Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oh So Thankful

I am Thankful for...

My faith, that has seen me through a year unlike any other.

My beautiful children, who brighten each and every moment of my life.

My husband who willingly comes along for the ride...and doesn't scream too much.

For the new place in my heart that is filled with the people and places of Ethiopia.

For the new friends I have made this year and the friends that remained steadfast.

For AMAZING parents whose love and generosity knows no limits.

For health.

For the chance to dream dreams and daring to take the risks to make them come true!

For all of my non-human kids...2 dogs and 3 kittens...who make me laugh and don't talk back!

For the opportunity to share the mundane, the wonderful, the ridiculous, and the mountaintop with each of you!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Is 37 reallly the new 27??

Not sure I am feeling it! Today I turn the big 37. To many, I am just a others I am really old (like my 5 yr old for example..."mom that's a lot of years!" ) I think I am feeling every one of those 37 years. My bones are of me that shouldn't be sagging seem to be, and I may be getting a wee bit of dementia! I have yet to catch myself coming and going today. If you see me, send me back to me...

I must say however, that at 37 I have a lot more wisdom than I did at 27. At 27 I was a first time parent. Although I would love the energy I had at 27, parenting a toddler at 37 IS easier. I have a much better view of the world, my world and how the two mesh. What seemed soo important at 27 doesn't even hit the radar now. My values have stronger roots, my self confidence is much more about me than about how others see me, and I KNOW without a doubt that faith and family are the two most important things in the world to me.

So even though this day has been less then celebratory, I am thankful to be here, jumping with both feet into another year, blessed beyond measure to have the mileage of the first 37 years shaping the next 37!~

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Other Stuff

Okay, I am deviating a bit from the heavy reflections. My brain resembles Jello right now! Baby girl has decided that 2 am is a really nice time to get up and have quality time with mom and dad. We are not convinced. However, she really likes this particular hour of the wee small ones. So between chasing this toddling, tsunami imitating little person around all day and partying at 2am, I am feeling a bit rough around the edges! I feel soo much older with a toddler at 36 (for only 1 more day) than I did with a toddler at 31. If she weren't so stinkin cute as she destroys everything in reach, I might be reconsidering this whole proposition...but alas she is the most precious one year old we will continue onward! Then there are the two kittens who have taken over my bathroom. They too are adorable, and actually much more destructive than baby girl. We have our own special brand of chaos around here and I love it all...especially when I can collapse into bed at night (once I remove the stuffed animals, random socks, books, and laundry!)

How can it already be almost Christmas? That is a question weighing heavy in the jello brain today. As a retailer, this season is more bah humbug than joy to the world, but I am hoping for my very own little Christmas miracle. If you have small independent retailers in your them. There are no bail outs coming our way! My own little shop is at a bit of a turning point. My lease is up in a month and while I love my happy little spot, I wouldn't mind a slightly better location. I have 2 possibilities. One is way up there on the list and one I have yet to see. It will be a very interesting week as I need to make a decision. Add that to my little tsunami, few shoppers, 12 loads of laundry and the opportunity to turn 37 this week and I think I know why my brain is mush. Maybe I need that quiet 2am hour to get something done! Super woman I am not.

So now that you have read all that, your brain may well be jello too as you try to comprehend my scattered state! All I can say is say a little prayer for direction for my your local retailers...and if you find the fountain of youth...let me know!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Waking up to the Call to Prayer at 4:30 in the morning was perfect. God had called me all along on this journey, and it seemed so fitting to be awakened on this most amazing day to prayers floating through the window. Watching the sun come up over the distant hills, and the city that I had only seen so far in the dark begin to take shape was fascinating. Looking out the window and realizing that my daughter was out there, in that city, waiting for me, and that my arms would not ache to hold her any longer, I felt such peace.

