Today Zinabu threw the mother of all tantrums. Per chance you heard it? He did NOT want to share his toy truck with anyone. He was very, very put out that I told him we share in this family. After all, Carver and Lily had just let him use all their fun things. It has to go both ways. So he yelled and got a time out. I, on the other hand, was feeling grateful that Zinabu's problems are so minor these days. When I think about where he's come from and all he's been through... even where he could be now... he would be crying over some serious, serious issues. But now that he's with us, he has a childhood. I feel blessed that the worst thing that's happened to him today is that he didn't want to share. I feel glad that he's not in Ethiopia wanting something to eat. Hearing him cry today over such a small thing made me happy. So that's normal for us. We all have different "normal." Visit Stacy and see what normal is for her. It sure makes my days look easier.


Friends and Fun
David's college roommate was in town this week with his family. We met them at the park after they dropped their daughter off at the Air Force Academy. Dawn, the mom, held it together pretty well, I think. I was almost crying just thinking about taking any of my kids to college, let alone the AFA! New cadets are not allowed to call home for 6 weeks... AAAaaaaaaahhhhh! It was great to catch up with them, and just let our kids run around like maniacs. The weather here is a blissful 70 degrees, and we're happy to have it as it supposed to be scorching by this weekend. I love summer. I love the heat. But I'll take a cooler day here and there.


Pleasantly Surprised

Don't you love when your kids surprise you? While we are all still adjusting to a 3rd child in the family, Lily is really taking it in stride. We had braced ourselves for a very tough transition for her. She was the baby of the family, and she is clearly outnumbered by boys now, but of everyone (myself included) she is stepping up to the plate and really growing up. She is an incredible caregiver to Zinabu. While I never demand that she "watch" him or take care of him, she enjoys making him happy and spending time with him. Her relationship with David has grown immensely, too. I think all kids get in the rut of going to Mom first for everything--(example: child hollers, "Mom! I want some water!" while Mom is in the shower and Dad is standing right next to said child) but when I'm busy with Carver or Zinabu, Lily has sought out David and is spending more sweet time with him. It has been a blessing to watch their relationship blossom. A girl needs her daddy! So a big kudos to our Lily, who has taken all the recent changes in our house and shown us she's capable, strong, mature, and kind.


Where Has It All Gone?
The other night, we had just gotten all the kids to bed and I was bemoaning the fact that we really had no food left in the house. I had to go grocery shopping, so I figured I might as well just get it over with. The grocery store I went to is right next to an Old Chicago restaurant. It was 9 pm, and some young college-age people were leaving. I stared at them in amazement, stunned by the fact that I had once been so carefree and un-needed by 3 young kids. No doubt they were on their way to a fun movie where they would indulge in popcorn and Milk Duds. They would stay up till all hours and sleep until noon the next day. I wanted to yell out my window at them, "Enjoy your freedom! Enjoy it while you can!" Because look where I am today. It was 9 at night and all I wanted was to be home in my pajamas, in bed. But I was heading into the grocery store of all places, where I would have the unwelcome task of comparing cheese prices (tell me, why is cheese so expensive right now?) and stocking up on Goldfish crackers and the oh-so fun Finding-A-Vegetable-My-Kids-Will-Eat. This is my life. This is the glamour of motherhood. Grocery shopping is becoming a bit overwhelming to me (Zinabu eats like a horse on steroids) and I feel like it's all I do anymore. I'm trying to scrape the recesses of my brain for memories of the past life I had before kids. I know it's there. Food that included exotic names and ingredients. The memories become more and more dim as the current sleep-disturbed nights pile up on one another. This mothering thing is hard. I am finding it does not get easier. There is no day coming where I will finally "arrive" and say, "That's it! I've finally figured it all out!" I am just treading water right now, trying to stay afloat. Trying not to prevent my kids from a) hating me b) destroying property, and c) embarrassing themselves with terrible table manners. That's my checklist. If I can do those 3 things, I'll be happy.


English According To Zianbu

I was thinking the other day that I haven't used the Amharic dictionary in weeks. The first couple of weeks Zinabu was home, I carried that thing around and was constantly flipping through it to look up Amharic words. I communicated with Zinabu through single words: koy (wait), buhala (later), dabo (bread), mesa (lunch), kum (stop)... you get the picture. He communicated to us through nouns also. But now he's speaking in sentences. He has learned so much English it amazes me. I grieve the Amharic he's lost. Especially the cute little ow he used to say for "yes." But the fact that we can have conversations together and I can understand him and he understands us so well is a blessing. Just last night, we were riding bikes on our street but it was time to go in and get ready for bed. Zinabu said, "How about two more minutes?" How about? HOW ABOUT???? Where did he learn that? How is it that he's negotiating with us? It's so unreal.

And yet, there are still a few words were working on with him so that he gets the true meaning of them.

