Sunday, May 30, 2010

Spontaneous



Hubby's dad and brother own a plane. And a pilot's license. Today they had an itch to fly somewhere and we happened to be likely candidates.



So they flew up to see us.



We went to church together then hung out in the sunshine.



Hubby and I worked on the weedy front flowerbed while his dad gave us advice on the dead grass around the tree.



Hubby's brother chatted and tried to avoid being kidnapped by Little Mister who decided he was a perfect candidate for building Lincoln log houses.



We convinced Little Mister that sidewalk chalk was a perfectly acceptable alternative.  Yes, his pants are falling off.  Yes, he has a diaper on even though he is potty trained.  We're having an issue with the laxative prescribed to him by his pediatrician to combat the constant constipation.  He's definitely not constipated lately.  Poor kid.



They stayed for the afternoon then flew back home, hopefully arriving before the weather turned.  A nice, unexpected visit.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

8 months!



I know it was just yesterday I posted the seven-month picture. But believe it or not, he turned eight months today! Note the two new front teeth.



He sits up now. I'm not sure how long he has been able to do this as he generally throws himself backward as soon as we sit him on the floor. It's only been this week that he is cool with staying upright.



Not quite crawling yet. He rocks back and forth on hands and knees yelling his frustration to the world that he is still in the same place. Soon he'll be mobile and then... watch out!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Short n Sassy



I have a new haircut and new glasses this summer. For the haircut I wanted short and easy to care for. The glasses were just to update my prescription in my continued attempts to see better. But I think they are cute. The lenses are about as small as I can get away with, which makes them look not-so-thick. Or that's the idea, anyway.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Game Plan

I could not sleep the other night and whenever I can't sleep that's a bad sign. It usually means God is trying to get my attention.

Okay, Okay, God, I'm finally listening, what's up?

It was our adoption. Adoption #2, Child #4. We had felt as though we were supposed to go ahead and dive in even though we didn't have the money saved. We figured God would provide if that is what He wanted us to do.

Then he started waking me up in the middle of the night. He started showing me ways we have made financial mistakes in the past. (Ouch.) Times when we have been impatient and tried to do things ahead of His timing. (Ouch.) I felt like a little kid, shuffling my toe through the dust of the playground as I was questioned by a teacher. Normally God and I are on really terrific terms, which just makes the times like this week particularly ouchie.

To make a long story short, we decided we need to be good stewards of our finances this time around. We still have some debt hanging on from years ago. Rather than ignoring it and pretending it doesn't exist like we have been doing, it's time to aggressively get rid of it.

We need to continue being faithful in our giving to God. It's really tempting when we're saving money for something we want so badly to use "God's money" toward our adoption. But that is not what it's for.

As Linny on A Place Called Simplicity advises:

So the game plan?? Get out of debt! Give to the orphan, the widow and the poor. Stop needless spending. Give to the orphan, the widow and the poor. Downsize your home to have less mortgage (or no mortgage). Give to the orphan, the widow and the poor. Cut up your credit cards and pay them off. Give to the orphan, the widow and the poor.

And THEN watch and see our Miracle-Working, Mountain-Moving, Awe-Inspiring, Gasp-Giving God provide supernaturally for you to bring your next one home!! It's gonna' be so stinkin' amazing!!

It's true. We want to watch God move in our family in amazing ways. We want to bring home the orphans He will place in our family. So we need to start doing things with God's wisdom rather than the wisdom of man.

The long and short of it is we're pushing back our adoption timeline until our finances are in order. Right now we owe $23,568.99. I hate to even admit that. but we do.

Then after we pay that off, we need to save or raise about $25,000 to bring home Little Sister. As in reverse the amount we owe and we'll have the amount we need. The numbers makes me cringe. We are notoriously BAD at saving money and we've never been debt-free our entire marriage. We try, we really do. We saved enough for Baby Bear's adoption. But it was nowhere near that amount.

This is what we're called to do. By God's grace we'll do it. I have no idea how many years it will take. But for now Ethiopia is on hold, barring some kind of financial miracle.

I am sad. But I didn't wake up in the middle of the night last night.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

At The Movies





In particular I noticed the Crusader in the front row and the guy with the swim fins in the back. Quite the company they keep!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Real Deal

Life as a work-from-home Mom has its perks. I get to drink as much coffee as I want. Wait, I did that when I worked in an office.



Working at home, here is what my table often looks like. Sometimes when the kids spread out their coloring I begin to wonder if it's becoming a fire hazard. I used to have a desk, but then I went mobile (I love laptops) and the space where the desk could go has a giant dog crate in it.



Because I work at home, my kids often look like this. All day. Or maybe that's because I am too lazy/busy/tired/apathetic to dress them. A pajama day never hurt anyone. And if one pajama day is good, how about six? Every week.