The ride to the care center was another feast for the senses. The streets teemed with people and goats and taxi's. What was blurred in the mist and weariness of the night before, now glared sharply in the bright light of day. The poverty was amazing. The poverty was devastating. The poverty was everywhere. And yet right along side it was life and hope. Smiling people, embracing each other. Men walking hand in hand...the bonds of great friendships so visible. Women dressed in beautiful bright scarves, with babies on their backs. It was these babies, peeking out behind scarves, rushing the van with hands outstretched, sharing a smile from across the road..these children, who touched the deepest part of my soul. I was adopting one child, taking one child from this amazing country and though I rejoiced in that, I prayed that these precious children who I saw at every turn, might thrive and flourish right where they were, and I mourned that my daughter would have no memory of her beautiful country.

All through the wait, I had tried to imagine the moment when I would finally hold my daughter in my arms and I couldn't. Even in the small hours of the morning, listening to the call to prayer drift across the city, I couldn't imagine how it was going to be to finally hold her. Would I cry, would she cry? Would it be everything I hoped for? Would she find comfort in us? Finally the moment had arrived. I was just so excited. So peaceful. So ready. She was standing in the window with the look I have come to know and love...the look that means pure joy. She was waving...I know she wasn't waving at us, but it felt like she knew...her life was about to start again. Walking into her room, my eyes were only on her and the moment that she melted into my arms, I knew that THIS child, the one I had prayed for, had asked God to hold and protect, whom I had carried so gently in my heart, that THIS child was perfect in every way. And I think she felt it too. We belonged together. Two lost souls, needing to find their missing piece, were now complete. Our connection was instant, which was amazing and had God written all over it. Sitting on the floor of the care center, falling in love with this amazing child, memorizing her features, taking off her shoes and socks to kiss her toes, finding that spot between her ear and her neck and kissing it until it glowed...these were the moments that I imagined in the dark places along the way...and they were so much better than I could have ever hoped.

Each time we left her and came back to her, I fell more and more in-love, and as we got more glimpses into her history and her time at the care center, I realized how long both of our journeys had been and it all made sense. Not sense in that she suffered huge losses and that her family had been through so much already, but sense in why the wait was so long, why the road seemed so steep. It was because this was the child that was meant to be in my arms.

Much more happened in Africa that I still am processing. It may take a life time of prayer, thought and reflection before I can fully integrate it. Leaving Africa felt much the same as leaving the boys had at the beginning of the trip. I was so ready to go home, and yet so sad to leave the country of my daughter's birth. We pledged to come back when she is old enough to get the most out of her visit, and I hope and pray that we will one day be able to fulfill that promise. Just as I cried tears of joy landing in Africa, I cried tears of sorrow to leave her. But there is no doubt that while I didn't have a very big impact on Africa, Africa changed my life.

As the ride East across the ocean had been serene and theraputic, the ride West was challenging and wonderful in it's own way. Each mile seemed to bond Meron to us and us to her a little more. We are seasoned parents, but picking up a little life, 1 year in, is a bit daunting. Anticipating her needs, reading her cues...all things we were on a crash course to discover. Little sleep was had by any of us, and it was a long a grueling ride, but I wouldn't trade those moments for anything.

Arriving at our home airport was the stuff of Hallmark movies. Exhausted, world weary travelers arrive with perfectly amazing daughter and all but collapse into the arms of waiting family and friends once home. That moment, coming down the escalator into baggage claim and seeing my babies still brings tears to my eyes. With Meron tightlly strapped to me in the Moby wrap, we crashed into the loving arms of her waiting brothers. There were cheers and tears, hugs and delight. We were complete. A family of six, surrounded by the love of friends and family. We were home, our journey complete...or our real journey just begun! (more again on life at home soon!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Two months ago today, I was landing in Ethiopia, preparing to meet my daughter. So much has changed in my life since that day. Bit by bit I am finally able to reflect on the journey, the trip, and the new normal. This post is mostly just me, reflecting on where we have been and were we are. Someone recently posted a question on our adoption forum asking what surprised us most about the journey. It really got me thinking and this is what is ruminating now...