Share: Everyone has to share with me but I don't have to share with them.
Everybody's: Everything in this house belongs to me.
Together: I get to go first and then the rest of you can go.
No name-calling: I can dish it out, but I can't take it.

He's getting there.


The Cathy Award Goes To...

It's not light summer reading material, but July's issue of Vanity Fair is very much a must-read. I am so thrilled that Bono is the guest-editor, and most of the magazine is dedicated to a continent the rest of the world would rather not think about. To quote Bono on page 32, "Next year more than 10 million children's lives will be lost unnecessarily to extreme poverty, and you'll hear very little about it." If this were happening in Europe or North America, it would be breaking news day after day after day. But not for Africa...

It's a fascinating issue, and I hope you'll find yourselves a copy. You have many different covers to choose from, with Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali, Oprah Winfrey, Desmond Tutu, even (wonders never cease) George W. Can you blame me for buying the copy with Brad Pitt on the cover?

Come on. I'm only human!

This girl...

feels like this:

Sometimes this girl does too.

So we blew off the boys and went out for cinnamon rolls this morning. We feel better now.


A Warm Hello!

Zinabu wants to say a very special hellow to Selamawit, Sigame, and Dengalo. I love technology, because these kiddos KNEW Zinabu in the care center in Ethiopia. They've been reading my blog with their American families to see pictures of Zinabu and hear how he's doing. I cannot tell you how in love I am with these kids, as they spent time with my son before I could. I love, love, love this.

Zinabu says hi, that he's happy to be in America, and his favorite thing to do is play at a playground. Take care!
Head Wound!
Guess who got stitches in their forehead after falling face-first on our rock path? Not Carver. Not Lily. Not Zinabu.

My Mom.

Bless her heart...she was walking down our flagstone steps, holding Zinabu's hand to make sure he didn't fall, when she lost her balance. It was all very dramatic and bloody. The kids stood around her while blood dripped down her face and onto her clothes, while she reassured them, "I'm OK. Don't worry." I loaded her up in the car and we headed toward the "stitch-u-up" clinic. I had really thought I would be doing this with a child, not my mom.

My mom and I are always up for a donut, and as we drove by a Dunkin Donuts we debated stopping, but she looked pretty gruesome. You know, the bloody rag she was holding to her head and all. Fortunately there was virtually no one in the waiting room at the clinic, so they saw her pretty quick. The big downer was the cretin who did the administrative paperwork. She was updating her insurance information.

Cretin: "Are you still married? It says here you're married!"
Mom: "No, I'm a widow."
Cretin, in a loud, not-sensitive voice: "Then I need to change this to say widow."

Honestly, there have only been a few times in my life that I've wanted to slug someone. This was one of those times. It just wasn't fun. Fortunately, they sent my mom home with some nice stitches and some even nicer pain meds. She'll be sore and bruised for a few days, but we are so thankful she wasn't hurt worse. Pray for her.


And In Other Boring News...
I did it! I made the playroom. Turns out we had more toys than I thought, so it was 2 van trips to the Salvation Army for us! They still have a few things in the "toy library" to rotate through, but not much. I am at peace, as they've kept the new playroom spotless, and their rooms are always clean. Sigh. Now... about the rest of the house (ahem).

Carver and Lily's toys--lovely artwork on the wall.

Zinabu's toys, and on the right games and dress up bin.

Coloring books, paper, crayons in metal magazine racks on the wall.


I made it through another Father's Day. Ever since my dad died (brain tumor--I still cannot grasp it after 4 years) I find Father's Day to be a yucky spot on the calendar. I have learned that a lot of TV and choosing-not-to-think-about-it to be excellent (though dysfunctional) ways of coping on hard days. I actually watched endless Bugs Bunny cartoons with Lily last night while I did her braids. She wanted them loooooonnnnggg this time, so to see her running around with braids down her back is so pretty. Braids are an instant self-esteem boost to her. She likes her hair natural, but with braids she turns into super-girl and whips her head around endlessly. Yesterday was warm so we packed up and headed to the canyon near our house where the snow runoff runs into a beautiful mountain stream. We had a lot of snow this year, so the stream is more like a river right now. The kids had fun--you know, after they had all argued for 20 minutes over who got to play with what shovel and bucket.


The Best Day Ever
What a pleasant surprise to wake up to road construction on our street. A big dump truck and a scooper made for eye-popping entertainment for my kids. We sat on the curb for over an hour and just watched. Zinabu is so into trucks--and is surprising me with his memory of all their different names: dump truck, backhoe, cement mixer. How does he do it?

The other thing that happened is Lily had a tea party and Zinabu was the guest of honor. Zinabu was drinking water out of the little tea cup, and he kept saying, "Delicious!" That's a pretty big word, and he said it over and over again. After 15 minutes of this, I discovered Lily had tainted the water with huge amounts of sugar. No wonder it was so delicious. I don't know how much sugar Zinabu consumed, but he didn't take a nap!