Mommy. You don't love me. You only love your computer. Here I am all alone and small and helpless and and so, so sad. No matter that you just changed me, fed me, cuddled me and anointed my cheeks with Baby Eczema Cream. You're working from home and that means you don't love me.



Once in a while, a moment happens, like this one. My poor, neglected kids band together and comfort one another. Somehow it all works out, three jobs, three kids and lots of coffee!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Celebrating Milestones



One drawback to the type of schooling we do is the lack of any sort of milestone, closure or measurable accomplishment. We know we're making progress, but we don't get very many celebrations of it.



I decided to arbitrarily create one this week. Curly has been slowly working through a Wal-Mart reading workbook for the past 18 months. It started out way beyond her level and suddenly she caught up to it and the last few pages have been fairly easy. As she finished it I made a big deal out of filling out the certificate and hanging it on the fridge.



Her reward? We're going to the store to pick out another workbook. Such is the joy of learning!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Babywearing, African Style

In looking through my blog archives, I don't think I've posted this before, which is weird because it is such a big part of our everyday lives.



Years ago, before I had kids of my own, I nannied for a friend from Ghana who attended our church at the time. She had twins, 7 or 8 months old, a boy and a girl. I watched them for several days a week during most of one summer.

Her little boy in particular was accustomed to the African method of babywearing, used for centuries in countries like Kenya and Ghana. Because it would keep him happy and quiet for hours, I asked his mother to teach me to put him on my back like she did.



At first the technique made me nervous; it was so different from the commercially produced Snuglis that Americans used. Even now the plethora of Ergos, Mobys, Ring Slings, Bjorns and wraps usually utilize straps and ties and buckles and they cost hundreds of dollars.

The Lesso, a simple piece of cloth used in Africa as a sun dress, a towel or a baby sling has no straps, no ties, no buckles, and it costs a few dollars. But having practiced using it with not only my little friends from Ghana but now my own three children, I can toss my babies on my back with the best African Mama.



To my delight too, it's a way I can carry my babies for long periods of time without my stupid back screaming at me. Since the baby's weight is balanced on my tailbone and hips, it never hurts my back at all. He's safe and secure tied on my back with his little arms and legs hugging my waist.



Hubby, though he uses the Snugli sometimes, likes the back carrier too. I made an adapted version that uses shoulder straps for him since he doesn't have the *ahem* "front" that keeps the African version from sliding to the floor.



With the baby happily on my back, I walk to the park, I cook dinner (where he is safely out of the way and won't get burned), I teach homeschool co-op classes, I walk the dog and I shop in the mall. Last time I wore it in the mall I got a lot of looks and comments. I guess Americans just cannot get over the lack of buckles, straps, ties and a brand-name tag.

The ultimate irony is that when we get Little Sister, who is from Africa, she'll probably be too big to be carried in the African Lesso on my back, the only one of my children who won't be. I bet when she was a baby, though, she was carried in one too.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Little Prince



A few weeks ago, Little Mister attended a friend's birthday party and received a lovely princess crown from the Disney-loving birthday girl. To my husband's very manly dismay, we've hardly been able to get it off of him. He wears it both at home and abroad, reveling in his adornment.

To try to make it seem more boyish, I started calling him "Prince Seth" which ironically sounds just like "Princess." Hubby was not impressed.

This morning Prince Seth came sobbing to me with the sad broken remains of his plastic birthday crown in his little fingers. With a heavy heart I told him it could not be fixed but must be thrown away, thinking in the back of my head how happy Hubby would be at this fortuitous turn of events.

But the look on my son's face wrenched my heart. "Now I can't be a Prince," he said forlornly.



"Tell you what," I said, "I have some gold fabric left over downstairs. How about I make you a crown like Max had when he was King of all the Wild Things?"

My small son smiled through his tears.



So I put the baby in his playpen, started a video for my daughter and sat down at my sewing machine. Years ago I used to make church banners and stored away in my stacks of old fabric, I found gold lamé, quilt batting and white felt: everything I needed.



Now my son is Prince of all the Wild Things. If only all childhood heartbreak could be solved so easily.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Baby Bear And The Dog

Baby Bear loves the dog. When he sees the dog, he wriggles and laughs, trying to touch him. Unfortunately his skin appears not to love the dog so much.



Since he was born we have battled red, dry, scaly rashy skin. It's been WAY worse this week. It is the dog? Is it the heat? Is it the short sleeved shirts that allow his little fingers to scratch? Is it the milk formula we returned to after a failed two-week Nutramigen test?



We need ANSWERS!!! It's about time to seek help from a specialist. Baby Bear is so itchy and uncomfortable, it breaks my heart. So far the pediatricians have not had answers.