I never thought the adoption process would take such a toll on me personally. I had read the Complete Guide to International Adoption and had the steps laid out and our plan in place. As a family we had discussed the plans around the dinner table and agreed we were ready for the ride. However, I am not known for my patience and this journey pushed me to my very limits and then a little further. I loved being pregnant, loved feeling the changes, growing and glowing. I assumed that adoption would have a similar effect on me emotionally though not physically. Boy was I wrong. This adoption took a toll on my body..I gained weight, and put myself through some major emotional turmoil. Having no control over the situation was so so hard. I plan, I execute, I look back and evaluate. Only on this journey, my plans, my time line, my needs were at the bottom of the heap. It was really a struggle. It helped immensley to have our adoption forum where I could vent with people who understood. There were also a couple of friendships created from there that will be life long relationships. But overall, I had to let go and let God and I don't let go. I hang on fiercely with every inch of my being. God knows this...and always patiently waits for me to finally let go. The other really hard aspect is when you are pregnant, everyone is bouying you up, carrying you along. In adoption, unless you wear it on your shirt, no stranger is going to give you a knowing smile, ask when you are due, or regale you with advice you don't want. Adoption can be a really lonely journey. In the quiet moments of the wait, the emotions of this journey are overwhelming. Realizing you are wishing and praying for a child who will lose their family, their culture, and experience more pain and suffering in their tiny life than your whole lifetime of experience can comprehend can be excrutiating times deep with in your soul. And yet you do wish and pray and wait and dream. Who will this child be? What will she look like? How much longer do I have to wait? Will I get to the end of this journey and wonder what have I done? or wonder why I didn't do it sooner? And it was within these times that I got to know myself better, made some amazing friendships, and deepened the faith that sustained me through the process.

That moment when we got the call that we had waited so long for will forever be kept in a precious place in my memory. I had finally let go. I had cried, I had prayed, I had let go. And God was right there. Feeling my phone vibrate in my pocket, and looking to see the area code was a true epiphany for me. It was my very own Easter morning, the time of lost wandering was over and there was new life blooming in my heart. I will always remember the looks of joy and wonder on the faces of the boys as we met them at school and told them they had a sister, and gathering around the dinner table...our journey coming full circle, as we opened the picture of our precious daughter's face. Her journey to us was ladened with loss and tears, and her tiny little body showed the battle scars. But she was a fighter and we were going to be a family...she was coming home to complete us, and we would now be home to her. She was my daughter and I already loved her with a fierce and amazing love.

Then there was the call on a bright and sunny afternoon in June. I was happily painting the mural in her room, finally nesting and dreaming dreams with a real little person in mind. It was the social worker and my heart stopped. "Is it a good time?" There were medical complications. My daughter, a world away, with out a mother or father to comfort her. This brought me to my knees. Dear God, we have come so very far, hold her in your hands until we get to her. Keep her safe, keep her healthy. Another very lonely place along the road. We were facing a medical diagnosis we hadn't planned on, for a child we had never met, across the world in a developing country. Frantic calls to Dr's, and family, all the while praying for answers. God continued to hold us up, we let go, and knew that no matter what we would face, she was our daughter and we would take on whatever challenges presented themselves.

And then we got the news we could travel. We would be traveling with the family that had become so very important to us along the way. We would be traveling the week after school started...perfect timing for our family. Again...let go let God. The night we left was really really hard. I thought I would be fine leaving the boys behind. They were in great hands, they were settled into school, but I was traveling a world away. What if something happened? What if we didn't make it back? Would they really be okay? Hugging them goodbye rocked me to my soul. I tried so hard to be brave...not to let them see my was so hard. But then we were on the road. We were heading to our daughter. We had a day of travel to transition from life as we knew it to the life we dreamed of. The travel was easy, and surreal and perfect for preparing to fill my heart with all that Ethiopia had to offer.

