Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Goombas on a Summer Afternoon

"Oh! tell me all, my Mary -
All, all that ever you know;
For you must have seen the fairies
Last night on the Caldon Low."

"Then take me on your knee, mother;
And listen, mother of mine:
A hundred fairies danced last night.
And the harpers they were nine;

"And their harp-strings rung so merrily
To their dancing feet so small;
But oh! the words of their talking
Were merrier far than all."

From "The Fairies of Caldon Low"
by Mary Howitt

Life's Twists and Turns

This afternoon, my computer was being slow. I was working, or trying to work, and uploading files was taking forever. While I waited, I started clicking on bookmarks.

First, I cruised by the stat counter to see if I had any interesting hits. Sometimes, a random keyword search that lands on my blog catches my attention, so I clicked it to see what it was. It opened a blog post from 2008, and immediately I got sucked in. Reading my blog from that year, the year we were newly moved into our house, had only two Goombas and were wet behind the ears in the adoption process took me back to a different self, a different family. I feel like I have grown up a lot since that time.

Then, I read this blog post from October of 2008. We had just begun the  domestic newborn adoption process, which ultimately resulted in Bean joining our family. At the time, I hoped for a little girl, just younger than Mister, the daughter who had been in my heart for years.  I did not know then that it would be three more years before we sat on the cool wooden floor of an orphanage in Addis Ababa to meet her for the very first time.

I read over the post and read my own heart from years ago. It struck me that as I wrote that, Abi was already born. She was six and a half months old and living with her grandmother in a tiny, rural, Ethiopian town. Two months later, because there was no food, no milk for the hungry baby, she would be left on a road in front of a gate, and would be given to a local police officer, entering the first of three orphanages.  Months later, she would meet the agency worker who worked for our agency, would capture her heart and would begin the long journey into our family in the States.

But back in October of 2008, she was not in any of these places yet. She was still with her birth family, her father and grandmother. She was starving and losing her sight, and I can imagine how they agonized over what to do. And somehow, far away, I loved her and was praying for her.  I'm still amazed at the way God cared for her through those years when she was thought to have died.  Through the months of waiting and paperwork for us. Through the terrible transition to living in a new country with a new family.  If I ever doubted that God had a plan, I don't now.  Sure, there was pain and grief, on both sides. Adoption is never easy. Never. But it is amazing and beautiful how God took a little girl who needed a family and put her in this family who needed a beautiful, smart, bubbly wonderful little girl, and who loved her for years before we even met.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Strength of My Heart

Earlier today, a combination of fatigue, hormones and discouragement had me in tears. I couldn't shake the absolute weariness that had settled on my soul, as if all the days and weeks and months had piled atop me and were slowly crushing me.

Once the kids woke up from their naps, Hubby and I loaded them into the van and we all drove to Kamiak Butte, the place that most closely resembles heaven on earth to me. Hubby generously wrangled kids on the playground there and fed them a picnic supper, while I hiked the 3.5 mile loop.

The intense workout of hiking up the steep back side of the butte, the time alone to pray, and the beautiful scenery all refreshed my spirit. I found myself at peace for the first time in months, and not afraid of what the coming days will bring. Not to mention the cold shower at home felt fantastic!

The Bible's words really ring true to me tonight that the joy of the Lord is my strength. My time in His presence tonight certainly brought a much-needed refreshing to my soul. I think I ought to call it "hiking therapy." :)

Double Recycling

Years ago, I recycled old jeans into a quilt. It got used to death as it was big and heavy, perfect for everything from picnics to camping.

Now, I recycled it again, giving it new life with a new flannel back and a new binding. I hope it has another 20 years of hard use in it, because I love it. :)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Portland Trip and Surgery


Driving. 9 hours. I had a bag of Dollar Tree toys that I doled out over intervals. 

We tried to stop at Multnomah Falls, but it was packed and we couldn't find a parking spot. So we continued on.


Exploring Portland. We rode the Max train, stopped at a Farmer's Market in Pioneer Square, and enjoyed Stumptown Coffee. Then, we had the pre-op doctor's appointment.


Surgery day. Check in was 6am, so we all had to be up and at-em at 5:30.

We loved the Ronald McDonald House! Along with being a fairly ordinary hotel, it had play rooms and video games for the kids, a well-stocked kitchen where volunteers cooked meals on several nights, and a lovely back deck and play yard.

Our room, though, was a bit small for six of us. We made Curly a bed in the closet, and lined the other three up on the futon bed, like sardines in a row.

During the surgery, the other kids played in the waiting room, or out on the adjoining patio, with a lovely view of the tram and the city below. Other kids waiting for the same reason enjoyed playing together.

Surgery went well. As I wrote on Facebook that night:

Well, that was almost anti-climactic. The doctors got her sedated and decided that her bad eye was too far gone, and that further procedures would only damage it more. There is definitely no sight in it at all. They looked at the good eye too and we are discussing options for that one. (The prime one being "do nothing" as it is already so fragile and damaged. Then possible laser treatment in the future to stabilize the pressure.) The whole thing ended up being only an exam under anesthesia, so no recovery time or pain. Abi woke up great and no vomiting this time! Yay!

I'm still happy we came. We have a second opinion from one of the premier glaucoma doctors, we have an answer on the bad eye, and we had a lot of wonderful support and advice from some really top-notch eye specialists. 

Now, I can relax and stop fretting about this surgery being scary and painful for her. Wheeeeeeeewwwwww. :)

This hot dog vendor tweeted about us after he'd sold us a dog. I've never been the subject of a hot dog vendor's tweet before!


The "zoom." We got our post-op doctor's appointment out of the way early and headed to the Zoo, which Abi insisted on calling the "zoom."

The sea lion played with the kids, swimming close enough even Abi could see him!

We bought the kids snow cones; it was really hot!

Abi couldn't see the elephant, but I took a picture of him and showed her the picture on my camera's screen. All of us could smell him!

People wonder how a blind kid can enjoy the zoo. In reply to friends asking on Facebook how Abi liked it:

She LOVED it! Part of it was sharing the excitement from the other kids. But every exhibit had a recording or a tactile statue or skull or drum or something she could appreciate. And the sea lion tank, the sea lion was playing with the kids and swam by close enough that she could see him over and over. It was amazing!

The aviary full of bird songs was a favorite too. We kept her out of the Africa section (ironically) because we were afraid that the ethnic music and the recorded lion roars would make her feel scared or homesick.


OMSI. Although we'd been planning a visit to the OMSI all week, by the time it came, we were all so tired and overwhelmed, I don't think any of us really enjoyed it that much. The kids were whiny and crabby. Still, it's a cool facility with a lot to do.

Bean enjoyed the water tables, so much so that he soaked his clothes despite the waterproof apron. For the next two hours, he shivered and his poor little teeth chattered. At one point I took him in front of a thermal camera, and his cold hands registered darkest blue instead of the bright orange and yellow that mine were. Eventually, he dried off and thawed out, but that was the end of his water play for the day.

Multnomah Falls.

We got to stop at Multnomah Falls on the way east, and the kids all loved the huge waterfall.


Home Again. We drove five hours on Thursday night, then crashed in a hotel at 11pm. The next morning, we drove the remaining hours home, unpacked and rested. We were all so glad to be home. Abi, in particular, relaxed immediately. It's possible that she thought she was never coming back! But when we got here, her mood brightened immediately.

As I expected, the stress of the surgery overshadowed any play or sightseeing this trip offered. I was mostly glad to get it over and come home again. I hope we get to go over there for a more relaxed vacation some other time. Still, I'm glad to have answers and a second/third opinion on Abi's case. In that sense, it was worth it to go.