We are a pretty laid back family and love our time together. I usually sign the kids up for one activity in the summer. Last year it was art classes. Once a week and we all went at the same time. That allows me to feel like they get a little extra curricular activity without me having to drive all over town 10 times a week. This year Carver is on a basketball team with his 2 best friends. It's once a week so I can handle that. Lily decided to do a dance class with her mostest-bestest-super-duper best friend Bailey. I never did dance. My friends didn't do dance. I feel like we entered a new universe of leotards, tights, and expensive shoes. I was so proud of her, though. She's so shy and hates performing anything in front of people. I think because she was with Bailey, she felt comfortable. It's a very basic class, and I think she's going to have a good time.



There are so many questions we encounter as a mixed-race family, an adoptive family, and an international adoptive family. I am by no means an expert on the subject. I can only speak to what has happened to us. You cannot take our experience, laminate it, and call it "Adoption 101". Every adoption is a journey as unique as a snowflake. Sure, there will be similarities--but we won't be the same. I have found the journey of adoption to be the most grueling and the most rewarding. About the time you think you cannot possibly take one more day of agony, waiting, wondering, and exhaustion--a glimmer of hope flickers, and you find you have it in you to sign one more paper, to make one more phone call, to wait one more day. Our family is a reflection of what David and I are most passionate about. Racial reconciliation, wiping out extreme poverty in Africa, and justice. We made ourselves available, and God led us down the beautiful path of adoption. Make no mistake--our children are not the results of our pity. They are not charity cases that we "saved." They are not "so lucky" to have us. They are our children, pure and simple. Adoption is not a solution to the crisis the children of our world are suffering from. Deep down, I believe the best option for all children is to be raised with their biological parents. I wish our country did a better job of being there for young women faced with the impossible choice of raising a child below the poverty level or relinquishing their baby. I wish our world did a better job of helping families fight extreme poverty so that they could not only keep their children with them, but have a decent meal every day. I wish the church would put aside the anti-abortion rhetoric for one month and use their energy to support the children who are already living and breathing on this planet, desperate to stay with their families. I wish, I wish, I wish...

One of the best pieces of parenting advice I received was from a woman leading an adoption training class back in 1998. She said, "Until your children can speak for themselves, you are their advocate." That is a huge responsibility, but I shoulder it with pride. I speak not only for me, but for Carver, Lily, and Zianbu.


Great Father's Day Gift

Still looking for a great gift for the dad in your life? Look no further! This flashlight gets this week's Cathy Award. It's a SOLAR flashlight, and if you go to http://www.bogolight.com/ you can read about the amazing difference it can make in the lives of people around the world. You buy one for dad, and another is donated to the organization of your choice. You can choose from areas like Afghanistan, orphanages in Rwanda, or charities like Samaritan's Purse. How can you say no? Do not buy another tie/golf mug/cologne/video game(yuck). Give the gift of light.


Photos of Our Trip

At a bubbling mud pit...

One of the steaming pools at Yellowstone

At the porch at the Old Faithful Lodge--an incredible building. One of our nation's finest!

In the closet at a hotel in Jackson, WY. It was 37 degrees and snowing.

One of the "happy" moments in the car. Cute kids!


We're Home!

Here is what went right:
1. We're home

Here is what went wrong:
1. Dead battery
2. Snow (yes, snow!)
3. The dinosaur museum in Utah was closed (the only reason we went to Utah)
4. Hubby got a "hefty" ticket by the park ranger for riding on a trail that was CLEARLY MARKED closed.
5. The lake we camped at had been drained. No water to play in.

I'll stop there. It was one of those trips we will laugh and laugh about in 5 years. For now, I'll chalk it up to a learning experience. The kids had an OK time, I think. Yellowstone was incredible for the time we were there. I'm hoping for good sleep and a long, hot shower tonight. I'll post again tomorrow.


Trying to Be a Nice Mom!

I know the inspiration behind this children's book. It was a mom who went camping for a week with her family. We pull out of civilization tomorrow and head for the hills (Yellowstone to be exact). Goodbye warm feet, clean hands, and flushable toilets. Hello mud, burnt hot dogs, and spiders. The kids are BESIDE themselves with excitement--even the littlest Ethiopian, who has no idea what he's in for. He just jumps for joy like the rest of the under-10 crowd. I am not, ahem, what you would call "outdoorsy." I love hiking and biking and swimming and getting dirty... but then I like to come home to a hot shower and clean sheets. Not to mention a refrigerator and essential stuff like that. We will at various points along the way find Internet access, so if I can post I will. If I don't post in a week, please call a forest ranger and tell him/her to look for the grumpiest mama around (that would be me) and rescue me with hot coffee and chocolate. Farewell, world.

ps--thanks to everyone who commented and emailed me with playroom advice.