We're not sure it's the dog. Plus we all adore the dog. I have a feeling the dog will stay unless it's absolutely confirmed without a doubt that he is the allergen.

For now, please shoot a few prayers our way as we navigate the treacherous waters of insurance, referrals and finding a good specialist, whether an allergist or a dermatologist I am not sure.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ethiopian Info

Last Thursday we had the first big meeting with our adoption agency. Since they are in Oregon and we are not, we did it via telephone conference call, which worked except when Baby Bear decided to sing.

Now we have a lot clearer idea of what's involved with our international adoption. To our surprise, we learned we'll have to travel twice to Africa. Yikes! We both go the first time to stand in court and adopt our child. Then six weeks later after more paperwork is submitted, we get to bring her home.

The difference in the process between domestic adoption and international adoption continues to amaze me. In some ways, however, they are the same: apply, pay a LOT of $$, have your life minutely examined and approved, get matched by someone else and wait a long time for lots of red tape. I'm sorry that sounds a little cynical. I actually don't feel negative about the process at all this time. It's more like feeling patient. We know it's all worth it in the end.

More surprises: Most paperwork will need to be translated from Amharic, the language of Ethiopia to French, the language of the orphanage coordinators, to English, the language of the agency and adoptive family. I have decided to spend as much time this year as I can learning phrases in Amharic, since that is what our child will understand.

I'm not totally clear on the timeline, but it looks like we'll spend this summer having our homestudy done and compiling our "dossier" which is a packet of official papers used to match us with a child and bring that child into this country. Once the dossier gets sent off, we'll wait several weeks or months to be matched with our child. After the match happens, we wait more months for the child to go through extensive medical examinations and for paperwork to be approved for the finalization. Then we travel there and adopt the child. Six weeks later we can bring her home. Some families stay during the intervening time. Some don't. Since we can't realistically take our other three children with us to Africa, we likely won't stay. That will probably be the most difficult part: leaving our newly adopted daughter in Ethiopia for six weeks. All this could happen as early as Christmas or as late as next summer, depending on the speed with which both governments approve our intentions.

The whole process still seems surreal to me. Although the agency lined out the steps we'll take and the reasons for the delays, it still sounds overwhelming, frightening. When we do bring our daughter home, she will have to endure a 23-hour plane flight with people she barely knows and a language she doesn't speak. The transition time is going to take a while. I pray that God will smooth our way as only He can. He has called us to do this work and He will make it happen: the finances, the trips, the transition.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Today

What I've been taking



This is also called "I wish I was in bed in a dark, quiet room." Migraines are of the devil. But life goes on and so do I.

What I've been watching



With my incredibly heightened ability to concentrate (see previous picture), this DVD was a rousing success, both with me and with my five-year-old. I guarantee a few reruns in the near future.

What I've been buying



This cost twice as much as the dog. But I have every intention of doing things right this time around.

What he's been doing



Cleaning peanut butter out of the Kong. Then drinking copious amounts of water and slobbering it all over the floor. Then coming to me and loving me in a very moist way.

Nice doggy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Trial


After looking at a couple of shelters and reading numerous ads, we brought this guy home on a trial basis.  We have a week to decide whether he'll work with our family.

So far it looks promising that he will. He walks well, he's gentle with the kids, he hasn't jumped the fence, he rode nicely in the car. He has not messed in the house. Fred did not have any of those positive qualities, nor was he at all eager to please whereas this dog seems extremely willing to please. The slightest "no" and he'll immediately stop what he's doing.

He enjoyed chasing the cats, to their yowling dismay. He also got out our stock of empty milk and juice jugs from the recycle bin and spread them around the yard, worrying them and chewing on them. Since we have an abundance, I didn't mind.

If we keep him, we'll name him Shadow.

An Open Adoption Story

I'd like to tell you a true story. I'll change the names a little, but I'll keep the details intact.

Once there was a mother, we'll call her Joan. She already had two beautiful children and was about to have a third. The trouble was, she could not care for the third. Circumstances made her realize he was probably in danger if she kept him.

As a mother, she grieved for her tiny son. She even tried to keep him for a while. Maybe, just maybe it would work. But all along she knew she could not keep him. It simply would not work, due to things beyond her control.

It was with a heavy heart one day that she handed him over. It was with prayers and weeping that she gave him up. If only she could have him in her arms again. She ached for the baby.

Her other two children missed their little brother too. Still, they knew it was for the best. The baby's future hung uncertainly in the balance while the little family watched and prayed.

Then the match happened, an adoptive mother was chosen. She was a woman of means who would be able to care for the baby. Joan, his birth mom, breathed a sigh of relief. He would grow up healthy and safe. If only she could see him, hold him and care for him and tell him how much she loved him.

