orphan Sunday. Orphan Sunday is a great time to "Defend the cause of the fatherless..." Isaiah 1:17. Due to other plans, we did not attend an event or specifically acknowledge it this year. However, I think it is a great example of the many people that are working to raise awareness for the 132 million orphans world-wide. (2008 UNICEF)

There is still much need and awareness is more than half the battle. Keep these children in your hearts this week.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

When you just can't take another "but mom..."

... at bedtime.

I found this great post via Mary at Owlhaven. Don't we moms (and dads) all feel like this sometimes. I know I do. Work all day, come home to homework and activities and bathes and whatever. Get the kids to bed to squeeze in some chores (and maybe relax). Wake up and do it all over again.

Why is it so hard to take a few moments for an extra cuddle? To hear another story about recess? To answer, yet again, how many more days until we see grandma? Why is it that so often those questions make me cringe a bit, feeling that desperation to close the door?

They are growing up so fast. And yet, some days it is hard.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Birthdays and Getting Involved in Adoption

Thanks to a tip from a little bird, I'm still going strong on a post each day. ;o) Here's another quick one while I have a moment.

First a little shout-out to my family. My big brother's birthday was Wednesday and my wonderful mom's is today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love you guys and miss you.

Second, I ran across a post I really liked via Shell's blog. So, being me, I'll steal it. :) Basically, the author talks about how many people are called to support the ministry of adoption, but aren't in a place where they can adopt themselves. I hadn't really thought about it the way he puts it, but I think he makes some great points.

When people find out we have adopted, it is not uncommon to hear "Adoption? I've thought about that" or "I've always wanted to do that" or "maybe someday". First, many of those people probably would be wonderful adoptive parents, but may not take the leap. I hope they do. :) Secondly, there are many reasons why people that are moved by the message of adoption just can't do it. Whether it is finances or the way other extrinsic factors are moving their lives, sometimes that isn't the best place to bring a new child in. But there are other ways for people to participate and to support adoption.

Really, Randy says it far better than me. He makes some great points and it's worth the read. Check his post out here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Who Am I Kidding?

I can't post every day! As Selam would say, "It is impossible!" (it's really funny when she says that by the way).


So we'll see if I can find other ways to hit the 30 posts in 30 days. :) But don't expect too much substance! :)
But here is a quote I like:

"Other people and things can stop you temporarily.

You're the only one who can do it permanently."

~Zig Ziglar~

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy (Belated) Halloween!

Not quite sure what Hana was paranoid about (?),
but everyone seemed to enjoy the night! :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Older Internationally Adopted Children and Education

Damn my blogging every day promise! Adoption-related no less!

I actually have a few posts floating around in my head, but I'm too tired to make much sense. So continue reading at your own risk. ;o)

So, this evening, Mark and I actually scored a sitter (wonderful neighbor!) and we both made it to all 4 of the older kids' conferences. It was a whirlwind! But all in all very good. The kids are progressing very well and I'm proud of them.

The conferences got me thinking about education generally and, more specifically, education for "older" internationally adopted children. This topic probably deserves several posts and more thought than my befuddled mind can muster right now. But here's what I got.

Education decisions are very tough. Older children adopted from other countries come with a range of life experiences and educational backgrounds. There are the obvious challenges of English as a second (or possibly third or fourth) language, but that goes deeper than most people realize. Well, at least more than I realized. Until we started the adoption process, I did not know that language acquisition actually begins in the womb. So that even children adopted as infants from non-English speaking countries have ground to make up as their language develops. Obviously things can be trickier with older children...

Yep, I'm rambling. :o)

At the beginning of the summer, we met with Selam's principal to begin to determine a proper grade placement for her. At the time, we didn't know much about her education level, nor did we know her exact age (although we were guessing closer to 11 at that time). Anyways, we were hoping she would be in 5th grade, but we figured we would wait and see when she got home. Once she did get home, we arranged a meeting with the principal and the school counselor to discuss options. At that point, we now knew that Selam had been to school consistently in Ethiopia and then at the orphanage. She would have been in 7th grade in Ethiopia (and age-wise) in the U.S., but we knew that we couldn't throw her into the pits of junior high.

My gut told me she should be in 5th grade. That would give her 2 years in the 5/6 school and give her a little wiggle room to get settled in. I knew it wasn't ideal as far as age, but age just isn't the only determination. But I received resistance from the school. Basically, they did the math and realized that if we put her in 5th grade, she would be 20 years old when she graduated. They did not force us, but they really guided us toward 6th grade.

She's been trying so hard and has had such a good attitude. But 6th grade is hard! Even though she is speaking so well, she's reading at about a 1st grade level. How can you do 6th grade ... anything (?) when reading at a 1st grade level.

So we just got home from conferences. There was lots of gushing about how sweet she is, how hard she's working, how she's so amazing. (This is all true by the way, and fun to hear). We talked about things that we need the teachers to do that we can stay in the loop and provide support at home. Fortunately, her teacher was very receptive and we were able to brainstorm some ideas.

But I asked my big question. And I was not overly pleased with the answer.

I asked what the school expected from Selam in order to pass the 6th grade. What was the answer? They don't know. They have some discussing to do and will get back to us in January.

Do you know what I think that means? I think they must have had completely unrealistic expectations of her. They didn't listen to anything we said back in August. And now they are talking about what we might do if we do hold her back.

And I'm sad for her. She will totally understand what is being done. And even if it's for the best, she has a lot of pride and it will not be easy to accept.

And I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated at the school and their (apparently) ridiculous expectations. And I'm frustrated with myself. Because I should have stood up for my child. And even if we had still chosen to go with sixth grade, at least I would know that I put every effort into determining if that was the right fit.

What does education really come down to for any of our children - but especially our older internationally adopted children? We need to be our children's biggest advocates. Not sure where things will go from here, but we aren't throwing in the towel. ;o) It's only November.

And yes, I need to go to bed!

Monday, November 2, 2009

November is National Adoption Month

Whoo hoo!


November is national adoption month and is also National Blog Posting Month where bloggers challenge each other to post every day this month. Given my recent track record, this would be quite a task.

[november.jpg]

Given the two themes together, I'd love to get an adoption-related post up daily. But I make no promises. ;o)

We are now on Day 2 of November. What a good day to think about adoption generally. What are your thoughts? Concerns? Perceptions and misperceptions?

Awareness is step one. :)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Enjoying Fall

Okay, well, the camera with our Halloween photos has a dead battery, so I'll just share a couple of recent photos of the kids - carving pumpkins, cider mill with friends and who knows what else...


Kids carving. Not sure why Abi looks like a demon and Grace looks like a pirate, but ah well. :o) You will not find Ally in these photos because she would have NOTHING to do with the pumpkin guts. Abi wasn't thrilled either, but Aunt Julie kept him busy. ;o)
Finished products!

Family movie night.

Cider Mill Fun

Hana's getting tall!


Ally and Abi cheesin' it up.


More photos to come! :)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Anything Goes

Ally is currently using a playing card as a phone.


Why do we bother with toys?????