When we touched down in Addis, the tears were back. A year long journey had finally reached it's pinnicale. I was going to hold my daughter, I was going to hold her country, I was so ready to stop holding so tightly to my dreams and my heart. Africa took my breath away from the moment I first saw it. We were treated with kindness and care from the moment we walked off the airplane. As we drove through the crowded city streets, through constuction, and a light mist, Addis pounded with vibrancy. New smells assulted my nose and my eyes danced with all they saw. It was all I had imagined and so much more. It was a kalidascope of poverty and beauty and color and chaos, of mud and human need, and joy and grit. It was gorgeous, and humbling and it took my breath away. How did I ever get so lucky as to have the chance to weave this amazing place into the fabric of my family? And it was only the beginning....(more tomorrow, I promise!)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

She Walks!

Wow, what a great afternoon! Sassy spice took her first steps!!!! She had spent the last couple of days doing that A-frame move where she goes from sitting to standing then applauding herself for standing so well. Well today, she took it a step further, literally! Her longest sprint so far is eight precious little steps. She is so proud of herself! We are too...the brothers all rallied around her and cheered her on. It is so amazing to think that just 6 short weeks ago we picked her up. She could hardly bear weight on her legs. Now, she is cruising. We continue to feel amazingly blessed by this incredible child and so in awe of the opportunity to be her parents. She is such a all her sassy sillyness. I will take some new pics tomorrow and post some soon. I will try to catch her in action!!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Vote tomorrow. It is your right, it is your priviledge, it is your duty. Personally, I say please vote Obama. He is for families, he is for the middle class, he is about change.

I will be voting tomorrow...for Obama...for my kids, my kids kids, for the future. How wonderful to look into my daughter's eyes and tell her...yes honey, it is possible!


Saturday, November 1, 2008

What it's really all about...

If you focus on personal finances, business finances, the monthly is enough to make you want to throw up. At least that is the case around here. It is a horrible time to own a small, slightly upper scale boutique. It is a horrible time to be realizing as a family you probably really screwed up in how you viewed money, spent money, and didn't save much money. These are the things that have weighed on my mind, consumed my thoughts and given me nightmares.

I had to force my thoughts to something else yesterday as the day was all about the kids. I hosted the halloween party in Z-man's class. As we were checking in at the school office, Miss Sunshine was getting lots of love. The secretary and I were talking about how much her brothers love her. She said that our boys are some of the sweetest, most well behaved, kind students she has ever had the priviledge to know..and she has been the secretary since the dino's roamed! She said,"do you realize what an inspiration your family all you do and the kids you have raised? We all think you are quite amazing" Needless to say I was humbled. Then it was off to the class room, where I got the joy of spending 2 hours hanging out with some very cool 3rd graders.

After that is was back home, to create last minute costumes and get ready. Usually we order pizza...homemade this year. My eldest says "mom this is so much better than the ordered kind!" I decorated their faces with face paint and was told I was amazing. We loaded everyone up and began our trick or treat adventure, down the hill, ending at the HS for the section finals game for the football team. We have a wonderful neighborhood and it was so fun to be amongst the throng of tricker treaters. We got to the game, and found our "spot". We LOVE our football and even Sassy Spice is into it. The girl who should have been sleeping, was clapping and hollering right along with the rest of us. I counted 4 times that someone came up and told me what a beautiful family we have...again I was humbled. Our team won. We stuck around till the last players were off the field so my football crazy boys could high five the quarterback. This was the moment that made the night for all of us. The sweet HS quarterback, comes off the field and sees B, riding on his daddy's shoulders...his hand stretched out for a high five. He comes up and says..."That last touchdown, I threw that one for you!" and he high-fived all the boys. And I was a little teary. The world sucks right now. Our finances suck right now. Business sucks right now. But on a chilly fall night, a sweaty highschool seinor and 3 awed little boys, slammed everything into perspective. It is all about relationships. Raising good, solid kids who are secure in their family. It is about adding a child to our family that gives people pause, making them stop and think about blessings and opportunity and love. It is about being part of a community that cares for each other, and taking the time to put a smile on someone elses face. And it is about having a faith, deep down in your roots, that allows you to see what it is really all about.