Then the final miracle happened. The agency recommended visits. The adoptive mother would allow Joan to care for her son. The empty arms would hold her baby again, the gentle voice would whisper to him.

Nice story, right? This could be the story of any number of adoptions across our country today, even ours.

But it's not.

Joan's name was really Jochebed. The little baby's name was Moses. Big sister's name was Miriam. The agency, loosely interpreted, was God whose hand guided all the circumstances. Recognize it now? Surprised?

The theme of adoption runs throughout the Bible. We who believe in Christ are called adopted sons and daughters of God. Samuel was adopted by Eli the priest. The picture of a child being grafted into a new family paints a beautiful picture of God's love for us. But God never forgets the birth moms, the ones whose mother-love never ceases for those babies they don't get to daily hold. After all, God too gave up His only son. Sometimes the grief is worth the courage to do what's best.

This struck me today as I listened to a children's story tape telling the story of Jochebed.

How To Annoy A Mother

Son (over breakfast): Mommy, I'm full. I don't want to eat the rest.

Mother (in the interest of being sweet, kind, fair and understanding): Okay, eat two more bites and you can be done.

Fast forward FIVE minutes.

Son: Mommy, I'm hungry.

Mommy: Where's the nearest loony bin? (aloud) Well, guess what? Your breakfast is still on the table. Eat up!

This happens on a multiple-daily basis.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

News on the Baby Bear Front



I forgot to post this back on THE DAY. This is seven months, taken on 4/29/10. It's getting harder to get him to stay there long enough to take a picture. He rolls and scoots all over the place. Yesterday he wound up by the fireplace tools and got all covered with soot before I found him. Time to babyproof again!



Miss A had her graduation ceremony last week. She's officially gradjamacated as Hubby calls it. We're so proud of her and I know Baby Bear will be too someday. You can sure see where Baby Bear's darling smile came from.



I'll leave you with a smile and a happy little giggle!

Book Review: The Forgotten Garden

Better than candy. I am a confirmed bibliophile and can burn through a stack of books in a week. I did last week, in fact. I got lost in Powell's Books, then came out with a pile of used books; don't know how it happened. Then in the hotel room after the kids went to bed I read and read and read. Then the next day my eyes rebelled and I couldn't see much. Typical.

Anyway, before I left my sister lent me a copy of Kate Norton's The Forgotten Garden. I read it in a couple of days, enjoying it like a fine wine. It's been a while since a book has sucked me in like this one.

Here's the official blurb, which gives plenty of info. More and I'd reveal too much.

A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book -- a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and with very little to go on, "Nell" sets out on a journey to England to try to trace her story, to find her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell's death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. At Cliff Cottage, on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, Cassandra discovers the forgotten garden of the book's title and is able to unlock the secrets of the beautiful book of fairy tales.

I recommended this to a friend who also loved it and passed it on. I'd call this a "hot chocolate read" meaning it would be best enjoyed in the evening in front of a blazing fire with a cup of hot chocolate and marshmallows at your elbow. A fine read.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Hold On...


In case you're wondering where I am, our family is on vacation in Portland all week. Coming up I will have fun stories and pictures about riding the train, going to the zoo, getting lost on 10th Ave, the Max, the OMSI, dinner with family, a snake called "Nice," my opinions about Palmolive, Powell's Books, a disagreement with Hubby regarding paper towels, and the advantage of Google's weather forecast in packing rain gear.

Until then...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

April Showers

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They say that April Showers bring May Flowers. I'd like to note that they also bring chilly, drafty, damp, gray days. It's days like these in the spring that make me so grateful to have a fireplace in my living room.

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One particularly chilly day this past week, I ducked and dodged my way out to the wood pile, scooped up several slimy, muddy logs and hauled them back into the house.

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Then I collected all of the paper garbage we'd sorted out of our recycling all week: all the empty cereal boxes and the junk mail, the crumpled paper towels and the discarded Reader's Digests.

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I stacked my loads of paper and my wet logs. Then I prayed. I absolutely love building fires; it's a good thing I never turned to a life of crime because I would be an arsonist. But wet logs and no kindling are hard to light. Even for an arsonist.

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Luckily, all the cereal boxes worked. I think there may have been a pizza box in there too. Yes, I am pretty sure there was a pizza box. Those make good firestarter. If you ever meet a real arsonist, make sure you keep her away from Pizza Hut.

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The pizza box dried out the logs and the logs dried out my shirt which had pretty much taken a mudbath while getting the logs.

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While the two older Goombas slept, the little Goomba and I enjoyed a cheerful blaze and warm floor, keeping the April Showers away.